Sunday, March 30, 2008


Almost by happenstance, Pete Young and I attended the very first public screening of the new film 'Brittown'. The directors were of course on hand to speak with, but they were almost shy about addressing the crowd - a refreshingly rare trait for people in the film industry. Brittown is being billed as a 'feature documentary', as it follows the real exploits of a fellow named Meatball (Jeff Tulunius), who is just crazy about old motorcycles, and 1960's Triumphs in particular. His home/compound in Pasadena has enough space for dozens of the bikes and cars which he seems to spend all his time working on. I couldn't tell if it was his business or a hobby gone mad, but his home is the sort of place where all the local Britbike enthusiasts cluster to have a beer and help assemble another bike. Interspersed with these sessions are trips to several hipster/rockabilly bars (where we see Meatball's band, Smiling Face Down - he sounds remarkably like Billy Idol in his Generation X days).
The backbone of the film is Meatball building up a '71 Triumph Bonneville (I know. I know...I've owned four of them for some reason) into a fast 60's style cafe racer; breaking down the engine, having port and polish work done on the cylinder head, etc. There isn't much time spent in the film on his cycle work (the rolling chassis magically appears towards the end of the film), but all is forgiven when my friend Mike Jongblood appears onscreen to help sort out the placement of the fenders. I would never in a million years think that Mike, the humblest and most talented metal-handler I know, would consent to a spot in a film!
The refrain in the film is 'that's enough work for the day', the cue for a spot of scrambling, flat-tracking, and roadracing on various BSAs and Triumphs.
I'll admit to having no 'distance' from this movie - it documents very well the life my friends and I lived from 1985-90, when we were all riding 60's Britbikes and 'TT' racing (Tavern to Tavern), and living together in warehouses or shared flats, with garages stuffed full of old motorcycles. Most of us survived. Amazingly, Jeff Tulinius has been living this lifestyle ever since.

(That's a photo of Jeff on his BSA scrambler)

1 comment:

Jason said...

hey I love your blog. Just wanted to offer a kind correction:the film screened in Santa Monica about a month ago...just an FYI. Love the work you are doing here! I have my hands into a Benelli and an old triumph-I get alot of inspiration from your writing and all-around wisdom.