Do it. Now. If I was guaranteed a free Vespa, I might eat at Burger King and go see a Twilight movie. “I Love You Man,” “Transformers,” it’s like they know all my favorite movies. I’m looking forward to the “Eat a live scorpion, then see your grandmother naked, win a Vespa” promotion.
Steve at the Scooter Scoop wondered about the accurately-rendered scooters on Disney animated series Phineas and Ferb and discovered that co-creator Jeff “Swampy” Marsh is a scooterist. No wonder our daughter likes the show so much. OK, we admit it, so do we.
I was recently made aware of the handiwork of Jeb from Soundspeed Scooters that will be featured in an upcoming Hollywood film. April from Scoot! Magazine posted a story about a new film starring Hanks and Julia Roberts that features Hanks riding scooters during a midlife crisis. Further intelligence from the horses mouth revealed the handy electric conversion kit to change a classic Lambretta to a zero-emissions-near-you vehicle that will be used in the movie. The Lambretta in the photo was used as a template and the kit was shipped off to the local shop that outfitted a different Lambretta. Maybe you could talk Jeb into making another kit for your Innocenti that hasn’t seen the road in a while or to use while you build up that MB Race-Tour 200 engine.
You can read more about the film in April’s post and links in the comment section of their blog. It sounds like a familiar tale. I’m fairly certain scooter fans will discuss the film on several levels from now until well after release. The question I’m most interested in is what 4-stroke engine recording will they use in the film to represent the running Lambretta?
Two great BBC4 documentaries from the 90s:
A must-watch “Classic Motorcycles” scooter documentary from the early ’90s featuring an amazing array of period photos and footage from the early years of the Vespa and Lambretta.
Another great BBC documentary from a bit later, focusing more on the mid-90s U.K. rally scene.
(Thanks, Steve, via the CHIscooterList.)
I haven’t watched a late-night talk show since Adult Swim’s been on the air, but if I did, Jay Leno would be third on my list behind Conan O’Brien and David Letterman. Maybe eighth if you threw in Craig Ferguson and Chelsea Handler and a few others. I’ve always thought his Tonight Show was about as bland as a show can be, a pale imitation of the already-bland Johnny Carson years.
But, the weird thing is, I like Jay Leno. How can you not? He’s by all accounts an affable guy, and he loves motorcycles. We might all be jealous of his collection, but motorcycle and scooter blogs are full of “Jay sighting” stories, always reporting that he couldn’t be more friendly and down-to-earth. And further proof: he allegedly turned down hosting an American version of Top Gear, admitting that the show would be worthless without Jeremy Clarkson.
Leno’s motoring blog Jay Leno’s Garage will feature a video report on the Genuine Buddy tomorrow (February 12, 2010). I’m really looking forward to it.
You’d think Jay’d be a Vespa guy, it’s a fact he’s got at least one vintage GS in his collection, and he spoke at PiaggioUSA’s 2008 dealer meeting (ah, 2008, those were the days! Rumor has it he was paid with a truckful of bikes, hopefully not recalled RSVs!.)
So it’ll be interesting to hear what he’s got to say about the Buddy, and surely legions of Buddy fans are waiting with bated breath. I agree an Americanized Top Gear would be horrible, but I bet we’d all love to see a Jay Leno motorsport show.
Even the Conan fans.
Yep, that pretty much nails it.
Rumor has it Dean from the Knuckledraggers SC (Quad Cities IL/IA) appears in the second episode of the new History Channel show American Pickers, featuring a Vespa Ape. The episode, “Super Scooter,” should eventually be available for streaming here.
UPDATE: it’s up now on History.com. Thanks again, Scrambler.
Via Scrambler17 on ChiScooterList, thanks!
It’s been a while, but Vespa Vthursday VIdeo is back. Today we appropriately honor one of Haiti’s greatest exports, Wyclef Jean, with an entirely inappropriate song, given the circumstances. In 1998, Jean covered Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” with help from Fugees bandmate Pras, Free and Canibus. The song was produced for the Small Soldiers soundtrack, but thankfully they ignored the film and brought in uberdirector Michel Gondry. It goes a little something like this…
Artist: Wyclef Jean feat. Pras Michel, Canibus, and Free
Song: “Another One Bites the Dust”
Album: Small Soldiers film soundtrack (1998)
Scooter(s): Vespa P-series
Scooter content: 5 seconds
Jump to the good parts: 1:33 to 1:38
The original Queen 45 was in constant rotation on my Fisher-Price record player and at #1 on the Q102 top ten for weeks, until “I Love Rock and Roll” came out and changed everything, forever. I’m sticking to that story even though I just checked Wikipedia and the songs came out 20 months apart. It was Cincinnati, time means nothing there, as the XYLs will tell you.
This version, like many cover versions, seems entirely unnecessary, but it’s not bad. The song’s not Wyclef’s best work, but it’s allright. The video’s not Gondry’s best work, and certainly not his most original concept, but it’s suitably weird, fun, and full of Gondry-style camera tricks, gimmicks, and visual puns. And best of all, it’s got nothing to do with the film it’s promoting, preventing the typical “Who’s Johnny”-type debacle.
As far as scooter content, not too great, but they can’t all be, right? After the remote-control olive-green Vespa P-series is introduced for a few seconds at 1:33, I expected it to come back and save the day later, but oh well, it’s still a pretty good video, and the vintage Mini makes up for it.
So yeah, Haiti. This is what passes for a tribute on 2strokebuzz. I’ll go donate some money now.
Did we just post two videos? and did we just miss two weeks of Vespa Video Vednesday? Never fear, we didn’t forget you. Today we have another clip from David’s list that just so happens to be one of my favorite songs:
Artist: David Bowie
Song: “Absolute Beginners”
Album: Absolute Beginners film soundtrack (1986)
Scooter(s): Vespa GS
Scooter content: 5 seconds
Jump to the good parts: 2:19, 2:22, 2:36
David Bowie, of course, is a genius. As Jon Langford would put it, he’s the “Chameleon of Rock.” And Colin MacInnes’ Absolute Beginners, is definitely one of my favorite books. So what could be better than a film version directed by Great Rock and Roll Swindle director Julien Temple, featuring David Bowie AND Ray Davies (AND Edward Tudor-Pole)!?
Well, the film turned out to be nothing but a marginally entertaining (at best) musical (no!) love story that nearly ignored the book’s rich drama of gentrification, race relations, and the rise of the English teenager. The Fifties setting was overwhelmed by the Eighties set design, and today it looks dated and campy. The soundtrack holds up a little better, featuring songs from Jerry Dammers (of the Specials), the Style Council*, and rare proof that Sade was a promising talent back when she had a last name. Even Ray Davies’ subtle nostalgic song is pretty good. But the gem was this David Bowie track.
Julien Temple directed Bowie’s epic “Jazzin’ for Blue Jean” video in 1984, and Bowie was chosen to appear in the film as shady advertising magnate Vendice Partners. The single was recorded in June 1985 but delayed to wait for the film’s release. The video is nothing special, a Duran Duran-inspired parody of British “Strand” cigarette commercials with awkwardly-chromakeyed film footage worked in. The scooter footage is minimal, and all from the film (a Vespa GS graces the soundtrack album cover and makes a few appearances in the film).
But, oh, the song is so great. It strikes me as the anti-“Uptown Girl,” showing Billy Joel that Eighties arena pop could actually be fused with doo-wop without disastrous results, and thus proving David Bowie is actually capable of anything. The lyrics are beautifully vague and can make me cry if I’ve had a couple beers and I pretend it’s about whatever dramatic situation is troubling me at the moment. Even the obligatory Eighties sax solo is magnificent. It’s perhaps a bit long, though it’s available in several remixes of varying lengths across CD, CD3(!) LP, 7″, 12″ releases. The film was massively hyped before release, then panned by critics and fans, but the single reached #2 in England and nearly cracked the top 50 in the U.S.
There, it’s ten minutes until midnight, and VVV lives. All that for five seconds of secondhand scooter footage. See you next Vednesday.
*Speaking of Paul Weller, The Jam’s “Absolute Beginners,” (#4 UK charts in 1981) is surely also inspired (though equally subtly) by MacInnes’ book. It’s really a must-read novel, and in this age of remakes and re-hashed ideas, hopefully another filmmaker has a go at it, but it’s going to be hard to top the two great songs it’s already inspired.
Slaughterhouse XV is this weekend in Chicago, a fact so obvious to me that I didn’t bother posting it until now, which is sort of irresponsible of me, sorry. Who’d have known back when we joked about never making it to “Slaughterhouse 5” that the rally would endure and grow for 15 years. It’s changed hands a few times, but it’s always fantastic, and there’s always something for everyone. This year shuffles up the usual schedule a bit with Roller Derby on Saturday night and a bigger-than-ever party on Thursday, and still features a few great rides, one of the best gymkhanas around, and more. If you’re into the whole social networking thing, there’s a ning site.
Continue reading “Slaughterhouse XV”
If you’re as big a nerd as me, your Tivo would catch this anyway, but tonight is the debut of The Science Channel’s “How It’s Made” episode about the Vespa. Get a rare inside look at the Piaggio assembly line in
Vietnam China Pontedera, Italy!
Continue reading “Vespa Factory on “How It’s Made””
POCphil and POCmerritt on Cleveland’s That’s Life with Robin Swoboda. Could two people be more charismatic ambassadors of scooterdom? Throw in POCrenee and you’ve got a hit reality show, one that I get to watch live, every time he’s around. People accuse me of being a Phil Waters groupie, but Phil’s met African-American preachers, racist skinheads, models, racing superstars, cops, soccer moms, hillbilly gun nuts, Tom Jones, and even my parents, and charmed the pants off of all of them, often literally. Who could blame me for loving the guy, his wife, and everything they stand for?
Note that even the best scooter dealers tend to bend the truth a little (Genuine Buddies start around $1999, but that’s a top-of-the-line Black Jack) but props to Phil for drilling home the safe-and-legal message right from the start.