Friday, May 22, 2009

Word To James Shepherd

When I saw the news that S&M was re-releasing a limited run of OG Holmes frames (in 1", apparently, judging from the plans to make a "matching" fork/stem/headset), the first thing I thought of was an old "Sheep Bites" editorial from RIDE (or Ride UK?) that Austin legend James Shepherd wrote back in '96. (I thought of the same piece when I saw the double-toptube Subrosa Pandora, a tribute to a frame style that few kids these days ever rode—or even saw.)

Well, it just so happened that I typed the whole thing into Word a while back—probably when I was outraged over something on Vintage BMX. I'm pretty sure I e-mailed it to a few people, but never posted it anywhere. The second-to-last paragraph pretty much sums up what I think of things like the Holmes re-issue and the Subrosa RL-20II (somewhere, a kid who's stoked on that frame has no idea what I'm talking about).

Here's the piece in its entirety:

"Remember your roots." Old guys with real DX pedals and a closet full of magazines love the roots. Hey, I'm down with the roots just like the next guy, but you can't go overboard. Sure, looking back a lot of really cool stuff happened. In general, though, the sport was pretty gay. Mostly because the average rider had no clue. I had no clue. Jimmy'Z shorts. Fold-out-motorcycle-style-bitch pegs, mags and no f***ing clue.

Today, with rider-owned magazines and bike companies, people know what's up. John Q. Rider wouldn't stand for the crap that used to be shoveled out. It wasn't anyone's fault, really, the sport was new and just blew up. One day you were some pin-headed kid, and the next you're a high-paid pin head pro riding for a company run by an old man. It's really pretty funny. I won't go over everything, we'll just wade through a few of the more idiotic parts of the sea that was BMX AND FREESTYLE.

First of all, let's talk bikes. I hear people whining about how some new frame sucks, or that forks bend too easily. You want to talk about crappy bikes, bikes used to SUCK. I mean really SUCK. Try getting a Spin Master to work with caliper brakes on mags at the age of thirteen. It just doesn't happen, my friends. Clueless companies made stupid frames with standing platforms that extended as far back as the rear axle. Great for carrying luggage, not so good for schralping on down at the spot. If you want to show your roots, ride an old MCS Styler, but you won't be retro, you'll be retarded.

Now let's talk pros. Ex-superstar Mike Dominguez took his bike out of its box a total of six times one year. Those six times were to ride contests, which were part of his contract. No longer wanting to ride, but still wanting to draw a check, he rode as little as he possibly could, and people loved it. It was a little before the whole "ride to live, live to ride" thing.

Then there was the rollerskating retard, Fred Blood, who crossed over into the pro freestyle ranks. This fruitcake had about as much skill as an I-hopping 10-year old, but put him in an ad with a chick, two minitrucks, a complete bike, and you've got yourself a pro. That couldn't happen today, unless Jess Dyrenforth makes a comeback.

Then there were magazines. There is no doubt that almost everybody with roots considers BMX Action and Freestylin' to be the riders bibles, but even they were not without flaws.

Bob Osborn, who owned BMXA and Freestylin', had a son named RL. RL happened to be a great bike rider. He was so great, in fact, that during his pro career he got (I'm guessing) over thirty covers of his father's magazines. Ask Woody Itson (one of RL's main competitors at one time) how many covers he got. I'll bet he could count them on one hand.

Bob also had a daughter named Windy who shot photos for the magazines. Windy had a boyfriend named Eddie Fiola. Maybe you've heard of him? When your girlfriend works at a coffee house, chances are you can get free coffee. When your girlfriend shoots for a bike magazine, you're the king of coverage. Actually, the real king of coverage was Mike Loveridge, because he lived down the freeway from BMX Plus. Whooaaa!

Location didn't hurt Chris Moeller, either. In 1987, when Chris was still Mad Dog, he made the cover of BMXA four times. In case you don't know, getting four covers of the same mag in one year is ridiculous. Chris is definitely bad ass, but come on. If Ride's overlord, B Rad, pulled that crap you guys would have his ass tarred and feathered faster than the autowind on his Nikon.

Honestly, I don't think the sport was entirely gay, I'm just trying to make a point. Some people miss the past so much, they don't enjoy the present. It's not that bikes were so great, it's that you were young. Everything was great. No rent, no bills, just riding and trying to get laid. That's what people really miss, and hell yeah, I miss it too. If you're young and just got into bikes, this time in your life is the shit, so live it up. 'Cause one day you might grow up to be some fruitcake burnout with a beat-up old Dirt Bike that rambles on for hours about how great growing up riding was. If you are some fruitcake burnout with an old beat-up RL20II, sorry, but "F*** 'em if they can't take a joke."

Remember your roots, just don't let them keep you from where you're going. (That last line makes me look like a fruit.)



Russ said...

A couple of notes:

A) If anyone at RIDE (or James Shepherd himself) thinks my posting this is wrong, please tell me. However, as a published writer myself, I'd be stoked if someone posted up some of my old, out-of-print stuff.

B) I know I posted the Sheps "Trash" section before. Suck it.

C) I have a 1" Holmes (with threaded Pitchfork and shafted Redneck and slam-dance Slams). I bought it off eBay as a "kit" a couple years ago for like $150. Built it, rode it like 10 times, realized the rear was WAY too long, threaded headsets still suck donkey cock and 45/16 is a pain in the ass, and stashed it in the basement. Where it still sits.

CoCo said...

You're partially right, I didn't understand it, but I care because my main man Russ Bengtson (t before s) wrote it!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you already realize this, you are a walking contradiction wrapped in a hypocritical douchebag.

Russ said...

And proud of it. Suck it, Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

"Now let's talk pros. Ex-superstar Mike Dominguez took his bike out of its box a total of six times one year. Those six times were to ride contests, which were part of his contract. No longer wanting to ride, but still wanting to draw a check, he rode as little as he possibly could, and people loved it. It was a little before the whole "ride to live, live to ride" thing."

Ironic. Mike Dominguez can still shred a vert ramp and Sheps lives on the streets barely clinging to life and hasn't been able to ride a BMX bike in eons.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Shepherd is a hobo now. Remember his 'company' Homeless?, well now he's Homeless, for real. Sad, and ironic.

Anonymous said...

if the new Holmes come with a 1" headtube the matching stems need wedgie jacksons.

maybe it's just a cop out and it will be 1.125 threadless and classic rednecks, standard headset and those box gussets.

Anonymous said...

Did Mike D spend some time in prison a few years back?

I'm pretty sure the guy could be 100 pounds overweight and 55 years old and STILL do higher airs on vert than most people - dude's just got the gift.

Too bad by the time he was 18 he was totally over it and just into milking his ability for cash....Dominguez SHOULD'VE been what Mat Hoffman is/was.

DBZ said...

If Sheps really is homeless, then I'm making it my mission this winter in Austin to get a house together by January, and provide him with his own room.

The Holmes frame re-issue is fucking stupid, but if S&M sell them for $1000 and a bunch of sad old fucks buy the whole fucking production run, more power to Moeller. I remember that guy saying a long time ago that he'd sell an S&M T-shirt to a monkey, and that he'd thought about putting the shield on a cat turd just to see if people would buy it.

Anonymous said...

Shep and Holmes (Homeless Shep?)

Is this another one of Russ's smart and ambiguous play of words in his topic entries or just pure non-related coincidence?

I'm glad you've enabled anonymous postings, it was boring as hell when it was disabled.

Skid Mark PDX said...

a thousand might be too many for the old rich fucks @ to be interested. Not exclusive enough for them to get into interent auction money pissing matches and drive the price up ver a grand, like all the retro Haro Freestylers. SE Quadangles, and "P.K. Ripper"(s).

And fuck them for making buying back my childhood unaffordable.

DBZ said...

Dude, you can still pick up Holmes frames for virtually nothing, if you just look around a little. I'm waiting on one of those nickel headtube shield badges to complete a 1-1/8" one I just cleaned up, to present to a friend once he gets off probation--and I'm pretty sure he's actually going to ride the fucking thing, not hang it on the living room wall or whatever it is old kooks do with shit like that nowadays.

Russ said...

Yeah, my Holmes was really cheap. It's fun to ride, but honestly a 15" rear end is just annoying at this point. And I don't want to talk/think about 3/8" rear axles with pegs.

Anonymous said...

You need to write something about the "big big bmx show". That shit makes McGoo in the GT demo tape look straight from the hood yo.

Nick Ferreira said...

nostalgia for something that wasn't that good is one of the worst things ever. I 'd like to think the times I have nostalgia for late 90's and early 2000's BMX was actually a good thing. Who knows though?

Anonymous said...

Nobody vibes me. I'm the fuckin Sheps man!

smoovebert said...

Let's not get things confused here, there's definitely two camps in the vintage bmx scene. There is (for sure the os/vintage/museum collector crowd who is just obsessed with buying and showing off their old school gear, but there's also the type of folks who showed up to swope's OS reunion, who are much more into the riding than any of the gear and culture and whatnot. Although I do have some old school gear, I would rather be out riding my brakeless, pegless sunday! than obsessing over aerospeeds and stamped brake bridges, and so do most of my over 35 bmx friends.

Anonymous said...

There's a guy on vintagebmx that has a pretend bike shop in his basement, like with display cases and everything.

smoovey b said...

i've been to the guy's bike shop in his garage with the display cases and all that... he's friends with ralph sinisi and still rides, so i wouldn't give him too much grief.

Brett said...

The dude who knows Sinisi is Brian Pleva. Good guy. Being 43, I can appreciate looking at all the old stuff I rode when I was young but man at the same time I wonder how I didn't break myself off more than I did with that weak stuff.
I would not however want to ride it again.
Live and learn.

Nothin_personal said...

We need a Bengston article, ablog update, anything! It's been too long dude, where are you?

Shepsfan said...

TO DBZ - Yes, Sheps is homeless. Thanks to many friends he manages to find places to crash. But now would be a good time to come through with a room. He has work to do to turn his life around. But a room is a start. Imagine carrying your life around in a back pack. You can find him most evenings at Clown Dog if you are serious.