Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! As ya probably already know, most bikers are gearheads in one form or another, an’ most of us love everything from hot rods an’ monster trucks to exotic sports cars with equal enthusiasm. I just got back from the only place in the world where ya can see it all in one spot. That spot is the Specialty Equipment Market Association show (SEMA) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The show isn’t open to the public, so ya either have to be a manufacturer, a retailer or a respected member of the mass media, or ya have ta sneak in the side door dressed as a janitor ta get in. (Sure glad that costume rental place was open!) The SEMA show is where all the manufacturers go to show off their goodies, old an’ new. It’s also the biggest car an’ bike show in the world!
My son Kevin an’ I wandered around starin’ at stuff in amazement like ol’ Cletus the time he fell asleep on the bus ta Cantua Creek, an’ woke up in downtown L.A. Still munchin’ on a donut from the box I found on a conference table, I spotted a chopper with an art deco sidecar all made outta steel rod, an’ knew as soon as I saw it that it was one of Ron Finch’s outlandish rolling works of art. As it happened, Ron was there at the House of Kolor display with it, so I got ta chat with him for a few minutes. He’s about the nicest guy you’d ever care ta meet, an’ one of the most creative as well! Anyway, I got all inspired by all the innovative ideas, an’ started thinkin’ about ideas I could stea… Uh… I mean borrow for some of my own builds.
A few years ago, when the first builders started movin’ toward the “Mad Max” futuristic type of machines, I couldn’t quite accept the change, an’ lookin’ back, I skipped over some really cool bikes as I flipped through the magazines. I saw several at SEMA that were beyond creative, and you’ll see what I mean soon when they find their way into public view. They have that primitive, caveman look, like they were once livin’ Lords of the Jurassic Period, carved from stone an’ the bones of long-dead behemoths, yet they’re all built to be ridden an’ enjoyed. They’re amazin’ creations that sprang to life in a one-car home garage, which makes ’em that much more amazin’!
I do most of my own paint work on my projects, though I leave the stripin’ to the professionals unless it’s real simple stuff. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, I used ta do murals on vans, pickup tailgates an’ bikes with the old air-dry lacquer. Five or six coats of base, then the graphics, done with a DeVilbiss MBC spray gun with the flow an’ pattern shut almost all the way off, usin’ patterns cut from the side of a Cheerios box, then 12 coats of hand-rubbed clear. Life was a lot simpler back then.
I usually use House of Kolor paints, so I paid special attention at their booth, an’ some of the artwork was unbelievable! There are a ton of talented, creative artists doin’ paint an’ graphics out there these days, leavin’ their mark on everything from vehicles to surfboards, refrigerators, an’ mailboxes, an’ then there’s me… ’Nuff said on that subject.
I guess by now, you’ve noticed that it’s almost Christmas again. Time ta put together a wish list ta give ol’ Santa while there’s still time. Last year, he brought me an airbrush an’ compressor, an’ I’m hopin’ that this year he’ll drop off a bag full of talent so I can get started doin’ all those great graphics that I know are hidin’ in this ol’ head of mine. So far, my attempts look like somethin’ you’d stick on the refrigerator with a magnet ta please your 6-year-old grandkid. The other day, Reggie came out to the shop while I was practicin’ an’ said “Oh, what a nice green horse!” Disgusted by her untrained eye for fine art, I replied; “It’s not a horse, it’s a dragon. See the scales?”
She leaned in closer and squinted a bit, then replied “Oh, that’s what those square things are all over it. Shouldn’t most of them actually be on the hor… Uh… I mean dragon, and not on the house behind him?”
“Most of them are,” I told her, “and that’s a mountain, not a house.”
“Whatever you say, dear,” she replied, “but please don’t put this one on the refrigerator too, OK?”
Merry Christmas, everybody, from me an’ Reggie!