Saturday, September 01, 2007

ROCKIN' in Pleasanton (Goodguys 21st West Coast Nationals) - part four: wonderful oddities

























Maybe this is patently obvious, but what I adore about the Goodguys West Coast Nats is the superior array of vehicles, the most I've ever seen in one place, year to year to year, which are so undeniably highly accomplished, completed visions in sculpture, color, and automotive engineering.
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This is the creme de la creme, and many people in the hot rod world are in complete agreement. But all hot rod events are exercises in serendipity. Why rods are parked where they are, why you encounter them at a particular point in the day, why their hoods are up or down . . . all this is part of what I've for years now regarded as a zen-like challenge, to be a complete appreciator of all this in the form it presents itself to you.
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So, as I wander through the fairgrounds, I'm beset--happily, yes--with a myriad of choices. Left, right, top, bottom, directly in front of me, what do I choose next? I've got about 1,000 images to play with on my memory card and a top-notch camera with above average battery life. Six hours--what can you come home with? Everything is so much fun to look at, it's all so kool, everything is up, but you have to make choices.
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And, even with the choices, do you put the emphasis on "in-the-weeds," or or position the camera to achieve a crane-like overhead point of view. The answer is . . . all of that. Whatever strikes your fancy, but also whatever gives each vehicle its personality . . . in your eye-to-finger explosion of neurons, in the fleeting moment of encounter and its corresponding moment of capture. You're stalking the wild boar here; catch, and release.
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This is not an exam in car-aesthetics-philosophy 101, but something inside does tell you why a particular car's so good, what's best in that moment of point and click. You're passing through, you stop, stare, swivel to aim, the crowd parts, the last intruding spectator in your viewfinder backs away, and badda bing, you react by instinct. It's kinda cool, actually. It's one of the artistic behaviors I share with my late Dad Phil, and my brother Jonas and my sister Dena--all accomplished photogs. What you see, what you understand, is what you get.
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But my point is, to cover an event with 5,000+ vehicles, you can't obsess, you gotta keep moving. Here, I saw a lot of wacky stuff, those truck-like creations and that big blue European-like fantasy thing (which was first exhibited at the Gordon McCall event at the Monterey Jet Center (see the coverage a few blogs back). But everywhere, all around me, were acres of all-American horsepower, so I paid much more attention to the engines themselves this year.
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However, even with that said, what you'll see in the next and final blog about this year's GG Nats in Pleasanton, was more than a moment of obsession. It involved my happenstance discovery of a magnificent Rocket 88 Oldsmobile, which I might have missed entirely if I hadn't decided to walk down a row of cars in a direction I'd already covered. And, of course the Rocket 88 plays a key role in ROCKIN'. Come back in a day or so . . . you'll understand what happened, why I was so elated.
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Don't forget to click on each photo to enlarge and fully enjoy.

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