Ron Wilkerson, 1985

I always hate Venice Beach cause of the people that try to sell my mix tape CDs. 'No, I don't care about your rap music,' never went over well with that lot. And the parking situation, it was not a good time. But I knew my history enough to know that it was more than just home to Hank Moody on Californication. On the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, amid a head cold and a light rain, myself and @robinfenlon decided to take a drive up to Venice and walk around. Because of the holiday and the rain, no one tried to sell us mix tape CDs and parking was a breeze. And then I remembered this infamous shot of Ron Wilkerson at a 1985 AFA comp right on the beach. What can I say about Ron Wilkerson that hasn't been said already? His status is beyond legendary in BMX, and his 2-Hip King of Vert and Meet The Street comps created movements within the sport that are still being replicated today. He also had a gyro with only the bottom cable attached on a pink 2-Hip Pork complete bike last time I saw him. And then there's that unprinted book written by him about himself and his Haro teammates on the road in the late '80s. Okay, I can say about Wilkerson…

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Rodney Mullen, 1986

When I first moved to Redondo Beach, I would ride at night at the train station in North Redondo. One night while I was riding there, a Hawthorne police officer stopped in his car to watch me. He eventually came up and started talking to me, and mentioned that on the other side of the tracks, there was another parking lot where an older skateboarder 'that owned some skate companies' would practice the same type of tricks on the flat ground at night. The officer said this skater was famous but very shy, and that he skated for hours by himself at night. I decided to see who he was talking about one night, and lo and behold, I discovered Rodney Mullen skating by himself in a random parking lot not far from my riding spot. I decided not to bother him. Here, Rodney Mullen finger flip ollies above the International Boardwalk in Redondo Beach, as seen on the cover of the December 1986 issue of Freestylin' (shot by Windy), and the same location this past December at the same location, as seen by me.

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Pete Kearney, 1988

Before 'street riding' was a real thing measured in YouTube views and steered by Internet bullies creating rules, it was just people riding around on BMX bikes, trying to adapt their skills to the terrains of the surrounding environment. I know that all things change and that street riding has become more of a commodity than anything these days, but I like to think that, to this day, there are pockets of people that just ride around looking for new stuff to ride so that they can have fun with their friends and open their minds to new possibilities. Once upon a time, Pete Kearney @peekay981 was a full-time college student living in Hermosa Beach and riding for General Bicycles, Hammer and Vision Street Wear. He was an awesome flatland rider, but because of his location and the riders he lived with, he expanded into riding the terrain surrounding him, including this much worn-in bank to chunk thingy in the Riviera Village area of Redondo Beach. Abubaca in 1988 on the left shot by Spike Jonze, and last weekend on the right shot by me and my non Spike Jonze creating iPhone aesthetic.

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The Grave Hogs of Lomita

(I drive 8 miles to buy a bike bag at a sporting goods store and visit Charles Bukowski’s gravesite)

It’s my last Saturday in Redondo Beach, it’s raining. I need a bike bag to pack my bike up next week and transport it to Aspen and Austin with me. Last time I trusted movers, my bike arrived back to me with mud in the pedals and the seat position higher than I left it. I assume that between the move from Jersey City to Redondo Beach, a stranger at a moving company probably walked in some mud and then used my bike to go buy beer. Continue reading The Grave Hogs of Lomita

RL Osborn, 1984

Liberty State Park, in Jersey City, NJ (where I once lived) came to be my favorite riding spot ever. It was on the Hudson River, the wind blew from the west to the water, and the area in which I rode was on a slight downhill slant towards the water. It basically created this slow-moving plain that allowed me to maintain momentum on the front wheel for a good two minutes. (Granted, it was frozen three months of the year, but it remains my favorite riding spot ever.) Moving to Redondo Beach over three years ago made me leave that place behind, and I struggled to find something comparable. The first place was rough, dark and littered with heroin needles. Then a meth camp popped up and I decided enough was enough after a resident of the camp tried breaking into my car. Not long ago, I stumbled onto this parking lot in Torrance overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and have enjoyed many good hours there because it reminds me of my spot in Jersey City, right on down to the water and the slant. Lo and behold, I was not the first person to do BMX tricks there. That distinction belongs to R.L. Osborn some 30 years ago on the pages of BMX Action.

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14 songs in 2014

Owen ‘Judas’ (a Depeche Mode cover) from the Owen LP “Other’s People’s Songs” (Polyvinyl Records)
The original was released over 20 years ago in a slightly more experimental phase of Depeche Mode, and it was an old favorite of mine in between Jawbreaker and Liz Phair. At the time, I was probably embarrassed to even admit that I liked Depeche Mode, so tender was the 19-year-old ego. The other day, I threw this CD into my car, skipped straight to the Promise Ring cover, and then became entranced by this song afterwards. The bare, vulnerable repeat of “If you want my love,” over a string arrangement and hushed backing vocals, it gets me every time. I can’t imagine what it takes to transform a multi-layered electronic song into a stripped down acoustic version that retains the initial emotion and builds on it, but I’m glad Mike Kinsella does. I’m actually glad for everything that dude does, including his drumming on the Owls second record and his drumming on the two awesome Their /They’re/There EPs I discovered this year. Continue reading 14 songs in 2014