23 Dec Embassy Decade in Review: Bad 4 Life
Because Embassy started at the beginning of the decade, almost the entirety of the website has existed over this period. One of the great functions of the site has been to serve as an informal record of things that happened in Canadian BMX. In this series, we’ll attempt to bookend the decade and call back to some of our favorite things that happened over the last ten years.
There’s a tendency in BMX to define large parts of the culture by its urban areas. So much of BMX is centered around what’s happening in LA, Austin, and New York. So much of Canadian BMX is centered around Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal (and Calgary, and Edmonton, and Winnipeg, and Halifax, etc.). These cities are where the distros, the skateparks and the best street riding are. They’re where riders move to when they leave home for a bigger scene, and generally, they produce most of the content that we would want to post about on a website like this.
Canada isn’t quite that way though. Past the big cities, most of the riding scenes in the country are small. A group of friends that knows another group of friends an hour down the highway. A local skatepark that may be new, or may be 20 years old, ramps and jumps in somebody’s yard… this is how a lot of use grew up.
Brodie Gwilliam’s videos paint a picture of the extreme other side. Among the rise of urban street riding, Brodie and his group of (kind of) misfits seemed to explore every random town on the prairies, they rode waterslides, and literal rocks, and they did it all in super clear high definition on one of the first RED cameras to shoot bmx. The fact that all of this existed at all, in the form that it does, doesn’t make much sense. But it’s amazing.
The B4L video that I’ve watched back the most was the “Van Life” edit, from a two week trip Brodie took to Vancouver. Peak Ridgeway, Andy, and Dave Laliberte while travelling around in Mat’s $300 van.
Amidst all of that exploring, the Pinnacle of Brodie’s filmmaking this decade was the “Bush League” series. Filmed mostly (entirely?) on his own farm, he rides the most ridiculous obstacles. Modified ramp setups, tractors, hay bales, farm equipment, and so much more. Brodie’s riding really holds its own as well. It’s one of the most well-executed and unique projects I’ve seen in BMX, and he put together three (!) amazing versions of this concept.
While Bush League 1 exists, and is a pretty fun collection of Sask locals riding nothing, the second through fourth episodes are where Brodie really found the style that defines the series. And they’re unreal.