It’s been 49 years since Rick McCloskey (aka RickMack), fresh out of photography school at San Fernando Valley State College in Northridge, spent every Wednesday night throughout the summer of 1972 photographing a generation of boys and girls in first half of their twenties, cruising and meeting with their cars – stock, partially modified or heavily modified – on Van Nuys Boulevard, Los Angeles, especialy near Bob’s Big Boy and its famous Burgers.
McCloskey’s was basically a project for the school he was attending and perhaps he himself was unaware that his work would then be a rare testimony of something that would disappear a few years later, with the advent of the oil crisis and then the eighties and the “mall culture”. Even today there are events involving custom cars and special cars, however these are organized events whose participants are certainly not young people just out of high school but rather established professionals in their forties, fifties and even more. Furthermore, an event, however well organized, will never have the euphoria and vibrations of a spontaneous meeting.
All the photos of his work were taken without the aid of the flash because, says McCloskey, it would have badly predisposed the boys and removed spontaneity from the photos: at the time of this photographic work he was 26 and was therefore already seen as ” old “by the young people on Van Nuys Blvd, it was therefore not appropriate to further indisposition them with the annoying light of the flash.
I accidentally discovered this photographic work and I was so impressed that I contacted Rick McCloskey – who is actually a worldwide reference in the restoration of Ford Woodies – to find out if he had a copy of his photographic work: he was very courteous and helpful but told me he didn’t have any. However, I managed to find it at a Swiss publisher who, although they show the copies as sold out, still have some in stock.
It is a very well made book, with a beautiful binding, excellent print quality and above all, it contains the testimony of a vanished world. A better or worse world than today? There is no answer or, at least, you cannot simply answer with a “yes” or “no”. It just depends, in my opinion, on how we relate to the best or worst aspects of it.