Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Never say ever....

What if someone created a bike show and didn't charge the exhibitors ? That's what these pictures show. New jersey transplant Anthony Mangieri , once a pizza superstar in Mahattan has recently put down roots in San Fransisco. As it turns out, it isn't all about pizza with Anthony......it is about bikes and riding as well. I was lucky enough to be participant in this party last Sunday put on by Anthony and Sean Walling of Soulcraft. Was it competition for the other hand-built shows ? No. Was it a society of like minded builders gathering to raise the bar of the craft ? no. It was pizza , bikes and people having a good time.
This brings me to the subject : What do we do this for ? Why are we involved in building bike frames, a pretty unlikely way to make a buck ? Is it for the presitge ? Is it to elevate ourselves in the social strata ? Hmmm.............shit, no. After this particular party my conclusion is that it is what we do and it is what brings us together as a community. No trophies, no societies , no presitge-just a good time and a way to work at something we like.
One of the things I don't really connect with is the idea of a 'guild' of frame builders. Sure, it is great to have standards and group buying of materials and meaningful exchange of info is a great thing , but there seems to be very little of that coming from the places that it should come from.....the internet chat forums. All I see are petty pissing matches for the most part and occasionally a real gem of info from someone-and it usually gets ignored or dismissed by some predatory internet moron on a campaign of wrongness. I find it really amusing when folks go out of their way to prove a point and they show in the process that they are totally full of shit.
Here is my point, for those who need a reference: I feel that there is no need to separate ourselves as frame builders into 'sub-groups' or guilds, or whatever. I like to feel that we are all in the same game at one level or another. We may disagree about certain fine points but at our core, we all build bike frames because we love it. It is for this reason that I have not entered into any of these sub-groups ,whether I was invited or not. Sure, you might say that this last party was all about Nor-Cal. frame builders. Of course it was-we all live here ! It isn't a sub-group , it is a geographic factor that brings us together. The same thing could be said about Portland or New England. It isn't that we think we are special.....it's that we know each other, live within a couple of hours drive from each other and that pretty much covers it. Oh yeah, we like pizza and having a good time with friends.
So.....I'm a Nor-Cal frame builder-so what ? Really, first and foremost I am a frame builder - one of many all over the world and I might have my feelings one way or another about my bretheren , but I do feel that there is no need to divide into 'cliques'. We are much stronger as a community at large and the sooner we all realize that the sooner we will be able to benefit from each others experience and wisdom.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bike show awards special post.

Well , the big handmade bike show of 2011 is over and all the builders and bikes have left Austin. The awards have been presented and the next show location has been announced. I didn't get to see the show and I was too busy and maybe too broke to be part of it but that doesn't mean I can't come up with my own take on the whole experience.......back a few years ago I was maybe one of the biggest proponents of this show-I exhibited my work, I played two times at the big show parties in a band and I also had seminars at all three shows that I attended. I do know this show from the inside and I appreciate all that it is.
That said, I have my own awards that I came up with for the show. I hope that all who read this will see the humor in what I am implying and won't get too offended. There will be some truth in what I write, even if it might seem more than a little sarcastic. I assume we are all adults and can get through this without any major shit storms.
Here it is, your 2011 overopinionated framebuilder awards:

1. Greatest disparity in orders vs. wait list award. This award is given to the builder who has the longest waiting time for a frame while having the least actual amount of frames on order.

2. Best spousal income. This award is presented to the framebuilder who's spouse has the highest paying job , along with best benefits that allows the builder to operate without having to actually make a wage.

3. Most complete disregard for structural soundness in pursuit of aesthetic appeal. This most coveted award is given to the builder who succeeds in making a striking work of art that will no doubt disintegrate when ridden off even a very modest curb.

4. Best imitation of last years 'Best in show'. -No explanation needed for this one.....we have all seen it every year.

5. Finest application of paint and graphics to hide shoddy workmanship. This award is pretty much the 'bike that fooled most of the people almost all of the time' certification and there are few entries that get by the keen eye of the folks at the show , but every once in awhile......

6. Bike that starts yet another annoying trend. Not easy to get, this one. A true visionary is needed to create a piece of work that makes the inner conformist moron come out in all of us.

7. Builder that has disappointed more customers but is still highly regarded. To be frank, I have to tip my hat to the person who takes this particular trophy home-I have to be accountable for what I do......I don't know how they get away with treating good meaning customers like disposable garbage.

8. Best 'Spin' award. This prize goes to the builder who can sell literally the 'sizzle' and have no 'steak'. I guess it could be the honorary ' Snake oil salesman' award, but then that would be unfair to the snake oil trade. This could also also be called the: "Excellence in pandering" award.

9. Most prohibitively expensive townie. I always though that the 'townie' would be the cheapest bike in the catalogue..........boy, did I get it wrong or what ?

10. Bike with the least structural integrity. This award is very much in the spirit of award # 3 except for the chance that this builder didn't particularly have aesthetic or structural concerns for his/her entry . This would be the classic 'Concept bike"-Ironic in that the builder might have no concept at all of what a bike really is.

11. Boldest display of questionable 'innovation'. Here's the medal presented to the original thinker........too bad he/she has little to actually think with.

12. Most cryptic and mysterious dialect. This is awarded to the builder who can speak at length about his/her craft without anyone having the slightest clue what the hell he/she is talking about.

13. Most merchandise in booth that have nothing to do with bicycles and/or the show. This prize is given to the builder who mistook the handbuilt bike show for a garage sale. Hey, it costs to do the show......I gotta make some money here.....interested in some pre-1955 cranberries ?

14. Highest price/lowest value bike. The winner of this award would have to be nothing short of a genius-that is, if the bike actually sold.

15. First/last award. This particular prize goes to the builder who devotes 100's of hours to making a truly remarkable and special work of bicycle art that he/she will probably sell at a horrendously low price and realize that such an undertaking was not worth the time. Upon realizing this the builder decides to stop building altogether. This could be called the : "I should have been a plumber" award , named after a builder who told us all that he really should have been a plumber.......I for one am glad that he is not.

16. Mr./Mrs. Omnipresent. This award is given to the builder who is literally in everybody's shit on the internet. It could be 3 a.m. and you are posting a way to true hole saws in your lathe when some guy/gal immediately posts a way that they do in their shop that is so much cooler. This person would probably post a way to use the methane from a cow's ass to fuel his/her torch , eliminating costly acetylene tank refills of $ 30 every 6 months.