chicken, brandy and cold war politics

Jul 10, 2015 | Leave a comment

72FordCourier_blogPictured above is a 1972 Ford Courier, a compact pickup truck made by Toyo Kogyo (Mazda) and imported by Ford Motor Company. The Courier was Ford’s answer to the increasingly popular offerings from Toyota and Datsun so importing from Japan made sense but there was a catch. From Wikipedia: “The chicken tax is a 25% tariff on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks imposed in 1963 by the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson in response to tariffs placed by France and West Germany on importation of U.S. chicken. The period from 1961–1964 of tensions and negotiations surrounding the issue, which took place at the height of Cold War politics, was known as the ‘Chicken War’.” In order to circumvent this tax, Ford had the trucks shipped to the US without their cargo boxes attached thus giving it a cab-chassis designation with a lower 4% tax. The tariff was originally meant to protect domestic manufacturers i.e Ford from foreign competition but there have been arguments that the tax buffered manufacturer’s from real competition and let to bad habits like gas-guzzling SUVs and heavy trucks.
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bears, vinyl and how to see your enemy coming from miles away

Aug 26, 2013 | Leave a comment

rustywagon.blogThis lovely fake wood-paneled station wagon is parked at 73 Freeman Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn so named for its verdant forests with tiny creeks and briny marshes. Many moons ago at the westernmost edge of this street there was a white beach and a high bluff that gave you an excellent vantage point and ideal protection from approaching enemies like people with loads of disposable income who love to brunch. The land was settled by the Dutch in the mid-1600’s after a purchase from the Keshaechqueren Indians who started having kids and wanted more of a suburban life. Now this area is home to shipping containers, a large bear carved out of wood (see above) and a cool record store . Also Mae West, the inventor of personal flotation devices lived here.

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noise rock and escargot

Jul 31, 2012 | Leave a comment

This is a mid-90’s Dodge Caravan Rallye. I don’t expect you would enter this into any sort of race or “rally” but we must look to another definition to provide deeper meaning. “Rally” also means to come together for a common purpose. In this case you and your family or your experimental noise rock band could come together for the common purpose of getting from A to B in a pink ass Caravan with a rooftop carrier that at one point had a little snail as its official logo. Feel free to laugh, cry or both. 

living in a van with fox blanket curtains

Jul 10, 2012 | Leave a comment

Obviously someone parked this Chevy van on this quiet block of Box Street in Greenpoint and decided to spend the night. There’s a wolf blanket for curtains. See detail below. This is almost equivalent to the Chris Farley‘s Matt Foley character “…living in a van down by the river!”
The East River is a stone’s throw away as well as Newtown Creek which was the site of one of the worst oil spills in the US at the time with somewhere between 17 to 30 million gallons of oil spilling into the water. 

A few notable people born or raised in Greenpoint are Mae West, Pat Benatar, Mickey Rooney and one Willie Sutton who according to urban legend said that he robbed banks “because that’s where the money is.” He denies ever saying this.


weeds, flowers and spills

Jun 26, 2012 | Leave a comment

One of the great things about walking around the city taking photographs is the small details that you see at the street level. You miss things if you cruise past them on a bike or in a car. I’ve walked all over Brooklyn and Queens looking at buildings and cars but sometimes I’m much more impressed by a struggling weed or flower growing out of a tiny crack in the pavement. However this same weed growing in my postage stamp garden irritates the living hell out of me. I want to destroy it. It’s nature’s way of saying, “Fuck you.” But the flowers are saying, “I love you Christopher.” There’s one rampant invasive plant called Japanese knotweed that can completely take over a yard if not kept under control yet I’ve seen it growing as an ornamental plant in a huge botanical garden in Helsinki. The cold winters there keep it in check but in my Brooklyn backyard that bamboo-like plant will grow up your leg if you aren’t watching. One man’s invasive species is another man’s ornamental plant. Which leads me to graffiti…

I like some forms of graffiti and street art like throw-ups, wildstyles, stickers, Banksy‘s stencil art and Invader‘s tile creations but I usually not tags because I can’t read that but that’s my fault. One particular artist’s work keeps showing up under my feet, literally. His name is Paul Richard. He does works in mixed media but I like his portraits of gentlemen on sidewalks using a dripping paint technique that is not too far removed from Jackson Pollock or your morning pancake syrup masterpieces. On the sidewalk right behind this 1969 Dodge Sweptline D100 pickup truck is one such portrait. See street view shot. I love their simplicity and I often mistake them for spilled paint which is exactly what they are. Click on his name above the link above and search for the Works on Paper. 

ma bell and safety vests

Jan 17, 2012 | Leave a comment

I think this Chevy van once had a life as a Bell Telephone utility vehicle but now it’s being used by a hip Williamsburg resident. I watched and waited as he parked in this spot. I knew I had a good shot but the oncoming traffic was tricky even on this slow morning. I carefully stepped into the street and made my shot. Maybe I should start wearing an orange safety vest like Bill Cunnningham. I came across this same van before in Greenpoint, Brooklyn near where they built the set of HBO‘s Boardwalk Empire but it lacked this nice brick background. I often pass up nice looking cars because the surroundings aren’t quite right. Note: Bell also used Corvair Rampsides and Ford Econolines. See below.

mostly neutral in color, plump and limbless

Nov 1, 2011 | Leave a comment

This setting has everything I could possibly want in my photographs. There is absolutely nothing missing except for maybe a piece or two of plywood.
It’s not hard to see what I’m talking about: the color of the car, the wood background, and the two-tone asphalt. And you thought I was just about old, cool cars. This Volkswagen Jetta works just fine.

If you peek just over the top of the car and above the ant, the text of the graffiti on the wall seems a bit confusing. But if you’ve read The Manufacture Of Non-Bleeding Maraschino Cherries by Jillian Ciaccia then you’ll know that it’s a part of the sentence, “The fruit, mostly neutral in color, plump and limbless is easily harvested with an extended reach.”

*If you know the name of the “ant” street artist please contact me.