Monday, September 20, 2010

Another BBQ

A few months ago, a man walked in to my shop, interrupted my welding, and stated that he wanted a barbecue. In my line of work, if a custom request is not amended by particularities, then said project becomes more of a creative liability than a creative license. I need—and the customer appreciates—a more explicit projection of what they are paying for. So I drew a picture in my journal, showed the client, and he went for it. What emerged was a fairly angular, sturdy, and bitchin' flame bucket.

From the front, it's really just a State Park BBQ on steroids; no moving parts, no machinery, just a box on feet.

Front detailing.

Banding of banding.

We're firing this puppy up on Friday. Be there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yosemite, Sans Rope

For the first time in my climbing career, I drove the five-plus hours to Yosemite Valley with the intention of NOT roping up, but bouldering. This goes against much of the tradly fibers in my hand-taped being, but I'm happy to say that I can finally commiserate with the punk-ass kids at the bouldering gym. In summary: the bouldering of Yosemite Valley is so superlatively good as to warrant a wholesale yard-sale of your cams.

Well, not really. I will never do that.

But Mary, Jake, and I had a blast pebble-wrestling on the warmish weekend of September 11th, and lest you think we forewent crack climbing altogether, we managed to find some exceptional solitary suffering on problems like Deliverance, a heinous roof finger-crack, and Cedar's Crack, an overhanging offwidth crack that offers quality harumph-ing for forty feet, then spits you off with a burly top-out. I snagged Cedar's Crack on my second go. Deliverance, however, is going to take multiple visits and a tolerance of pain that I have yet to obtain.

Contemplating the top-out (which you can't see) above me.

After a day of Valley activities (including negotiating swarms of late-summer tourists), we went back to Bass Lake and putzed around on the Lewis Creek boulders (equivalent of SB's Painted Cave in terms of convenience and concentration), then enjoyed the bro-tastic scene that is Bass Lake swimming. The Willow Creek waterslide was in good form:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

From Bratislava to Santa Barbara

I give you Geza Kummer, the man whose initials are imprinted on most of my hammers, swages, and sundry blacksmithing tools. After expatriating from his native Bratislava, this wry, scrappy, and chain-smoking Eastern European built one of the most successful blacksmithing and ornamental iron businesses in Santa Barbara, circa 1980's and 1990's. If you have seen classically honed metalwork around town, it's probably his. When he went out of business about five years ago, Dan and I bought most of his tools for a pittance, partly because Geza wanted to retire and move on, but I like to think this old-world badass actually liked Dan and I.

Well, he just might have.

While I was forging components for the Morley Wine rack (piece in progress; more photos to follow), Geza strutted in to our shop, aglow with goodwill—as his weathered features would allow. One thing you should know about Geza: he hates Communists. Most people my age barely retain a distant ire for Communism. We of the late-twenties mostly remember Communists as the bumbly, nasally-voiced bad guys from Rambo movies, or, at worst, an anachronistic regime of boring, gray buildings and propaganda posters. Russia, as an axis of evil, no longer presides over our worst fears as a nation. When Geza lived in Bratislava, however, Communism was omnipresent and hardly benign. I won't relate his stories, but he still drops vengeful comments about "the Russians" in normal conversation. For all the Russians reading this, I apologize; being Russian does not a Communist make.

Anyway, this guy may look small, but he could probably break my anvil in half, and then put a cig out on his tongue.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The September Sessions

My garage wall hurts my fingers right.

I credit any semblance of climbing fitness I currently possess to this diminutive clapboard with holds.

Meat, Grandiose.

I don't mean to belittle your barbecue set-up, but correct me if I'm wrong about the following:

Last August, during the height of cook-out season, you couldn't help but notice your bro-neighbor's Weber grill, and the obscenely huge slab of Tri-tip wallowing in redolent death. Skewered onions and peppers, adjacent to the meat on a separate bi-fold rack for purposes of temperature control, adorned the tri-tip as a savory obituary. And bro, with barbed-wire bicep tatoos, acted as pallbearer.

How decadent, how delicious, you thought.

I'll buy my own grill, you thought.

Later that night, crosslegged on your couch and tongue salivating with anticipation, you perused Craigslist with a vengeance. A week later, you fired up your little $25 hibachi and seared some carne. That grill is still sitting on your porch, perched like a defunct android from Star Wars, squat, rusting, and splattered with grease. It's a good grill. Really.

But this one is better.

Dan and I designed and built a barbecue grill that evokes the aesthetic of 1800's mining equipment. And, keeping with anachronism, we coated the whole thing with bacon fat to both season and protect the metal. No joke. I walked next door to the Paradise Cafe and asked the cook (he was a bit perplexed) if he had copious amounts of bacon fat. He did.