The Steampunk World

Being the continued explorations of a living steampunk.

The steampunk world is all around us, lying just out of sight, in a continuous thread of steampunk builders and culture that extends from the Victorian era to the present. You'll find no science fiction here: This is real life steampunk.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Puma and Adidas have been fighting to get their corporate claws into the mutant bike scene. Adidas approached Zoobomb and was turned down (they got an agent instead, a troubling if fiscally wise act), but Puma has approached the whole thing more obliquely.

First they released "Fixed Gear 101", a booklet featuring tattooed messengers demonstrating how you too can walk your $1500 fixie from the coffee shop to the bar. Obviously the fixie scene is far larger, prevalent, and wealthy than the bike club scene, so it was coolhunted first. This booklet was written by Vice and distributed in the magazine. You can find it online but I'm not going to link to it.

Cheryl Mann's documentary Bike Gangs of New York was also produced by Puma. It features CHUNK and BLBC NY as well as a bmx kids gang, a puerto rican cruiser gang where the leader is the grandma, and a hipster glam girl gang. There was also a glossy coffee table book that was then given a spread in Juxtapoz.

Here's how a marketing magazine (as part of their "Understanding Youth 2006" conference) described it:

Perhaps Fletcher's greatest coup in terms of winning over a difficult audience was her ability to round up Toronto-area bike couriers, leveraging a global Puma initiative to engage couriers by producing the mini-doc The Bike Gangs of New York. "They're very anti-establishment. The key to our success was that we didn't try to talk their language, we didn't try to 'dirty ourselves up,'" Fletcher says. "We just said: 'We're Puma, we respect what you do'...we didn't try to over-promise anything." She and her team did some digging to find out favoured courier haunts, and invited them to a Toronto screening of the doc, where they received free Puma gear. Over 250 couriers showed up. "Bike couriers really personify the essence of the Puma brand - they're the ultimate urban athletes.

Their next project is a "Guide to Urban Cyclng". It features a few different cities, and Chicago is one. Vice called to ask Rat Patrol to be in it.

Now, Vice is absolutely horrible. They chose that for brevity over "new young republican's guide to making fun of chinks, niggers, fags, and retards". This new, soulless, rightist, rich whitebread point of view that you know everybody involved with hates all their friends and their friends hate them. The Vice target market is the new compassionless conservative- every richie prep Heather from high school who went through an alternative phase in college but soon found that they could be the popular kids again with just an ironic mustache and cocaine bought with daddy's money. There was no way I would wipe with this magazine, much less appear in it.

I asked if they'd read the recent village voice article (which also declined to participate in). They said they had. I said "Vice and Puma represent things that we exist to fight. Brooklyn Industries should serve as an example of what happens to a company that tries to exploit our life. Please deliver a message to the executives at Vice and Puma that they may kiss my ass."

I knew that in spurning Vice that they would try and make me pay for it, after all, I was totally friends with that one girl in 8th grade but next year her bangs were higher and she and her friends made fun of me. I know how the cool kids work.

This issue comes with the "Vice Guide To Chicago" which is basically a mini-magazine of them focusing their Onion-wannabe wit on our town. Most of the disses seem to be based around the fact that we aren't paying attention to what is hip in New York (including them), so it comes across like we're in the car having a great conversation about friendship but there's a bum at the intersection who offers spiteful commentary rather than a window wash and he keeps knocking on the window as if the reason we're ignoring him is that we can't hear.

On the Gold Star:

This place used to be all right till it got invaded by Chicago bike weirdos. Does every city have these? Manic Panic'd gutter kids who love disgusting canned beer and build those retarded "Why be normal?" junk bikes on which to spread stupidity across the city? It's like Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome, but they're all "fighting" George Bush instead of Tina Turner.

On the Handlebar:

Brunch's secret weapon. Never a line. Average eats, but enough to get you back on your feet and back to making mistakes. Warning: May contain trace elements of bike weirdo.

They obviously got a mid-level hipster to write this stuff, but they totally didn't know who Liz Armstrong (minus 2000 hipster points) was and so they just come across like they went to all the places that Real World Chicago hung out at. The weird thing is that Gold Star is a messenger bar, maybe you'll see a chopper there once a month but it's hardly "invaded". I think the problem is that we "bike weirdos" don't go to bars or restaurants (we drink on railroad trestles) so they had to lump us in with the Campy-hat crowd in order to work in a zing, which the Presta-valve types probably resent as much as us. But come on, ripping on us because we're anti-Bush is like accusing us of being against a punch in the neck, these days. And we're "stupid". The least they could have done was mock us for working with ghetto kids or our overseas charity work in Africa.


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