In the cinema tour de force “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” the boys travel across the country in search of revenge, but along the way they try out various convenience stores, hoping to find one as comfortable as the one that started it all for them in “Clerks”. They posture, they pose, they attempt to kick it, but they are perpetually disappointed.
I knew the feeling until yesterday.
I have visited a number of bike shops in the San Diego area looking for a home away from Joe’s, and it has been hugely disappointing. Soulless retail “Bikemarts” full of spiffy, appropriately tattooed sales reps and racks of merchandise are abundant, and- just not for me.
Yesterday though, I found a home away from home. The Bikesmith, located on Grant Avenue, or is it Grand? Anyway, the shop is owned and operated by a guy named Bob who simply loves bikes. His shop is a cluttered mess of buried treasure. Schooled in the high-end road and mtb developments of the last 30 years, Bob has accumulated some of the choicest rides ever. hanging from the ceiling are: Schwinn Collegiates, Varsities, & a Scrambler, A Bridgestone MB-4, a Bianchi (like the one Larry uses to kick everyone’s ass at Dirt Track) Raleigh ten-speeds from when they were made in England, Haro’s you will never see again, Motobecanes, and some seriously vintage cruisers like the Phantom, which are not for sale.
This is not a museum, and he is not a meticulous dork about it, these are just his bikes, and he can tell you what he loves about each of them and how one emerged from the innovations of another. The place is so cluttered that moving through it is like playing Tetris. Bob has a 70’s style bowl cut and although he must be in his late 40’s, the smile and style of a totally stoked 12 year old shines through his eyes. A native San Diegan, he shared pictures of the shop from the eighties, when it was wallowing in the boom of the bike/skate/scooter craze fueled by a grommet named Tony Hawk and a silly concept known as “Music Television” whatever that means.
Bob hasn’t been left behind, Bob has paid attention.
He produced a hand-drawn map of San Diego and showed from the boardwalk to the bay, the playground of his youth and lamented that kids just don’t run wild like they used to. Maybe Bob needs to shake the dust off and have a look around, because I do see the kids at the beach, weaving in and out of the grown-ups on rollerblades, but I know what he means. The kids are so culturally aware and savvy, it is easy to mistake them for 20 somethings at a distance (must be the cigarettes dangling from their lips?)
Whenever I asked about the price of this or that, he said, “I don’t know-make me an offer if you really want it”. I am as broke as poor Jennifer Anniston’s alleged heart, but I think I have to make Bob an offer on something today. It would take some work to find a place to sit, but this would definitely be my shop if I lived here. Sorry, Bob ain’t got no website.
Did I mention nothing rusts out here?
live from San Diego, CA