Keep Portland Aggro
"Everyone can say they're a good rider -- everyone can say they're a good writer," said Aggro Rag Freestyle Mag publisher and Author Mike Daily as he compared the freestyle nature of being a writer, to Flatland Freestyle BMX.
In 1989 I went to a 2-Hip Meet the Street contest at the Brooklyn Banks in New York, where I picked up a 'zine I'd been hearing about from the Plywood Hoods called Aggro Rag. I bought it from the zine's creator Mike Daily for a few dollars, and more than 20 years later it's still in my possession. That issue (which featured the zine's first full color cover), turned out to be the last -- at least the last for over two decades -- as Daily moved on to a job at Freestylin' Magazine. By that point, the Plywood Hoods, a Pennsylvania flatland crew which Aggro Rag was born from, had gained national attention in the BMX magazines, sponsorships from major brands like Skyway, and had progressed flatland freestyle to unimaginable levels. Ultimately they became one of, if not the most influential groups of freestyle BMX riders ever.
Fast forward a few decades. Portland, Oregon's Powells City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world, hosted Daily (who now lives in the area) as he described the evolution of the zine, the progression of the Plywood Hoods (Daily himself was an incredible flatland rider and an original member), and the working process toward what eventually became his latest book, Aggro Rag Freestyle Mag! Plywood Hoods Zines '84-'89 The Complete Collection. This wasn't run of the mill author reading event, but more a history lesson about Aggro Rag, freestyle in general, and the making of zines in the '80s. Daily read a brief excerpt from Aggro Rag Issue 12 -- a piece about one of the Hoods' first trips to Southern California. He talked a lot about the creation of issue 13, the first issue since the late '80s, which Daily released in 2012 with material he didn't have room for in the book.
The audience included former Freestylin' Magazine editor Mark Lewman (who hired Daily to work at Freestylin'/Go), artist Greg Higgins, Luke Strahota, Matt St. Gelais, Mark Rainha, Shad Johnson, Anthony Buglio and a number of other Portland area riders. Bill Freeman, the inventor of the cliffhanger, even flew up from Los Angeles just for the event. Daily brought out all the issues of the original zine for people to check out, a collection of Freestylin' and GO magazine's he'd worked on, original t-shirts, and even number one of the special edition Aggro Rag Subrosa collaboration frame.
Aggro Rag Freestyle Mag! Plywood Hoods Zines '84-'89 The Complete Collection is available now at aggrorag.com