No Kickstands: a BMX memoir

Written by :
Published on : September 25, 2016

 

 

To quote Chief Jim Hopper on the Netflix original series Stranger Things: “bikes are like Cadillacs to these kids.” I couldn’t agree more Hop. From the time I learned to ride a bike without training wheels, till the start of high school, my BMX bike was my most prized possession. Well that and maybe my Sega Genesis. The bike represented freedom and independence. Pretty much everything Harley-Davidson owners say can be applied to kids and their bicycles. Time to grease up the bike chain and ask your mom for some slurpee money. This my story of a boy and his BMX bike.

 

My very first bike. A black and yellow Huffy with training wheels. I remember my parents talking me out of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed one. Their thinking being that I’d potentially grow our of my turtles phase and not like my whip anymore. Maybe they were right. We went with the black and yellow Huffy. I loved that tiny bike. I tore up the sidewalks as a little dude on that rig. I lost the training wheels around age six and never looked back.

 

training wheels

 

At 8-years-old, we moved to a new house and eventually my parents expanded the allowed territory of unsupervised bike exploration. Each following birthday saw the boarders of the zone get pushed a block or two. Soon, I had bicycle dominion over the whole neighborhood. I spent every day of summer glued to the bike. I honestly thought I was going to learn a bunch of tricks and go pro. But that dream required a proper big-kid ride which I didn’t have.

 

Without the funds for a whole new bike, I had to build my own. Part by part. I saved all my lawn mowing money with the hopes of buying a chrome dipped PK Ripper frame and forks (the skeleton of the bike) but it was still too rich for my blood. I would just stare at the bike in the store window like it was the guitar in Wayne’s World. After hearing my sob story, my elderly neighbor gifted me an old Schwinn that was buried in his garage. The bike was an antique and was not cool. But my dad encouraged me to not give up.

 

pk-ripper

 

Time for a make-over montage. I stripped down the bike and completely took everything apart. Then went steel wool crazy on the rust and old paint on the frame. Fresh paint and new rims and tires and it started to look like a vehicle again. But I still needed lots of little pieces and I was broke after the new wheels. So I did what most kids did. I stole.

 

A crew of us would go into the bike shop and I’d fill my pockets with whatever I needed/could get my hands on. I stole pedals, pegs, brake handles, grips, whatever. Before you call the cops or cop an attitude, let me say in my defense that the store we took from was run by a total asshole. Who would routinely hire thug older kids to steal bikes from young customers and resell the stolen goods. So if anything, I’m Robin Hood.

 

My frankencycle was now complete. It was solid matte black with silver pegs and handle bars. No kickstand. It looked like the Batmobile and I cherished it. Now I could finally get serious about the sport of BMX. But a strange thing happened, I wasn’t instantly amazing. It didn’t make sense. I had the perfect bike, the will of a champion and a chain wallet. What was I missing? Why was I always falling? And getting hurt?

 

BMX crash

 

Undeterred, I kept practicing. More curbs, rails and stairs. And with that, more cuts, scabs and tears. I want to say I was getting better but I really don’t think so. I couldn’t tail whip, bar spin or consistently land any legit tricks. Hell, I could barely bunny hop. Then, one afternoon, my whole BMX career changed forever.

 

I was pedaling down the sidewalks towards an intersection. The signal just flipped from the “walk” dude to the blinking “don’t walk” hand. Meanwhile, a green sedan approaches the intersection from a perpendicular street. It accelerates into a right turn at red light, just as I make my way into the cross walk. The bumper of the car plows into my front tire. Thankfully, I’m thrown forward unlike my bike which crumbles under the car as it screeches to a halt.

 

My knee scrapped so hard along the blacktop that it rubbed through my jeans and left pieces of gravel embedded in my skin. Total pink, bloody road rash. I was majorly shook up. The driver, a middle aged women, gets out and helps me up, she then frees the wreckage that was my prized BMX from under her shitty Ford Taurus. She tells me she is going to call the police on her car phone. In a daze, I watch as she gets in her car and drives away.

 

1993-Ford-Taurus

 

I drag my bike home two blocks and my parents naturally freak out. They call the cops (for real this time) and we file a report but no luck in finding the driver. Next time that happens, I know now to get the license plate number. I was devastated about the loss of my bike. But secretly, it was a godsend. I now had a great reason to stop pretending I was Dave Mirra and I could let BMX go. Without looking like a quitter. It was exactly what I needed.

 

Don’t get me wrong, that lady fucking sucks and I hope she has nightmares about what she did to me. But also thank you. Because BMX might have killed me if I didn’t stop.

 

Helmet.

 

 

 


The Best Classic Sports Video Games EVER!

Written by :
Published on : July 27, 2016

 

 

Sports video games these days are hyper-real. The latest versions of Madden and FIFA are so intense that I can barely stand it. I prefer my games a little more pixelated. It builds character. And if I wanted life-like sports action then I will just watch real sports. Which I do, all the time. But if you have a Super Nintendo and Mutant League Hockey then I’m coming over. So, let’s make some pizza rolls, get the bean bag chairs and blow the dust out of some of the best sports video games ever made.

 

I was born in 1985, so there aren’t too many legit sports games that are “before my time.” Odyssey, Atari, Apple Computers, Nintendo, Sega, Super Nintendo, Neo Geo, Sega Genesis, 32X, Playstation, Sega CD, Virtual Boy, Dreamcast, Xbox, Wii, PS4, Xbox 360—I’ve played it all. Plus all the handheld systems. Not just Game Boy, I mean everything. So believe me, these are the greatest sports video games Japan has to offer. I’ll break it down by sport because it’s too hard to rank them.

 

atari soccer

 

Basketball

Double Dribble

This Konami production was one of the first b-ball arcade games around. Full 5-on-5 action with fun cut sequences and even the singing of the National Anthem.

 

Barkley Shut Up and Jam!

This game makes the list because it was the first I can remember to feature street ball. Tipoff takes place on outdoor courts and players go by cool nicknames like Funky D and Fly By. Clearly, Sir Charles was ahead of his time.

 

NBA Jam

Two-on-two action with real NBA stars. No fouls, witty commentators and awesome secret code options for unlockable characters make this a classic. “He’s on fire!”

 

NBA Jam

 

Hockey

Mutant League Hockey

Monsters? On skates? Yes please. One of my personal favs. It was colorful, brutal and lots of fun. And better than its football equivalent (Mutant League Football).

 

Blades of Steel

Surprisingly good gameplay for 80’s standards. This release had full fledge hockey mechanics that blazed the trail for future titles. Plus it had fighting. So everyone loved it.

 

NHL ’94

Maybe the best hockey game ever made. It had real players and teams and dope controls for super fun action. The replay value was off the charts.

 

NHL 94

 

Baseball

– Wii Sports: Baseball

Maybe a little young to be a true classic but you get to really throw and swing using the motion-sensing controller. This blew everyone’s minds when it first came out. It also led to some property damage as my over-zealous friends threw the wii-motes around the living room.

 

RBI Baseball

The first console game to get the MLB license so it could feature real ball player’s names. Pretty deep in terms of options for hitting and pitching.

 

Hardball!

This earns its spot on the list because of how complex it was. Nothing was as deep or advanced as Hardball!. Options abound in play and management. An epic accomplishment.

 

HardBall

 

Football

Tecmo Super Bowl

What can be said about Tecmo that hasn’t already been said about Jesus? This was the standard to which all others will be measured.

 

NFL Blitz

Like NBA Jam but for football. Smaller play books, less players on the field but maximum entertainment. Most memorable thing would have to be insane, bone-crushing hits. Let’s see that again.

 

John Madden Football

This launched the biggest sports video game franchise ever. John Madden graced the cover. I don’t think he was worried about any curse.

 

Cyberball

7-on-7 football featuring robots of different shapes and sizes. The bots exploded if you tackled them hard enough. An arcade favorite for good reason.

 

NFL Quarterback Club 96

Full NFL license for teams and names? Check. Depth of plays and modes? Check. Quarterback challenge mode? Check. Challenge mode lets you take one QB and compete in a series of tests and drills. It’s the best.

 

QB Club 96

 

Other

Cruising USA

Still one of the sickest racing games. The arcade version rocks and can be found in bowling alleys and movie theaters around the country. This game was the model for all the fancy racers we have today.

 

Mike Tyson’s Punch Out

Best boxing game ever. Also one of the hardest. But it makes sense because no one could beat Tyson back then.

 

Duck Hunt

A Hall of Fame classic. Only thing I don’t like about this game is that fucking dog. If he laughs at me one more time, I swear we are taking him to live on grandpa and grandma’s farm.

 

Duck-Hunt

 

Road Rash

A motorcycle game where players compete in illegal street races for cash and glory. It’s the original Fast and the Furious. Also, you got to hit the other bikers with chains and clubs. You know kids liked that.

 

Pong

The original gangster of the sports video game world. There was nothing before Pong.

 

California Games

The first surfing game ever. Additionally, it featured skateboarding, roller skating, hacky-sack, frisbee and BMX. I’m not kidding. Hacky-sack or freestyle footbag as they call it. I’m surprised there isn’t any avocado in there.

 

california_games

 

I’m sure I’ve left out tons of awesome video games. Leave a comment and if it’s convincing enough, I’ll go on ebay and buy it. But if you want to come over and play then you’ll need to bring snacks. Bagel Bites or better.

 

Pass the controller.

 

 


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