English plumber Colin Furze has rigged up his commuter scooter to shoot an adjustable 12-foot flame backwards at encroaching drivers. “I’ve been told that if I fire the flames while riding on the road it’s equivalent to using a firearm and I could be in a lot of trouble,” Furze says.
Venerable Welsh parts supplier/tuner Taffspeed Ltd. will close at the end of the month after 27 years of service to the worldwide scooter community. Ian Frankland is scheduled for heart bypass surgery, and his former employees will continue running the shop (and dyno) as “Welsh Scooter Parts.” The Taffspeed name will live on in Frankland’s “Taffspeed Special Products” which will still be available from the new shop.
Thanks for the tip, Matt, and best of luck to Ian and the new shop!
Our friend and Corazzo owner Bradford Duval stepped down from the presidency of the VCOA a couple months ago (Mike Bobadilla of Vespa Club Los Gatos took his place, btw) but he’s putting his time into another great two-wheeled organization. The new United States Tourist Trophy Foundation is looking to send Alaskan Jimmy Moore to the Isle of Man TT in May/June. The backers of the USTTF feel Moore is the man destined to be the first American on the podium in the races’ history, and they need your help getting him (and his bikes) there. Read more at RoadRacerX.com.
When that’s done, Bradford, Eric Almendral and I need your help getting Silent Ron to Dakar on a Blur 220EFI next winter. Eric and I have a new years’ resolution to make Ron the first American to not kill himself in the desert of South America on a Taiwanese moped.
Did we just post two videos? and did we just miss two weeks of Vespa Video Vednesday? Never fear, we didn’t forget you. Today we have another clip from David’s list that just so happens to be one of my favorite songs:
Artist: David Bowie Song: “Absolute Beginners” Album:Absolute Beginners film soundtrack (1986) Scooter(s): Vespa GS Scooter content: 5 seconds Jump to the good parts: 2:19, 2:22, 2:36
David Bowie, of course, is a genius. As Jon Langford would put it, he’s the “Chameleon of Rock.” And Colin MacInnes’ Absolute Beginners, is definitely one of my favorite books. So what could be better than a film version directed by Great Rock and Roll Swindle director Julien Temple, featuring David Bowie AND Ray Davies (AND Edward Tudor-Pole)!?
Well, the film turned out to be nothing but a marginally entertaining (at best) musical (no!) love story that nearly ignored the book’s rich drama of gentrification, race relations, and the rise of the English teenager. The Fifties setting was overwhelmed by the Eighties set design, and today it looks dated and campy. The soundtrack holds up a little better, featuring songs from Jerry Dammers (of the Specials), the Style Council*, and rare proof that Sade was a promising talent back when she had a last name. Even Ray Davies’ subtle nostalgic song is pretty good. But the gem was this David Bowie track.
Julien Temple directed Bowie’s epic “Jazzin’ for Blue Jean” video in 1984, and Bowie was chosen to appear in the film as shady advertising magnate Vendice Partners. The single was recorded in June 1985 but delayed to wait for the film’s release. The video is nothing special, a Duran Duran-inspired parody of British “Strand” cigarette commercials with awkwardly-chromakeyed film footage worked in. The scooter footage is minimal, and all from the film (a Vespa GS graces the soundtrack album cover and makes a few appearances in the film).
But, oh, the song is so great. It strikes me as the anti-“Uptown Girl,” showing Billy Joel that Eighties arena pop could actually be fused with doo-wop without disastrous results, and thus proving David Bowie is actually capable of anything. The lyrics are beautifully vague and can make me cry if I’ve had a couple beers and I pretend it’s about whatever dramatic situation is troubling me at the moment. Even the obligatory Eighties sax solo is magnificent. It’s perhaps a bit long, though it’s available in several remixes of varying lengths across CD, CD3(!) LP, 7″, 12″ releases. The film was massively hyped before release, then panned by critics and fans, but the single reached #2 in England and nearly cracked the top 50 in the U.S.
There, it’s ten minutes until midnight, and VVV lives. All that for five seconds of secondhand scooter footage. See you next Vednesday.
*Speaking of Paul Weller, The Jam’s “Absolute Beginners,” (#4 UK charts in 1981) is surely also inspired (though equally subtly) by MacInnes’ book. It’s really a must-read novel, and in this age of remakes and re-hashed ideas, hopefully another filmmaker has a go at it, but it’s going to be hard to top the two great songs it’s already inspired.
I’ve been wanting a scooter-mounted garage door opener for ages, this is the best solution I’ve seen yet. I happen to have all the required parts on hand (and a spare on the way) so I might give it a try this afternoon and see how it works on a scooter. (Thanks, fs8gbe, via Modern Buddy.)
Next time someone questions 2SB’s “journalism skillz,” refer them to “Website of the Year” Sky News, with important “news” stories like “GIANT CHOCOLATE BIG BEN” and “SCOOTER JUMP GOES WORNG”[sic]. With just a tiny fraction of Rupert Murdoch’s money behind 2SB, we could probably at least double our level of journalistic standards. Help us out, Rupe.
One of the most dramatic events of 2008 British motorsport was the victory by Scott Redding in the 125cc Grand Prix race at Donnington Park. Redding’s win ended an over thirty year drought for Brits in the One-Two-Five class as he set the record for being the youngest Grand Prix winner at about fifteen and a half years of age. MotoGP.com posted a nice report on the Gloucester lad passing his Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) test. Scott can now drive himself around on a scooter. I am fairly sure 50ccs of unbridled 2-stroke fury will make him feel a bit like he’s moving in slow motion compared to his Aprilia RSW125. But maybe he can get some help tuning the bike from his Team BQR mechanics. Mr. Redding is pictured on MotoGP.com while astride a Piaggio Zip 50 scooter. Scott races for Blusens Aprilia. As Aprilia is under the Piaggio umbrella of companies, I hope they set him up nicely with the ‘ped for free.