Every day, many young and up-and-coming Portlanders emigrate to New York City to improve their wardrobes. In 2000, they were joined by a few members of C.H.U.N.K. 666. In 2003, we visited them to see what it's like out there.
Life is apparently harder in New York. In Portland we let the chickens guard the rusting pile. In Brooklyn it would become a C.H.U.D. warren overnight. In Brooklyn the junkies gnaw off your tires if you park on the street. Here they polish your saddle with drool and ask for a dollar. And so on.
As soon as we arrived, we cracked open the Brooklyn malt liquor ("Night Flight"), jumped on the Brooklyn choppers, and set out on the Brooklyn streets. We went to the three prospective sites for the Chunkathlon and experienced how the night looked with a beer in hand from each one. It looked like a glowing toxic cloud looming over Manhattan.
We could ride right onto the concrete pad of one site, so we fanned out and started looping around in freewheeling circles. It was a big pad, and there were only about seven of us, but Dirty somehow managed to collide head-on with Big B. I saw him describe a graceful parabola through the air and land on his face. B. was laughing, then stopped laughing when he saw Dirty's face, then started again after we figured out that he was OK. I tried to give him a concussion quiz and got a stream of abuse from his bloody mouth-hole, so we figured that he was in good enough shape to get dragged to the bar and cleaned up.
Some guy was there, walking his dog. He joined our little first-aid party and told us that we were rich now, that we should call the city and say that he had crashed on a pothole and that we were gonna sue. We thanked him for his advice. He continued to give it to us, the same deal, over and over, getting somewhat angry that we weren't on the phone right then talking to our lawyers or something. He didn't stop giving us his counsel until Spidey took his chain off of his shoulder and started casually clinking it on the ground. That didn't shut him up, but at least it started him talking about how he could take all of us on, a subject which he was able to discuss with some more variety. Welcome to Brooklyn.We had cut up some bikes a week before leaving and stuffed them into two cardboard boxes to be shipped over and reassembled into choppers. NYC is a gleaner's dream if you have enough time, but we didn't. The boxes took a few days to arrive, of course, so we ended up chopping and assembling whatever was lying around. After a day of playing with tools, we would ride at midnight. Brooklyn and Manhattan are great places to ride. No hills, no traffic laws for cyclists. We would spend a few hours doing our favorite thing - drinking beer on the bridge and watching the trains and barges go by.
One night we had stopped for a slice on the island end of the Williamsburg bridge, and were watching a guy with a pair of very deep, very narrow bars on his fixie. It looked like his bike had been run over. He rode up and said something like "watch my bike?" It was hard to tell, because his words had to work their way around the pizza crust that he was holding in his teeth like a harmonica while he ate it. He went in, grabbed another slice, and rode off.
We passed him walking with a friend on the bridge, and stopped again at the summit for the usual. He rode up and asked for a light, and we shared his spliff. Only then did he notice our bikes. Holy shit, you guys are Chunk! My name's Gigi, you can call me Pork Chop, I ride with the Black Label, this is Scott.
I lined them up for a picture, and he drew a knife from his bag for effect.My camera soon broke, and the only worthwhile photos that I could take with a crappy disposable camera were of more bridge sessions. Which is fine, because what more of my life is worth remembering? What is more memorable than the first daylight bridge crossing, a week after arriving in New York? Or talking to people passing by on the Manhattan Bridge while watching fifty or so pedestrians milling around one of the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge for no known purpose?
(Up to C.H.U.N.K. 666)