Monday, August 31, 2009

California Shines on Schwarzenegger's...Muscles

Many years ago at a garage sale I unwittingly picked up a book about weightlifting titled, Pumping Iron: The Art and Sport of Bodybuilding. This was in the midst of my gym obsession days and I purchased the book thinking it would be a good frame of reference for my many workouts. I quickly lost interest in the ragtag paperback and stuffed it away in a box realizing that it wasn't a book about how to get strong. It was an outdated book about bodybuilders and their lifestyle.

I had all but forgotten that purchase until coming across an article recently about the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest and the accompanying documentary directed by George Butler and Robert Fiore called, Pumping Iron. I watched the movie and it blew me away. It features Lou Ferrigno, Mike Katz, Franco Columbu, Ed Corney, Ken Waller, and of course a very massive Arnold Schwarzenegger, as they all compete for the respective titles of Mr. World and Mr. Olympia. The movie single-handedly launched modern workout culture.

All that aside, it's an amazing time-capsule for the swingin' 1970s:

I also recommend the commentary track, Raw Iron: The Making of Pumping Iron.


Richard Neutra (1892-1970) is arguably one of the most important architects of the Modernist era. He is famous for taking the needs of his clients and marrying architectural unity to nature.

He is also widely critized for being too rigid with his structural form and his use of cheap materials. I, personally, am quite fond of these natural components that ultimately meld the relative safety of the inner sanctum with the insecurity and beauty of the outside world.

Here is a slideshow of Neutra's innovative work as it originally appeared in Architectural Digest.

The Wild One

Mildred: "What're you rebelling against, Johnny?"

Johnny: "Whaddya got?"

The Collision of Two Synth Worlds

What do you get when you combine a quirky modern indie/prog-rock band with a quirky retro indie/prog-rock band?

A Rock-afire Explosion of course:

Steve McQueen and his Great Escape

In the iconic 1963 war movie, The Great Escape, McQueen's character "The Cooler King" carries out one of the most daring motorcycle stunts ever performed on film as he attempts to escape from the Stalag Luft III prison camp.

The bike was meant to be a BMW that he stole from the German prison guards, but in reality was McQueen's own Triumph 650cc Tiger. In a 1966 interview with Popular Science magazine, McQueen explained why he opted to fit a Triumph twin engine to his favorite Rickman-Metisse machine:

"I used a 650cc Triumph engine as a power plant for this bike. The drive train and gearbox are also Triumph. I prefer the big four-stroke engine, but on a light bike."

In 2008, Metisse Motorcycles released a limited edition Metisse Desert Racer fully endorsed by the Steve McQueen estate and featuring his signature on each one of the exact replicas. The bikes are identical to the one that he rode.

Growing up Sea-Arama

Sea-Arama Marineworld was an animal/entertainment park in Galveston, Texas, for 25 years. Opened in 1965 as one of the first ocean theme parks in the nation, it featured more than 25 acres, including a 4 acre ski lake, and a 50 foot long, 200,000 gallon aquarium. This aquarium held large and small fish as well as large sharks that were part of the shark feeding shows. Many kids and parents enjoyed the dolphins, sea-lions, killer whales, bird shows, ski shows, sharks, big cats, snakes, fish aquariums, turtles, sea otters, pelicans, and more. In 1988 it was the number one tourist attraction in Galveston, until the larger more flashy Sea World Park opened in San Antonio, and contributed to its closing in 1990.

Sea-Arama actually closed for a host of reasons. The habitats were old, rusting, and the small holding tanks were not in-line with the more modern and humane enclosures of the larger parks. The fish and mammals were eventually moved to other locations.

The city fought for years over the property as it occupied prime real estate along Seawall Boulevard. The abandoned buildings and tanks eventually gave way to the environment and looters until they were finally torn down to the ground in the mid 2000s.

My last outing to Sea-Arama was either in the summer of 1984 or 1985 with a pack of other kids from my daycare and, to be completely honest, I do not recall much. My memories come in the form of mental snapshots - some more vivid than others. It is fitting then that I came across these really amazing photos of the park in all of its decaying glory: