Art Car 2003 – Free for All

Well, I survived the 16th Art Car Weekend. This was my second year to drive the “Green Mobile”.  It belongs to Beverly Hayes and is a ’73 AMC Hornet.  It pulls an old (really old, like 40s) camping trailer that’s had a giant fin attached to the roof, made mostly of foam.
This year we worked on it to add a Stars and Stripes theme on the fin, with doves that had phrases on them with Green Party values.  Particularly “Peace” was on the larger doves.  That was about 5 days of sweaty work leading up to this years parade.

Thurs – The Art Car Artist’s Ball was in the Franklin Lofts’ Garage at Congress and Main.  My car was oversized so we parked on the unfinished light rail on Main St.  The Garage was fairly narrow compared to the Allen Center garage where they had the Ball maybe 5 years ago.  It’s a little nicer when you could have more people/level. It sprawled for 4-5 levels, so I mostly walked up and down constantly to interact with all the people I knew.

Also, the port-a-pots (which I never used, and the women were horrified of) were some bizarre cut-off version of port-o-pots so they could fit inside the garage.  They would have been much better served had they got some normal ones and hauled them to the top of the garage.  And perhaps left one or two at ground level by the elevators.

Last year it was in a more spread area, and I prefer the wideness to the up-and-down.  It was a good time, though, and $4 St Arnold wasn’t too horrible.  Of course, many people had stashes in their cars, as did I.   But my stash was out on the street.

Fri In the morning is the main street drag, something I really want to go to some time, but didn’t make it this year.  A different car would be more ideal.  It’s a parade for kids, and the Green Mobile is a political car.

I’ve also always wanted to go to the Art Car Symposium and I finally got to.  It’s a really interesting event.  They opened with the band Boogereater (which the TV coverage refused to pronounce as “booger eater”).  They are a father and 11 y.o. son team who have an art car.  There was free St Arnold Amber, and then several presentations.  The key presentation was by Erika from Kansas who now has “The World’s Largest Collection of the Smallest Smallest Copies of the World’s Largest Things” She tours the country going to places that have “The World’s Largest ___” (i.e. Shoe Shaped Building with a Shoe Store inside).  The main part of her presentation was of personal folk spaces in Kansas that were modifications of (they all happened to be) men’s homes.   She also showed some shots of the largest things.

There was a large video collage of footage of old video of art cars, it was very interesting.

There was a brief but sad homage to the lost artists and cars in the past year, including among many The Tie Guy (Brian Bryan) and Carbergé which was recently totalled.

There was a “What would _____ Drive?” presentation with various celebrities photo-shopped into pictures of art cars.   Quite humorous.

The evening convened with a musician (who’s name i forget) playing keyboard and some car-related folky songs.

Sat – Parade day.  I was to get there 10-11, and planned about 10:30.  Saturday morning driving around in my neighborhood is so funny because you see art cars on every cross street running their errands before they arrive.  I saw one pulling into the auto parts store – a common sight.  Got to the entry and they got to the line.   Waited quite a while to get past the judging area – and realistically a car tied to a political party is not going to win, even in the political category.  But, you have to wait in line, and with 250 cars stopping to be judged, it takes a while.  Then I got up to the staging area and was directed into my spot (which I would have to change several times) and parked.  The heating radiator immediately dumped fluid all over the place.   There’s no reservoir in the Hornet.  So, I figured I’d let it cool.

After milling about, we suddenly started moving, and started steaming (for lack of fluid), when we briefly stopped I tried to deal with it, but it was too steamy all ready.  We soon stopped though, the other side was going in front of us, so it got a chance to cool.  I added a gallon of water to it.  Some of the skate-guys checked on me, had the mechanic stop by, he gave me some coolant, added a bit more than a quart of that.  It went fine throughout the parade (and then dumped again when we stopped and parked for the after party).

Unfortunately, our companion bicyclers decided to ride in front of me, which is the worst place for them.   They can stop on a dime and I cannot.  I never really got to get into first gear, so there’s and hour of clutch work that gets very tiring.  Then I have to worry about cyclers and people crossing the street (with their baby carriages) in front of you.  I swerved a bit, all within the middle of three lanes, just to break the monotony, only to be yelled at by one of the skaters (who do a great job of rustling artists, but I didn’t need rustling).  Another time they yapped at me for not keeping up.  There were only a few car lengths between be and what was in front, and I would have been more than happy to be able to get entirely into first gear of the standard stansmission.

This was the first year that the parade was divorced from the International Festival (which ended last weekend).  Most people didn’t seem to know there was a street festival after the parade, but a fair number of people stuck around.   And since the art car people had “packed a picnic” for the event, there were plenty of people enjoying the afternoon.  If they stick it out and stay with this format for several more years, the after party should grow into a very large time.

They day was very warm and humid (apparently moreso than normal for the date) but something Houstonians know how to deal with.  Most of the morning was partially overcast, so that helped.  I got the nice forearm tan.

Can’t wait again until next year.  And hopefully then I’ll have my own car – but we’ll need to find a Green who can manage a stick shift and a trailer – not the most common of skills.