I’m Part Mexican Now
I’ve been self-employed for 12 years now. Since
retiring becoming self-employed 12 years ago, I’ve been carrying health insurance, and throughout half that time I carried dental insurance. I moved to Portland in 2007, and for one reason or another, good dental insurance for the self-employed is a bit more difficult to come by up here, despite my being more than willing to pay for it.So I’ve been paying for regular dental work out of pocket since. Which is fine, it’s tax deductible. Except for the fact that I keep having shitty luck when it comes to dentists here. I keep finding people who I think might actually be used car salesmen masquerading as dentists.
Recently, after breaking a tooth, and attempting to get it fixed at my — now former — local dentist, I learned I also needed another tooth behind it filled, and was handed a laundry list of things he had to do and what it was going to cost. About $800. It is what it is, but the dentist rubbed me the wrong way, and it didn’t make me want to give him money. So I figured I’d go another route. But I wasn’t sure what.
A few weeks after a failed trip my local
used car salesman dentist to get my tooth repaired, I had a trip booked to LA during X Games. Two days before I was leaving, a light bulb went off. Dental Tourism. It’s something people joke about in this part of the country. But a lot of people really do it. To Americans in border regions like Arizona, Texas, and California, jumping the border to Mexico for dental work is not uncommon. I knew this from my time living in Orange County, CA, and since I had half a tooth in my mouth, I figured it was a good time to go down there with a camera and see what happened. Read more…
Wisdom to Youth / Wicked Ride
I flew out to Providence this weekend for Kevin Robinson’s Wisdom to Youth contest, an 80s style freestyle contest, as well as the premiere of A Wicked Ride, a new documentary about BMX in New England in the 80s. I almost didn’t bother to get on the plane as the weather was looking terrible, and I was only supposed to be there for one full day, but the weather turned around early Saturday morning, and it was sunny all day for the contest, premiere, and the entire K-Rob Foundation Family Fun Festival the events were part of.
The contest was inspired by the contests we rode in the 80s utilized 3 8-foot tall quarterpipes and a wedge ramps, just like in the 80s. They also through a box jump in the mix… not totally era correct, but it made for a fun set up. There were Veteran flatland and ramp classes, as well as a younger generation class. Old Pros and icons from all over turned out including Ron Wilkerson (who won ramp), most of the original GT/Mt. Dew Trick Team (including promoter Ron Stebenne), Large Ray, Brett Downs, Warren Marchese, Joe Johnson, Paul Delaiarro (pictured above), Chris Lashua, and New England staples of the era like Rich Upjohn, The Chapman Brothers, Dave Alden, and many more. The documentary, which was still in a rough cut stage, was really well done (Directed by Scott Moroney). It picks up where Joe Kid on Stingray left off, with a freestyle focus, and a New England story line. Read more…
When I got interested in design and photography in the late 80s and early 90s things were still very hands on. My first magazine job in the mid-90s still utilized Stat cameras, paste-up boards, wax, x-acto knives, and rollers. I processed a lot of B&W film in my kitchens over the years. At the same time, I liked using computers in the process in those years. But a lot more of the hands on disappeared from the day to day process than I would have liked.
I still have to mix the hands on, with the instant / digital world. Polaroid style peel-apart films, are disappearing, but I’ve got a small stash for a few old cameras I’ve got kicking around. It’s sort of like an early version of Instagram. It’s almost instant… at least by 70s and 80s standards it was. Anyway, I’ve been shooting portraits of some of the folks that come in the office. The neat thing about the peel apart film, is that the part most people peel away and discard is actually a negative, it just has a black coating on it that needs to be cleared off. So I’ve been using some alternative techniques to clear the negs (toilet bowl cleaner) and then scanning them. A couple of them are above. The top is snowboarder Brendan Gerard, shot for Yobeat, and below that is Freestylin’ editor / Lofter of Jive / Nemo Creative Director Mark Lewman.
It’s a neat process that creates a raw, somewhat varied and sometimes unpredictable aesthetic. You end up with 4×5 negatives you can scan and hold onto for years, and still get that cool little almost instant print. It has a raw look. Yes, you can create that look digitally. But it goes back to getting your hands dirty.
Eugene Amazon Micro-skatepark
The Amazon park is tiny. It’s a mini-snake run in the middle of a public park in Eugene, Oregon, which has a DIY quarterpipe at the end (which has a bit of a corner to it, and some ratty transitions). Shad and the crew from Goods BMX held a jam there today to raise money for some potential future DIY additions. A fresh knee height flat bar had just been DIY installed, and made for some extra lines in the park. This place has been there for several decades and is the type of place that if people keep chipping in to add to, could be really awesome. Regardless, it was fun. That’s Nathan Sykes above looking back. Read on to check out a few more snaps. Read more…
J. Mascis. Snow. People. Bikes. Skate…
This is a compilation of some misc. photo work from the last few months. A smattering of everything from the shot above of guitarist/singer J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr., Witch) to bikes in a studio, to snowboarding and skateboarding. Read more…
Clearing the Fog
It’s not that I’ve been too busy to post stuff here, and it’s not that I’ve been slacking on it. Somewhere in between. Either way, it’s been too long. Allegedly blogging is dead anyway. Instagram, twitter, blah, blah, blah. Hands are full, having fun, working, etc. etc. I’ve shot some stuff the last few months… everything to the guys in Dinosaur Jr. to high-end custom road bikes to snowboard legends. A little BMX too. I’ve designed a few catalogs, did a bunch of logo projects, and did a ton of stuff for Yobeat.
The above shot of Ben Hucke is from one of the BMX shoots I did. This one was just for the heck of it in our parking lot… something loose I wanted to play with for a bit and never did. A couple years ago I bought a couple fog machines on clearance the day after Halloween. Finally, a few days prior to halloween this year, I finally got around to using it. Now that we have our own parking lot that we own (re: can’t get kicked out of for doing weird shit like this), I set up a giant black backdrop, brought out some flashes, and got the fog machine going. Flashing lights and fake smoke really confused the neighbors and local tweakers. The tailwhip shot of Ben above got used for a Diamond Back bikes ad. There’s an alternate angle from the shoot after the jump. There’s also a flatland shot probably my favorite of the night, of Matt St. Gelais. Read more…
25th Anniversary King of Flatland
It’s hard to believe 1987 was 25 years ago. My father drove me up to Manchester, NH for the first “King of Flatland” contest that year, and from there I made it to most of the series until it ended in 1993. The contests the Cote family put together were instrumental in growing flatland freestyle in the Northeast and beyond… riders came from all over, so that influence was undoubtedly global. I could write thousands of words about what that contest series did for the scene, and freestyle in general, but fortunately Kieran Chapman has already done it in book form. Kieran made the iconic New England ‘zines Radazine and Wire during the late ’80s and early 90s (it eventually became the web site eWire, one of the first BMX content web sites). For the 25th Anniversary of King of Flatland, Kieran collected all of his historical coverage into one great book, complete with a DVD of seemingly endless footage. It is a must have for anyone who went to the series, and you can buy it here.
I couldn’t miss going to the 25th Anniversary contest, after all, I’m still doing this little bike stuff all these years later. So I packed things up and flew out from Oregon. 3000 miles for a parking lot, and it was worth it. I rode a bit, took some photos, and caught up with some old friends, some of which I hadn’t seen or heard from in 20-some odd years. There were plenty of KOF legends who made it out, including former Hutch riders Darren Pelio and Greg Macomber. Pro class winner Jim Cavanaugh (above) was a staple at the early KOF contests, and he’s still progressing to this day.
Check out the photos below. The horizontal photos can be expanded by clicking, and I’ve put a link to a full-resolution version of the group photo at the end of the post for anyone from the crew who wants to download it. Read more…
Matt St. G in the Studio
Old Boston flatland friend / fellow AIB alumni / now Wieden Kennedy advertising design wizard Matt St. Gelais came by the office earlier for a rainy day mini ramp session. After some micro-mini riding, we messed around with shooting some photos in the studio. Not the biggest space for getting into flatland BMX tricks, but we made it work. Matt, since I’ve known him, has a lot of weird positions and switches when he rides. We got a few shots under the lights of the studio, including the cross-handed, cross-footed megaspin thing above. More after the jump, including a shot of the new press we added to the screen printing room the other day. We upgraded from a table-top 4-color to a 6-color, 4-station. I had to do some rearranging, but the new office allows for a larger press which I’ve been wanting for a long time. We aren’t a screen printing shop, but we print all the Yobeat apparel in-house, and this will really speed things up, and give us more flexibility. Screen printing is what made me go to art school, so it’s awesome to finally have the space to have this stuff to work with. Being able to design stuff, print stuff, and shoot photos of stuff, then go out and play on the mini ramp, all under one roof, is awesome. Read more…
Shad Johnson’s Vintage BMX Collection
I made this video for ESPN a couple weeks ago. Shad runs the BMX shop, Goods, here in Portland, and has a ton of cool old stuff around the shop that I end up poking through every time I’m in there. He’s in the middle of remodeling the shop, and starting to sell vintage stuff as well as new on the shop floor. Take a look inside.
4th Annual Old School BMX Reunion
For the fourth year in a row I’m down at Woodward West in Central California for (the fourth annual) Old School BMX Reunion. Once again a grip of legends made the trip out including Brian Blyther, Mat Hoffman, Dino Deluca, Todd Anderson, Dennis McCoy, Dave Voelker, Xavier Mendez, Jason Geoffrey, James McGraw, Dave Nourie, Duncan Gore, Martin Aparijo, Eddie Fiola, Jose Janez and many more. I posted a couple photos of Martin Aparijo last night, which you can check out in the previous post or by clicking here.This year seemed a bit mellower riding wise, but it was good to catch up with everyone. Check some more photos including a small gallery after the jump. Read more…
Martin Aparijo: Still Smiling
Back in 1986, East Coast freestyle promoter Ron Stebenne brought Martin Aparijo from California to a contest he was putting on in Natick, Massachusetts. At the time, Martin was one of the biggest names east coast kids like myself got to see in the magazines. He was on the GT bicycles team, and he’d been in movies like Rad. We’d Martin in magazines like Freestylin‘ and BMX Plus, but having him turn up at one of our local contests — at least for an 11 year old kid like me — was sureal. One thing I remember vividly of Martin back then is that he was always smiling. When he came to Natick he was smiling. When I saw him in the magazines and videos he was smiling.
Fast forward 25 years, and I’m at the fourth annual Old School BMX Reunion at Woodward West. Martin is 49 years old, and, well he’s still smiling. Today is the first day of the reunion, and while I haven’t shot many photos yet, I did get to shoot Martin during Miami hop hops under a California sky — something I never anticipated back in 1986 (above he’s doing a one-handed Miami hop hop). There’s another photo of Martin after the jump that I also liked. As for the Reunion, there are plenty of faces that have been here the past few years like Mat Hoffman, Eddie Fiola, Tony Murray, Rich Sigur, Xavier Mendez, Pete Augustin, Dennis McCoy, and Brian Blyther as well as some new faces like Duncan Gore and Troy McMurray. I’ll have more photos tomorrow, but for now, here’s Martin. Read more…
Goods Jam at Tigard
Stopped by the Tigard skatepark today for the Goods BMX 7th Anniversary Jam. Goods also had a photo show last night with a bunch of my photos from the 90s through present day. I think the photos should be up in the shop for a few weeks, so stop by if you’re in the NE Portland area. I didn’t take any photos at the photo show, but I did shoot a few today. Edit: Vital BMX just posted a video from the photo show where I walk through some of the stuff that was on display with a little bit of back story. It’s embedded at the bottom of the post. You can check out a few more after the jump (the horizontals can be expanded by clicking). That’s Roman Tencza above, with his go-to trick, the timeless one-handed table. Read more…
The New Studio
It’s been a couple months in the making, but the new studio I mentioned in the last post (two months ago) is mostly done, save for some outside work, and some details around the place. A couple months ago I mentioned we’d bought a new building in Portland, Oregon’s soon-to-be bustling Flavel Arts District. After looking loosely for a couple years, and realizing we’d outgrown our old space, we happened upon one that had all the space we were looking for, and from a construction standpoint it wasn’t going to be “too bad.” Most of what we did was cosmetic, aside from gutting one of the bathrooms, but it was still a lot of work (most of it fun) in addition to the whole regular work day thing.
Starting at the end of January, in the midst of a busy travel season, we ripped out 2000 square-feet of glued down carpet and tile, ground off all the floor glue to expose the concrete (the most labor intensive part of the job: two days of solid grinding with a fancy stripping disk), tore out and remodeled one of the bathrooms, painted the place, fixed some roofing, repaired some drywall, sealed some concrete, installed some new hardwood, installed some new lighting, replaced all the trim on the studio/office side, and, I’m sure a lot more.
The new space is three times the size of our old studio, and it’s much closer to my house so I can bike or even walk there if I want. Most importantly, we have everything in one place. Before I had screen printing stuff in the garage, some of my files at home, and more stuff stored in the attic. I even got to build a ramp — albeit a small ramp — inside, which was great for the end of the Portland winter/rainy season, and a nice break during the day. It’s a small skate ramp (at two feet tall), but still fun to take runs on the bike here and there as you can see in the photo of me above. We’ve even got a small fenced in backyard area, which, in a few weeks will house the chickens that are currently growing up in my garage (for no reason other than having office chickens couldn’t be more “Portland,” and they’re almost dinosaurs). I’ve got some after photos, which are posted first, as well as some before/process shots. We’ll be doing little projects for a while, probably forever, but for now, we’re in there. At the moment the space is used by myself for my studio, as well as for the snowboard site we do called Yobeat. We did all the work ourselves, with some lifting and grunt work help from friends along the way. Some of these photos are further along in the phase than others, and we’re still going. Check out the space after the jump.
New Studio Soon
If you follow me on Twitter you might have caught wind that we’re moving into a new building. Between traveling, we’ve started building out the new spot in deep SE Portland. It’s closer to my house, and we’re the only ones in the building, so we can make noise and use all the strong smelling solvents we want.
The deep SE part of Portland is affectionately known to long-time residents as “Felony Flats,” but it’s come a long way over the years, even in the short four year period I’ve been here. Shit, now there’s even a hip food cart pod called “Cartlandia” that sits along a bike path walking distance from our new shop. We’re hoping to take that progression one step further — we’ve been jokingly referring to the area as the “Flavel Arts District.” Portland’s prosperous “Alberta Arts District” was not so long ago a not so nice neighborhood. Some developers looking to make a few bucks added the “arts” and away things went. So we’ve taken the same approach and we made a logo (above). We also used the word “historic” which we feel also adds class. If nothing else, we found a cool building that works for us, and we think we should even have some skateable surfaces inside it.
I’m a day or two away from moving my desk and some of my stuff into the new place. We’ve still got a lot of work, and building, but my studio area is painted, and the trim is in, so hopefully tomorrow I can start loading into that section. We’ll slowly be moving everything over throughout the month, and should be in there on a full-time basis by the end of February (though likely before). More pictures to follow, but we’re excited to have more space. We are going to miss the Sweetpea coffee though (and Lisa).
The Streets Opening Video for Yobeat
The past couple weeks have been chaotic as we’re building out our new office space here in Portland (which I’ll post about separately), in the middle of which I took off to PA to shoot some snowboarding at Seven Springs Resort. Forum Snowboards sponsored a “real street” inspired snowboard park, and I headed out to the mountains near Pittsburgh to shoot the grand opening for Yobeat. The resulting video can be viewed after the jump. That’s Austen Sweetin above. Read more…
K-Rob Turns 40
I’m back on the east coast for Kevin Robinson’s surprise 40th birthday party his wife Robin put together for him in Rhode Island. Somehow it stayed a secret, and Kevin had no idea that a heap of BMX friends were in town from all over the country. Mat Hoffman, Dennis McCoy, Mike Dominguez, Xavier Mendez, Brian Blyther, Ron Wilkerson, Joe Johnson, Brian Curran, Warren Marchese, Brett Downs, Kevin Martin, Mike Rotondo, Josh Heino… in addition to tons of local friends and family, all packed into an American Legion hall with a country theme and mechanical bull. This morning we all headed up to Rye Airfield, a skatepark in NH. Kevin cut the vert session short by falling asleep on the flat bottom of the ramp, but fortunately he was (relatively) okay. I did manage to snap off a few photos of the Condor (above), and one of Josh Heino at the park, as well as a few from the party. Read more…
From the Archives: Anthony Napolitan, 2004
This was the first time I met Anthony Napolitan, who I’ve shot an awful lot since then. At the time, Anthony was a flow rider for the distributor System Cycle, and lived right down the road from the skatepark pictured above, Section 8 in Columbus, Ohio. Section 8 was a bad-ass bike oriented skatepark, producing some amazing riders over the years. I had recently moved to Pennsylvania, and took trip out there with Kevin Robinson, Alistair Whitton, and a few other guys. Anthony was killing the mini ramp, and the pink bike was a nice spark of color in a dark indoor park, so we shot for while that night. This photo was used in BMX Plus Magazine a few months later. Seven years later, Anthony’s still killing it. He’s all grown up now, and went on to win X Games medals, and a Dew Cup in Dirt.
San Francisco Downtown Throwdown
Just took a road trip down to San Francisco to shoot another urban snowboard rail jam for Yobeat. It’s halloween weekend, and there’s no distinguishing between those who are dressed up, and those who just live here and are out for a walk. Check out the gallery I shot at the bottom of the post here on Yobeat.
Ryan Barrett for ESPN
I posted a teaser shot from this shoot a week or two ago, but recently I shot a bike check feature with Ryan Barrett for ESPN BMX that went up today. In addition to some photos of his set up and the customization process, we shot a couple photos at Nemo Design where he works, and took a trip down south to Myrtle Creek, OR for some action. Check out the whole thing here. The action shot above is a fastplant over a railing that sits atop a pipe at the Myrtle Creek park. It’s nuts in itself, but it was nearly dark when we got to the park. Neither of us had been there, but as soon as we pulled up he said “you can go over that rail.” Ryan got out of the car, and immediately figured out the speed line so we could shoot it. No warm up, he just got it done.
I am one of the lucky ones. I’m certainly not one of the elusive 1%, and, unless there’s some sort of lottery winning in my future, I don’t stand a chance (nor does it seem at all appealing). Shit, I went to art school, so I can only hope I’ll be worth more after I die. But unlike most of the Americans (that are fortunate enough to even have jobs at this point), I have made my living doing stuff I’d do whether or not I got paid to do it. For the last ten years (somehow I made it that long) I’ve worked for myself, and, while I can pay my bills and live my life, I’m also well aware that America is fucked. But I’m lucky and I realize that. I switched to a much smaller local credit union this week… something I should have done a long time ago. Anyway, a few times in the last few weeks I’ve checked out the Occupy Portland protest camps, and, while I would have expected them to thin out over time, the two city blocks filled with tents have only gotten (seemingly) more crowded. While things were peaceful, a few police officers kept watch at a distance across the road. For now, all still seems well in regards to the city’s acceptance of peaceful protest. Check out a heap more photos after the jump. Photos can be viewed larger by clicking. Read more…
The Dude (A Documentary)
I had nothing to do with making this, but The Big Lebowski is, without a doubt, my favorite film. The Coen Brothers are brilliant. This is the story of the dude behind “The Dude,” Jeff Dowd, produced as part of the USA character project. Since I also watch almost exclusively documentaries these days (after the Big Lebowski, nothing else really seems relevant), the fact that this exists is basically a dream come true. Or something. Watch it in its entirety after the jump (it autoplays so I had to put it on another page). Read more…
Ryan Barrett / Know Your Roots
A couple weeks back I took a trip down I-5 to Southern Oregon with Ryan Barrett and Codie Larsen to hit up some skateparks we’d never been to before. There are simply too many to hit in one day… small towns all over Oregon have amazing skateparks. This shot is from Aumsville, Oregon which apparently doesn’t actually allow bikes, but it was empty, so oops. I am putting together a bike check for ESPN BMX on Ryan’s bike, and we got a couple shots on this trip for that feature. Trails style merging with concrete is always a good thing.
This week I got to check out a preview of the Mongoose bikes documentary Know Your Roots that Plywood Hood Legend Mark Eaton directed along with mountain bike film maker Don Hampton. Mark also directed the awesome BMX documentary Joe Kid on a StingRay as well as a great film on BMX racing icon Stu Thomson. This piece was produced by Mongoose, but I goes beyond a typical promo piece. This thing really delves into the history of the Mongoose brand. When I was getting into BMX in the early ’80s, Mongoose was toward the top of the list of bikes every kid wanted. I even rode a Mongoose Decade for a bit in the 1990s. The film goes way back — 40 years to the roots of the brand — and touches on the development of the infamous MotoMag. The directors got some great interview with Mongoose Pros past and present, and it’s a must-see for anyone with an interest in BMX racing or freestyle. Mark tells me it will be released for free online this week, so I’d keep your eyes peeled on the Mongoose site.
Urban Snowboarding on a Warm Day
Yesterday I went up to Seattle and shot the Sixth annual Downtown Throwdown, a snowboard rail jam in Occidental Square. Hundreds of bags of trucked in snow and some rail features brought out a huge crowd. At one point a lady asked me “is this one of those Occupy protests I’ve been seeing on the news?” Yes, yes it is. You can see the full gallery here on Yobeat.
Yobeat Apparel Fall 2011 / Winter 2012
Here’s the look book we started sending out last week to retailers for the fall 2011 / winter 2012 Yobeat line. This stuff should be available in select snowboard related shops around the country in the coming month or so, and it’s all available now on the Yobeat online store. In addition to the above Issue flipbook, it’s also downloadable as PDF here. All this stuff gets designed and printed in house. 25 different styles plus colorways… I didn’t realize it was that much stuff until we put it all together.
Seattle Skate Contest
I’m a bit slow in posting this one… just pretend I had to get the film processed. Anyway, about a week ago, right before driving to California, I shot a Red Bull skate contest at Marginal Way skatepark in Seattle. It was an elimination, jam format contest, where teams from different Washington area codes competed against each other. At the end the winners got some cash, as well as a donation in their names to the skatepark. The final round was amazing. All three of the guys on the team had some insane lines through the park. Check out a few more after the jump. You can blow them up by clicking. Read more…