Monthly Archives: July 2013

LACMA Meets MC Masta Don

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Proposed LACMA Site Renovation with Mastadon Edifice

LACMA Director Michael Govan announced plans for a complete makeover of the LA County Museum Of Art Complex. When renowned Swiss architect Mänfred Zweibach proposed his breath-taking $300M “Zwirlyplex” vision, critics were momentarily silenced by the sheer audacity of the vision.

“But…we’re completely ignoring the rich history of vernacular architecture of Los Angeles” argued Franklin Grossemund Trautte, enigmatic benefactor who has only recently surfaced on the West Coast. Mr Trautte made his initial fortune in recycling ’70s and ’80s TV tropes and memes. At a recent LACMA board meeting, described by nameless observers as “a candid and open sharing of views and visions”, Trautte unveiled his idea for a massive edifice in the form of a Woolly Mastodon.

The edifice, quickly dubbed “Masta Don”, would house the entire Post-Modern holdings currently in the BCAM, which would be converted to a Zeppelin hangar. Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass” would be moved, and painted a cheerful lime-green, and be the entry portal for the Four-Pillared Gallery under Masta Don’s massive hindquarters.

Construction is slated to start in June 2015.

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Gimme (Temporary) Shelter

Finish Line Photo Studio at the Finish line, WS100. June 29-30, 2013. Placer HS, Auburn CA. Interior and exterior views. The previous pop-up had died an ugly death several weeks earlier in a 30mph wind-gust. I went back to the 1" EMT canopy arrangement with a new roof, and side-panels. The side panels are essential when the sun makes its merciless appearance late on Sunday morning, and people inexorably crowd in for shade.

Finish Line Photo Studio at the Finish line, WS100. June 29-30, 2013. Placer HS, Auburn CA.
Interior and exterior views. The previous pop-up had died an ugly death several weeks earlier in a 30mph wind-gust. I went back to the 1″ EMT canopy arrangement with a new roof, and side-panels. The side panels are essential when the sun makes its merciless appearance late on Sunday morning, and people inexorably crowd in for shade.

I’ll probably never own a house. But I got tents and canopies, and this is about my Finish Line Photo Studio set-up.

When I first started shooting finish line portraits, I evolved my way into how to shelter self and gear—keeping things out of blazing sun by day, setting up a working space and so on.

At first (2004)  I used a swap-meet canopy kit, comprised of connecting hardware, tarp and ball-bungee cords. The linking units were 1″ EMT (Electrical Metal Tubing).  I transported these 8′ & 10′ sections in two long 4″ PVC pipes (capped at either end) and secured to the roof-rack of my previous vehicle. In those innocent times I referred to them as my “Johnny Taliban Rocket Launchers”.

This was OK when I was driving locally in the LA basin. When I got invited to Western States in 2007, the idea of driving 800+ miles with these on the roof was not attractive. I had nightmares of cross winds tearing them off on the I-5 going over the Grapevine. So I bought an EZ-Up, which worked for 6 years.

Every finish line is different. Experience at Western States showed immediately that I needed side-panels. This secured my work-space, and more importantly, kept shade-seeking finishers and their friends out of my area as the sun rose, and shade was at a premium. At Angeles Crest there was abundant tree-cover, well away from my set-up.

Then it then took a stranger’s photo to tell me I wasn’t presenting myself well. Whoops! I created an identity, with banners that announced who I am and what I do.

EZ-Up. WS100 finish line, June 25 2011. Auburn, CA.

EZ-Up. WS100 finish line, June 25 2011. Auburn, CA.

Pop-ups are good if the conditions are dead-calm. A breeze comes up and they want to go. In May 2013 the  pop-up died an ugly death in a 30mph wind-gust. Here it is, an hour before its demise at an event in Santa Barbara County.

The EZ-Up in its final incarnation. Camp Mr Trail Safety on Friday morning, with the Bibler Suites. Kitchen set-up with two old-school Coleman 425s, 2 burners each. Bialetti 'spro pots at the ready. Then the 30mph winds came up and blew the pop-up into a spavined death, where it had to be hacksawed to fit into the Karma Squirrel for the ride home. The camp was relocated under a low canyon oak. The tents: foreground, The 1989 Bibler El Dorado. Directly behind is the Bibler Awahnee, which I lived out of in Leadville, CO for 3 weeks in 1997.

The EZ-Up in its final incarnation.

Back To The Future

Repairs to the pop-up were uneconomical—it was a discontinued model, with blown connective joints and scissor-arms. Entry-models started at $130. More rugged models came in around $3oo. After thinking it over, I went back to the original 2001  canopy arrangement, updated with a new roof, and finished, grommeted side-panels. To make the canopy fully portable, changes had to be made.

  • All 1″pipes  previously 10′ in length were cut into 5′ sections
    with a 1-1/8″ capacity pipe cutter. Five turns on the cutter and voila! pipes cut.
  • The 2 previously 10′ 4″ PVC pipe storage units  were cut into two 5′, and one 4′ sections, and capped. One end was glued solid, then spray-painted black to differentiate it from the twist-off cap.

These storage units could now be transported tidily inside my Honda Element.

Pre-Flight

Here’s a view of the pre-event set up. No need to find out nasty surprises on-site.

leeves with pipe sections, exposed. Carton has corners, couplings, tarb, bungee-balls. Blue bag has grommeted mesh panels, 10x6'. Trial assembly of 10x10' canopy prior to WS100. All 10' lengths are now 5'. Three 4" PVC pipes are storage sleeves; one end is permanent, spray-painted black, while the other end has a slip-on.

Storage units with pipe sections, exposed. Carton has corners, couplings, tarp, bungee-balls. Blue bag has grommeted 10×6′ mesh panels.

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Canopy assembled. Remaining coupling collars are in center-left of image. These will be used to make the upright legs their full 8′ high.

Canopy assembled. 10x10' tarp corner-attached with bungee-balls. In a live-setting shorter bungees will secure the other grommets.

Canopy assembled. 10×10′ tarp corner-attached with bungee-balls. In a live-setting shorter bungees will secure the other grommets.

Benefits…

  • Far sturdier than the average pop-up
  • generic 1″ steel electrical conduit members instead of manufactured folding units
  • can be staked with a vengeance. I bought the 18″ rebar stakes when I read a customer review stating “I used these at Burning Man”; which meant he pounded them into the playa and the 40mph wind-gusts didn’t blow it away.

 AND DRAWBACKS

  • noticeable weight penalty
  • more loose parts (roof, bungee cords, connecting hardware,
    pipe sections

Neutrals

  • Assembly and set-up can be done single-handedly, although 3 other people helping position it still helpful.

Looking into the open side of the shelter:

Finish Line Photo Studio at the Finish line, WS100. June 29-30, 2013. Placer HS, Auburn CA. Interiori view.

Interior view of the Finish Line Photo Studio at the Finish line, WS100.
June 29-30, 2013. Placer HS, Auburn CA.

More modifications: I just got a 10×10′ shade-cloth roof, especially for here in California and the Southwest where it does not rain in the summer. The tarp does turn into a frying pan under the full sun. Another thing I learned was to hang the side-panels so they touch the ground, and enable more ventilation out the top, and lowering the graphics panels to follow suit. This tidies up the exterior presentation, encloses the work space, and so on.