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The revolutions will not be televised
12.07.08 by Buffalo Bill

The summer rush is here. The rush of TV people trying to come up with a new idea for whatever reality strand is hot right now in the commissioning cycle. What’s the new old idea? Bicycle messengers. For some thoughts on this see this article from a couple of years ago.

The crassest example can be found on the forum here. ‘In Harm’s Way’? Do me a f***ing favour. GO AWAY!

After what happened in Chicago, there is NO WAY that I would assist a TV company in sensationalising, repackaging, or similarly presenting the ‘alleycat’ phenomenon to the viewers of America or Great Britain. Alleycats are something that we should keep for ourselves, something that should be experienced only by those that were there, and not exhibited for the general pleasure of TV-land. Well, that’s my view anyway. Yeah, I know, there are literally thousands of videos out there on the fabulous inter-web. But let’s leave them there, let’s not let spray-paint the living-rooms of America in technicolour alleycat bicycle race, please.

Similarly, whilst they might claim that participation will result in ‘excellent exposure’, ‘In Harm’s Way’ will, I guarantee you, result in nothing of the sort. Never forget that the whole point of making a mainstream TV programme is to get money. As much money as possible. So, yes, they will say that they will tell ‘your story’, that they will try to present a balanced picture of ‘your life’, that you can trust them, the truth is that they will cut up whatever footage they get to make the most exciting 22 minutes that they can. And leave you to deal with the consequences. They really will say anything to get the show made, and if it turns out to be totally different to how they pitched to you, well, hey, that’s Hollywood.

But for the sake of a few hundred quid, is it worth the hassle might come with a media band-wagon such as ‘ban these killer track bikes’? Would you want to be the trigger that released the bullets of courier licensing, or even a bike ban? If you think these scenarios far-fetched, then you need to educate yourself about courier history.

A 1986 collision involving a NYC Councillor resulted in the proposal of a bike ban, under which bicycles were to be banned from mid-town Manhattan between the hours of 10am and 4pm. Yes, really.

In 1997 a pedestrian in Boston crossing the street against the red signal was hit and critically injured by a bicycle messenger on a green light. Extensive and persistent lobbying by the man, who turned out to be the vice-president of a bank, resulted in a raft of new city ordinance designed to ‘regulate’ Boston’s couriers.

So, yes, the wrong type of media coverage can have serious consequences. If you are thinking about participating in anything related to the media, to not consider the possible outcomes for your community is very unwise.

Philip Diprose made an excellent documentary a couple of years ago called ‘Written in the streets’. I don’t think that anything needs to be added to it. It said pretty much everything. Let’s leave it there.

  1. “The revolutions will not be televised”

    Ha! I see what you did there.

    — Dazzler    14 July 2008, 23:31    #
  2. update! The revolution WILL be televised after all it would seem. Let’s hope that no harm comes to the legendary Speedfast on his way to the bank to deposit the £1000 he’s asking for 4 days filming x

    — Dazzler    15 July 2008, 08:55    #
  3. £5000 darren get your figures right

    — zack speedfast    15 July 2008, 09:01    #
  4. Suck a corporate big one Zack!

    — overdrive    15 July 2008, 11:13    #
  5. It’s going to be called “The iron man. The legacy of Zack Speedfast”. It’s going to be a 3 part film noir/action thriller. Bill is making a cameo appearance for an undisclosed amount.

    — zack speedfast    15 July 2008, 11:48    #
  6. This just in. The sequel has just had funding approved. “Buff the messenger slayer. A look into the psyche of the worlds most notrious exenger” A 5 part doco journeying into the mind of Bingalo.

    — Zack Speedfast    16 July 2008, 13:13    #
  7. Bill, I am not a messenger, and I can see what you are trying to say, but I think you miss the point. You say that “Alleycats are something that we should keep for ourselves”… I have never been to an alleycat but have enjoyed the very detailed and nicely referenced pictures documenting alleycats on the Moving Target Forum.
    Moving Target goes some way in “spray-paint the living-rooms of America in technicolour”… especially as some of the messengers sport very colorful outfits… you are already all over middle-class living rooms, trust me.

    You vaguely attempt to make the difference between what you call the “mainstream media” and Web2.0 (Moving Target is a prime example of Web2.0). But its not convincing. I think what you are trying to say that there is a difference between documenting and exposing a “movement” for the purpose of sharing among eachother and purely for money reasons. But its very difficult to make this argument coherently, as Web2.0 completely blurs the boundary of the mainstream media and friends sharing a laugh. Anybody can access the Moving Target Forum, which is very much a window to the London messenger scene, not least fakengers and, surprise, the authorities. I don’t know any of the contributors , but having a look through the Forum I can tell you that some posters clearly enjoy illegal substances (A, B and C), some are squatting, some work in this country without a proper visa, etc and if I try really hard I would be able to find a picture for the offending person (and bike of course), the name of the pub they frequent every other Friday (and possibly even the company they work for and the area of London they live in)…. I wonder how damaging that is to the messenger scene….

    Fair enough, you draw the line at reality TV sensationalism, however other (ex)messengers would draw the line of establishing a highly visible zine, and giving interviews of various issues (to the mainstream media), or sponsoring festivals (in Shoreditch, which is by definitions full of fakes). So it’s a personal thing. Overall, I think that the exposure the messenger scene gets right now throws up far bigger issues, but it boils down to each individual how much they want to expose (welcome to Web2.0).

    You go on about road safety (again…), but you can’t sanities the messenger scene, that’s why messengers, and by extension you, will never be taken serious by many people (and especially road users) as an advocate for road safety. If the Sun or Daily Mail would ever bother with you, they would shred you to bits (not just because of your facial hair and elaborate sense of dress). Fact is, some messengers engage in dangerous behavior on the road and injure others (it works both ways). You appear to be strong advocate for regulations regarding HGV blind spot issues… but you get screamish about messengers being regulated in the name of road safety….. and that’s why its very easy to take your argument apart.

    — Sasi    16 July 2008, 22:50    #
  8. If you can’t tell the difference between a web-site which gets somewhere between 500 – 2000 hits a day, and network TV, which has an audience of millions, then I think it is you that has missed the point.

    I don't want to go over the reasons why messengers shouldn't be singled out of all the other professional road users for regulation - have a look at messmedia - but suffice to say that there is no evidence (that I have seen) that suggests that messengers are any more of a threat to the safety of the public than any other cyclists. Perhaps you have access to new data? If so, please share it with us.

    Oh, it’s road danger, not road safety, by the way.

    And since when was a t-shirt and jeans 'elaborate'?

    — Bill    16 July 2008, 23:20    #
  9. “Oh, it’s road danger, not road safety, by the way.” It’s an individual thing lol

    Sorry, no I can’t tell the difference between a website that gets 500 to 2,000 hits a day (if that’s unique hits I am impressed) and a TV station that may have an audience in the millions in the case of the argument you were making. That VP that got run over and kicked up a fuss, that was only one person. The damage that can be done by exposure has nothing to do with numbers in this case… its about who watches, and who cares enough.

    — Sasi    16 July 2008, 23:43    #
  10. Bill, stop editing you messages after you have posted them.

    Messengers are not any more of a threat to the safety of the public, I am not sure when I implied it was otherwise. The point I am making is that those who would like to criticise you, or the arguments you are making in favour of HGV blindspot issues, can point to the fact that messengers are not exactly angels either.

    And common, the Daily Mail will hardly run a road safety campaign on HGV blind spots with you as the spokesperson… I think they prefer more processed individuals.

    — Sasi    17 July 2008, 00:34    #
  11. I’ll think you’ll find that as it’s my site, I can and will edit anything whenever it suits me.

    I don’t know where you are going with the references to me and the way that I dress. What the hell is ‘more processed’ supposed to mean? As for being in the Mail – well, they already published favourable coverage of Ghost bikes, and the Standard (which is out of the exact same building as the Mail) pretty much adopted the blind-spot mirror and training thing for their ‘Safer Cycling’ campaign wholesale– albeit without any reference to my beard.

    — Bill    17 July 2008, 06:32    #
  12. Oh, I just checked my google analytics: 350 – 700 unique visitors a day. Not exactly earth-shattering.

    — Bill    17 July 2008, 06:43    #
  13. Oi sasi,You may have seen me wearing a dress but I can assure you I am no sexual deviant.Do you work for the Mail?If not there is a job there waiting for you.I’m just off to take some A B C’s.Cheerio.

    — overdrive    17 July 2008, 09:38    #
  14. This muppets post gets more and more surreal everytime I read it.“all over middle-class living rooms”?????He sounds troubled.

    — overdrive    17 July 2008, 13:30    #
  15. yeah, i much prefer Bill’s mild manners.

    — overdazzler    17 July 2008, 17:00    #
  16. Overdrive, I don’t work for the Mail. By “processed” I mean people who have been vetted and approved by the system (Canary Warf is a good place to tribe watch).

    I am not saying that the right of the centre media would not pick up road safety issues, but its fair to say they wont advance a messenger as the spokes person. When middle England looks at Overdrive in a dress, they just don’t see him as their son-in-law. There is nothing wrong with that (the dress I mean) but the lifestyle choices we make mater a lot. Zak Goldsmith, good example, the conservatives (party and media) can’t have him as a spokesperson, because anybody who has seen a bit of the world knows that he has inherited not only his family’s fortune, but also lifestyle…

    Those 350 – 700 unique hits a day are not earth shattering (although that’s around 200,000 a year, which for a blog/zine is pretty good) , but neither is a million people watching a messenger breaking some traffic law on TV. What is earth shattering is if some VP runs in front of a bike and then gives his powerful mates a call. And what is earth shattering is if the authorities decide they bother. Regarding middle class homes – you don’t really think that the 350 to 700 hits are messengers… the first time I heard about MovingTarget was at a Barbie with my processed neighbors… they love it, makes them feel all dangerous when they sit in their office.

    — Sasi    17 July 2008, 17:02    #
  17. What’s this argument about? I’m only here cos I heard someone say illegal substances.
    I can’t be bothered reading all the words.

    westcoastmess    17 July 2008, 17:33    #
  18. Makes you feel dangerous too I think.

    — overdrive    17 July 2008, 17:38    #
  19. Thanks mate, you just killed my site. How will I possibly live this down:

    ‘Moving Target – the talk of middle-class barbecues’


    — Bill    17 July 2008, 17:57    #
  20. You’re both right, you’re both wrong.
    Populist lowest-common-denominator tabloid sensationalism is always shit – especially when it’s about you and your friends. It should be resisted on all fronts.
    On the other hand, many of us (possibly including Bill?) have participated in, condoned or even sought out the glamour of those fifteen minutes. It’s affirming to have people interested in you – flattering too… We do tend to be show-offs. It’s part of the deal.
    Once we put our heads above the parapets… everything else just follows.

    — zero cc    17 July 2008, 21:53    #
  21. Can someone please invite me to one of these BBQ’s? Sounds like the shizzle.

    — Dazzler    17 July 2008, 23:36    #
  22. yeah wheres me frikcin terry and june fondue set?

    — ronnie d    18 July 2008, 11:05    #
  23. Westcoastmess, keep taking them and watch out for your head… I think that summarises it.

    I am only here because of “The Revolution will not be televised” gets me every time.

    As Gil says “You will not be able to stay home, brother. You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out,…Skip out for beer during commercials,…The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox, In 4 parts without commercial interruptions,… The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal…The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner,.. Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville Junction will no longer be so god damned relevant, and women will not care if Dick finally gets down with Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day… The revolution will not go better with Coke. The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath. The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.”

    I assume Bill chose the title because he agrees with Gil.

    — Sasi    18 July 2008, 11:08    #
  24. snooze with me my brothers

    — Barry    18 July 2008, 11:22    #
  25. lulz @ sasi taking the words of a smack addict seriously.

    — hooman all too hoooooman    18 July 2008, 11:57    #
  26. sought out the glamour of our 15 minutes of fame? Moi? Mais non, pas du tout, mon cheri.

    — Bill    18 July 2008, 20:03    #
  27. if you want to make a shocking documentary you should make one about Bill’s toes. I saw them this morning and they are twice as long as normal toes. They’re like little legs on the end of his feet.
    This was in the office, by the way, not in the bedroom or shower or anywhere like that. He wears flip flops.

    — will    18 July 2008, 20:39    #
  28. Westcoastmess, keep taking them and watch out for your head… I think that summarises it.

    Summarises what? Kid, Drugs are fun. maybe taking a few will help you realise that quoting ‘hip’ lyrics from some ‘hip’ guy just isn’t cool. stick to processing your barbeques

    — johnsatisfaction    20 July 2008, 14:28    #
  29. I think Alleycat/Courier videos suck for a few different reasons.

    They could be used as evidence in a court case should something awful happen. If I get killed on the road I would prefer the lorry driver’s defense team doesn’t have a library full of videos of me and my drug addled colleagues riding dangerously.

    Alleycats are illegal, dangerous, inherently selfish (how many pedestrians have their friday nights made slightly worse by each race) and have the potential to go horribly wrong when they get too big and high profile. Back in the states I did a few 100+ (One was 167) person alleycats composed mostly of internet kids and it sucks. People who are not used to assesing traffic risks ride like madmen and follow wheels assuming every gap is beg enough for one more rider. On narrow london streets it could only be worse. Last friday’s race mostly consisted of people who know and respect each other competing for bragging rights. Some guys are known to be crazy/bold riders and most other couriers have the sense not to follow them. How it should be.

    Posting alleycat videos online allows heaps of wankers to live vicariously through the participants in the race. If you want in, do a checkpoint or race. At least come to the party and talk to people. spectators really do nothing to add to the scene/party.

    From what I have seem TV coverage makes you look like twats or drug addled pirates. Check out the Worlds Most Dangerous Jobs! program in the states a couple of years ago or the Milport coverage a few months back.

    (I never watch alleycat videos and think that famous guy with the cameras on his helmet who brakes into corners is a wanker)

    my god it is slow today.

    — Janky    21 July 2008, 12:46    #
  30. Gosh, this is close and personal, I am being accused of all sorts… working for the Mail, not taking enough drugs and being un-cool.

    “…keep taking them and watch out for your head… I think that summarises it.” I think you will find that this works in most countries very well for a high number of users. All the “kids” I know who got done for drugs could not keep their mouth shut or got overly enthusiastic about showing off (it appeared to be a general problem in many cases).

    As for good old Gil, I make a point of taking drug users and abusers serious; beats the intellectual output from a processed Barbie by miles. But then that is my experience… maybe I am too choosy.

    — Sasi    21 July 2008, 19:12    #
  31. Don’t worry about being accused of being uncool – it happens to me all the time! If the cap fits, wear it, I say…


    — Bill    21 July 2008, 19:36    #
  32. Bill …in that spirit I anticipate a great career as lollipop ladies for both of us, we could meet up for tea after a hard shift to have a chitty chat about health and safety.

    So what’s with “the Revolution will not be televised” then, I was dropping a very subtle hint there. Don’t tell me you have no thoughts on Gil, all that moving target and message to the messenger…

    — Sasi    21 July 2008, 21:28    #
  33. “Gosh, this is close and personal, I am being accused of all sorts…”

    Oh FFS!
    If you’re going to wade into an open forum debate then folk will usually reply, mostly because they disagree with you. Try reading some of the archived posts and reconsider whether you’ve been subjected to close and personal attacks.

    If you can’t take counter-argument kindly feck off and read the
    C-Beebies site instead.

    — suicide    22 July 2008, 11:39    #
  34. Tea and chats? Sounds lovely. Yeah, the title was DEFINITELY a reference to the Gil Scot Heron song. Hardly needed saying, but yeah, I am happy to confirm the shameless plagiarisation.

    — Bill    22 July 2008, 19:14    #
  35. that’s easy for you to say

    — will    23 July 2008, 20:10    #
  36. Thanks a lot, dude :)

    Diggo    29 October 2008, 06:59    #
  37. Thanks a lot, dude :)

    Diggo    29 October 2008, 07:05    #
  38. Thanks a lot, dude :)

    Diggo    29 October 2008, 07:23    #
  39. Thanks a lot, dude :)

    Diggo    29 October 2008, 07:28    #
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