September 7, 2008
Claudine Mulard, correspondante en Californie

Ed Lum, John Agnew



Curiosity in California

One is African American, one Chinese, born in California. Nostalgic popular culture of the 1930s, it also raises a critical review of four years of the Bush administration.




In 2004, when John Agnew and Edward Lum posed in front of their truck time, John commented: "The Americans are amazing people, very creative. We have incredible potential. We are a mix of different cultures, but we lack an international sensibility, there are things that we do not know! "


Four years later, John, 46, and Ed, 42, in overalls, are visiting Funky Junk Farms, their "firm" dedicated to antiques typically American in Altadena, north of Los Angeles, where we hear birds, chickens and roosters. The two have met in a parking lot where John had noticed the old car, a Rambler, the girlfriend of Ed. They collect and restore vintage vehicles, which they sell or rent for film shooting. With a preference for vintage trailers, caravans retro homes on wheels that can tow a car.


They date from the Depression years and have enjoyed a revival after World War II. These mobile homes, small design and interiors often well designed, have hosted the American working class and symbolize a certain characteristic mobility of the United States.


"Look here! Have you seen anything like this? We are the rock stars of the preservation of this way of life ... so typically American," joked John, who is visiting his "campus": a large bungalow, where he lives with his girlfriend; restoration workshops installed in an old farm with exotic fish, and, everywhere, old vehicles and more or less good condition, mostly trailers, scattered among the trees. Their personal car is an old truck.


John was born in Los Angeles, in an African-American family came to California in the 1930s, "an educated family and politicized at a time when art and politics had a lot". "My father was a writer, painter and poet, my grandfather Presbyterian minister in North Carolina, holds a Master, like my grandmother! "he says. He works in the film industry as driver-delivery man and belongs to the powerful Teamsters Union, the road.


Edward's parents were born in China, emigrated to the United States separately in 1940 and met in Hawaii. Born in Los Angeles, he became a graphic designer and does not speak a word of Chinese. "My generation wanted to assimilate by speaking only English," he says.


Funky Junk Farms, living museum, a tribute to a popular culture that they restore the physical appearance, but the reputation. Because the term "trailer trash" described as a pejorative way of life of the underprivileged classes. For John and Ed, these souvenirs, these bodies are beautiful works of art, witnessed some American way of life they worship.


They restore the same, for stars that make their lodge on wheels - as the actress Kirsten Dunst. They redid the 1935 Chevy bus blues musician Taj Mahal and are particularly proud of the 1948 De Soto they begin the restoration. You can see their models at the Automobile Museum in Los Angeles, the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard.




In today's economy, they feel relatively safe. "I feel successful, said John, laughing. I have no savings in the bank, but I have work, home and health insurance. "However, the deteriorating image of their country of great concern." We must regain respect around the world and stop acting as policeman of the world, "they say.


They write a critical review of the past four years.. Their opposition to the Iraq war has not changed. "We are still very unhappy with what is happening in Iraq. We are proud to be Americans and we are true patriots, but we never believed this history of weapons of mass destruction, "says John." This war has always been a farce, "added Ed, deploring" the loss of liberties, wiretapping, monitoring all this ... ".


Both citizens registered as voters as Democrats, agreed: "The most interesting thing that happened in America this year is that a woman or a Black had a real chance of become our next president. "At the February 5 primary in California, they voted for Barack Obama," because it represents the classic story of the generations that are mixed, it is living proof of what America is, much more than John McCain and Hillary Clinton, "said Ed, who continues:" We need real change, a new face, a new way of thinking. We need to reinvent ourselves! "


However, for them, "the younger generation does not care that Barack Obama is black and Hillary Clinton is a woman". "What matters are the solutions to problems. Priorities that are needed are the health insurance and the environment, "they say.


As for the Republican candidate, John McCain, "he represents the old guard." "Say it's a caveman, they ironically. War excites. It's like George Bush!" Their record of administration the 43rd president of the United States is final. "It's amazing that Bush was able to destroy, in eight years, our country, they say. And vote for John McCain is a vote for the same mentality . "


The two partners hope that in four years, "the war is over, Funky Junk Farms will run exclusively on solar power, Obama is currently campaigning for reelection, and the world will see us in a different light" .