In 1998 I was living at the Lapensee Youth Hostel (those who know, know) and my buddy @uhlsbrewingco had landed me a gig as a wrench at Belleview Bikes in Alexandria, VA. It is while working there that – save for possibly my 1985 neon green Haro Master – I bought ‘the bike that started it all’. The 1998 Gary Fisher Ziggurat. I was actually gunning for the full suspension Joshua-1, but got impatient about saving money and wanting a new bike and at the time this was a really nicely appointed hardtail. OH MY DOG EM I EVER GLAD I DIDN’T GET THAT JOSHUA. Totally lucked out there. I got so much more ride out of this one.
I’ve still got the receipt. Original Price $1349 retail – the boss (our friend, Steve? Dave? I forget) actually wrangled it so I got both $100 off AND my $343 pro-deal. Then the first thing I did was swap the flat bar for an Azonic Riser bar that was the butter – what a great bar…. This bike was the link that tied everything back to the bmx days and building bikes in the garage. When I moved to Canada to live with my future wife, I brought everything I owned with me – literally. You could do that back then. I took a flight to Montreal and then caught a train to Bathurst with 2 bike boxes, 2 giant hockey bags and a backpack. Just typing this out is starting to get to me because I sold the damn Ziggurat in 2017. Sigh.
I don’t even have any pictures of it from before I painted it. How is THAT possible? Oh yeah, it was PRE-smartphones. And those Azonic bars, man, I totally should have at least kept those. Double sigh. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I just sold another bike. The Giant XTC. It’s been magical as well. First high-end carbon hardtail. Zing. We’ve been ‘some places’. How dumb am I gonna feel in 10 years? Selling the Giant has facilitated the Birth of the Karate Monkey though. So that’s the next chapter. When I hear other people talking about selling bikes I always say “don’t sell it, you’ll regret it!” And then I sell one – but that one is always THE LAST ONE I’M GOING TO SELL EVER.
So, my oldest kid came over this weekend and it seems she’s landed in that phase of life that many of us have – the one in which we choose to throw off the bonds of our natural hair colour and experiment. That sent me looking at old photos of myself from one of these phases – of which there were a few. It would seem that apple landed somewhere near the tree. Important items of note in this photo;
I still own the flannel Abercrombie and Fitch shirt I’m wearing in this photo – and I was actually wearing said shirt the first time I met my wife. That it has lasted through the volume of abuse and substances I’ve thrown at it should make A&F proud, a testament to their knowledge of fine stitchery, or at the very least their ability to sub-contract some. The t-shirt I’m wearing was one of a limited edition of three hand screen printed by yours truly. Though most people found it humorous at the time, it is a simple print of one line of text that would surely get me kicked off the island, cancelled and blocked and reported now. It most certainly makes me ineligible for higher public office or a Supreme Court seat. I have no idea where the other two are.
The gentleman next to me is not on Instagram, is currently a commercial star of considerably minor repute living in Hollyweird who would serve as the best man at my wedding.
Finally, those of of my generation-ish should stop for a moment and consider the significance and ubiquity of the venerable Solo Cup in your past. Chances are, it’s been there with you through some of both the worst and the best times of your life. I can think of few things that upon sight alone could universally generate such a mind flood of flashbacks and cold shivers that is both enrapturing and gut wrenching at the same time. Grab one today and just hold it for a minute and see what appears in any one of your mind’s eyes. Maybe have a Tums ready as well.
Back in another lifetime when I was living in a house with anywhere from 5-7, dare I say what would now be referred to as Dude Bros, my buddy and I made many mixtapes for the purposes of ‘rocking out.’ Parties. In the car on the way to hockey. Workouts. Whatevs. We hand a bent for what was then deemed ‘classic rock’ partly due to our access to both his Dad’s and his older brother’s CD collections. That combined with our complete Rush catalogue (our fave band, Prog Rock Dude Bro bonding at it’s finest), and some other CDs we were buying at the time was the bulk of what we had to pull from. Things like infinite Apple Music libraries were a pipe dream. I still have huge box of cassettes in the garage. I play them when wrenching. They work good in the cold. There’s many store bough albums or complete duped albums, but some mixes as well. Many are ambiguously labelled or with no label at all. Figured I’ll start sifting through the ‘unknowns’ and see what’s on em. First up, this one labelled simply, ‘MIX’. Track listing:
Side: First Side I Played
The Ocean – Led Zeppelin
Dogs of War – Pink Floyd
Working Man – Rush
Carry on My Wayward Son – Kansas
The Punk and the Godfather – The Who
Life in the Fast Lane – The Eagles
La Villa Strangiato – Rush
Side: Other Side
White Room – Cream
Sister Disco – The Who
Rhythm Method (Live Drum Solo from ‘A Show of Hands’) – Rush
Feels So Good – Van Halen
Walking Towards Paradise – Robert Plant
Locomotive Breath – Jethro Tull
Emotion Detector – Rush
Run Like Hell [Live, Delicate Sound of Thunder] – Pink Floyd
Foxy Lady [Live at Winterland] – Jimi Hendrix Experience