Thursday, July 2, 2015

WAY BACK: S.F. CHRONICLE 1972: NOSTALGIA - - ON SOUTH VAN NESS


"Heeeeeeey," as The Fonz would say. Welcome back to Kip Pullman's American Graffiti Blog. Our latest post is an article I came across while combing the archives at The San Francisco Public Library. As it turns out, American Graffiti made the news several times a year before it was first officially released in theaters. Making a movie is always big news and so when a director named George Lucas was filming some movie with the odd working title, American Graffiti at the local Mels Drive-in at 140 South Van Ness in San Francisco you can bet the press was there. The following article was first published in the Sunday San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle (in what is known to locals as the Pink Section) on July 3, 1972. That's forty-three yrs ago. WOW that was a long time ago!

Click to enlarge article
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Sunday, June 28, 2015

1979: SONGS OF INNOCNECE & EXPERIENCE: THE BLAKEAN VISION OF GEORGE LUCAS

Welcome back to KIPS' AMERICAN GRAFFITI BLOG.  It's time to take your head out from under the hood of your hot rod and dig this examination of your favorite movie from a unique perspective. Today for your reading pleasure I've posted an examination of American Graffiti like no other.   Published in 1979 and written by B. H. Fairchild, Jr. the author compares George Lucas with visionary painter/poet William Blake. It's quite fascinating and recognizes Lucas' American Graffiti as a vision of the universal mythological depths that are at the heart of the experiences of all people, all generations and all cultures that must endure change.  ENJOY!

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Copyright 2002 EBSCO Publishing


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Saturday, June 6, 2015

MELS & MUSTANGS

The 2015 Mustang retains its classic look: Long hood, short rear deck, fastback roof, tri-bar taillights, & shark-nosed grill
 
Way back in the Fall of 2014 when Ford Motor Company wanted to introduce it's new line of Mustangs to the automotive press they decided to begin their International Auto Drive each morning at Mels Drive-in located at 8585 Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood,  California (CA.) It seemed only natural to match a classic with a classic: The Ford Mustang was first introduced in late 1963-64 and Mels, of course has been around since 1947. I recently spoke with Mels Drive-in co-owner, Steven Weiss (pronounced Weese) and he recalled the event with enthusiasm.  "Ford Mustang brought out auto writers from across the country and Europe and put them up in a hotel down the street from our Mels drive-in in West Hollywood," Weiss explained. The restaurant at the West Hollywood location normally stays open 24 hours a day but during the course of a week it was closed to the general public three hours each day from 6am to 9am during which time the Ford Motor Company photographed, filmed, and promoted the 2015 Mustangs under the tantalizing glare of the restaurant's neon lights  "They lined up twenty-four brand new Mustangs, all different models, engines and color types in our parking lot. It was fantastic!," Weiss recalled.  


Each day a different group of writers had their chance to test drive the new vehicles. They'd bring them in, give them a speech about the new line of Ford Mustangs as the press devoured the delicious classic American style breakfast at Mels. "The excited writers would get in the cars and drive all over the city on a route planned for them," Weiss recalled. It took most of the day and driving through the city is often stop and go traffic, but the drivers were able to stretch out and reach high speeds on the freeway in the San Gabriel Mountains bordering LA.  After a day of driving they'd reach the end of the course located at Peterson’s Automotive Museum in LA. At the famous museum the press were treated to dinner to top off their exciting day.

 The LA Times had this to say about the 2015 Mustang's driveability: 
The GT and its V-8 still proves the old muscle car adage: There's no replacement for displacement. This is the Mustang's valedictorian and the one to pick if you consider white-knuckle driving an athletic endeavor.  There's meaty torque everywhere during acceleration, but it's predictable and approachable. Our GT tester had the six-speed manual transmission with an easy clutch and a straightforward shifter.  The GT is surprisingly lively and fun on tight roads. Though wider, higher and a little heavier than before, the power and size of this car are perfectly matched.  Our loaded $44,290 tester had the optional performance package that included larger wheels, wider tires, a stiffer suspension setup and larger front brakes. This combination helped the GT stay planted and flat through hard cornering.  But the GT's engine growl -- half the fun -- loses something in translation through the exhaust. Like an opera singer in a ski mask, this Mustang doesn't roar like a 435-horsepower car should.
 "They put together these great videos of the event which they later posted on the internet," said Weiss. Below is a 30 second clip of footage that highlights both the new Mustang and Mels. It is slick, cool and way too short.  Not sure if this was ever made into a TV commercial for the new Mustang but it certainly works as both a promotion for the car as well as the classic-style restaurant.


2015 Ford Mustang at Mels Drive-In


Below are a few pix of the 2015 Mustang from the event. 
Please click on photos to enlarge.

The 2015 Ford Mustang GT parked at Mels Drive in on Sunset Blvd. In Hollywood, CA
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They lined up twenty-four brand new Mustangs, all different models, engines and color types in our parking lot.
- Steven Weiss.
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Base prices start at $23,600 for the V-6, $25,170 for the EcoBoost four-cylinder, $29,170 for the EcoBoost Premium, $32,100 for the V-8 GT and $36,100 for the GT Premium.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/cars/article2297648.html#storylink=cpy
 

A 435-hp 5.0-liter V-8 matched with a six-speed manual transmission
 On the freeway in the San Gabriel Mountains bordering L.A.


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NOTES
  • Gelinas, Gabriel. [first 2 Photos of Mustangs at Mels.]  Guide Auto Web. 2015 Ford Mustang. A Brave New World.  http://www.guideautoweb.com/en/galleries/26639/2015-ford-mustang-a-brave-new-world/?im=21  
  •  Mustang. Car and Driver website. http://www.caranddriver.com/ford/mustang. Retrieved 5/22/2015.
  • Jordan, Michael. 2015 Ford Mustang Review, Automobile website.http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews/driven/1409-2015-ford-mustang-gt-premium-review/
  • Undercoffler, David. FIRST DRIVE; New Mustang aims to please everyone; In the 2015 model, Ford blends 50 years of history with demands for modern powertrains, technology, safety and styling. Los Angeles Times. [Los Angeles, Calif] 18 Sep 2014: B.1. Retrieved June 2015
  • Weiss, Steven. Personal conversation with Steven Weiss 5/26/2015







Tuesday, April 21, 2015

 Don't miss this year's, CRUISN' THE BOULEVARD

  PETALUMA, CA's SALUTE TO AMERICAN GRAFFITI

Salute the 2015, 10th anniversary celebration May 14, 15, & 16

 

There will be celebrity appearances and over 400 cars on display this year. Car Registration began Feb 2, 2015. So, make sure to get your car signed up early if you want to show off your ride!

 



For more info on this fantastic even click on the banner below:
http://www.americangraffiti.net/
http://www.americangraffiti.net/


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APOLOGIES RE: Sound Clips.  "DivShare" is undergoing some developmental changes so for the time being we are momentarily w/o sound. That's better anyway, right?  You really should read more!!

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http://www.melsdrive-in.com/


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

WOLFMAN JACK RECORD SURVEYS & AIR-CHECKS Pt. 2 - GONNA BLOW YOUR MIND, BABY!

On TV's The Odd Couple (1973) Click on this or any picture to enlarge.
 Awright, baby, welcome to another edition of Kip's American Graffiti Blog.  This time we gonna continue where we left off awhile back on Part 1 and drop some more Wolfman Jack record surveys & air-checks, Xtc. on ya. The air-checks are recreations from back in the day when Wolfman ruled the border blaster, X-E-R-B known as "The Mighty Ten-Ninety." In the mid-1960s Wolfman broadcast over XERB with it’s 50,000-watt, Tijuana directional transmitter covering 13 Western U.S. states and Canada. He was both an executive and air personality at XERB’s Los Angeles offices, and according to a 1971 Billboard magazine article, ultimately he bought the station but Mexican nationals always owned the transmitter. Unfortunately for Wolfman, sometime in 1971 he lost control of the station when the Mexican government no longer permitted him to broadcast the various gospel and race track result features which had provided the majority of income for the station. The station's call letters were changed to X-E-P-R-S and broadcast a 24-hr soul-rock format. Wolfy sold the exclusive U.S. sales rights to XEPRS to a company called Radio House Communications but he still retained ownership of XERB, Inc. However, without a transmitting tower from which to broadcast, the call letters were practically useless.  For about a year afterwards, Wolfman continued to have one 3hr show a night under the new XEPRS management.  Ya understand what I mean? Never mind the talkin', forget walkin' we gonna get going and do it to it. So have at it... Have moicy, baby!  
 
Hey man, I wanna remind ya,  I've listened to radio shows on the internet and on more than several occasions heard my Wolfman mixes being broadcast.   Remember the air-checks I produce are for listening on my blog and not intended to be used elsewhere or for profit. Thanks! 
 
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Wolfman's show introduction segue into YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT by The Stones (album version) circa 1969

Here's a border blastin', oldie but a goodie: XERB Super Soul 21 record survey from May 1969. At the time, Wolfman had a 3hr. pre-recorded show that was re-broadcast three times a day.
 
Wolfman will be the final judge as to whether Tony Randall's song is any good.
 
Here's a XERB air-check I mixed with a phone call bit and the tune, TRUDI by Donovan with The Jeff Beck Group (circa 1969)
 
 
 A mind-blowing faux XERB air-check.  This time Wolfman spins HITCH HIKE by Marvin Gaye



Here's a fresh XERB mix.  Wolfman's talking to "Nancy" on the phone as he segues into an oldie but moldy from 1956, SHA-BOOM by The Crewcuts with a little wild American Graffiti craziness thrown into the middle for added flavor.
   
 
By sometime in 1971 Wolfman had lost control of station XERB and had to hand the controls back over to the Mexican owners. With Wolfman's management out of the way, the station owners tried to duplicate his successful formula.  They changed the call letters to X-E-P-R-S and programmed soul music, calling the station “The Soul Express.” Wolfy still broadcast for about a year under the new ownership before finally leaving for local Los Angeles station, K-R-L-A and going into syndicated markets all over the world..
 
Wolfman got to keep the call letters, X-E-R-B but the Mexican owners kept the station's frequency and facilities and renamed it X-E-P-R-S. This survey is from 8/20/1971.
 
 
 
The 10-90 Soul Express station ID in Spanish and jingle in English.

 
"Cooked Boogaloos" An added air-check I mixed where Wolfman takes a phone call & spins The Beatles' classic, DR. ROBERT
 
X-PRS Funky Forty for the week of 2/19/1972. Two months later Wolfman left "The Mighty 10-90" forever and began a new phase of his career as an international superstar. To hear a recording of his voice on his final night on XEPRS click this link: WOLFMAN SAYS GOODBYE
 

A caller from Weed, CA tries to get through to the Wolfman while he spins  GIMME SOME MORE by James Brown's band, The JBs which charted at #13 on the X-PRS Funky Forty survey seen above



 Soon I will be posting an update on XERB & XEPRS as the station(s) look today. Well, that's it for another groovy, groovy post. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. 'Till next time, keep your ears clean. Bye!
 
- 30 -
 
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NOTES: 





    Friday, August 1, 2014

    PHARAOH MERCURY REPLICA 4 SALE


    What, you say you always wanted to be a Pharaoh but owning a car club jacket and learning the secret handshake just wasn't good enough??  Say no more. Here is your chance to own an authentic replica of the original Pharaoh’s Mercury featured in George Lucas' 1973 film, American Graffiti.  That's right the famous American Graffiti tribute car is up for sale!

    This 1951 Mercury with a 356 flat head and a three on the tree, was built by the late, Glenn Shimmin of All Rod Custom in Colville Wash. It was put together from various old Mercury cars with the assistance and direction of such Graffiti alumni as transportation supervisor Henry Travers (drove & maintained cars for the film) and Don Orlandi Sr. & son who customized the main cars for the film (i.e., Milner Coupe, '58 Impala, Mercury, etc.)

    Since the unexpected passing of owner/builder, Glenn, a few years ago, the car has been owned by the family and maintained by his daughter who inherited her dad’s passion and devotion to cars and the uncanny ability to build and maintain them.

    Unfortunately, the family can no longer afford to maintain and show the car so they are presenting an opportunity for the serious American Graffiti fan to own the tribute vehicle. It is truly one of a kind.
    Owner/builder, late-great, Glen Shimmin
    Because it looks like the owner of the original movie car will not be restoring his broken down vehicle to movie-correct specs or selling it anytime soon, this beautiful tribute car is as close as one could ever get to experiencing the Pharaohs Mercury as it originally appeared in American Graffiti.  Every detail was put forward to be movie correct.

    The interior features signatures of actress’s & actors related to the movie.

    There is video, scrap books of the building process, and plenty of photos that will make the lucky new owner aware of what this car represents.

    Mercury with original '58 Impala movie car and other Graffiti Tribute cars
    It is hoped that the new owner of the car would be interested and capable of occasional travel to some feature events in nearby states with TRIBUTE TEAM AMERICAN GRAFFITI.

     When Glen first built this awesome tribute car I talked with him about the led sled.  Check out my interview with him as he discusses the building process.
     

     

     For further information:
     
     Facebook: tributeteam americangraffiti
     Contacts: Kim Shimmin at 509-680-1982/ owner
     Or, Chairman Ken Crawford at kencraw67@msn.com
     Phone 503-387-3304

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE A PHARAOH

    Bad boy gang members, The Pharaohs intimidate a worried Curt [Richard Dreyfuss]
     
    By contributing writer, Charlie Lecach 
    Even though their low-riding, Flathead powered Mercury is probably far from being the fastest car in the Valley, the members of the PHARAOHS [Bo Hopkins, Manuel Padilla, Jr, & Beau Gentry] are among the coolest kids in director, George Lucas’ 1973 nostalgic film, American Graffiti. These hoods appear to be the real badass guys who would eventually tie you to their rear bumper and drag you through Paradise Road or some other abandoned stretch of asphalt in Sonoma County (where parts of the movie were filmed). At least that’s what they would like Curt Henderson [Richard Dreyfuss] to believe but besides breaking into a few pinball machines and ripping off a police car’s rear axle, they don’t seem to be that bad. Just as most car club members from the 1950’s and 1960’s used to be in real life: Mostly grown up teenagers with cheap cars, trying to make them go faster, cruising all night to pick up girls and having fun “as usual.”
     
     
    Thousands of these car clubs used to be spread all over the continent back then and it seems like each small town even hosted a few of them. Sometimes you could run into bigger organizations but most of the clubs consisted of 5 to 10 friends who chose a name, a logo, had a few car coats embroidered and some club plaques cast (quite often in a high school casting and foundry class). In the film, American Graffiti, PHARAOHS seem to be one of those smaller groups, as we just know about Joe [Bo Hopkins], Carlos [Manuel Padilla, Jr.], Ants [Beau Gentry] and most probably Gil Gonzales and Toby Juarez, who are mentioned in the dialogue.
     
     
    THE REAL PHARAOHS
     
    During the fifties and sixties, there were many real car clubs across the USA called the PHARAOHS. Here’s a list of some cities where they could be found : Alamosa, Bassett, Braintree, Chicago, Eveleth, Flint, Delano, Deward, Eureka, Hurricane, North Sacramento, Genie, Phoenix, Oakland, Pocatello, Lake Stevens, Saint Paul, Braintree, Poplar Bluff, Santa Rosa, Del Mar, Munday, El Monte, Fort Worth, Fowler, Saint Louis County, Glenview, Little Egypt, Amarillo, Malden, Bassett, Oxnard, Pittsburgh, Raytown, Roseville, Salinas, Berdoo, Scottsbluff, Minneapolis, South Bend, Spokane, Clifton, Southland, Swanton, Toledo, Wilmington and a few more.

    Back then, some clubs indeed preferred to spell their name PHAROAHS, like in Fremont, Seward, Mount Vernon, Mokes Lake, Tri Cities / WA or Concord. One club is known for spelling its name PHAROS and there was even one FAROS car club in Modesto, California, which was active between 1957 and 1973. Most likely, the name of the car club gang in Graffiti was inspired by the very same FAROS who cruised the streets of Modesto while director, George Lucas was growing up there in the late-1950s and early-1960s.

     

    ORIGINAL CLUB MEMBERS FEATURED IN THE MOVIE 

     
     
    If you’re among those Graffiti fans who like to dissect each image of the movie, you might have noticed some other gangs hanging around in front of Mels. For example, after having spent the night with the Pharaohs, Curt [Richard Dreyfuss] is dropped off at the drive-in (originally located at 140 S. Van Ness Blvd. in San Francisco, CA). As he's walking to his Citro├źn 2CV Curt passes a few car buffs wearing club coats.  During this scene, at least two different clubs can be clearly identified: the Quick Changers and the Road Runners, both from Marin County. These clubs really existed and it’s most likely that some of their members were used as extras. After all, the few hot rods seen in American Graffiti - other than Milner’s Deuce which was a movie prop - must have belonged to some real hot rodders…
     
     
    Thanks to Bill Junge for the photos of these car club plaques. Bill has gathered thousands of images and just finished a new version of his old website, listing and showing all these cast aluminum plaques, http://carclubplaques.pairsite.com/carclubplaques.htm  If you want him to put you on his list of information to know when the new site will updated, please drop him a line: clubplaques@frontier.com  
     
    ~ FIN ~