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Pop open a can of your best bubbly, and live vicariously through me as I date supermodels, sail on yachts, fly to Rio, and then wake up and cry.
 
 
just like 1990 11.1.2010
Filed under Editorial > Lifestyle
blog rule
It's like a rockstar life, with a horrifyingly "Where are They Now?" kind of twist. But without the troublesome fortune. Or fame.

Yes, it's the real-life, no-holds-barred look at the life and times of a full-time, self-employed, hyphen-addicted hot rod designer. I think I'm gonna flesh this out as a book, or maybe a Lifetime movie!

Yep, that's it: A Lifetime Movie of the Week. I'll switch-up a few choice details, and Judith Light can play my estranged wife, whom I throw conte' crayons at. I'll naturally be played by either George Clooney or Edward James Olmos, and it'll be three parts documentary, a third of two percent dramedy, and a stout .0078 percent feel-good family blockbuster of the Thanksgiving weekend, (with the remainder being porn) and be compared to a stop-motion Lego brick animated remake of Weekend at Bernie's, but with one quarter of the budget.

In other words, it'll be like those Progresso Soup commercials where people phone the chef using a can meets the Progressive Insurance chick meets every ABC After School Special, but way less structured. Or progressive.

  street machine nationals east
 
That said, and having very little clue as to when I'll find time to pen that cinematic experience, I just thought I'd answer a question that I'd received from a younger artist seeking to follow in the footsteps of we who have made the incredibly dubious career choice of drawing cars for a living. Here goes:

"As a hot rod designer, I'd imagine that your car is pretty tricked out. What mods does it have?"

My daily ride is an awesome collection of semi-broken and aftermarket-reman parts. It's a cobbled-together mess of wiring repairs gone bad, haphazardly taped and wire-tied hose hold-downs and often stripped-out thread-having, elongated bolt hole-equipped, tacked-together brackets that sort of defy gravity by elevating noisy components mere inches from once, quite possibly important moving parts. And it knocks a little when cold. And running. Or stalling.

Yeah, it's a life of ballin' and stylin', and occasionally late night cryin'. So you wanna draw cars as a sole means of income, eh? Consider dentistry instead. While the rich and famous read some liberal tome or Nietzsche or pilates manual on the beach, your life lessons will be best served from volumes like this:

depression handbook

(note that "Madness" sits right next door on the shelf... always a step away)

Seriously, though, it's the life I chose, and I go at it each day as though my life (and my kids' lives) depend on it... because, well, duh... they do. And in between drawing cars, t-shirts and more, I repair the little things that break. It keeps you on your toes, and makes you appreciate what you can learn and do, and even more important: The skills of friends who come down to turn a wrench when the machine goes down. On that thought, consider this:

28 mpg

I snapped this the other night as I was about to back out of my parking spot at the grocery store (literally bringing home the bacon, no less), and wanted to share it, because, well, it made me proud of the old gal.
 

With 200k on the clock (presently... the photo was snapped a while back), and a miniscule investment about eight years ago, we've managed to not only keep it running through some rough spots, but crank out gas mileage that puts a brand-new econo box to shame. Hell, I couldn't lease a new ride for six months for what we have into it... Thankfully, too.

It has character. It has space. It makes noise when running, so I can tell the difference between stalling and ready-to-move modes. It was built in one plant, and has state-of-the-art solar heating capabilities. The volume knob on the radio broke months ago. It has a sticker that says "7 Out Of 10 Women are Battered, But I'm Still Eating Mine Plain". It was never marketed as the answer to global environmental issues. Not one movie star owns one. It passes smog with flying colors every time. It's effing brilliant, irreverent, and like a member of the family. It has soul.

Come to think of it, your Prius can suck it.

We won't even get into the mileage on my shoes or underwear.

The point? It's a job that lacks a lot of glory, takes a ton of sacrifice, and certainly won't get you laid. But, as some great friends have shown over the years, it's the little victories that make it all worthwhile, and are truly worth celebrating. Sure, I can't afford a new car, or some $300 shades, but you know what? I smile from ear to ear as I cruise that magic machine every time I need it, because it's my sweat and loose bits of skin all over those messed-up brackets under the hood that show I've been there. And that, more than anything is a way to go at your day: Tackle everything with pride, a willingness to make something work, and appreciate those challenges as some douchebag in a brand new hybrid cuts you off while texting to move funds he doesn't have to cover his car payment again. After all, for what a less disciplined soul will spend on lunch this week, you changed your oil and replaced that broken door handle.

If you can see yourself putting on those shoes each day, the perks are amazing. From haute cuisine to luxury boxes, you'll trade 'em for rotisserie chicken and swinging from the rafters in the $5 seats:

gourmet meal  cheap seats

...and I ENJOY the shit out of 'em both. You know why? I get to see my kids smile, and at the end of the day, not once has anyone approached me to berate my low-budget lifestyle. Never have I felt like the better man because I had the most expensive jeans or shoes or seats at the game... Hell, I was just happy to make it there with my family. I'm not working with some counselor to reduce what I owe to some credit card company because I bought more than I could afford... Rather, my meager belongings fit really well into the Swiss minimalist design ethos, and my back-dated crap is retro chic. And, unlike the rockstars, I haven't contracted VD or a nose candy habit (however, I absolutely cannot listen to Bob Seger without mentally plugging in the sound of the 8-track switching tracks... the horror).

Am I satisfied with where I am? Hell no. And that's why I get up each day and work at making it better for my kids. Will I ever be satisfied? No... simply because there is never enough that I can do for my family. It's a hunger, plain and simple. Get in the way of that, and you'll be but a steaming pile tomorrow. Never do anything for just you. Find a reason to make things happen.

There you have it: a primer for living the ballin', jet-setting, superstar lifestyle as a professional automotive artist. Not easy, and certainly gritty... but if I can do it, I'll bet you can, too. Read it while you await late payments from deadbeats, and ponder new ways to kill yourself with a shovel. The miracle will never cease to happen if you're positive and creative.

my card

This whole mess started with a Pat Green lyric... (at least this article did... chances are that the whole mess that is me started with a Bills win and some Genny pounders) and to quote him one more time:

I'm just a good man, I work with my hands
I get the picture, I heard the message
Hell ain't waiting for a guy like me


If you'd like to be a part of our car's on-going history (or my personal living Hell), hit me up here in the mighty Studio, and we'll perform some miracles for you, too, turning some funds into artwork!

 
 
 

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