Category: What-Not

Check here for miscellaneous ramblings about what interests us! It could be an art installation, musings during travel, cool new gadgets, music and anything else that piques our curiosity!

The Elias Telecaster Cabronita

The Elias Telecaster Cabronita

Elias Telecaster Cabronita
Elias Hand-Built Guitars Custom Tele Cabronita

This is my first attempt at guitar-building. This is the Elias Hand-Built Guitars custom Elias Telecaster Cabronita. A tribute to the original Tele “La Cabronita as introduced by the Fender Custom Shop in 2009. It was a mean streetfighting machine when introduced at that time, and a product of the mind of “El Jefe de el Custom Shop” Mike Eldred. The “little bitch” as the literal translation goes, was a custom job that started as a Tele with stripped-down sensibilities, leaving it with a pair of TV Jones Filtertron pickups in the bridge and neck positions with pared-down controls resulting in a three-way toggle switch, and in our case a concentric volume and tone pot.

My example includes a custom wiring harness with a pair of ‘tron pickups and a modern Fender-style bridge. A Fender-licensed soft V-shape neck with Gotoh locking tuners keeps the strings tight in the body which was expertly painted by Ron Justice using Dupont 1961 Cadillac Dresden Blue Metallic paint

The asshole cousin…

Fender’s Eldred spoke with Music Radar magazine about the La Cabronita (later shortened to just the Cabronita) about what inspired him to make this particular guitar. “Well, I’ve played a Tele for a good part of my life, and I wanted to make something that was kind of going against the grain of what a normal Tele would be like. I wanted something that was a bit more aggressive – the best way to describe it is when you have family gatherings, but then the asshole cousin will show up and kind of disrupt everything. And I wanted to make a guitar that had that kind of vibe to it: something that didn’t really sit in the normal box, and challenged people who normally play Telecasters.

Viva La Cabronita

The Cabronita guitar has taken on a life of its own and has since resulted in many makers of Fender-style bodies routing for Filtertron-style pickups. Fender introduces a new version of it every few years and other builders reproduce tributes to the same.

This Elias Telecaster Cabronita is mine. I built it. It’s the best guitar I own, and it plays like a dream.

In Palm Beach: Sore thumbs, shiny objects and prepping for a comeback.

In Palm Beach: Sore thumbs, shiny objects and prepping for a comeback.

Palm Beach was in full-roar during a mid-March Saturday. Temperatures in the mid-70s allowed visitors to keep their cool, while window-shopping and more. Workers at Buccan polished up the signage while pedestrians hustled up and down Worth Avenue past toney boutiques, galleries and restaurants.

It wasn’t just the people who were attracting attention. As you are aware Mark Elias Media Services and Mark Elias Photo works in the automotive field. The exotic cars were in full force, too. Rare is the day you can’t claim the sighting a high-end Mercedes is a big deal, but on this day, to drive such a vehicle would not even get you a second glance. Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Ferrari were the featured marques of the day. It was amusing to see them are jostle for position when a parking spot along the Avenue opened up.

In Palm Beach, art is all around us.

We were famished in the late afternoon and figured it was time to hit one of our favorite watering holes, the Honor Bar. Part of the Hillstone Restaurant Group, the Honor Bar is small in size but big in spirit. It is located directly next to its sister restaurant, the Palm Beach Grille, in Palm Beach’s Royal Poinciana Plaza. The plaza is known for its restaurants, art galleries, book stores and high-end boutiques.

Palm Beach sculpture
(Untitled) Projectile Monolith Titanium by Gisela Colón.

One of them, Gavlak Gallery, located in Los Angeles and Palm Beach, is featuring works by Gisela Colón including an installation in the courtyard. Titled “Untitled” (Projectile Monolith Titanium), it attracted a bit of attention while awaiting its countdown to blast-off.

Putting a thumb on it.

Palm beach Gold Thumb
Gold Thumb sculpture at Sotheby’s Palm Beach.

Outside Sotheby’s Palm Beach is a giant gold thumb. No explanation. No phone number. No No. Still, it was the perfect counterpoint to the Colón sculpture above. It just goes to show you that you should always be prepared to be surprised when out and about on the Island.

In A Natural Disaster? What’s Next?

In A Natural Disaster? What’s Next?

After my daughter experienced her own natural disaster, I had the idea to write about it in a story for Autotrader.com. Their process is like this: I pitch a story idea, and it goes to my editors there, who will either say yea or nay as to whether it gets published. This particular idea was submitted right after Ariel’s water event in early August. In it, I described the best practices after you have been through one, telling how to get the insurance companies involved as quickly as possible so that they can make you whole again. Little did we know that nearly three weeks later, such a natural disaster, Hurricane Harvey, would occur that affected America’s fourth largest city, Houston, Texas. In addition to displacing thousands of residents, the storm, according to Autotrader parent company Cox Automotive, had destroyed more than 500,000 vehicles.

In the story, I describe a recent excursion to New Orleans by my daughter. While visiting friends for a brunch, the Crescent City was hit with torrential downpours. A few days prior to the weekend, turbine generators caught fire, sidelining several of them. As a result of the out of commission generators, only eight of the French Quarter’s 45 pumping stations were working. Storm drains in this city that sits below sea level in the first place could just not keep up, which caused widespread flooding everywhere in this tourist Mecca. Eventually she was able to return to her legally parked car which was found sitting in about 18-inches of water. After three additional hours of waiting for the water levels to recede, she made the nearly six-hour trek back to Memphis in what was now essentially smelled like a toilet bowl on wheels.

Here’s my Autotrader.com article telling what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation.

https://www.autotrader.com/car-shopping/getting-through-a-natural-disaster-whats-next-268629

The Jeep Switchback Concept

The Jeep Switchback Concept

The Jeep Switchback Concept is the more accessible relative of the Jeep Safari Concept, in that many of the parts are currently available in the MOPAR parts catalog at any Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealership. Available with many bolt-on parts from the Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) line, the Switchback is a raised, and redesigned look at FCA’s venerable off-road badboy and favorite son of Toledo, Ohio, home of the Jeep factory.

To keep things simple, Jeep started with many of the parts that are available to customers right off-the-shelf. Power comes from a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine that puts out 285 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque. It spreads its power to all four wheels via a five speed automatic transmission and Rock-Trac transfer case for part-time 4WD. Lifted four-inches via the JPP 4-inch lift kit with remote reservoir Fox shocks, it has front and rear Dana 44 axles and hits the ground with 37-inch BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain knobbies on 17-inch satin black wheels with machined facings.

It comes complete with a full-array of JPP parts including rock rails, Rubicon winch, winch guard, cold air intakes, custom axle back exhausts, and special cast differential covers, its has nearly everything in the parts catalog other than windows.

Jeep Switchback
Jeep Switchback Concept at the 2017 Easter Jeep® Safari in Moab, Utah.

That’s right. The Jeep Switchback has no windows.

Not for poseurs, the Switchback has no windows. Instead, it features cutouts in the removable door’s lower bouts, which allow occupants to see what is directly below the perimeter of the jeep for both safety and scenic perspectives. It’s a cool idea that could end up in a production vehicle in the future, but one that will need to be modified to allow the upper panes of glass to slide down. During our recent jaunts around the property at the Perez Art Museum in Downtown Miami, Florida, we were glad the FCA air conditioning units performed so flawlessly. With temperatures hovering right around 98-degrees, it was all the a/c units could do to keep pumping cold air into the open sided cabin.

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Awesome Diecast Models

Awesome Diecast Models

Chances are that if you’re reading these pages on the web, you are already a collector of diecast collectible models. South Florida retailer Awesome Diecast models supplies collectors and corporations with the latest in metal and resin miniatures to over 60 countries globally.

Awesome Diecast owner Jeff Silver

In business since 2002, the firm offers a collection of more than 6,000 models, as well as commissioned private stock to clients ranging from Greyhound Bus Lines, DHL, CBS, FedEX, CEMEX, Maersk Shipping, and Atlas Van Lines.

They are all very familiar brands, seen almost daily on the highway, and occasionally on the shelves of collectors. It’s just the thing for a storage-challenged home dweller, especially one whose spousal unit limits vehicle size to no more than 1:43rd scale. Said spousal unit has also limited a guitar collection to no more than five examples, but I digress.

Awesome Diecast Stock
Awesome Diecast

The stock at Awesome Diecast ranges from street and racecars to trucks, buses and fire apparatus. Occasional specialties such as Australian “Road Trains” even manage to land in the warehouse but only for a very short time before repackaging for shipment to buyers. According to company owner Jeff Silver, no one is doing what his company is, complete with acquiring the licensing to reproduce a company’s fleet in miniature. Most of the models are made with Cad design files directly from the OEM manufacturers.

“We have a very good web presence around the world. One of our earliest was a run of Fonterra milk tankers. They are the largest milk producer responsible for about 30-percent of the world’s dairy output, out of New Zealand,” said Silver. “We did everything over Skype, and email, had them manufactured, with licensing from Scania trucks and others, and then delivered more than 15,000 units to them.

The Awesome Diecast showroom is located in Boca Raton, Florida, and features shelves of new products, private commissions, estate purchases and some of Silver’s personal collection. “The first piece I collected is even here,” said Silver. So too, one of fifty gold-plated Greyhounds issued by Corgi.

Greyhound Drivers

“Emergency” TV show diecast set.

Iconic Diecast, one of the company’s private labels, has issued a 1931 Greyhound bus, based on a Mack chassis, that is near and dear to Silver because it was driven daily by his great uncle between Montreal and New York in the 1930s. Knee high riding boots were part of their uniform, adding a touch of style to the experience.

“If it has wheels, we can get it produced. We have a partnership with a company in China and they are actually expanding into Bangladesh. I go to the Nuremburg Toy Fair, New York, and others around the world. Our cars and trucks are all limited edition: Once we make and sell out the run, it won’t be recreated. For instance, with this Greyhound bus, it will be created in a limited run, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. I will make it into a Trailways version but I will never recreate an already completed vehicle. That way the models have potential to increase in value as well.”

Silver continues, by saying, “When we do a model for the VanHool bus company, it will be for 100,000 pieces and they will actually own the dies so no one else can utilize them. All clients own the dies. They pay up front for a one-time tooling fee but subsequent runs have no die fees. It’s best to start with a minimum of 2,000 pieces.

Custom trucks and buses typically range from $59 to $89 USD. Prices vary according to quantity, features –like opening hoods and doors, and scale. They produce models as large as 1:8th scale and in the case of the Vanhool models, some were over three feet long. Silver offers flat-rate shipping to Europe for $34.95 USD. It doesn’t matter if there is one or 20 models in the box.

Story and Photos by Mark Elias

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Nissan USA’s Nashville Skyline Revisited.

Nissan USA’s Nashville Skyline Revisited.

Whenever we receive an invitation to see Nissan USA’s headquarters, it’s rare the invite is refused. That’s because the company HQ just happens to be near one of the most exciting cities in America, Nashville, Tennessee. That it was to test-drive the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport is just icing on the cake. Nashville is the home of Country music, which despite the current fascination with the “Bro-Country” genre, is definitely not lost on me, so naturally, there was just no way I was going to miss this excursion.

Sure, I own a pair of Justin boots that don’t get nearly as much wear, as they should. I also own a Stetson hat but don’t even go there. Hats, and my diabolically shaped head don’t play well together. So, while the Stetson cooled itself in my closet back home, my Justin’s made it through the TSA checkpoint just fine.

The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport at Nissan Headquarters in Franklin, TN.

The 2017 Rogue Sport is the newest family member of the best-selling model in the Nissan lineup, and this continuation looks to be right in line to continue the CUV’s good fortune. With seating for five, it should be just the thing for urban-dwelling millennials to haul around close friends and their stuff.

Landing at Nashville International Airport was a familiar beginning to an adventure that started with a troubadour playing classic country right outside Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge airport outlet. Shortly thereafter, a greeter from Nissan and Prestige Auto Specialists was whisking us away to our hotel in Nashville’s “Gulch” that was formerly a Louisville & Nashville Railroad freight yard in another life. Now a hipster haven, it is home to artist’s lofts, galleries, excellent restaurants, whiskey tasting rooms, music venues and even a few progressive recording studios.

But the one thing we did notice was a considerable downturn in the boot-wearing population. Normal kicks seem to be the order of the day, and despite the image of a rhinestone cowboy dancing around in your head, there was no hint of a Nudie suit to be seen anywhere.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with the Sons of the Pioneers in their Nudie Suits.

With those thoughts in mind, Nissan took us on a deep dive, which included visits to microbreweries, visual art museums, artist workshops, artisan chocolatiers, and recording studios that favor new alternative artists including one actually owned by one of the most prolific alt-rockers of this age. Although we missed seeing him in person, we spent several evenings at Jack White’s Third Man Records studio, checking out new era vinyl and one very old do-it-yourself recording booth as used by Neil Young on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Venture over to East Nashville for a taste of the up and coming, which will satiate the eyes and the stomach. They include incredible street art curated by the Nashville Walls project. Co-founder Éva Boros described a life of eating Ramen in the rain, before finding her calling in Nashville’s art world. The result is now some of the most incredible mural designs on earth by artists such as Banksy and Nathan Brown.

Third Man is a crossroads where classic country, alt-rock, shredding and other styles of music intersect and the result couldn’t be any better. Founded by the leader of the White Stripes and Raconteurs, not to mention numerous other music projects, it has been the scene of groundbreaking recordings such as Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose album as well as the studios where chanteuse Margo Price cut her latest. The gift shop is well stocked with vinyl from the Third Man catalog as well as anything else a JW fan could want.

Jack White’s Third Man Records.

Owners of Nashville’s Native Magazine told of the city’s burgeoning art, food, and fashion scenes, which show no signs of letting up. With upwards of 85 new residents moving to the Music City each day, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it is clear why there is a building boom going on downtown, as evidenced by the abundance of towering construction cranes along downtown’s skyline.

Inside the studio’s Blue Room which does double and triple duty as a dining room, soundstage or photo studio, performers like the Paul McDonald Band showed how being second or third place on American Idol can actually make you a winner everywhere else. Alternative rockers The Roosevelts showed great songwriting skills, not to mention some righteous beards during their set.

Nashville has been through more than a few changes since the Grand Ole Opry was founded in 1925. Opry show runner George D. Hay has more than likely turned a few RPMs in his grave as a result.

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