SF Timeline 2: LA origins

Nov 11 2015

In 1995 I was living in Hollywood California. I was 16 years old and had just earned a GED from the juvenile facility where I had been housed for a variety of charges. My parents were very grateful that my older sister was able to give me a place to stay. The deal was that I would not sell drugs and I would get a regular job and stay out of trouble. I had never even heard of bike messengers before but a friend in the area that I smoked weed and wrote graffiti with explained to me one day that there were companies downtown that would pay you to ride a bike around. I did not believe it but went and checked it out. Days later I was carrying a huge red bag on my back and riding my sister’s boyfriends fucked up mountain bike around downtown LA. Bike messengers are crazy everywhere, all in different ways, the LA scene was actually a lot of straight up crack heads. Not many messengers in LA, maybe 4 companies and 60 messengers total at it’s peak. One company was called Time Machine and had this logo of a dude driving some kind of hovercraft thing, one hand on the steering wheel and an URGENT! package in the other. I never worked there but sure wish I had one of their shirts. I worked for 1st Legal and Law-In-Motion. They mostly did legal research type things and filed papers at the court. I liked it and was really good at it because all my coworkers were super fucked up crackheads, blacked out drunks not answering their radios, or weird Kenyan refugees. Yes, there were lots of Kenyans out there, didn’t speak much English,tall as fuck, and skinny and they were all studying all the time. Some refugee program hooked them up with the jobs, I bet half those motherfuckers wanted to go back to Kenya after a few weeks in Downtown LA. One guy that was always around but never really working was named Psycho John. He had worked for every company and stolen or done weird shit at all of them so he could not get a job, blacklisted from the LA messenger scene is pretty pathetic. But it got worse, he taught me how to do this hustle where you get 10 fresh 2 dollar bills from the bank in exchange for a 20. Then roll up to the crack spot on your bike and have the 2 dollar bill in you mouth that’s folded into fourths. Mumble that you want a 20 shot to the guy and do your thing, swap swap, then bounce. He would do this all day long, going to all the hot flow corners where consistently would be a Sureno posted up to serve fiends. He was the NorthFace jacket guy, every messenger scene has to have a guy that will boost whatever cool thing you don’t want to pay retail for. Tell Psycho John what you want and it will be there the next day. All messengers have a post up spot for chilling when you are in between runs, the one in LA was Under the Bridge, it’s the same place that that whinny red hot chili peppers guy sings about. It was a skuzzy place that no one but messengers and junkies would go. The messengers painted a huge red and white target by one of the walls that was a shooting gallery for the junkies, the goal was to make it so unpleasant for the junkies that they would go somewhere else so we threw all of our glass bottle at the target or directly at the junkies. A lot of the messenger’s I worked with had recently been released from prison and they did their prison workout routine Under the Bridge. One guy was really nice to me and always took care of me, he would make sure no one gave me coke even when they were all doing it. His name was Toothless and he sold thousands of Ecstasy pills every week. There were a lot of raves in downtown LA at that time and E was huge, everyone wanted it so these guys let me slang it at their clubs. I thought it was a really cool side job and even though it was not following what my sister and parents wanted who cares. I had a real job so I did some of what they wanted, I figured I could have some liberties with the rest of my time. I never like House music but I liked the women that go to dance to House music, I liked Ecstasy, I liked money and I really liked acting like an adult. At least what I thought being an adult entailed.The lack of supervision in my adolescence caused me a lot of trouble in life but overall it was really fucking fun so whatever, it all evens out. Squid, from NY came out I think in early 96 and that was the first time I ever saw a track bike, I didn’t even know they existed before then and I had no idea how they worked. he stayed in LA for a few days and then I heard that he rode all the way to Tijuana. Squid was fucking cool, and after I met him all I wanted to do was get a fixed gear and messenger in a real city. LA does not qualify as a real city at all, it’s like the movie set of what they think a real city looks like. I worked as a messenger in LA until 1996. Some of the LA guys were really into bikes, like 3 of them and those guys knew about how cool SF was so they went up for the messenger world championship race and I tagged along with them. I’ll write up my notes from that trip when I have time.

_Oakland Andrew