Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mod Scooter in Ballard

I like The Who. I like their movie Quadrophenia. I like its exploration of a young person's struggles as viewed through the fashion, social settings and tribulations of the "Mod" culture in Great Britain in the 1960s.

If you know the movie or anything about Mod culture, you know that motor scooters were (are?) their preferred mode of transportation. "Rockers" of the era rode motorcycles. That was too crude, low and rough for the slickster, hipsters of the Mod scene. Nope. They coveted the more elegant Italian scooter.

The movie Quadropheia features the main characters cruising around on such scooters all the time.


...as my wife and I walked down a street in our neighborhood this week, I saw a scooter that reminded me of the movie and Mods. Now, it's not a high end, customized unit. In fact, it was kinda dinged up. But, there was something about its silver finish and how it was rocked back on its stand that caught my eye and reminded me of Quadrophenia. So I took a couple pictures.

Check them out...

(C) Marc Osborn

(C) Marc Osborn

NOTE: Copyright for the pictures in this post are owned by Marc Osborn. No use of either image is permitted for any purpose without prior written permission from Marc Osborn.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy 50th Birthday Ford Mustang!

Happy 50th birthday Ford Mustang!

Yep, the good old Mustang turns the big 5-0 today. Perhaps no American car evokes notions of freedom, speed, rebellion and pure road power like the Mustang. It's introduction five decades ago, just as Baby Boomers aged into driving age young adults, ushered in a new era of cars...taking automobiles from forms of transportation (economic or luxury) to an exciting expression of personality, youth and breaking with tradition.

I was too young to experience the first generation of Mustang when they were new. But, by the time I was old enough to think about things like cars, the Mustang instantly stuck out to me as the obvious cool American car. Whether in the movies or driving down the street...when I saw a 1960s Mustang (and in particular a fastback) I thought..."Man, that's is so cool. I want one of those."

So, on this anniversary, below is a quick history of the car followed by a shot of the Mustang I  did eventually buy...

Under the project leadership of Lee Iacocca, in the the middle of 1964 the first model rolled off the assembly line and went on sale to the public. Here's a picture of one of those first versions:

1964 1/2 Ford Mustang
Initially marketed to women drivers as a practical, sporty car, it didn't take long for other demographics (male, young) to become interested given the car's looks and nascent horsepower.

From there, yearly updates and upgrades in the look and power plant turned the attractive, zippy "sports" car into a powerful and very fast "muscle car"...but not just A muscle car, THE muscle car.

A buddy of mine had a metallic green 1966 Mustang coupe during our time in high school (1984-1988), and we had fun working on its engine and roaring around in it. I seem to recall one incident of catching some air one night on a hilly suburban back street. Good times.

 Below are some other Ford Mustangs from the 1960s and early 1970s:

1966 Mustang Fastback
1965 Mustang Coupe
1972 Mustang
1968 Mustang

As you can see, the Mustang evolved into a bigger and bigger vehicle with correspondingly bigger and bigger engine options. 

Other car companies followed suit in the late 60s and a whole class of muscle cars came on the scene during that same era, each year getting faster and sleeker. You know these cars: Chevy Camero and Chevelle, Plymouth Barracuda, Pontiac GTO, Dodge Challenger and others.

But, by the early 1970s things changed. For safety reasons and in reaction to the oil crisis, muscle cars basically went away as Detroit focused on smaller, more fuel efficient cars. During this change, the Mustang brand didn't dispensary, but the car became much smaller, less powerful and used less fuel. While there are some who are loyal to their "second generation" Mustang IIs of the mid/late 1970s, there aren't too many. Perhaps you can tell why from this picture...

Mustang II of the 1970s
The 1980s saw a re-birth of a more powerful Mustang. Updated styling helped sell more units too. While perhaps not as cool as the 1960s models, this "third generation" of the car re-booted the brand in a positive direction.  This version lasted into the early 1990s. Along the way, however, Ford almost discontinued the Mustang in favor of the Ford Probe. All concerned are glad they did not. Here's a Mustang from the tubular times know as the 1980s...

1986 Ford Mustang
In 1993, Ford introduced a "fourth generation" of the Mustang. Looking a bit more like the originals, this version also had increasingly more powerful engine options. All told, it moved the needle further on building a modern Mustang following.  

1998 Form Mustang
And then finally, in 2005, Ford went full retro with the Mustang and introduced the "fifth generation." Taking major styling queues from the famous Mustang fastbacks of the late 60s, these new Mustangs also incorporated big horsepower V8 and V6 engine options (for example, the V6 option has more horsepower than many of the V8s of the 1960s). Throw in GT and Cobra versions and you have some serious horsepower that's as appealing as the look.

Indeed, Ford went all the way to reel in young and old Mustang fans alike - either you were re-visiting your youth with a new version of a car you once had OR you were able to buy a brand new Mustang that was very similar in look to the originals you coveted from the past. I fit the second category in 2006 when I finally bought one. Here it is:

My 2006 Ford Mustang (C) Marc Osborn
Notice how much it looks like the ones from the 1960s? The front end with its overhanging hood, the light assembly, badging, the fastback slope...all taken from the legendary designs. Over the years, I've received comments from quite a few people saying how cool the car is and how Ford "really brought the Mustang back." And it's interesting that the types of people making the comments vary widely. About half have been middle age guys..which you'd expect. But, I've had similar comments ("love your car," "sweet ride," "go Mustang" and similar) from younger guys, women and - in one case - some enthusiastic praise from a car full of young women as I drove along in my home town one evening. 

Did I mention the Mustang is cool?

From 2005 to 2011, the Mustang pretty much looked the same with a few modifications here and there. In 2012 Ford made some more aggressive changes that, while still technically built on the "fifth generation model," moved the design in a more modern, technical direction. I was not thrilled.

And now, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the car, Ford is introducing a "sixth generation" Mustang - one that it has built, for the first time, to meet global standards, tastes and budgets. You know Ford wants to sell this thing all over the world.

This generation furthers the modern styling trend, moving more away from the retro classic look of the fifth generation models. Notice that the rear window is now not separate, a more "jelly bean" shape, headlamps positioned almost on the side of the quarter panels and less pronounced slope to the fastback. To me, it looks more like a typical sporty hatchback than a Ford Mustang. 

But in any case, whatever I feel about this new version, I think the point is that instead of phasing the Mustang out (Probe) or turning it into something unrecognizable (Mustang II), Ford is instead investing in the Mustang as one of its premier vehicles and continuing to include styling queues from its illustrious history. With these moves, it appears the Mustang will be around a long time to come. 

And for all that - the history and the future - I say HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY FORD MUSTANG!

NOTE: The photo of the black 2006 Mustang in this post was taken by Marc Osborn. Marc Osborn owns the copyright on the image and no use of it for any purpose is permitted without prior written permission from Marc Osborn.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Start of The Masters Renews My Question: Is Golf a Sport?

With The Masters golf tournament kicking off the professional golf "season" this week down in Augusta, Georgia I am once again pondering the question...

Is golf a sport?

I fully understand that most people and the media consider it so, but I wonder why.

Don't get me wrong, golf is REALLY difficult. I know I stink at it. It takes a lot of practice to be even decent at golf, let alone good to great. None the less, I'd suggest it's a game rather than a sport.

Think about it. Unlike unquestioned sports like basketball, football, soccer, baseball, hockey, tennis; in golf no athletic ability nor movement are required. Sure, some golfers are athletic...but it's not necessary by any means to play or be great.

Here is what I mean: In order to play golf, the most physically challenging things you have to do are: 1) swing a club at the tee and one or twice on the green...and while that is a physical movement, it's a finesse move more in line with casting a fishing line or throwing a Frisbee at a target, and 2) walk....unless you're using a cart, in which case don't even do that. So how exactly are golfers performing athletic movements?

Meanwhile, in traditional sports there is massive physical output and the ability to make sudden and agile movements required. Aggressive, sustained athletic exertion is a necessary part of participating those type of sports.

So why even bother thinking about this? Well...I guess for me it's the idea that loads of people say they are playing a "sport" when they are golfing when in fact they are playing a game...like poker, billiards or Monopoly. That is a false sense of ability and an overstatement of what they're doing. Our society puts a lot of value on golf "as a sport" and those who play it are usually thought of as "athletes." As someone who regularly runs, bikes and lifts weights it just annoys me that out of shape guys who smoke, drink and ride around in a cart while playing golf are considered athletes or are participating in a sport.

Hey, is playing golf better than sitting on your ass in front of a TV? You bet. Is it really difficult to learn and play well? For sure. Is it the same as going out and playing basketball, football, soccer or tennis? No...not even close.

You want to play a sport? How about taking a run? Pickup basketball? Bike ride? Flag football? Now you're talking. Golf? No, more like riding around in a car and stepping out 18 times to swing your arms.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bryan Ferry Live in Seattle 2014

This past Monday, my wife and I went to go see Bryan Ferry perform in Seattle at McCaw Hall.

Ferry is most famous for being the singer and main man in the very influential band Roxy Music - a group that burst onto the British musical scene in the early 70s as "glam rock" was becoming popular. They were the real deal, had great and innovative songs...along with an "interesting" look. Later lineups of Roxy Music fronted by Ferry created more mellow sounds in the 1980s. Ferry also has had an extended solo career.

Anyway, seeing him was a pleasant surprise in two ways.

First, we didn't know Bryan Ferry was coming until only a few days before the show. So, it wasn't on our radar. My wife said she wanted to go, so we jumped on StubHub and found great seats near the stage in the center for only a little over face value. Score! And, my third gig of 2014 - previously having seen The Strypes in March and Glasvegas in February.

Bryan Ferry Live in Seattle - April 2014 (c) Marc Osborn
Second, Bryan Ferry - despite his now 68 years of age - put on a wonderful performance, backed by a tight and energetic band and backup singers. Wow! I'd say most of the set was a Roxy Music (his original band) review. But, there were some "solo artist" material in there as well. Hey, I got to hear the man sing some of my favorite Roxy Music tunes...Virginia Plain, Editions of You, Remake/Remodel, Love is the Drug...and my wife got to hear her favorites...Avalon, Slave to Love, Kiss and Tell and More Than This.

You can read a full review of the entire show from The Stranger HERE. It's good reading to catch up on what Ferry has been up to and get a feel for how the Seattle show played out. It includes the set list for the evening, which I've pasted below.

Bryan Ferry McCaw Hall Set List (In Order Played)
Re-Make/Re-Model, Kiss and Tell, Slave to Love, Ladytron, Same Old Blues, If There Is Something, Oh Yeah, Stronger Through the Years, More Than This, Avalon, Reason or Rhyme, Tara, Take a Chance with Me, In Every Dream Home a Heartache, Prairie Rose, Love Is the Drug, Both Ends Burning, Virginia Plain, Editions of You. ENCORE: Running Wild

Bryan Ferry and band Live in Seattle - April 2014 (c) Marc Osborn

Once you've read up on Mr. Ferry and the Seattle show, you may be hunting for some of your old Roxy Music CDs or albums (remember those)...or making a quick trip to iTunes. No matter how you do it, I'd highly recommend "discovering" Bryan Ferry or revisiting his work. Great stuff and a unique perspective on music.

NOTE: Pictures appearing in this post were taken by Marc Osborn. Copyright for those pictures is owned by Marc Osborn and no use of them for any purpose is permitted without prior written permission from Marc Osborn.