Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Young Beaver's Oeuvre

So there's this retarded kid up the street. He's a singer. He sits on a folding chair in front of his garage, and he strums a nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, and he sings. Like a motherfucker. Without regard to any kind of key at all. Without regard to the concept of "tune." Just like a Down's syndrome magpie on a phone line, singin' all fucking day.

Please note: he does this while listening to his iPod. Ears plugged with buds, singin' and a-strummin' away to what I suppose are Justin Bieber tunes. Why do I suppose that? Well, I've got a 9-year-old daughter, so it's safe to assume that I might be familiar with young Beiber's oeuvre. However, the fact is at the end of family camp dance this last July, Dolly and her cohorts, ardent Ramones fans, stuck their fingers in their mouths pretending to barf when his hit jam came on.

No, Friend-O, I got the hunch he was belting Bieber songs when I walked by and saw a picture of Bieber on the card table next to his folding chair. The photo, carefully torn from a teen magazine, was accompanied by a hand-written note explaining that there would be a Justin Bieber concert at 8pm that very evening. Next to this mind-blowing information was a bowl, resplendent with a few shiny bits of change given by passerby, with a sign stating "TICKETS."

I fuckin' love this kid. He is a living testament to the power of positive thinking; the will to power; the shit people let retards get away with. To wit: the kid sits out on the sidewalk making hideous squawks and selling invisible tickets to a non-existent performance in which he will play the part of a Disney-dipped and decidedly non-retarded, safety-wired and non-offensive Teen Dream (to wit: Justin Bieber). It's like when two-year-olds say shit like, "When I grow up, I want to be a bird." He didn't even have to think, "Fuck it--I like Justin Bieber and strumming the guitar and shiny coins so I think I'll just be him for awhile and sell tickets to myself as him." No way, Jack. That is way over-analyzed. He just did it. He was too busy being to worry about becoming.

Today, my lady Laura and I were walking the dog. As we rounded the corner onto 10th Ave, the retarded kid came into view on the other side of the street. On our corner, an elderly, mostly hunchbacked Filipino man walked out of the laundromat. He had on long, baggy shorts, Nikes, a large black backpack. A ball cap sat atop his head, and white earbuds snaked their way into his ears from his backpack. His shoulder-length hair was in a ponytail, and if it weren't gray, he'd look like any other 19 year old on the way home from basketball practice. Except for the slowness of his gait, and the hunch: not quite a hunchback, he was mostly stooped at the neck, as if he'd been, I don't know, craning forward toward a laptop computer at the wee hours writing a blog no one really read.

Anyhow, about five feet after we passed him, he started singing, wildly. And the kid across the street, well, you know he was singing already. He'd been singing already, motherfucker--go get a late pass. I was holding Laura's hand, and I laughed. I knew that somehow this serenade was meant for us: the intertwining passions of a kid with Down's syndrome and an elderly Filipino man with no concept of age and painfully poor posture. Lilting on the wind, I knew these manic, lunatic strains would, one day, be our wedding march.

What we need, Dear World, as 2011 pokes its head from out the shitter of last year to try and catch its shadow sleeping, is a good dose of retarded metaphysics and unrestrained vocalizing. Next level shit. Because with the way things are going, we could all be dog meat real soon:

In the spirit of letting it all hang loose, snatching the ruby, and grabbing that brass ring, I bring you the mind-blowing sounds of Steel Panther:

Any neo-retro-hairmetal band with enough swag to get Sarah fuckin' Silverman's hot box to lez out in their video is all fuckin' right with me. Their songs are fucking hilarious, as are their videos and live performances.
They're basically Spinal Tap meets late the excesses of '80s Aqua Net hair metal. Laura and I like them so much we're capping off our desert odyssey vacation (Joshua Tree, Slab City, Mojave National Preserve, and Death Valley) with a Steel Panther show at the Hard Rock in Vegas.

Also not afraid to let his inner retard roll is Stevil Knievel at All Hail the Black Market. So much so, that he may very well have coined the term "radtarded." And what could be more radtarded than a zip-up, wool, Smokey and the Bandit cycling jersey? Better hit him up and pre-order one before you're shit outta luck. And, in case you're not familiar with the wool cycling jersey, they're super fucking soft and cozy--think lamb's wool, not scratch Pendleton.

Yeah, it says "TRANS AM" down one sleeve and "BANDIT" down the other. Awesomeness and Awesomnosity.

Stevil claims Hipsters to be dead, but he never mentioned how they became that way:

While on the subject of the rad and the radtarded, let's talk Mongoose, shall we? Not Wal-Goose, but real, bonafide, made in America, old school Mongoose.
Which is not to say I've got a beef with the high-end Mongoose BMX and MTB models that are made in Taiwan and sold at actual bike shops. I own, and love--and ride Downieville with--a Mongoose Khyber. I don't have a beef with Taiwan either, per se--BMX went Taiwanese, for the most part, in the mid-80s. The quality there is good--though, for me, it'll never have the prestige of an American made frame. Mostly, I think Pacific watered down the brand when they made a big box store division. Pacific branded bikes weren't enough?

Actually, even though it was basically a necessity, I think the brand lost a lot of mystique when they got rid of the gusset. I think they'd do well to work that into their marketing--bring back the image of the gusset from the time when Mongooses were known to be nearly indestructible.

My first real BMX was a Mongoose Motomag. This was after a couple Montgomery Wards specials, the last of which I broke in half. When I grew up--ha!--I got a vintage yen and built a up a 1980 or '81 Team Mongoose from a frame I got at Pedal Revolution for twenty bucks. Teams were all chromoly, whereas the back half on the Motomag frame was mild steel:
Win V-Bars, the same kind that came on Kuwaharas and had the same bend as Redline V-Bars and crazy-assed Oakley 3 grips. I picked these up from Alan's BMX in England:
Takagi Tourney cranks, bought off eBay from a guy in Germany, and MKS Foot Jaws pedals, which, despite their fearsome appearance, were almost the slipperiest pedals ever made:
Profile shafted stem and Tange head lock:
This bike was the tits. It had all the '80s goodies: Bullseye hubs, Excalibur seat clamp, Dia Compe 890s, checkers. I ended up giving it to a girl I barely knew in a kind of "pay it forward" gesture. I met her when I was checking her old Supergoose out. It was locked up in front of her work and she came out and we started talking. She was soooo jazzed on it that when it got stolen a month or so later, I gave her my Team. At the time I had three vintage BMX bikes I hardly ever rode, so it felt good. Of course I missed it later, especially when I found out she'd let the crank arm get loose and stripped it out. But what the hell--it's getting ridden and that's good.

I also built a Moosegoose. The Moose was developed for ├╝ber tall factory rider Danny Oakley, the guy on the left in the above photo. He felt cramped on a regular-sized BMX, which had really short frames back in the day, so, instead of lengthening the top tube, which ultimately became the correct solution to the problem, Mongoose stretched a short BMX vertically. This produced what is still a goofy-looking bike, but I've got to say, it was super fun to cruise in Golden Gate Park. I had a spinny gear on it--something like a 42-19, and you could get full leg extension, but it was still super short. Felt like riding a two-wheeled unicycle.

The frame and fork were candy red over chrome. Painting over chrome gave the paint an incredible satiny depth, but it didn't adhere well. This candy paint hardly ever survived since it peeled off at the first scratch. The frame and fork, purchased on eBay for a steal of around $375, were new old stock from 1980. Never built up.
Mongoose pads, stainless steel bars, gold stem, cranks--almost everything on this bike was branded Mongoose--even the unsealed headset and bottom bracket.
Terrycable (I later put front brakes on this bike as well), A'me cam grips:
The "Winner's Choice" sticker on the SS Bars:
Mongoose-branded Kashimax MX seat, fluted alloy post, Suntour clamp:
NOS Shimano SX pedals, Sugino snowflake gear, Mongoose one-piece cranks:
Schwinn Maximizer tires (started with knock-off Comp IIIs), and those gorgeous Motomag IIs which I hand-polished and repacked.
Boo Kitty, may she rest in peace, was the only thing that could make this bike more bad-ass.
I ended up parting the bike out on eBay to buy new race gear. Waza, a HEAVY collecter from Australia bought the frame and fork, which made me feel good, as his builds are freaking amazing. He's got basically every BMX Products bike there is.

A few months ago I came across another 1980 Team--don't know what it is with me and the 1980 bikes--via Andy, the cook at my work. I wish I would've taken a picture of it before I rebuilt it. It had a smattering of boring, no-name parts, mostly off a low end K2 BMX--including a FUBAR rear wheel, and some boat anchor heavy bars. It was chrome, but like the nickel-plated Team shown above, that was only because the original candy blue had peeled off.

I rebuilt her with a budget in mind and as many replica and used parts as possible, instead of new old stock. The theme, or at least guiding aesthetic, I had in mind was as Plain Jane, stripped down, get down to business, tough-ass, leather jacket, jeans, Converse style BMX as possible:
Mongoose replica grips:
Hunt Wilde plate with retro or actual old school stickers:
DG BMX sticker sent to me by Ben Orr way back:
The Winner's Choice:
NBA, meaning "National Bicycle Association," a long defunct sanctioning body, not "National Basketball Association," a circus for genetic freaks on steroids:
Always loved the BMX head tube sticker. Even better in rainbow tape decals:
I got new school Skyway Tuff Wheels in coaster brake for this bike, a fact that I regretted somewhat soon, as I never road coasters back in the day. I literally dolphin dived over the handlebars while trying to bunnyhop a curb. So fucking embarrassing. I've got to give it to old school heads like Drob, Den, and John for riding coaster. That shit is not easy. Brake arm mod is a replica Dia Compe seat clamp from Porkchop, a la Buff and RL.
Kenda "Billboard" tires. Fuckin' Motocross. That's what it was about back then:
GT layback post and ACS clamp from Rini's:
Got a bunch of stuff from Ed Ferri at Colored Tuffs, including this Mesinger style waffle seat. Really great site for retro stuff:
Bottema sticker, Maurice the Mongoose, perhaps the raddest bike company mascot ever, and a prism Fox sticker. Sharp bars and first generation DK stem:
Retro Profile spider, MCS chainring, Wellgo Shimano DX copies, and some awesome chromo cranks I got new for like $35 off eBay awhile back. They look like Hutch cranks:
Repop stickers from BMX Products:
Retro 1" threaded SE Landing Gear forks:
Tuff gnarl:
Well, that's about all the time I've got tonight. The lady is mumbling profanities at me from the bed, and I've got to wake up in a few hours to take the kiddo to school. But first, the randomized element of our programming.

Check this incredible drop in from the top of the Cunningham full pipe. The guy who filmed it is Matt Ballard, though he doesn't say who the rider is.

Whoever he is, he's got watermelon-sized nuts.

Many claim double aught buck to be the only way to go with zombies, but as you can see, because of its wider dispersal, birdshot can be a superior alternative. I shot this, I mean, "prepared for the zombie apocalypse," with Shanti's 12 gauge Benelli:
Mr. Nick Cave is also a fan of superior firepower, as evidenced below:
Everyone runs afoul of the law now and again, even the True Blue:Here are a couple of random photos I've taken, run across while trolling the vast archives.

400 Blows, El Rio:
Rollins, Warfield:
In closing, I can only say I know two thing for sure:

1) It's not my place in the 9 to 5 world:

and 2) I want a Weinermobile funeral.


Hammerin' Hanke Von Kurgan said...

yo Dunc! Great blog, this one! Only in Frisco! Miss my town, man!Also, miss my Motomag! Gloss black frame, Gold alloy v-bars, and seat post w/ yellow Ame grips, yellow tires, and yellow Tuffwheels (the originals, NOt Tuffwheel II's), gold Tuff Neck, black pads... remember the 1st time I ate shit trying to 'tabletop'! lol... 1/2 hour later- 1st tabletop! hahaha... good stuff.

p.s. Radtarded that Dolly and her entourage are avid Ramones fans! I was too at 9 (and now)...

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing from your post that you don't like anyone different than you. I mean think about your nine year old. She's growing up in a house where her dad mocks the disabled. Poof! There you go. Another young child taught to hate and mock. How sad. Maybe that kid who you think okay to call retarded as if he isn't a human being could use a friend. Maybe he's just one lonely kid who has nothing in his life except his music. The way I see it is we're all one step away from disability. There is something called karma. Let's hope that you're never in a position to be weak and vulnerable and have some aide calling you a retard behind your back. Enjoy your perfect life full of intellectually together people like yourself.

Duncan Scott Davidson said...

I don't think you get it, Mr or Ms Anonymous. I'm giving that retarded kid props for belting it out with all his heart, even though his singing isn't, well, singing. I am saluting his joie de vivre, just as I am thumbing my nose at your namby pamby,underhand soft pitch Anonymous version of life. I am saying that people of "normal" intellect need to let loose and sing without worrying about how they're going to sound to others. You know, the Sesame Street "Sing a Song" get down: "Don't worry if it's not good enough/ For anyone else to hear/ Just sing/ Sing a song."

Don't confuse pity with respect. You automatically assume that the troubadour of 10th Ave is bereft, friendless, and lonely, when the fact of the matter is, he seems to be happy as a clam. He's got a little buddy that hangs out with him--maybe a neighbor kid, maybe a brother. His parents are out there with him playing around a lot.

Am I fetishizing the retarded? Turning them into figures of fun who exist for the enjoyment of people of "regular" intellect? Denying them the complex neurotic bad trips the rest of enjoy? There may be some truth to that, but I prefer to look at it as enjoying what he has to offer, and enjoying his DILLIGAF ("Do I Look Like I Give a Fuck?") attitude.

Of course we're all "one step away from being disabled." But I find your particular pity party especially enervating. You're the type of person who walks up to a wheelchair marathoner and wants to give her a dollar because she has no legs.