Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BIKE SNOBS / NOISE / F BRakes Lyrics

Hey all, XRIS here, announcing that the TS is back in action, after a nice break from reality, the web, and modern life in general. (I myself haven’t checked my email in six months or turned on the TV in the last four, so I am feeling cleansed.;-)

But all that is potentially changing, because we are currently crawling out of the bright pit of new romance, over employment and other fine distractions. Carefully observing what damage, or good, has been done by this technological withdrawal. Some people still call me personally on the old 20th century device the cell phone (R.I.P. my beloved Star-tek, now I be rockin’ a pricey iPhone), well, those old school friends have expressed their hurt / offense that I don’t welcome them into a facebook / twitter presence I either never embraced or had in the first place. To all those folks, sorry about that. Though it may happen again. But for now, I am logging on to the half-life. I personally will be reflecting back on the interesting experiment of complete withdraw, while we in TS slowly reintroduce ourselves to the modern tech world we withdrew from, seeing what we really do “need”. Which seems to parallel what much of the nation seems to be doing with their wasteful economic lives.


I don’t know how much we need blogs, but clearly they can be fun, if not powerful tools. Or in my case, luring temptresses, because I was finally drawn back on to the interwebs, as our beloved bassist Juggy D. told me: “Reconnect your series of tubes, Team Spider is on BIKE SNOB”. The mysteriously anonymous yet ever blogging Sir Snob Esq. Writes that we have given the brake-less fixed gear community their theme song, referring to our crappy little ditty FUCK BRAKES. Ha. Why not? Most people probably don’t know the lyrics, or what inspired the song, but we’re glad the general spirit is embraced. ( though BikeSnob picked up on the political themes stating “(brakeless fixed gear) has officially been elevated to a rolling metaphor and a political statement.”

Nice, though he isn’t optimistic people are going to take to the streets and make the world a better place, a stern letter is the first step away from a blank stare.

Since people are discussing the lyrics /origins Fuck Brakes, might up well clear up the confusing.


The FUCK BRAKES song and general shenanigans are the result of a combination of events, starting with an old fixie sticker that was floating around a few years back. An ancient time, when dragons roamed free, and the fixed gear community was much more of a cult riding without brakes, then a fashionable phenomenon. It attracted, if not required, a certain state of mind, as much as a crucial level of skill. Hence the FUCK BRAKES stickers affixed to many bikes and items, such as our guitarist $am’s helmet (featured on our Fuck Brakes EP cover looking somewhat military like). Ironically, in the distant past I had a bit of a paternal stance against non-messengers riding fixed on the streets of NYC. And I wasn’t even a messenger. I remember long conversations w/ Mike Green of bikeblog where I doubted that random commuters had a suitable skill level to deal with NYC realities. The exception being our 8-10 hours a day bike riding, midtown-traffic battling, road warrior Messenger friends, who initiated the use of fixed gear riding on the streets of NYC in the first place. My opinion was sadly reinforced after personally witnessing an old lady launched in the air on 8th and Broadway after a young guy skidded into a full crowd of people crossing the street. The impatient pedestrians were crossing against a light, so the kid certainly was in the right as far as traffic rules went. But much like the Pope’s stance on condoms, he was not really factoring in reality. In the streets of NYC, it’s the rules of the wild Wild West, aka: if you’re going to take your guns to town, you better be fast on the draw. Or in his case, able to stop. Though, much to the rider’s credit, he took responsibility and stuck around till the end -knowing the inevitable red flashing lights on the horizon would probably represent more than just ambulances. Even in the face of an escalating mob scene, including one person in the crowd who exclaimed in disbelief, “He doesn’t even have brakes!” At which point the young guy was saved from a possible crowd lynching by firefighters, who inexplicably were there before the police, (who never came) complete with their truck and Dalmatian.

Anyhow, bicycle deaths were definitely on the rise. Though I doubt any statistics exist to see if the rise of fatalities were at all fixie related, I personally linked it to lack of experience mixed with a lack of infrastructure. The city was not exactly catering to the onslaught of new cyclists of any type. In fact, cops seemed to be harassing and arresting cyclists at every turn. Hundreds of dollars in fines for “riding on the sidewalk” as people mounted up in front of their building rather than on the street. Messing with Critical Mass’ers by claiming they were “protestors”, or “parading without a permit”, charges, which aren’t grounds for arrest in the first place. (If we tend to believe in the Constitution).

And so it was on a Critical Mass bike ride, the weekend before the 2004 republican national convention, that I found myself in the infamous NYC tombs for over 30 hours (well over the 24hour due process requirements), shackled at the ankles to other cyclists while mysterious G-men carrying palm pilots asked us questions about our roommates and other uncalled for invasions of privacy, all the while giving the impression that cooperating with their Intel gathering would make it all go faster. Funny enough, bassist Juggy-D was my roommate at the time, and I refused to needlessly sell him out. Though it turns out he was in handcuffs somewhere else anyway.

At that point, between the endless electronic fingerprinting, and questions that revealed more than they obtained, I came to realize… I am now in the system.

I had always avoided partaking in the system / grid / economic debt traps etc. for their obvious (to me) chains and seemingly nightmare-like realities. So the idealistic, naive and chronically optimistic me, had always avoided at great lengths being documented. Where many of my friends had no licenses or ID’s, they were constantly being arrested. I lived the same off the grid lifestyle, but had a knack for not getting tangled up with the law. This was back when paper trails were actually on paper, passports were stamped not scanned, and living a low budget lifestyle meant wonderful anonymity as much as it did poverty. Nowadays it seems that with just a couple keystrokes you can find out your local dumpster diver’s home address, not to mention life story (and nude pictures!). But back then, the few times I had been captured by authorities it had at worst maybe resulted in finger prints on some old index card system, forgotten names and phantom addresses. But now, in the modern reality, suddenly, they had me. Fingerprints, digital photos, profiles, associate, and with this (perhaps inevitable) attaching of my heavy chains, I felt –surprisingly-- FREE. Like blazing down the avenue, taking lights, no brakes, maneuver or die time, saying, (or better yet- living) the words: FUCK BRAKES.

When I came out of jail, the Police of course “accidentally” switched everyone’s keys so no one could get in their homes upon release. And for the first time in a while, I found myself stuck on the streets, dehydrated, spent, assumed to have been whipped into shape, while in reality, I was no longer hiding in the shadows. Reflecting on my reality I started penning lyrics.

--Again the hell of my jail cell
--Rats and roaches make prisons swell
--Your harps and clouds of yesterday
--They drift away

Feeling free about the future, confirming my long running form of atheism from popular religions such as capitalism, Catholicism, self imposed isolationism,
I found myself looking backwards… and recognizing what the systematic arrests were all about…

--Mistakes were made
--In the land of the free built by their slaves
--Taught how to behave
--By corporate crooks
--Digging our mass graves

And that really nothing is new, except maybe for my own self-awareness, of how they motivated me, more than scared me…

--I never colored within the line,
--My flags and bridges burn far behind
--East side, west side, you lie we die
--Doored and doomed, still we fucking ride.

Suddenly, the powers that be somehow made riding a bike, political.

Well, all those initial lyrics sort of got lost in the piles of stuff floating around team spider’land. (See recent moving of Zak’s 30,000 lyrics ;-)

And sort of forgotten about. We would sometimes joke about living the ‘fuck brakes’ lifestyle. And how it equally applied to our cats, Snotty and Ratt, who spent every waking moment conspiring on escaping the house. Always running into the busy alphabet city streets that we were so set on protecting their naive little butts from. And of course 80 yr olde ZAK, who lived in such an immediate and present fashion, that his life appeared as reckless as the life of a teenager. Living the fuck brakes lifestyle is likely why he fit so seamlessly in the underground squatter punk scene.

Then, when ZAK passed away, we weren’t sure what to do. Should the team Spider call it ‘quits.’? Was the TS moniker more a chain and burden at this point than a benefit. What would Zak want? When we knew Zak would only ask: what do you want? And after some chilling, we decided we wanted to keep rocking out, hanging, having fun. We had lots of songs sitting around, and had spent much of our time over the last few years caring for Zak, that we never got to tour or record, a.k.a. do things that normal bands do. Soon, inspired by Zak, and more obviously our cat’s, out poured verse 2:

My kitty cats
Snotty and Ratt
Wait by the door for sneak attack,
Breaking free from my laws and lies
Their sweet meows say
“Fuck it, still we ride”

And soon we were recording our shitty little EP, deciding in a typical commercially suicidal decision to call it: FUCK BRAKES

Never the less, we got to tour Europe,
Where we made lots of new friends, and new adventures, rocked the Cycle Messenger World Championships in Ireland, lost passports in Belgium, rode protected bike lanes in Amsterdam, and even installed a much needed “American” shower in Paris. Along the way we self-taped and produced a feature Doc, FUCK BRAKES: THE MOVIE (of course) --the title of which already has distributors backing away slowly, --
But STILL… we plan to put out this summer.

So, now fixed gear riders are popping up everywhere. Skilled riders are all over, alleycat races are popping up that feature more non-messengers than messengers. Tall bikes, cruisers, 10 speeds and every other flavor are appearing so quickly that the cars have been forced to wake up. A large bike community sharing the road with the beasts, usually with admirable, (& often still required) skills, while more and more bike lanes, including European style protected lanes, are starting to appear. And, most surprisingly… the city is slowly (not so surprising) adapting to the unstoppable cyclists, potentially making it safer for all involved.

So, maybe FUCK BRAKES the song is, or will be embraced by the community who were inspired by the community who inspired it, but we probably have to make a good recording of it first! (—I still don’t like that shitty studio version floating around…got suckered into a ‘fancy’ studio where we mistakenly played around with it till we were broke and couldn’t afford to re-do it the way it should have been done in the first place: One take, raw, and on fire.--) *someone in the bikesnob comments called it ‘punk-lite’ ha. Pretty accurate. For now I’ll just enjoy it playing it Live.

Well, whoever embraces the song, thanks. Meanwhile, we’re just planning to continue to try to do things our way, making our own mistakes, having fun, riding bikes, rocking the Ska-core, and spreading the bike core reality.

Living free, not ready to die
Fuck brakes!


--On May 3rd, TEAM SPIDER is returning to the LIVE realm, with a FREE Bike-Punk show in Tompkins Sq. Park, ---BIKE NOISE 2!---
Featuring lots of our friends and favorite bands including: MISCHIEF BREW, WOMBAT IN COMBAT and more… Tompkins Square Park, Sunday MAY 3rd, 2009, East Village NYC, 2-6 PM.. co$t: Free. Ride yr bike.,

FUCK BRAKES, complete lyrics:

St Peter at the pearly gates
Asks me why did I say fuck brakes
You mean we’re free to decide?
Might fall, but not today
Fuck gravity
And the USA
Cause we’re going down
Either way
Whoa oh- Fuck Brakes

Mistakes were made
In the land of the free built by their slaves
Taught how to behave by corporate crooks
Digging our mass graves
I never color within the lines
My flags and bridges burn far behind
East side, West side, you lie we die,
Doored and doomed,
Still we fucking ride

Whoa oh, Fuck Brakes
Again the hell of my jail cell, rats and roaches make prisons swell
Your harps and clouds of yesterday,
They drift away
My kitty cats Snotty and Ratt
Wait by the door for sneak attack
Breaking free from my laws and lies
Their sweet meows say
“Fuck it, still we ride”

Whoa – oh Fuck brakes

Saint Peter at the pearly gates,
Again asks why? did I say fuck brakes?
Like we’re free to decide
Might kneel but not today
Fuck religion,
And the USA
Cause we’re on our knees
Either way

Live free or fucking die
(We’re free to die)
Live free or fucking die
We’re free to Fuck Brakes!