Sweet Ride Alabama
Matthew Myers keeps local pride alive at Birmingham’s Magic City Motor Scooters.
Story and Images — Caleb Chancey
In Birmingham, Alabama, there’s a true spirit of hope. Forged by the city’s first steel factories, planted by the voice and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King, and watered daily by the people who work damn hard to create something worth caring about. If you browse its Wikipedia entry, you may not gather this hopeful picture. There have been bombings, bad politicians, racial spouts, and even bankruptcies. Sure, there is still an air of fear and hurt but believe me under that layer is the soil of hope. This is what I see. I moved to Birmingham about six years ago. Along the way, Birmingham has given me a wife, a kid, a job, and a band. I love her.
Birmingham is a city full of mountains, hills, and valleys. Cars and trucks are everywhere you look, and we have the worst public transit in the world (I think that’s actually been documented somewhere). Two wheeled vehicles have never been very popular, and there’s a real chance some big-wheeled, confederate-flag-fly’n bastard will run you off the road just to prove his manhood. Yet, with all this stacked against us, there are a few people who have been fighting the good fight, and winning. A few of us are braving the streets, and our voices are being heard. Over the next few months, it will be my pleasure to introduce you to these bike evangelists. They represent the city I see around me.
It’s a city that’s slowing but surely catching up to the people who are moving it forward.
Matthew Myers owns Magic City Motor Scooters, a clean looking little shop with rows of Stellas, Vespas, and old Hondas lining its showroom. Myers’ hair is cut tight, and his face makes him look like a bird born to fly fast. He loves simple, well-made bikes, and detests anything made in Korea.
Tucked into the back of the shop is his garage that reeks of cigarettes, oil, and gas fumes; it’s the workingman’s cologne. The shelving is filled with papers, parts, bolts, and tires. And there’s a garage door that lets daylight in, and the smoke out. Myers’ son watches at his elbow, and every so often he’ll question him:
“What’s this?” he asks.
“A wheel sprocket”, replies his son in a young castrato.
He takes a break and sits on the couch in the showroom, flanked by windows and a wall of 180g vinyl. His kid sips a Coke, and he grabs a beer.
—Learn more at: magiccitymotorscooters.com