Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I try not to mix work stuff into this blog but there is some feel good shit in this slideshow.

man love

Monday, January 24, 2011

I finished off the roll in the camera with some shots of my Yamaha. The next pic of this beast that you see will be much different. It's almost February and we're over the hump of winter. I'm ready to work on motorcycles and dig dirt jumps. Snow is for the birds. Snowbirds?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another tough pill to swallow from the B/W film discovery. Our dearly departed Miniature Pinscher, Flair. Yes, that's the name of a BMX trick and no, he wasn't named Flair for that reason. He was already named when we adopted him. My wife found him on Petfinder.com and he was listed as an "older dog" as he was six at the time. Flair was a "junk dog", a horrible term for a stud dog that is "past his prime". Basically a puppy mill dog that is about to be destroyed. The people I got him from had a bunch of MinPins running around and jumping on me as I entered the door. One in particular appeared to be barking but there was no sound coming out. I asked why and the lady said "Her vocal chords have been removed, isn't that great?" No, I didn't think it was great. "Flair's were removed too but they didn't do a good job" she told me. When he barked it sounded like he had laryngitis. It was quite a process to get him and after I had him in the car and was driving home, I immediately had second thoughts about the decision. He seemed really quirky and kind of unfriendly. I had our black lab Brodie with me and they were clashing instantly. I got him home and a good looking over revealed a tattoo dating him as seven years old. He also had cropped ears and his dew claws removed. He had all the modifications. Since he had spent his entire life in a small cage, he had no sense of depth perception. He would try to jump up on the couch and miss it entirely, eating shit in the process. It was sad to think about but he overcame this condition and had no problems after a few months.
As time went on we really grew to love Flair. He especially took to my wife and became her baby. He was cool with me but as soon as she walked in the door it was as if I didn't exist. It was quite sweet, actually. He also started putting on weight and eventually looked like a sausage. I'll spare you the sad details of losing our dog Rosie during this time but Flair got to a point where he was in very bad shape despite our desperately trying to control his eating. He was clearly in trouble and we had been struggling to find a vet we could put our faith in after the Rosie nightmare. We had no choice but to take him to another vet and after being diagnosed with diabetes and pancreatitis, he spent every day for a week at the vet. I would take him in the morning and come and get him at the end of the day, then repeat the process again the next day. The idea of him not making it through the night and being alone at the vet was too much to bear. He made it through and my wife researched the ends of the earth to get him on a program to get healthy. We had to give him insulin shots twice a day, he had to eat at specific times twice a day and could only eat certain foods. Sometimes his insulin levels would get low and he would start to go into diabetic shock, usually in the middle of the night. We learned how to turn this situation around, with some sugar water and a carrot. It was hard, but he lived four years after that close call and being diagnosed with diabetes, well past his fourteenth birthday. Even at the end, he was doing poorly and the vet said he only had a few days left. He made it two full weeks and went out swinging. We learned so much from this little dog. About love and commitment and not giving up. We miss him dearly....

One of my favorite riders of the modern BMX era, Garrett Byrnes, Northern Detroit Suburbs 2005. From the found film collection.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Another from the black & white film discovery. Newborn baby Noah Simon Towne. Hard to imagine this is the same person I talked to today about how his day in school went. One cliche' about having kids is "You won't believe how fast they grow up". Is it cliche' to say "All cliche's are true"?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

So my photographer friend* Sean Newton was bugging me about this old flash I had and how he wanted to experiment with it. I finally caved in and dug it out for him (it was right in my office, actually) and in the same bag is my Nikon FM2 film camera. Seems weird to say film camera but you kinda have to nowadays. I bought that camera in 1986 not long after landing the job at BMX Plus magazine. It's a great camera and I have a long history with it. Although today's photography equipment is infinitely more convenient and easy to use, this old battle axe works with absolutely no batteries even in it. Anyhow, Sean was checking out the flash and I was traveling down Nikon memory lane, when I opened the film compartment. Much to my surprise, there was still film in it! I know the last time I used it, to take photos of our newborn son Noah in 2005, right before I bought the Nikon SLR digital camera that I still use today. I had that roll of film in my van since I shot it until I bought my new (used) car a little over a month ago--good place to store it, right? I even stored that same roll of film in my new car after taking it out of my van. So here was this other, half-shot roll. I took a few photos of my Yamaha and it was complete. I took both rolls to the store, thinking they would take weeks to be processed, forgetting or not noticing that they were "color process" black and white rolls of film. They were done the next day and besides the photos I knew were on there (of our baby boy), there were quite a few other gems as well...
The above photos are of Chico. My then ten year old cat. He was a big, tough, he-cat. One time my wife found another cat's claw in his forehead. One of the few times I took him to the vet was for an infection in his front leg, also from a street brawl. He had the wallet that said "Bad Motherfucker" on it. Sadly, Chico died of a heart attack in the spring of 06. Finding these photos warms my heart. Kinda makes me feel old, too. I hope Phil Rase see this post. He always got stoked to see Chico.

*Sean is also my real-life friend, not just a great photographer

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"Laps around Birdland" takes on a whole new meaning in the winter. My 29-inch wheeld MTB cuts through the snow better than anything and I'll take some cold, tough cranking through the snow over fifteen minutes on the treadmill any day. Out there today I was thinking about the last bike I rode that did so well in the snow. It wasn't even mine, it was my Dad's Schwinn Spitfire. This is just one I found on the line, but Vern's was a lot like this (He didn't have an International Scout either). A bike like this seems normal for a Dad to have in the early 80s but not for my Dad. He hated Schwinn because they used all "proprietary" equipment. I didn't really understand that animosity until later in the bike shop, trying to replace a headset bearing or even a tire, and not having the proper "Schwinn size" to complete the job. Anyrate, I'm not sure why he had this bike, it kind of appeared out of nowhere and disappeared later in a similar fashion, but while it was at our house I did some work on that thing with those big, wide tires and heavy weight plowing through the snow better than a skinny-tired BMX bike. I vividly remember a full-speed flat track inspired slide into Ben's driveway after cruising down the hill from my house to his.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The entire Anthem DVD is incredible, but I could watch Brian Foster's part over and over and over...

When you spend hours upon endless hours behind the wheel of a vehicle (I hate it when people call their cars "my vehicle", but I'm generalizing a bit here), you form a genuine level of comfort, familiarity and even a bond of sorts. I bought my VW Eurovan in April of 2005 and put about 165,000 miles on it in the time since. That's a lot of time in the saddle. It's crazy to think that when I bought it (after months of deliberation and study) neither of our children were born, one of our dogs wasn't born, another dog was still alive, we lived in another city....on and on what has gone down since that time, but the Eurovan has treated me right. I still have it, but it is semi-retired and going up for sale very soon. I vowed a couple years ago to not get sentimentally attached to inanimate objects, but the van and I have done hard time together....

Sean Newton photo.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The first time I met McGoo was in 1986, shortly after I had moved to California to work for BMX Plus magazine. I knew who he was and I was excited to meet him. However, my first interaction with this BMX industry celebrity was marred with facetiousness. Mr. McGruther spent several minutes describing his company's (CW Racing) latest contribution to BMX--radio controlled brakes for freestyle that eliminated the need for a detangler or any cables at all. He said the only problem was that the mechanism was too effective and was actually crushing the rim. Country mouse in the city fell for this spiel, more or less, while trying to decipher what this fast talking cat was all about. In the immediate years to come, McGoo and I became fast friends and have been bros at large ever since. Another fond memory is from about 1998, shortly after I had started the sales rep chapter in my life. I was in Vegas for a snowboard tradeshow and who did I happen across during a drunken, late night stroll through Casino X? McGoo, with skateboarding legends Danny Way and Colin McKay in tow. Instantly, we were back at square one and rolling hard. He is easily misinterpreted. He has the quickest wit of anyone I have ever known. He's at once insulting and charming and ultra intelligent. I love the dude more than I can put into words.... Crandall did the man justice without kissing his ass on the LeastMost. Peep it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Levi Brown by Sean Newton. Kzoo Skate Zoo, January 2011. Kzoo opened in 1990 and is one of the longest running privately owned skateparks in the world...

Monday, January 3, 2011

I feel like I'm cheating on America when I buy stuff from Harbor Freight. I'm not a huge "buy American" guy or anything, I'm realistic about the shoes I wear, clothes I wear and the bike parts I use. Even my Japanese motorcycles. But HF stuff is so cheap and just, dirty. This tool cart is probably made out of old nuclear waste containers and painted with 100% lead paint. I would never eat after touching it without scrubbing my hands. Same with the angle grinder I've used every night for a week. And the welder I was given a while back, which was actually a gift but it still came from HF. But it works and I can afford this stuff, even if it's essentially disposable. I burn through some angle grinders. This is the second one in less than a year and this cart is a good place for stickers....

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It used to take hours to make a mix tape. Starting, stopping, rewinding, missing the cue, trying to find the right number of songs so there were no cut-offs. I would go to great lengths to find some random noise, voice mail message or little clip to fill the space. Levels all over the place, crappy turntable noise, highs and lows and lots of soul, I guess. I suppose the content would be the true barometer of soul. I can change the tone of a mix tape in a hurry with one shitty emo song or spoken word clunker. One time in my old Dodge mini-van my friend Sean Barney said "what did you record this on, Fisher Price?"
Today's mix tape took about ten minutes to assemble.
The Forgetters is the new band featuring Blake Schwarzenbach from one of my very favorite bands of all time, Jawbreaker. He took a long hiatus from making music (at least music that was accessible to the masses) and The Forgetters is just what I had hoped for. On the oppposite end of the spectrum, Reptile House is the very first band by Daniel Higgs from Lungfish, another of my all-timers. There are some country-fried songs, some random ringers, heavy instrumentals and Leatherface, who have been in heavy rotation for me the last few months. The Mr. Gasser and the Weirdo's song is Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's weird surf band from 60s. It's a bad song but I love anything Rat Fink related so that is my mix tape ruiner on this one. And you can laugh at the Kenny Rogers song, but if you sit down and listen to it, it's really a beautiful song....