Analog Adolescence: by Greg Barnes

Intro by MV, photos contributed by Greg Barnes

Welcome to the LUXBMX Journal, another week rolls around bringing with it a selection of the finest local (and international) BMX content this side of the dividing ranges. This post was originally intended to fall within the 'What's Good?' category, however, it has morphed and mutated into something much greater, more meaningful, more astute. 

So I was sitting on the couch, bathed in convenience as many of us are, when I thought of inviting my friend Greg Barnes to partake in the 'What's Good?' series. Anticipating that his vast knowledge of BMX past and present and his keen sense for the weird and wonderful would likely produce a quality article, I was met with interest and not long after, a word document was issued absolutely bristling with words. Small ones, big ones, long ones, funny looking ones. Enough words to suggest that the dude had taken this thing seriously and in fact, went above and beyond, instead producing something becoming of its own category. 

A contributed essay, more or less. How lucky the viewers are, to be presented with the following article, based around a consciousness to an influential BMX video and growing into a full blown essay around how BMX media has evolved over time, working to shape this biker into the person he is today, kooked back and all. It's truly fascinating to tap into this theme, it brings me great joy to unravel the process through which I myself have been lucky enough to experience, to share and connect with others around the beauty of two wheels and a video camera. 

For those tickled pink by this piece, you simply must find yourself in the Nothing's Wrong 'Zine ecosystem, a BMX print release produced by Greg Barnes, with a tone akin to the following. Start here.

As Greg notes, this is apt, an exchange of international BMX content, Moto Bunka X Nothings Wrong 'Zine

"There is such a rich tapestry of influence throughout my life that has layered itself within me via BMX media. Whether it's riding style, soundtrack or an editing artistic licence. All are incredibly important and if combined well, the perfect package burns itself into the memory for life.

I grew up riding in the UK, so ‘Voices’ stands out for me massively. Soundtrack, spots, riding styles, editing, and a moment in UK BMX history where the scene was recognised worldwide once again for its otherwise underrated influence on the art of street riding.

Greg dwarfed by a perfect circle, time vortex, 40th rave - December 16 2023, by Doug Underhill

‘Can I Eat’ is perfection, the KISS (keep it simple stupid) method was harnessed well throughout that production, down to the handwritten anti-style titles and the less is more street approach. The school of Edwin is a strong chapter in this one. East coast USA rules hip hop and the stylisation of street riding. History. The two are intertwined, KRS One was quoted in that BMX and skating ARE pillars of hip-hop culture, and the early 00’s Animal team and its brand/style couldn’t have proven it more.

The now rare video mag format was something I watched religiously as it transcended from VHS to DVD into the digital void. Pre-Insta, where the only knowledge of a rider came in the form of a conscious interview piece. Props to ‘Props’ for the deeper understanding of our culture.

I could list so many videos & I will.

The rear scene, time vortex, 40th rave - December 16 2023, by Doug Underhill

Etnies 'Forward' is a must. Dave Parrick’s editing style, the feel of footage shot on film, the ELITE team which was made up of every rider you wanted to see, spanning all riding styles. This video was on daily repeat for years. I first watched it in the first week I left home to live independently from the family abode. It signifies the first days of adulthood for me, the same time I got a full-time job and saved enough money with my first pay cheque to buy my first proper decent set up, a hench AF Metal Burma, with 45 tooth metal sprocket and pitchforks. What a time to be alive. Taj’s full speed curve wall to table is still one of my favourite clips ever filmed, a joint first with Steven Hamilton’s ‘Trafaelio’ monstrous wheelchair access hop to wallride down a story high building with all kinds of horrible things sticking out of the wall. Hamilton’s song ‘Cement mixer’ by Clinic became stuck in my brain for eternity and it put me on a path to listening to heaps more bands on the ‘Domino’ Record label.

Australian video classics obviously need a mention too, a big influence since moving to this continent (I’ve spent half my life on unceded Aboriginal land). ‘How Hard Is It’ taught me how world class the underground WestOZ BMX scene is on an international scale. ‘Spots’ by Toby Orchard was class, nice soundtrack, clean editing and stacks of quality Adrian ‘Gonz’ Galaz footy. The Tassie films were sick, ‘Pussies’ & ‘Two Wheels & Pub Meals’ stands out for me, probably for nostalgia.

Jimpool dub, by Techie

Defero creations are primo and every Flagz edit is full of antics and comedy GOLD, his Anchor BMX ads might be the best contribution to BMX he has made. Naturally there’s bias here after years of living on the same block as the shop and working there, but those videos slap. The Anchor/Defero video with Beechy’s loop ender to The Drones is cinematic prowess! Bullmix also harnessed comedy well, mixed with DIY soundtracks, Vermane’s emergence of editing talent has since been transferred to the hilarious viral ‘Bikepacking Sucks’ edits. Shout out to Dave Cragg too!

Doug Underhill has proven to the nation that a filmer can be the lynchpin of a city’s entire scene with his numerous releases, Adelaide BMX wouldn’t be the same without his dedication, documentation and energy. I can’t forget the Rollcall/Untitled video mags, I’m a huge fan of anything Benny Savage has created, particularly outside of BMX in the art world.

LUX 'Aeterna' was brutal. 2020’s ‘Thats What’s Up’, simply for Mike Vockenson’s face melting gap onto that roof in Perth, I’ve visited the spot and it’s no joke. Stuart ‘Doc’ Dolley’s BHP ‘Meet Your Enemies’ section is still legendary. ‘Run At Me Slut’ changed the game worldwide. Respect to The Drain Kids & B-Town for their productions too. All of the above are true underground icons.

Greg up there, time vortex, 40th rave - December 16 2023, by Doug Underhill

All this being said, when Vocko asked me to name one video (an impossible task, like being asked to name one favourite band), the first thing that sprung to mind in terms of influence was ‘Neighbourhood Superheroes’ a Base Brooklyn VHS tape from 1996. It was the first piece of BMX AV media that I ever purchased. It was from a Skate, BMX, Graffiti, Streetwear store in Birmingham (the hometown of Black Sabbath). It came packaged in an orange cardboard sleeve with a picture of Luc-e toothing a dumpster, which is etched into my memory forever. So familiar, it feels like I’m holding it in my hand right now. The opening Will Taubin section staunchly serenaded by Smif N Wessun's ‘Bucktown’ is iconic. Big grinds on chunky bikes. This video was so street, it had an advertisement for Puma with B-boys breaking and MCs freestylin’ about dancing. Luc-E, George D and Butcher’s parts were seminal, and the trails footage was dope too. It was an intro into a culture that would take me around the world teaching me that community has no borders.

Decades later I would find myself at a 2017 FBM jam in Richmond, Virginia with my mate Dirty Dan Bogard (OG Kink rider, who I’d met at Fitzy bowl a few years before), hitching a ride to Philly with Superfly (John Skvarla), one of the trails riders I’d watched ride endlessly on that VHS growing up. He’s a screen printer and still makes those Base Brooklyn tee’s to this day. The longer you ride, the smaller the BMX world becomes. Little bike, tiny planet.

Yiperinya pool and the dude, poolside, by Phil Drummond and Nicky Hayes

Music in BMX and skate videos influenced my taste so much, it’s almost cliché to say it, but anyone without a scene that has video sections, will never know the resource of discovering music via a thrashing video part. I used to ride the bus to school with a walkman and a dubbed cassette tape of Little Devil’s ‘Criminal Mischief’ soundtrack. To this day, I still hear grind noises when I listen to ‘Diary of a Madman’. People in 2023 can just turn their phone on and get any music they want. However, it took more research back in the day to get onto new tunes, and that made it more rewarding when you found a banger. Riding with a 10 second anti-shock discman in your pocket though, that shit was wack.

So that’s my mid-skool rant on obsolete technology, media and its influence on why my body makes cracking noises when I get out of bed every morning to start editing for my day job. Something I’ve noticed is that the proper stylish generation Z riders today, have educated themselves on the history of the culture they are shredding within. If you were born after 2005 and haven’t watched any of the videos I just mentioned, have a sus, I promise you won’t regret it."

 To end this badboy, I've used my discretion and gone with the Etnies 'Forward' & Base Brooklyn (Will Taubin) selections as the embed offering. While Greg has truly bamboozled the single choice, rightly so, this seems like it warrants a watch. Go forth, be influenced, ride bike, do life. 

Rock on my brothers & sisters.