Ridden Hard; Put Away Dirty
By Staff - Frank Nicodemus Classics and Antiques
Restoring a 1949 Hudson to showroom condition, getting it all dirty, then putting it on display may sound like heresy to the old automobile fans who participate in the restoration competitions, but if the vehicle happens to be the sedan used by the production company shooting a film version of Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road,” then leaving the accumulated dust on it adds to the car’s beatnik mystique and so the Beat Museum’s decision to not clean it up before bringing it to the San Francisco tourist destination near Broadway and Columbus in the city by the bay makes sense.
The wanderlust portrayed in Kerouac’s novel, published in the late Fifties, was contagious and the beatniks inspired the next generation of post WWII Americans, called hippies, to stick out their thumbs and go exploring the cities connected by the newly completed Interstate Highway system and write about their experiences.
The disgruntled wandering vagabonds who expressed their dissatisfaction in poems and novels flocked to the free spirit atmosphere of San Francisco and were given the name “beatniks” by the local columnist named Herb Caen.
Attempts to use the Kerouac novel as the basis for a movie were numerous but unsuccessful in the past and the “On the Road” movie, directed by Walter Salles is a spawning debate about how faithful it is to the book.
The film received praise and favorable publicity at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and the fact that it will be shown, starting December 21, 2012, for a week in both New York and Los Angeles, has Oscar™ fans all atwitter over the implication that that means the studio considers this movie to be a serious contender for the next round of awards from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences organization.
Oscar™ buzz will mean that all aspects of the film, including the 1949 Hudson sitting quietly in the Beat Museum, will attract a gigantic amount of interest and subsequent news stories.
The equestrian set uses the phrase “ridden hard and put away dirty” as a disparaging way to refer to a horse that hasn’t been cleaned up after working up a good sweat, but the car restoration people who are not used to the concept may be offended by the possibility that the expression can be applied to a Hudson that is no longer in showroom condition.
In the movie “Rebel Without a Cause,” didn’t Jim Stark (James Dean) drive a fastback Hudson? Where is that vehicle and isn’t it worth a good deal of money no matter what condition it may be in?
The topic of cars used in movies would probably provide enough material for a book but for a columnist just scratching the surface of the Car Restoration Industry giving the readers a heads-up for an interesting item they might want to see if they get to the San Francisco area any time soon, is a start.
The famous beatnik scene surrounds the Beat Museum and tourists who want to explore the area slowly and methodically might want to go across the Broadway and Columbus intersection to the City Lights Bookstore and buy a copy of the Beatnik Guide to San Francisco written by the store’s owner and certified member of the original group of beat writers, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
The staff at the Beat Museum has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Beats and the area and they are always willing to provide reliable answers to tourist questions.
Would car aficionados want to rent a vehicle to drive around the city and get to the Beat Museum? Ironically, automobile fans should note that the San Francisco bus system provides a much more practical way to get around the tight compact city and thus relieves tourists of the perennial San Francisco residents’ relentless struggle to find a parking place.