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L X V I . VA N S . C O M
16 The Wall Of Death The Greatest Show On Earth
76 The Freewheelin’ Bob Scerbo
20 The Sabbath Sean Mckinney
92 Pleasantville George Boyd
28 That’s Show Business Bob Haro
104 Words Made Fresh Think Before You Put Fingers To Keys
32 Front Row Seat Bob Scerbo Photography
110 Why So Simple Forget The Cookie Cutter Roadtrips
46 I Don’t Have A Problem With BMX Martyn Tambling
126 Philly Cop Seth Stellfox
62 Observations From The Driver’s Seat Craig Passero
136 Breakfast With Champions Leland Thurman
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08457 90 90 90 You got my number. The jigsaw puzzle that has been issue ten has been an experience, and due to unforeseen circumstances we cannot finish it completely. There is one piece we are unable to turn over. Without any one of us speaking openly about the recent death of the BMXer Randy Taylor, there has been a dark cloud we have all had to work under since we heard the news of him taking his own life. I’m sure there are plenty of you who feel the same as us, some who feel very different and who have known Randy personally, like this issue’s interviewee George Boyd. On Randy’s passing there appeared some fitting tributes out there in the ethereal world of the Internet. However as a contrast to that, on thecomeup site after they posted their tribute, there were some (not all) comments to the post that were just downright disgusting. Reading them one quickly comes to understand how minds and opinion can be influenced and manipulated by ‘Joe anonymous’ sitting at a keyboard and typing words of hate and ignorance on a message board. Freedom of speech in this case becomes a double edged sword. Since Randy’s passing, TCU has become an anonymous post free zone, which you can read more about on page 104. Moderated may have been another option that kept the free flow, but that’s not our business. The unfortunate thing is that those comments were made at all. Colin Winkleman and Rob Indri are two BMX riders who also took their own lives some years ago now. Mental health issues and
personal problems are a human condition, a fact of life. We are all subject to emotions that are triggered by experiences, some we can sometimes control, some we sometimes cannot. What’s important is that no matter what we maybe experiencing in our lives, being able to speak to someone about our concerns, to a skilled and caring non judgemental communicator can help. We are all friends of people, we all have a duty to each other as humans to communicate as best we can with each other. That must include informing others of help that is available. It must also include the ability to speak freely without being judged, by peers, parents, friends etc. When that is not possible then it is clear why help must still be available for those kids who feel they have no one they can talk to. If we are to learn anything from this terrible loss it’s that there will be some people reading this who may have felt or do have similar emotions. You may read this and know someone who has been down lately, struggling with the ebb and flow of life, then reach out and try to help. If it’s you that may be struggling then make that first small step to changing your life for the better and reach out for help. In this issue [on page 134] and in every issue from now on we will be running an advert for the Samaritans. Randy, Colin and Rob are gone. Their families are left without sons and brothers. To anyone else reading this who is having difficulties please stay with us… Every man and woman is a star, and that means you. Randy Taylor may you shine on.
The Wall Of Death
THE WALL OF DEATH The Greatest Show On Earth Words and Photography by STEVE BANCROFT
This may very well be the greatest show on earth, for within this musky casket of coarse-grained pine the elusive spirit of bike riding itself has been snared and concentrated for all to experience. The hundreds of oil and rubber stained planks curve gently around to form a vessel, an endless road of freedom and excitement encapsulating all that it means to live on two wheels. As the bikes thunder overhead in deafening circles, the air – laden with oil and smoke and noise – boils and churns as it tries to escape its captive walls. Lungs burn and eyes sting and ears ring as the intoxicating carnival resonates around your whole body. With the greased-back angels from hell thumping around on hundred-year-old Indians, it’s impossible to fight the seduction, crouching spellbound in the bottom of the barrel the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, it was as if the ghosts of Sonny Barger and Evil Knievel had passed right through me at the same time. Having been swept up in the timeless romance of The Wall Of Death a few years prior, I’d been waiting for the nomadic Troupe of petrolheads to swing around again. And when they did it was for The Great Dorset Steam Fair, a gateway through time to more rustic days of yesteryear. The weekend is eagerly anticipated by something deep in my head, it’s a celebration of seasons and history, motion and tradition, a time for reflection and contemplation, a chance to take heed of how far we’ve come... But I think its main appeal could well be the footstomping folk music and the psychedelic liquid that is cloudy Dorset cider. It was fuelled with courage from a couple of pints of said thickand-warm-fermented-apple-juice, that I first spoke to the rider Alex Fox, the youngest son of Ken and great great grandson of the first of the Fox family to build a Wall Of Death. We spoke about bikes. His enthusiasm for two wheels was plain to see. At 19 years old he’s a charming young man with a demeanour calm beyond his years and it turns out he rides all manner of bi-wheeled contraptions and was quite familiar with BMX. We hung out for a while and he let me sit in on a few shows: Some, crouched down in the den and some stood up around the top, inches from his dad as he flew around the well-worn wall, carving up and down sat on his handle bars with his arms outstretched like Christ-on-a-bike. After one of the shows we shut Megan – his small but very biteylooking Alsatian – inside his caravan and we took a seat under the awning. For six months of the year, as he and his family travel the land thrilling crowds and taking risks, Alex calls the large and not inexpensive looking caravan his home.They’re on the road for the whole summer and it’s only in winter that they go back to their yard in Cambridgeshire to do some maintenance on the wall and rebuild the bikes ready for the next season.
I ask him about the history of The Wall Of Death and how he came to spend his life riding one, his answer is well rehearsed and laced with pride for his heritage; “The Fox family have had a Wall since 1928, that was when the concept first came across from America, and there’s been a Wall in the family ever since. There are only two left in the whole country today.” It turns out that the first recorded wall was built at New York’s own Coney Island, in the first decade of the last century. As the quality and speed of the bikes improved, motorcycle racing was able to move from dirt tracks to wooden motordromes with high-banked corners. From there – as bike riders have a tendency to do – limits were pushed and the corners got steeper and steeper until by the 1920s the walls were straight-up vertical. And the wonder of centrifugal force has been spinning and mesmerising motorheads ever since. Alex first learned how to ride a motorbike at nine, and by 11 he had mastered The Wall and was doing stunts in the shows alongside his dad and older brother Luke. The Ken Fox Troupe make riding the wall look like child’s play, I asked if that was really the case or if there was a bit more skill required. “You just gotta keep doing it and doing it. When you first start out it’ll take a few weeks to get onto the very bottom of the wall, just going round at a steady pace. You’ve got to build up into it, if you try to learn too fast you’ll slide straight out. After a while it just becomes second nature, just like everything you do for hours and hours at a time. It gets to the point when you’re going round the wall flat-out just thinking about what you’re gonna have for tea.” I told him I’d ridden a fair few curved walls in my time and asked what he thought would happen if I tried it now; “At first you get very dizzy, that’s why you can’t do too much too soon. You have to take lots of long breaks in-between sessions, otherwise you get really dizzy and disorientated and you tend to just black out.” I was already feeling a bit lightheaded and a good few times over the limit, thanks to my flagon of Jack Ratt cider; that information put me off pushing too hard for a go and we left it at that. We talk about riding BMX and about tricks and about how everyone has their preferred direction to spin, I ask if anyone goes around it oppo, or if it’s all one-way traffic – his answer kind of missed the point, but was interesting nonetheless. “There’s not really opposite any more. Back in the 50s, because there were lots of shows the competition was fierce so some did used to go both ways, one would go one way and another the other, but people were always crashing and getting messed up, in the end it’s just too risky. That and the bikes, over the years, they bend slightly to the shape of the wall, so they’re set up to go one way.”
The Greatest Show On Earth
"The hundreds of oil and rubber stained planks curve gently around to form a vessel, an endless road of freedom and excitement encapsulating all that it means to live on two wheels"
The Wall Of Death
The Greatest Show On Earth
We talk about the name Wall O f Death, in a mixture of jest and curiosity I ask how many people have died on their wall. “None on this one,” is the answer, as straight up as the wall itself. I think about physics and centrifugal force and the combustion engine and how safe it can really be, and just then Alex interjects and answers my unspoken question. “My brother came off when he was 11, the bike went out the top of the wall and he ended up sliding round on his chest. They had to wrap this mesh around him to hold his skin on, he was in a bad way.” “Have you ever crashed?” I ask tentatively. “I’ve come off three times in six years, so I’m doing pretty good. The first two times I just slid out through not concentrating coming off the wall and the third time was four years ago when the gearbox went and the back wheel seized up on me, that was a bit of a surprise.You can’t rest on your laurels, you need to do your maintenance meticulously; it’s no good having a hangover or owt like that.” Again his
voice and manner are laced with knowing experience and pride, I guess a pride from being passionate about what he does, and an experience from surviving three brushes with death. With all the flashing and screaming fairground rides, the heavy rolling steam engines and The Wall Of Death itself, sat out where we are, in-between the Fox family’s caravans, we must have the only quiet spot at the fair. In a minute Alex’s dad will give him a shout and it’ll be time for another show. I ask him again about life in a carnival, about the stereotypes and what it means to him, his words make for a fitting end to our time chatting; “We all travel around together, we’re friends with a lot of others on the circuit. I’m not sure we’re carnies like you think, we travel around and live in caravans and ride bikes and have a good time, it just is what it is.”
The Wall Of Death
THE SABBATH Sean Mckinney Words and Photography by DEVON DENHAM
he Sabbath was one of the heaviest frames ever produced. Weighing in at 8.5 pounds, it was quite literally built to withstand a nuclear bombing. The visionary behind it was Sean Mckinney and in many ways – like when people say dogs and their owners look alike – the Sabbath was exactly what you’d imagine Mckinney to look and ride like. It was a man’s bike. It was built to take huge drops but also be quick and responsive. Whilst the frame might look a little wild by today’s standards, its angles, with its short back end and steep head angle, can be seen in many frames we ride today. By the time the Sabbath came out, McKinney was no stranger to innovative BMX product design – he played a big part in the design of the Primo Tenderizer pedal and the V-Monster tyre, products that became hugely popular in the early 2000s. The Albion stopped by S&M to get the lowdown on one of BMX’s most iconic frames. Much like people looking like their dogs, if bikes were people, the Sabbath would’ve beat the shit out of everyone else a long, long time ago. How much input did you have on the frame during the pre-production stages – also, could you elaborate how
How did the name Sabbath come about? How many versions of the frame did you have? The Sabbath name of course is from the best heavy metal band ever! Trust me, that frame was heavy metal. We made the first few years of frames with a standing platform and the second version was introduced with lighter weight tubing andno standing platform. Whose idea was it to start producing flatland-oriented frames? Did anyone else have input on the frame? Well S&M was never known as a company that was into flatland, but I was friends with Chris Moeller and I was
always a fan of the whole lifestyle that S&M represented… In 1995, S&M made some short freestyle frames called the Heavy As Fuck with 19” top tubes specifically for Japan. At this time, the frames were not up to par with what other brands in the industry were producing, so I told Moeller that the frame sucked and he let me design a frame for S&M. Shawn White from Bizhouse helped me with the frame and the CAD drawings to get it done. What were the dimensions of the frame? 19” toptube, 75 degree headtube, 71 degree seat-tube, and a short 13.5” rear end.
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“The Sabbath name of course is from the best heavy metal band ever. Trust me, that frame was heavy metal.” How much input did you have on the frame during the pre-production stages – also, could you elaborate how you made the PVC mock up of the Sabbath frame? I decided to make an actual model of the frame out of PVC pipe to give the manufacturer a better idea of what the finished product would look like… Boss Bikes [legendary ‘80s Norcal BMX hardgoods manufacteur] made the first few hundred frames and then we had to change manufacturers. Back then we didn’t have a machine shop here at S&M so our American made parts were jobbed out to other American manufacturers. The stickers for the Sabbath were pretty cool.
How much influence did the frame have on future BMX products? For example, flatland frames have notoriously steep head angles, which are now commonplace on most street frames to help with front end moves. Can you see any of the Sabbath’s legacy in current product? Yeah, the frames today all have the dimensions of a flatland frame unless you are a trails rider. Most trail frames have a mellow headtube angle and longer back end. The only difference of a flatland frame and street frame nowadays would be the toptube length.
Could you shed some light on why you chose the graphics for the frame? The frame graphics came from a triple-CD Sabbath box set that I had and yeah, they looked bitchin’.
The Sabbath looks like it could survive a nuclear bombing. Did S&M ever have any warranty issues with the frame cracking, bending, etc.? That frame was pretty much indestructible weighing in at 8.5 pounds… I do remember one rider who was the first guy to hop tailwhip down stairs – Zack Sprinkle. He was the only guy that cracked a Sabbath that I can remember, I sure didn’t.
Do you still ride the Sabbath or have you moved on from your baby? Well I have moved on, we just introduced a new S&M flatland frame named Intrakit. It was my pleasure to pass the S&M flatland torch to Chad Johnson and his frame is basically a new and improved Sabbath, not a pretzel frame like most sorry flatland frames on the market. Chad is a dedicated and amazing rider, he helps with all the Intrakit products and sticker designs, web edits, etc… a great guy to be a part of S&M. When did the frame come out and how long was it in production? We released the first Sabbath in 1996 and it sold until 2002.
You used to work at Primo and were instrumental in the design of the Primo Tenderizer pedal, right? I worked for Primo in 1994–96 and helped design a few products for them. The Tenderizer pedal and the V-Monster tyre were the two ground breaking parts I was proud to be a part of. How many Mickey’s 40’s do you drink a day? Three after work if it is a workday, five or six if it’s a day off. I bet you thought I drank more than that, huh?
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Haha – so, if you could change anything in BMX right now, what would you change? I would love to see more bad ass tough guys on the scene, seems like nowadays you need sensitive feelings and girl pants to ride a bike… I’ve heard stories flying around SoCal about the S&M Porn Tape. Is this a myth? ACTION SPORT SEX #11, next time you stop by here Devon I will let you borrow it, I have one here at my desk. It was released in 2001 and let’s just say, ‘no holes barred’! Chicks taking it on the mini ramp while our team guys are riding, chicks taking it on the welding tables, it’s a little-known BMX classic. Could you give us the low down on what Revenge Industries is, and what part you play in it? Revenge is something that Moeller let me cook up a whileback. He asked me to design some small parts and we didn’t want it to be under the S&M brand, so I came up with a name and knocked out a few products, namely brakes, tyres and grips.
Now we have released pegs, headsets, seat posts and wheels. Basically, S&M funds the whole project… Things are only getting better. OK, back to the frame. What sort of rider did you envision wanting to buy a Sabbath? I designed the Sabbath to be a flatland frame that could take the abuse of a street frame. A lot of riders back then didn’t mind a shorter frame, but it wasn’t for everybody. Also, did you find any sketches or blueprints of the frame? Nope, I couldn’t find any drawings of the Sabbath frame.Back then everything was basically hand drawn and I probably smoked the paper it was drawn on. Word… Any shout outs for your homies? This is a shout out to all riders, enjoy what you do, always give 110% and follow your dreams, I did and I wouldn’t trade my life for $1,000,000.
Interview by GEORGE MARSHALL
THAT’S SHOW BUSINESS Bob Haro On Choreographing The Biggest Demo The World Never Saw
Part 1: The Secret, pre Olympics. Albion:When and why did you move to London? Bob: I moved to London a little over a month ago to work on the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. My role is the choreographer the bicycle segment. We’re producing a six minute and forty second segment called the Bicycle Ballet, with over two hundreds cyclists from all genres of cycling. What can people expect to see in the show? I can’t tell you in that much detail, it’s all top secret, but I can tell you it will be good for BMX. You’ll have to wait until the night to see what the show is. Did you feel you put your name and reputation on the line when you undertook the responsibility? Absolutely. I am very conscious that this is incredible opportunity for us to show BMX to a global audience and we have to do it right. We don’t want BMX to look goofy to an audience of billions. What effect do you think having BMX in the Olympics will have on BMX as a whole? I think the positive effect will be that BMX is recognised by a global audience. Over a billion people in the world will have an opportunity to see BMX, and a large percentage of that number will probably have never seen BMX before. The Olympics will introduce a lot of people to the sport that have never really seen it, and that’s a good thing. Having BMX in the Olympics gives BMX credibility.
What are some difficulties you’ve come up against whilst working on the ceremony? The whole experience has been a challenge, but I think the biggest challenge has just been the UK weather. The weather has been really hard because it’s been so wet. We’ve had so many rehearsals in a carpark in Dagenham where we’ve just had rain. Rain and ramps don’t mix. We have to anticipate rain. When the show happens, if it rains we still have to ride. You can’t say to everyone ‘hey come back tomorrow.’ What was it like creating a performance for the Olympics, were there any frustrations in the creative process? Overall the powers that be have been very receptive of our ideas and what we’re trying to accomplish. I work closely with the art director Danny Boyle and he’s a great guy. He’s a fan of BMX. He thought enough of BMX that he wanted to include it in the ceremony. After a full rehearsal he wanted to see more BMX, he wanted to see more freestyle. How did you do select riders to be involved? All the riders who are part of the show are from the UK. There’s a good cross section of riders involved. There’s top tier athletes like Mark Webb involved but there’s also some very strong amateur guys that are also part of the show. I think everyone has to keep in mind that it’s not a competition, it’s going to be the biggest BMX demo the world has ever seen. [The following morning after this interview took place, Olympic opening ceremony director Danny Boyle phoned Bob with some bad news.]
That’s Show Business
Part 2: The Bad News, post Olympics. What happened on the morning after our last chat? I received a call from Danny Boyle with a heavy heart. He said they were cutting BMX out of the show. Danny was very upset, as was I and obviously the riders. What was the reason given for the cut? The transit authorities told the organisers they had to cut 30 minutes off the show, so they could ensure people got out the stadium on time. You’d think they’d make the trains run half an hour longer, but instead the organisers went through the schedule cutting sections and BMX was one of them. With only a short segment out of three hours, why do you think BMX was cut? BMX was easy to unplug from the whole sequence. BMX was easy to pullout without effecting the rest of the show. They couldn’t cut other elements such as 75 riders on dove bikes because doves are a symbol of peace, they’re a part of the Olympic mandate and couldn’t be removed. It was really unfortunate. It is what it is. As I was told in the meetings afterwards, “Hey Bob – that’s show business.” You’ve got to take it on the chin. It sucks for myself and Danny, but mainly the riders who worked so hard and gave up so much time. They were all excited and looking forward to riding in front of 83,000 people in the stadium and billions at home. Everyone still got paid, but I don’t think anyone was doing it for the money. It was a huge shame for everyone. Now the secrecy is over, what can you tell me now about the sequence? Now that’s it over I can say. There were going to eight flatland riders on narrow podiums in the air, 40 ramp guys on 16 ramps: 10ft quarters, a 10ft spine and box jumps all going round the stadium. There were also trials riders and then road cyclists
meandering in and out of everything all at once. The BMX riders were going to carve on a wall ride over the heads of the road riders. All the bikes were custom bikes covered in LEDs. It was going to be really spectacular… but it didn’t happen. Were there any logistical problems that may have contributed to BMX getting cut? It probably didn’t help our cause that the BMX scene was really labour intensive. To move the ramps in and out was a tremendous amount of work. They were so heavy. Even with wheel systems it was hard. We had rehearsals to just move the ramps in and out of the stadium. Then they put carpet down which made it even harder. We had just four minutes to get those ramps in the stadium and ready to ride. The ramps were supposed to come out just as team GB walked out the stadium, so the demo was going to play a centre stage in the whole the opening ceremony. Do you regard the experience as a lost opportunity? It’s a lost opportunity for the moment. It would have been great exposure for BMX, it would have been the next E.T. For everyone involved, I think we all have the tale to tell that we were there and we were close. But it’s beyond our control, we did the best we could to represent the sport in a good light infront of a massive global audience. The fact that we got that close is a good sign that BMX is relevant and respected in the mainstream and by elite sport. Do you think the Olympic association is good for BMX? Definitely. There maybe the hardcore that doesn’t care what the Olympics represents, but I think in the bigger picture being in the Olympics is the ultimate. X-Games are great and Dew Tour is cool but I think when you can say you’re an Olympic champion that carries way more weight around the world. The Olympics transcends everything. I think the future is still good for BMX and the Olympics.
That’s Show Business
Front row Seat Photography by Bob Scerbo (2000 —2002) There’s a constant need to document what’s going on in riding. If the world collapsed and future generations found the remnants of what BMX once was, you could probably piece it back together and work out what we’ve done and what we’ve been through from the myriad of photos, articles and videos that have covered our craft from every angle. We’ve had the zeitgeist covered since day one. Rarely has some monumental feat gone undocumented. Taking a less dreary outlook on the future, there’s a desire to document what’s going on around us simply because we’re capturing a moment or a time that’s personal. More often than not, the physical act of BMX doesn’t even come into it, there’s a much more humane and basic desire to hold onto something that we hold dear, which is spending time with friends, growing up and not getting old. Better known for his talents on a bike and behind the video camera, Bob Scerbo has a huge archive of old negatives, transparencies and prints that span the majority of his time riding. Not only do they show how BMX can be a catalyst to expand upon peripheral interest and talents, they also highlight how valuable it can be to accumulate a physical document of our times on our bikes. Years pass quick and, sadly, friends come and go, but looking back over these photos you get a sense that every roadtrip and every session was seized and savoured. “The stuff I actually did back then that I’m proud about most are more the photos I took. I loved all that stuff. Being with friends and documenting what was going on, like all those old photos of Wiz [Brian Wizmerski],Van [Homan], [Mike] Tag and Corey [Martinez]… They were so far ahead of everyone else at the time and I felt like I had this front row seat to it all. It seemed almost natural to want to document it. I was in the right place at the right time for a lot of things.When I was growing up I never imagined I’d be hanging out with these people.” – Bob Scerbo
[prev] [a] Rob Dolecki & Magilla, Baldy pipe, California. 2001 [b] Mike Tag driving from Vancouver to Portland. July 2000 [c] Mike Tag, Montreal, Canada. 2001
Bob Scerbo Photography
FRONT ROW SEAT
[d] Edwin De La Rosa, “The White Princess” Miami. 2002 [e] Vic Ayala San Diego. 2000
Bob Scerbo Photography
FRONT ROW SEAT
[f] FBM cross country trip in the back of a Penske moving truck 2001 [g] Van Homan, Reading, PA. 2002 [h] Corey Martinez, Alabama. 2002 [i] Tyrone Williams, China Banks NYC. 2001 [j] Wiz, Miami. 2002 [k] Josh Stricker, 4th of July, Plymouth Mass. 2001 [l] Wiz, “The Thing” Mass. 2002
Bob Scerbo Photography
FRONT ROW SEAT
Bob Scerbo Photography
[m] Wiz, Houston TX. 2002 [n] Ralph Sinisi, Philly, Halloween 2000 [o] Mike Tag & Josh Stricker, Kansas City 2000
FRONT ROW SEAT
[p] Josh Stricker, Reading PA. 2002
Bob Scerbo Photography
photo:: Kris Oddy
FRAME: 100% CrMo, Removable brake mounts, integrated seat clamp, sealed MID BB STEERING: CrMo Tig Welded Bar, Convict TL stem, sealed integrated headset, New 100% CrMo Taperleg Fork DRIVE: Left hand or Right hand drive option, Revolver Wheels, STLN OE 2.2”/2.3” Tires, S.I.C. Cranks, Class Ring, Thermalite Pedals SEATING: Kushion seat w/ Kevlar Top, Thermalite 150 mm post WEIGHT: 24.80 lbs COLORS: Matte Raw Silver or Dark Red
I Donâ€™t Have A Problem With BMX
Martyn taMbling I Don’t Have A Problem With BMX Last Sunday I went round my mum’s for a roast, and after the mint Viennetta was polished off, the dishes washed and back in their cupboards, I went up in the attic to find some old photos. Ever since my brother’s leg went through the ceiling when I was 12 I knew how important it was to stick to the wooden rafters so, with my eyes struggling to adjust to the dim light and ducking down to avoid the pitched roof, I tip-toed my way over to the collection of ragged looking bags and boxes that constitute my personal BMX archive. After a good half hour of rummaging, the slides I sought surfaced and I started repacking my haphazard filing system. When it was all neatly stacked in a mess I was about to start back across the sketchy wooden obstacle course toward the glowing hatch in the floor, when I noticed I’d left a magazine out. With everything all stacked back up again, I just grabbed the mag and headed for the light. After I’d folded up the rickety ladder and pushed the swingdown-hatch back into place with the old snooker cue, I headed out into the garden to have a flick through the old rag. The issue was from late 2002, a decade ago, and as I flicked through, the faces on the pages drove home just how long of a time ten times round the sun really is and how much has changed during those orbits. The obvious changes were in the passing trends and fleeting fads of clothing and tricks – the threads were baggier and the brakes more prominent back then – but behind those petty differences was a far more human nostalgia that reached out and grabbed me by the throat: The faces of Colin Winklemann, Boyley and little Lewis Monks all stared out from the pages, all well known riders of the day, all looking so healthy and full of life, and all now sadly taken from us. A youthful looking Stephen Murray, full of a different kind of ambition, before his life-altering crash. Pro riders fallen to obscurity. Photographers, editors and advertisers rotated around by the inescapable grip of time. The day after I came to be sitting in my mum’s garden reading an old magazine, wondering where all the time goes; I was down in Saltash Cornwall, finishing up this interview
with Martyn Tambling, struggling to think of a way to start the piece. On the drive back home I thought about how long I’d known him and all that had happened in that time. It started me thinking about how, out of all the names and faces in that magazine, there were only a tiny handful of elites who remain current in BMX today. And with that thought in mind I flicked back through the mag and noted the numerous photos of Martyn’s unmistakable Cornish physique and I couldn’t help but smile that it’s the same Cornish physique that still adorns covers of magazines ten years later in 2012. With his head screwed on tight and his very being instilled with a love of BMX to its core, Martyn’s is the truest form of BMX and it’s that form that can weather the sands of time. At 30 years of age there aren’t many people out there who have never bought a pair of shoes. And those who can make that claim either have social difficulties and still live at home with their parents or were born in the rain forests of Papa New Guinea. But for Cornwall’s most revered BMXer, it’s a claim easy to substantiate. So long and so successful has Martyn Tambling’s riding voyage been – so dedicated and unflinchingly relevant are his skills on a bike – his feet have been taken care of by the BMX industry since he was 15 years old. Being sponsored for over half of his life, I wanted to expose the key to his longevity. So after finishing up the photographs for this article, with supper eaten and his kids tucked up in bed, I sat down at his round glass dining table to pick the brains of a true South West Legend. The first question I asked was an infinitely open one, and although seemingly just as open, his very first answer summed it all up. I asked him what he thinks of BMX, “I haven’t got a problem with BMX” is his instant response. And with those words of wisdom caught inside, we could very well have turned the Dictaphone off there and then. But that would be selfish, that wouldn’t be sharing. So we’re forced to start near the beginning to try to find out just how any Goddamn man on earth can make it to 30 years old and not have a problem with BMX.
Words and Photography by Steve BAncroft Martyn Tambling
To this day I still I remember walking into Flatspot Skatepark for the first time – it was 1999, I was 19, I went there with my girlfriend, she was hot. I had a bike and thought I was okay at riding it. I moved to Plymouth to study photography at University, I had a tight group of friends back at home and I was keen to find out what the scene was like in my new city of residence. Martyn and his friends were riding the ramps, my eyes flicked around the room and picked out some faces familiar from magazines like the one from the loft. I first noticed how short they all were, like a group of Oompa Loompas from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When I saw them ride my jaw hit the floor. There was a guy with a blue bike, yellow helmet and heavily cut down Castillo bars. It was Tommy Bowers. He dropped in and pedalled furiously across the park. Jumping an impossible looking gap into the mini ramp, he boosted out the other side and landed in a fufanu on the back rail, dropping back in smooth as glass and fuf’ed the back rail on the other side too, again he came in flawlessly and went on to abubaca the back rail on the same side where the insanity began. The rail was pretty far back and, as he was carrying a lot of speed when he landed, he washed out on the flat bottom and slid up the opposite transition on his side and – no shit – he aired out of the top lying down, from fakie. That was four of the best tricks I’d ever seen outside of a contest environment, they were all back-to-back and I’d been inside the park for less than a minute.
"I first noticed how short they all were, like a group of oompa Loompa from charlie and the chocolate factory"
Then Martyn dropped in, his bike looked big on him, like it was taking him for a ride, not the conventional way around. He hit the flatbank to wallride and 540d out – I’d never seen that before either, and it clarified any doubt on that matter, it was obvious from then on who was the one doing the riding.
I knew who Martyn Tambling was, but I didn’t actually know him. He’d been in adverts and had a front cover of Ride UK. I’d seen him ride at a few contests too, BCR jams, Urban Games and the like. I didn’t speak to him or his friends that first day at Flatspot, I didn’t ride either, I just sat on the balcony watching and eating tepid Pot Noodles. I watched the whole session and was nearly knocked off my feet from admiration; that these little guys weren’t fucking around. I rode at the park twice a week for the next two years. I became friends with Martyn and the other locals. At the beginning of that period I noticed a certain urgency about his riding, he didn’t stop. He’d never drop in on anyone or take the piss with
his runs, but he’d never put his bike down. We’d all spend half the session sat on the wall shooting the shit, laughing and joking and just hanging out, but Martyn never put his bike down once, he was there to ride, not to hang out. But don’t let that last line create the impression he was competitive or some kind of strict jock only there to train, that wouldn’t be true at all. He had as much fun as any of us, probably more; he just chose to do it on his bike. Back then he rode for Standard Byke Co, it was back when the brand was the force to be reckoned with in BMX, they had the raddest team, the strongest parts and an unflinching set of ethics. Martyn’s solidarity with SBC ran deep, he flew over on many occasions to cruise the highways on team trips with the likes of The Gonz and Ratboy. He even spent time staying in Iowa with Rick Moliterno himself, together with Martyn’s longterm girlfriend, Steph. Speaking of Steph, it’s impossible not to mention her in this piece. The two of them have been together since he was 16 and she was 14 (it’s Cornwall, the rules are different down there). They’re now 30 and 28, happily married with two beautiful kids, Leoh and Lola. She’s been with Martyn every step of his BMX journey, always supporting and encouraging and never shy to throw in her 2p’s worth. In fact Steph’s come along way herself, back when I lived in Plymouth she had a reputation as a bit of a street fighter, she’s mellowed out a bit though and nowadays she vents her anger into a microphone rather than into some Janner’s face (that’s a little harsh, she was only witnessed fighting a handful of times). The synergy in their relationship was summed up in Martyn’s eight minute, two song epic ender on Standard’s 2008 DVD, Stronger Than All. Steph filmed many of the clips during a lengthy trip they took to America and the first song was written and sung by her with her then band, Shoot The Duke. In that same year Martyn and Steph got married, and in a rarely rivalled display of unity between rider and brand, Rick came over to attend the ceremony. Although now riding for Verde the tattoo on his leg of the iconic Standard ‘S’ logo remains, a lasting reminder of the good times he enjoyed with such a legendary brand. Never one to jump around between sponsors his list of hook-ups over the last 15 years is as concise as it is considered. Back when he was just 14 years old, with his height measuring in at knee high to a grasshopper, he got hooked up by Welsh creative genius David Hireatts brand howies, and a year or so after that, after a contest winning run at an old Bristol Cider Rider’s Jam that included a truckdriver over the spine to unintentional icepick, he was offered a deal through Shiner to ride for 2Hip. Being so small it’s of no surprise that he rode the aluminium version of the 2Hip Pork, and it was aboard one of those overly-built JCB sausage bikes that he really started making a name for himself.
I Don’t Have A Problem With BMX
I Donâ€™t Have A Problem With BMX
A regular on the contest circuit from a very early age it was clear from the get-go that he was going places, his precise bike control combined with a unique vision for quirky tricks and lines and it was only a matter of time before other sponsors and opportunities would present themselves. But amazingly – despite having travelled the world and won some high profile contests – not once in his 15 years of being sponsored has he ever been paid to ride. I ask him a little about that rather astonishing fact, thinking it might shed some light on his longevity in BMX, “I never pursued sponsors, I just used to shy away and not get involved in anything like that, I didn’t ever go after being anyone in BMX, or having anything from riding. I didn’t get involved with that, I just rode my bike, did well in a few comps and it went from there.” It’s a humble answer, but one that goes along way to explain how he’s kept so damn current. I was living in Plymouth during the peak of Martyn’s UK contest streak, it was during the early 2000’s that I had the pleasure of travelling to a good number of competitions with him and the Saltash/Plymouth contingency. We’d all pile into the back of a panel van at 5pm on a Friday evening and hit the road. We’d drink and fight and laugh and generally have the times of our lives and, late on a the Sunday night most of us would crawl out the van with empty wallets and thumping hangovers, but not Martyn, he’d get out with a bunch of new tricks in his bag and a cheque for two grand. Those trips really highlighted just how driven he really is, how he has a knack for squeezing every drop out of life. He’d still have a drink and joke around, but he’d be up early the next day riding on the street course preparing for the comp. And it’s a trait that has only grown with time, nowadays he doesn’t drink much at all, and when I ask about the reasoning behind that decision, his answer is hard to argue with, “I don’t want to waste a minute. Every day is precious to me and I want to enjoy it.” In his mind he can’t justify spending half a day groggy and hung over, not when he could be using that time riding, or working, or digging the jumps, or spending quality time with his wife and kids. When I ask him about where the motivation that is so abundant in his riding comes from, his response outlines perfectly the urgency with which he rides, “I treat every ride as if it’s my last. Don’t ask me where that approach comes from, but that’s the only way I can describe it. If tomorrow I’m not going to be able to ride any more, then I want my last session to have been a good one. You know that feeling you get when you do something on your bike you’re proud of, that buzz... ? Well I want that all the time, I can’t help it.” To say Martyn Tambling has a full plate is an understatement; his plate looks like Jimmy Five Bellies’ at a Toby Carvery, only stacked more neatly. Every minute of his day is used to its full potential, and that is why when Martyn shows up at the park, he’ll say hello, pad up, ride better than anyone else for two hours straight, de-pad, say bye and head off to fulfil his next task. Having such a strong work ethic and having never taken any recreational drugs, I ask him how he feels about the current trend of drug promoting riders/brands that seems to be so popular in BMX right now, “I don’t think it’s cool to be chilled and lazy and to mong-out and do fuck all, I don’t have any time for that. People can be however they want, but I want to be around motivated people.” It’s an answer that is reflected in
I Donâ€™t Have A Problem With BMX
who he rides with and who he chooses to be on the Verde UK team. No one can really argue with how positive and motivated that team are. As if being a husband, dad of two young kids, fulltime qualified site foreman, pro rider, UK team manager for Verde, part-time skatepark builder and part-owner of The Fold clothing company isn’t enough, he is also the primary builder, instigator and rider of an awesome set of trails – Tartan Down. Martyn’s BMX roots first took hold in the dirt out the back of his parents’ house in Saltash; he started digging there when he was 13, in 1995. He’d been suspended from school again – this time for setting a firework off in the school hall – and wasn’t allowed to leave the overgrown grassy area out the back gate, with nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, he started digging. A tabletop was the first and most logical jump, and from there it grew to a couple of doubles, then it spiralled out of control to a six pack, an eight pack, a ten pack, a trick jump and an array of crazed wooden ramps and random creations. When the field was ploughed they started a new spot nearby, but the dirt was bad so they ended up hanging cargo nets all around the trees and spending their days climbing up as far as they could before letting go and freefalling into the giant hammocks below. It’s hard to do their acrobatic prowess justice, but believe me when I say they were falling upwards of 40ft into these nets. With sketchy equipment and baggy ripped denim and multiple flips and spins, they made those Red Bull cliff divers look like proper pussies.
"We would crawl out the van with empty wallets and thumping hangovers, but not Martyn, he’d get out with a bunch of new tricks in his bag and a cheque for 2 grand."
After trying out a few other spots they finally found a new home in the form of a long disused quarry. It’s a secluded spot, a fair walk from the nearest place to park and the stony soil makes digging tough going, but of course Martyn has persevered and the jumps are great and the whole place has a magical quality to it. Like everything he does, the project is seen through to the end. He’s borrowed jack hammers to break up the rocky walls, he’s built a hut with a pitched roof and an elaborate water collecting guttering system and he’s generally made the place a magical spot to hang out and ride bikes in.
I Donâ€™t Have A Problem With BMX
Ever since he was little [ha], he knew BMX was for him. Whilst some of his old riding friends have slowed down or hung up their bikes completely, Martyn is still as passionate about 20” bikes as ever. I ask him what he thinks about how he’s still riding into his thirties when so many others have hung up their boots, “I had more energy for it than anyone I grew up riding with,” he starts off with a nostalgic look on his face, “I’m pretty sure of that – apart from Tommy Bowers, he only stopped riding because his body wouldn’t let him do it any more.” We talk some more about old times, memories tainted golden by the glory of youth. I make a comment about how young he still looks, and how easy it is for people who don’t know him to forget he’s been around for so long. His response may well be the key to staying young; “I forget how old I am. I don’t feel old at all. Because I have all these memories from when I started riding, I still think I’m that person, the person I was riding in the field out the back of my mum’s house. It’s weird I know, sometimes I’ll be stood looking into the mirror
and I’ll be like, ‘Shit! I’m 30 and I’ve got two kids and a wife!’ Out in town I’ll see people who I used to go to school with and they look old, they look all old outside and old inside, like something in them has withered away and died. Sometimes I do question what I’m doing, I ask myself if I should be all grown up or whatever, and every time the answer is ‘Of course I should, why would you not want to be like that if you enjoy it?’” Martyn is the keystone in the architecture of the Plymouth/Southwest scene, he’s embedded as deep as the scene goes, he’s the first one up making plans, and he’s the last one at the trails pegging down the tarps in the dark. He’s a grafter through and through, a straight up honest guy who’s as dependable as a sunrise. And it’s that dependability that has kept Martyn current in BMX for over half his life, it’s been the key to his longevity. Where many have fallen by the wayside, this little Cornish pasty has managed to adapt a mid-school mentality to facilitate the new
I Don’t Have A Problem With BMX
demands of BMX in 2012. He films web edits, he travels, he maintains an online presence, but most importantly, he keeps on progressing on his bike, always looking for obscure spots and tinkering with some hybrid new trick. With such a rich back catalogue of NBD’s under his belt, I was interested to know what he thought about the cookie-cutter street style that is so prevalent right now; “I understand why it’s like that, when I first started riding I used to learn all the same tricks that everyone else wanted to learn, the only difference for me is that I always used to want to make up new tricks too. When I got a bit older I used to avoid the latest ‘cool’ trick, like lookbacks for example, when Joe Rich started doing them, everybody who had a bike started doing them. I refused to learn lookbacks, I just saw it as ‘that’s what everybody else is doing, I’m going to do something different’.” And talking of new tricks, he’s invented a modest number himself, tailwhip 180s, tailwhip to
wallrides, 540 wall-taps and barspin handplants over spines and sub rails are a selection of worldfirsts sitting in his proverbial trophy cabinet. And on the shelf underneath these monumental tricks are a sleuth of more contentious achievements such as manual to 360s, barspins out of fufanus and pedal icepicks on backrails, all of these and tens more were pioneered by the quiet and humble guy from Cornwall, while some may have been pulled somewhere in the world on a BMX before, they were all unseen by Martyn before he did them, so as far as he was concerned, he did them first too. With his tricks, his trails and his spots, Martyn is always searching. Whilst shooting for this interview, in a quest for fresh and untouched pasture, we drove out on to Dartmoor, one of the most hostile and remote landscapes in England. In amongst the tiny Shetland ponies and the horned highland cows we scoured the tors and valleys with the goal of having fun and enjoying being outside, both of which were achieved with ease.
We shot some unusual photos and clocked some fresh footage for Martyn’s upcoming Verde edit. The fact that he’s 30 years old and out on the weekends excited to film for an edit further outlines the key to his longevity, he’s always adapting his riding, morphing it so it’s still on his terms, but making sure it fits within the confines that make it relevant to BMX in 2012. And it was this desire to change and progress within BMX that prompted his 2008 switch from long-term sponsor Standard to the, at the time, brand new brand Verde. A man like Martyn Tambling needs to grow, and like a weed through a pavement, he always will. It’s getting late, Martyn’s got to be up at 6am to sort his kids and get to work and I’ve got a three hour drive ahead of me. I ask him who inspires him to ride? And while the question may be painfully stock in a BMX interview, I had a feeling his answer would avoid the usual suspects of Aitken and Hoffman and other predictable two-wheeled gurus and look beyond BMX to embrace life’s bigger picture, and as well as doing just that, it worked out as a fitting end to this interview and another insight into the mindset it takes to be current for half a lifetime. “Eddie Vedder for sure. Eddie Vedder has always been a big inspiration to me, I’m down with all his views and opinions. His view on the music industry is very much how I view BMX. He always wants to be doing his own thing and be passionate about what he’s doing. He does his own thing on his own terms and I feel like that’s how I want to be with my riding, I don’t need to be doing what everyone else is doing, and if they don’t like it then it doesn’t really matter.” With an attitude like that it’s easy to see why he doesn’t have a problem with BMX.
I Don’t Have A Problem With BMX
L O D E S B R O O K S H U C K E R D O Y L E N A P O L I TA N W I S E R I G A L D I L L E WA A R D F O X HOSSELTON ENNS BIZ ENARSON SMITH CASEY MARTINEZ BARONE ROSKELLEY DISTRIBUTED IN THE UK BY ELEPHANT DISTRIBUTION T: 01425 839864 // www.elephantdistribution.com // firstname.lastname@example.org
@DEMOLITIONPARTS PHOTO: CASTILLO
4130 full crmo /// SALTPLUS “Magic” fork /// full 4130 crmo bar /// ÉCLAT “Moon” grips SALTPLUS “Delta” top loading stem /// SALTPLUS “Echo” int. headset, sealed SALT “PRO48” 3pc crank, 48 spline /// ÉCLAT “Plaza” pedals /// SALTPLUS “Manta” 25t alloy cnc sprocket SALTPLUS “Trapez-V2” female front hub /// SALTPLUS “Trapez-V2” 9t cassette hub ÉCLAT “Oz” pivotal seat /// ÉCLAT “Control” / “Escape” tires Frame tt length: 20.9” /// Bar rise: 8.5” /// Weight: 11.5kg (25.35lbs)
Craig Passero Words and Photography by SCott MarCeau
he following stories recount experiences in the presence of Craig Passero spanning the past two months, August and September of 2012. I clocked around 30 hours in cars with Craig, usually with him in the passenger seat and myself as the driver. There’s an odd camaraderie that develops between a long-distance driver and his shotgun, something like a prisoner and their cellmate. You are more or less forced to be in such close proximity with this person for an extended period of time, so you might as well get to know them and enjoy their company.You tend to pick up on their quirks and even get inside their head a little. As a driver you are obligated to stay awake, and a good shotgun always stays up to offer geographic support and general assistance. Even when late-night interstate conversation strayed far from convention, Craig was there to comment and offer insight on topics from aeronautics to zebra cakes. He even put up with my singing. If there were ever a lull in conversation, Craig would interject with simple ‘fuck this’ statements – things such as, “fuck this rain”, “fuck that highway”, or “fuck the morning”. No matter the situation, he never actually raises his voice or exclaims it loudly – sort of just stating it, void of any actual anger or distaste. I notice that he habitually ashes his spliff onto his jeans then wipes the ash onto the floor of the car. I don’t see why he doesn’t just ash onto the floor directly, or even just out the window. Fortunately for Craig, the ash from my cigarettes coat the dash like a snowfall, and his ash blends right in. Craig is visibly perturbed by his seatbelt and is constantly fidgeting with the strap that goes across his chest. I frequently observed him extending the belt to wrap around his knee so that it wasn’t so near his neck. He said it makes him feel claustrophobic. He receives a text message at three minute intervals from a sender named Panda, his girlfriend, whose government name is Amanda. I’ve never met her, but Craig assures me that if I were to meet her she “probably wouldn’t say much”. He uses an outmoded Nokia slide phone to text and make phone calls, but also has an iPhone without a service provider that he uses for wi-fi applications like Instagram and Facebook. Once he thought he had lost the iPhone and later found it in a shoe in the backseat. Upon finding it, he instantly remembered that he already knew when he put it in there that he would forget where it was. I’ve never known him have any preference of music. He will truly listen to anything within reason and get along fine. I don’t remember him once complaining about my playlist, which gets considerably outlandish from time to time. When driving his own car, Craig leaves the radio on one station with the volume around seven – just loud enough to hear a cymbal crashing or an epic guitar solo. Even with the station fighting with frequencies in a mosh pit of static, Craig never turns the dial. Despite his higher-than-average caffeine intake and larger-than-normal arms, Craig closes car doors rather calmly, almost expecting them to close themselves. Several times I had to close the door behind him after he barely tried himself. Actually, once while staying at a less than exemplary motel in Central Pennsylvania, the trunk of the car was left open overnight, leaving for the taking a bagful of backup flashes and my various tripods. Amazingly nothing was stolen and the cause of the trunk blunder was never identified, but I’m almost positive it was you, Craig. I know it was unintentional, but you need to be more pushy with doors. They aren’t going to close themselves... Well, most aren’t. You got lucky, just know that.
Observations From the Driver’s Seat
[a] Access Barspin, Pennsylvania
Ingrown One night, while waiting out a rainstorm at Jackson Mann school in Boston, an officer of the law happened upon a makeshift party we had inadvertently thrown under the shelter of the spot. I had seen many conspicuously placed No Trespassing signs at the gate through which we entered but frankly, no one gave a shit. I immediately realized there was going to be a serious conflict of interest between us and the cops. Following my first instinct, I started towards my pile of tripods, hoping I could play the ‘lifestyle photography look-book shoot’ card and walk away on good merits. Reaching for his handcuffs, the officer descended on us, a bunch of stoned deer in headlights, fumbling to hide rolling papers and bottles, the clinking of the glass an obvious giveaway to our activities. “All right, you’ve got two choices – leave now or get locked up”, the cop said. Just like that, the party was thrown into a single black deli bag and moved off the premises. I assured the officer that while we had admittedly made a mess, the Heineken bottles were already there and not our wrongdoing. In the midst of all this, another cop had pulled up and was asking about gunshots in the area, obviously hunting for actual crimes.
We regroup at the car, parked down the block and promptly begin reaching for pockets to make sure we hadn’t left anything of real value at the scene of the crime. Adam22 shows back up, extremely tipsy with a busted bitch under his left arm, his right hand in his pocket. He gives her a kiss and sends her on her way into the dark of the damp night, swiftly sharing with us his latest sexual exploits. He laughs about how she noticed the cops arrive and how little he cared at that moment in time. Craig announces that amid the surprise visit from the cops and subsequent confusion, he had shoveled a good amount of loose cannabis into a pouch of rolling tobacco, thus creating, for the lack of a better term, ‘a weed crisis, dude’. However, considering the large portions of cheeba he usually keeps in a sock in his backpack, I didn’t see the point of this. We shot the shit for a minute and it started to pour. We loaded the bikes onto the rack and headed north to where we’d be staying for the night. In his usual car-ride fashion, Craig turns the light on his iPhone to better observe his rolling procedures, and begins to sift through each shred of tobacco, picking out individual crumbs of cannabis until he had a satisfactory spliff constructed of at least 50 percent weed.
"a few shots of whisky later, there’s Craig digging away at his toe, like a cowboy scooping a bullet out of his bicep in some country and western movie."
That same night Craig was complaining about hitting his toe earlier in the day and it was still hurting hours later. He took his sock off and inspected what appeared to be an ingrown toenail. With a few flimsy opinions from others in the house, it was diagnosed as officially being just that and a treatment plan was implemented on the spot. I had some nail clippers in the car and Craig promised he had no toe diseases. A few shots of whisky later, there’s Craig digging away at his toe, like a cowboy scooping a bullet out of his bicep in some country and western movie. Every few minutes for the rest of the night he would exclaim out loud how he couldn’t believe he had an ingrown toenail, as if it would never happen to him, like he’d have to amputate his whole foot because of it. About an hour later, Craig was finally satisfied with his toe-duggery and announced that he was free of any ingrowing. The rest of the night Craig spent trying to fall asleep on a couch too small for him, using shots of whisky again to calm his nerves so he could could drift off more easily. At around 4:30 he retired to the floor, commandeered a sleeping bag and proclaimed a comfort unlike anything the sorry sofa could offer.
Observations From the Driver’s Seat
[b] Downside Whip, Cleveland, Ohio [c] Lookback, Boondocks, Long Island
[d] Uprail to Manual to Uprail Bars, New Hampshire
Observations From the Driverâ€™s Seat
Homegrown The village of Locust Valley in Long Island is technically a hamlet – by definition, a small settlement in a rural area, like from a fairy-tale or something you see in a Disney movie. Craig lives about 200 yards from the town centre, which he describes as “a place, no different than any town I suppose… Off the highway, a lot of residential areas, stupid trees and no spots.” The house he grew up in where he still lives with his parents, is a quaint ranch home with a small, sheltered lounging area between the house and the garage. There is a camper van parked on the side of the driveway and a small dump truck in the backyard. A large, heavy-duty pickup truck occupies a better part of the garage, the rest of the space dedicated to two motorcycles, with shelves filled by Harley Davidson memorabilia and snapshots of smiling groups of people wearing leather chaps in front of various national monuments. Craig details his recent motorcycle road test, where he had to use his father’s much larger bike to complete the figure-8 portion of the evaluation due to a discrepancy with some license plate stickers on his own, smaller bike. “My dad is a motorcycle enthusiast for sure. He made me get my license recently. I’d been riding around on my grandpa’s bike because he crashed a year-and-a-half ago and doesn’t use it as much. It’s fun cruising around, it’s just like riding... same feeling, I guess.” Craig labors by day under the employment of his father as a mason, “pouring a fuck ton of cement, all heavy shit – it sucks. My dad thinks the human body is capable of so much... He works us so fucking hard and doesn’t even care at all.” I had heard that this is the reason for Craig’s disproportionately sized arms, leading to his nickname ‘Manboy’ – but he swears that he’s always had massive biceps and the nickname stemmed from him being the youngest in the crew yet still keeping up with everyone. Inside the house, his room is cluttered with clothing strewn across a couch, the floor and some of his bed. The closet door is a large mirror which is now scattered with stickers and old ticket stubs. The house’s answering machine is placed awkwardly between the door and the dresser, covered with dog hair. He explains how his room is the only one with a phone jack, and now deals with listening to voice messages while he’s trying to sleep. There are two dogs in the room, a Springer Spaniel named Boomer and a German Shepherd named Dante, the latter Craig obviously preferring. Boomer is begging for attention, panting with his tongue out, emitting a foul old-dog smell. Dante makes himself cozy directly on top of Craig’s pillow and begins scratching himself frantically. Muttering something about fleas, Craig turns to his computer screen and checks the internet. The featured video is a Grant Castelluzzo Profile edit that is clicked on immediately. Craig was around for most of the clips that were filmed in Barcelona and offers a behindthe-scenes commentary on what we’re watching. I insist on viewing the OSS video timeline from their trip to Spain and am thoroughly amazed by the work they accomplished. Craig claims to have been capturing the tapes “for like 15 hours straight”. A brand new Stranger frame sits next to his bed, untouched and waiting to be put together. Craig’s current bike rides less than desirably, exhibiting signs of old age and cranks that creak like crazy. Obviously not trying to turn heads, his sticker placement is rather slapdash with some chipping and withering away. His grips are worn to the point that you can see clearly where his fingers grasp. There’s at least two spokes dangling in the back wheel. We leave Craig’s and head towards our main objective – filming a few final clips for his Welcome To Primo edit. Our first stop is a gas station to purchase an energy drink, his first of the day. The cupholder of his car is filled with can tabs, a majority being from Red
Bull, Craig’s beverage of choice. Our next stop is a Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee for myself. Craig buys a single banana and spells out his waking hours void of a legitimate breakfast. Eating with Craig is a joy, especially for me, because he routinely orders way more food than he can eat by himself, simply because “it all looked so good.” I’ll usually let Craig order first to see if he makes the mistake. He admits that he eats slowly and typically leaves the fries for last, leaving him particularly defenseless against bigger birds of prey. Arriving at the first spot, a magnificent bank with a ledge kink at the bottom, Craig illustrates what he envisions as a “pretty good, like, intro-type shot”. Conveying the scene, he adjusts his glasses to a more optimal position on his face. Craig is no stranger to filmmaking, that being his major study for the two years that he spent in Boston. The riding scene there as he described it, was preferable, with less importance on producing clips and an emphasis on pedaling around and filming haphazardly. He cites fellow Long Island transplant Chris Zepieri as the main protagonist to his revival of BMX. “Riding, not necessarily more seriously, but just riding more often, and riding amazing spots.” His adventures in New England are chronicled in the AOTC videos filmed and edited by Zep and CB Coombs. Despite an unexpected interruption from the local law enforcement, Craig gets the hop into the bank and everyone is happy. His intuition is spot-on and the shot is used for the intro of the edit. Craig is quick to admit that although he lives a mere half-hour from New York City, he rarely goes there to ride, recalling more skate trips to the city than riding excursions. I could tell he was a talented skateboarder by the way he pushes around on the filmer board between sessions, but had no idea of the extent of it until I saw a full part he had filmed for a friend’s video in the 8th grade. I highly suggest you look it up, it’s really good for a fourteen-year-old BMX rider – the last clip is a ten-stair nollie.
[e] Wallride to Gap, Cleveland, Ohio
Observations From the Driver’s Seat
[f] Rail hop to Smith, Massachusetts. [Next] [g] Overgrind, Long Island.
Observations From the Drivers Seat
One For the Road
their grandson about seeing “X-Games stuff” in America, they are referring to Craig, not you.
It’s safe to presume you have seen his part in the 2010 OSS video Football and there’s probably a 95% chance you’ve seen his part in FU5: Guy Stuff from early 2012. The sections, both equally unbelievable, have a markedly different style and approach to them, the former being a large rail and drop aesthetic, the latter being of a more ground-dwelling, tech variety. He attributes his newfound fondness of “smaller jib shit” partly to his recent elbow surgery, and partly to the amount of time he’s been spending with Charlie Crumlish. Really, he’s an incredibly dialed rider, and watching him ride or film a clip is truly mind-blowing. He may not be the ‘oneand-done’ type, but he takes care of business and people notice when it happens. Picture this scenario: You and Craig are riding a spot that happens to be near a popular tourist attraction. An older German couple is taken aback by the commotion, but quickly learn to appreciate your stunts and shoot photographs. Their lens will mostly be pointed at Craig because he is the one doing the more spectacular maneuvers, while you flop around on a foot tall ledge trying to learn smith hard 180s. When they tell
I roll up to Craig’s house and it’s around 7:15am.We are heading to New England to meet up with some OSS teammates and ride spots around Boston and New Hampshire for a couple days. Craig is waiting outside in his car, probably smoking a morning bowl, as I park on his quiet street. While transferring the gear to my car, Craig pulls his bike from his back seat. “Okay – bars to determine how well this trip goes.” Now, I’m a fairly superstitious person and this proposition had me a bit concerned. So much could go wrong that could send this potentially jovial outing into a downward spiral of unfortunate events. Then I quickly remembered – Craig is a rider who doesn’t really warm up, per-se. His first hop of the day is invariably a barspin and close to two feet off the ground. I have witnessed, on more than one occasion, Craig film a clip ‘straight out the van’. Not surprisingly, the bars were thrown and caught as planned, and a sigh of relief ensued.“Okay, well, I landed grips so this will be a pretty good trip.” And it was.
Observations From the Driver’s Seat
The van is filled with the same junk as before. CDs overflow from the gap where I’d expect to find a handbrake and bottles of Poland Spring water are crushed in the space under the seats. The cup holder has become a place to empty blunts and the carpet in the back – a bad idea to begin with – is choked with oil and shit from the countless times bikes have been placed in the gap where the middle seats once were. Bob Scerbo sits up front, almost blending into the surroundings, like a wallflower in his own car. “Are they all the same CDs as before, Bob?” I ask, leaning forward from the back seats, over the bikes. “Nah man, I change them up. I got rid of the box. I’ll just bring new shit in every now and then and take old stuff out.” The idea of him ‘taking old stuff out’ makes me laugh because whether he’ll admit it or not, the guy is a hoarder. His replies come with a gravelly accent that I would’ve never attributed to him before I met him. He sits up front with his elbow on the door and the other hand on the steering wheel and we drive up towards North Philadelphia. It’s like nothing has changed since I was last here.
Words and Photography by Daniel Benson
We drive through this city of extremes. The heat brings people out into the street as we pass neighborhoods that look like they should be condemned. Zombies roam the streets, some hustling for money and others sat totally vacant on the stoops of rundown houses. I’ve noticed before, but it’s a common theme with Bob, he shows you the America that other Americans would probably prefer you didn’t see. Bob will tell me that he’s looking for new stuff to ride all the time and these grimy areas are untapped in that respect. I understand that this is true, he doesn’t want to ride the rinsed downtown spots anymore. But I know he loves roaming around these parts of town, observing this way of life. On one occasion we stop whilst riding around Kensington, after following the El train north and watch an addict struggle with his dope lean. The guy’s body slowly gyrates around his feet like he’s been nailed to the floor. Bob watches him for a few minutes before we ride away. I never hear him once pass judgment on what we see – I can’t work out what he thinks about it all and this occasion is no different. Bob likes to observe, that’s all I can gather from it. I feel like seeing all this madness is like catching the whole country with its pants down. Part of me wants to turn away, but another part of me can’t believe what I’m seeing. Another evening on the way to the store, we take a detour past three stationary police cars and an ambulance. Bob spots it from down the road. “That’s a shooting. There’s no way all those cops would be out of their cars round here,” he tells me as we turn towards them. Sure enough, a guy is slumped against a garage door, his neck stained claret whilst two cops talk on their radios above him. I’ve no idea if he’s dead, but the guy looked it. Bob seems unfazed by what we see, his elbow on the window as always. We pass the scene and end up back under the El. I think the noise of that train could be the soundtrack to this interview. We stop by the only liquor store in the area that sells Mickey’s, a malt liquor that seems to be synonymous with New Jersey, Bob’s home state. Bob exits the shop with two bottles and a smile on his face. I’ve never seen a guy so happy as Bob when he’s just bought a forty to finish up the day.
"i just want to document what people do. i don’t want to create the scenario"
[a] Wallride, Philadelphia.
Bob shares a flat with Ryan Navazio in North Philly. I find it funny, the pair of them, all the epic videos they’ve made and now all I can picture when I watch All Day or when I’ll finally see the Cult video is that they both lay on their beds to edit, the pair of them sticking heads round each others doors asking for some advice or an opinion. I’m amazed when Bob flippantly tells me that Edwin wanted to have Sonic Youth ‘Teenage Riot’ for his first section on the first Animal video. Can you imagine that section with that song instead of Del ‘Catch a Bad one’? In the end it was Bob
who used Teenage Riot after talking Ed out of it. It was a choice that seemed perfect for Bobs riding, as was Del with Edwin. Bob’s on some downtime after releasing Animal’s latest offering Foreign & Domestic, but Navaz is on deadline with Cult. To set the scene a little better, it’s probably worth mentioning that there’s a side narrative running along with Bob’s piece and that’s the final weeks of Navaz and the Cult guys finishing up the video. When I arrive, the flat is full of riders waiting for Navaz to emerge from his room to try and get a few extra clips. Navaz, on the other hand, seems firmly rooted down in his room editing. At times, you could cut the tension with a knife. Bob laughs at the situation, commenting that this won’t be the last time they’ll be asked to film a section. I remain firmly in the middle, with a leg each side of the fence. Navaz finally emerges and announces with a jubilation you’d expect to see when a man reveals the sex of his newly born baby to the family, but instead of “It’s a boy!” Navaz declares that he’s halfway through Dakota’s section with all the passion of a new father. Regardless of the madness that video is causing, it makes me thankful of the relatively stress-free days I have riding around Philadelphia with Scerbo. The day always starts with a trip to the coffee shop. Bob always sits in the seat with his back to the wall, so that he can see everything that’s going on around him clearly, like a gangster who’s aware he’s about to get whacked. My order changes depending on hangovers and money, but Bob sticks to the same thing, the creature of habit that he is. Time seems to slow down around Scerbo. At once you get a glimpse into the past and a look into the future all at the same time. It’s hard to explain. On one hand, there’s this hardboiled attitude that riding is fine as it is, that it doesn’t need to constantly catapult itself into the future. Yet at the same time, Bob himself has always represented a markedly refreshing outlook on whatever he chooses to ride and because of this there’s a strange fandom that surrounds him. It’s like when grown men become infatuated with a band that they grew up listening to, they’re down for life. In a similar way, Bob’s riding, the videos he’s made and even some of the photos he’s shot have come to define a side of riding that is for many, what ‘it’s all about’. All of this seems strange to attribute to a rider like Bob. It feels strange putting him on a pedestal like this. But there’s a reason I’m here spending two weeks working on this interview with him and it all somehow comes back to this. He’ll sit there, eating his breakfast bagel – observing as always – and I wonder if he thinks too much about the affect he’s had on riding over the years albeit in the videos he’s made or stared in, or both. I don’t ask him on this occasion. Later, I think. His phone lights up and it’s a message from Tom White. The phone itself is worth noting. I can only describe it as a clam style flip phone that looks like it’s from the nineties. Everybody comments on it and Bob seems to always get some pleasure from telling us, “it’s the new iPhone 5. I sent
[b] Road Gap Wallride, Philadelphia.
it away to Apple and they put it all inside this thing,” he’ll say pointing to the relic in his hand, leaving the enquirer looking satisfactorily confused. We walk back to the flat and Tom is waiting, eating a sandwich resting on the trunk of his car. He tells Bob that he’s just paid a load of money so somebody can babysit his kid so he doesn’t have to and Bob finds the comment ridiculous. “Tom, it’s your kid, you have to stop saying YOU babysit it. You look after it; it’s yours. Other people do the babysitting.” Tom isn’t having it and gives him a wave of his arm, whist he finishes up his sandwich. Another day, we find ourselves driving around North Arlington, a small New Jersey suburb and its surrounding areas. We take a drive round Bob’s old haunts and I notice ledges and rails in front of people’s houses that I recognize from Don’t Quit Your Day Job. “You see that rail, they put those chains around it because me and George [Dossantos] used to grind it all the time.” He’s pointing to a headtube high flatbar on a hill, right outside somebody’s home. It’s easy to picture the sessions, the grind marks still apparent. It’s the same all over this small town, if you look hard enough, there’s signs of Scerbo all over it. “They put the chain around it one day and it’s still there now, I feel like knocking on the door and going ‘look, I’m the kid who used to grind your rail, it’s OK, I’ve moved, you can take the chains off now’.” We take the tour past George’s house, Bob points out where Jeff Zielinski grew up whilst we’re driving past and then we end up at Grimaldo Duran’s shop, Legends. “Bob, you crazy, man,” Grimaldo would reply to anything Bob said. We stop at Bob’s house and his mum and Dad are getting ready for a holiday to Aruba. Bob’s mum asks the usual doting mother questions, to which Bob replies “c’mon mom!” as he worms his way out
of answers. His dad sits down at the table, he’s just got back from the gym. “Is that it?! You were there about 15 minutes!” Bob says. His dad sits down, looks at Bob’s clothes and comments, “when did you start dressing like me? You should be wearing what I’ve got on.” Bob, wearing baggy chinos and a striped golf polo, laughs. His dad has got a point. Bob warns me before I arrive in Philadelphia that he’s got nothing to prove with this interview. There’s no desire to better himself riding wise, no desire to portray himself as something he’s not. He quit his sponsors a while ago and while he still works at Animal filming and managing the team and has Grimaldo help him fix his bike – simply because he’s incapable of doing it himself – there’s nobody to prove anything to but himself. I’m told on numerous occasions, more firmly when we’re drunk, that he doesn’t care what people think about the interview. Bob jokes one day, after doing a 30ft long, foot high smith grind, that this might have the lowest overall height of any interview photograph ever shot for the magazine. Ironically, Bob can still hop higher than most people, he just doesn’t make it the focus of all his riding. I think what you can get from this piece is simply that it’s an honest portrayal of what Bob does day to day. Even down to the routine of going for breakfast in the morning and going to the El bar at night. There’s no front here, no smoke and mirrors. What you see is what you get. I’ve been trying to shove a Dictaphone under Bob for a few days now. In the evenings, we’d go to the El bar and after a few ‘specials’ we’d normally end up in some ridiculous conversation. I’m taking notes occasionally, just to make some sense of the wet brain discussions we have. One morning I check what I’ve written and I have scrawled down ‘BOB SCERBO IS RELIGIOUS’ followed by several exclamation marks. I have no recollection of writing such a thing, but feel like I need to get to the bottom of it. I bring it up later in the day, driving through Camden. “No, I don’t follow one religion but I think that when you die, your energy continues elsewhere, it just goes back into the earth. It never stops.” He goes on to tell me that later that night, after the drunken discussion, he was thinking so much about it he couldn’t sleep – “I felt like I was trying to solve everything, like it’s one big puzzle. I think I got close, I thought I was going insane.” Bob’s a thinker, a contemplator, a studier. He’s the sort of guy that walks around with his hands in his pockets and kicks stones into the gutter. If you don’t bother him, he won’t bother you. A guy acted up one evening in the El and Bob leapt up ready to beat him down in a heartbeat. If he’d just kept his mouth shut. Our conversations would range from the outrageous to the poetic. Yet whilst other parts of life might remain a mystery, I feel like he’s actually worked riding out.
I get him the day before I leave. He spots the Dictaphone. His mouth is full with the usual breakfast bagel. He nods and shrugs, finally giving in. “Just gimme a minute though, OK? You don’t wanna be writing this down when I’ve got a mouthful of food.” I start with Don’t Quit, which was the first time I’d seen Bob ride.
[c] Hip Tuck, Jersey City.
Albion: What happened once that video had come out? Bob: I ended up moving here, to Philly on and off for a little while. I traveled around a lot aimlessly for a while. When Animal started, I wasn’t really a part of it. Jeff Z [Zielinski] was filming it and it was all based back in Jersey and NY and I was out here in Philly. I have a part, but it was actually filmed really fast. After that I kinda jumped on with Animal at the tail end. I did a cross-country trip with the team and when we got to California I ended up capturing a load of the footage with Glen [PP Milligan] and I really enjoyed doing that. I didn’t mind that side of video making. Even though back then I didn’t know how to edit, I liked being around people doing it, just watching what they were doing. Jeff was getting seriously into photography and got a full time position with Ride US.
Do you think that it’s actually an East Coast thing though? No, not really. For us it was simply because there was nothing to ride. I think anywhere that is part of a metropolis and doesn’t have a bunch of skateparks then this sort of thing will happen. Like with Animal, people credit us with being this definitive East Coast crew, but it’s not entirely the case. There were guys in Long Island that were incredible. Vic [Ayala] had friends who were incredible who all rode like that too. We just happened to start a company. It’s a natural thing really. People will adapt to their surroundings. How do you feel your own riding has changed over the years? It’s definitely changed, but with my own riding, I’m perfectly happy with it. I never expected myself to have crazy video parts or try and be at the forefront of something. Progression was something I never chased. How do you see street riding in a general sense?
"everyone is about self-promoting. all the taboos are gone. People think it’s normal to want the world" Did Jeff get you into filming? Not really. He kinda did, but he wouldn’t let me film because he said I had a bad attitude, so he used to get George to film him. It was in the sense that he had a camera, in the same way that he had a stills camera. My high-school didn’t have that stuff and I couldn’t afford one so I guess that created a desire have one. I used to be really into skate videos too. You mentioned that two videos the other day, the Zoo York Mixtape and Underachievers. Yeah, I love those videos. You can see where I got some ideas. That was the first good use of East Coast cities that I’d seen. I could recognize the spots, they looked like the sort of shit that was in my hometown. Did everyone else think like that? I don’t know… George, he didn’t ride like that. He was more influenced by mini ramp stuff, stalling tricks. I was much more into rolling and staying in motion. He’d laugh at me when I’d watch a video and go ‘shit, I wanna go to that one day!’ He’d go ‘yeah, but what are you gonna DO on it?’ Jeff thought more like me, although it’s probably more accurate to say I thought like Jeff, because he was older than me. He could see spots.
How I do it, or as a whole?
Both. Street riding is what happens when I leave the house. It’s as simple as that really. It’s manualing a ledge on the way past, just cruising around hitting a bunch of different spots. Then occasionally I’ll find something that amazes me or just feels good hitting and I’ll get the urge to try something on it. I never had the motivation to be pushing to get clips in any way. You were never like that at all? – The phone rings and it’s Tom. He’s at Bob’s waiting to go riding. He’s constantly getting messages from people. I don’t know how that shitty phone handles it. He recounts the times he’s bailed team riders out, getting calls late into the night, “all part of the job, I’m always dealing with other people’s shit” he’d tell me. “How many other team managers have to go bail out their team?” He lies to Tom and says we’ll be two minutes and we carry on… BOB: I mean, I have things I want to get accomplished with riding. I think that’s important for you to have that mindset, but I never wanted to get them done in a way that… how do I say this… that kinda kept me up with the rest of riding. For
me it’s about personal satisfaction. Doing something because it feels good. I think I might have been of that last generation where filming and photography kinda didn’t really matter.”
How do you feel to be put on this pedestal in street riding? Do you think street riding has changed at all? I think everything has changed. It’s not just street riding. Everyone is about selfpromoting. All the taboos are gone. People think it’s normal to want the world. Remember when you were younger and the worst thing you could possibly say when you got to a spot was ‘I’m going to do this tomorrow when there’s a camera out.’ Remember that! ‘Oh you only ride when there’s a camera out!’ I think things in general used to be a little more sacred, not just in riding. People are everywhere, on all these websites and blogs. Let’s say for example, a roadtrip’s main objective being just for getting footage. I remember when I started going on a few of those and I was like ‘this whole thing has just been constructed simply so riders get shit done. It’s not actually a roadtrip.’ When you were young, three or four friends would jump in a car and drive out and if you didn’t want to ride, you didn’t feel guilty about it. Nobody cared, nobody cared if you went swimming all day or hung out on the beach. It was just some friends having a good time. So it’s like a false image? I wasn’t really thinking that, more that people just want to be working the whole time. Everyone is trying to get a job in it. To make it their work. It’s really strange to me. There’s not a great deal of people making good money riding bikes though, really. Yeah, but there’s enough guys making enough just to get by. You were a pro once anyway? That shit didn’t last long at all though. I wanted it to last. Basically, I wanted to do nothing and get money. That’s my ideal job! Saying that though, I did ride all the time. Even if I wasn’t doing much, I’d be looking for spots or session a parking lot learning fakie manuals, I’ve always been like that. It didn’t last and it didn’t work because the people sponsored me for doing what I do. Then when I was on the team they’d be like ‘okay now I want you to do this.’ I always thought, ‘you sponsored me for doing what I do, there must be a reason why you hooked me up. Now why are you trying to change me into something else? How do you feel about the whole filming thing becoming your job? I’m real back and forth with it. There’s times
I honestly love it. When things are right it’s the best job and I can’t think a bad thing about it. I hate carrying a bag around. I fucking despise it and I always have. Now I’ve put myself in a position where I have to be the guy carrying the bag around all day. I feel like it’s a dirty little joke sometimes. But yeah, I do enjoy what I do but like any job it has its ups and downs. Like being on the road the whole time and little things like having people constantly staying at my house, sleeping on the floor, that puts stresses on relationships. When you’re living with a girl and every morning she has to step over four smelly dudes and ten forties of Mickey’s just to get out of the front door. It’s not a healthy life. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
What – the pro life or the industry life? Either. If it just happens for you then there’s not much you can do. But if you pursue it and expect something… you’re in for a shock. Bob’s neighbor walks in. He’s been at the gym, doing some sort of fighting. “You win?” Bob asks. “No, No way man. I got my ass kicked.” Bob laughs and the neighbor says bye and gets his coffee to go. Philly is a strange place. In the house beside Bob there’s a ten-year-old with full sleeve tattoos, prison style.You wouldn’t quite believe it if you saw it. I get that impression a lot with Philly. I feel like you can get away with anything. Bob tells me that his teachers probably haven’t said anything because at least he’s in school. I hear on a couple of occasions that Philly is what New York used to be like, before Mayor Giuliani got his hands on it. Anyway, I start up with a question I’ve wanted to ask Bob since we started…
How do you feel about ghost writing people’s sections? Well, that’s a tough one because there’ll be occasions when I’ll find something and be like ‘this would be great for this guy.’ But there’s other occasions where I just want to document what people did. I don’t want to create the scenario. A good rider, in my opinion, and this works at any level, should have stuff that they know about just out of instinct almost. No matter if you’re doing the craziest shit or just cruising around hitting bumps, if you’re going to film a section on street I think it’s important to get out there and find the stuff you want to ride. That’s street riding to me. It’s so obvious too. Do you feel riding in general is becoming more about height, numbers and statistics over the actual feel and aesthetic of it? I don’t know… You can get into that whole discussion of people looking at my riding and going ‘oh that dude?! He only rides foot high
ledges!’ But that’s exactly what I grew up and still live around. Why would I not ride that stuff? Then if I was going to film, why would I not film what I ride? I don’t want to define myself as something I’m not.
For you though, I mean, you’re not a youngster anymore. Has riding become more about self-preservation? Yeah. I ride for the feeling, if you know what I mean. But I do like to work hard on shit too, to accomplish something. You need that in life. You have done big stuff in the past regularly. It’s relative to the time and also how what you’ve seen is edited. Like some of those clips might be months, years apart, but that’s the lie, or illusion of editing. My normal riding really hasn’t changed too much. I’ll always have a bunch of dumb shit I hit on the way past. I’ll stop to get a coffee or a beer… it’s just life! What do you want me to say?! Okay, I’ll change the subject.You also mentioned about Joe Rich, about how he was, or is a big influence on you. When I go to Austin, I get to watch him ride and I love it and hate it because I always feel like shit. It’s motivating though – he’s riding, he’s had injuries and mentally he’s strong enough to overcome it. You see a lot of people who start a company and get to a point where they’re so pissed and jaded they don’t even want to ride. He’s the complete opposite of that. That’s the one thing that gets me with him, it’s why I love being friends with him. Joe could’ve given up long ago with all the shit he’s been through with injuries and all that, but kept with it. Like the way he is with people, his tolerance and how he treats others around him, I look up to that too. I don’t have that, but when I’m around that I seem to be able to demonstrate a little more control. I love how on paper, you couldn’t be more different riders… Oh yeah… How does he feel when you take him to a foot high ledge for a session? He loves it! He rides street all the time. I do look up to that though, Joe isn’t young any more and he’s still so good. I want to ride forever. What else would I do? You see what I do when I don’t ride. I’m pretty self-destructive. I have to ride. I don’t want to think what would happen if I couldn’t ride. I’d be a horrible person. We both pause. I’ve been waving around a wooden stick in my coffee. I run his words over in my head – ‘horrible person….’ I look up to Bob and burst out laughing. “Man, I’m serious! I would be!” Bob picks up my mug and walks to the counter to get us both a refill. We’re both still smiling about him getting all deep and meaningful. The
conversation sways to what to do for the rest of the day, with Tom sat waiting outside the house, but we still manage to talk about Mike Tag and how much of an influence he was on Bob. “He was a fucking legend. He’d never leave a bad taste in anybody’s mouth. He’d film the locals and put them in FBM videos. I was like his sidekick and that’s how I met so many people.” Bob knows everybody. In the two weeks I’ve been here countless riders have come and sessioned or hung out. Before we leave, we talk about his work filming for other companies. Apart from Animal, he never had any interest in anything he did. He openly admits that anything he did was simply for the money. We leave the coffee shop and walk back up to the house. Tom shouts out and we both turn to the opposite side of the street. He’s there, crouched between two cars, with two middle fingers up and his white T-shirt pulled over his nose, a sort of comical gang sign that he’ll appear from nowhere doing. We drive to New York to check out one final spot in Queens that Bob’s been thinking about. He warns me that his back is fucked and that it probably won’t happen this time. “I ain’t no young gun, Benson. This is the shit I’m dealing with.” Bob’s stressed that he’s not going to risk injury for this interview, “what’s the point?” he tells me. I understand that and never expected anything in particular. If he wants to take it easy, then that’s fine by me. To call Scerbo prolific is a huge understatement. Over the years, he’s put out more full sections than most teams combined. I mentioned earlier about Scerbo having a level of fandom likened to that of a band you’ll always listen to. I’ll have to put my hand up and say I’m in that crowd. For me, his riding is accessible, creative and challenging. He was overgrinding kinkers 12 years ago, but still riding the same storm door and loading dock setups that you see him riding today. If you really want proof just how ahead of the time Bob is, the last three clips on Can I Eat are as follows – backwards ice down the Peco rail in Philly, 540 off a loading dock, and an icepick down a kinked rail. I know with that hardass attitude he plays to sometimes, Bob probably won’t want to be placed on the pedestal like this, but it’s a legacy to be proud about. It shines how much fun he’s having; the guy rides everything, from spines, ditches, pools, vert, rails, banks and ledges. Stew Johnson states, whilst puking into a toilet bowl on the start of Bob’s FBM All Time Low section “it’s all about Bob Scerbo and havin’ fun.” I think I’ll have to agree. The journey to New York could be called a waste of time if it wasn’t for the amount of people we get to catch up with. I got the impression that this last trick was never going to happen during this trip, but we go to the spot anyway. Bob, Joey Piazza, Tom and myself stand around the spot Bob wanted to ride. Bob’s got his hands in his pockets and he’s tapping the rail on top of this block with his foot. “It’s kinda weird you guys drove all this way out here to New York just to
[Previous] Opposite Hanger, Philadelphia. [above] Locked in smith the length of the block, Philadelphia.
"Basically, i wanted to do nothing and get money. That’s my ideal job"
look at this thing, huh?” Joey says sarcastically, but with a laugh. Bob’s smiling, the guy doesn’t give a shit. Happy hour at a local bar gets called out and before we know it, there’s a crew sat in some spot in Williamsburg. Scerbo gets busy talking spots with Bobby Puleo, Ratkid and Joey. These conversations are as much a part of riding as riding is itself, the four of them, like a bunch of East Coast oracles. I leave the following morning and talk Bob into taking me by FDR before I catch the plane. He walks his dog Harley underneath the freeway whilst I session the bowls. My only other company is a young kid on a Walmart bike. The pair of us look equally intimidated by the size of the place. The weather has started to turn again. The evenings and mornings are noticeably colder from when I first arrived. Scerbo seems excited about the weather, the heat driving people mad, with Autumn having a beatific effect like being at the seaside. I unload my gear from the car and Bob gets out, Harley stood at the window looking worried, thinking Bob’s coming on the plane too. ‘Not this time, little guy’ I think. We shake hands “Thanks Bob, it’s been a blast.” I say, picking up my bags. Bob smirks, “yeah, it’s been somethin’.”
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GEORGE BOYD IN LONDON
sit waiting in a South London hospital, inspecting my crushed helmet and snapped collarbone, protruding beneath the skin, when I receive the news. ‘Randy Taylor – Rest In Peace’, I read from my smashed phone. The source of the news is credible and my injuries from a freak road accident disappear into insignificance. Surprising as it may seem, but my thoughts of sorrow turn immediately to George Boyd – Randy’s closest friend. ‘Poor George’, I think to myself, wondering if he knows yet. I shudder in disbelief as I realise the eerie timing of the sad events. Only the day before, George and I had toasted the end of two weeks working on his interview with a
Words and Photography by GEORGE MARSHALL 92
six-pack of warm beers in a park, surrounded by a sea of tanning Londoners bathing in the sun – the city overcome by a heat wave and Olympic fever. Sat on the grass George had spoken at length of his and Randy’s long and close friendship – a riding partnership that had put their mutual hometown of Dallas Fort Worth, Texas on the map. This article is a tribute to that friendship and is dedicated to Randy, it is not however an insider’s account of his passing. This is the story of George Boyd in a foreign town, a born and bred Texan out of his comfort zone and in the depths of London’s estates at the peak of an Olympic frenzy.
[a] Fastplant, Vauxhall.
Buy One Get None Free “BUY ONE GET NONE FREE,” shouts a pirate CD seller in a Caribbean accent fighting to be heard over his bass heavy reggae music as his hands massage loose change in a denim money apron around his waist. A cockney perfume seller on the stall beside him, wears a suit with a skin coloured microphone headpiece that looks like a beaming wart on his cheek. Through the microphone he addresses a small crowd around his stall attracted either by the star shaped sign that claims ‘As Seen On TV’ or more likely the offer of ‘buy one get five free’. George looks on, taking in the scene with a look of bemused wonder. In recent years London’s car parks, school yards and streets have become taken over by gentrified markets selling overpriced rustic shite – homemade bakery goods, luxury cheeses, salted meats, vintage furniture and of course, wood mounted deer antlers. Thankfully George and I are not at that kind of market – far from it. We are at the Vauxhall Sunday market. A market where anything that is new is poor quality and fake, anything that is second hand is mostly likely stolen. It’s the kind of market you keep your wallet in your front pocket by your balls, a prime location to buy back a stolen bike and where none-believers in karma can get a bargain. Police turn a blind eye. Security is managed by the nightclub bouncers of South London – meathead thugs with high-vis armbands. “Do you understand why I brought you here? It’s got character right?” I ask George. “Absolutely. It’s enjoyably sketchy. This place feels like a guerilla flea market with no supervision. It definitely has character. It seems like everything fell off a truck. How else would those guys have
a van full of high-end cameras? I just watched a guy selling stolen power tools start up a generator and test a power saw in a crowded ass place. I didn’t expect to see this. Right now I don’t know if I’m in Europe or Somali’s badlands.” I shoot some subtle portraits of George and quickly one of the security meatheads put his hand over the lens and informs me photography is banned, protecting the stallholder and his hoard of stolen cameras in the background. I don’t argue my rights and accept the law doesn’t apply here. George looks uneasy. I’m unsure if he’s enjoying the market experience or not. He’s the kind of guy that if you cooked him a disgusting meal, he’d eat every mouthful with a smile, lick the plate clean and tell you it was delicious – happier to suffer than offend. Before I even met George, I had him down as a polite type. In the days running up to his arrival I thought about the Texan who’d be staying on my sofa for two weeks. I did some research and found myself looking at an Odyssey team photo. The line up is nothing short of a BMX hall of fame – Chase Hawk, Mike Aitken, Aaron Ross, Matt Beringer, Gary Young and Tom Dugan, to name but a few. Sat down comfortably rubbing shoulders beside generations of BMX royalty is the lesser-known George Boyd. I looked at the picture trying to gauge his personality. You can tell a lot about a person from a group photo. The comedian with his index finger sticking out through his jean fly will be loud but funny. A guy in the leather jacket throwing the slayer will piss your sheets, will need to borrow money and maybe try it on with your Mrs. From the photo I can see George is neither. He sits not seeking attention, but from the chiselled jaw, clean shaven face, short low maintenance haircut, he looks clean cut and well brought up. I did wonder if
George Boyd In London
[b] Rail ride to no hander, Clapham Junction.
he’ll be devotedly religious, or maybe he’ll fulfil the Texas stereotype of a conservative redneck and be disgusted by everything my local Sainsbury’s has to offer. “George is dialled in every aspect of his life.” His sponsor, Gaz Sanders told me before the trip. “My only concern is watching out for him when we ride the estates. Everyone else knows what to expect and watch out for. He’s from a world where crime doesn’t exist. The estates round here can be dangerous especially on a brand new orange bike like his.” George getting mugged was just one of many concerns that had been raised about the trip. He and the rest of Mutiny team would be here during the peak of the Olympics. I thought this was a good idea, but few shared my optimism. In the weeks running up to the Olympics, there was an air of pessimism baying for a full social collapse of London, all live on international television. The city’s infrastructure would be beyond breaking point, workers would strike, roads would be grid locked, and for us the spots would be on lockdown by an army of overweight elderly community wardens drafted in to combat bomb attacks, organised gangs of eastern European thieves and a repeat of last year’s riots.
“I see those years riding with Randy as my formative years. Looking back, those were the glory days”
In reality business was down, restaurants and shops were quiet, the stadium was not blown up, the sun shone and the surface to air missiles on top of a local tower block weren’t fired. Taxi drivers referred to central London as the ghost town, a ghost town that for two weeks we rode unhindered. Any meetings with the police were easily chatted over with BMX’s new found Olympic seal of approval, usually ending in a ‘have fun, be safe’. Unlike many other occasions, none of the local residents ran out their houses with swords, machetes or baseball bats when we rode one of South London’s more notorious estates. The area in question, which will go unnamed to discourage more knife point bike jackings, almost doubles as a natural skatepark but has been ear-marked by locals as a ‘no go’ area for sometime, however with everyone sat in the stadium or in front of the TV we rode unopposed. During his stay I took George to see all aspects of London life, from the sexual temptations and dribbling smack addicts of Soho to the golden leaf coated railings of Buckingham Palace. He took it all in, he was intrigued and appreciative – never have I met anyone so appreciative, so polite. The two weeks I spent with George passed without a single whisper or even a hint at a negative element of his personality. Whether it be riding 30 miles in
George Boyd In London
a day between spots, cleaning my living room, roughing it on a sofa or getting up at 7am to shoot a photo, he approached everything with a consistent positive attitude and quiet, almost hidden, passion to succeed, to do his very best. George was generous, thoughtful and intelligent – the guy is a saint. Swearing doesn’t suit him. He’s the kind of guy you’d let bang your sister or lend him your car, knowing he wouldn’t go over the speed limit with either. I wonder if he left the house every night to cut the legs off pigeons to keep his life in a balanced harmony of good and evil. He holds less secrets than a new born lamb. Pleasantville On George’s last day in London we sat in the park, content we had the photos we needed and reflected on the last two weeks. “When I first saw London from the plane, I thought I might as well be flying into New York – a big ass city. Intimidating and glorious. What was most surprising for me is how diverse life is here. Everywhere you go there’s people speaking all different languages. At first I thought that was just the Olympics, but later I realised that’s how life is here – multicultural. I was expecting British culture to be stamped in my face all day – Big Ben, pale ass English people drinking tea and eating fish and chips. But it wasn’t that at all. There’s every culture here. It will be Portuguese one minute, then you take a turn and you’re in a Caribbean community. It’s very different to where I’m from. “I grew up in suburbs of Dallas Fort Worth, in a ‘pleasantville’, called Colleyville. It’s a super ritzy town, all the houses are enormous and everything is immaculate. It’s a hotspot for doctors and those types of people. It’s regularly voted as a top area to live in the US. It’s definitely a place for the upper tier of the community – it’s very white upper class.” He tells me with a degree of dissociation. I ask him how feels about being viewed as clean-cut. “Dad’s a doctor. I come from a family of doctors. I guess my background is the reason why I’m seen as one of those clean-cut guys, I haven’t got a problem with that, I’ve always looked up to Chris Doyle, but I ride nothing like him. I see why people think I’m clean-cut, but I was a pretty ratty kid growing
up. I just smoke some pot every now and then. I’m sure my parents know that but I’ve never spoken to them about it, my mom especially wouldn’t have a problem with it. She’s pretty different from my dad. I never felt like I fitted the mold of being a doctor, maybe that’s from her. My dad always told me not to be a doctor. He told me to do what I was interested in and not to limit myself by what people expected of me. “I’ve always just been my own person and avoided categorising myself, whether it be clean-cut, BMXer, jock or an artsy type. I’d put myself in the middle of everything. I hang out with hardcore Christians, drunks, people who do far too much of every kind of drug. I’m not sure what exactly distances me from others. I don’t hang around BMXers much in my own time.” He tells me, and I remember my surprise when I came out onto my roof one evening to see him pulling smoke from a bucket just after politely cleaning my kitchen minutes before, seeming to be living some kind of a Jekyll and Hyde double life. “Some people in Texas are narrow minded. Texas is a very anti-liberal place. You can get yourself in trouble for saying the wrong things in parts of Texas. In some areas people have their way of life and consider everything else to be wrong, you know – chicken for dinner with mashed potatoes and believe in God. I’m not religious… I’m not religious.” He repeats himself with conviction, shaking his head. Recalling a previous conversation with Seth Kimbrough about the difficulties of growing up in the Southern American states, I ask George how BMX was perceived where he grew up. “Everyone thought it was cool. I had no problems growing up. The areas were surrounded by private wooden indoor skateparks. It was a scene of foam pit riders. It was only really Randy and I pushed riding street there. “I met Randy at a contest when I was about 13. He was a bit older than me and could drive. He became my lift to the skatepark. Very quickly we were riding everyday together and hanging out all the time. We both rode left side pegs and both rode the same stuff. We learnt tricks side by side, on the same spot. He pushed me a tonne in riding. He knew better than
[c] Icetap, Lambeth.
George Boyd In London
I did what I was capable of. I’d shy away from doing stuff but he’d convince me to do it and it would usually work. Until I met Randy I only rode skateparks. We ventured out onto the streets with each other. He was a huge influence on me. He was literally my best friend for years. V is for Virgin
[d] Kinked one handed LucE grind, Morden. [e, final] Uprail to one handed no foot can, Streatham.
“Randy introduced me to the guys at V-Club when I was 16. Jeremy Hrabal started V-club by sponsoring brothers Dylan and Ryan Smith when they just 12 or 13 – the V stood for virgin. It was just a group of close friends. They were going to make parts but it was never a very productive company, it was more just of a label for our crew. Just a gang that sold shirts and any money we made when on trips. We made two videos. The first video, Overexposed, was just us going out with the camera, being young and learning as we went. Jeremy and Mat showed us a rough cut he’d edited and it wasn’t up to it’s potential. A friend and I took over the editing, even though we were young and clueless. That video became my sketchbook for video work, it was the start of my career. I was always the kid with the camera. I went to school to study video, I’ve graduated now and I work for a freelance videographer, editing all his stuff for him in LA. “When I was filming the second V-Club video I wanted the other riders to know I was really putting my heart into it. I really pushed myself for my section. I thought I was invincible at that point, I’d never had a bad injury. I pushed myself to the absolute limit and met it. I knocked my front three teeth out, doing something I’d already pulled but the filming was sub par. I went back two days later and found my teeth. Three weeks later after losing my teeth, I did my knee. I dropped in on a bowl, I just aired and bailed with one foot up the transition and the other foot on the flat. It felt like I’d popped 100 knuckles at once in my knee – I felt it go. I was 100% sure I’d done something bad. I’d torn my ACL, my meniscus cartilage and I had a contusion where my tibia and fibula collided. My dad took me to his friend, an orthopedic surgeon. He did a test where he moved the shin forward and back, and told me I’d torn it. Dad knew all the right people to see. My surgery was done by the same surgeon who operates on all the big Football players. They replaced my ACL with a section of my hamstring that they looped round itself a few times, so I have a really strong ACL but a weak hamstring. I don’t know how much it all cost. My parents say that was my next car. I feel lucky. I think it really makes life different coming from from a less fortunate background. If you’re in the majority of the US you can either go untreated or be in debt the rest of your life. “Even months or years after tearing your ACL you’re left with a psychological scar that your knee can pop out at any time. Once I was cleared to ride again the doctors told me to wear a knee brace for three months. During that time I did a 360 off a waistheight loading bay and I felt it pop out and hit the brace and stop. If I didn’t have my brace on it would have been another torn ACL and nine months out. Since that one incident I always wear a knee brace. I rarely ride without it. “I really tried for that part in the V-Club video but I feel I have never really tried to be a professional rider. People always say they don’t want it but of course they do. Every kid who rides wants to be a pro. I never really went out to get sponsored, I never thought I’d get put on the Pro team for Mutiny or get to ride for Odyssey. I have to give Randy the credit for that, for pushing me enough that I got noticed.
George Boyd In London
“I see those years riding with Randy as my formative years. Looking back, those were the glory days. We were both on Mutiny and V-Club, so it was back to back trips for us. Randy was the shredder between us. I followed in his footsteps. But without any of the success or sponsors, we’d still be good friends. “Even when I moved away to Denton for school his girlfriend lived two blocks from me, so we were riding or hanging out every day. I look back on those days with Randy as my best years. He lost his car at 17, by which time I had a car so I became the chauffeur. We had a simple friendship – we rode bikes. “We started to see each other less when he got a spiral fracture doing a 360 nose bonk on a spine and had some gnarly surgery. He came out of the surgery with nerve damage. He had to go into surgery for a second time to fix the nerve damage. I started to see him less as he moved from
Denton back to his parents in Dallas Fort Worth, one hour away. After almost a year of multiple surgeries and recovery he started riding again and I began to see him more, then he broke his leg again, and again I started to see him less and less. On top those injuries he was going through some hard times. But he’s getting over his problems, is picking himself up and pulling his life back together.” Randy Taylor died the day before this conversation. Four weeks later, George returned home from Europe and we spoke about the passing of his friend. “I don’t want to look back on my time with Randy with sorrow. He was a true inspiration to the many who saw him ride. To those that knew him personally he was more than a talented bike rider and illustrator, but a close and loyal friend. I feel honoured to have spent those great years of his life at his side.” For Randy
WORDS MADE FLESH Positive Comment Yourself To A Brighter Future Aboard Spaceship BMX Words by STEVE BANCROFT
Illustration (minus captions) by AARON LANGE
Words Made Flesh
ttention! We are all onboard Spaceship BMX and we all have a hand on the joystick. Please acknowledge this and act as a harmonious crew working toward a greater, ever changing, good. We have the potential to travel to places so much more diverse and fun than of those on our current trajectory – all we need to do is work together.
Back then BMX media shaped BMXers, now the opposite is true – now BMXers shape BMX media. Thanks to some nerds with computers you bunch of reprobates have been handed the reins. In a massive redistribution of power, information now flows in all directions by the zettabyte and your opinion now has an influence on the future like never before.
In any system negative feedback always leads to stability and positive feedback always leads to change. Personally, I would like to see BMX in a constant state of non-linear change, it would make my job much more exciting and reinstate BMX as a nurturing ground for fun and creative freedom; and it is with that attainable, utopian state in mind that these here words are written.
In today’s twenty-inch-wheeled society the march of the Internet has made so much ground that its reach and subsequent influence is all but inescapable. Now, with the World Wide Web’s subscription base near universal, it’s got to the point where we can realistically consider BMX as a network, with every individual rider a component in a system, each sending and receiving information across a global stage.
In today’s world of BMX, progress follows a linear path. Sure, breakthroughs do come along, but more often than not any change is very predictable, and this is an unfortunate shame. It’s now 2012 and the standard of bike riding has never been so high, but also, thanks to computers, the standard of bike riding has never been so heavily regulated either. This overly-ambitious blizzard of words contains some shockingly crude generalisations and is about how, like most things on planet earth, BMX can be boiled down to the flow of information, and about how every rider engaged in BMX can help change the sport for the better. Whether you really believe you have the power to change BMX, have ever thrown a peace sign or have ever worn a tin foil hat, either way it’ll be food for thought to chow down on before you next comment on the way someone rides his bike. I truly believe we can do better than rehashed crankarm grinds, hop over tooth bonks and adding more barspins. Presently, the BMX world we talk of is composed of 70% pseudo street riders (read: young dudes who ride skateparks with pegs and no brakes) with the remaining 30% being a medley of street, park, dirt and old skool guys. The current popularity of pseudo street riding comes down to its unrivalled accessibility and ease of picking up the basics and, with this winning combination, and with these riders sending and receiving the majority of BMX information online, things are set to be this way for a while. Ten years ago the average rider primarily experienced BMX through the act of riding his bike with his friends, he’d take influence from his mates and his direct surroundings and, if he was lucky, from a very narrow and sporadic stream of information in the form of videos and magazines. At that time BMX media was almost entirely influenced by a focused group of pioneering pro riders, most of whom were highly individualistic and had creativity in abundance. The sport was then underdeveloped, there was lots of fresh ground still unbroken, and the environment was ripe for encouraging individualism and free-thinking. Unless you were either hugely talented or some kind of humorous BMX celebrity, you were very much a passive observer of the BMX media. Information was slow and it only really flowed in one direction, influence came down from the top. However, nowadays things are very different indeed...
This is obviously a computer’s eye view of BMX, and usually it would be wrong to reduce the bewildering complexity of such a social structure to a simple system, but so often these days we experience BMX through computers – so intertwined are our online and off-line worlds – it can’t help but be justified and relevant to consider the world of bike riding in such a cybernetic fashion. Cybernetics isn’t about RoboCop or online fishing games, it is about control and communication in the animal and the machine (read: the bike rider and the computer), it’s an approach for exploring regulatory systems, their structures, constraints and possibilities. Back in issue seven, in an interview with Adam22, the owner of BMX’s biggest website, Benson explored the ‘anonymous comment’ and the reasons why the majority of them on BMX message boards were negative. The article concluded that the nature of the comment hinged on that anonymity, that when people are hiding behind a fake name – removed from the fear of reprisal – they are more likely to gob off and say something overtly negative like nigger or peado or fuck-breath-head. In that dialogue Adam also went on to sheepishly admit that the nature of the then primarily negative comments section was not progressive for BMX, and he made out that to remove it would take away the fun (read: reduce his traffic). I want to expand on that article and use this simplified, systemised view of BMX to consider the effects that online comments have on BMX. Forced to adapt to the changing landscape of online media, as of last month TCU changed their comments section to a system linked to Facebook and, just as predicted in Benson’s article, by removing the anonymity and introducing fear of reprisal (read: potential real life punches to the face), the messages have cleaned up, with the large majority now being both positive and constructive. When considered from a cybernetic point of view, this switch in polarity is the single best piece of news for change and progression in BMX since the invention of the stunt peg. As we established above, we can now consider every rider who engages with BMX online as nodes in a machine, acting and reacting to flows of information. The primary way in which information flows around our system is through transmission of content and the subsequent feedback to it (read: posting bike riding and then talking
Think Before You Put Fingers To Keys
about that bike riding). Or, more specifically, the posting of web edits / photos / articles / recipes / unfounded rumours / etc, and the comments / feedback / abuse / praise / death threats they receive. As a definition, Feedback (read: a comment on a web edit), is ‘a process in which information about the past or the present influences the same phenomenon in the present or future’. When applied to BMX, that definition reveals a cycle whereby a rider films an edit and posts it online, other riders offer feedback, that feedback is taken on board and has a direct influence on the next edit that that guy, and any other riders who have read it, puts out. What a rider does on his bike in the future is influenced by information he receives back in response to his initial output (or from other people’s outputs) – that feedback used to come from his direct friends and peers: now that feedback comes from anonymous people all over the world. And that’s a scary thought.
they too are discouraged from trying anything that could result any manner of unfounded insults ranging from: accusations of drug dependency, to references of their below-average penis size, to wishes for their imminent death. What we are looking at here are ‘feedback loops’, and in poor Johnny’s case, an overtly negative ‘feedback loop’. In any system, whether it be quantum physics or economics or anywhere inbetween, negative feedback occurs when the output of a system (read: comments) acts to oppose changes to the input (read: Riding) of a system. If the overall feedback of a system is negative, the system will tend towards stability. And, although it is to grossly simplify a very complex process, it’s unarguable that the same is true with regard to negative feedback on web videos. And hereto is where the problem lies: BMX does not want BMX to be stable, it is not in BMX’s nature or best interest to be stable. Most systems seek negative feedback, the majority of
"In any system positive feedback amplifies possibilities of divergence: it is the condition to change, evolution and growth, it gives the system the ability to access new points of equilibrium. It is the type of feedback that is healthy for BMX"
So comments are information, a form of feedback in our system, part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop where the event is said to ‘feed back’ into itself. Or, in an even more relatable scenario: Johnny films what for him is a progressive edit, it gets posted on the internet where it is ripped to pieces, his mother insulted, and his style likened to that of a blind transgender hermaphrodite, after which he’s left rather disparaged and unwilling to stick his neck out again, and even if he was ever able to muster the courage to film another edit, he would be more inclined to stick to convention and put out something less likely to get such a slating.
chemical, biological and economic systems strive for stability. But what sets our system apart from the majority out there is that ours doesn’t have an attainable goal, our system isn’t striving for an equilibrium, IMO our goal is unfettered fun and progression – and to achieve that, means change.
The nature of the input is influenced by the nature of the output. The fear of getting ridiculed in virtual public is enough to put people off trying something new, so convention is reinforced. The majority of people are scared of what they don’t know and generally people are too comfortable, they don’t embrace change. And for any riders out there who are potentially thinking about putting an edit out into the public digital sphere, they too are influenced by this abundance of negative feedback and
Negative feedback always leads to stability, it occurs when the output of a system acts to oppose the input of a system. Negative feedback in BMX leads to more of the same... more smith 180s.
In any system positive feedback amplifies possibilities of divergence: it is the condition to change, evolution and growth, it gives the system the ability to access new points of equilibrium. It is the type of feedback that is healthy for BMX... a type of feedback that nurtures future Mat Hoffmans, Gonzes, Roskelleys and Mastronis.
Don’t oppose the input. Don’t stop anything going in. Just get it all out and stick it in the blender. Let’s make juice. Where bike riding is concerned, negative feedback leads to stagnation, whereas positive feedback holds open the door to unlimited creative freedom.
Words Aren’t Just Words
"Forced to adapt to the changing landscape of online media, as of last month TCU changed their comments section to a system linked to Facebook. By removing the anonymity and introducing fear of reprisal the messages have cleaned up, with the large majority now being both positive and constructive"
As we’ve seen, the natural world and the computer world are one – linked together through the flow of information. Under this systemic view, we all hold in our hands the potential to control and regulate our BMX. When the internet is filled with negativity and hate, creativity and freethinking are stifled, the environment promotes conformity and stability. And in its rich history, if there’s one thing BMX has always been against, it’s conformity and stability. So now there’s less negativity, hopefully they’ll be less conformity too. If anyone’s still reading this, you’d be justified in thinking, “You’re wrong, this is all bullshit, the majority of riders love to see creative and original riding.” And I agree with that completely, I have no doubt you do all like to see something new, but anyone saying that needs to understand that unless the majority of riders lighten up and actively help propagate riding of that decree then you’ll never get much of it. If you see someone thinking outside the box but looking like a douchebag doing it, don’t pull your keyboard out and type ‘epic fail’ – if you want to see creativity, if you really want to move away from cookie cutter street riding, then failure needs to be encouraged. I’m not saying that we should all hold hands like hippies and only ever sing each other’s praises, I’m just saying we should do all we can to put egos aside and support creative
riding. Of course there’s always room for constructive criticism, in this case, although not necessarily agreeing with the bike riding in question, so long as it offers something constructive, a comment of such nature is still regarded as positive and hence still actively promotes change. Without negativity BMX can only win. Be positive. Set BMX free. And now that the largest BMX website on the Internet has switched to a system far more conducive to positive feedback, hopefully the positivity will take hold and the doors of regulation will be blown off their hinges. But of course changes will not occur overnight, it’s not as if all of a sudden people will now be doing stem grinds and triple peachwaffles, but now the fear of ridicule has been lifted, the environment is now far better fertilized to encourage and nurture freethinking creative riding. So now we’re all linked, hopefully you’ll realize our system is self regulating and you young minions will go forth and change BMX for the better. But remember, you carry a great burden of responsibility on your shoulders, be sure to use your newfound powers wisely. In the words of the late, great Dr Timothy Leary: Think for yourself and question authority. Reference credit: I watched ‘All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace’ twice and visited Wikipedia a lot.
Words Made Flesh
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TRAILS OF RECOVERY
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A B D P L A Y E R 3
WHY SO SIMPLE? Forget cookie cutter roadtrips Words by ASHLEY CHARLES Photography by MARCEL GEORGI
MX can be a great tool and the perfect excuse to travel the world; you can meet people all over the globe and have an instant connection with them. That is a gift not afforded to your average traveling man. Riding and traveling has helped shape me into the person I am today. For this reason I have such respect, appreciation and passion for this two wheeled machine. I honestly feel like kids coming up these days are lacking in respect and admiration, which is a shame as it’s so important in helping you grow as a person. Trips these days are so well organised that they are in danger of missing the point of travel entirely. As a pro your flights are booked for you, there’s an identical hotel room waiting for you in every city you visit and someone is telling you where and when you’re going to eat. However, this military approach teaches you nothing and gives you no skills to move forward in life as an individual. You end up having no respect for
WHY SO SIMPLE?
anything because everything is handed to you on a plate, which is no good for any young person growing up. All young riders seem to want to gain these days from riding is money and fame, which for most people just goes straight to their heads. Yet on the other hand, trips these days kind of have to be so organized because of where BMX is right now. For example, new edits go up online every day and then are gone the next. Companies have to get as much as they can out of every trip – they need an edit and photos and to keep the shops and distros happy – and that’s just the way it is these days. But that’s not to say you can’t organize something yourself and get what I feel is a real BMX road trip experience. Recently, I have been guilty of sitting back waiting for that email telling me, ‘we are going here on this date, here is your ticket, the hotel is booked, we have a tour guide and all you have to do is turn up on time.’ Even turning up on time seems too hard for some people to accomplish these days!
Our basic plan for the trip you see in the photos was nice and loose. Meet up in Cologne, head south from there, then end up back in Chemnitz, in Eastern Germany. I have a good friend called Marcel, who I met in 2003 on my first proper Wethepeople trip to Madrid. I didn’t see him again until a few years ago when we happened to pass through his hometown of Chemnitz on another filming-based trip. This is when Chester [Blacksmith] met him for the first time, then later that year while we were all in Portland, Lil Jon came into play. With an Éclat Euro trip coming up, Chester and I started talking about hanging out in Europe for a while, just traveling around with no particular plans. I mentioned this to Lil Jon and he was instantly down. We all agreed we had to get Marcel on board simply because he’s the man and a pleasure to be around. This would also be a bit of a reunion as it had been three years since we had all hung out, and that alone is the perfect excuse to travel, see some old friends, make some new ones and ride some bikes.
"Don’t make clocking clips and photos the aim of your travels, make living life and experiencing new things be the central focus"
Forget cookie cutter roadtrips
[a] Ashley Charles, bank table
I’m not in any way saying that we are the first to do this or by any means the last, but there just seems to be a serious lack of riders – professional or otherwise – organising their own trips these days, which is a shame as it is the best way to grow as a person, learn more about those around you and have fun on your bike at the same time. Forget cookie cutter roadtrips, don’t make clocking clips and photos the aim of your travels, make living life and experiencing new things be the central focus, and if that approach doesn’t throw up interesting memories, then maybe it’s better if you stayed down the local skatepark. I was going to list the advantages of a loosely planned trip like this, but then I don’t want to spoil it for you – you’ll have way more fun finding them out for yourself.
WHY SO SIMPLE?
Alla Alex Photo:
[a] Olly Stewart, Opposite Table, Doret, by Steve Bancroft
[a] Josh Bedford, Wallride to gap over the rail, London, by George Marshall
[b] Tommy C, Crook over stoppers, Sheffield, by Joe Cox
[a] Gap to Wallride, NYC.
[c] Jeff Klugiewicz, gap to opposite hanger, Akron, Ohio, by Scott Marceau [d] James Nash, one foot table, Dorset by Steve Bancroft
[e] Matt Roe, Footjam, London, by George Marshall
[a] Gap to Wallride, NYC.
[e] Thomas ‘Robbo’ Robinson, Curved wallride to wallride, London by George Marshall
Jay Cowley, Secret Barn, Tiverton. 07.06.12
FOR MOR SCAN
ION ON THE D
Seth Stellfox Philadelphia City Cop Interview by DanIel BenSon
Photos by eD fIDler (PPD CrIme SCene UnIt) and Darryl toCCo
Philadelphia keeps you on your toes. I’m surprised at how many obese people there are, simply because if I lived there, I’d be running down every street. Seth Stellfox is a cop and a BMXer who plays his part in trying to maintain peace in this wild city. A job that has seen him put away every type of criminal you could ever imagine, been witness to hundreds of shootings, partake in countless busts and even provide a chaperone service for BMXers in one of Philly’s least safe areas – the area that Seth patrols. The Albion caught up with Seth on a night off to find out what it’s like working as a cop in one of Philadelphia’s most notorious areas. Here’s a quote from Seth on the photo above – “The medal I have above my badge was from when a 16-year-old pulled a gun to my face and pulled the trigger. My luck he had the safety on, he was a juvenile an did zero days in jail… And that was just a Tuesday in the hood”
Did you grow up in Philadelphia? I moved here when I was eight or nine.
what happened, what are we supposed to do? That happens hundreds of times a year.
A couple of people say Philly is kinda like what New York used to be like It’s actually way better than it was. Around 2004 to 2008 it was way worse. It was real, real bad. There were more than 500 murders a year, on average, and thousands and thousands of shootings. And they’re the ones that we record. There’s hundreds more where we’ll turn up and a window will be shot out and we’ll be like ‘well, nobody got hit.’ I mean, there’s nothing you can do. I was saying this earlier, but if it’s a hole in a car or a wall, and no one wants to say anything about
What’s the worst thing you’ve seen? Like I said earlier today, it’s all relative, it’s all normal at this point. Seeing a guy shot in the face or in the chest, it’s just a Tuesday, just another day. I’ve seen very good friends, cops, shot in the face, arm and hand, and guys killed. I was at the hospital with all of them, I don’t want to get into that though. I can’t remember the exact year, maybe 2004, 2005, we went into a house where two dudes were dead and grandma was dead too, all shot up. All over a 200-dollar drug debt. But that’s… normal.
You’re a patrol cop, right? Yeah, those dudes you’ve seen driving around today – that’s what I do. But I work over that way [points north west]. I’m not gonna say this area is worse than that or vice versa. I’m sure you’ve noticed all the different areas. Philadelphia is known for that with its neighborhoods. I work in the upper end in north Philly, which is a shit hole. Good people live there, but for the most part it looks, seems, or is a dump. Navaz [Ryan Navazio] said that when he’s up that way and you’re working, you’ll drive around with them so nothing happens. If I’m working then yeah, I’ll hang around. I’ll roll up and hang out. There’s a spot called the Red Banks or Ghetto Banks – for obvious reasons – and when Navaz is there with a bunch of the Cult dudes and they want to ride, I’ll come by and hang out. That corner where the banks are is one of the worst corners in the city. For a bunch of white dudes playing around on bikes in that area, you’re gonna attract attention to yourselves. I called Navaz up once when I spotted a bunch of riders at the banks and he said it was the Shadow team. I just sat there and watched them for a while, just making sure nothing happened. Another time my shift was finishing and Navaz and the Cult guys were still riding, so I got the guy who was
shit because it’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of money and time. But if you want to sell that shit on a street corner, just don’t start with the gun shit because now you’re creating a problem and those guys don’t know how to shoot a gun anyway, so you end up having some little kid killed. Then we have to get out there and fuck with everyone standing on the corner, cause we can’t let that shit keep happening.
Have you ever had to shoot anyone? Yeah. I was in a shooting in 2006. Long story short, the guy was all out of his mind on PCP, dust, whatever you want to call it. He was walking around with a gun. He wasn’t bothering anybody, but he was walking around the streets, out of his mind, with a gun. We told him 500 times to put it down and he didn’t. Then he brought it up pointing it at us and that was that. Do you have to go to shooting practice regularly? Nah, once a year. Something like that though, we have to go to internal affairs and it’s exactly what it sounds. They make sure we didn’t just go and murder somebody. It’s still a homicide, but we give them our guns and then we’ve got to re-qualify. We go back to the ranges, get new guns. It’s just to check that you don’t freak out I guess.
"the medal I have above my badge was from when a 16-year-old pulled a gun to my face and pulled the trigger. my luck he had the safety on, he was a juvenile and did zero days in jail… and that was just a tuesday in the hood." coming on after my shift to drive out and wait with those guys until they were done.
Do you notice a lot of spots driving around? Oh yeah, of course. Growing up riding bikes it’s impossible not to. I’ll spot stuff and send a photo of it to Navaz or whoever and see if they know about it. Do you enjoy your job? I did, for a while. It was really good fun. But now, it’s just a job like any other. I’ll go in at 8am tomorrow and I’ll hope it’s a quiet day, but in this city there’s so many crazy, funny people hanging around, sometimes it can be good to run into things like that. Do you have your regulars, guys always up to no good? Erm, yeah. There’s dudes that I’ve locked up for the same dumb shit, guns, drugs, whatever the fuck. For the most part, where I work, the guys know the rules. If you want to sell drugs, weed and crack – because that’s what it is where I work, weed and crack. If you want to sell that shit, that’s fine. Like we don’t lock people up for petty
What do you think about the stigma of being a cop? I loved seeing them about in some of the bad places we rode. I’m not saying it’s a fact, but where I work, people don’t like cops. They’re brought up not to like cops, they spit on the ground when we drive past, shit like that. But drive to another part of the city and people will talk to you and wave as you drive by. I just happen to work in a shit-hole. Do you get paid any more money for working in the rough areas? Nah, we get paid the same. Have you ever being involved in any big busts? Yeah, we’ll work with our detectives and somebody will call from the DEA or the FBI and be like ‘hey, we need a cop in uniform to turn up with us’ as they’re dressed like anyone else and they’re blowing into people’s houses. I’ve done that a bunch of times, where they’ll take pounds and pounds of coke or whatever the fuck out of houses. By this point, it’s all rolled into one big thing. Like I went to Police Academy in 2002 and graduated and started in 2003. So by now, it all rolls into one.
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Have you ever been out riding and being stopped by a cop for riding? Nah, I don’t really ride like Center City and Temple where we were earlier and they’re the spots where you might get hassled. I’m 31 now and I like riding the cement park, just float around and relax. I actually went to the Mapleshade Park and some cop was giving me hassle for not wearing a helmet. I didn’t say anything, I was like ‘all right’… Have you ever been sent out to any riders at a spot? Again, where I work it’s so shitty if somebody knocked a house down, nobody would give a fuck, except maybe the drug dealers, but they ain’t calling us. [Seth emailed the day we went to print to say that for the first time, in nine years, he got called out to move some riders on who were jumping an access hop outside a funeral home]
What would you say to any rider coming to Philly? Oh dude, just have fun. Like Center City and Temple, you might get hassled in those places but up my way, there’s bigger things to worry about. If I got the call, I’m sure something more important would be going on anyway. In the neighborhoods where people pay a lot to live, there the cops that will get you. The worst thing you can do with a cop is argue. If it’s a security guard, tell them to fuck off, but if it’s a cop, just leave and come back later. Like as BMXers, we didn’t want to do team sports and we’ve all had shit with people in the past, but you don’t have to argue with everybody, especially not a cop. It’s just not worth the hassle, for you or them. YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO WIN! For the most part, the guy will be going to the call because he’s told to, he dosen’t want any shit.You’ve got to remember that BMX’s cause damage, when you’re older I guess you’ll get it. Just loop round the block and come back later.
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Breakfast of Champions
It’s said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It puts you on your feet and if done right, gives you enough time to relax a little and think about the day ahead. Early in September, 11 guys sat down for breakfast in Philadelphia’s Italian quarter; some skipping work, some hung-over and a few just passing through. Whatever the reasons, each of them provided that other meal essential – good company. It was a reunion of sorts, unplanned, something that just came together at that time, on that morning. Nobody was under 30, some still rode, others didn’t. But it was that little bike that
had somehow provided the catalyst for this meeting. After all those years, friendships had tightened into something more than simply riding bikes. Holding the fort somewhat, was Leland Thurman. Charismatic and completely inappropriate, exactly how you’d imagine him to be. Stories were told of roadtrips, sketchy girls, riding motorcycles and BMX with an enthusiasm that seems as keen and youthful as it was when Leland first appeared in Props Road Fools back in 2003.
Interview by Daniel Benson Photos by Daniel Benson and Marcel Georgi 136
Breakfast of Champions
Unlike most riders who have been on Road Fools, Leland was known for his antics, not his riding. Occasionally, there would be a clip of a ledge feeble, but for the most part it was his antics that got him the spot. Being ‘that guy’ isn’t as easy as it sounds, a lot of people didn’t know how to take his behaviour when it first aired; “Why is he on the trip when he doesn’t ride?” Yet others loved it simply because it showed what a roadtrip should be about, and that’s having some fun. Personally, what I liked about Leland was that behind the sanitized and staged elements of Props, you could see a genuinely funny guy, a natural entertainer.
It’s not quite an interview, it’s probably better to see it as a conversation with somebody who knows that work isn’t and shouldn’t be a means to an end and that life is something worth living, something that seems to be the general sprit of Shitluck, the company Leland started with Mike Tag back in 2006, even though later Leland will argue the case that Shitluck isn’t even a company. Regardless, Leland lives out life his own way, forever young. BMX’s very own Peter Pan.
So. You were just explaining about this motorbike festival.When were you there? Last weekend. You should’ve seen it, it was fucking crazy. I can’t even explain what happened… How old were you when you first went? I’ve only been going three years, I think I’d be really fucked up if I’d been going since I was a kid. When I first went, we didn’t really know what to expect, but as it’s gone on, we’ve taken more and more stuff, like a megaphone and a young impressionable kid. It’ll scar him for the rest of his life, but he’ll go every year, hands down.
"With all the stories and stuff we’ve done and gotten up to, I don’t know how we’re not all rich, or dead"
Crandall: And who pays you to do that? UPS pay me to do that. I get paid way too much money dude, did I tell you they even let me de-ice airplanes now. I spray airplanes with this 200-degree juice. I keep the planes going, man. It feels like some Star Wars shit, you’re in this closed cab under these planes. I’m around millions of pounds worth of equipment and I get paid to be there.
[Attention suddenly turns to the huge knife that Jason Steig has on his belt. It’s at least a foot long. “Why have you got that?” Leland asks. “To cut fuckers like you up,” replies Steig, completely deadpan. Everyone proceeds to get out their knives. Steig has another hidden in a belt buckle that says ‘working class’.] I try and always carry around a lighter, even though I don’t smoke, just to try and light girl’s cigarettes. Fids:Trying to act like a fuckin’ gentleman… Whilst I’d be doing that, Tag would be burning their boyfriend with his cigarette. Remember that Crandall? When he’d lean in and go ‘hey, excuse me, could you tell me what that sign says over there?’ Then tap them with the cig end. There’s no getting around it, he was a complete dick. I always thought we were best friends, but he only hung around with me because he knew he could get away with shit and I’d provide the entertainment [laughs]. Kelly Baker, he’s another asshole. He tried to wrestle Fids the last time they met up. He’s built a fuckin’ wrestling ring in his house for his kids. So, anyway. What made you start up with Shitluck again? What else am I going to do? [laughs] I’ve got nothing better going on. And it’s kinda fun. Bringing some of the designs back. How come it went quiet for a while? Because Mike got sick and I guess I got bored with it. BMX changed a lot since we got started. BMX is different now. Nobody gives a shit about us, but I really don’t care about that. You’re doing team trips again, right? It’s in October. The under new management trip…
I mean though, we didn’t really ‘start over’, we never went away. What made you start it up in the first place then? At the time, loads of bad shit was happening to me. Broken arm, girlfriend dumped me on Valentines Day… On Valentine’s Day?!… I got dumped on a fake holiday! I had Bell’s palsy one time. It’s real fucked up. It’s a freak kinda thing. All one side of my face slumps down and goes numb all drooling everywhere… Like a stroke? Yeah, it looks like one. That’s what everyone thinks has happened. I had to sleep with an eye patch on, because my eye wouldn’t shut. I was dating this girl one time, she hated Crandall… Crandall:What happened? When I had Bell’s palsy and you picked me up in Texas and we stayed down there for a month and a half. Crandall: I had a girlfriend or you had one? No, I did. She fucking hated your guts, man. She was a bitch, she had the weirdest cock sucking technique, like a nine-ton weasel. But anyway, she would always insist on sleeping with the fan on and it would just dry my eye out and it would drip all this gunk out constantly.You try and eat pussy with one side of your face not working. It was fucking horrible! Just rubbing it in the hole. So there’s that, girlfriend on Valentine’s Day, a broken arm, Bell’s palsy… Oh, then I went to meet up for a drink with Lou Bickle in Youngstown on my way to New York and whilst I was having a beer my car got broken into and all my CDs got stolen and the CD player. I had to drive back in silence, in a fuckin’ blizzard, trying to change gear and steer with a broken arm. I remember thinking, ‘this fucking sucks.’ And that’s when the vision came to me. Crandall: I was looking through some old stuff and I found one of the first sketches, back from that time period, around 2003 I think, and it’s the cloud with the lightening bolts coming down from it. Yeah, don’t let the cloud get you. One thing that pisses me off though, is when people think that I got the name from that Modest Mouse song. I fucking hate Modest Mouse, They’re overrated. I liked them before I saw them live. I actually went back twice just to make sure they sucked and they did. Crandall: How did you end up going on all those Road Fools? I have some terrible luck, but I get some great luck too. I guess getting to go on those trips was pretty lucky. Which ones did you go on? Two, four and six. Then a couple of the later ones where I just hung out with Lucero the whole time. All the kids wanted me to hang out with them, but I didn’t want to just constantly talk about bike riding, it fuckin’ bores me.
Breakfast of Champions
[a] Gap to over pegs, Shitluck rider, Chester Blacksmith
So you were the vibe man? Sorta, yeah. I used to be… I don’t know how to answer these real questions! These are real questions! You put me on the spot with this real stuff. I’m not a real person… Well, I guess I am. I got a house, a cat, some friends… A job? Yeah, I got a job… Fids: A part time job.You wanna see where he works. On Sunday night, it’s movie night! Yeah, Sunday night is movie night at work. I get paid $25 an hour to watch a movie. We choose the movie for the next week too… Fids: And sometimes he gets banned from movie night because the movies he picks are so shitty. I got banned for picking The Fanstastic Mr Fox… Hey, we’re going on a trip in October. I’ve got a bunch of stoners on my team now. I used to have a bunch of rowdy, reckless kids, now I’ve got guys who smoke weed. It’s like they graduated. I think every BMX team is a bunch of guys who smoke weed. Yeah, sitting around smoking weed. And riding a skatepark with your headphones in, not talking to anybody. What’s fun about that? Everything is so run of the mill… It pisses me off when people sit around eating together and there’s people there looking at their phones, not talking or engaging in the conversations… Yeah, I know. It’s not just in BMX. I get guys at work asking me for advice about their kids, like I’m some kind of expert. Even about stuff like chicks getting boyfriends and their dad will ask me what I think about it. I’m like ‘dude, don’t ask me! I was the kid trying to fuck your daughter!’ He’s just got a boner, like every other 17 year old boy. Life’s changing fast. But like I said, I just find BMX so boring these days. So that’s why you wanted to bring back Shitluck? Kinda. I just wanted to have some fun. It’s been a while since the guys have been together. It’s gonna be good. I’m not taking everyone on the trip though. There’s some people on my team who drive me completely insane. So I’m not taking them. If they drive you insane, why are they on your team?! I don’t know! He’s kinda not on the team, but thinks he is on the team. He’s the biggest dildo I’ve met in my entire life. Who is it then? I can’t say. He’ll kill himself if I say. I’ve got at least a bit of a conscience. Okay… Chester Blacksmith. Ha! No, I’m kidding. I can’t say. They probably know who they are. He’ll probably work it out when he’s the only guy without an invite. We thought about telling him to meet us somewhere totally different. I haven’t even got the heart to kick him off. It’s not even a real team, it’s a joke! We’ve got Chester, he’s a fucking animal. Why he wants to hang out with us I don’t know. Are you riding your motorbikes? What? Here? How do you think I got here, fucking teleport?!
Nah! On the trip, are you on the motorbikes. Oh, yeah. Of course. We’ve graduated. I still ride a bit though, the kids have been getting me out recently. Metro is coming, but his back is totally fucked at the minute. He’s real pissed about it. He’s getting fat, no, don’t put that in! In fact, fuck it, he used to call me fat all the time! We did a video, you wanna talk about that? Yeah, you were meant to send me a copy. I know, I know… I’ve been meaning to send out the international copies. But there’s some good stuff on there.You’d be surprised. It’s quality stuff, not quantity. I always say the same thing about weed. I’ve always got to have the quality over the quantity. Are you going to be doing a weed leaf T-shirt? No I’m not going to be doing a weed leaf tee! But we are naming our next video The Cronic. I don’t know, I’ve never talked about a video in my life! I don’t know what to talk about, it’s not like we’re running a legitimate business. Hey, I got to pay a bunch of back taxes, wanna hear about that? Yeah… Tag and I hadn’t paid taxes for five years and I was going through his stuff after he died… Crandall: Put it all in his name. He can’t pay it. I know! I should’ve done that. Anyway I found this big bag of weed… You stole a dead man’s weed? No! it wasn’t like that! I’m just saying I paid a lot of that tax bill off by selling that weed. I became a drug dealer for a bit. A weed peddler. Mike left me with a nice chuck of shit to sort out… Fids: Instead of calling the tax people, he spends the whole day cleaning my bike, because it’s in his name and puts a sign on it which says ‘take me first’. I take a picture of it and send it to Fids and he started getting really nervous. Fids: Instead of actually calling the tax office up, he just let the date get closer and closer.When he actually spoke to them, it was easy to sort out. So what happened? I got a nice debt. But as long as you’re paying it, they stay off your back. It’s weird, man. Doing this all again. It’s fucking strange not doing this with Mike, that’s for sure. He was the brains behind the operation. I just wanted to get fucked up with the kids. He made the decisions – ‘you hype them up, I’ll make the stuff.’ I remember when my dad would watch the Road Fools videos and he’d be pissed at me, saying ‘why have you got to get naked all the time?’ I do it at work too, it freaks people out. I’ll hide in the back of the plane, get naked and jump out on people. Have you got any plans with Shitluck to make anything else apart from soft-goods? Not really. Not at the moment. We’ve had some pretty sweet patches made. I’d like to tap into the motorbike market, there’s not that much money in BMX, not for soft-goods at least, but bikers have loads of money. There’s loads of BMXers and ex-BMXers who do it too. We get a lot people coming up to us who know us from old videos and all that.
Breakfast of Champions
[A pressure washer turns on and stories change to tales of Magilla catching a stolen birthday cake dropped from two stories up, getting stoned with Sandy Carson, listening to In Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly, dedicating songs to Leland’s dad. The pressure washer stops and the Dictaphone starts picking up again.]
It’s weird, I still get kids coming up to me quoting stuff. People think I still get that crazy. I’ve made a monster.
With all the stories and stuff we’ve done and gotten up to, I don’t know how we’re not all rich, or dead. Like have you seen that show, Strangers in Danger?
Did they make you do that stuff on Props? On the later ones, yeah. Steve got the shit end of the stick with that, because when they want you on, you have to be on. I’m not that dude all the time. Steve got fired in the end! He was so miserable, I was so happy it wasn’t me.
No, what is it? It’s fucking terrible, that’s what it is. We tried to do a TV show years ago, it was actually for an English network, Grey Media or something, but they turned it down. We filmed it all and it took fucking ages to edit. By the time it was done, the network had completely changed its format and we got completely cut. We went through eastern Europe in a rental van… Any BMXers? Fuck no. It was so fucking good. A guy called Tyrone Bradley got me involved but I think Ian [Morris] was involved too. I was gone seven weeks, Romania, Georgia… It was still so cheap back then. Georgia is fucking bonkers. They love Americans too, usually everyone hates us. The border patrol was drunk. The guy came up to the car and was like, ‘Georgia is famous for two things, bread and wine.’ I was thinking, this dude is fucking wasted. He’d confiscate booze from one car, then come up to us and go ‘you guys thirsty?’ and pass it onto us. It was fucking crazy. It’s a shame it didn’t take off… I know, I wish it got aired at least. I look at some of the stuff on TV now and it’s garbage. You were always on Road Fools, I’m sure you had some effect on the young and impressionable.
Fids: I remember seeing that Lucious Lee Wade stuff and thinking ‘this guy fucking sucks.’ And here you are right now, 15 years later.
Crandall: I think it was a Halloween video and they [Props] wanted me to jump up in front of the camera and go ‘Boo!’ then start talking. I said ‘fuck you, man, I’m not doing that.’ So they went and hired Catfish. Yeah, Catfish is that dude, because he’s good at it. To go far in TV, you have to have no shame. And Catfish is that guy. They weren’t all like that, like on the early ones, I didn’t know anyone, I just knew Jimmy Levan. That’s how I kinda met Mike and Crandall. He spat blue Slushy in my face, the first day I met him. [An old guy walks by and looks over the scene, ‘you guys are working so hard’, he says with a smile on his face. Looking back to all the motorbikes lined up.] Yep, don’t worry about it though, we’ve got it all under control. Fids: I thought he was going to say, “hey, are you Luscious?” With that, the conversation changes to where to next. With no real plans, a motorbike and Fids for company, Leland and the rest of the crew disband and get on with their days.
Breakfast of Champions
The Albion Online
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