"Concrete and Smog" Coffee Table Book Review - Bruce Morris
Here’s a confession, I’m old, really old! Especially for BMX racing. But I'm not the oldest, and it’s reassuring that there are folks out there turning laps on tracks around the world. It gives me hope that I have a few more laps, and more fun times to be had with mates riding BMX.
- Bill Batchelor's "Concrete and Smog" Coffee Table Book - available now.
Here’s another confession, I’m old enough to remember seeing the images found in Bill Batchelor’s coffee table book, Concrete and Smog, in magazines like BMX Action that I bought from the newsagent in my tiny little town all the way back in 1980.
I remember being amazed at the photos of riders sending the concrete bowls of places called Pipeline and Upland. Mike Domiguez was my favourite as he was a young kid around the same age as me at the time. Alongside Mike, photos of Edie Fiola and Brian Blyther were torn out of the mags and covered my high school folders.
- Haro's Donovan Ritter, taken at the Pipeline skatepark during the October 1984 "King of the Skateparks" finals. Bill was 13 at the time.
The memories flood back as I turn the pages of Bill’s book of riding the half-pipes at Palm Beach and Tugan. Tiny little parks in comparison, but it was BMX and we didn’t care, we slapped Tuff Wheels on our race bikes and rode them all day surviving on Coca-Cola and two bucks worth of hot chips. Those riders in the magazines were from another planet, called America, and I can still recall seeing Bob Haro pulling a nose wheelie across a tennis court at a race in Perth back in 1984. Mind blown that those still images were coming to life in front of my eyes.
The book is full of the history of the roots of freestyle, with incredible photos and written accounts of contests and of a time when race and freestyle co-existed in the same mag before it split off, to only now rejoin as an Olympic event alongside BMX racing in 2020.
- Ron Wilkerson at the first official street contest (organised by himself) called the 2-Hip 'Meet the Street', held May 1988 near San Diego.
One of the coolest things about Bill is that he’s about my age, meaning that as a 13-year-old he was at these parks taking photos of the riding and scene. Documenting the very inception of freestyle riding. And not just a few shots here either, but hundreds and hundreds, resulting in these incredible photos. All on film!
- Unknown amateur rider performing a "track stand" during his run at the September 1984 AFA Freestyle Masters contest, held in Huntington Beach (Southern California)
When I see Cody Pollard absolutely blasting Elanora, I think back to the pioneers of freestyle and wonder if he’d throw on race gear and a plate just for us old-school crew. No matter where in BMX history you dropped into, Concrete and Smog will entertain you for hours and deserves a spot on your coffee table next to that frosty XXXX Gold.
Bill Batchelor's "Concrete and Smog" coffee table book deserves a spot on every BMX riders shelf, and is available online now - right here.