BY BETH ALLEN
Name, age, occupation?
Sidney Arthur Baxter II, 29, Independent Carpentry Contractor.
How long have you been taking pictures of vans?
Long enough to know better. About nine months.
Why were inspired you to start this project?
The man whose name belongs at the top of the marquee is Andy Moraga. He is generally credited with coining the phrase “burnt van,” and, perhaps more importantly, “I got THAT burnt van.” Without explanation or preface of any sort, my new friend Andy (early 1999) began slinging about such language, and I found myself captivated. Mystified. Fascinated. Knowing that any direct questions of such an overtly simplistic nature as “Duuuh. So what does ‘burnt’ mean?” would somehow result in my expulsion from the gently testing circle of illuminati for which I was being casually screened for potential membership, I wisely chose to play a reserved, observant, studious cool. I quickly learned such priceless tenets of aesthetics as the importance of mismatched, preferably whitewall or raised-white-letter tires, or wheels, junkyard doors or other post-trauma attempts at repair. And why gold-anodized aluminum ladders and roof racks can never equal the burnt splendor of non-functional, screw-’em-on-to-the-underside-of-those-skateboard-grip-tape-clad J.C. Whitney running boards with 12 amber running lights per side, slash-cut, triple-chrome-plated exhaust tips.
What are you doing this for? Any idea of what you want to DO with all the photos?
I think the Good Lord may finally let me pass those pearly gates when I show him my righteous burnt van photo albums. What hath the Lord wrought?
Do you take the photos only in the Bay area, or wherever you happen to be?
Any good stories of happenings during photo-taking? Run-ins with wacky owners?
My friend Sam was chased by a dog that leapt from a van being photographed in Bayshore. I try to be sneaky, and some honking at me while my van stops (so that I can photograph another one) is the worst I’ve had it yet.
What are people’s reactions to your project?
Generally a wailing and gnashing of teeth, often accompanied by the wearing of ashes and sackcloth.
Any favorite van-spotting hot spots?
Bayshore, Hunter’s Point, Bernal Heights, Mission, Excelsior.
What’s your favorite van you’ve photographed?
Chocolate Supreme, just because I finally got it.
Any good vans you missed ’cause you didn’t have a loaded camera on you?
Don’t you worry... I’ll get them.
Are you a Ford, Dodge, or Chevy kinda guy?
Do you have a van of your own? What kind?
Yes. 1995 GMC Safari Cargo. It’s white.
What would your wetdream van look like, inside and out?
Does that mean a dream van that’s wet, or a van of wet dreams? Supposing the latter, it would look just like a 1967 Ford Econoline with some silly wheels and two big diagonal stripes angling back to the top rear corners on each side. Maybe with a smoked-glass, eight-inch bubble window where the angle changes. You know exactly what I mean.