Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving: Meet Carl

Hello everyone. We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving (if you celebrate that sort of thing). We sure did because we here at AAA have so much to be thankful for. We are always thankful for the people we meet through our appreciation of vintage madness. Every stranger can be a potential friend and as much as we love spectacularly aged objects we believe that the real winners are the people who die with the most friends.

I'd like to take a moment to introduce you to Carl. Yes, he is technically a "thing" but you will probably be catching glimpses of our little buddy in the future. I found him sitting on a shelf at Goodwill in Fairview Heights, IL some time last year. He seemed pretty lonely but he still had quite the smirk on his face. He is awful quiet about his past but that is okay. We love him just the same.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Vintage Motorcycle Parking Only

St. Louis beer and an American pastime. Can you guess what I am talking about? You are so smart! You knew I was referring to Schlafly beer and motorcycling, didn't you? Okay, the title and lead photo probably gave it away. If it wasn't for that you may have thought I was talking about one particular brewery that's proud of its clydesdales (and rightfully so), and a certain St. Louis sports team that's represented by a little red bird. Well folks, there is more to this city than that. Keep on reading and I'll tell you about Vintage Bike Night St. Louis!

You can find Schlafly Bottleworks nestled into a great spot right off of Manchester Rd. in Maplewood, MO. It is a fairly sizable building as far as restaurants go, because the dining portion is just an added bonus to the brewing that goes on here. This just so happens to be the scene for Kick-It Vintage's monthly bike night. Through out the summer, on the first Monday of the month, you can find hundreds of vintage motorcycle enthusiasts hanging out and sipping on what might arguably be the new "king" of Stl brews. Okay, maybe only the very proud locals would call it that, but it's definitely a much loved bevo in the area. You won't find any A-B products here, no sir! You can most definitely get some very good beer that was made on location, and some tasty food if you are hungry. I am more of a whiskey guy myself, but I recommend the Schlafly Pale Ale and the Pumpkin Ale. Enough of about the beverages, lets get to the bikes.

As I mentioned above, this was the place to be on the first Monday of month from March through November. The turn out of vintage bikes was always good. I saw different, unusual, and fantastic bikes every time I was able to make it. I am fairly new to the motorcycle hobby and I didn't realize how healthy the vintage bike scene is around here. The cool thing about Kick-It Vintage Bike Night is that there is always a good representation of vintage cycles across the board. People ride in on everything; dirty knucklehead choppers, sleek Yamaha cafes, stock Beemers, restored scooters, british race bikes and everything in between. The parking lot gets packed pretty full with vintage motorcycles. They always show up no matter if the skies are cloudy and the wind is putting a strong chill in the air, or if it's a humid ninety-eight and your shoes feel like they are about to melt. You can bet there will be plenty of antiquated machines rolling in. There is even a smaller section roped off for the folks who bring their not-so-old bikes.

It is so exciting to see people coming and going, all evening, on bikes that most of them work on their self. It's even great to see the same bikes each month because quite a few of them are works in progress and you are able to witness them progress over the summer. I can't say as to what Kick-It Vintage has planned for 2014's VBN but you can keep up by joining the facebook group and liking the page. Heck they even have a full blown website! I sure as hell hope to see it back next year, and if it is I hope to meet some new people and gawk at more vintage bikes. If you're in the area, you better not miss it.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dear Valued Guests — More Mid-century CoMo

Last week, I tried to find an angle to write about a popular (sic) Columbia building that had been demolished two years ago. But there was a twist — nothing newsworthy has happened at the site the since the skeleton of a new hotel had been constructed in its place.

The subject was the Regency Motel, one of the seediest, run down lodging options in the city. But in 1968, the blocky, mid-century modern building was known as the Downtowner Motor Inn.

Downtowner Motor Inn postcard, c. 1968
Standing five stories above Broadway, the Downtowner featured four floors of rooms with exposed breezeways and brightly painted panels. The original postcard boasts "Combined advantages of motor inn and excellent restaurant, convention facilities, 103 fine rooms, color TV, swimming, free wire reservations to other Downtowners and Rowntowners."

As the decades progressed, the Downtowner changed hands and started to deteriorate. It no longer retained its open-air appeal, and everything that made it unique was ditched in exchange for typical ‘80s boringness. Allegedly, the place changed hand 15 times before its demolition in the fall of 2011.

Luckily for us, Paul Sturtz, filmmaker and co-founder of Ragtag Cinemacafe in Columbia, Mo. saw the appeal of this decaying structure and decided it would be the perfect spot to make a film. With the help of co-director Jarred Alterman and the Rabid Hands artist collective, they turned the building into a living piece of artwork a week before demolition. And you get a taste of it in their film “Dear Valued Guests.”

I had the opportunity to watch the film last week at Ragtag Cinema as part of a special night for local directors. Although it was short — only 16 minutes — they did an excellent job finding bigger stories. I was expecting a documentary about a hotel, but instead it was a story about the people that it housed…because in the end they were the valued guests.

Check out the website, with trailer, here


Monday, November 18, 2013

Custom Cars

1. 1936 Ford Club Cabriolet
  • "Dropped" straight axle front suspension
  • Small block chevy
  • Built by Jim Cooper of Shiloh, IL

2. 1932 Ford Victoria
  • Complete custom build
  • 302 Ford with 3 speed + overdrive transmission
  • Built by my dad and myself (Nick Giacalone & Nick J. Giacalone)

3. 1995 Chevrolet S10
  • Lowered 4" all the way around
  • Rolled pan, shaved tailgate, custom front bumper
  • All work done by my dad and I. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sunday in South City

One Sunday, a couple weeks ago, I was in St. Louis hanging out with my friend Kyrsten. My buddy Tom called and asked if I wanted to go get lunch. We were pretty hungry so we told Tom to meet us at Kyrstens place. Tom pulled up in his '53 Dodge Meadowbrook.
Good ol' Tom in his custom Dodge.
 We all hopped in the Dodge and made our way to City Diner at 3139 S Grand Blvd, St Louis, MO. It is a great place with pretty good food. It has a 50's diner theme without being hokey or over the top. As soon as you walk through the 2 large stainless doors you might notice the chrome sputnik chandelier hanging near the entrance. The booths and chairs are all covered with metalflake "zodiac" material and the tables are topped with boomerang laminate.
City Diner

Great sign!

I love the sputnik fixture but the floating metalflake pieces fill in the space quite well.

Cool diner looks serving great diner food.

After we filled our bellys at City Diner we jumped in the ol' Dodge and dropped Kyrsten off since she had to go to work. The next stop for Tom and I was The Record Exchange located at 5320 Hampton Ave, St Louis, MO. I had never been here before so I wasn't sure what to expect. We pulled in the small parking lot and snapped a couple pics. As we walked up to the building, that was once a library, I was totally blown away. I had no idea the record store was housed in such a mid century modern gem. I was in total awe as we walked through the doors and caught a glimpse of the vast amount of vinyl. I was overwhelmed and didn't know where to start. Tom and I walked around admiring the space and the huge collection of records. I tried my best to look through the many sections of vinyl. I found a great copy of The Beach Boys "Little Deuce Coupe". I was pleasantly surprised by the prices. We made our way to the dollar bin which has to be one of the best deals in the city. I snatched a couple albums from there. The dollar bin was essentially a giant selection of the best albums you'd ever find at a thrift store. It's like some hero went through and took out all of those thrift store regulars such as Engelbert Humperdinck and Barbra Steisand so you don't have to be bothered by them. That hero might possibly be owner Jean Haffner who was sorting albums and manning the register. As he rang up my 3 finds, he told me that the place is for sale because he needs a larger location to accommodate his vast inventory. There's no telling when that move will actually happen but you can be sure I will be back as long as the doors are still open and The Record Exchange is still in St. Louis.
The Porsche was probably a little faster than the flat 6 could push Tom's car.

 To get a little more info on The Record Exchange you can check out Toby Weiss' B.E.L.T. blog.

Albums on albums on albums.

Can't believe this huge place is too small. If you can't find an old album here, it might not exist.

Time to head home.