Sea Shadow

November 13, 2012

This is the short story. You’ll have to read more about it elsewhere.

This is the Hughes Mining Barge 1 launched in 1974. Built by Howard to aid the CIA in salvaging the sunken Soviet submarine K-129 that went missing in 1968. It’s currently anchored at Treasure Island in SF bay.

More here:

Inside the mammoth super structure lives the stealth ship Sea Shadow. Ron Reagan cashed-in some tax proceeds to develop the boat and its proto-stealth technology in the early 80’s.

more here:

It’s brain-melting cool. and, a week ago, scrapping commenced. Museums declined to save it. The Sea Shadow will be reduced to five-foot sections of plate and cage.

Scale ref. Just over 300 feet in length.

Massive pontoons and control planes kept the ship stable at 14.2 knots.

Not as deranged as the Russian’s beautiful Ekranoplan VVA-14; there’s a creepy simplicity to the Sea Shadow’s form. Not to mention scale. Standing under a boat this size is not right.

Lead ballast ejected from the pontoons. Stacked neatly.

Propelled by two Detroit Diesel Allison Diesel-Electric engines buried deep inside the upper haul; various exhaust-scrubbing devices hid its heat signature from heat-seekers.

Sure ‘nough- Detroit finds its way into the hearts of most things.

Thanks to PD for the tour!

lake bed, grit and combustion

November 12, 2012

the closing races of SCTA’s 2012 season. a dry, well-lighted place to put your foot in it, man. We were not alone.


El Mirage. No salt added. That’s Bonneville. Save the salt.


air-busting Buick


hood-mounted ram-air incendiary device.


hang on.


Wide Open.


Shinya Kimura/ Chabott Engineering cycle


Scratch-built Beauty.




25+ mph tail wind. 35 F wind chill. Nerves.

Brilliant piece about the builder.


September 26, 2012

Speaking of DIY; The proud folks of Detroit have endured. In the midst of its reinvention check out this doc by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing playing near and dear to you at times and place TBA.


March 10, 2012

The period of time after the first film in 1977 was an especially fertile one for folks building and emulating what they saw on the screen. It was an open house at the GM Tech Center in Warren, MI where I saw the model shop’s rendition of one of Ralph McQuarrie’s most iconic designs. The experience caused a synaptic connection between what my dad and his colleagues designed and manufactured in Detroit with the work Ralph McQuarrie and George Lucas were doing in California. (Of course) Star Wars wasn’t the first film to launch the imaginations of the masses. From all indications, however, it appeared to be a creative slap-in-the-face that energized people to cut through that thick, late-seventies malaise. Was the movie a clarion call (from a narrow-tubed war trumpet) that restored the faith in our resourcefulness? Our freedom to vac-form and kit-bash at will .. to glue Estes model rocket engines to anything not bolted down? DIY!


GM Design Staff folks in the dome at the Tech Center.


The GM R2 had Hot Wheels glued at the base of his dome; their wheels in a track enabling spin.


Nothing says 1970’s like a scratch-built R2 D2 and shag carpeting.


March 8, 2012


Ralph McQuarrie inspired generations. 


He will be missed. 


MAD metal jacket

August 3, 2011

This marks the 50th year of MAD Magazine’s Spy VS. Spy! Olde LucasFilm colleague Jon Bresman and David Croatto at MAD combined their wonder-powers and sent me the blank figure to garnish in ways that were self-pleasing. Kit-bashing was the order of the day. Something like 12 random kits, Cyanoacrylate (and kicker!) and primer.. 72 hours passed and as I ran out the door to go to India I threw this in the mail to David. Please feel repelled to see more views here:

On the subject: here’s another custom figurine thing from 2006. Kevin Skinner hooked me up with this gig. I augered-out the solid wood head with the Dremel and kit-bashed the brain. I never get beyond primer and simple color with these things. form is everything. sometimes.

auto rickshaw

July 1, 2011


The only thing missing from rush hour in India (Indian rush hour= 24 hours) is the body count. How the 3-wheelers, 2-wheelers, 4-wheelers and 16+wheelers intermingle without a Michael Bay movie happening is beyond western sensibilities. The force that surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together apparently also prevents large trucks from squishing vespas in New Delhi.


June 2, 2011

Photocopied sketch from 1998. Indian Air Force? I don’t know. That MiG silhouette is the best. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra directed ‘Rang De Basanti’ in 2006: It’s a film that alternates between British-occupied and current day India and folks finding their identity in the process (overly simplistic synopsis).. but then ends with an epilogue revealing how an inordinate many Indian Air Force MiGs and pilots have crashed and died in the recent past. A viewing will dispel the mystery..


April 27, 2011

My brother, Bill, drove the 64 droptop over to the Hunter House for photo ops in the early half of the decade of excess. (or, atleast, that’s what one 80’s compilation called it.) Decades of subsequent excess later the airborne grease particulate from hundreds of thousands of pounds of fried beef has secured the restaurant’s legacy and window seals from the four seasons. You can almost smell the kitchen exhaust wafting across Hunter in the spring/fall air. (subject to verification by Bill who will either confirm or deny he wore his trench coat in all weather types.)

Car and Driver’s best-of article circa 1980’s. One can only hope the ‘lovable hillbilly girls behind the counter’ can still be found behind the counter.


And Bill’s follow-up letter to Car and Driver:

waste naut

March 18, 2011

Here are sketches of a Waste Allocation Loader Lifter-Earth (class). Some of the first development work circa 2006..