April 1, 2009

Falcon Motorcycles

I might as well have been wearing a 1922 White Sox uniform emerging shoeless from a corn field yesterday when I walked into a nondescript metal building in downtown Los Angeles. Because when I entered, a bewildered general look of 'awe' fell upon my face and I asked the man standing before me, "is this heaven?" In which he replied, "no... it's FALCON".

The man, who looked nothing like Kevin Costner, was Ian Barry, the owner, builder, mad scientist, and wizard behind the curtain of FALCON MOTORCYCLES. He graciously stepped aside and invited me and my friend in, wiping our chins with a blue shop rag to prevent the drool from dripping on his work boots.

I went along with my buddy just to check the place out, and maybe sneak a few photos. I had no idea that within 30 seconds I was going to be hanging on to his boot like a 4 year old, begging Ian for a chance to come back and do a proper piece on him... he agreed... I sneaked photos anyway. See them after the picture...

Have you ever watched a movie that was so well done, or gazed upon a work of art that was so moving you actually made the conscious decision to blink less, just to take in more of the brilliance? I don't make a habit of it, but let me tell you, I have a bottle of Visine on my desk as I type this. Walking into the shop, I felt like a character in a slasher film. One where the drugged victim wakes up in a strange environment and behind every corner, and lurking in a every shadow is something of terror. As if these frightening things had been placed there knowing the path the victim would stumble down. It was like that, but instead of things that go bump in the night, they were relics of cool, pieces of a history we all wish were present, and beautiful things made out of metal that probably produce a lot of horsepower.

I stumbled... "AHHHHH" -- a mint Ford Mustang Fastback!! "AHHHHH" -- a collection of vintage metal flake gas tanks!! "AHHHHH" -- amazing one off hand built motorcycles!!

I stumbled for about an hour, and still didn't look in every shadow. My eyes were dry.

I feel like I can't even get into the actual structure in which Ian set up shop. I've read Dwell, I've watched HGTV and still have never seen a home quite like this. The place felt like I had visited the Oracle of Architecture, offered my sacrifice, and in turn was presented with the physical manifestation of my every desire. The photos don't do it justice. I mean, Ian should throw some rails down and charge people to ride through his house like the People Mover at Disneyland. I'd buy a season pass.

I didn't get to speak with Ian in depth about anything other than my admiration for his life, but the QUOTE OF THE DAY would have to be, "I'm building an English Wheel". Who builds an English Wheel? It's only by luck and a few episodes of Monster Garage that I even know what an English Wheel is, but Ian, without one, doesn't search eBay, he builds one. And where's my hat? Oh yeah, IT'S OFF.

English Wheel-less or not, FALCON builds some of the nicest bikes I've seen in a while, and by "while", I mean, my whole life. The attention to detail is unparalleled, and the execution leaves the attention to detail left wanting.

QUOTE OF THE DAY RUNNERS UP: "I made the mount out of one solid piece of brass". "That bolt is hand-made on a lathe". When I need a bolt, I fumble the drawers at Home Depot, and I've never touched a lathe.

ATtoG - 0.

I kept tally the rest of the visit, and let's just say the ref would've called it long before the clock wound down.

Okay, I'm done trying to put into words how cool this guy's shop/house is, and why I feel inadequate as a man because I can't hand build motorcycles much less lathe bolts. I'm now going to step aside, and like a Circus Announcer, stand atop my box, eyes wide, wave my hand -- palm out -- towards the photos below, grinning, speaking in a slow, over exaggerated voice... "Weeeeelcome... to Faaaaaalcon".

Not my photo, stole it off Google images. iPhone camera is great and all, but not so ideal for wide angle in a confined space. Oh, and this bike, which happens to be the same one that was in the shop yesterday, was hand built for Jason Lee.

FALCON is working on a new site for the company. Keep checking back. Other than that, Google them, but keep a roll of shop rags by your side.

Thanks to Ian and his wife for not only letting me lurk around the shop and their home taking pictures with my phone, but putting up with me for the hour we were doing it.