Monday, October 08, 2007

Yesterday was great for bikes...MASH Screening and more.

New York City's bike community provides. This Saturday was the New York premiere of the freestyle track bike riding sensation: MASH SF. This 1 hour video, three years in the making from film makers/photographers Gabe Morford and Michael Martin, is the first of its kind to present track bikes in the same visual documentation synonymous with bmx, skate and snowboard videos. The two filmmakers, hailing out of the bay area, achieved a fluid visual style, showing off their top riders and utilizing the varied topography of San Francisco proper. That’s right…long, steep, winding HILLS. 17 members make up the MASH crew of bikers, each with their own unique style. Some messengers, some former skateboarders and some new to the idea of riding a 4 block wheelie on a bicycle designed for a spandex Olympic athlete on a velodrome. Track bikes have been in the spotlight for years and its no surprise the level of ability both for riders and for the bikes themselves, but MASH SF brings it the big screen and there is no doubt this video has and will influence the scene.

Gabe Morford was in town to show the complete video for the first time in NYC. MASH SF, has taken many forms, first as a trailer distributed widely on the internet, then as a shorter version first being unveiled at last years bicycle film festival. Now the movie has premiered in its home town of SF, and beginning to travel which brought Gabe to NYC. Then its back to LA and then to Tokyo, where track bike culture has recently exploded.

I called Gabe on Saturday to try and set up an interview to get more of the story behind the film. I hadn’t heard from him and assumed he wad just busy with the hectic schedule of setting up the screening. Sunday he called back with an apology. Turns out he had just gotten out of jail. No more than an hour or so in New York, Gabe was fixing his bike for the abuse of airplane travel. He rode up on the sidewalk in Brooklyn and was stopped by undercover officers who saw a small clip in his front pants pocket. Turns out Gabe had a pocket knife which later turned out to be enough of a blade to somehow merit felony charges. I’d love to laugh this off and file under a humorous “Welcome to New York,” but come on…lucky he wasn’t an African immigrant or we might be filing this under a coroners report. Well, welcome to Police state New York.

After a night in the tombs, getting a lawyer to smooth a felony down to community service in SF, and a busted tooth (unrelated), Gabe was ready to begin the enjoying himself portion of this sour experience. First up was an alleycat race put on by Kyle of Skate/BMX/Track bike boutique: Dave’s Quality Meats and Brad of Trackstar, local hangout, bike shop, purveyor of slick parts to up your ride’s slick appearance and your body with cool clothes.

About 30 riders showed up to race at the bike polo grounds at Broome and Chrystie. The Sunday ritual pick up gang was going on in the sunken court while players nursed hangovers. The racers waited as grey clouds rolled overhead with a possible threat of rain. Racer lined up against the wall with their bike out of site in the ramp leading to the polo courts. Here, race organizers put their manifests in their spokes so no one had any advance notice of the checkpoints and it was on. Chris Ryan of team spider was shooting for me. He lives the Fuck brakes lifestyle named after his bands new album. Now when I say fuck brakes, I don’t mean a brakeless fixed gear, that you can stop with your feet. I mean…fuck brakes…no working brakes except to hear the Fred Flinstone scaping sound behind me of Chris’s Vans as he tries to make some attempt to slow down. Wait this is the guy carring the expensive video camera?

After the start of the race, we head over to the closest checkpoint at Trinity and Exchange Place which turned out to be on of the last points before the finish since all of the racers head to destinations uptown first. The off the cuff goal at this checkpoint was to pick one of the dead flowers in a box, give it to a complete stranger and say something romantic. Doug, hit the checkpoint first in about 40 minutes. We all had a great time watching sweaty racers trying to give a mangled flower to tourists. We got great footage of this.

Then we rode to the finish which was also the site of a Tricks competition hosted by Cadence Clothing. Doug, of local food delivery and polo king, won the race in record time. Congratulations.
Here are the race results:

1. doug (free)
2. crihs (track)
3. jersey dan (track)
4. raphael negron (track)
5. andrew (free)
6. yatika (track)

Thanks Crihs for posting this. (I sure as hell didn't know what was up)

The tricks event was down at the Banks, famous skate and bmx spot under the Brooklyn Bridge on the Manhattan side. The place was filled with skaters going off ramps and bmx riders getting serious air on a side of the bridge itself. The Banks got their name for their brick, steep sides which cover one whole length, under the bridge, about 2 blocks long. Its amazing this place exists and thankfully it has remained the same way for decades. Check out this old school video. Back in the day.

This was a fun day…spent watching the emergence of a new style of bike riding…doing tricks on track bikes. People began to see the possibilities. Mike Dee and Kym Perfetto were our host of short webisode we are making at play in traffic productions…coming soon to blog near you…hint hint. They spent time interviewing the film maker Gabe and Garret a MASH rider who came to NYC to hang out, one of the stars of the movie. One of Cadence riders tore it up on his Brooklyn Machine works bike, making it look like the ease of a BMX bike.

Then everyone got down for a great game of footdown and battled it out till about 6:00pm I think NYC’s Pablo won it.

Then a nice group shot of the event, which I didn’t seem to get in focus. I blame my camera…yeah that’s it.

So then it was time for the big event, the screening of MASH SF at the Saint Marks Church in the East Village. Thanks to Frank Morales, this has always been a safe haven for bike activists and was where we all sought refuge during the police attack of the Republican National Convention.
Time’s up was on hand, volunteering as valet bike parking, but many guests choose the obvious hanging their bike on the fence.

The screening was packed and there was a real excitement in the air. The song by the Bay area band: The Mall set off the screening, basically replaying the trailer which we have all been jamming to on youtube and the MASH website. Awesome.

The movie was a great achievement both for the ridership and for the shooting with the difficult covering of bikes going top speed in traffic.

People cheered at all the tricks and laughed at the some of the brief glimpses into the characters of the MASH crew.

We talked with EMI and Massan of the movie and the conclusion was clear…It doesn’t matter what you wear, if your rim color matches your frame…just do one thing: RIDE BIKES. ahh, if only it were that simple.

There was a lot of talk of NYC trying to push the limit and represent the grimy side that makes NYC so unique. It may not have been the intention of the film makers but I can bet 2 things were going on in people’s heads as the left the screening:

1) The Mall’s catchy punk song…

2) and what tricks can I do on my fixed gear…(I bet everyone rode just a little bit harder)

and probably thoughts of how to put in all into a video, NYC’s response.

Many people will have different responses to this video, which is what Gabe predicted would be the first thing people who do after the screening:

Here is an honest reflection of the movie, but more about the props to the old skool riders, the working SF messengers...Respect DUE:

Check out Messnyc's perspective on MASH SF from BILL DOZER

Trudy's Pictures

Some of mine, that were actually in focus:

Garett and Massan checkin da map-

Yatika hits Trinity checkpoint

Fuck spider

Popin tricks

Filmmaker Gabe Morford

group shot
riding to the screening
The crowd:

all my photos:
flickr set


Blogger Prolly said...

Nice meeting you! Thanks for keeping us company at the checkpoint!

2:55 PM  
Blogger variety photoplays said...

heh, i wish i coulda been there. i remember skateboarding that place back in the day (full disclosure, i sucked!). i am so glad to see that some things in this city have not changed!


1:36 AM  

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