I think I was 16, maybe 17. Our friend Neil Sanders, who owned a bike shop in the town I grew up in (New Westminster, BC, Canada), was always cool with taking my friend Nick and I to ride places we’d otherwise not get to check out. He was older, had a driver’s license, and was just together enough to make sure we didn’t get dead, despite our best efforts. One of the places we’d visit with some frequency was Blaine, Washington, just south of the border from us. The thing about Blaine, is that it had not one, but TWO sick back yard ramp set ups. In the mid to late 90’s, despite being in a different country, their backyards were the centre of the wooden ramp scene for us Vancouverite’s. I’ll forever be grateful for their work! On this particular weekend, Jarek partnered with Scott Hagnas to hold a jam, and premier Scott’s new video Infection 4. Neil and I piled our bikes and pads into his truck, and rolled up to Jarek’s just as things were heating up. I quickly decided that there was absolutely no way I was going to try and crowd a deck that was supporting the weight of every heavy hitter from the PNW, including but not limited to Paul Buchanan, Jason Enns, Cecil Milligan, Mark ‘Toast’ Johnson, John Bristol, and Dom Mach. However, as an avid filmer, I was happy to spend the day on the sidelines with Shad and capture what went down. Well, 18 minutes of it anyways. Please enjoy this footage of an above average day at Jarek Naslund’s ramps. Props to all those involved.
Club Homeless Products or Homeless #2 as a lot of people refer to it! Full video with parts from James Shepherd, Lee Sultemeier, Ruben Castillo, and Eben Krackau. Mix in some awesome mixed sections that focus on the riding scene around Austin and San Antonio, TX and a few contests you have yourself the making of a classic video!
Still, the Paul that folks are writing about is alien to me. The mysterious fellow. The enigma. The myth. I think that he was those things to most people, but not all. They are not wrong – but I had a different experience.
I met Paul when I lived in Montreal and would help Hal Brindley put on Play Clothes contests. So between 1995 and 1997. Paul and some other Ontarians would attend. Paul was rad – four pegs, two brakes, detangler rad. And he rode for Kink parts way back then – so I associated him with Zack Phillips (also a sponsor of the Play contests). So I remember that well – Zack / Kink spotted him first.
Eventually, he and Steph Royer moved out to Vancouver when everybody else did – around 1997. Somewhere around then, Miron, Osato, Enns, Andrew Faris, Paul, Steph, me – lots of the most high profile guys in Canada – relocated from across the country and found themselves living in Coquitlam, BC – a suburb outside the big city. Basic Bikes, run by Cecil and Darcy, hooked up the whole crew. We were family – for real. We were all in our 20s, and riding was everything. We probably saw each other five or more days a week.
And here’s the thing – Paul may have been quieter than some, but he wasn’t a mystery. He was rad, and sociable, and a central member of the crew. That other stuff came later when he joined his Austin family at Terrible One.
I used to work for a Canadian snowboard clothing company called Rewind, which Neil Levin of Four Seasons skatepark ran in the 1990s. He let me pick a team and handle photo contingencies for the guys. I picked Pedro Dos Santos, Jason Enns, Jamie McIntosh, John Parker and Paul. Looking at some of the pre-Terrible One and Fox pictures, when he rode for Basic, I am reminded of my tallying-up of visible Rewind logos and getting cheques cut for Paul. In one of the catalogues, he is pictured with a broken wrist and a big smile.
Paul and Jason Enns were the first two that I remember to take off their front brakes and mess around with foot jam nosepicks. Paul figured out footjam tailwhips, and jumped in like it was a tailwhip air. This was new. He also switched to two-piece bars when we were all on 4- or 6-piece bars (Basic Whammy bars). It seemed so backwards – but he was on to something. I remember trying his bike and immediately contacting Hoffman Bikes and requesting some of their Jumping Bars. (Now we watch videos from the late 1990s / early 2000s and it looks so odd – like our wrists were handcuffed. 7” tall, 24” wide.)
The Terrible One Props commercial has been popping up since Paul passed. It is probably hard for the kids to understand – but that’s about 60% never-been-done stuff, and 100% rarely done better. Half-cabs on street, bunny hop tailwhips. Footjam whips, and a curved wallride that he doesn’t even make – this was so new that even this incomplete attempt elicited surprise and excitement and works as an ender. It’s rad to have been doing this so long and remembering the context of old footage. That was all next-level at the time, and obviously, so influential that these tricks are ubiquitous now. But someone had to do them first (and with style).
(I also love that he sorta blows off the pedals on the hop whip with no worries with regard to perfection.) Thinking about it now – it might be a combination of Paul and Ruben’s riding that has been the most influential (?) for what riding would become.
We need to get Jason Brown’s video Canadians III: Reprazent up on Snakebite’s YouTube channel. Around 1997 – 1998, it is basically the Paul Buchanan show. I can’t believe that they are both gone.
I’ve lost five BMXer friends / acquaintances to similar circumstances in the past 29 months. This is horseshit. I’m pissed and I’m scared. There is something going on, it seems, anecdotally, where BMXers who had this overwhelming intense relationship with the culture in their twenties (in the 1990s) are hitting their mid-life period and really struggling. And we need to help each other. And let’s be pro-active about this – not just wait for them to have the strength to reach out when they have run out of strength. We need to check in on each other. And truly and actively love each other.
I probably told Paul that I loved him the last time we spoke. So that helps me a little. I just wish that I had more chances to tell him (and Jason, and Dave, and Jim, and Clint) this again and again.
Lee’s part in the Club Homeless video reminds me of my friends and I earlier videos and like a lot of you it was just a bunch of friends riding and messing around with each other! Lee’s part starts off with him messing with the crew but then moves into him popping some of the hardest fastplant boosts at the Aqua Fest contest in Austin to him cruising the streets with friends. You definitely can see his signature style starting to take place that we all are familiar with in ‘Homeless Trash’!
Rick Thorne’s new season of pool seekers just dropped and in total Rick fashion these show’s are a lot of fun! We posted his episode with Ron Wilkerson but you can watch season 1 & 2 by clicking the link right here.
You can also listen to the podcast we did with Wilkerson right here.