Friday, November 14, 2008

Wescar Wacing in the Desert

Did y'all know that racecar spelled backwards is 'racecar'.

Before I could walk, I had a wrench in my hand....

Don't wake me up, when November ends. One of the best month 11s ever, so far.

Hope has been resuscitated by a man named Obama. A certain sports team is doing very well and whom I dare not speak too much of for fear of the jinx (though I will discuss them more here in a bit as it is part of the tale). Two shows at the Fillmore later this month with DBT and THS....

But the biggest thrill of 11/08 came last weekend when I had the pleasure of hosting a certain artist that you all may be familiar with. Said artist gave me a gift of some of his great work:

I had the honor of hosting Wes Freed in the desert of Arizona last weekend.

Last Spring Wes was commissioned by the folks at Phoenix International Raceway to create a limited edition print commemorating the 11/9/08 NASCAR race at PIR.

PIR Teams with Rock and Roll Artist Wes Freed to Promote NASCAR's Semi-Final Showdown - Phoenix Raceway:

"Richmond-based artist/musician Wes Freed – best known for his album cover art for alt-country rockers The Drive-By Truckers (including 2008's Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, which peaked in the Billboard Top 40) – was commissioned by PIR President Bryan R. Sperber and has produced a limited edition promotional poster for Phoenix’s upcoming race in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

'Many NASCAR fans have come to enjoy the artwork of Wes Freed after being exposed to his work through the Drive-by Truckers,' Sperber said. “We reached out to Wes and also discovered he was a huge NASCAR fan - becoming thoroughly excited when he agreed to develop a special project with us that presents his unique perspective on the excitement of NASCAR racing at Phoenix. Wes’s work of art will commemorate the Checker Auto Parts 500 in a special way and make this November’s race even more memorable.”"
The beautiful piece of art Wes created:

Here's a quote from Wes from the article above.... 'Take a deep breath and give it everything you got':
"Racin', rock and roll, and art makin' are alike in that in each field, to make it work on any level you just gotta throw yourself into it 100 percent and pray you don't hit the wall,” said Freed. “All three endeavors are driven by blind passion.
Wisdom, indeed.

Now you may be asking, JPW what are you doing in the desert of AZ? I'm everywhere all at once, baby. Don't believe me? Then just turn around... I'll wait.... Ah, too slow. I was right behind you but I'm a man on the move. Gotta be quick if I gotta be everywhere. Oh, and your shirt tag is sticking up, you may want to fix that. Nice thong, too. And how in the hell did you get that Cheeto stuck there?

At the moment, I'm doing a little house sitting in AZ, but y'all know where I left my heart. It's in San Francisco with the rest of my shit. Now if I could only figure out where I left my wallet. Probably in El Segundo.

But, I digress.

Wes called me the night before he boarded a flight to Phoenix and we coordinated the airport pick-up. I asked Wes if he had a cell phone and he proceeds to tell me that he had one, but that he didn't think that it worked, but it did previously and.... then Wes says 'hold on' and I hear his lovely wife Jyl in the background say something. Wes returns to the phone and says 'Jyl says to tell you 'no' I don't have a cell phone'. Wes and Jyl are comedy gold, I tell ya.

Now, I ask you dear reader, in this modern day and age, have you attempted to pick someone up at the airport sans cell phone communication? Its kinda like when the electricity goes off during your favorite TV program. You scratch your head for a minute then decide, well hell, I'll watch a DVD instead. Yes, you see.

I've only seen pictures of Wes and he ain't never seen me. I tracked the flight online. One minute it says the flight is 15 minutes from landing and the very next minute it says the plane has been on the ground for 15 minutes. I 'oh shit' and hop into the car.

The airport arrival lanes are ass packed full of folks. As I creep through the line, Wes pops right out the terminal and steps directly into the car. With that kind of timing, you just know its gonna be a great weekend.

We head back to the house, have a few several beers and shoot the shit, then Wes plays me a couple of tunes he's been working on and they sound great. One has a possum in it and I took a great shine to that song. Seizing the opportunity to play the guitar in front of someone who knows what they are doing (I'm a self-taught newbie with about a 1 and 1/2 years under my belt). I played for Wes my very short version of Drivin and Cryin's 'Straight to Hell'.

The next day, Saturday, is Alabama vs LSU. Having Wes witness my pre-game rituals and silly superstition (and trust me, since the Tide has had such an awesome year so far, I've developed several weird little superstitions, down to the clothing I wear, the beer I drink, a matchbox that's stayed in the same position on the floor since late August... you catch my drift) was a bit worrisome. Didn't want him to think I was some kind of weirdo. But, as the quote above confirms, Wes understands passion very well and he ended up being the good luck charm needed to pull the Tide to a victory over LSU in overtime. Wes is a NASCAR man and couldn't really give a hoot about football, but he was hollerin' right along with me in the 4th quarter and OT and I'll be forever greatful for his assistance in that 'W'.

Saturday evening, after the game, Wes and I drove out to PIR to meet up with Paul Corliss, old friend of Wes's and Communications Director for PIR. It was a pretty neat experience to hang out in the infield after all of Saturday's racing had been completed.

We found some beers and good folk at the Racing Roundup Radio show RV and proceed to plant ourselves in some chairs and have a nice chit-chat.

All of the guys involved are serious about racing and sports in general. I listened, in awe, to Paul and Wes debate the merits of different racing teams, even though I had no clue as to what they were talking about. It was pretty impressive, though.

Here's how serious Paul is about his sports. An infield racing Wookie stumbled upon our small band of merry makers and asked if there was an extra beer in our cooler. Paul told the Wookie he must answer one questions, and answer it correctly in order to receive a beer from the cooler. The question was "Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers". I can't remember the Wookie's answers, but it was incorrect and Paul forbade him from having a beer. Usually, in these situations, one will relent after a bit and hand the Wook a beer after some serious razzing, but Paul is strict with his riddles and no amount of Wookie pleading could pry a beer away from the cooler. That's committment, folks. I have much respect. Wookie was sent away to pilfer other coolers.

Another artist friend of Paul's was at the race and was doing live paintings during the action. Frenchy does some fine work and if you are ever in New Orleans, go check out his studio.

We left for the race track early Sunday morning. Had to stop and get some gas at the Circular K. Wes and I weren't able to get the gas pump to work no matter how many times we stuck our card in nor how many times we punched the buttons. Some of our Mexican-American brethren pulled up to the other side of the pump and proceeded to stick and push too.

Wes looked at me and said "Sounds like they're having the same problem we are.... except in Spanish". Classic. It was like that all weekend.

It was a beautiful day in the desert of Arizona. A few clouds in the sky providing relief from the ever present sun. Thank jeebus for the genius of Wes Freed who remembered the sun screen, though. It wouldn't have crossed my mind until it was too late. We were SPF 70 protected all day long. That saved about a weeks worth of misery. Thank you Wes.

This hill side on the west end of the track is filled with camping grounds. Wes said this is where hs stood in March and got some partial inspiration for the print.

Here we are in the pits. My first time, and seeing the machines up close was a sight to behold.

But he never lost his touch when he got underneath the hood
He knew how to make them run and he knew one day he would.....

I asked Wes who we were rooting for today and the answer was 'Smoke'.... #20..... Tony Stewart:

This was a Veterans Day race and many of our uniformed finest were in attendance.

See his name in victory lane and engraved on that cup
Just like all them other crazy fools with racing in their blood

Wes and I found us a seat and some cold beers, hotdogs and hamburgers and proceeded to people watch and shot more shit until noon-thirty when Wes had a signing for the print he'd done.

Here's the big tent where the signing occurred.

This signing was a big ol' batch of fun for me. I got to write the intro for Wes that was read from the stage alerting folks to the signing. When I asked Wes what he wanted the intro to say, he says to me "I don't know, you're the writer'. Obviously, Wes have never read my blog or he would have known better to call me a writer. But, still, pretty effing cool.

I stood behind Wes during the signing, dusted off my salesman/trade-show skills, and hit up the people that were walking in and out of the door with info on the print and a card placed in their hand with Wes's web info.

One youngish couple walked in the door and the fella of the couple started to squint his eyes looking at the print, then started to point. By the time he got to where I and the print where he says 'That looks like the Drive-by Truckers'. I told him that he was spot-on and that Wes was signing the prints just behind me. He asked if he could go shake his hand and get an autograph. Very cool.

Here's a picture of the 10 winners of the PIR race. Several of these folks are dead now.

Here are the last 9 years worth of winners.

Wes meetin' and greetin'.

The girls who were working the signing for the track were awesome. Gail made sure Wes and I stayed flush in full beers and even gave us a 6 pack to go once the race got underway.

We sat in the 'Bobby Allison' section, one of the patriarchs of the 'Alabama Gang'. We were right on turn 1.

Check out the guy in the white Alabama Crimson Tide hat. I poked him and we high-fived the LSU game.

Here's our man 'Smoke' pulling out of the pit.

Being in the desert, you would expect a rain delay, but we sure enough had one for about 30 minutes.

I wanted to pull for this car, but Wes told me it wasn't in the race.

That's the only bigoted thing I heard or saw at PIR. Just because it don't look like the other cars, I bet it still has heart. I mean, all they need to do was spray paint a number on it. And I don't think they'd have to change his tires at all during the race. Them suckers look pretty sturdy. Only 'stock cars' can be in the race.

But, whatever. It would've only been fair to give Big Blue a shot.

The first time that I raced my qualifying was a shame
I started out way in the back and came back about the same

What's wrong with this picture?

If you have to use 'reverse' in a NASCAR race, then chances are you ain't going to do too well.

Smoke ran anywhere from 25th to 9th at one point. It was fun to watch him try to move up each lap.

And, from an organizational management stand point, NASCAR should be a case study in how to do things right. I've never been so impressed with an organization's ability to run the smoothest, well-oiled, tons of fun event ever. Those men and women have it down.

The race ended with Jimmy Johnson (who we hates) taking the checkered flag and in all probablity the Cup for the year.

It ain't about the money or even being #1
You gotta know when it's all over you did the best you could've done
Knowing that it's in you and you never let it out
Is worse than blowing any engine or any wreck you'll ever have

Here's the finish line wrecked that occurred at the end of the race. I thought this was how they finished all NASCAR races, but Wes told me different.

Here's 'Smoke #20' after being wrecked at the finish walking over to have a little chat with the feller who drove the McDonalds car. My best guess is that Smoke told him to quit clowning around.

*chirp* * chirp*

Tough crowd.

I lost more than I won but I ain't gonna give up
Till they put me in the ground or Daddy's name's on that cup

Well, here we are at the finish line. I can't thank Wes and Jyl enough for allowing me the pleasure to hang out with Wes at the race and to host him for the weekend. Wes is as fine a fella as you'd ever want to meet. In him I found a like mind on many an issue (we had good fun razzing V-PILF the entire weekend). Once again, I had the honor of meeting one of the greater talents in the DBT family and I could go on and on about how great I think Wes is, but I'll sum it up thusly:

Lore has it that Patterson once stated "Any man that isn't a little queer for Wes Freed ain't a real man at all".

Then color me a little queer.

Finally, since it is the holiday season, I can't think of a better gift to give your loved one than a print created by Mr. Freed.

Go to Wes's Website and shoot Jyl an email with your holiday order. You'll be bringing cheer and smiles to many by doing so:

One last thought: Did y'all know that the "M" in Barry M. Goldwater stands for Hussein. It does.

It was like that all weekend.


davyproctorboy said...

JHW---I will have to tell ya sometime about my picking up Anais Nin and Hubert Humphrey (not at the same time) at airports. I don't have a cell phone either, but at least you know what I look like next time you pick me up. Did see spectacular Garrin Benfield gig in SF last night....You are over way overdue to catch a Garrin gig. Dec. 5 at Dolores Park Cafe!

AAW said...

Oh, I've got to hear those tales, davy. Nin and Humphrey?!?

I did not see Garrin and you are correct, I do need to get out and see him. Within the next year, promise!

davyproctorboy said...

Within the next year? How about in '08! Don't forget I went to see DBT at HSB last year on your recommendation...

brian peters said...

After having done business with and meeting Wes,I'll tell ya Wes and Jyl Freed are some of the nicest people you can meet. It's AMAZING Wes's art is available to the public. He is truly a great american artist,and hopefully will get the reconition he deserves.

AAW said...

I couldn't agree more, Brian.