Archive for July, 2008

Stu Shuster: 43 years at The General

July 23, 2008

It’s not the first time for Detroit. The place has been rife with not-fun economic insecurity for decades. The news hit a bit closer to home yesterday- in fact, at its core: Stu Shuster’s contract that had been extending his stay at the Warren Tech Center since his retirement almost a decade ago has been retracted. The formidable talent was hired in 1965 during the reign of GM’s second Design Director, Bill Mitchell, and would witness the direction of the next four: Rybicki, Jordan, Cherry and (currently) Welburn. All told 43 years in service to the General. The above picture taken, perhaps, days into his new job: hair intact and ready to rock out (note hand).

Stu was a committed company man and his dedication, no doubt, bank-rolled the benefits and privileges of a middle class way of life in Detroit’s northern suburbs. (Christmas and the celebratory firing up of the Corvair.) His career began in the Tech Center’s Industrial Design Dept. plying skills to the graphic and identity systems of packaging and dealerships, with short stints in the empire’s then-subsidized Frigidaire unit, dad’s design proficiency allowed a mobility through the various GM Design Staff strata. (He penned the original Firebird emblem, designed and supervised the building of interiors for GM’s corporate jet fleet) Only later in his career did the design exploit involving four wheels become a priority. At the time of his retirement MK1 he was Assistant Chief in the Truck Interiors Studio; not a glamorous job, however, the product rolling out of the studio contributed to a massively profitable cornerstone. 

Prized from the hands of its Chief Engineer, Ned Nickles, (circa 1970) dad has kept this custom ’69 in pristine show condition thru the years; pictured here in front of one of Eero Saarinen’s glazed walls at the Tech Center. I can only imagine what it will be like for dad to leave this place that has been his ‘place’ for the last time. I can’t say this now-official retirement MK2 isn’t a bad thing; though I’m a bit concerned for what will take the job’s place. While his contemporaries accepted the terms of retirement, Stu Shuster didn’t (and may not) know the meaning of it. Work ethic in-hand, us kids have no doubt he’ll find definition in this new chapter. Design gun for hire? Saarinen historian? Teacher of design? Grandfather to five grands..

Cheers dad!

Cooper MKX

July 23, 2008

The Pixar Motorama this past Friday drew cars from as far away as Detroit (support your local organic automobile maker) and included such employee-owned relics as Jay Ward’s freshly minted ’57 Pontiac Safari wagon. The spectrum was complete with a fine example of Chrysler’s most recent depression era mettle: an ’86 LeBaron. Gleaming and replete with labeled (that’s right spelled out ‘right’, ‘left’) turn indicators. Can’t knock that- it’s the car that saved a company. 

Sure, there were a few cars from outside the ebony gates as well. Richard Frank was there with his 1956 F3 Cooper MKX.. a 500 cc Norton Manx single cylinder propelling drivers Jack Newton and Bob Wenz thru a giant-killing decade: the car would often face off against and beat Corvettes and Formula Juniors. Gratifying what you can do with a motorcycle engine and bit of ingenuity. 

Read more about this vintage racer at

I was drawing this when Richard took notice. He introduced himself and his family- the nicest folks one and all! 


July 17, 2008

Uber talented fellow Pixarian Dice Tsutsumi has dedicated his recent life to organizing The Totoro Project! An art auction benefitting the preservation of Sayama Forest in Tokyo. Over 200 artists are contributing work! I don’t know how to embed the Totoro Forest Project site link here! So please copy/ paste this or search!


Your personal Totoro? It’s in your nature. Here’s mine. Surprised?




Tuesday Night Long Pose

July 9, 2008

Tiger Stadium

July 9, 2008

The first in a series against St. Louis.. tickets courtesy of one of Dave Chow’s clients. Don’t know what it is with St. Louis- I saw them in SF with Jerome (see far below) when one of them hit that fowl ball at my head. 

Sleeping Bear 2

July 3, 2008

The day started and stayed wet. I’d like to attach a crusty maritime-based name to the system that moved through. Like a ‘Northern Clipper’ or ‘Norwest Tempest’. But it just.. rained. 

A sad, disused vista-scope on the beach at Empire. I know those eye shapes.. just can’t seem to place them.

People gassing-up on $4.19 regular at the BP in Frankfort have a chance to win lunch with me and my friends as we discuss the day’s critical issues. That’s right, critical issues.  

The pièce de susténance! The rain forced the good people of Sutton’s Bay indoors for a 6:45pm screening. This exceptional piece of Wall-e folk art was displayed loud and proud on the ticket counter. (Congratulations to The Bay theater for their decent hi-fi sound and picture!)

Sleeping Bear

July 2, 2008

I’ve got 3 days to myself in Michigan’s northern reaches. Ah, in our cherubic days of yore- Pete, James and I would spend spring break here biking the in-progress winter thaw. Summer’s too. Glen Arbor, MI is our place; on the west coast of the Leelanau Peninsula which is raked with shallow and blue lakes and bays. I found a rock to sit on near the boat launch at Sutton’s Bay yesterday and sketched.. perhaps it would be more interesting with an overlay and time signature of the three different pleasure craft people off-loaded down the ramp in the hour I was there. 


Wall-e in the movie house. I left the boat launch, drove north and tripped on The Bay movie house in downtown Sutton’s Bay! Amazed to find our movie on this remote coast!

Classic false-front building.. can’t be more than 100 seats. (correction: over 200!) It’s raining today so I might take in a screening.

Sleeping Bear Dunes! 500 foot drop to Lake Michigan. Last night’s sunset vantage point courtesy of The Pierce Stocking Drive in Empire. Shooting directly into the sun which is always good for the CCD.