Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rumblings of Change: The Future's So Loud, I Gotta Wear Earplugs

(Sistine Crustacean by Erik K)

The Internet is a wonderful thing. As a member of the highly-coveted 18-64 age demographic (you can sell me anything from gaming consoles to erectile dysfunction medication) I can remember a time before every home and office had access to the Internet--or even a computer. Back then, when I was somewhere between 1 and 47 years old, we couldn't just forward each other videos of heavyset men who look like Tad Doyle riding around in thongs. Instead, we had to re-enact them in person at work or in the schoolyard through an elaborate series of pantomimes, or else recreate the video by obtaining a pad of Post-it notes (this was new technology at the time--Post-it notes were SMS messages 1.0) and turning it into a rudimentary flip-book.

However, the Internet also has its drawbacks. For example, there's the increasing problem of identity theft. Even worse, if your identity gets stolen or you don't even have one in the first place it's way too easy to download one. See, "back in the day," you couldn't just see an identity on the Internet, gauge its popularity and "cool factor," and then decide to adopt it, all within a matter of minutes. Instead, you maybe saw or heard about something that seemed interesting (perhaps in a friend's Post-it note flip-book or while traveling into town to see the village blacksmith for new horseshoes) and then spent weeks or months obtaining more information and the necessary equipment before you even got to try it out. (Sure, people copied other people back then too, but you at least had to get near those people in person in order to copy them. And sometimes they smelled bad.) Plus, unlike now, there were no guarantees about how the world at large would react to your new "steez." Your new identity might get you laid (although "back in the day" people said "getteth you lain"), or you might be severely beaten (or, in the language of the times, "catch a beatdown"). I remember "hitting up" the blacksmith many years ago wearing my brand-new George Frideric Handel World Tour 1733 poet shirt and the bastard called me a "poseur," stuck a hot poker in my eye, and hobbled my Mongolian cyclocross bike, Ol' Dynamite. Sadly, those days are gone--nowadays I could have at least deflected the blow with my iPhone.

As for cycling, it looked a lot different in the pre-Internet days:

Road Bike

Mountain Bike

Track Bike

Power Meter

Pro Cyclist



Yes, back then, you didn't "drop" a "collabo." The "collabo" dropped you.

But perhaps the worst thing of all about the Internet is the proliferation of documentary films. It used to be that people would wait until after something happened to make a documentary about it. In fact, once in awhile filmmakers would even wait until the subject or person had disappeared altogether. (I know it's hard to believe, but it's true.) At the very least, they'd usually wait until the subject they wanted to document had had some significant cultural impact. Like, you probably could have gotten away with making a documentary about the Vietnam "Collabo" while it was still happening, since it was what people back then used to call a Big Fucking Deal.

You may have read about this in the New York Times awhile back, but in any case here's the description:

Last summer in a rented garage on the outskirts of Queens, NY something incredible was happening. A group of imaginative tinkerers from Trinidad were working late into the nights creating something nobody had ever seen before: enormous stereo systems jury rigged onto ordinary bmx bikes. Traveling together, each behind the handlebars of his or her own massive homemade creation, they treat the neighborhood to an outrageous impromptu music and dance party on wheels. Directed by Randall Stevens, Made In Queens is a film celebrating America's first stereobike crew.

Is this "something incredible," really? I mean, clearly these kids have some ingenuity, and using ingenuity to have fun is in many ways what youth is all about. So too is figuring out novel ways to enjoy really loud music. But it seems to me like a lot more has to happen before young people enjoying loud music warrants a documentary. Probably the most famous instance in modern times of young people enjoying loud music was the Woodstock Festival, and that just barely qualified for a documentary due to the various artists who played, the number of people who attended, and the historical context in which it took place. Even then, "Woodstock" the film is only slightly a documentary and it's only separated from concert films like the unintentionally hilarious "The Song Remains the Same" by the width of a hippie's pubic hair. (In fact, given the hairy hippie bathing scenes "Woodstock" is mostly a "nature documentary.") Nothing against these kids in Queens, but until half a million of them gather somewhere together in a massive self-indulgent show of dissatisfaction with the status quo while their poorer peers are being conscripted and getting their heads blown off then they're just really into sound systems.

Again, this is not a criticism of the kids, who are just doing what they do; it's a criticism of the director, who is using what they do to sell himself. Here's what the film's marketing materials have to say:

In other words, since these people have no intention to design and package themselves for public consumption, he's going to go ahead and do it for them. There may be "nothing calculated or self-conscious about who they are," but the director is another story, which is why he's good at making commercials and music videos:

I have nothing against commercials or directors of commercials either, but when they start using people's lifestyles as the basis for films that seem like pretentious commercials designed to sell the director it starts making me a little uncomfortable. ("I'm going to portray your recreation as a cultural phenomenon in order to show the world how insightful I am and maybe get hired to do something big.") The truth is, your lifestyle is only as safe from plundering as the rights to it are difficult to obtain, and I'm guessing in this case it was pretty easy.

Then again, maybe I've got it all wrong. I haven't seen the whole thing after all. Maybe it's transcendent, and people with giant speakers on their bikes are going to change our culture forever. Or else they're all going to open stereo shops in 15 years and get rich installing expensive aftermarket audio equipment in the next generation's SUVs. I guess until we can popular search engine the future we'll have to wait to find out.


Cav Not said...

Can it be??

Nogocyclist said...

Nogocyclist is not available at this time. He has taken his epic burrito to the cafeteria for lunch.
He should be back shortly for today's stage in le Tour de Lobster god, if nothing goes wrong.
What could go wrong. Nothing happens to anyone with an epic burrito.

If you want to leave a message, please leave it (in the comments section) after the tone.

Cav Not said...


Nogocyclist said...

top ten

Anonymous said...

top ten

Anonymous said...

hup hup...

BadBeard said...


Anonymous said...

top of the pops

BadBeard said...

3rd real comment.


cyclotourist said...


brother yam said...

top ten?

shoegazer said...


Doug V said...

always good

Cyclin' Missy said...

Top 15. Highest I've ever been.

Anonymous said...

If the movie was about dude bros with their car stereos, double-parking and encouraging the (annoyed) onlookers to dance, everyone would hate it. It's just noise pollution, no?

As my favourite rock t-shit says, "If it's too loud, turn it down."

erik k said...

it's kinda funny, cause I', allergic to lobster

hillbilly said...

Beautifully done, Erik K, and great post as usual, snob.

Now maybe bike manufacturers can hop on the bandwagon and market stereo bicycle specific frames...the Trek Track. Specialized Langster Club, maybe the Groove, or the Vibe, or the Pulse......

hillbilly said...

Beautifully done, Erik K, and great post as usual, snob.

Now maybe bike manufacturers can hop on the bandwagon and market stereo bicycle specific frames...the Trek Track. Specialized Langster Club, maybe the Groove, or the Vibe, or the Pulse......

Nogocyclist said...

Bike snob,

You have enlightened me about the olden days. Back when I first got a computer you did not have a Terabyte hard drive if you were into buying the latest greatest thing. It took me a year to save up to buy that computer with two drives, not just one. That computer had two 5-1\4" drives.

Of course you could download a ten minute video back then if you could find one. At 300 baud you could have watched it after downloading it. Of course you could have rode you bike to the video store in the next town that had one, picked it up on Beta, and finished watching it long before it downloaded.

hillbilly said...

really wasn't worth a double post. I apologize.

ant1 said...


Nogocyclist said...

Please make sure the kid who created that flip book never gets an SUV.

roomservicetaco said...

RTMS, I usually agree with your takes on the co-opting of 'cultures' or sub-groups, but today I diagree or perhaps miss the point.

The purpose of documentary filmmakers is to tell stories. To that end, I'm not sure I see anything wrong with telling these kids' stories. Maybe it's an interesting worthwhile story, maybe not. But, I'm not sure what difference it would make to tell this story now versus waiting for the passage of time to see how 'significant' these kids become.

Certainly, the directors would not be the first directors (or authors, or musicians) to have bigger goals in mind when they take on a project. From the trailer, it doesn't seem like these kids were taken advantage of in the Jersey Shore kind of way (subject takes it seriously, but director is laughing at rather than with the subject). They are just telling the story.

And, of course, there are more documentaries today than in previous sections of the Daschund of Time simply because there are more and cheaper cameras available. If Truman Capote could have researched In Cold Blood using a Flip camera, he probably would have.

Disgruntl Ed. said...

"separated from concert films," you meant to say?

If I ever have a rock t-shit, it won't be my favourite. Not that I have favourites about this kind of thing. So far so good.

wishiwasmerckx said...

("I'm going to do portray your recreation as a cultural phenomenon in order to show the world how insightful I am and maybe get hired to do something big.")

Isn't that the basic premise of the musical "Rent," which I saw some 525,600 minutes ago?

mikeweb said...

Got sucked into watching more flip books. The bus one was the best though, especially because of that rockin' soundtrack.

"Bob" said...


grog said...


Sarah P said...

Top 20? Yeoza!!!
Eriks gonna burn for that...

grouchy old man said...

turn down that damn bicycle, i'm trying to sleep!

Satan said...

Nice pic Erik. Very nice..

Astroluc (Find me on Tumblr and Instagram @Astroluc) said...

my question is this... why, in the directors bio snippet, does the writer feel the need to specify "still photography"? Isn't there already a way to differentiate between photography and video? You certainly don't hear or read people in our modern age ("right around now" on the dachshund of time) using some old-timy, "olden days" term like moving pictures to describe a movie or "talkie" these days... so why the "still photography"? the immortal words of the late prophet George Carlin “The more syllables a euphemism has, the further divorced from reality it is”


love the pics of "Old Skool" bikes.

Anonymous said...

"I guess until we can popular search engine the future we'll have to wait to find out." guh? zuh?

Manifest Destiny said...

Theft - the American way!

BikeSnobNYC said...


Well said. To me, it just feels like somebody coolhunting rather than earnestly trying to document something he's interested in, and I'm not sure what the "something incredible is happening" is. It's like he wants to discover the next breakdancing so he's filming these kids with giant speakers on their bikes. But, as I said, maybe I've got it all wrong...


Anonymous said...

the question is, are these sound systems hi-fi... because those are the two most important things in a stereo system.

Unknown said...

TOP 40!!!!!!!!!!!!!

M. Damone said...

As long as the stereo cyclists know when it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:33, insert "Google" for "popular search engine."

TheTye said...

All you Directors: Exploit my Trinidadian Boombox


Snob I was getting worried, Black history month is almost over and no mention, but I guess since those kids are from trinidad and you mentioned Yusef Hawkins yesterday you retain your honorary membership.

leroy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Isolation Helmet said...

Until they install surround sound on a bike I am nonplused.

No not just surround sound but also full 1080p video.

BikeSnobNYC said...


In honor of Black History Month I'm also working on an undercover expose about racism at the NAHBS. It's called "Lugs and Intolerance."


leroy said...


The ease with which one's identity can be co-opted today underscores that you should take a cue from Salman Rushdie for your upcoming book tour and enlist celebrities to read from your forthcoming opus in your place.

If Morgan Freeman isn't available, what about Regis Philbin or Kelly Ripa?


Make sure its LugZ and intolerance.

ant1 said...

snobby - i can do your book store appearances down here in atlanta if you'd like.

TJ Eckleburg said...

That's my old "hood". I saw them filming on a call to reset my mothers cable box. I thought it was an episode of cops.

Anonymous said...

"Made In Queens is a film celebrating America's first stereobike crew."

oh really? have you been to, or seen critical ass in the last 10+ years? Always a few jackasses (in that crew yo) with stereos attached to their bikes. I don't wanna hear your crappy music.

agent detroit said...

@rtms didn't this movie "drop" @ last year's bicycle film fest? how did you miss that? i'm interested in the nahbs scandal, though. tell more...

Pontius Pilate said...



Anonymous said...

Eww. For those of us who were sentient during the Vietnam war, that picture of the VC being executed still has terrible shock power. Even though I never got near the place, being about 1 year too young ...

San Fran Nan said...

All you people are stupid fuckers.

My tooties don't smell like poo poo, you know.

Nogocyclist said...

Bike Snob, your link to the video to the heavyset guy riding a bike in a thong did not work correctly.

You can check out at yesterday's comments, I left a link to a similar video in the 7th comment, I believe.

No matter where I clicked on your video, I got the same video. In my video link yesterday, you had choices. Click Far left on the link you got a crazy guy like the one today but dancing. Click in the middle right and you got some women. Click far right and you got two young women (who were attractive but not exactly Rhodes Scholars.)

I want choices with my questionable links!

Matt said...


Pick Two

Anonymous said...


rural 14 said...

ant 2nd

The execution could have found a lot of other stuff to make your point; that photo doesn't belong in satire, or this type of cultural commentary.

And I'm all for bad taste etc etc; but this is not a question of "taste" - it is as meaningful an image as the 9/11 planes hitting the Twin Towers.

Now back to your regularly scheduled funny blather -

Anonymous said...

let me tell you what I would do if I happened to come across bicycles with speakers blaring noise. I would fill a bucket of water and dowse the speakers and stereo with water and that would solve that

Anonymous said...

Re: your comment about Woodstock
"...massive self-indulgent show of dissatisfaction with the status quo while their poorer peers are being conscripted and getting their heads blown off ..."

As someone who was there (I think...), all I can say to your statement is "Correct !!!!... although in my case I did fail my draft physical because I had a cyst on my ass...."

WBLS said...


3G said...

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All you haters adjust my fader

3G said...


best knuckle tat ever!

OBA said...


Would appreciate a little warning before you link to something that gruesome again.

It has already been said...

Cool Hunted

I like those places where they release the coolest stuff found into a confined area and if you pay enough you can kill it relatively easily and then get it stuffed and mounted for your vacation home.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Rural 14,

In retrospect, yes, I could have done a better job of photo editing. Acknowledged.


Anonymous said...

That poet shirt and leather pant collabo is hot.

Anonymous said...

Man that collabo took me by surprise.

On a lighter note, I'd like to see a retrospective of Erik K's work. "Mescaline-induced curling/bike polo freakout" is my personal favorite.

Test Tickle said...






yogisurf said...

....come into my neighborhood with that loud noise...don't expect a welcoming party....and while you are at it, GET OFF MY LAWN.

Fergie said...

I can't speak to any documentary cashing in on these kids, but I saw these guys myself at the last bicycle film festival in NYC.

These were awkward electronics nerds who probably went through a shitstorm everyday of school, and suddenly they were in a crowd that appreciated their talents and the fruits of their efforts. Girls were dancing to the music, and taking pictures with them and their bikes. The were cool.

It is easy to scoff at these kids, and dismiss their bikes and the whole scene, but it isn't easy for most folks to be cool in today's society, especially at that age (ask me how I know!). Rather then take the 'bike culture is closed' attitude, invite people in. At worst it just means more loud bicycles then Hummers or lowered Civics!

Nogocyclist said...

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Bikes from the pre-Internet days are fixed gears.

Alright all you hipsters, I want to see a video of you doing an elephant skid from one of those.

No. Then how about a wheelie/bar spin then?

PCLA said...

From the land of epic friendships and cops:

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck wants bicyclists to know they have a friend in him.

Speaking to a group of bicyclists, Beck said bicycle riders are the city's most valuable commuters and the department needs to do a better job protecting them.

"We hear you, we know we need to do a better job for you," Beck said in the LA Times.

ant1 said...

Fergie - it's the director that was scoffed at.

also, how do you know?

BikeSnobNYC said...


Good point. I like the kids and want them in--it's the director I'm not so sure about.


ervgopwr said...

...and so he reached out and touched his pinchy appendage...

who cares about the book tour?!

what about the book party?

The trinidad kids can bring the sounds...

Joe. said...

I saw this documentary at the BFF in Chicago last summer, and it was very boring. The production was laughably amateur. I could have pieced together something on par with it halfway through my first semester of Video Production in high school. The subject matter and story is interesting on its own merit, but the way it's presented is bland, repetitious, and lifeless.

Joe. said...

To be more specific, you could have boiled the whole thing down to a 1 minute trailer and captured about 95% of the parts that are actually interesting.

Anonymous said...

I don’t get what a picture of a guy getting shot in the head has to do with making fun of bicycle culture.

I don’t even get what it has to do with “collabo.”

Anonymous said...

flip books are cool.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:31

"collabo" = "collaborating with the enemy"..

I guess you had to be there.

mander said...

I can see how someone might not think the execution picture is acceptable satire, especially someone with a large enough yearway. Me, I chuckled.

db said...

No, no, this is what a collabo looked like back in the day.

Dr. Makim ben'Dover said...

The gentleman in the painting must be Needle Dick the Bug Fucker.

Anonymous said...

Was the guy getting shot a collaborator? Or was the idea that collaborators get shot, and therefore let’s use this picture of someone getting shot, which will be interpreted as a reference to collaborators?

Anonymous said...

Get a grip, snob. these kids will get seriously laid because of this documentary. don't cock block.

eeeeeeeeee said...

Not impressed until someone mounts some MagnaPans.

Rick Donkey said...

Anon @ 5:20pm

Jeebus-Fucking-Christ learn to read!!! BSNYC/RTMS made it a point is his post, several times in fact, that his disdain is with the director not with the Trinidadians and their mobile discothèques.

Eric said...

Riding solo with in-ear earphones on a ride to Nyack may be a little unsafe for me and not inviting to other riders to be social with me, but adding giant speakers on a bicycle is the musical equivalent of slapping your dick across the face of every pedestrian or other rider within earshot. I'm assuming none of this ingenious crew of "audiophiles" are women. This is another way for an admittedly downtrodden group of scalawags looking to get noticed.and expressing themselves. Unfortunately, they don't have a clue that forcing their musical taste on others is over. Hence why we have awesome in=ear earphones. Use them!

George Not Hincapie said...

I have to agree with -rural 14- the VC pic stopped me violently. It also takes a big snob to acquiesce, kudos. This is quite a group of followers...

[The picture was shot by Eddie Adams who won the Pulitzer prize for it. The picture shows Nguyen Ngoc Loan, South Vietnam’s national police chief executing a prisoner who was said to be a Viet Cong captain.]

Paul said...

In my country, you don't "drop" a "collabo," "collabo" drops you.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Will you actually be at NAHBS?

flynn said...

@Eric- They're kids you crabby old bastard, cockslapping is what being a kid is all about. Don't worry I doubt they'll be sharing the route out to Nyack with you anytime soon; those bikes aren't super aero. Also, the first person shown in the trailer is, in fact, a chick.

Anonymous said...

saw it at the oakland bff. lacks context, drags on. kids are cool though.

Anonymous said...

Maybe next time you can go for even more laughs and show a picture of someone getting lynched.

Broiler said...


Edom bin necker said...

I remember them chiner fellers

one was long duc dong the other was hung too low

they was trying to get some sort of cap and trade arraingent to work

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leroy said...

Anon 9:21 --

So how do you feel about Lincoln jokes? Still too soon?

Humor is a bit like racing. If you've never crashed, you probably haven't been riding hard enough.

By the way, does anybody know where I can get a cheap pair of Nikes?

Sarah P said...

Yea baby!!

wishiwasmerckx said...


"So, Mr. Lincoln, other than that, how did you like the play?"

PCLA said...

"I'm going to portray your recreation as a cultural phenomenon in order to show the world how insightful I am and maybe get hired to do something big."

Wassup Larry Clark and David LaChappelle!

I read elsewhere today that "institutional historicizing almost inevitably excises the spirit of the original millieu it's trying to document"

stream of nothing said...

well said rural 14 and well said snob for acknowledgment of said comment :)

back to the fun....

Odile Lee said...

I watched vids of Robert Johnson playing some sweet blues for BHM. I wonder what people would make of a skinny white chick roadie, dressed like a ninja , playing that thru carbon speakers( I am too little for anything heavy), as I put put put;ed along thee road.

I believe in liberating the past, use old scary things in a new way to detox them( dont forget the truth tho).Thats why I used to collect and wear old uniforms from West bloc places.No nerdy scary person, but goths.
But I couldnt get that collabo joke

Odile Lee said...

that spam bot isnt too smart. If they wanted to sell some p nike stuff, it should have promoted Nike Livestrong gear!!

Odile Lee said...

(sorry. totally dorked up comments from meself.)

Stupid Name said...

The picture of captain and tenile disturbed me more than bullet going through brains.

Pick your friends well. pick your dictators better.

I guess the bike film festivals are all about filler. Count chocula vs. Total.

Get more fiber.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

good post

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