Causing Trouble: Bike Kill 666

I landed at JFK at 5 a.m. last Friday morning and dragged my bike box behind me toward what would become a mind fuck (in the BEST possible sense of the term) of a weekend.

I headed to Manhattan and Brooklyn for four days to ride through the streets like a maniac, and to wreak havoc as a part of my first Bike Kill (2, 3).

As a new-ish member of the bicycle community (I just had my 1 year anniversary!  Happy anniversary to me!), I hadn’t heard much about Bike Kill.  Most of what I knew came from a couple of youtube videos (2) and hearsay.  A fellow member of my bicycle gang screened B.I.K.E. last New Year’s Eve (which I unfortunately missed in favor of a horrifying evening, but that’s another story). Afterwards I heard very mixed opinions from those who watched the film of the Black Label Bike Club, which puts on Bike Kill, and of Bike Kill itself.  So, I really didn’t know what to expect.  Mayhem?  Hopefully.  Dirty punk rock bike rebellion?  Hopefully.  Happy fun joy party in the streets? Yes, please! Wal-Mart punk?  Hipster fashion show? Fucking hope not. 

I needed my faith in punk rock rebellion renewed, and I decided to place all of my hope in Bike Kill to do it.

And HOLY FUCKING TROUBLE ALMIGHTY I was not disappointed.

We rolled in a little late,

grabbed the requisite beverages, took a leak at the Home Depot, locked up. Wrote on the wall a bit.

I was only on my second good swig from my 5th of vodka when the tuna salad bombardment began. Giant globs of mayonnaisey bird turd mush plopped from the sky. Somewhere in the middle of the screaming, laughing crowd teams of two were riding freak bikes in circles and chugging four packs of beer taped together with duct tape.

The Damned blared out of giant speakers, and, rather bizarrely, certain classroom lights in the public school building behind the melee were on, illuminating elementary school teacher educational wall displays.

A few more swigs into my vodka and the pita / lavosh fight started, the freak bikes that were but seconds ago involved in a race were overturned and abandoned amidst the paste-like mixture of drizzle mud beer pita lavosh spit,

and my boyfriend had a beer clamped tightly between his teeth and a giant foam cock and balls in the attack position.

**********

Mind-fuck. Mind-fuck sensory overload ecstatic whirling dervish explosion primal yawp primordial sextastic violent fun punk rock freak festival of bikes. A true TEMPORARY AUTONOMOUS ZONE. Where outward anger and rebellion turns in on itself and becomes a celebratory circus, a parade of horribles to the average person on the street, but beautiful chaos to the participants.

I wish I could do a better job describing the hectic energy of freak bikes and freak people at Bike Kill. The constant punk rock soundtrack in the background. The sounds and smells and feels and tastes.

**********

I fell in love with a chopper freak bike, and in my drunken haze tried to make plans to ship it back with me…and then in my drunken haze promptly forgot about it.

I took a couple of brilliant spills on it, though, trying to ride over piles of god knows what: people…clothing…rims…oops a curb…shit, don’t run into the guy with the snapped off ankle…where am I what’s happening?

Of course, there was the tall bike jousting.

Serious shit for some people.

Perhaps less so for others.

And, as Bike Kill has become known for, the fire-y finish.

And then there were the rad-ass people I was with, that made the entire weekend fucking monumental. From the Village Pet Shop and Charcoal Grill to Central Park to Chinatown to Brooklyn to Queens to Coney Island to the Lower East Side to the Upper West Side, from John’s Pizza to dumpster pizza – the Midnight Ridazz made the whole experience amazing.

But Bike Kill, baby. People kept saying that this year would be the last one, and I truly hope that is not the case. Because I’m already dying to go back to that beautiful space we created in the middle of Brooklyn, NYC.

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7 Responses to “Causing Trouble: Bike Kill 666”

  1. chillbot75 Says:

    RAD JAMS v0.08!!!

    JMA

  2. Borfo Says:

    Beautiful.

  3. Matt Says:

    What does this say about NYC vs LA? NYC is WAY more committed to going over the top and preparing than LA is. Why is that?

  4. Matt Says:

    Oh and this is awesome, thanks for writing it up and taking photos. I forgot that part.

  5. Ms. Stephanie Says:

    NYC vs. LA? I have been pondering that myself. I don’t know that the difference is a commitment to going over the top – it may be the definition of what going over the top means in the first place.

    It’s strange how a certain type of rebellion seems more present and visible in other cities, and in other bike scenes, including NYC. I want to define that rebellion as an anarchist rebellion, but that’s not quite right, and I certainly don’t want to diminish LA-area anarchists and anarchist activists. Although, let’s face it…it’s easier to stumble across in-your-face anarchism in certain other cities, like NYC and DC, and even in San Francisco and Minneapolis, than it is in LA. (I’ve never spent much time in Portland, so I can’t really speak to that city.)

    ….And maybe I need to qualify that statement by inserting the words “angry punk rock” in front of “anarchist rebellion.” I love quoting my friend’s Midnight Ridazz profile about the subversiveness the exists in the LA bike scene:

    Fuck politics!
    Fuck appeals to the authorities for more lenient terms of enslavement!
    We are forging a new society, right now!
    Every Midnight Ridazz ride, every Tren Way ride, every Sins and Sprockets ride, every C.R.A.N.K. MOB ride is a political ride.
    Why? Because it’s a public demonstration of collective happiness without consumerism, without structure, without hierarchies. It’s a demonstration that anarchy is possible AND fun.

    ….So there is a certain subversive element to a number of the rides here in LA. I agree with that statement. But let’s come back to the definition of “over the top.”

    Using C.R.A.N.K. Mob as an example: C.R.A.N.K. Mob rides have a very carnivalesque quality to them, that one could define as “over the top”. C.R.A.N.K. Mob rides may even go so far as to create a temporary autonomous zone on occassion…although that’s more arguable. But what C.R.A.N.K. Mob rides lack that Bike Kill definitely had is (1) a spontaneity, the sense that anything could happen at any time, the feeling that everything going on was in large part improvisation, that the event grew and changed and morphed around you as new and different people participated, and (2) an electric undercurrent that made me feel like what was happening could truly be a threat to the mainstream.

    And maybe that’s it – Bike Kill’s “over the top” included a real sense of danger…the same kind of sense of danger/threat that a black bloc can give off. And ultimately, that is my preferred “over the top”.

    I still haven’t even come close to addressing the “why”, though, have I? Why would LA’s “over the top” be so different? Is it as easily explained as the sunshine / noir dichotomy? I doubt it, although I’m sure it plays a part. Much more pondering on this topic to come.

  6. Ms. Stephanie Says:

    By the way – I’m not trying to pick on C.R.A.N.K. Mob. I’m just using it as an example of what could be – and often is – considered as “over the top” in the LA bike scene.

  7. The Bear. Says:

    Long shot, I know, but I was wondering if you had any other photos of the bear jousting.

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