Thursday, May 31, 2012
....En route back to the valley from Westwood and my phone rings: It is Stephen and he begins suddenly talking about a book he has written. He's excited and I attempt to process what he is saying. I realize that this must be the book he read an excerpt from a few months ago at an open mic event in Santa Monica. He mentions Jack Nicholson and the general story outline. As I am driving, and not supposed to be talking on the phone, I begin thinking this must be some film he has seen -and I somehow missed the part where he transitions from talking about his book to some film he saw. So I ask: "Is this some movie you saw?"
"No, it's the book, the book."
"Oh... you mean you envision Jack Nicholson in your story?"
"Yes... he would play the Senator..." as he continues to describe the book, which sounds more like a movie to me.
He describes the story and I get that it involves an alcoholic US Senator engaged in various modes of skullduggery and sex. And that he needs a book cover "ASAP" because he wants to release it "tomorrow." The rapidity and immediacy of the assignment must have forced the idea into me. The attached image of the cover is nearly exactly what came into my mind as I drove through the Sepulveda Pass.
As there wasn't time to hand-illustrate it, I opted to create a photo-illustration. Being more the creative director, assembling the design from disparate elements found online, I heavily altered each component beyond their original appearances and purposes. The design process in this case was like building a go-kart in the garage in a few hours and test running it that evening, to race it the next day. As the bits and pieces synthesized into the front cover, we dialed in the final elements of the composition over the course of the evening, discussing tweaks to it.
I did the cover that afternoon and night and he sent it on to Amazon.com the next day. Behold "Ignorance is Bliss" by Stephen Mitchell -a cinematic novel.
Stephen's blog link for Ignorance is Bliss:
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Armed with a press pass today, I joined Stephen Mitchell and Jeanette Dumouchel for a day of sightseeing, of multimillion-dollar cars at the famed Greystone Mansion Concours d'Elegance. For those unfamiliar with the concours and mansion, Susan Rosen, President, Friends of Greystone, sums it up well in the introductory letter in the concours programme:
"...Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Greystone's value to architectural and California history is unique as it is impressive. Considered to be one of California's most luxurious residences south of Hearst Castle, Greystone Masnion is one of the few great homes from the Gilded Age of American architecture that has survived relatively intact. The pastoral parklands are open to the public most of the year, sparking the imagination, curiosity and intrigue of the visitor spending time at this glorious estate..."
No riff-raff was to be found today among the overwhelming turnout of classic cars at Greystone's concours. Offering perpetual opportunity for miles of close scrutiny and appreciation, the event did not disappoint. Contrarily, it overachieved to stratospheric levels, eclipsing, in volume and spectacle, any 'cars & coffee' or cruise type of event.
Copious socializing with the owners and event goers, amid the stunning array of variety and craftsmanship invested in the cars, enlivened the gala's proceedings. The level of restoration and/or preservation of most of the cars was astounding, if not mind-bending. Here, even the lowest level of restoration/presentation offered the upper-limit of experience of cars-as-art. This was no mere car show inasmuch as it was a temporary museum available for the privileged few able to attend. For future note, if you are in any way into cars, the concours is a must-attend affair, a required pilgrimage.
For any future goers to a concours, you will burn out before you are able to see everything with full attention --but in this case will be a rewarding thing. Like going to the Louvre, for the coucours-goer, there will be too much to thoroughly see in one afternoon. And virtually every car will be shockingly maintained and gorgeous. Today's event helped me to revisit and wonder if designers and car-builders of yore were actually more enlightened and creatively alive, as I stood in awe of the sheer amount of incredible car design.
Although only a slice of the total immersion, early 20th century Rolls Royces appeared as showroom new in a surreal juxtaposition among period architecture of the Greystone Mansion's inner sanctum courtyard. In some moments it appeared as if time had instantly reversed 80 years to a vintage Los Angeles that nearly nobody alive today has ever seen. Many attendees dressed the part, donning period-esque garb and bodily adornments. The admixture of beautiful machinery with beautiful people made for a beautiful day.
One of the most interesting pieces was that of a 1948 Ferrari 166 Spyder, the oldest Ferrari I have seen up close and in the metal. It was not fully restored, appearing in a patina that could have been from its original state (see below).
And there was a red Ferrari 275 GTB having been kept and restored to an incredible and almost unbelievable level (see below).
Although news abounds daily about the Great Recession, is it over/ is it really still here --whatever guise that is to assume, it appeared nowhere today, nor did it seem to matter one iota. No expenses seemed to be spared in any way, shape, of form, in creating the individual masterpieces of the concours. One could scrutinize and appreciate a single car for several minutes, disallowing for more numerous future viewings of other cars only a few feet away. I found that every extra five minutes spent viewing one car would disallow for the viewing of 3 more for what time was left in the event.
As such, sunscreen and a parasol were highly valuable tools as the sun today was brutally shining unabated by clouds. The heat roiling off the pavements and stonework of the grounds became a nicely tolerable warmth --that over time became more like an oven. Every extra few minutes meant, too, a fatigue factor became unequivocal after every few viewings. One can always see more, but would one be able to, after too much sun?
Regardless, the Greystone Mansion Councours d'Elegance, for May 6, 2012, including the catering, was excellent.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
“The way I make things is such that I create the idea and then develop engineering drawings created on a CAD/CAM system for rapid prototyping. This obviously saves time and money and minimizes the amount of physical copies that are made with errors. Mistakes are excruciatingly expensive, often being 4 or 5 figure dollar mistakes.
“Some people will ask me ‘why don’t you make more cars per year,’ and they don’t seem to understand how ‘mission impossible’ it is to even build a car in the first place, without a factory. In this kind of project you’re not accessing pre-created parts. One-offs are prototypes. That is what a prototype is.
“To try to keep costs down I do as much as I can myself, by hand. A body designer, a chassis engineer, all require different materials for every part of the car. But doing as much as possible myself also maintains a level of purity. Mass-produced cars are bastardized and lack harmony. But a beautiful design must have symphonic purity. All parts and areas must merge with one another. My cars must exude the sensibility of a super-tuned Stradivarius violin. Look at the old Ferraris, the old Bugattis –they were masterpieces of art and engineering. There were no modern factories in those days; there were just workshops, a lost practice today. As the saying goes ‘too many cooks spoil the broth.”