Archive: Alf and Kim, 1996

6656This was the first year that Second to Last SC participated in The Chicago Columbus Day Parade. We even had a “practice day” to go over a few maneuvers in the Lane Tech parking lot. Our staging area was in River North and over the course of the two hours we had to wait for the parade to start, some of us got drunk, some of us met Elvis, and some of us hit on high school band girls. Alfredo and Kim, as I’ve said, were the first scooterists I met in Chicago, but they broke up a few years later. We covered Alfredo’s story a couple weeks ago. Kim, after spells as a pastry chef at Charlie Trotters and a few other top Chicago restaurants, is out in California now. Hopefully they don’t mind this photo, I just always loved it. The parade was about to start and we had the bikes warmed up and ready to go. Somehow, after the debacle that followed, we got invited back, and the parade became a scooterist institution for the next several years.

Archive: Jon Vnuk, 1996


Jon Vnuk, Niagara Falls, 1996

Back to Niagara ’96 and an old friend we don’t see enough of these days. In the center of any rally in the mid-90s, no matter how drunk and silly you were being, you could always be sure that Jon Vnuk was on a rampage around the campsite, being even sillier than you, without a drop of alcohol in his system. Whether jumping over the campfire in a cow suit (don’t touch the udders) at 2am or wandering around, still awake, at 7am in nothing but a foil survival blanket, he was always fun to be around, and luckily we still run into him, unexpectedly, pretty much every time we’re in Milwaukee, whether our visit is scooter-related or not. He’s such a clean-cut kid, yet such a weirdo.

Archive: Chicago scooterists, 1997


Chicago, Tom Shoner, Andy Miller, Bryan Bedell, Alfredo Mar, and Roger “Gun Dude”, Chicago circa 1997

I’m not exactly sure when this photo was taken, probably at Slaughterhouse 3 or the first Rockford Rally. The mystery here is Roger. He showed up at Slaughterhouse 2 on a polished bare-metal Primavera and turned up for every scooter event in the midwest for about a year. He was a great guy, but we always suspected he was “up to something,” partially because his phone number at the time was “773-GUN-DUDE.” I believe it was Andy who was filling up at a gas station one day and saw Roger in a U-Haul, in a big hurry to get out of town. We never saw or heard from him again. Roger, if you see this, and you’re out of prison, give us a shout! (You too, Shoney!)

Archive: Amy Hong, 1996


Amy Hong, Niagara Rally, 1996

Another Niagara ’96 photo, this is Amy Hong, another scooter friend from the old days who’s fallen off the face of the earth. At the time, she was a student at Loyola and owned a beautiful metallic-green Vespa Rally 180, which we picked up from the painters (after a three-hour wait) on our way to our first out-of-town rally. After that episode, trailer rental problems, a flat tire, car trouble, getting lost, etc., it only took us about 22 hours each way. It was worth it.

Archive: Ian and Rob, 1996


Ian Whalley and Rob Stuhr, Niagara Rally, 1996

Ian and Rob, the Tundra Schmucks, had already been running the Niagara Rally for a few years when I met them in 1996. Niagara is one of the longest-running rallies in North America, and this year will be the last one Ian will be handling. Sure, it’s the same every year, muddy, cold, and predictable, with a side trip to hand out loonies to Polish strippers at Mints, but that’s the way we like to kick off the North American Rally Season. (Nevermind that every year a few more rallies pop up before Victoria Day Weekend.)

Archive: Alfredo, 1996


Alfredo Mar, Niagara Rally, 1996

I did an interview the other day with Karen for the awesome Kickstart magazine, and it got me thinking about how long i’ve been doing this (12+ years!), and all the great people I’ve met through 2strokebuzz and scootering. I started digging through some old shoeboxes tonight and thought it might be fun to start posting some photos and stories from the old days.

There’s no better person to start with than Alfredo Mar. When I bought my first scooter in 1995, Alf was the first person I met on Usenet, and a few days later, the first scooterist I met in person. I remember seeing him in front of Arturo’s Tacos on his mirrored-out P200 in pressed slacks and a tennis sweater with a weird laurel where the alligator should be, and feeling entirely inadequate with my rusty Primavera, dirty jeans and biker jacket, but within seconds of talking to him, I knew we’d be friends. We’re still best friends, and our daughters are, too. This photo is from Niagara 1996, our first major road trip. (Check out Rich Easton lying down in the background.) Alf bought that burgundy P200 from Vespa of Chicago when he went away to college, but it’s been in my garage so long (I’ve moved with it twice!) I think I might have common-law ownership.