Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Rider Down

According to the FBM website (aka Steve Crandall), Metal Bikes head honcho and toothpick master Jimmy Levan "has taken a spill, and is in a hospital with some serious head injuries." Others who were there said the spill took place on a skateboard, and that he may be in a medically induced coma. I'm not sure exactly what to believe at this point. Over the years Jimmy has taken seemingly countless nasty blows to the head and come out no worse for wear. Hopefully, in the end, this one will be no different.

Get well soon. Jimmy. You've got a lot of friends out here.

(Photo from the Fox Jam at the Brooklyn Banks, June 2, 2007.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Li'l Taco

This is Li'l Taco. I'm not sure where he's from, or how old he is (I've heard both 14 and 16, I think) but I DO know he a) did this rail pegless, and b) tried to 180 the MLK steps. Ludicrous. Now he's doing truckdrivers and tailwhips. Kid's too good.

Photos from August 12th of this year.

Monday, October 29, 2007


This shot is my desktop image right now. '32 Ford coupe parked on 4th Avenue and 11th (or thereabouts) after midnight a couple weeks back. D50 with the 10.5 fisheye, no flash. Can't remember the F-stop or aperture (I should really write that stuff down sometimes).

Banks jam setup. Shot with the Exilim point-and-shoot, no flash, balanced on the curb at the top of the bank. I think it looks like a New York scene out of the '70s—except for my bike, of course. And the ramps. The wedge pyramid didn't even last a week. The quarters are still there.

The sign above the door at Max Fish on Ludlow between Houston and Stanton. Shot with the D50 and my little-used LensBaby 2.0. I really should use that thing more.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Photo shop

I am not a professional photographer.

Not only have I never taken a photography class or been paid for a photo, but I've pretty much only shot digital (at least when it comes to BMX). There's something romantic and real about shooting film, but I like a) being able to see my images right away, and b) being able to store 500-plus full-sized frames on one 2g SD card. I also don't carry much equipment. Three lenses, the camera body, and that's about it. I have a slave flash, but the (light activated) remote isn't very reliable. Not to mention I need AAs for it. The one thing I absolutely should invest in is a spare battery for my camera, because I'm forever forgetting to charge mine, then having it die at the most inopportune moments.

(You know, I actually did shoot 35mm news photos--and develop them--when I worked briefly for the Oxford (PA) Tribune right out of college. Not sure if that qualifies me as a pro, though.)

I'm also not one for a lot of setup time. I like to think part of it is because I approach BMX photography from more of a journalistic standpoint (record what's happening without influencing it), but part of it is because I'm kind of lazy. All too often do I realize too late that I should have been standing THERE instead of HERE. And that maybe I should have started using my 50-200 lens before last week. But my normal MO is just pulling the camera out of the bag when I see something interesting happening (or about to happen) and try and capture what I can.

Sometimes there's someone filming already, and I'm always conscious that my flash could mess up a line, either by distracting the rider or rendering the clip unwatchable. So, I improvise. In this case, Nigel was doing a 180 on the bank to barspin out (I think) and the slow shutter speed captured it in a different way. I really like the blur of the front wheel and bars. If I was a real photographer, I would have set up a tripod up top and stabilized the background but, yeah, I'm not.

I really like this next one, although it seems it could benefit from some further brightness/contrast adjustment. If I remember correctly, this was a session where we were messing with the "bulb" setting, where the shutter stays open as long as you keep the trigger pressed down. You can set it up so the flash fires twice, once when the shutter opens and again when it closes. The hope was, with the camera stationary, that it would pick up a double-exposure image of a feeble-to-smith. It didn't. But the ghost feeble is still kind of cool.

(This post was somewhat inspired by Keith Romanowski's latest update over at Ride LI. Keith IS a real photographer, and his stuff is super-rad. Check it out.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Still Life

Clearing more stuff off the desktop.

Stack of kids bikes in Portland, Oregon. I don't know if it was art, a class trip, or some sort of horrible first-grade pile-up.
Downtown NYC. Architecture from a period best left forgotten.

Banks Jam setup night, around 4 a.m. I have NO IDEA who would ever want to tag a wall like that. I mean, that kind of thing is ILLEGAL.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Kool Stuff

Got to the Banks sort of late today due to an extremely late night last night. These things happen. Anyway, Mike Hoder was there, and while he didn't flipwhip over the rail out of the bank or anything, he sure did some high wallrides. Lazyman steez with the camera, wideangle sideways shots without even looking through the viewfinder or using a flash. By the time I switched positions to shoot from a different (and better) angle, the show was over. Oh well.

Ruben, really, whatever you want to call it.
Check out the face of the kid in the red T. Priceless.

The last two shots could be in Highlights magazine as one of those "point out the differences" things.

Today in the Life

Nick "Spam" Ponterio wallslap.

Joey "AM:PM" Piazza hanger tooth.

Frank "Winteractive" Macchio whip.

Eric "He's Like, 15" legburn turndown.

Joey "Look For the Official Matt Brown Photo" Piazza hang over.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Random photo post

Just what the title says, fool.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


So, I'm in Utah on some basketball-related business. Quick trip--got in yesterday around 1 pm, and the shuttle to the airport is picking me up in less than an hour (It's currently 10:40 a.m. local time). Twenty-four hour turnaround. Good times. I didn't bother bringing my bike, which was for the best since it actually hailed yesterday. Despite the fact that it was sunny out. Utah is strange. Still, it was nice to get out of the city and detox, even if only for a day. The photo up top is the view from a step outside my motel room. (Yes, I said motel room. It did have a Tempurpedic bed, at least. Not bad.)

And, to keep things BMX, here's a year-old (October 10, 2006, to be exact) shot of Joel Moody icepicking the Bakery Ledge. So artsy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Sometimes photos slip through the cracks, you know? I go through the trouble of resizing and renaming them, and then they wind up sitting on my hard drive for, uh, 10 months. Oops. So instead of posting these two shots of Oba Stanley back in December when I took them (or at least in January when I posted the shots of Skinny that I took on the same night), I let them marinate until now. My bad.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Have you ever ridden the Brooklyn Banks? This may seem, to some, a silly question. After all, it's the most popular spot in the five boroughs, is it not? People come from all over the world to ride it, skate it, take pictures of it. The question should not be "have you ever ridden there," more like, "have you ridden there today"? Right?


Because the spot you know as the Brooklyn Banks, thats only half the story. This is the other half.

This seemingly abandoned park across the street used to be the epicenter of the Brooklyn Banks. When you said you were going to the Banks, THIS is what you meant. You'd only ride the big banks if the small banks were too crowded (which they often were). The big banks weren't nearly as much fun—no transition—and were often left to kids from the projects. Skaters rode the brick waves first, then BMXers adopted it, most notably with the 1989 Meet the Street contest (do yourself a favor and watch all five parts). Then came Animal and BASE Brooklyn, capturing the action through the '90s and '00s—Will Taubin stalling the sub wall with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, Tyrone Williams abubacing the same wall, and most famously, Grimaldo Duran launching over the fence onto the access ramp. I'm sure skateboarders have even more memories.

But when the banks were renovated following the 9/11 attacks, the small banks were converted into a park. And slowly but surely, they've been forgotten. By everyone, apparently, judging from the weeds. A tiny space tucked out of the way between two police-use roadways, the Brooklyn Bridge and a now-abandoned access ramp, the small banks are a horrible park for the same reason they were a great riding spot—no one ever finds it by accident. And why would anyone want to go there on purpose? The only people I've ever seen using the benches are the homeless. Even without the history, it was a questionable place to put a park.

But the history makes it that much worse. Steve Rodriguez of 5Boro skateboards, the Banks staunchest supporter (without whom we wouldn't be riding ANYTHING down there, mind you), has spoken of replicating the small banks in a new skatepark in another borough. Which is fine, but seems silly when the real thing is still sitting there, undamaged and sleeping.

So admit failure, New York. Do the right thing. Take up the benches, and put them somewhere where they'll actually be used. Re-brick the soil, and return the small banks to their former glory. Let another generation of skaters and BMXers enjoy what used to be one of the best riding spots in the world. Make the Banks whole again.

(Joey wrote about this first over on Native, by the way.)

Dave Voelker 360ed in off this wall in 1989.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Welcome fall

Hot enough for ya?
If your dog is smaller than your shoes, you're doing something wrong. This little critter was dragged (literally) past us three times--which was good, because the first time I didn't have my camera out, and the second time I forgot to turn it on. Third time was a charm. I would have used the flash, but a) I didn't want the owners to flip out, and b) I thought the "dog" might be incinerated.

Charles Hearn, seatgrab. If I pulled the trigger a split-second later, it probably would have looked more like a toboggan. Shot from a distance with my 55-200, which for some reason I'd never used before.

Take two. AM:PM. (Note the kids playing in the background. I thought someone might flip out when they saw me--a bearded guy in a hoodie--pointing a long-lensed camera in their direction. Thankfully, no one said anything.)

Joey Piazza splitting the uprights like Adam Vinatieri. Field goal barrier hop.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interbike photos?

No one's posted anything yet except for Dig. Step it up, slackers.

P.S. The Metal tandem at the Odyssey booth is outstanding. Jimmy LeVan and Sean Burns should do a record-setting kicked-out toothpick on it.

P.P.S. Re: The Ian Schwartz Sunday frame. Predictable "seatpost" setup. Surprised it took this long for someone to actually do it.

Animal Jam 2007

I didn't go for very long this year. Got there late, left early (after the second fight of the day jumped off, so to speak). As it turned out, I missed the good (Andrew "Street Sweeper" Mick demolishing the rail) along with the bad (long-time local Mel getting hit by a moron on a Harley who decided the Banks would be a good place for burnouts—pun intended). Last year I took something like 300 photos, this year it was more like a dozen. Which was a shame, seeing that Animal went through the trouble of building ramps (two three-sided wedges, one with a sub, and a wedge spine with a grind box going up and down) that the city has probably scrapped by now. Oh well.

Ended up rolling out with Joey Piazza (who was the subject of roughly 10 of the 12 photos I actually DID take at the Banks), Rob Dolecki, Wormz and one of the Corts brothers to some empty downtown spots (one of the happy side effects of the jam). Wormz, Corts and Dolecki split off from us to shoot some stuff for FBM, and Joey and I met up with a couple of his friends from Albany to ride a little more. Well, for THEM to ride a little more. Joey filmed, and I gave the Nikon a little more of a workout.

Feeble to hop-up camera-splash manual. Leonard Street.

Not-quite-flat rail up.

Not-quite-flat rail down.
Right now it seems like everybody's in Vegas at Interbike BUT me. Next year.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Page Sixsixsix

WHAT TWO NYC STREET SHREDDERS who have been the subject of multiple photos on this site are now on flow with legit bike companies? About damn time, too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Beautiful Godzillas

Yeah, I know. No new posts in a while. Save it. Anyway, inspired by this article, I took the photo below while sitting on the steps of the park off Christie and Houston.

I was made aware of said article by this blog, which is probably the greatest cycling-related blog in existence. Mainly since he, you know, updates it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Nike Campus lakejumping (finally!)

Hola. Sorry it took me so long to post this, the best part of the Nike 6.0 trip I went on a week and a half ago. Would have posted it earlier but a Vegas trip (and recovery from same) got in the way. More on that later.

To recap, Nike 6.0 flew a bunch of us action sports journalist types out to Portland, Oregon to get a better sense of the inner workings of Nike (which I already knew pretty well from my days at SLAM) as a whole and the 6.0 division specifically. Um, more on that later, too.

The day on campus concluded with a demo from the entire team—which, seeing that half the team is snow/surf/wake, was delivered primarily by the riders. Garrett Reynolds and Mike Spinner threw 360s and talwhips anywhere they pleased, while Nigel Sylvester stuck mainly to the wedge landing of the boxjump. That is, until a launch ramp was positioned by the gigantic manmade lake in the center of campus.

Said lake doesn't see much action. It's not stocked with fish, and, up to this day, the most oft-told story involving it was about a maintenance man who—on his first day, no less—drove his cart straight into it while trying to cut a corner too close.

Well, then there was August 16th. Nigel had to be talked into it, but only a little. He took two or three runs to scope it out, but that was it.

T-shirt and New Era were laid aside, and he 3'ed in on his first attempt.

Once the bike was wet, the only thing to do was try again.

Tuck no-hander.

One of the snowboard kids joined in—also on Nigel's ride. This was when I realized there were better positions to be had.

Same kid threw down one hell of a backflip on his second attempt. He went down with the ship, taking a big scrape to his back in the process, but it didn't seem to bother him much. He also couldn't find the bike right away, which made for an entertaining minute or two.

OK, this was crazy. When Nigel had the littlest kid on the team stand on his pegs, I had all sorts of bad visions—loopouts, coming up short, kid stepping off at the wrong time. But the launch was flawless.

The bike made it through the whole ordeal with flying colors—although he did snap his left crankarm yesterday. Collateral damage?

Riding on the back of Nigel's bike off a launch ramp into a lake wasn't even the most insane thing the kid did all weekend. Yes, that's spraypaint.

I guess other people were worried about the possible results too, because that was it. Nike giveth, Nike taketh away.