PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Professional BMX rider Jake Seeley hopes to give the community a taste of freestyling and bike motocross with the premier of "Gangster Street Biking."
The film crams two years of footage into about 23 minutes, showcasing Seeley's life over the last two years including the people with whom he has crossed paths and some of his favorite riders who are also close friends.
"I want to share that feeling that I get to experience kind of often because that's my job and it's what I have been doing for a profession," he said. "By making this film they can experience the same feeling and it will only motivate kids to work hard and gives them direction."
The film will be screened Friday night to a limited audience in the parking lot near The Garden on North Street, the board and BMX shop where Seeley worked for years. The 31-year-old now primarily rides for the shop and works in the community.
The main goal of Seeley's position with The Garden is to be a positive role model to Berkshire County youth and empower them to excel at alternative sports. Not all kids are interested in group sports such as basketball, baseball, and soccer, he said, and those kids also need something to inspire them.
"The kids are No. 1," he said. "I want to make sure that the youth and this next generation are excited to get into BMX and see how exciting it is and all that it provides for you, including the great people that you meet and the wider community."
Seeley says BMX and skateboarding teach kids perseverance and determination, and involves them in a wider, supportive, community that is long lasting.
"A BMXer and a skateboarder are some of the most determined people," he said. "They will sit there for hours on end trying one single trick to get two seconds of gratification, but those two seconds of gratification when they land — it is the best feeling ever."
Seeley is featured on a number of BMX websites and rides on the pro team for Sunday Bikes, for which he has a signature line of bike frames and accessories.
Before making the film, Seeley went through a couple of phases of different projects including developing a small clothing brand. He decided to make a promo video for the brand featuring footage with his friends, and last summer he realized he had a wealth of great content and decided to make it into a formal film.
His professional career and work with The Garden gave him the means and resources to make a film, so he said he felt the responsibility to do it. His goal is to empower a next generation of BMX riders and shine a spotlight on up-and-coming local riders who haven't been recognized for their talents — and put the Berkshires on the map for BMX.
The film is completely organic, as the riders — both local and professional — were just going about their normal riding routines. Seeley describes it as individually driven, which really showcases the amount of fun the riders had while making it.
"Gangster Street Biking" is Seeley's vision — he did most of the filming, with some help from his fellow riders, and did the editing.
This summer he described as crunch time for finishing the film. He spent days in his room editing the final product, and even ran into a road block when his computer crashed and he nearly lost the footage.
"We always managed to be productive and get it done, which was great," he said. "It honestly went really well because there was no pressure and no deadline."
The Williamstown resident has been splitting his time since his late teens between here and Austin, Texas, where he can escape the Berkshire winters to continue riding.
"It's a refresh for me every season," he said.
The BMX industry has done OK during the pandemic: the activities are outdoors and away from other people by default. Seeley said he has taken this time in isolation to get content for the film and give featured riders something to look forward to during a time when there isn't much going on.
"We kind of live distanced from the norm, as a lot of time we are trying to be away from people in the streets or in ditches out in the middle of nowhere," he said. "And really the bike riding that we do we try to be secretive about it so we don't get kicked out of spots or piss people off so COVID in the long run helped a lot with finishing this video"
He explains that this film really shines a light on an underground culture that people outside of the BMX world don't usually see.
"We're the hoodlums of the streets, 'causing chaos' and everyone thinks that we are destroying things and being disruptive but in the long run we are really working toward something, we are passionate and like to have fun and enjoy riding our bikes," Seeley said.
He hopes that "Gangster Street Biking" will give the public who are uninformed about BMX an idea of what they are really doing and, in turn, be less hesitant toward skateboarders and BMX riders.
The film opens up with local teenager Jacob Senger, who has ridden BMX since he was 12; then moves into a mixed section of East Coast riders and some friends from Portland, Ore.; then a feature of Seeley's riding.
The next section is of Texas and California friends whom Seeley has encountered in his travels; Brett Silva and a rider named Curly from Houston; and Dallas's Ben Allen, who is on the Sunday team with Seeley, closes out the film. It meant a lot for Seeley to give his great friend the honor of the ending scene.
The Garden got permission and permits to use the entire parking lot. It will be set up for social distancing with spaces taped off for people to sit or stand, giving everyone a little cube to hang out in. The audience is limited to 50 and must RSVP through the shop. It will start with a video Seeley made a decade ago, giving the audience a chance to see how his production skills have progressed.
The whole event will run for about an hour.
The end goal of this film is to show the public how much fun BMX riders have and inspire kids to go out and ride.
"Long story short, I hope this video makes people want to pick up a bike and go ride with their friends." Seeley said.
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Zucchini's Faces Fines, Suspension Because of August Wedding
By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Licensing Board suspended Zucchini's alcohol license for five days because of a wedding in August that did not comply with the state's COVID-19 guidelines.
However, the suspension will be held in abeyance until the governor has declared that the pandemic is over, therefore there is no specific date of suspension at this time.
The city's senior sanitarian Andy Cambi had reached out to restaurant owner Lynne Soldato in September to discuss a complaint received through social media about a gathering at Zucchini's that did not follow pandemic protocols.
Cambi told the board that Zucchini's held a 50-person wedding on Aug. 29 that was brought indoors, and in pictures on social media, it was observed that there was no social distancing and no masks being worn, and there was dancing.
Berkshire Root's two-story, 100,000-square-foot cannabis cultivation facility go the OK from the Community Development Board but the next day the Zoning Board of Appeals voted to postpone its decision until November. click for more
The overall vision is to create a safe, comfortable, and accessible bicycle network in the to serve people of all ages and abilities. This is broken down into four project goals of safety, accessibility, sense of place and sustainability.
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