Thursday, January 27, 2011

..hit the city..

I headed over the bridge last night
into San Francisco(the city).
The bridge has
always blown me away.
The Bay bridge is
actually two bridges
with an island in
the middle. Connecting
Oakland to San Francisco.
Originally when it was
first built in the 1930's
cars drove in both
directions on the top.

The lower level had a commuter
train that ran on it
along with commercial
trucks. As the population grew
and more people got
cars they made the upper deck
one direction, from
Oakland To S.F. The lower deck
now reserved for eastbound
traffic. S.F. to Oakland.
As a kid driving west
across the bridge meant I was
with Mom. She would pick
me up from the east bay
(dad's house) and we
would sway and dip in
her light blue pinto
wagon across the upper deck
pointed west towards
"the city". My Dad is cool,
but back then his temper
was short and had to make
sure my older brother
and i stayed in line. Mom
was different... In
more way's then one. Taking
me skating, to punk
shows,science research
laboratory parties, urban
mini biking, and just
cruising around and
taking in San Francisco. This
was from the ages 5-12.
She moved around the city
a lot, an old bar in dog
patch converted to house,
a warehouse floor in the
old Hamm's brewery building,
and a corner store home
in the panhandle. Always far
out and exciting. So
to this day there is
this anxiety inside
almost every time I
cross that bridge...
but more like a young
kids anxiety
the kind where your eyes
widen and you become silent
and very aware, waiting
to see how this trip to the city
pans out.
When we moved to Oakland
trips across the bridge
became fewer. They actually
started to mean even more.
Maybe to see some crazy
band, or skate contest and
sometimes just run
around golden gate park.
Then i became old enough
to take the train that
goes through the tunnel
under the bay, and that was
the norm. No more bridge,
just the howl of the
train through the tunnel
and the smell of commuters
farting. I missed the bridge,
the view, the air, and
the sound of the tires vibrating
across the expansion
The first bike I rode across
the bridge on was a 1972
cb 350. I was in my 20's
and was a little leery about
it... the fucking thing was
slow and the thought of
breaking down on the bridge
is not cool. But like
bombing a hill or dropping
in on a vert ramp, once
you start you got to try to
pull it, the consequences are
not in your favor. Plus i
wasn't about to turn around
on the bridge. So my little
honda whined all the way
across with no problems...
I hit the first exit and turned
back around and headed back
eastbound, victorious and
alive. The more I did it the
more comfortable it became
and the more I could feel that
old excited anxiety
feeling like when i was kid.
Last night was Unseasonably
warm and i had to hit the
city, so I kicked the
shovel to life and pointed it west
towards San Francisco. It
was one of those nights.
and golden. Clear enough
out to see true distance, Alcatraz,
the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit tower,
And that Jagged S.F. skyline
laid out post card perfect.
check it out..... -max-

__ HIT THE CITY __ from max schaaf on Vimeo.


Jackrabbit said...

hit the nail on the head with that one

jolyne said...

that was beautifully put. that bridge is magic. it has been so clear lately too, well its magic even when it is foggy. pure magic.

Anonymous said...

Max. Hey this is Garry met you at the gas station in Dixon Ca.On your way back from New York last summer. I like youe style. With that said i have to ask what is writen on your bikes mirror in the video?

max schaaf said...

what's up Garry... that's my directions into NY and on to Brooklyn.

magua said...

Very cool,and way envious,just got hit with more snow here in NYC

Luke said...

So good to hear stories about overwhelming times in big cities.

Thanks dude.

Above the City said...

The City.

None better.

mindpill said...

fuckin cool schaaf...... i told you along time ago you should write more shit, you have good word. word has more impact then MORE motorcycle photos....keep going. ride safe, be peace

max schaaf said...

i would like to write more
each day, but just like the side effects of too many dairy products -shit takes a lot of time-
i'll try.

Seth said...

Dope post. Only seen the bridge in pictures but definitely felt the feeling in my stomach and love it.

Unknown said...

thank you for using that song. one of my favorites! and before i even pressed play i was gonna ask you if you'd heard it.

DutchmanPhotos said...


Check your mail dawg.



Anonymous said...

Sounds like one of those "had to be there moments"...thanks for sharing a piece of that through the video. So rad.

Mighty Whitey said...


OldStuffsFuckinMental said...

Really nice video Max!
Here in my are we don't have too many bridges adn those we have aren't longer than 100 yards maybe.

But one day I will cross that fuckin golden bridge, and hopefully feel the same.

Thanks man!

Mark Harris said...

It seems the older we all get those moments become fewer and farther between.

Lil Mad said...

Very cool... Nice piece about your parents.

CRIT said...

Love it, Max

CRIT said...

The wife and I hit the city last night as well, but had to tolerate the scream of BART through the tube. Then the f'ing doors did not open at Embarcadero, so...

God damn, mass transit.

I'm jones-ing for some BSK!

shiftace said...

In CA I've never been north of Disneyland. I will make it up there this year though. Maybe around Born Free 3.

kt said...

Nice story, thanks Max.

Luke said...

Going to be trippy when that bridge is gone. Least hard times for the california gov might give it temporary pardon.

Lrn said...

Just road from sf to oakland for the first time on tuesday, as a east bay native, i know that feeling your talking about...

Zito said...

thanks for sharing that story/vid man. much needed after getting fucking hammered with snow non stop in jersey. just been locked in the shop trying to finish my CH. i love when the sky is wild like that & im out on the bike.

this is one of my fav pics from last year. same sky - different coast.

Davidabl said...

It's a fine piece o'prose esp. perceptive about the experience of being a little kid-something that i think most writers aren't still in contact with

That said, dude it's not quite time to quit yer day job just yet :-) Just gettin' close :-)

79rigid said...

Max,what are you using for a camera and where is it mounted?A few of us are planning to ride down for BF3 and I would be stoked to get some video.

max schaaf said...

... i just use my phone.
i ride one handed... for a minute there i bit onto the case and had it
hanging from my teeth.

79rigid said...

Thanks.I have yet to perfect that skill.

Unknown said...

Boy, old choppers are Bummmmpy!

rct said...

im from Minnesota and i actually just had a chance experiance this to ride motos across the bay bridge and see San fransico the last few days. simply amazing. both the ride and the engineering. splitting lanes with a view. beautiful. what a kawinky dink.

OcchioLungo said...

nice words, nice images and nice choice of music. Mark Lanegan makes the folks of Ellensburg proud. (the ones that are paying attention)

Stone said...

Mark Lanegan, por vida. Probably accounts for 40% of what I listen to every day.

Ailton© said...

Big city, we cant live with or without it. Thanks for the inpiring words Mister Schaaf... Ride free!!!

Unknown said...

Do you think my friends and I could feature you on out site (

MP said...

Your '72 CB350 was slow? My '73 was a semi-rocketship- run 70mph @ 7000rpm all day long. Cost a little over $800 brand new. I rode with a guy with a Yamaha 2cyl 500 and he was amazed I could keep up with him. 'course he weighed twice as much as I did.