‘Before it even had a a name, the Bootleg project with the crazy requests of Aldo “Rock” Calandro, a man of all too rare a breed, a poet-athlete known in Italy not just as a radio DJ and important figure in the Milanese rock music scene, but also for his poignantly heroic athletic adventures. It began wth a visit to Gran Ciclismo at Via Folli, the store Cinelli kept in the front part of its factory. Calandro, dreaming of becoming the first Italian to complete the Race Across America, insisted that his next bike, for his greaterst adventure yet, must be all black, down to the smallest detail. Colombo, catching wind of a fracas, came down from his turret behind the store to show his face on the shop floor.
“Who is this punk making trouble?”
“Cyberpunk, “ Calandro replied, without batting an eyelid. “New-Waver, new psychedelic, iron-zen, blade runner.”
Colombo needed no further explanation. “Give the man exactly what he wants,” he shouted at a bewildered staff, “regardless of the price.” So a collaboration was born’ (L. Pignatti Morano, Cinelli: The Art and Design of the Bicycle, Rizzoli, 2012).
Even the bike of Aldo Calandro is like no other known bike. It’s like a racing bike the way a buffalo is like a horse, but it still comes closer to this category which it finds somewhat foreign than it does to the so-called mountain bike.
It ‘s a bike for a citizen of the planet, made to handle the cobblestones, cross the tracks, ignoring the uneven pavement, but also ride off on a tangent, take a pass and accelerate up to the other side of Italy.
For Aldo is, as are more and more other bikers, inspired by the new psychedelia, the bicycle is a means for changing your life, a kind of “positive drug” that multiplies the energy instead of destroying it, to actively seek changes in consciousness changing one’s personal dimension of space and time.
It is not made for road race, no, it only made only for inner races: “It is not a bike suitable for those who feel like victims of traffic.”
He says, to those who expect society to solve all their problems,
“I start to change myself, here and now, riding that bike. In this sense, I’m a lawbreaker, and I hope one day the rule will be to be outside the rule: then we will have solved many things. “
Calandro, dreaming of becoming the first Italian to complete the Race Across America, insisted that his next bike, for his greatest adventure yet, must be all black, down to the smallest detail.
Calandro trains on his black bike at three o’clock in the morning in Milan, when there is no traffic – though he prefers not to call it training; he prefers “an unpredictable event.”
Milan, four o’clock in the morning. While everybody is asleep, a man is sliding over the asphalt like a fish in water, standing on the pedals of a bike in night colours: the unmistakable ankle that does not tolerate socks, regardless which season, turns white in the shade.
Aldo: the intermediate stage between Lancelot and an alien. Strong as a horse, reckless as a child, tough as a camel, and spiritual as a Red Indian.
Incidentally, he is also the only Italian who has ever taken part in the Race Across America after having participated in Ironman races, threefold Ironman, and one of the few men in the world who has run the ten Ironman; but we bet he does not resemble any of the other competitors.
The Bootleg is initially a full-custom, sui generis, hors du catalogue weapon for those who need it enough to have discovered it; for an avant-garde of cyclists. In 1994, Antonio Colombo gives it a name: Bootleg, that is to say a pirated recording.
“All great artists – Aldo notes – have always favoured the unauthorized discographies, greeting the public at the beginning of the concert with ‘Are you ready bootleggers’?”
Bootleg is a bike, and the bike is a medium for changing life, it’s an energy multiplier, for reaching actively the consciousness of one’s own space and time dimension. Bootleg belongs to cyclists. Bootleg is black because it couldn’t be of any other color. Nothing costs more than the absence: of color, noise, pain…The Black absorbs dirt and color with the same indifference. It remains intact even under ethic and aesthetic threats. It’s not a suitable bike for those who feels to be victim of the city or traffic, not for those who expect solution to all problems from the society.
“If, as Timothy Leary says, your body is the universe, and as Ironmen say, the bicycle is an extension of your body, then maybe my body on my bicycle is the universe expanding”.
Art credits: Alessandro Pessoli
MESSAGE 4 BOOTLEGGERS (2005)
9 newsletter, with infos on events, happening, models kept informed the bootlegger before the web 2.0 Era.