Big Bear rides up on his huge chopper and dismounts. Grinning ear to ear, he stands nearly seven feet tall, covered head to toe in gleaming kitchen equipment. A broiler pan is his breastplate, colanders protect his shoulders, and his headgear sports a wicked pastry cutter. Inside this Hawthorne house, the being known as Megulon-5 girds himself in BMX knee pads, hockey gloves, a Tae Kwon Do helmet and an emergency flotation device. His weapon for tonight's death match: Cat O'Nine Inner Tubes. His ride: Son Of Chopagator, a 10-foot, home-built bicycle.
There are no motorized vehicles here. Chunk 666 burns no fossil fuels. You'll detect no exhaust fumes, no oil stains, no ear-splitting tailpipes. The bicycles they ride run on beer and stupidity alone--bikes so clearly born to crash, the mere thought of riding them causes one's gonads to shrivel. "Humpty," one of Chunks' vehicular creations, seats its rider five feet off the ground in a bobsledding position, atop a frame patched together from five bicycles and part of a fence. "Old Grandad" displays a mummified head between its monkey bars. All the bikes have outrageously long forks and ridiculously small wheels, defying balance and gravity. But the men and women of Chunk 666 ride them fearlessly, jousting, racing, and ramming them into one another again and again. And they've done it for six years.
Megulon-5 (who uses the name Karl Anderson in his dealings with earthlings) didn't intend to start all this. He was inspired in 1993 by an article in San Francisco's bike-punk zine, MUDFLAP, to forge the first Chunk Chopper. Actually, it wasn't even forged. Karl didn't know how to weld, so he hammered together a dozen sawed-off bicycle forks end to end, like the sections of a telescope, before mounting a baby bike wheel on front. It rode well, but required frequent re-pounding when the components rattled apart. So he enlisted the help of artist Justin Calloway and welder Al Kuhn to build bigger, stronger, stranger bikes. When this trio organized a chopper-building workshop for Reed College freshmen, a scruffy fleet was born.
HASSLED BY THE MAN!
It was only one day after the formation of Chunk 666 that these misunderstood freedom riders experienced their first "man-hassling." On Chunks' first ride with Portland's Critical Mass, the police inaugurated what became an ongoing feud with this monthly "anarchist" bike rally. Chunk 666, along with others, were ticketed for such crimes as leaning against railings, failure to form orderly lanes, missing reflectors, and bicycling without a license. Far from discouraged, they returned in larger numbers a month later, and have escorted and emboldened the Critical Mass riders ever since.
But it's not just the Chunks' politics and sloppy roadwork that worries the police--it's their spontaneous combustion. Megulon-5 recounts the evolution of the Independence Day Flaming Chopper Rides: "First we just lit cardboard boxes on fire and rode through them. Then we realized, 'Hey, we can add all this burning stuff to our bikes, and light them on fire, too.' Then one day Krack showed up with a few fireworks, and the rest is history."
Since then, Chunk 666 engineers--responding to their riders' needs--continued to design new frames with ever expanding fireworks-and-burning-stuff capabilities. To confirm the dangerousness of the new models, fearless Chunk test pilots race these exploding X-bikes through Portland every Fourth of July, protected only by fireproof pants and the pain-numbing effects of alcohol. Occasionally, concerned citizens dial 911, not recognizing these flaming yahoos for what they are: highly-trained specialists who would never set anything on fire except themselves. Police officers (dedicated to the city-wide prevention of fun) usually arrive too late to do anything but fume.
CHUNK 666 SAVES THE CHILDREN!
"One of the greatest thrills I have while riding," says Big Bear, "is the look on children's faces. Their jaws drop." Megulon-5 concurs: "Little kids practically wet themselves. And it makes sense, because these bikes make you a kid again. Remember when you were little, when you got tired from riding your bike just three blocks? And you fell off a lot? That's a Chunk bike, right there."
Kids in Big Bear's neighborhood, inspired by the awesome Chunk machinery on display, have started cutting themselves a piece of the gnarly chopper action. The Chunkstylers are glad to lend a hand, offering bike parts in exchange for help with their own projects and general slave labor. One ingenious Eastmoreland teen built his own chopper bike without Chunk assistance. "Last time he came by," Big Bear said proudly, "he'd built a suspension fork! It's made of duct tape, drinking straws and aquarium glue. It's got twigs sticking out the sides of it, but somehow, it works!"
TRANS-NATIONAL CHUNK EXPLOSION!
While none of the Chunk 666 gang are dumb, dissolute, or inarticulate--they are undeniably serious about their fun. Many are daily bike commuters, frustrated by Portland's dangerous roads and auto-centric culture; desperate for camaraderie and catharsis. In Chunkdom they've found a way to simultaneously resist car culture, and pretend it doesn't exist--or, failing that, drinking to forget about it.
Megulon-5 explained his Secret Chunk Agenda: "It just feels so good, you know, to make these pointless dumb bikes. I'm trying to Chunkify the world. I want to instill in children a feeling that bikes are cool. I'd like a million chopper bike clubs to spring forth all over the world. You don't have to work for a car. You don't have to spend a lot of money to have fun; you can make your own. The Man wants to find out what's fun so he can bottle and sell it. But it doesn't have to be that way."
The intrepid Chunks pursue their cultural goals fanatically. They've taught chopper deconstruction workshops in San Francisco, protested the chopper-unfriendly policies of the World Trade Organization in Seattle, bonded with like-minded chopper weirdoes in Minneapolis and Austin, published two issues of their eponymous 'zine (available at Reading Frenzy) and maintain an entertaining propaganda website (www.dclxvi.org). This summer they'll begin shooting the Chunkapocalyptiflick--a straight-to-video Homeric epic chronicling the Chunk 666 creation myth.
Meanwhile, they festively await the Anti-carmageddon. This is the day when the apocalyptic phenomenon known as the Wide-Band Chunkulation Field will swallow the earth, thereby inverting the laws of bicycle physics in the Chunks' favor. The brutal chariots of Chunk domination will then become beautiful, shiny cruisers which glide along with little effort. Meanwhile, the carbon-fiber full-suspension mountain bikes which dominate the current landscape will be pinned to the earth by the immense weight of their own pretensions. Cars will just explode. Chunk 666 will assert their dominance of Earth's roadways, freeing everyone from the gravity that holds us down.