Miles Davis: Dark Magus: Live At Carnegie Hall [2-CD SET]
Compellingly pissed-off music that's lluminating and inspiring; sure it's ugly in places and totally improvisational but it keeps drawing me back into its anger and rage (and moments of beauty).
Various Artists: Memphis Boys - The Story Of American Studios
Virtually a Memphis Greatest Hits compilation, this ACE records comp of tracks recorded at American Studios has some great tracks sung by singers famous or otherwise. Great CD for long drives.
Various Artists: Onda Vampi
Another brilliant sampler from the vaults of the crate diggers at Vampi Soul. Opener "Dokhtare Shab" from Mehrpouya alone is worth the price of the disc.
Caesar Frazier: Hail Caesar! / '75
Comp CD of two albums from this relatively unknown Detroit Hammond wizard. Some originals blend with well-chosen covers from his days on Westbound/Eastbound Records. "Hicky Burr" a classic, as good as the original.
Isaac Hayes: Shaft (Hybid SACD)
My favorite soundtrack album of all time, sounding even better in SACD format. Great performances and tracks, adding greatly to the vibe of the film. "Cafe Reggio's", "Do Your Thing", and (of course" "Theme From Shaft" are the highlights of this double album.
Love & Revolution
Nicola Conte: Love & Revolution
Conte is making some of the most consistently enjoyable records I've heard lately. This one features some great vocal performances and the band is in fine form. This sounds almost like a continuation of his "Details" record, albeit with some slight personnel changes. Highly recommended.
Real Life Stories
Donald Harrison: Real Life Stories
Talk about an album that grows on you, I don't remember how I ran across this one but I'm happy I did. Great playing (albeit with lots of restraint), the song selection is excellent and it's nicely recorded. Recorded over 10 years ago, it still sounds vital and fresh.
Soul on Soul
Dave Douglas: Soul on Soul
Certain records just get under your skin (but in a good way). This is one of them. Buy it.
There were several other classic cars parked on a bluff further up the hill, so I can only imagine that either an improptu concourse was occuring in celebration of April Fool's Day or maybe a collector was just airing out his collection. Either way, it was an impressive sight.
Mercedes-Benz 190SL, original CA plates adding to the allure.
Which one of these doesn't quite fit in with the others? The Porsche 911 is a great car for this road though, even if it's a little too new to be riding with this crowd.
Impartial to white Mercedes Benz 280SL. The wheels seem to be from a later model 450SL. Mercedes is one of the few older cars where I prefer their stock look to any of the easy mods such as wheels, custom paint colors, etc. The symmetry of the W113 cars doesn't work right with mag-type wheels.
Another Mercedes Benz 190SL. It's like a 300SL for people who still fall into the "Aspirational Buyer" category. Unfortunately, prices on these have been climbing as the 300SL prices have got stratospheric, so the 190SLs in show condition are even becoming out of reach at this point.
Dustin Troyan of Driven World Magazine knocked it out of the park (or rather the parking lot) when his 8th annual Motor4Toys show landed in the Blue Cross/Anthem parking lot in Woodland Hills this morning. As expected, the turnout was massive, with an amazing collection of cars ramdomly spilling over several parking lots throughout the morning.
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL was rather well represented at this year's gathering, but it struck me as odd that they were all gullwing coupes, with no roadsters showing up. Perhaps this reflects the collecting proclivities of the Southern California Mercedes-Benz community, or maybe it was just that all the roadster owners were out driving around, enjoying the amazing weather. 300SLs are beautiful cars in any configuration, and along with the Ferrari Testarosa 250, have to be regarded as one of the ultimate cars to add to your collection. The fact that the 300SL is still 'affordable' by a magnitude of an additional zero on its price makes it perhaps even a little more popular, not to mention adding to the odds of actually seeing one in person.
The car looks good in red, although even a red 300SL tends to get lost when seen amid the sea of Ferraris present at this sort of a GTG.
I don't know what the official name is for the color below, but it's probably more glamourous than "swamp", "murk" or "chocolate gray". It's a very distinguished color, and was part of the Checkered Flag 200 group from the Petersen Automotive Museum. This group consistently has some of my favorite cars on display.
A car as nice as this should probably come with a permit allowing it to park in a red zone anywhere:
The 300SL below looks like the sort of car you wouldn't be afraid of taking out for a drive. The rate of appreciation (talking dollars, not envy) of the gullwings over the past few years makes a Sunday jaunt somewhat daunting. (interesting piece here on driving a classic car)
The Mercedes Benz 300SL is a classic among classics, but all things being equal, I'd probably opt for the roadster over the gullwing. Even with the price differential between the two body styles seemingly narrowing by the month, the idea of having a car this functional and easy to drive has even more appeal when you can put the top down and fully realize the driving experience.
Lots more photos from Motor4Toys will be posted over the next couple of weeks...
Once again, car aficionados from around Southern California made the Motor 4 Toys car show probably the most fun event of its kind this year. Begun seven years ago to acquire lots of toys for local underprivileged children, the morning show has become an event that attracts a diverse range of attendees and their vehicles. There's truly something for everyone here, with cars to appeal to any special interest group you can imagine. I'll put up more photos over the next couple of weeks, but here are some just to get started.
And speaking of Mercedes-Benz, here's a stunning Mercedes Benz 300SL:
There are always plenty of Porsches at this event, ranging from early 356s and 911s/912s to the very latest modified 911s from all the tuners. There were some particularly nice Carreras out there this year, including this 911 RS:
Alfa Romeo had a definite presence at Motor 4 Toys this year, with numerous older cars in great condition parked at the event - it may be the excitement about the reintroduction of Alfa to the USA market, but I've been seeing a lot more classic Alfas on the road lately. This Giulia 55 was restored to within an inch of its life but was a breathtakingly beautiful car that looks like it'd be a blast to drive:
This Fiat X1/9 looks ready for the hills of Malibu:
This Hurst Barracuda was very impressive in person:
And this Ford Woody appears to have been driven to Motor 4 Toys directly from the restoration shop. Fantastic work on the wood and the interior and paintwork is immaculate:
The supercar category was amply represented, with cars from all of the major companies sharing space with efforts from tuners and custom shops. This Spyker C8 Aileron was getting a lot of interest throughout the day:
Sometimes, no theme takes shape from the cars I see but there are some interesting photos anyway. Narrative's overrated anyway, am I right?
The groovy psychedelic-like paint job on this big Mercedes-Benz parked on PCH is appropriately a little out of focus. There was a guy in San Luis Obispo in the early 1970s who had his Jaguar XKE and Mercedes-Benz 280SL custom painted in a similar rainbow scheme. We thought he was kind of odd, but after all, he was in the film business somehow so such flamouyancy was to be expected.
Here's a Rolls-Royce mule, one of the participants in the daily BMW phalanx.
The Lotus Elise is a beautiful piece of machinery. Lightweight - and maybe even overpowered for its size and weight (but who's complaining?), I'd like to drive one someday around Encinal Rd and the other roads in the hills above Malibu. It seems purpose-built for this area.
This E30 BMW M3 was restored to an outrageously high condition. It looked beautiful, and sounded even better:
Do I like this color? Eh, not bad. Kind of stealthy actually, but I still prefer something a little showier, like something along the lines of the Lotus Elise shown above. What's the point in having a car that was as advanced in its era as an E30 M3 and having it in a color that enables it to fade into the pavement?
The Acura NSX remains one of my all-time favorites. Not difficult to understand why. It's a great design that's aged well, and it starts when you turn it on. Mechanical reliability means a lot to me these days.
From the sublime to the (semi) ridiculous:
Third generation Mustang 5.0, painted sky blue and with some interesting wheel covers. Or maybe they're mags. Or something. It looked okay from a distance, but I've got to admit that it did a better job of waking me up early on a Sunday morning than the cup of coffee I was drinking as we walked by.
As did this Mercedes 300SL that was moving down Olympic boulevard on Sunday morning with a trail of smoke behind it:
The two Priuii ahead of it are swoopy and aerodynamic and get much better mileage than the gullwing, but the Mercedes' motor sounded a lot better than the silence of the Toyota's hybrid engine and it appeared that the Mercedes-Benz driver was having a lot more fun driving the car than the person who was in the Prius getting from point A to point B. Go figure.
I've begun seeing the occasional Nissan GT-R on the streets. If you look at the numbers (power, speed, electronics) there's no better automobile value in the marketplace, even in the neighborhood of $85K. Here's one that was parked along the Carbon Beach stretch of PCH in Malibu where referring to it as an $85K neighborhood might be considered slander, as it might be construed as an indication that it's sorta middle class. They don't call it "Billionaire's Beach" for nothing...
And a brand new GT-R from the top of Sepulveda Pass the other day:
The dimensions of this car are offputting and the overall look kind of reminds me of the Tarkus avatar off the Emerson, Lake & Palmer album of the early 1970s (no, I don't know why...it's just that way). The GT-R strikes me as if it might be kind of cold and calculating, but not necessarily soulless like say, the Prius. Can you put this much technology in a car and still leave room for some sort of a personality? I wouldn't necessarily think so, but I'd love to drive one some day and find out.
Finally, just a blurry shot of a couple of Ferraris passing by. Sometimes you just stick the camera up against the window and hope for the best. I think that Ferraris and Porsches are the most oft-seen cars along PCH in Malibu. The Lamborghinis are the most noticeable, but for sheer numbers it's amazing how many Ferraris and Porsches appear seemingly every time the sun comes out around here. Not that I'm complaining or anything.
The main raison d'etre for my trip up to Carmel during Concours weekend was to pour Torbreck at a private party held for the residents and guests of the Santa Lucia Preserve. If I ever find myself needing a second home, this is where I want it to be. It's a twenty minute drive to the ranch house from the front gate, and you need to make sure you don't run over any deer. Probably cherubs and unicorns too, it's so isolated and Eden-like. Although the skies were overcast on the coast, a few miles inland the weather was sunny and warm, perfect conditions for a automobile display and wine tasting.
Although there were some new Ferraris on display, I'm kinda fond of the 275 GTB styling. Fond enough that I didn't mind the smell of gasoline that permeated the interior. Its aromatics reminded me of the old school wines of Alsace.
The Daytona was beautifully restored, on a par with the new Ferrari in the background. The Triumph TR-4 was way cool, looking as if it were actually driven on a regular basis.
This 1934 Riley MPH racer was one of the few British cars on display, but its sound and look certainly drew a lot of attention as it pulled onto the grass. One of twenty built, it grew more interesting (and less Jaguar or MG-like) the more time one spent exploring it.
What's not to like about a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL? It was accompanied to this event by a brand new Mercedes Benz SLS AMG. I'd be hard-put to decide whether I preferred the old gullwing to the new gullwing, but the Dallas-based owner of these beautiful cars decided not to have to make such a Solomon-like decision and owns both. And a Mercedes-Benz 300SC Cabriolet as well, just in case he can't decide between the two gullwings and opts for no top at all.
Speaking of perfect German engineering (and restoration), these immaculate Porsche 356s were sent over from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. Need I add that they were perfect in every regard, probably quite a bit more well sorted out than they were when they originally left the factory. Nice group of guys accompanying the cars too - it's a treat to run across mechanics and PR people who really seem to enjoy what they're pushing.
And speaking of interesting people, Rob Dickinson was there with a Singer 911 that was one of my favorite cars of the weekend. I know, it's "only" a modification of a restored 911 (enabling the lucky owner to hang onto their black CA plates) but this is an impressively thought-out piece of machinery that I'd consider owning one of these myself (assuming I win the SuperLotto or master my bank robbery technique- they certainly aren't giving these things away). I particularly love the work they've done to the interior.
There was also a swell Porsche GT3 RS being shown (photo below), but I'll wrap up the Porsche coverage with another oldie, this 356 that ran in the 2007 La Carrera Panamerica. Looks like a fun car for a fun race. The VW Van in the background would have made for a nice support vehicle for the race, although it might not be able to keep up with the rest of the team. Sure looked good though...
This was one of those events that were a lot of fun to work. The crowd loved the Torbreck wines, the food was amazing, and we got to look at a lot of great cars. But the evening wasn't over just yet. After the sun went down the crowd began to thin out and we hit the road. But not before stopping by the other party taking place on the Santa Lucia Preserve property, a welcoming dinner for the members of the American Bugatti Club. But that'll be in the next post....
As glorious as it may be to be in Carmel during Concours week, it can be a bit of a pain if you have to be working during the event and we were there to sell Torbreck wine, not gawk at extraordinary automobiles. Thus Matt Peterson (of J&L Wine) and I found ourselves parking on the outskirts of downtown on August 12th and hiking a fairly long distance into the commercial center, all because the Tour d'Elegance participants were stopping for lunch downtown. Not only were the street closed off so that the Tour cars could be displayed, but all of the parking spots for blocks around were taken up by the cars of the people who'd driven into the area to see the free show. Out of breath though I was, I had a few minutes in which to get some photos between stops at Casanova, The Cheese Shop of Carmel, and Le St Tropez. As you'll notice, the crowd was massive, making it impossible to get a good shot of the cars, but it's all part of the Pebble Beach experience.
This highly stylized Cadillac Biarritz Eldorado was parked on a side street. It's among the most memorable cars I saw all weekend...
Not unexpectedly, this Bugatti Atlantic received a lot of attention from the crowd.
I'm a sucker for a Facel Vega. It goes back to my youth, where I used to walk past a used car lot in San Luis Obispo that had one for sale. It was offered at only $1800, but I was 16 years old and $1800 might have been a millions bucks, given my resources at the time (they also had an AC Bristol Aceca for $3400). Anyhow, this car in Carmel was beautifully restored and makes me think that I should have gone to much greater lengths to get the Facel Vega 30+ years ago.
The hike back up the the hill to where the car was parked was taxing in terms of cardiovascular workouts but worth it in terms of the cars we saw. It's sort of a preferential tossup between this BMW 3.0 and the Mercedes/McLaren SLR convertible parked behind it:
This Maserati tag-team of a Merak and a Ghibli was inspiring:
And this Mercedes Benz 600 was large and imposing enough to be the ideal transport vehicle to get us back to the top of the hill where our car was parked:
On the way to our next stop at Favoloro's Big Night Bistro in Pacific Grove, we saw a beautiful Bugatti turning onto the road leading to Pebble Beach:
And finally, the world's most conservatively colored Lamborghini Gallardo ever to leave the factory:
After Wednesday night's dinner (where we wound up at a table sitting next to Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Saarsgaard), we departed the Peterson aerie early in the morning and after a stop for croissants and coffee at Big Sur Bakery, we headed north up Highway One toward our first appointment in Carmel.
It is indeed about the timing, as the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance tour had commenced and a number of entrants were on the road, racking up miles and additional tiebreaker points toward Sunday's big show. It was quite an impressive showing of automobiles...
Ho hum, just a Bugatti being chased by three Mercedes Benzes...
I don't know what it is, but it sure looks cool and Italian...