About a year into a brief but zealous correspondence I struck up with the late custom-car-culture paterfamilias Von Dutch, I confessed to him I not only didn’t drive but hadn’t owned a car for over 20 years. “Dear Dutch,” I wrote, “This may come as a surprise to you, but I ceased tinkering with autos back when the Testor Corp. added mustard oil to their plastic model cement. Before that I was usually so way gone on glue I could never be bothered to finish any of those little kits.” He quit answering my letters, but not because I’ve never been much of a mechanic. He stopped because I leaked his real name, Kenneth Robert Howard, to the editor of an obscure Toronto magazine, who printed it.

Now that he’s the posthumous focus (along with associates Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Robert Williams) of the Laguna Art Museum’s “Kustom Kulture” exhibition, sharing Von Dutch’s given name doesn’t present the

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