Monday, May 31, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Last weekend was Bus City 2010 in Duncans Mills, CA. I'll be doing a longer video of the weekend, but wanted to give you a rundown on the buses that were there:
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
I stumbled on this guy's story while tooling about for VW bus stories a few week's back. For almost 11 years, he has been traveling about in his 1972 Westy camper and asking random people random questions. The result is his "Curious Gabe" column in Surfer magazine. His VW has become part of him, part of his reporting. And, as he mentions, will become part of a documentary he is working on. Below, he discusses his the bus that carries him.
Note: the question/answer below was lifted from from a larger interview with Curious Gabe on National Geographic Adventure's blog.
What's the story with the bus—how long have you had it, where did you get it, what did you pay for it, has it broken down, etc.?
I got the bus in my sophomore year of high school, so that means I've had it for, hold on, back to the calculator… 2008 minus 1987 equals 21. I've had the bus for 21 years. Unbelievable.
I bought it from a friend of my dad. The guy was a scientist by the name of Steve Torkelson from San Francisco and allegedly he was one of the people who helped invent LSD. I've lost touch with him over the years. Hold on, I'm going to Google him and see what comes up… I just found him on LinkedIn. He is listed as a Pharmaceuticals Professional in the San Francisco bay area. Nothing though, about him being the inventor of LSD or Timothy Leary's guru. He probably leaves that part off his resume.
I paid about $2,000 for the bus in monthly payments of $200. I realized I got a great deal when I found a receipt in the glove box and discovered Torkelson spent over two grand on the custom paint job alone. Plus, mechanically and aesthetically the vehicle was in rare pristine condition.
While in college, some friends and I drove it down to Baja on one of many surf trips. Unbeknownst to us, veteran Surfer staff photographer Tom Servais took a classic photo of us driving the bus in all its pre-rust glory, down a dusty desert road. I first met Tom several years later when I became his intern at Surfer straight out of college. He cracked the whip hard on me at first, but once I survived that initial hazing period we ended up becoming good friends. It wasn't until just last year when his surf photography book came out that I saw the desert bus image for the first time. I pointed the page out to him at his book signing party and we were both blown away to discover our paths had crossed several years before we had ever met.
And yes, the bus has broken down countless times. Needless to say, I always travel with a fully stocked toolbox, lots of spare parts and my Complete Idiot's Guide to Volkswagen Repair book. Sketchy moments included tipping over on the 110 freeway in Los Angeles near Compton, getting stuck in the desert sands of Mexico, vandalized in Los Altos, and ravaged by surfboard thieves in Dana Point. The bus is basically being slowly eaten alive by rust from the salt-water air where I live in Laguna Beach. It's in the shop now getting its third or fourth—I've lost track—motor and transmission replaced. I'm in development on a book and film documentary box-set project about Curious Gabe and all I can say is the bus will be an integral character.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Bus City starts today! I will be tweeting a few updates under the hashtag #oldvws here.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
About a month back, Julia Weber posted a note on VW Camper Family asking for VW bus stories. She linked to her project - a series of photos and a series of recordings - and I was amazed. It's like someone is scraping the stories off the side of a bus and putting them on a mantle for all the visitors to see.
I thought it was interesting and wanted to hear her story. I asked her a few questions which she was kind enough to answer:
BBD: I'm interested in why you are interested in VWs. What about them appeals to you?
Julia: My first car was a 1982 VW Vanagon camper, me and my boyfriend – now husband – bought it in Germany in 2003. It was a slow and rusty Diesel in pretty bad shape, but we loved it. To me the best way to travel is in a VW Bus, there is this sense of freedom of being able to just leave and go where ever the road might take you. When we moved to the SF Bay Area in 2006, I was fascinated by the number of older Buses still up and running. Due to the bad weather in Germany few of the older models are still on the road. I am especially drawn to the ones that show a lot of rust, wear, and imperfections - they have a lot of personality, you can just tell that there is a story behind them.
Do you own an old VW?
Yes, me and my husband now own a 1986 Vanagon, a dark blue camper with a pop-top. But compared to some of the VW Buses I've been photographing it may be considered rather young than old...
Has it been hard to get people involved in your project?
It depends, when I started looking for stories I just asked around among people I knew. Some of them have or used to have a VW Bus and sometimes they would refer me to friends. It actually worked pretty well and I got some wonderful stories this way. Especially the former Bus owners I recorded, told me that telling these stories brought back a lot of fond memories. I also had a post on the forum of the local San Jose VW club and was able to record some of their stories in my Bus at their hang out. Getting strangers to participate is a little bit harder. From the cards I hand out when I talk with people about my project and their buses hardly anyone ends up getting back to me. However, I am having a lot of great conversations and very much enjoy working on this project.
What is the ultimate goal of the project?
Through my photography and the audio recordings I am trying to capture the spirit of these unique vehicles. As for the ultimate goal, you could compare it to riding a VW Bus, the journey is the destination. To me the process of collecting the photographs and stories is just as important as the possible outcome. So far I have been following my intuition and one step has led me to the next, so the project may shift as I continue to work. The last path I took, was to experiment with a way to integrate the three parts of my project into an exhibition, which was shown in Gallery at San Jose State University. Right now I am trying to get the project out there and to encourage more bus enthusiasts to participate. The next step will be to go to Germany this summer and hopefully record the stories of German VW Bus owners. Besides exhibiting the work, a possible outcome could be to transcribe and translate the stories and to create a bilingual book, which would also contain my photographs ... but who knows where my path may lead me.
For more information about her work please visit: www.buspiraten.net. To listen to some of the stories she recorded click here: http://juliaweber.weebly.com/volkswagen-stories.html
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
A special post for a special day. Last year, I asked Monty - Big Blue's driver for 37 out of his 42 years, to send some old pictures (Here are some from last year). He was happy to. So here are a few of Monty's memories....
live in Arcata with the bus. We got towed out. - Monty