PRINT MATTERS: Heavy – A Memoir of Wyoming, BMX, Drugs, and Heavy Fucking Music

A New book By J.J. Anselmi

29 Jun 2016

Heavy Cover Print Matters

Words by Martin Mahlert

I read this book in 3 days. That was a month ago, and I’ve been trying to find out what to write about it since then. Autobiographies can usually be classified as justification literature. Especially men of power or cultural relevance in past centuries have gone to great lengths to either declare their schemes as beneficial for everyone or to claim that certain crimes were not their fault. For some reason this has a dark and sinister attraction for me. The author of Heavy takes a different path. His approach to past actions seems so brutally honest, it blows my mind. Multiple times while reading this book I remember thinking to myself how hard it is to tell if this guy was naive and intelligent, or easily impressionable and crazy stupid.

This is the story of a man who fought through multiple identity crises  in his youth. Many of Anselmi’s decisions reflect an all-in attitude, something that can be seen throughout BMX and also made me think about the wide range of addictive personalities I have encountered in our world. Me being one of them. At some point he decided to no longer say no to new things, and then massively overdid it. The word moderation never comes to mind. For the most part Anselmi gives recollections of episodes in his life, followed by passages in which he reflects on how he views his actions now. Coming from the same generation of riders as Anselmi I can heavily identify with the chronology of what influenced him. From seeing Chase Gouin in BMX Plus to watching Dave Young in Nowhere Fast and buying a Metal Bikes frame I can only say I fully understand where this guy is coming from. I feel a deep empathy for riders who were more attracted to Seek&Destroy, Criminal Mischief or FBM videos, than to Dave Mirra (RIP) and Ryan Nyquist X-Games runs. 

Heavy Jjanselmi Bmxhook

Snapshot of J.J. at spot referred to on the image file as 'BMX Hook'.

Heavy Jjanselmi Cheyenne Abubaca

JJ Anselmi -Metal Bikes influenced abubaca in Cheyenne.

"a mix of BMX and heavy music was a path away from jockish mainstream bullshit."

This book is way more about heavy music than it is about BMX though, but the two worlds are not so far apart. Being into raw scene crowds, Anselmi at some point decides to move to Austin and pursue becoming a drummer in a band. By his own account he wasn’t very good at it, but this venture is his gateway to a multitude of experiences, from psychedelic trips to questioning his own conservative views on sexuality. The latter being inspired by visits to a very non-judgemental party crowd in a house with well known BMX pros. Escapism comes to mind, but everyone reading this knows the feeling of fearing reality. BMX, or in the case of Anselmi, a mix of BMX and heavy music was a path away from jockish mainstream bullshit. Unfortunately this lead him to overdoing it on the drugs, but who am I to judge. It’s just funny that someone who used to be straight edge went so hard on substances. Someone once told me that taking LSD opens 300.000 doors in your mind. As soon as it wears off, 280.000 doors close again. This means 20.000 chambers stay open. JJ Anselmi opened a multitude of personal chambers, almost leading to suicide. With coming of age though it seems he found the courage to face all demons of his past and come out on the other side stronger than ever before. I’m just really glad I had it easier as a child and didn’t grow up in Wyoming. Read this book, especially if you somehow still regret not getting that huge tattoo of your favorite band as a teenager. JJ Anselmi will set you straight. - MM

Heavy Cover Print Matters Square

Buy the book on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heavy-Memoir-Wyoming-Drugs-Fucking/dp/1940207509

JJ's website: www.jjanselmi.com 

And meantime, take a look at this video of JJ and friends from the time discussed in Heavy.

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