Saturday, February 28, 2009


I got a special birthday treat yesterday - my friend Cathy took me along as a guest to a promotional Marlboro Drift Racing event at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, CA. We got to do two ride alongs with professional drift racers in Ford Mustangs on the race track. A super exciting and exhilaring event! And it happened to be on my birthday! The event was called Hot Laps.


Here's me in front of one of the racing Ford Mustangs.

In case you don't know what drifting looks like - here's a short video I shot with my Sony T100 point and shoot camera of a few of the Ford Mustangs squealing around the track.

To start the experience, there was a photo op where we got to put on professional racing suits and stand in front of a blue screen where later an image of the racing Ford Mustang would be superimposed. I'm not posting the shot we took because Cathy and I both look like Stay Puff Marshmallows women in the gear - not cute - but it was fun to do nonetheless.

I thought the racing suits and helmets looked pretty cool though.



Then we were given "gators" to go over our heads and were fitted with the right size helmets so when we got out to the track they would know what size to give us.

Here's Cathy and Me in our gators looking doofy.


Then we went out to an area where they had snacks and a real Indy 500 race car that we could sit in.


Here one of the guys from the event was explaining to me what all the buttons on the steering wheel do.


Then we were taken out to a tent just off the track to wait for our number to be called to get into one of the Ford Mustangs.


Then I walked up onto some bleachers to be able to get a better vantage point to watch the cars racing on the track.



Before we got into one of the cars, we were given hand sign instructions: thumbs up (okay, more thumbs up - go faster), thumbs down (slow down), and pointing to the left (LET ME OUT NOW!!!)


I thought people looked cool lining up waiting for their ride wearing the required helmets.


I wasn't allowed to take a camera into the car (they didn't want anything that could possibly fly around and distract or injure the driver or passenger), but I got this great shot of Me and Cathy after our second race while we still had our helmets on.


Riding along with the professional drift racers was thrilling and scary - kind of like being on an insane roller coaster ride only with more danger and less predictability. You hear the wheels squealing and you smell the tire rubber burning and it's all very loud and fast. I had my left hand gripped onto the edge of the seat and my right hand gripped onto the door and I didn't let go for a second of the ride. If you were drifting sideways in a regular car on a real road, mentally you would be preparing yourself for the worst scenario, but on a track with a pro driver you just have to let go and embrace the fun and uncertainty of the thrill ride. It mentally goes against everything you are used to doing in a car.

After the rides, we were taken to another tent to relax and enjoy a fancy buffet lunch. I'm not a smoker, but Marlboro put on one very nice and adventurous event.

To end my birthday festivities, I was joined later that evening by a few close friends for dinner. We had a great dinner at Anajak Thai on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. Their food and ambience is really nice.

(Clockwise L-R: Tina, Sonya, Serena, Me, Sheryl)

So all in all, I had a really great 39th birthday! And a few of my friends and family are still taking me out on different days later in the week so I can stretch out my celebrating a little longer. :-)

Friday, February 27, 2009


Click image to enlarge my birth announcement, scanned from my baby book. "Unbelievable?" my Mom wrote because my parents were married almost 15 years before they finally had me - their one and only child - my Mom was 38, my Dad 48! No IVF, no multiple births, just moi! I share a birthday with Elizabeth Taylor, Joanne Woodward, Chelsea Clinton, Ralph Nader, and writers Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and John Steinbeck. Happy Birthday fellow Pisceans!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Yesterday I made it over to LACMA to see the four BMW ART CARS on display and I was not disappointed. I had wanted to see Andy Warhol's M1 since I saw a video of him painting it on You Tube last year. The Warhol car in particular is the star of the show - although in a way it looks like someone set a five year old upon the car with finger paints - all together the paint and colors and haphazard nature of the application just make the M1 look like a car in motion even when it's dead stopped. While so many of Warhol's famous silkscreens weren't even made by his own hand (in some ways you could say the manufacture of his art was akin to Ford's Model T production), but here, Warhol painted and designed every inch of the M1 himself by hand. Even his signature on the left side of the rear bumper was signed using his fingertip.

LACMA put out a very nice brochure curated by Christopher Mount, a Design Historian. What Mount says in the intro paragraph just reiterates what I wrote in my previous post about some cars being art.

"In his preface to the catalogue for the 1951 exhibition Eight Automobiles at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arthur Drexler observed, "Automobiles are hollow, rolling sculpture." Justifying their display in a museum, Drexler summed up his belief that if you could for a moment disregard the functional aspect of cars and instead look at them as works of art, appreciating their beautiful lines and fine craftmanship, you would see them in an entirely new light. Eight Automobiles was in fact the first time an art museum had ever displayed automobiles alongside more conventional works of art, treating them with the respect and regard usually given to sculpture. Countless exhibitions of automobiles in otherwise traditionally fine art museums have taken place since. The BMW Art Car project, which asks artists to transform both series production models and race cars into new "painted rolling sculpture," takes the relationship between art and automobiles to fascinating and unique heights."

Here are some of my digital photos and Polaroids from LACMA plus more text by Chistopher Mount from LACMA's catalogue brochure.

Andy Warhol (USA) 1979 BMW M1 Group 4 Race Version

"For Andy Warhol, the actual painting of the car became a performance piece, done by his own hand live before cameras as a publicity event. Warhol approached the car with a carefree spirit and an uncharacteristic interest in a sort of "action painting." The car, a BMW M1, is covered with multicolored areas of paint that suggest movement (blurred particularly at racing speeds), but also perhaps individual side panels taken from different cars. This greatly oscures the overall form of the car. With the handle edge of the brush, Warhol scraped lines into the painted surfaces, implying wind moving over the surface but also further de-materializing the surface of this fine racing car. "I adore the car," Warhol said after he'd finished. "It's much better than a work of art." Certainly from a formal perspective much differs from Warhol's paintings, which were often achieved with the use of stencils or silkscreens with a prescribed order."

Frank Stella (USA) 1976 BMW 3.0 CSL

"A car enthusiast and collector, Frank Stella employed the most rational approach to the painting of his BMW 3.0 CSL. "My design is like a blueprint transferred to the bodywork," he said, and in fact the graph paper-inspired decoration suggests a two-dimensional drawing inflated to three dimensions. Stella sought inspiration from the car's technical drawings and found this to be the "most agreeable solution." However, this is not truly a technical exercise, and Stella references his own sculptures and drawings with the recurring appearance of the French curve and other forms taken from an architect's drawing table."

Roy Lichtenstein (USA) 1977 BMW 320i Group 5 Race Version

"Like the Stella, Roy Lichtenstein's automobile (BMW 320i) incorporates an artistic vocabulary familiar to him (including Benday dots and flat areas of color), but also adapts to the unusualness of the assignment. He said, "I pondered on it for a long time and put as much into it as I possibly could....I wanted the lines I painted to be a depiction, the road showing the car where to go." Again the modulated strip of color indicates movement and wind traveling from front to back of the car. However, Lichtenstein goes further conceptually: "the design also shows the countryside through which the car has traveled....One could cal it an enumeration of eveyrthing a car experiences - only that this car reflects all of these things before they actually have been on the road." On one side a rising sun, and over the rest a depiction of the natural and physical forces that a car encounters on its daily journeys."

Robert Rauschenberg (USA) 1986 BMW 635 CSi

"Robert Rauschenberg took a completely different approach, not attempting to play with the materiality or non-materiality of the car or suggest speed, wind, or movement like the others. Instead his painting is static and approaches a painted car from an almost educational point of view. "I think mobile museums would be a good idea," he said. "This car is the fulfillment of my dream." Renowned for his use of collage and a multiplicity of materials and forms, Rauschenberg employed a kind of appropriation in his BMW 635 CSi. The most humorous of the automobiles, Rauschenberg painted the hubcaps as though they were fragile antique plates and reproduced Bronzino's famous Portrait of a Young Man on one side of the car and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres' Le Grande Odalisque on the other. In a reference to the posssible ecological damage caused by the proliferation of automobiles, the artist included his own photographs of flowers, trees, and swamp grass to the hood and roof."

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I'm not alone when I say that I view many cars as art. BMW has produced plenty of cars that fit into this category (take a look at a 70's era 3.0 CSI or an 80's era 635 CSI and you'll know what I'm talking about). In 1975 BMW decided to put their artwork into the hands of major artists to turn the cars into one-of-a-kind vehicles called BMW Art Cars. I look at it as art squared.

The BMW Art Car Project was originally conceived by the French racecar driver Hervé Poulain, who in 1975 commissioned American artist Alexander Calder to paint his BMW racing car. Since then, prominent artists throughout the world have designed sixteen BMW Art Cars, based on both racing and production vehicles.

I'm really excited that I'll be able to view and photograph four of these special cars at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Cars designed by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg will be briefly on display from Feb 12 to Feb 24, 2009 outside at the BP Grand Entrance. Get there soon before they race off! - Lydia Marcus

Andy Warhol's 1979 BMW M1 Group 4 Race Version

Andy painting his BMW Art Car

LACMA is the first U.S. venue stop in a major, worldwide tour of the cars; they next appear in New York City's historic Grand Central Terminal before heading to a three-city museum tour in Mexico.

Alexander Calder (USA) 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL
Frank Stella (USA) 1976 BMW 3.0 CSL
Roy Lichtenstein (USA) 1977 BMW 320i Group 5 Race Version
Andy Warhol (USA) 1979 BMW M1 Group 4 Race Version
Ernst Fuchs (Austria) 1982 BMW 635 CSi
Robert Rauschenberg (USA) 1986 BMW 635 CSi
Michael Jagamara Nelson (Australia) 1989 BMW 635 CSi
Ken Done (Australia) 1989 BMW M3 Group A Race Version
Matazo Kayama (Japan) 1990 BMW 535i
César Manrique (Spain) 1990 BMW 730i
A.R. Penck (Germany) 1991 BMW Z1
Esther Mahlangu (South Africa) 1991 BMW 525i
Sandro Chia (Italy) 1992 BMW 3 Series Racing Prototype
David Hockney (Great Britain) 1995 BMW 850CSi
Jenny Holzer (USA) 1999 BMW V12 LMR
Olafur Eliasson (Denmark) 2007 Bmw H2R




Thursday, February 19, 2009


Universal At Night Photos by Lydia Marcus

Photographed February 5, 2009 in Universal City, CA using an Olympus XA with Kodak Professional 400UC Film.