I Am Jesse James

Eric Hameister, Photographer, Dave McClain, Designed by, Curtis Cummings, Text by (Art/Photo Books) Viking Studio $34.95 (153p) ISBN 978-0-670-03357-7
Those familiar with famed California motorcycle customizer Jesse James will be the first to tell you that, in fact, danger is his game. However, after reading (or, more accurately, looking at) this volume that may be the only fact they could tell you about the man behind the metal. Best known as the master builder on television's popular""Monster Garage,"" James has cultivated a reputation as the enfant terrible of customized, hand-built choppers, couching his considerable mechanical and metallurgical skills in a hyper-masculine, chicks-guns-and-iron image. Based out of his West Coast Choppers garage in a tough neighborhood of Long Beach, California, James has created one of the most famous and lucrative chopper boutiques on Earth, with an appropriately star-studded client list. But the fact remains that this book doesn't say much about its supposed subject. Perhaps These Are Jesse James's Motorcycles would have been a better title for the volume, since the titular figure's tattoos get more attention than his story. The real stars here are made out of rubber and steel, and pictures of the bikes (frequently pictured with scantily clad models and high-powered weaponry) are what it's all about. This will be fine for Kustom Kar fans, motorcycle freaks and adolescent boys who want to drool over high-quality shots, but readers who are interested in finding out more about James's life or the creation of his business will be disappointed by the lack of explanatory text. James's craftsmanship is nothing short of amazing, and his choppers are wonders of mechanical menace. Too bad the artisan himself gets lost in all the fumes.
Reviewed on: 05/01/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-14-200503-3
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