So far I have submitted 3 articles for the hard copies of ART magazine issues 5,6, and coming 7. The Memes article on the ART website is just a small fraction of what I have already written in the Magazine and what will appear in the future. It’s possible that the Riders who left comments about my Memes article don’t have a subscription to the paper magazine, because I have already covered some of your concerns and different opinions. Some people will simply disagree with me either way and that’s fine. But here I would like to show what I have already said and maybe clear up a few things. When I put myself out there, I accept the vulnerability that comes with it. No problem. First, here are some of the comments about my Memes article and my responses to them:
“so the Meds are working then”…
If we didn’t have to shell a 100 notes for Chase bars, only for them to snap under normal use, then the trends might not of steered (excuse the pun) naturally in the direction they have done (2pc) etc, if that’s what he’s really getting at here.
Chase is one of my fav riders, but man…ease up on the tosh waffle. Let it go…let the fresh blood do it the way they want to”
Well, I was writing most of the time I was way more sick than I am now, but yes, it’s possible that the Crohn’s specific meds are helping. In my next article to appear in ART I don’t outright talk about my bars, but I was implying them when I talked about how Flatland parts maybe shouldn’t be labeled as “flatland use only”, but this is done partially due to the lightweight obsession. If that obsession wasn’t so prominent then Flatland specific parts could arguably be made stronger. I know that the design itself of my style of bars are not intended for super strength, but the tubing has been thickened in the problem area since then. Besides that I never wanted them to be that lightweight to begin with, but this is what most Riders demand, which forces bike companies to worry about sales because of an ounce or so. I don’t think that a few of my bars breaking caused the two piece Trend. Take a look at the current top guy and the urge to copy his set up. No offense to anyone, people copied me in various ways back in the day. As for the fresh blood/new guys doing it the way they want to. Well, firstly, new Riders are bound to copy whatever is going on in the sport when they start Riding, which means they are usually not doing it the way “they want to” because they have yet to build a sufficient tricktionary to be able to do so. Secondly, it’s clearly not just new Riders who are setting up their bikes street style. Many seasoned Riders are doing it.
“Why is it that everyone thinks it is so much better to be different?”
Everyone doesn’t think that. This is precisely what I was drawing attention to. Not that everyone ever will or should be forced into it, but again you would have to read my ART Mag articles to understand why I personally feel it would contribute to a greater diversity and branching out of directions of progression, not to mention giving one a feeling of a unique identity. And just being a flatlander does not mean someone is necessarily unique, although this often seems to be what a lot of people think. So if someone thinks they are automatically unique because they Flatland may be part of the reason they don’t need to think about uniqueness any further.
“My advice for the highly creative individuals out there is that they start creating for themselves. And let the other riders lead their own life and ride their own way….even if they don’t approve it. Tolerance.”
Highly creative individuals are already creating for themselves…which is why we refer to them as creative. That’s the point, they don’t need that advice. Come on now. Additionally, creative individuals may have something of interest and inspiration to offer, so who else but they are going to speak up with information which may encourage that in others? Riders look to them for tricks, so why not pay a little attention when they speak. I am by no means interfering with Riders leading their own life, but again, I think this wording “Ride their own way” is again precisely what is often not happening. By saying “their own way” you may just be saying “just be left alone to blindly copy if that is ‘their thing’ “. How is copying synonymous with doing one’s own thing? I have plenty of tolerance, but I think there is an absence in BMX of the types of things I’m saying, and a little intellectual stimulation (whether one agrees or not) is filling an otherwise practically non existent niche in the Sport, getting people to think of angles they may have never considered.
“Shit man just ride do whatever its only a bike its not the be all and end all of everything just ride do tricks have fun blah blah blah that’s the bottom line too much has been made out of a simple thing as a hobby straight up no bull, you think when I ride I think about bike set ups, clothing all the politics or other people’s tricks or why I’m here doing it or worrying about other peoples views on it etc etc hell no”
I think this may be a bit of an oversimplification. Not everyone sees it as only a mere hobby (yet nothing wrong if they do.) Of course when I’m riding I’m not thinking about these things. It’s the off my bike time where I may do some reflection on these issues and I think that’s a good thing to provoke people and stir up some thoughts. Too bad all too often people just “react” with what their predetermined views are. I’d be willing to bet that most comments on articles or posts are made instinctively and abruptly after just having read/skimmed through them.
“But do I make an issue out of style nah we are not clones we are human beings from planet earth we all differ in one way or another can we just accept that, all this worrying about this, that and the other will not change a thing, we only live once.”
Again, some oversimplification. Style comes from within. True style in the deeper sense is the natural way a person does tricks that makes the way he does them look different than others. I don’t even consider the look of my clothing or look of my bike or intentionally try to make a trick look a certain way. Brandon actually questioned me on this and I answered him honestly in that what I consider proper technique and execution is what results in the tricks/combos looking they ways they do. Even if a rider only treats riding as a sport (forgetting about the artistic side even for a minute) this is still not a fashion show. When I write an article, it is not so much “worry”, rather a chance to express some thoughts that I’m pretty sure a lot of Riders are not thinking. And I do think we are here to provoke and encourage people to consider changing their minds. Not the end of the world if they don’t. Unless you’re a Jihadist with Nuclear weapons. And… my point exactly… we only live once so let’s use our brains for what they’re for…thinking. And if that involves sharing those thoughts then (if you want to oversimplify and generalize in the opposite direction) where would the world be if no-one shared ideas? If everything was always just accepted as it was, how would real profound change (when needed) ever occur?
Below are a few of my quotes from articles in the actual hard copy ART magazine.
“Having said that, I am inspired and encouraged by the outpouring of support shown to me recently by all generations of the sport. It is from this position of a sense of connectedness that I write this article.”
“I also understand that not everybody can be naturally unique, and I’m not trying to take away the fun of riding from anyone.”
“I don’t dislike the look of the street/flat style, nor do I dislike anyone who may or may not be doing this for whatever reasons. Flatland continues to thrive and that’s a good thing.”
“But it’s not all bad. This game of follow the leader that’s always existed, has resulted in the followers coming up with variations of the leader’s, which may not have happened if they never tried to follow. This of course resulted in an expansion of the leader’s ideas (since one Rider can’t do it all…well, except a few) and when enough Rider’s do this, it will inevitably direct a larger portion of the sport in that direction, while pushing those ideas further and contributing to progression (even if it is sometimes more linear, as opposed to a branching out effect). So what I’m saying is, even if people strive to imitate because they want to be caught up with the latest trends, it will still result in some form of progression, which is good.”
I read Chris Carter’s blog responses, which I thought was poignant on many counts. The only thing I was slightly confused about is the idea that Martti and myself may have ruined Flatland in a way. The only way I can understand this is if Chris means that such a strict level of self expectation was set by us that it caused a rebellion mentality of sorts in that many other Pros felt it was too impractical and inconvenient to do the same. And so maybe even throughout the sport, Riders are now more specialized and contained in the trick concepts they do because it may be beneficial for a potential career. However, this would imply some thinking on the part of Riders if it was deliberate at all. Other than that, maybe a mass subconscious response, but I still doubt it. I tend to think it was bound to come to this anyways, in that Riders often want to place well at contests and have sponsors and be notable figures…especially since flatland is not generally something we easily can make a lot of money doing. So the “easier route” may be chosen instead of being a “martyr type figure” who seeks to master himself and the bicycle more completely and in doing so sacrifices other more “normal” modes of being in society. And when i say “easier route”, it by no means diminishes the astonishing accomplishments of many Riders. As for the brainwashing points by Chris and the Marxist comparison. My point was not that denial of brainwashing means it must be happening. I think the proof of a person or groups or nations or creeds being brainwashed is found in its incongruence/incompatibility with facts and bodies of evidence to the contrary, or by simply buying into a dogmatic belief of any kind which cannot be shown directly or indirectly to exist in reality. The denial of being brainwashed is simply the natural extension of that state of mind.
The other thing that Brandon Fenton brought up (so he gets the credit for this, not me), is when Chris was talking about the fact that Flatland has an artistic side is why he disagrees with what I said about a maximized Flatland specific set up, and that a LIMITED set up is acceptable. Well, I think I get his point in that the so called limited set up may be done intentionally with the idea of forcing the Rider to come up with different trick styles. This would certainly be his creative right to do so. But if Chris said this in response to anything I said, it is misplaced because I never said that that approach in particular was not acceptable. I never mentioned it. I obviously realize that some Riders experiment with different, even non-traditional Flatland set-ups to see what they may come up with. But my point was that many Riders will copy the clothing and bike set-up thing but were not actually the ones who had the initial idea or intention to experiment, and are only concerned with the look of it and maybe imitating the riding style and tricks. This is where my recurring theme comes in again and again to remind people that it is much more rewarding to truly go one’s own way (as much as possible) and that this will be more rewarding in the short and long term because it will set you apart and possibly solidify yourself as a memorable Rider. You can’t have it both ways: copy everything you see and also be considered a unique individual.
I in no way do I think that I’ve thought of every angle. The purpose of this post is to just let you all know that I am a bit more neutral than one might first assume. Thank you all for your comments, as I do try to stay true to my own advice to others, meaning…I take into serious account what everyone says before ranting back. If someone makes a valid point, I will adjust my views accordingly. Nobody likes to think that they can be figured out easily, but most people assume they’ve got themselves, others and things in general figured out. I have been guilty of this too and probably still will be to some extents from time to time. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, questionable and even wrong can result in important personal growth. But comments like “mental masterbation” are not productive. These types of responses seem to come from people who are aloof and think that this ultra chilled out laid back everything’s funny attitude of theirs is the correct and only way to be. As I discussed with Brandon on the topic of taking things seriously, we agreed that the Masters in any field were highly likely to take their artform or passions with the uttmost serious approach, and thus raised the level of their own accomplishments as well as contributed to leaps of progression in others because of them.
*Now, below here is an article I wrote several months ago. This is to show that although I will maintain the ways in which I express myself, I also don’t actually expect to dictate people’s lives from behind a computer and ultimately of course must and do accept the reality of our diversity. It was said that the positive side of memes are that we have culture and a sense of unity in that we can reach out and alter our world. I would not be on here if I didn’t know and believe in the potential positive power of that side of it. This was an article intended for ART but I will post it here because I feel there are some people who may think I’m only setting out to dog on people who copy. Again, my intention is to spark different thoughts in people whether or not they do anything with it.
*This time I would like to talk specifically about Flatland, because it seems to be the particular discipline of BMX that struggles to naturally assimilate into the mainstream, meaning media/television coverage primarily. There are a couple of factors that come to mind immediately: What Flatland means to each individual Rider and how it is or should be presented to and perceived/received by the public. These two issues go hand and hand because how the sport as a whole presents itself depends and the individuals who make up the sport, and then how and why the public actually embraces and or rejects it.
As I stated before, and as we all know, not all Riders ride for the same reasons. It has been said that there are different kinds of Riders whose reasons for going out and practicing are motivated by completely different agendas. Allow me to talk about what some of those might be.
Firstly, I don’t deny that every Rider starts out or at some point loves riding simply for the act of engaging in the process of practice and results, the adrenaline rush and good feelings produced. The same can be said for any activity/sport/art form etc. It is quite normal for people to want to be desirable, and doing something extreme or out of the ordinary can definitely get them that attention/self affirmation, which of course then becomes a sort of “high” in itself. Depending on the personality traits and underlying motivators of the individual, this attention may be well received to the point where they thrive off it. The opposite could also happen where the Rider feels pressure and expectation that does not mesh with his natural state of being while practicing.
To the open minded “fly on the wall” watching all these different characters, it soon becomes apparent which ones ride for which reasons. The guy who just can’t cope with the public performance aspect of it all. This guy might feel very comfortable at his own practice spot alone or with a good buddy or two, but when it comes time to Ride in front of crowds and other Riders, he is too sensitive to the different dynamics and people watching and can’t seem to hold it together. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he is introverted or has performance anxiety (although he might), it’s just that he prioritizes his personal practice where he is free to experiment without worry of people anxiously waiting for him to bust out his best stuff or be super dialed. There are a lot of these types of Riders I’m sure, many of them at various degrees of skill. Seems like this guy wouldn’t care too much about keeping up with trends or styles of bikes or clothing.
The guy who is somewhat indifferent and not bothered much either way and seems to be able to pull his tricks in either setting, but is not overly stoked or bummed out whether or not he pulls his tricks in the different scenarios. He may attend jams and comps and just be a go with the flow kind of dude.
Then there is the Rider who seems to love the spotlight. He has excellent skills, has acquired sponsorships, notoriety and earns a decent financial income from the career he has built for himself. He continues to practice, do shows, contests etc and ensures that he maintains steady coverage and promotion. He seems to pull his tricks consistently no matter what the conditions are.
These are just broad generalizations and I don’t pretend to be able to depict anywhere near all the different types of people and their traits who happen to be Flatlanders.
One personal opinion I have (which I will not elaborate on at length) is that sometimes when a Rider realizes that he has found a “formula for success” that has awarded him all the worldly benefits of his skills, he may tend to stick with that formula. This is true in many careers/lifestyles in that once a person becomes accustomed to the comforts and advantages of that system, he does whatever it takes to sustain it, and will not deviate from his plan. Riding is mostly treated as a job, with focus on performing perfectly and the same whether it be personal practice, jams, contests, videos, photo shoots etc. He may also be very concerned with his clothing/style, and always acting in a way that appears to be an exemplary role model. My only problem with this is that I feel that the original reasons/motivations for riding may get lost in the mix and take second stage. Almost all emphasis is placed on public image and ensuring more money. Even personal practice is not really practice in the sense of taking time to actually fail at new tricks because it is always just preparing for the next “performance”. Whether this is a choice that he’s making or it’s just evolved into finances and society dictating his path, he is certainly free to do this. People can voice their opinion on this (as they do in cases of other kinds of Riders), but he and the other types of Riders I’ve described all have their place in our sport/art, and none of them should be shunned to the point of making it seem like the approach they take to riding is harmful to the sport.
The point that I am coming close to making is this: Flatland consists of all sorts of different types of personalities and styles (generations) and even ideas of what the “true essence” of Flatland is, and how it should be advertized or presented to the public. My conclusion is essentially the same argument as for free speech. It’s either all okay or none of it is. It’s like a democracy instead of a dictatorship. You can’t possibly just have one person (or even one popular new generation group) decide how we should dress or act or ride in ways that best promote our sport and make it mainstream. I see some kids who think that Flatland is basically pop-culture and try to make it fit. I’ve seen examples where Riders were infuriated that other Riders were not representing Flatland according to their very narrow minded view of how Flatland and Flatlanders ought to be “displayed” and seemed afraid that it would hurt the “true” and idealistic version/vision of our sport.
What I am suggesting is that whenever possible, Flatland gets shown to the public with the accumulative diversity of all these characters and the public will see it for just that…a range of individuals (some generic, some unique, and some nowhere near fitting what any of the others think is “correct”). But the point is that we exclude no-one. The “freak” who does 15 minute solo demos with no music, or talks to the crowd in the bar and explains the tricks, is just as valid as the straight and narrow career fellow.
Some Riders see Flatland as more of an art, and some (probably most) at the very least treat it as if it were only a sport, in which case should be presented with similar hype as a form of entertainment. Even if I personally see it as more of an art form, I don’t necessarily completely disagree with making some sort of “spectacle “of it in order to draw attention, but at the same time, some of the dramatic over the top presentation can distract from the artistic side of it. If a crowed has to be “wowed” into applause and in a sense told that they should appreciate it, then something valuable is being missed, or maybe they will just never be as dazzled by Flatland as air stunts.
For now, I will end by saying that inclusion of everyone is a must. Anger directed at a Rider for not being a perfect piece to an idealistic puzzle should be sternly discouraged. I’m not sure that there is a singular theme that we can agree upon that is best for the sport, even if we all agreed that the goal is to make it mainstream (which I’m sure many have been trying to do), even then…no, especially then is when diversity should be its main spokesman. But all individuals in this diversity (including myself) should always be open to the revision of their views on Flatland and the World, if new, better, more evolved information becomes available.