Jim Allen's post attached below:
The several conversations I had with Mario shortly before his death revolved around the fact that I was having misgivings about recommitting myself full time to bicycle painting. While Mario was in Monterey, I had stayed in San Diego and taken a job managing the grocery department at a health food supermarket. I operated CyclArt part time while trying to raise money to restart CyclArt independently. When Kirkbride offered to rent space to me in the San Marcos shop where he was beginning to build Masi's I agreed, investing in replacing the existing booth with one that worked. I conducted my CyclArt business after my grocery job. However, things were going well for me at the store, there was talk of promoting me to buyer for the chain and it was clear that I would have to choose between two careers. Painting bicycles, or making money:)
I had not made a final decision by the time that Mario visited with Allen & Kirkbride. Certainly, Mario would have been considering alternative paint sources. This was not the first time he had to do that. While I was sick and on the east coast he had used nearby John Grant of Apollo Engraving. Had I chosen to dedicate myself fully to the food industry, Mario might have had to use another painter.
In our last conversations Mario had encouraged me to stay with bicycles. He told me about his plan to keep "low overhead" and to "not have any agreements" which could backfire as they had with Recht. As I have said before, his goal after Masi was the freedom to built his own bikes. I don't know what payment was offered to Mario for his services, but anyone in his circumstance would have entertained the prospect of consulting or even employment at Masi. After all, Mario and I had made plans to form his own company while working at Masi and would have worked there longer, until our plans and bank accounts were more developed, had Sahm not closed the Carlsbad shop. (And briefly reopened it again!)
At the time, I considered renting space in a shared shop, as a short term solution toward a larger, full time CyclArt. Mario considered working in his garage in the same way. He had discussed reuniting in a small industrial space. I had offered to scout locations and meet with him to evaluate them. We certainly agreed not to have any more "investors". That meant that we first had to raise our own money.
Jim Allen makes far too much of the simple fact that I did not get involved in one meeting with Mario. I'm sure Jim will recall that a problem at the San Marcos shop was that there was little privacy and could get awkward when a client showing up for one business, was greeted by another. Further it would be rather impolite to interject myself into their meeting. I knew Mario was not there to speak to me, I had spoken to him just prior and after that meeting, and expected many more exchanges in the future. It was not to be.
I don't know what Jim thought Mario had said about my "touching his frames" but it would not have been the first time Mario's poor English was misunderstood. (Ask George Farrier about that!) Mario could have been commenting that "I never touch his frames" because I was so careful to not to touch raw steel before primer. Who knows? On the other hand, there is the fact that I worked closely with Mario from 1975 to 1979. (Where does Allen's unnamed slanderer get 6 months?!) There is a four year history of a close relationship between myself and Mario. Included among the hundreds of documents I have from that era are receipts and checks for work I performed, letters acknowledging the temporary need for other paint sources, even an endorsement of CyclArt's highest quality refinishing signed by Mario. If Mario and I were not on good terms near the end of his life would his widow have invited me to help her dispose of his tools? Would she have given me given me his personal letters and photos after his death, rather than send them to his family?
As for "basing a career on Mario". Well, he did convince me to stay with bicycles. I had a tremendous if not happy experience with him. As illustrated in my posts on the subject I gained in many ways. Otherwise the statement is as ridiculous as saying that Richard Sachs based his career on his few months at Whitcomb! Some of us continue to grow.
In my original Mario/Medici post I requested feedback and comments off list. I am happy to answer questions or attempt to clarify facts. However, I am disappointed in the tone of some of the responses posted. There is too much innuendo and focus on details out of context rather than any substantiated or useful information. I stand by my version of the events because it is based on my personal experience and supporting documentation.
JFC ~ Jim Cunningham CyclArtist Vista, CA
Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 23:34:59 -0800 From: Jim Allen <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: [CR]Fuzzy logic
List, Jim Cunningham makes some claims below that don't match my experience at the time.
Jim Cunningham wrote: > Dear CR List,
--- major snip --- > I know that Mario had very reluctantly decided to do some consulting to > Masi, which is where he was going on the morning of his death. Certainly > hard work did not improve his health. Mario had only days before made > arrangements with me to bring his next batch of frames to paint, and we were > making other business plans. It is possible that Lisa or her friend felt > uneasy about that fact that I was sharing a building with the Masi company > at that time. I did not get that vibe however, as Lisa repeatedly thanked > me for the help I had given Mario and had offered to give me all his tools > in recognition of my loyalty to him. > > JFC ~ CyclArtist > Vista, CA > First great riding day in a while! > >
Shortly before his death Mario contacted Rene Moser, Masi Bicycle company manager in Rancho Sante Fe. Mario wanted to meet with the owner, Roland Sahm, to discuss the possibility of resuming his relationship with Masi. Mario may have been reluctant but he initiated the renewal of his relationship with Masi. His vision was to be the master framebuilder and instructor for Masi and also to build frames under his own name.
Following his meeting with Roland Sahm, Mario came to visit the shop in San Marcos. Ted Kirkbride and I gave him a tour of the facility. Jim Cunningham lived in a small building next door to the shop (San Marcos' orginal gas station) and he was home when Mario visited us. His windows looked out into the parking area, parking for our facility was in front of Jim Cunningham's building, yet at no time during the visit did Jim Cunningham come out to greet Mario.
During the course of the visit Mario noted the area Cyclart was using and commented that he did not want Mr. Cunningham touching his frames.
Logic, fuzzy or otherwise, leads to questions about Jim Cunninghams' representation of his relation with Mario Confente subsequent to the events at Bill Recht's facilities in Los Angeles. If Jim Cunningham was as close to Mario as he states, he would have known he was coming to the shop and if not, it would seem he would at least have come over to say hi.
In closing, I quote a respected framebuilder and list member "Why is this guy making a career out of working with Mario for six months?" And no, it was not R. Brian Baylis! A friend is fond of saying "that X&*!|!** reality checker is not working! My reality checker seems to mesh with R. Brian Baylis' and Ted Kirkbride's.