It’s not everyday I run into a blog and project bike related I can’t get enough of. This is a great project and his blog site is good stuff, second best to only riding.
You really must see this movie. Whether you love bicycles that ride on the city streets or you secretly want to run down every damn cyclist you see on the road, you will enjoy this movie. Why? Because it’s authentic. Kudos to director David Koepp on his screenplay and movie Premium Rush. He must have really done his homework when making this movie. How do I know? I was a bike messenger for 11 years. I was rarely ever nervous or scared on the streets darting in and out of traffic. Yet Mr. Koepp captured the thrill excitement and danger, without being cheesy, as if you were on the bike or in the cab. There were times I really jumped in my seat thinking a cyclist was going to get hit by a car. The stunts were amazing. And how do you show on film the 6th sense of a being a bike messenger and “Just Knowing” where to cut as a car bumper grazes your pedal? David Koepp and his crew pulled it off with amazing motion graphics.
Special effects aside though, the characters were authentic. But when you use real NYC bike messengers as extra’s they can’t be anything but authentic. Looking and sounding. When Raj, dispatcher played by Aasif Mandvi, asks two messengers to take an after hours delivery they properly responds, “Can’t, got to get hammered.” When Bobby Monday, played by Michael Shannon, approaches Wilee and try’s to intimidate him, Wilee calls him a d-bag and rides off. Wilee being the star of course played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
See the movie and know it truly captured the attitude and bravado of the bicycle messenger. Mr. Koepp even brilliantly wrote into the film that some bike messengers are trapped in the job not for a love of it, but for lack of options. Such as the case being with Wilee’s girlfriend Vanessa played by Dania Ramirez.
Sure, I’ve never heard of a bike messenger being “caught up” in under world dealings revolving the Chinese mafia, gambling and human trafficking but hey it’s hollywood and we would have been bored if this film were an 86 minute documentary on the “real life” of a messenger.
I don’t even know why I blog. I mean really, being a bike messenger is about like being a construction worker or garbage man. Read any good blogs from them lately? Didn’t think so. In fact I thought the whole purpose of blogging was to bring insight and valuable information to others. Of which I have none. Wait, not entirely true. Every so many years Hollywood hits the nail on the head with an overly cliche film about bicycle messengers. It’s been a long time since Quicksilver, but that movie ROCKED! So this Friday is the release of http://www.facebook.com/PremiumRushMovie
I’m not sure what to expect but I have high hopes!
I know, I know, I made a messenger documentary and yet I say they are boring. They are. Or at least to me. I try to like watching people ride their bikes and talk about their bikes and enjoy the lifestyle. But to me it’s not much different than watching people surf. If you do something, ie: ride or surf, then you find true enjoyment in doing that something, and watching it can be boring. This all hit me the other day as I was watching skate video’s on Youtube and loving it! It’s because I can’t skate. (Or at least without falling off my board a lot, which sucks, making it not fun.) But what is fun is living vicariously through other skaters who rip.
So, if you can then do, if you can’t… watch it!
And these guys rip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZXjT43__XQ
I think about work a lot. I’ve actually contemplated work since I was old enough to realize I would have to do it someday for a living. And then someday happened. And like most Americans we find ourselves in jobs that pay our bills but don’t fill up the old satisfaction account. I’ve read articles that discuss how at a certain income level most workers seek better working conditions over higher pay. Maybe that’s why we all want to be movie stars. You get paid more money than you could spend in ten life times and focus all your energy on the creativity of the job. Or so I assume as I do not know any movie stars personally. But my wife subscribes to People magazine so I feel like I do.
So this is why most bike messengers get stuck in the job for decades. We see millions of Americans making good money but hating their jobs. So when you find a job that is satisfying and full of freedom you stick with it even if the pay isn’t that great. Life is a trade off. We often trade one thing for another. So I say to you; find in life what you value and commit to that. In the end you will be much richer for it.
It’s been a little over a year since I got off the bike as a full time messenger. And life sure has changed from a bike riding standpoint for me. Now I regularly get dropped on my Tuesday night mountain bike ride, I ride my road bike home from work once a week (I drive the rest of the time) and the only time I carry 30 lbs. packages behind my is when I can convince my 4 year old daughter to let me take her for a bike ride in her bike trailer. It was after my Tuesday night bike ride with new friends when someone asked me if I would still be bike messengering if the business was still there like it was in “the good old days.” I said no. I know why I quit. The money dried up, I was sick of being outside in the elements all day everyday year round and sometimes you just need a new challenge. But more than that I wonder how those guys do it for 20 or 30 years? I tried answering that question with my movie but I don’t think I found those answers. I can speculate but that would just be my opinion. And we all know what opinions are like.
When I left college I got a job as a swim coach in Arizona. It was great. I only worked 5 hours a day and wore flip flops and t-shirts. In the morning I coached a group of master swimmers. Master swimmers are comprised mostly of men and women in their 40′s and 50′s. They once were competitive swimmers and now find themselves out of shape and bored with their careers. So they do what most of us do, try to get back in shape. One of my adult swimmers gave me some good advice. He said not to worry about knowing what you wanted to do in life when you are 25. Take it easy, relax, do what you want. By the time you are 28 or 29 you’ll start to figure out your course in life.
I took his advice and it was after turning 29 I realized I wanted to start a bicycle courier business. It seemed completely logical to me at the time. I would start it, own it and run it. It would be a legit business. One might even go as far as to call it a career path. I was growing up and diving into the “real” world. However after a decade of riding my bike around for a living I realized I had spent the past ten years riding my bike around for a living. I don’t regret it. And I did grow up a little. I learned a lot about running a small business. I also learned good things don’t last. After turning 40 I realized it was time for me to move on. Of course I held on for almost another year. Eventually I got out of the bike messenger game none to soon.
But it doesn’t mean I have any regrets. I stay in touch with a couple of my friends who are still on the busy streets of New York, Portland and San Diego. I remember back to the many beautifully sunny days riding my bike around town thinking to myself, “This is the greatest job in the world.” As I put on my dress pants and tie I envy my friends who wear mismatched clothing to work and don’t bother combing there hair. But just as life rolls on, so did I. And it was a decade well wasted.