Tuesday, May 25, 2010
John Joseph Interview: Meat is for pussies, cycling is not!
John Joseph doesn't need much introduction. Like most of the world, I was reminded that John cycled through a couple of classic youtube videos that came out last year. I knew that he was a bike messenger and had seen pictures of him in cycling gear. It is hard to fathom the impact that JJ and the Cro-Mags have had on people. The music defines NYHC for me, and has been in heavy rotation since 1986. Across the board, John has brought inspiration to so many people. I really wanted to get to the bottom of what was up with John and cycling. He is a natural born story teller(check out Evolution of a Cro-Mag if you haven't already) and I really didn't need to stress out over my questions. He just let it rip.
Anyway, his new book Meat is for Pussies is out. Check it out. I was stoked when this interview happened.
How did you get into cycling?
Funny enough, I was AWOL from the Navy, so in 1981, I needed a job. My friend was like-hey man the messenger service you can call yourself fucking Johnny Pollywog and they’ll give you a check cashing card. So you don’t have to give your social security number or nothing. So I go this beat up girl’s Panasonic. And I was riding that and all the dudes, I noticed, they didn’t have the clipless pedals yet, it was toe clips. All these guys that were all decked out were all like “Yo”. I was running and playing basketball still. I was pedaling the bike like 20 or 30 miles a day. They were like “Yo, if you got a better bike, you could make a lot more money” So I bought a Nishiki Modulus with 105 and clipless pedals from the Cuevas-Fracessco,Paco, and Andreas who were from Spain. They’re frame builders. They got me into more of the high tech stuff and I started riding in the Park at night after work and doing the pack ride. The 4 lap crit that they do. So then I just continued from there. Building from there and getting better stuff..That was it.
Was that race at Kissena?
No that was in Central Park. No, I know all the guys that were winning the track races at Kissena and all that. Going down to Pennsylvania. I am not a track person. I’m a roadie.
I’m not down with…I bought a Matsuri back in the 80s, but I didn’t like it. I’m more of a gear guy. I like climbing hills. I started going up to Nyack. Bear Mountain. Ride out to the Hamptons. I started doing the longer rides. Riding out to the beach. Swimming once I got there. So now I’m getting ready to crack into the Iron Man stuff,
I’m healing up an injury right now which fucking blows. I fucked up my sciatic in the winter. Shit takes like a year to heal. It was a deep injury. I just gotta keep doing therapy and acupuncture.
What are you riding right now for a bike?
I got 2 bikes. I got a Lightspeed Liege-all DuraAce with a Mavic wheelset and then my tri-bike is a Kestrel Airfoil with all DuraAce and the 650s on there.
The Lightspeed is famous from the video you made.
Yeah, well you know I didn’t expect that go all like that. That dude was like “Yo, let me follow you around.” How about I do just hours of training in a row just because all these motherfuckers are popping shit that vegans don’t have... I even hate using the V word cause it is associated with some of the biggest douche bags in the 80s. But I just eat clean vegetarian. I don’t consume any animal products what so ever. But anyway that’s another fish to fry. Vegan fish to fry. So I was like all right I’ll prove to these mother fuckers. I did about 30 on the bike, running, hitting the gym, You know. It ended up, I posted it, and there you go. It ended up being a little bravado, but I think it’s important to do that because… the minute you say your vegetarian people take offense to that shit. Sitting there judging you, but I’ve been doing it for 30 years almost –being real active. That’s the reason I did that. I met him in Poland. He’s a good dude.
So now I wanna get into… this tough mudder race. The reason I stopped playing ball is I got torn ligaments in my ankle. The last time I played B-ball, I fucking rolled my ankle and I was laid up and couldn’t do shit for 4 weeks. As much as I love playing B-ball, I can’t because of what’s at stake. It fucks up the Cro-Mags shit I’m doing. It fucks up my training. I’m trying to sign up for this Austin Iron Man. I take it serious. A full on Iron Man ain’t no joke, Trying to get into the Hawaiian one, There’s one in upstate NY, but I really want to do the one in Hawaii cause I used to live there. Got a bunch of friends there. So I might raise the money for Team in Training. For Lymphoma. My mom’s boy friend died of lymphoma so to raise some awareness about the whole disease and prevention.
Any thoughts on Performance Enhancing Drugs in sports?
Yeah dude, It’s whack. You don’t need that shit. Look at Mike Mahler. If anyone wants to google him, he deals with all natural vegan enhancements for men. Like hormone levels and everything, the guy is an expert on nutrition. I got a picture of him in the book and everything. He’s a kettle bell instructor. He has a workout called “the age of quarrel” Kettlebell workshops. Just google that dude and follow what he does. He has a whole bunch of ways to boost testosterone and performance levels without the use of dangerous drugs. You know HGH. Funny thing is my boy who is winning a lot of the crits in NY. This kid named Darius who works at Sid’s bike shop. Really cool kid. I love cycling with him. He is an amazing rider and I try to ride with people who are better than me so that they push me. But like he said all these guys they win these races in New York but they refuse to go outside New York cause they’re going to get drug tested. So that’s how you know that even the cyclists are on that shit. They’re taking the fucking steroids, HGH, I don’t know what the fuck those guys take cause they want to increase endurance levels.
But I’m a natural person. I don’t take any drugs at all. Just to get the edge up? Fucking kill myself? Poison my fucking liver?, My kidney? My pancreas? No thank you. I do what I do-sports and athletics not to fucking be like “yeah I beat you”. I do it cause it makes me feel good. So I don’t need to be injecting shit into my body.
It’s all about the natural way, longevity, keeping it real.
Does your new book, Meat is for Pussies, deal with anything that might be of interest to cyclists?
The book deals with longevity. So I get a lot of these guys there fucking 21, 23 years old with this meat and potatoes mentality. And I’m like, dude talk to me when you get to be my age. 47 gonna be 48. Lets see what you’re doing 30 years from now with what you’re eating. It’s not to judge anyone. The title Meat is for Pussies is not judging anyone, but what is saying is if you continue to eat these foods, these poisonous foods, that's what’s going to turn you into a pussy dependent on these fucking pharmaceutical companies to keep you alive. The average person up in their 50's is on 2 or 3 different kinds of medications. I just try to keep it real. Some of the vegans and vegetarians become consumed with food. I’m not consumed with food. I am consumed with a lot of other stuff-the arts, writing,training. But that’s a part of it. I don’t ingest any animals that have been fucking tortured. I keep my consciousness as healthy and pure as I can, but I’m not consumed with it like some of these raw foodists and vegans who are just like “food, food, food”. It’s like shut the fuck up already. I agree with everything, but I’m not John Joseph the vegan. I’m not John Joseph the hardcore singer. I don’t put labels on myself, and I wrote the book to help people not to judge people. And that’s really what it’s about. I hope the book inspires people to clean up the planet and clean their lives. But at the same time I don’t judge anybody.
Did you ever roll up to CB’s in lycra and what was the reaction?
Yeah, I pulled up there a couple times on my bike training when there was a Sunday matinee and I was coming back from the beach or a ride, but whatever.
Was that blowing people’s minds?
Yeah, but they don’t give a fuck. It’s not like I’m walking around like the dude from Living Color with spandex. Anyone that cycles knows that those clothes serve a purpose-the seams are on the outside. They have a chammy. You wear those clothes for a reason, but it’s not like my fashion statement. Which I don’t have one-I just wear whatever the fuck I want, but people don’t say shit. I think they understand that the clothes are for the bike.
Any other New York Hardcore guys that are riding bikes or racing bikes that you’re aware of?
Joe from Cause for Alarm-I think he was the bass player. He was racing and he was the one that gave me a lot of tips on climbing. Positioning your legs and grip position when climbing hills.
But now I’m not to sure who’s doing what cause I don’t see that many people, but back in the day there were a lot more people.
Do follow much bike racing?
I watch Paris Roubaix. The Tour of California is going on and I caught one of the stages the other night. It’s tough cause I’m on tour a lot, but I’ll watch the race in fucking German if I have to. I just love watching it. The Tour de France is the crème de la crème. I enjoy cycling. If you have climbed or been in an all out motherfucking sprint, you just appreciate what these dudes do. Last year I watched every stage. I watch the Vuelta, the Giro, a lot of the one day classics. I like to watch triathlons as well.
I try not to have my boob tube on that much though.
Now I’m getting ready to do a quick run and I got a bunch of work to do. I’m going to run over the bridges in a minute. I just enjoy it man. So I love cycling and you learn a lot. You pay attention to how these dudes do what they do. I think out of the three disciplines-my cycling is up there. My running is up there. I just have to work a lot on swimming. I’m going to be working with Rip Esselstyn. Training a bit to improve my stroke. And he wins the Escape from Alcatraz swim stage. Every time he gets in the water, he’s like a fucking frog man. If you don’t know who he is he wrote the Engine2 Diet. His father was involved in the China Study with the T.Colin Campbell Foundation. That’s a great book-The Engine 2 Diet. The guys a fucking stud
Last Question. Campy or Shimano, where do you stand?
I got a good Campy story for you and then you’ll know where the fuck I stand. I road Campy back in the day. I had Super Record. I had C-Record. The sons took over the company. They went from forged aluminum to cast aluminum. I’m riding up to Bear Mountain on 9W. Luckily on climb, I snapped a fucking C-Record crank set. Snapped the crank arm. Had to take the bus back. Came off the bike. Fucked myself up. I look at the crank that snapped and there was an air bubble that transferred through finally. So my friend told me that when they cast the aluminum, sometimes there’s air bubbles and then boom eventually. So I called up Campy cause I know they got a life time warranty. But when the sons took over the company when the father passed away they discontinued the lifetime warranty on the Campy parts. Cause anytime anything went wrong, you sent it back and they replaced it. They don’t do that anymore-as far as I know. I said you know what? I almost got run over by a car cause of your defective part, so I’m never gonna buy Campy again. And to this day, that was 15 years ago, I’ve never bought a Campy part.
I’m all about the Shimano DuraAce. That’s what’s up.
I like their stuff. They make very good parts. I’m a Dur Ace Person for that reason.
Thanks! Any last words?
Just check out the book Meat is for Pussies and the website. meatisforpussies.org.