Saturday, March 10, 2018

DJ's Lounge Diorama 1/24 scale

I THINK IT'S DONE. Or... I feel like I'm really ready to be done. Been tinkering with it on and off since late 2016. Made from cardboard, balsa wood, polystyrene. It was a fun project. Hope people like it. Here are some photos I staged in my basement. I have some decent experience with photography and lighting but I'm certainly not professional. Pretty happy with how the diorama turned out though. Hope y'all enjoy....

Backgrounds are projected behind the miniature. I show my photo setup farther below.

I tried different things with lighting to simulate different times of day. Here's some golden hour.

 A 1976 Ford Gran Torino. Trying for something that looks like The Dude’s car from The Big Lebowski. I wasn't thinking of a specific year for this. I wanted a somewhat timeless quality but it seemed like there really needed to be some big old rust-bucket 70s cars in the lot!

This whole thing started with me thinking I was going to do a diorama of my 70s childhood home. The 65 Pontiac Catalina in the pic above was my Grandparents car. Then the news came that DJs was going to be demolished and I thought that would be a cooler project. Kept the car though, and that determined my scale. 

Another shot of the Ford. I think my rust effects came out pretty good for a first attempt.

Closer look at the sign. The "L" in Lounge flickers like it's a bad spot in the neon (on purpose) and the little lights arounf the arrow all blink.  

Here I took the sign outside and photographed it with natural sunlight and sky. I think it looks pretty realistic!

Some roof details. Oil pastels for rust effects.

Little door handles made from pieces of toothpick and wire.

The wiring for the lighting of the sign.

Special Bonus! Haunted DJ's Lounge. Ghostbusters Pinto Wagon on the scene!!

And here is me and my wagon, before they demolished the real DJ's. I've already forgot what year. I went around the whole place, taking reference photos like a weirdo, though I didn't really know why at the time.

Anyway, that's it. I don't know if I'll do any more of these. People are suggesting I work on some sort of "memory lane" street scene with a few different gone GR places and enter in an Artprize. I have some ideas. We'll see.

Friday, December 8, 2017

GR-Retro shirts in time for Christmas!

Here are the designs I have for 2017. Three new ones.  TAPE WORLD, "Weatherball Black, Nuclear Attack!" Aladdin's Castle, Crazy Larry's Records & Tapes, Sweden House, North Kent Mall, Top of the Rock, Mr. Fables and Club 911.

All make awesome gifts and are available here:
Still time to get them in time for Christmas!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

North Kent Mall Grand Opening 1971

Here is a surprising find.  A film transfer of the ribbon-cutting ceremony and opening of North Kent Mall in 1971.  That is indeed Gerald Ford, when he was Congressman, cutting the ribbon.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Shooting "vintage" photos using "film"

When was the last time you shot a picture on a film camera?  Betcha can't remember!  I don't think I know anyone else actively using film.  I got the urge to revisit film three years ago. I got nostalgic for my first "good" camera. A Minolta Maxxum 5000i.  Now if you know much about older cameras, you might know that is not really all that great but to me when I bought it back in 1989 for around $400, it seemed like a pretty extravagant thing to own. I still have many photos taken with it. Looking on ebay, you can find tons of this and better models of film cameras for very cheap.

So why would anyone mess with film in 2017 when you can take as many photos as you'd ever want for free with your phone??

I suppose it's not all that different from getting into listening to music on vinyl. It simply feels different.  The photos surprise you.  Remember waiting to get your photos back?  The photos don't turn out perfect and often the mistakes look cool.  By the time you take the film in you don't remember half of what was even on the roll so you get to have a fun review of the last few days, weeks, months... 

I won't get into specifics of the cameras I'm using because literally nobody cares but I have quite a few different models from early 80s back to some from the 50s. There are always good ones to be found cheap and local at places like Comprenew. I use expired film mostly. The older the better.  I find film in janky party stores gathering dust or thrift stores or etsy or ebay.

Here is the oldest roll of film I've yet found. Kmart film expiration 1981. 
Also the picture above of the roll of film was taken on film. Look at that amazing grain!

When I first got started revisiting film in 2014, there were actually still a couple places in town doing 1 hour film developing!  Moto Photo at Knapp's Corner and Walgreens at Knapp and Fuller. That Walgreens had a Family Video nextdoor. I could go to that corner and have a mild time warp experience. Drop off a roll of film then go browse movies physically sitting ON SHELVES.  The next year both places dropped the 1 hour for the same reasons as everywhere else. Limited demand but most of all, no service was available for the developing equipment anymore.

I now go exclusively to Mark's Photo on Division and 32nd.  They've been there as long as I can remember.  Along with Norman Camera on 28th St., I think they're the last and best places to go locally for film developing or used equipment.
So anyway, for those who might care, here are a few of my "vintage" photos of stuff around Grand Rapids, shot on expired film in old cameras. Oh and I'm by no means claiming to be an awesome photographer. I'm learning and sometimes I get lucky but this is more about an enjoyable hobby and the cool aesthetic of film.....

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Top of the Rock / Club 911 Reunion!

Hope everyone's having an awesome summer! 
One of the more popular posts here that still gets many views and comments is Top Of The Rock. No doubt because it's one of the only things about that place that exists on the entire internet.
If you were among those who frequented that den of teen debauchery back in the 80s and/or 90s, then you should come out to the reunion party I am having this July 8th at the Pyramid Scheme Bar in Grand Rapids. 10pm. I'm charging $5 cover (just like they charged at Top!)  You can get tickets ahead of time here or at the door, the night of.
This is the 3rd one of these I have done and they are always a huge party with tons of people that you probably have not seen in years.
The DJ for the event will be Rick DePas, aka "DJ Merlin" who was an original DJ there 1988-1996. 
I decided to make it a reunion for BOTH Top of the Rock and also Club 911 so the music will vary at times from the "alternative" stuff that was the flavor at 911 to some retro top-40. I've had a cage built for any who want to take a turn as a "cage dancer" and there will be TOTR and 911 shirts for sale. So come on out, it'll be a blast!
Here is the facebook event page.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

30 Minutes or Less

I had forgotten about this movie and only just got around to checking it out because I remembered it featured DJs Lounge while it was still standing in 2010.  Was surprised to see just how much Grand Rapids is featured!

I decided to compile screenshots here of all the locations I could pick out.

If you have not already seen 30 Minutes or Less and have any interest, stop reading and just go see it!  Half the fun of that movie for G.R. people is seeing all the familiar sights.  If you like Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride or Aziz Ansari, they're all as entertaining as ever and the whole thing is a fun ride.

After watching it, come on back and compare notes on all the G.R. places used ....

Racing past The Red Lion on Bridge St. in the opening montage

The Anchor Bar, Bridge St.

One of the public park swimming pools. Not sure which one. Is it Wilcox?

Sixth St. Bridge

Does someone recognize this place?

Here is D'J's "Gentlemen's Lounge"

I am pretty sure I have seen some of the wall art from this shoot upstairs at Lost & Found Antiques
The outside of Vito's on W. Fulton is featured a few times

Vito's interior

Maybe someone can identify the scrapyard

Out back of DJs, daytime

Family Dollar 28th St.

The tattoo place and other stores in the plaza next to the Family Dollar

4-Star Gas, Chicago Dr. 

Vito's, daytime

Running along the 6th St. Bridge

Brass Works building, Monroe.

Brass Works, rooftop

The bank robbery scenes were actually filmed at an abandoned bank in Ludington

Car chase on S. Division

One of the pretty non-Grand Rapids looking police cars

Taco Boy, Plainfield

Railroad bridge, Front St.

Nondescript industrial area, Burlingame maybe?


Ann St. I believe. Definitely recognize the old water tower

I may be wrong but I think this building in the post credits is in the plaza at Kalamazoo and 44th