The Birth of Big Air: Running Diary

Last night I took in the premiere of “The Birth of Big Air” at the Tribeca Film Festival.  What follows is the account of the evening from the confusing thing known as my mind.


6:05 – Just arrived at the World Trade Plaza for the Tribeca Film Festival Premiere of The Birth of Big Air. For the uninitiated, the Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Jane Rosenthal, Craig Hatkoff, and THE Robert De Niro in response to the September 11th attacks.  The festival was created to celebrate New York City as major filmmaking hub, while also helping rebuild the spirit of Lower Manhattan. In only 9 years, Tribeca has become one of the most well known film festivals in the world.
The Birth of Big Air is a documentary about BMX legend Mat Hoffman directed by Jeff Tremaine (of Jackass fame) and produced by Johnny Knoxville and Spike Jonze.  When BMX was growing one baby step at a time, Hoffman was there to progress the sport by leaps and bounds. This is his story Click here for more on the film and filmmakers.

6:10 – One of Caesar’s Centurions just approached me and asked if I wanted to join the Roman Army…Well actually, he might have told me I could win a free trip to Caesar’s Palace Atlantic City if I took a picture with the emperor himself. I don’t quite remember.

6:20 – Mike Spinner, Kevin Robinson and a few other pros are in the house this evening.

6:25 – The popcorn tonight is sponsored by YouTube. Don’t know if you ever heard of them. Apparently they are a small internet start up, specializing in, get this, video on the internet

6:40 – The Grove Street Bicycle Club is putting on a demo in the mini park for the people in attendance.

6:45 – For the VIPs at this event, their reserved seats come with Caesar’s Seat cushions. If you couldn’t tell by now, Caesar’s is the chief sponsor of this event

6:53 – Took my picture with Caesar and his lady friend. It earned me a raffle ticket good for a chance to win a trip to Atlantic City.  I wonder if that is really where Caesar lived.

6:55 – Interest in the Grove Street Bike Club is waning. In other news, people watching in New York never disappoints.

7:07 – After 45 minutes, the DJ finally plays a song that has words. Jimi Hendrix – Crosstown Traffic

7:10 – It would be cool if every Tribeca film had to have a homage to Bobby DeNiro

7:15 – Just entered a raffle held by Time Warner Cable to win a Mat Hoffman bike. I checked off “Please email me Time Warner Cable updates” in hope that it will give me a better chance to win. It won’t. Can’t wait to unsubscribe from that mailing list.

7:20360 view of the setup here

7:28 – I wish I had a Snuggie. It is chilly

7:27 – I’m getting fidgety. However I am comforted by the fact I literally have the best seat in the house. No obstructions and plenty of legroom. (My long legs appreciate that)

7:28@miles_k is a gentleman. While I am saving our primo seats, he has gone to buy us sandwiches at Whole Foods

7:35 – The MC for the evening looks like a mix of John Hodgman + Peter Sarsgaard

7:39 – I wonder if there will be previews? I hope they play the “Let’s all go to the lobby” commercial

7:43 – Now playing: Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song. If that song doesn’t get you going, then you might want to check your pulse

7:50 – Over the course of the last 35 minutes I have somehow convinced myself that I am destined to win the Mat Hoffman bike. I am having delusions of grandeur of riding my new bike home thru the streets of NY. Maybe even stopping at the Brooklyn Banks. When I lose, my disappointment will be about equal to when Syracuse lost to Pitt earlier this year

8:00 – Who had 8:00 as the first time we’d hear Empire State of Mind?  This should have led off the evening. “Now I’m down in Tribeca, right next to De Niro”

8:09 – Caesar is now being escorted to the stage. I feel like this is Wrestlemania IX. He just detailed the Atlantic City trip that I am also destined to win. Sounds amazing. I just feel bad that I am going to win BOTH prizes tonight.

8:10 – And I didn’t win. It’s ok, I still have a chance to win the bike

8:10 – I didn’t win the bike. Now I have to walk home

8:15 – Peter Hodgman or Jonathan Sarsgaard just said “Stay tuned after the show because these guys are going to put on a show for you in the halftube”

8:16 – Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine are now on stage thanking everyone for coming out.  Jeff just followed that by thanking Mat for being “awesome and s***”

8:17 – Love the Martin Scorsese American Express commercial. Usually gets me to lol everytime.

8:23 – After a ton of commercials, the main event is about to start. (Side Note: If you are a sports fan, you need to catch some of the other 30 for 30 movies. Everyone I have seen has been awesome.)

8:25 – Evil Knievel!

8:26The No Handed 9 is still sick. He practically landed with his butt on the back tire.

8:28Hoffman’s first magazine appearance was captioned: “Matthew from Oklahoma. This is air.” It also included a letter from Mat that was written by his mom.

8:33 – Hoffman went to a comp one night, won amateur division, turned pro immediately afterwards, then won the pro comp.

8:34In 1989 Mat changed the sport and landed the first 900

8:35 – Mat’s mindset as a lad (from the Condor himself) “Nothing is impossible”

8:36In 1990 Mat landed the first flair, this led to Kevin Martin injuring himself while announcing. He jumped up and landed right on his knees on the concrete.  To this day, it is his only announcing related injury. (In that video, you can see it happen on the right hand side of the screen)

8:37 – How badass is Mat Hoffman? He would carry a surgical kit around with him so he could give himself stitches

8:38 More insight from the Condor: “If I died and didn’t have a completely wrecked body, I’d feel I wasted it.” Disclaimer: Mat Hoffman is a trained and crazy gladiator. Don’t try this at home.

8:39 – BMX Legend Brian Blyther is doing his interview for the movie in his police uniform. I think he might be on the clock right now

8:44 – Morgan Wade just told a story about how he went to a Sproket Jockeys show at the Texas State Fair and it was that day that Mat Hoffman inspired him to get into BMX

8:46Johnny Airtime, former daredevil, is also a scientist. He drew out trajectories for Mat and convinced him a 20 ft ramp was the next logical step

8:48 – Yes I do realize I am that guy using his cell during the movie, but since I am outside it is different

8:50This Hoffman pic is sick

8:54 – When Evel Knievel thinks that you tying a bike to a motorcycle and being towed towards a 20 foot tall quarterpipe is crazy and unthinkable, that is saying something

8:55 – Mat decided that he didn’t want to have his friends drag him towards the quarterpipe on a motorcycle anymore so he built a 60 foot roll in from the top of the barn. When that didn’t get him enough speed, he strapped a motor to his BMX bike. In the words of Steve Swope: “So Oklahoma”

9:01 – The halfpipe at the first X Games in 1995 was awesome ghetto compared to the pipes of today

9:05 – Check out this video of Mat trying to hit 30 feet above the quarterpipe.  It did not end well…

9:07 – Evel Knievel: “If you fall, you’re never a failure as long as you try to get up”

9:09 – Roll credits

9:10 – Some crazy homeless man just jumped in front of us to tell us he is Number 1

9:15 – Vert Demo! Mat Hoffman is on the vert ramp. Epic. This is like going to see Space Jam, then afterwards, going outside to see Michael Jordan shoot around…..wait, maybe that’s a bad comparison.

9:20 – Also joining the Condor is: Dennis McCoy, John Parker, Kevin Robinson, and skaters Lincoln Ueda and Sergie Ventura

9:22 – This is the first time I have ever seen a Mat Hoffman flair in person. (.GIF!) And just for fun let’s throw out no handed 5 .GIF too

9:23 – Rick Thorne: “Something Something Something Dew Tour.” That’s right.

9:24Dennis McCoy 540 (.GIF!)

9:25 – The guys are going as high as possible right now.  Sergie Ventura is holding his skateboard up and acting as the height meter

9:27 – Rick Thorne points out this is the oldest median age for a vert demo of all time

9:30 – There is a super sketchy ladder leading to the top of the vert. It is propped up on one of the crane bases

9:32 – Rick Thorne: “Kevin Robinson is a tough cookie. I want to dunk him in milk”

9:35 – Rick Thorne: “Skaters and bikers living in unity like cats and dogs”

9:37 – Kevin Robinson throws 6 flairs in a row.

9:40 – Time for some double and triple fun. John Parker throws an alley oop tailwhip over a Kevin Robinson flair (Not getting that on video is now my biggest regret of the night, and the 4th biggest regret of my life)

9:43 – And the Condor caps the show with a no handed 540 over Sergie AND Lincoln. (.GIF!)

9:45 – The moral of this story: Make sure you see the Birth of Big Air. Thank you and make sure you drive home safely.

For more reading material, check out this interview with Steve Swope, Mat’s best friend


One Response to The Birth of Big Air: Running Diary

  1. mkbain says:

    By everything I have read, you have the best account of the night, and obviously the most fun.

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