Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


Baby, won't you drive my car?

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Los Angeles may have a newfound love for bicycles, but some folks just take their car and run with it (metaphorically, of course.)

Since moving to Los Angeles, I've come across some strange ones on the road.

Here are a few eye-catchers lined up in front of a liquor store on Ventura Boulevard. My fiance tells me these are some of the world's most expensive cars.

I always point at the sight of a Hummer (and think of California's ex-Terminator governor).

Here's a cute one on Abbot Kinney.

Then, there's Charley's Toyota.

I was on a way to a meeting when I did a double-take at Charley's car. At first, I thought it was an early Labor day effort or a surprise for some unwitting car owner. Upon closer look, I saw that it was more than just a few hours' worth of work.

Even though I was a few minutes late for my meeting, I doubled back because I couldn't resist the chance to photograph this car and share a potentially great story. As I took out my camera, I noticed that there was someone behind the wheel. What luck! I got a chance to meet the man behind all of this.

His name was Charley Plazola. He works at Gelson's, which was around the corner from where this was parked. When I asked what possessed him to decorate his car this way, he said, "I just wanted to it to be different." He's got that right. According to him, it all started with one red reflector. After seeing the effect of one on his car, Charley liked it so much, it snowballed from there.

If I remember correctly, that's nine years of work on this car. Charley finds his objects from everywhere (as you can see). Aside from reflectors, he also got items from Jack in the Box, Gelson's and the local 99-cent store. I even spied a red painted calculator on the hood.

Charley's work isn't only on the outside. Inside, it was a red disco. Feather boas, Christmas balls, everything was red. As a result, his Toyota seated only two instead of the original four. "Perfect for dates," says Charley.

Here's an old video of Charley and his car. You'll see that the car's gone some more additions since then.

Charley works in different Gelson's branches on rotation, so if you shop at that grocery, you might spy his car around the block. If you do see it, at least you won't wonder what that car's all about. Say hi, won't you?

This post was inspired by GOOD's 30-day Challenge #2: Have a conversation with a service employee. Check out the other challenges on GOOD or check out how everyone's doing at #30DaysofGood


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