Jul 12, 2008


Some close friends planned an art project/performance/protest, and I was flattered to be asked to help film, though I take no credit for the idea. My wife and I put together this video:

The signs made headlines in two Portland papers--the Mercury picked it up first and then the Oregonian Metro section and Business section--and appeared around the local blogosphere at Indymedia, Matt Davis, livingyellow, and JustSeeds, as well as MattressZine, some kind of mattress trade pub.

Clips were used to mount the signs, so that they could be removed without causing damage, and a safety cable secured it all just in case. One important thing the video doesn't make explicit--but maybe you can still tell--is that the DMC is located right on Belmont St, the namesake for one of Portland's trendiest neighborhoods, fully gentrified over the last decade or so. Someone commented in an old Flickr image that the DMC "gives shiny belmont some much-needed squalor," and this had been my unofficial position on the issue before my friends ever suggested the protest. But the original Mercury post elicited seventy-four widely varying reader responses, most of which made valid, intelligent points.

"Although the art is interesting," blogged jmacphee on JustSeeds, "the responses to it are whats really worth checking out. A fascinating, rambling road through varying opinions on street art, vandalism, gentrification, class, yuppies, and property values."

The most critical reaction to the signs came in a lengthy response to the Oregonian Business section write-up. Someone called "Mannis" detailed his family's longtime business relationship with the DMC. He describes how the DMC's actual business model--selling inexpensive, refurbished mattresses--has directly and indirectly helped "thousands" of local needy families and individuals (a good, liberal notion), while simultaneously, on the environmental front, reducing waste (also a good, liberal notion). Mannis goes on to defend the Confederate Flag and condemn those unwilling to acknowledge it as an authentic symbol of legitimate Southern heritage, separable from the notion of slavery.

Mannis's critique of liberal elitism seems on-point, and, sure enough, a huge majority of the other responses were to the effect of Way to stick it to that ugly store. Don't they know they're in Portland?

I happen to know that the artist's intention (though he wouldn't call himself an artist) was a comment on the symbol and not on the storefront, but no one seemed to notice what he thought was obvious: in Progressive Portland, gay rights, animal rights, and separation of church and state are front page bumper sticker issues, and transgressions will get your business boycotted or your politician blacklisted. Mention racism or segregation, by contrast, and (here's the punchline) the activists shrug their shoulders. Naw, we don't really have those problems here.

For the record, I think it was that specific little slice of hypocrisy that catalyzed the artist.

As expected, the MLK signs came down the next day.

May 20, 2008

Dan and the Dish

Here are two dope pictures of Dan from streetphire shredding one of the acoustic mirrors from April 11th's post. Can you imagine having this as a local spot? Incredible! And he's not even using a cheater board! (Note the concrete block directly in Dan's path: ninety years ago, that block would have supported the listening microphone. Neat.)

A million thanks to the Shithawks blog for bringing this to my attention.

Apr 24, 2008

You'll never ride it, pt. 2: G-CANS

For the second installment of You'll Never Ride It, we have the Tokyo G-CANS project, an immense network of tunnels "for preventing overflow of the major rivers and waterways spidering the city." The tunnels were blogged to death a couple years ago, but never mentioned with reference to bmx or skateboarding, so I'll go ahead and throw up the standard set of rehashed images.


My dad was talking about Dogs and Demons (I haven't read it (yet)). The book basically predicts Japan's economic and environmental collapse, due to an obsession with exactly this kind of ridiculous public works project. Terrible, but I just can't help getting a little teary-eyed when I think of all the amazing concrete wonders, never to be glimpsed by a skater or bike rider.


Land Rover used the location to shoot a tv commercial, which is a cool idea but pretty weakly executed. The YouTube:


Here's another quick G-Cans movie. Video helps give context to all the familiar images; and the audio really completes a sense of atmosphere.


Tours available in Japanese: "Feel the grandeur of the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Tunnel."

Feel the grandeur!


And, while you and I will never bike the tunnels, some people (admittedly) do. Heck of a commute.

Apr 11, 2008

You'll never ride it (and neither will I).

These massive concrete structures are "acoustic mirrors", built in the first quarter of last century along Southeast UK coastlines. By gathering sound and focusing it at a microphone, the dishes gave the Brits an early warning of approaching enemy aircraft, simply by listening.

But faster and faster planes diminished the mirrors' usefulness, and the advent of radar in the 1930's rendered the technology officially obsolete.

There are a dozen or so mirror sites smattered along the coast, but the most impressive specimens, pictured above, stand today in a defunct quarry, surrounded by a moat, at an old military base. A drawbridge provides access for tourists.

Type "acoustic mirror" into Google Earth, and you'll find them.

Hilarious as I think it would be, trying to session these post-modern, post-apocalyptic monoliths with my little bicycle, that's really a minor component of my attraction to them. I just hope they remain standing for a while, and that I can go and have my picture taken with them.

Read more about them and see lots more pictures here, here, here, and here.

The world is incredible.

Mar 9, 2008

Bikes and Coffee

I remain surprised that coffee hasn't emerged as a bigger part of bmx culture. Joe and Ruben have been documented savoring gourmet beans a couple of times:

Sipping espresso on the train at 0:40 in the
Dig Train Trip video

Arriving for the morning skatepark session, Venti Starbucks in hand, at 5:41 in Why Didn't We Do This Before?

Not to mention Ruben enthusiastically brewing a cup of coffee at home in the pre-intro to You Get What You Get.... The video isn't available anywhere online, but two of the V-Club guys did an absolutely unwatchable review of it on youtube, and the video plays in the background.

Not recommended, but the coffee happens at 0:30.


The only pair of bike riders I like better than Joe and Ruben would have to be Ben and TJ. I've never known quite what to make of the clip below, but I know I wish I'd been there.

Ben and TJ, Winter Morning...

Today I stumbled on this story about the burgeoning trend of espresso bars in bike shops.

And last week I learned about Breakfast On The Bridges, right here in Portland. On the last Friday of every month, morning bicycle commuters can enjoy fresh coffee and pastries, free, on the Hawthorne Bridge. Unreal. When I mentioned it to Ben, his first question was "Is the coffee good?"

We'll have to investigate.

Dec 16, 2007

Buy a video.

Video is done, first batch shipping now. Each one is burned at home, spraypainted on my back porch, and decorated with a hand-cut stencil. Bonus material includes our proudest web videos from the past seven years. (Watching them on a full-sized television is quite a trip!)

I think you'll like the video. I really do. Check out the youtube "trailer" in the previous post.

Ten dollars = I send you a dvd. Use the PayPal button below.

NOTICE: The second "pressing" is done and copies are available. This new version is color-correct and has some slight editing tweaks. Count yourself lucky if you scored one of the super-limited-edition V1 discs...

If you want to arrange some sort of barter transaction, email me.

Nov 4, 2007

Trailer up.

Put together a "trailer" today and hosted it on Vimeo, but I think it
got pulled down because they don't allow "advertisements." ...So here
it is on YouTube. If you watched the "Call For Footy" video from a
couple months back, you'll recognize some of these shots.

We got some banger clips at the last minute from Andrew Longstreet,
Shay Scheiffelbein, and TJ Henderson, and I feel really privileged.
Editing is all done. Trying not to let myself keep making changes.
Next step is to burn a test dvd to see how everything looks and sounds
on a TV screen. I'll tweak the audio levels, do a little color
correction, and that's it. I've been practicing with iDVD, and the
chapters and menu are done already. Once I've got a master, I may take
it to be professionally duplicated. That's a decision that I've not
made yet. Also not sure how many copies. 500? 100? Gotta' contact
mailorders and see if they want to buy some. I'd love to get a hold of
some old scene videos that people have made, but no one ever has any
copies. I can only conclude that they should have pressed more copies?