When My friends and I were teenagers, we rode bikes behind Pritchard Dodge on Cayuga St. It had a couple of basically convex paved wedges, one with a hip, where we would practice rollbacks, fly-outs, abubacas, and fast plants. It was modest, but it was the closest thing we would know to ramps or a skatepark for years. One of the neighbors was a surly drunk production line worker who would yell at us and threaten us in the late summer afternoons, no doubt pushed to the edge after hard days work, by the sounds of squeaky brakes, crashing bikes, and boisterous adolescents.
The spot was a bust during business hours, and his backyard butted up to the banks, and he would be livid every time we rode our bikes. After he would tell us he called the cops, We would often sneak around his parked van in his driveway, spy him sitting at his kitchen table getting drunk, and fuck with him. Antagonists. Rotten Bastards. We would then ride off in to the night, to the sounds small town laughter and antics.
Years later I answered a classified ad for an 86 Dodge van for sale. I went and looked at it, and low and behold it was Claude Hickman, the Dodge Banks Bandito. I Inspected the van, and lowballed him an offer, he was a prick, and wouldn’t budge on the price. He then asked why he recognized me. I played dumb, offered up the cash and ended up with a Dark Blue Dodge, with tongue and groove pine wood paneling interior, with Nautical rope, and majestic buck and doe airbrushed on the outside. For 1500 bucks we had a travel vessel powered by a 318 cubic inch engine, soaked in oil, A beast.
This van was the catalyst for many a wild adventure during the time period loosely framed around filming Albert Street, one such adventure was a trip from Ithaca Ny, to Long Island for a 2-hip bikes contest at the skatepark in Greenport Ny, the furthest point away possible on a weird long island outside of New York City. 325 miles in a jam packed van, through one of the biggest cities in the world. The passengers were Kelly and Kim Baker, two brothers from a Yahweh cult in Pa. Brock Yoder and myself. We also stopped at Laguardia Airport and picked up Mike Tag, who was flying home from the UK. 7 dudes, bikes and gear. Tag was stuck in customs for hours.
We got drunk. The stop on go traffic on the Long Island Expressway, combined with the over capacity van load proved too much of a workout for the worn out brakes on the Ram Van. With No brakes we coasted into Greenport and illegally camped for the night. Camping supplies included BBQ potato chips, and Natural Ice.
The next morning, essentially broke, and facing the a five dollar entry fee to the park marked by an orange bracelet, We quickly scanned the van through bad porn, empties, and the like, instantly a light bulb went off in Kim Bakers head, to which he soon made as many orange bracelets he could out of the empty bag of store brand BBQ potato chips. It worked like a charm.
The next challenge was getting the brakes fixed. The park was a good stretch to any useful solution, so John Lee drove one of us to an Auto Zone and we got new brakes. I don’t remember how we paid for them. Kelly Baker, who at this point in the early afternoon was more than midway through a 12 pack of Natty ice, became the team mechanic, he “knew Ram Vans…” plus his dad, Wobbly Bob, was a mechanic. Okay. No Big deal. The process took a couple hours, the van jacked up in a field while Ron Wilkerson stoked people out on the Mic inside the park. The summer sun, and the potency of a cheap Ice beer made for an interesting compound. Even though on blocks and being worked on, the van was spectacle of a hangout, with the likes of Ralph Sinisi, Ryan Corrigan, Josh Heino, Zeb Williams, and other big names of that era, just partying in a field in an old dodge.
At one point, and probably into his second 12 pack, we were standing beside the van, and Kelly just kinda fell asleep underneath while wrenching. Josh Heino then started clowning FBM, and specifically Kelly, ” Hey man, your FBM Team Mechanic is passssedout…” to which a seasoned drinker, Kelly replied a nice ” FUCK YOU HEINO” from underneath the van, through an empty can of beer at his feet and buttoned up the rig. Presto, the van was fixed, Kelly was upright, and we continued through the weekend to quiet sound of Joy Buzzer Handshakes, and upstate New York laughter!