As those who have read it are learning, I inserted some of my personal favorite places and things in my new novel Tail of the Dragon quite on purpose. The picture below is a scene from the book where the supercar in the story is just beginning to receive the kind of damage it will encounter during the greatest car chase in the history of car chases. The $20 million dollar restored Firebird running on vegetable oil through a 700 HP diesel engine conversation sustains tremendous damage through its frequent encounters with police and military forces. Some of the worst damage comes from the .50 caliber machine gun rounds which leave tremendous holes in the heavily armored classic car. But that isn’t the only armor in the picture. Featured in that photograph are my favorite pair of sunglasses called Gargoyles, otherwise known as “EYE ARMOR,” since they are reputed to deflect a .22 caliber bullet. In my novel Gargoyle sunglasses are the preferred sunglasses of Rick Stevens, the hero of Tail of the Dragon because like the car he drives, he needs armor to help him achieve his objective.
I included Gargoyles into the story of Tail of the Dragon because for over 20 years they are the only sunglasses that I have worn, and that will never change as long as I can buy Gargoyles. I am so passionate about Gargoyle sunglasses that once in Cancun, Mexico I had lost a screw to a pair of Gargoyles that were 10 years old and I had to face the intense sun of the Yucatan without protection. I went to a sunglass specialty shop looking for Gargoyle sunglasses so I could purchase a new pair. Much to my disappointment the store only carried Oakley sunglasses and Ray Ban, along with other similar brands—but not Gargoyles. The owner of the store almost sold me a pair Oakley’s that were very close in style to my Gargoyles. The cost of those Oakley’s down in Mexico was nearly $500 American dollars. As I put them on and looked at myself in the mirror, I felt like I was cheating on my Gargoyles, so I handed them back to the owner, and told him I’d buy more Gargoyles when I got back to the states. He seemed to admire my loyalty to Gargoyle sunglasses and swore that he would carry them from now on. He offered me a small jeweler’s screw with the correct threads to put in my old pair of Gargoyles for no charge and I was able to walk out of his store with my old sunglasses fixed.
I much preferred to face the intense sun of the Caribbean with my 10 year old Gargoyle sunglasses over a $500 pair of new Oakley sunglasses that looked very sharp, but just did not feel like Gargoyles. Gargoyles had been a part of my daily life for over 20 years. I can count on one hand the days I left my home without my Gargoyles. I am so passionate about my Gargoyle sunglasses that I put them on just to go outside to get the mail. I seldom ever let the sun hit my face without having Gargoyles on to shield my eyes with armor from the world outside.
I consider my eyes very valuable as I have 20/10 vision. I have always been very concerned in resisting the ultraviolent light thrown off by the sun and prefer filtered sun light through a good pair of sunglasses. I have done this since I was 9 or 10 years old. Gargoyles first came on the market in 1979. They were worn by Clint Eastwood in the movie Sudden Impact, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film Terminator. Dale Earnhart in NASCAR would make Gargoyle sunglasses part of his public image. I bought my first pair as I was working as a gunsmith in a shed I had set up behind my house and noticed that many of the shooters at the time were wearing Gargoyles to protect their eyes. I used my FFA license to qualify for a discount at wholesale dealer I had for gun parts who happened to sell Gargoyles. My discount made the $89 sunglasses at the time cost only $64. So I bought a pair for me, and a blue pair for my wife.
My love of Gargoyles has remained since that day in late 1989. However as the 1990’s came along and the old 80’s movie stars became older and less popular Oakley sunglasses began to take over as the most popular type of sunglasses. Oakley’s were the choice of the basketball player Michael Jordan so they became the next fashion craze in eyewear along with Air Jordan tennis shoes. Slowly over time, Gargoyles began to fade into obscurity as they had been carried by Sunglass Hutts all across the nation, but in the late 90’s those chain stores began fading as EBay and other online shopping outlets cut into the profits of those typical mall establishments. When Dale Earnhart had a crash that would cause his death, ambition for Gargoyles sunglasses seemed to disappear from the public completely.
I could no longer find Gargoyle sunglasses at a store, so I wore the same pair for over 10 years and never contemplated buying another pair even if I had to go for the rest of my life. Then we had the accident in Cancun where I had discovered that I had lost a screw to my sunglasses while climbing around in a cenote in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula. Even though I had managed to fix my Gargoyles, it had become apparent that I would have to find a replacement pair eventually.
Once we returned to the states several more months went by and I intended to look for new Gargoyles but didn’t get around to it. Then about 7 months later for my birthday my wife gave me a present that was kind of small in relation to how excited she was about it. I opened the present and it was a new pair of Gargoyle Sunglasses she had found online at the new website for Gargoyles as seen here:
I was of course elated to have a brand new pair of Gargoyles for the first time in a decade. I remembered all the times my other pairs of sunglasses had helped me avert disaster, particularly on my motorcycle where gravel would fly up from a truck in front of me on the highway and send projectiles at my face. On one instance I was hit in the face with many small pebbles from a cement truck as I was flying by the vehicle at over 100 MPH. The small rocks dug into my skin and caused blood to run down my face from many places, particularly my forehead. But my Gargoyles protected my eyes allowing me to squint through the pain while I recovered without crashing.
My loyalty to Gargoyle sunglasses is alive and well today, so for the character of Rick Stevens in a story that requires the character to endure billions of dollars of damage from bullets, missiles, broken glass, splintered wood and intense wind gusts, the only eyewear I would even consider are Gargoyle sunglasses. It is for that very reason that Gargoyles are the sunglasses used in my new book Tail of the Dragon. Because when the whole world seems to be coming down, and only speed can save you, it is Gargoyles that I would turn to time and time again to protect my eyes so they can survive to fight another day with the ultimate in eye armor. There is no substitute for a character who is the first breed of a new kind of superman, and such heroes deserve to have their eyes protected as the world throws danger in large doses at the most vulnerable spot on the human body—their eyes. When it comes to sunglasses “function first” is always the first consideration and when it comes to function, none function better than Gargoyles.