Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bike Culture for sale (?)

So I leave for one freakin weekend and all kinds of things break out or more like get broken.

I'm still thinking about the broken windows at Brooklyn Industries with the writings: "Bike Culture is not for sale!"


and check out gothamist

Is bike Culture for sale? There used to be a time when anyone riding a bicycle in this city was seen as a complete dork that probably lived with his or her Mom or had no money for a car. Now bike culture is emerging into its own scene with a stylish clothing, sports wear sponsorship and window displays, we've even got our own film festival. But what happens when its a company like Coke that comodifies our culture? How bout when Team Puma shells out money for a bike messenger race teams, makes their own slick commuter bike and rides around in a Hummer? Where is the cultural sensitivity to an industry the promotes health alternatives and a cleaner environment. Lance Armstrong helps raise money for cancer and is a huge catalyst for bike sales, but he's best buddies with George W. Bush and is sponsored by a car company. Read through the pages of bicycling magazine and its full of car ads. Meanwhile our cool bike riders are treated like criminals and locked up for riding bikes in a group. Its all the things we face while coming into our own, defining ourselves out on the road and carving out our own niche. I think it is important to note how popular biking has become and if it is direct contrast with the oil agenda...GOOD! Critical Mass must be a threat to the corporate oil barons otherwise the cops wouldn't notice us like they have for the last 17 months. Still, you have to wonder how much of this culture we want sucked up like another, "fad-of-the week," or if its ok to have a permit for critical mass and advertised in Time Out magazine.

What do you think about "Bike Culture for sale?" or Bike Culture in general...give a shout.


Blogger Brian McGloin said...

The Bike Culture has been around for a while in varying capacities. The road people tihng the MTBers are dirty and loud but that's only because they never met the freestyle/urban/BMX crowd. I'm sort of between all of them. I just like bikes.

Back when I raced BMX - it was sort of after BMX was the trendy, neon and pink-clad money machine from California and the black, brown and duct tape urban riding that's popular now - I knew I had seen the high-water mark of the sport's popularity. The diminishing tide took with it the media frenzy that held fast to this shiny, family-friendly sport called BMX. Skateboarding's motion of a turn underground sent a wave that brought BMX in with it, a few years later. It left a void for Mountain Biking to fill. The timing couldn't be better. Well, maybe a little.

Money was made. There were big companies as well as little start-ups cashing-in. Hell, Campy made BMX bikes. Haro made mountain bikes and GT made road bikes. BMX went back underground and with that, the bikes were better, the riding was better ... sure there were fewer tracks and fewer people with whom to ride but what was left was solid and true.

Bike Culture in various capacities went from underground to huge to past tense ... with stops in that sweet spot where there is a lot of energy and money but the sport still belings to those who drive is passionately.
Mountian Biking isn't neon and shiny any more. Its there and its polular but it's not NEW anymore and that's good.

So Puma is putting in some money into alleycats and other messenger stuff. OK, Puma was never really mainstream like Nike - but not exactly a small brand like Adbusters' Black Spot. Puma, as far as I know, has more of a fringe appeal. More fashion than function. More funky than staid. Their catalog has some really funky stuff.

I'm not so crazy about Puma's use of a Hummer or Armstrong's friendship with Dubya.

I doubt we'll ever see Wal-Mart selling track bikes. Americans like big, stupid and complicated. It doesn't have to work as long as the commercials look cool.
I'm glad I was finally able to get a track bike. I love things that are simple and solid dependable ... like Nikon film cameras. If I had the money I'd buy Leica range finders (think heavy, German photographic Zen. The track bikes of cameras). And Macintosh computers.

As I sit here in my living room in the silent evening darkness, I peer over at my black bike sitting there against the wall. I can't wait for the day in summer when my lease is up and I can finally move out of CT (hopefully to NYC). The plan is to sell the car.

I have trouble explaining that sometimes. Not driving. Riding a bike ...

So much needs to change in this country - our collective opinion of cyclists and pedestrians and anything oil-related. We're doomed ... but that's not the point here.

Smoking, drinking, fast food drive-through everything. There are too many fat people, too many cars, too much sprawl, too much corruption, too much greed and self-centered ness. We're excessively self-destructive and for some reason, proud of it.

It makes no sense.

So maybe down the road, people will have forgotten track bikes in their garages like the dying mountain bikes of today and the "10 speeds" of 20 years ago. Sweet - deals on used, cheap track bikes only ridden twice.

I'm not very trendy. I don't give a shit about the what's cool today. If Squid and other promoters are careful with any newfound fame and glory, the bike culture won't have anohter silly fads like Formula One (yea, remember that?), GPV's, and the shiny early days of BMX ... or even downhill mountain biking.

Critical Mass can't have a permit. It goes completely against the entire movement. The anti-CM voices out there seem to just tow the GOP/Big Oil line. It seems like the NYPD is just another wing of Big Oil like the White House and Congress.

This thinking needs to change.

I'd love to see Puma or Discovery have their teams roll in Critical Mass wearing full uniforms. Maybe have a barbeque along the way (or after) with uniformed Discovery and Puma riders flipping burgers. Or TrackStar or NYCBikes or Specialized or Redline.

What if we mentioned to the cops that the CM rides are rather visible and the cops' lack of a contract is not.
We can remind them that we just want to ride our bikes in the Big Apple without being run over by drunks and truckers ... every bike being ridden is one more parking space, one little bit less traffic, a little less noise.
Every bike being ridden is one less barrel of oil. One less dumb kid getting killed (or maybe 1000 fewer Iraqis or Afghanis) ... the cops need to understand that its in their best interest to let the CM ride go through and maybe even join in.

What they don't seem to understand is the image they send with their dangerous, irresponsible and irrational behavior. The people on their side are the few who support Big Oil and GM, the all-out war at any cost, questioning Government is Unamerican types. They're losing their little fight against anything Good and Right.
The cops will lose and they'll look even more stupid then than they do now.

I'd love to see police (anywhere) ticket motorists for running red lights, speeding, tailgating, illegal turns, illegal parking, et cetera. Of course it will never happen.

What was the point again?

We need to have copies of the laws handy to give the cops as well as everyone else present for the CM rides. We need to raise awareness, make it a party.

Bike Culture isn't going anywhere. It will keep changing and evolving, and that's good. It also covers a wide area from the elitist pros in Europe to the hardcore Cross riders, to the crazy bastards to jump off of roofs (on BMX bikes, not gay full suspension MTBs) to the Messengers dodging traffic to people like me.

I was called a Bike Fetishist, which might be true. I live in CT but I go to NYC just to ride as often as I can. I was at the last CM ( I have photos and words posted in my blog) and I cruised around the City most of the day before. In addition to a passion for journalism and photography, I get into anything with two wheels and pedals - especially track bikes and anything single speed without suspension.

If a few messengers can have the oportunity to make a few bucks, do a little traveling and have a little extra fun while showing the world that they're faster than a Russian sailor in a discount Chinese whorehouse during a 2 for 1 sale, then awesome for them. Awesome for the messengers collectively. Awesome for the bike community.

As long as they realize it probably won't last forever and as long as they realize there is still work to do.

Hell, I'll buy the Wheaties with Squid's photo on the front ... but I can't aford a shiny new Puma bike. maybe they'll make some decent bike shoes that are walkable like MTB shoes, sleek like road shoes but funky and functional like what real people need.

I know I rambled a bit but I hope it makes sense.


12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get it? Black label is bitching about tall bikes being co-opted by a clothing company and someone destroys their windows saying "bike culture is not for sale?" If I recal, It was Black Label at a critical mass a few years back making a movie that ripped off the Warriors ride for a filmmaker getting paid by PUMA. They were on the ride being all vulgar, yelling and screaming for the crowd at Union Square to ACT all crazy. Then they all had shiny new puma sneakers on.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think its a cop out to fuck up brooklyn industries about "selling bike culture". I mean they're about to outlaw Abortion in South Dakota, we've got the most corrupt government in decades in the white house and these guys are fucking up a locally owned business. Whos claim to fame is that they have what... 5 stores? Why are they not going and fucking up the Target on St Marks? Where's the perspective? Or is it basically a Williamsburg turf war thing? I am pro-alternate transportation and the last time I drove a car was about 25 years ago when I was 12 and I'm about as liberal as you can get, but I am not pro-Critical Mass due to that fact that riding through downtown areas (I lived in SF when it first started there) and blocking thouroughfares is not going to get anyone behind the wheel of an SUV to say "Hey mebbe dese bike guys is right!" its more likely to get them to say "look at all these wanna be revolutionaries riding around being all "Look at me! Look at me!"."
Anyways any alternate opinions are welcome.Thanks for the rant space...

9:56 AM  
Blogger rissdog said...

us: people who ride bikes and view it as a sensible mode of tranport.

them: cars, assholes who drive cars and suvs, agressive police tactics menat to prevent our freedom of speech.

not clothing stores!

1:21 PM  
Blogger Sucka Pants said...

i could be wrong, but as i recall. . .

the "movie" about BLBC was a documentary not made by any BLBC members. the film that "ripped off" the Warriors was a huge bike event that included but certainly eclipsed BLBC. the "movie" being made by a filmmaker paid by Puma had nothing to do with BLBC, it was about messengers. And i can't say i've ever seen a BLBC member wearing shiny new Puma's, that sponsorship is only interested in messengers and track racing (and hummers).

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Moto Auz said...

Very informative.. Such a great post. You make so many great points here that I read your article a couple of times.This is great content for your readers. Motorcycles Sales and Servicing in Sydney

3:32 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home