The Crew of the weekly Peel Sessions under the BQE in front of the Union Pool bar.
Hirouki Shinozuka, otherwise known as “Shino” and his companion Hal are back in New York City for Monster Track weekend. It was really good seeing both of them at Prolly’s Peel Sessions under the BQE in Williamsburg. Both of these Tokyo messengers were the subject of my short film, “Track Kaiju” which I put together for the Bicycle Film festival 2007. We finally got the chance to give them DVD’s because, we finally finished the DVDs. They seemed happy and that made me relieved because it took me almost a year to finish this project. Shino checking out the DVD.
I hoped they had as much fun in New York as we had making this movie. Mike Dee showed up for a brief appearance to welcome Hal and Shino, who we hadn’t seen in a year.
So we are pre-releasing this Monster Track Tribute DVD, tomorrow at the Gold Sprints Party. They will be $15.00. The Movie includes: My 20 minute short film, a 10 minute race video featuring the mastery of Lucas Brunelle and 20 minutes of interviewing with Mike Dee and Kym Perfetto before the actual race started.
There is commentary by Mike Dee and the film makers and a bunch of bonus material highlighting all the talent that goes into this big event.
Please come through and buy a copy.
Here is a little sample…a quick cut from Monster Track 2007.
Mayor Daley’s plan to curb motorists whose reckless driving endangers bicycle riders — with $150 fines that rise to $500 if there’s a bike crash — cleared a City Council committee today amid demands that the city do the same to cowboy cyclists.
Traffic Committee members said they’re all for throwing the book at drivers who open car doors in the path of cyclists, turn left or right in front of them or pass within three feet of their bikes.
But, they’re equally peeved about bike messengers who knock down pedestrians and about street racers who defy red lights in a mad dash to the finish line.
That’s what happened last month to 29-year-old Matthew Manger-Lynch. He was struck and killed by an SUV at Lincoln and Irving Park while competing in the “Tour da Chicago,” an “alley cat” street race in which cyclists compete with local traffic.
“One of the things that highlighted was the fact that laws should also be obeyed by the bicyclist. Here, we’re highlighting the motor vehicle obeying the law. Are we also going to insist that bicyclists obey the rules of the road,” said Ald. Bernard Stone (50th).
Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) said he has watched cyclists ride the wrong way down one-way streets, cut in and out of traffic and keep on going after causing accidents or knocking people down.
“How many of ‘em are stopping at stop lights? How many of ‘em are stopping at stop signs? How many of ‘em are putting their hands up when it’s time to make a turn? Those are serious issues … If I violate a law and I’m in my car, they take my license. Are we gonna license bicycles,” Cochran said.
Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said he’s all for targeting motorists to encourage people to ride their bikes to work to reduce downtown traffic congestion.
But, cyclists need to be “held accountable” as well.
“Some of our … less responsible bicycle messengers seem to have free rein over the streets in the downtown Loop area. For some of our more elderly citizens, we’ve had some close calls and, in fact, some collissions,,” Reilly said.
The city’s Bike 2015 Plan calls for new regulations against the city’s 300 bicycle messengers who make 1.1 million deliveries each year. They would be required to wear helmets and complete a city training session. Companies would be advised when messengers get tickets.
“I may have the pleasure of coming back to this committee again with an ordinance specifically related” to bike messengers, said Ben Gomberg, bike program coordinator for the Department of Transportation.
Gomberg said bicycle licensing has been studied and rejected in other cities as “administratively too difficult.”
But, he promised a summer crackdown to create a “level playing field.”
“If a bicyclist is going through a red light and endangering himself or motorists, we hope to work with the Police Department to ticket those behaviors,” he said.
Daley is an avid cyclist who once scraped the skin off his knee cap during a marathon bike ride in Michigan.
His ordinance establishes a $150 fine against motorists who endanger cyclists and $500 if the offense results in a bike crash. The same penalties would apply to double-parking in a marked lane that’s supposed to be shared between bikes and vehicles and to driving, standing and parking in a bicycle-only lane. —————————–
Hmmm just in time for Colombia to go to war with Venezuela and Equador. Hmmm I wonder who the CIA will side with in that nasty struggle. Socialist leaders who control a third of our our oil imports spouting off how Bush is the devil or Right wing military friendly Country gaining big bucks form our “never ending drug war.”
Maybe the bicycle can make everything ok.
Peace and Love.
oh, and check out Street Films video on how you too can move by Bicycle.
March 2nd at Hunter College. For the past four years, weâ€™ve explored the political dimensions of media and how it shapes our lives. In developing relationships between community and media organizations, the NYC Grassroots Media Coalition is working to re-imagine issues of access to, control of, and power over our media system. That means defining our struggle as a struggle for Media Justice. Join us at the 2008 NYC Grassroots Media Conference as we seek to define our understanding of and relationship to Media Justice as a community, and explore how we can not only envision an ideal world, but make this vision a reality.
Reverend Billy, the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir and the Not Buying It Band Sunday, March 2nd | 2:00pm At the Highline Ballroom. All Ages, Lunch and Spirits Served 431 West 16th Street, New York NY 10011 | Between 9th and 10th Ave Take the A,C,E or the L Train to 8th Ave and 14th Street Tickets $12 at High Line Ballroom or at the door!
BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, article by Jennifer Bleyer Photo by Times Photographer: Joe Fornabaio New York is a big crazy grid full of drivers who want to kill you,” says Mike Dee.
MIKE DEE, a 33-year-old bicycle messenger with waist-length dreadlocks and a chipped front tooth from a bike injury, has been zipping around Manhattan on two wheels for more than a decade, picking up and delivering packages, currently for Checker Courier.
In his spare time, Mr. Dee helps organize races known as alley-cats. Pioneered about 15 years ago by bicycle messengers to test the skills they developed in their work, these events involve barreling around the city and threading their way through traffic to find random destinations quickly.
On Saturday, hundreds of competitors will take part in Monstertrack, an annual event that is one of the cityâ€™s biggest alley-cat races. A few days before the race, sitting in his dark and cluttered apartment in Stuyvesant Town surrounded by a half-dozen bicycles and piles of spare bicycle parts, Mr. Dee talked about the life of a New York messenger, the rising popularity of alley-cats and the sheer anarchic fun of the race.
Twelve years ago, I was working as a doorman and my job was hell. It paid a lot, but it was mind-numbing and boring. Iâ€™d always see these messenger dudes coming to drop off packages in the building, and they seemed like they were having a good time. They didnâ€™t have to wear a monkey suit to work. If they got hassled, they rose above it with a smart remark and a broken-tooth smile. I was like, â€œI want to try that job out.â€ I reinvented myself.
It was pretty hard. Physically, your body changes a lot. You lose weight and get stronger and eat three times as much as you used to. You get more of an engaged street sense when it comes to traffic and getting hit by cars. New York is a big crazy grid full of drivers who want to kill you.
I was a messenger for a good two years before I even started hanging out with other messengers in Tompkins Square Park, where all the couriers would hang out after work. They were like, â€œWeâ€™re throwing a bike race.â€ A bike race? Donâ€™t we ride our bikes enough during the week? Theyâ€™re like: â€œNo, itâ€™s different! Youâ€™re gonna like it.â€ Then I figured out thereâ€™s more to this than low wages and dangerous working conditions. All right!
The first one I went to was a Halloween race called the Noose. Basically, they drew a hangmanâ€™s noose over Midtown Manhattan and put checkpoints along the line. An alley-cat is: You look at a map of the city and pick 5 to 20 checkpoints. Then the racers have to figure out the most efficient way to get from one to the next.
Because itâ€™s an illegal, unsanctioned sport, anybody can come down, pay $5 and race. And if you donâ€™t like to race, you can be a checkpoint worker outside or at a bike shop or bar or strip club, depending on where we put the checkpoint, and hang out, drink, sign or stamp manifests and try to pick up some boys or girls, whatever youâ€™re into.
Iâ€™ve been organizing races for 8 or 10 years. Every holiday, thereâ€™s usually an alley-cat. Thereâ€™s the Valentineâ€™s Day Massacre. On Halloween, there was the Triple Six, the Noose, the Pentagram. I organized these races last summer called the Five Borough Generals.
Iâ€™m surprised we didnâ€™t get a visit from Homeland Security solely based on the names of the races. There was the Rumble Through the Bronx, the Broadway Bomber, the Staten Island Invasion, the Queens Riot and the Battle for Brooknam. It was pretty awesome.
The next one coming up is Monstertrack, which is a race that I helped start. Ten years ago, Monstertrack had 45 entries. This year there should be 250 people. Way more than half of them wonâ€™t even be couriers.
Originally only bike messengers and their girlfriends came. Now itâ€™s regular people on their bikes saying: â€œI want to do that, too. That looks fun.â€ Itâ€™s a cultural phenomenon for young post-college kids getting these yuppie jobs that donâ€™t pay them any money, figuring theyâ€™re going to be paying off student loans the rest of their natural lives, or who canâ€™t get a job anywhere but a coffee shop with their art degrees. Theyâ€™re like, â€œIâ€™ll just get this track bike and stick a U-lock in my back pocket and ride around.â€
There are categories in the race. Thereâ€™s the overall winner, the female winner, the first-place out- of-towner. Out-of-towners usually donâ€™t pull it together. They donâ€™t have traffic like this in other cities. Unless the guyâ€™s smart or gets lucky, they usually come in 10th.
For some reason, companies donâ€™t want to sponsor underground illegal bicycle races through the streets. Theyâ€™re afraid that somebodyâ€™s going to get run over and killed. At Rumble in the Bronx last year, at least four people ended up in hospitals. Three while racing and one, my own roommate, got run over going home. His hand was literally underneath a car, but it wasnâ€™t broken.
We give away a prize for Best Crash at every alley-cat. Usually itâ€™s pretty cool. A guy shows up at the finish line with his bike on his shoulder holding a broken front wheel, or thereâ€™s blood streaming down his head, or heâ€™s missing skin on his arm. You need to give away prizes for things like that.