Large, Dangerous Rocket Ships! (and other exceptionally named confabs) on 3712 2008

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Who doesn’t find the idea of an event named Large, Dangerous Rocket Ships (LDRS) intoxicating? The moment I heard it, I was sold. I wouldn’t have cared if the next thing I heard was that LDRS were held on a barren wasteland in the middle of nowhere. Which is a good thing, because that’s the next thing I heard.

Rocketeers—the definition of a blast! on 3711 2008

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Amateur rocketeers are n-n-n-nut-jobs. At least that was my impression of the handful of Rocketry Organization of California (ROC) members with whom I stood shivering in the 3° F-F-F-Fahrenheit February dawn on a vast, windswept expanse of scorched earth in the Mojave Desert, known as Lucerne Dry Lake.

Shredding the envelope (w/goblins, rubber chickens & teriyaki rice bowls) on 3710 2008

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Didrik and I showed up at the Mojave Desert’s Lucerne Dry Lake bright and early for this February morning, Rocketry Organization of California launch. At 3ºF, it was about 50º colder on the lake bed than it had been in Venice when we left. The cold proved merely a short-lived distraction. The rocketeers’ high spirited, high-flying hijinks soon had our complete attention…

Rocket Boy Goes Big (with a little help from his dad) on 379 2008

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Aidan Sojourner and his dad, Cliff, are serious rocketeers. In this vid, they send a 12-foot Nike Smoke screaming into the wild blue over California’s Central Valley. Aidan wants to someday send a rocket to Neptune to retrieve diamonds. I’ve already invested…

Rocketry Love on 378 2008

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Covering rocketeers and amateur model rocketry was the good idea of my publisher Cyrus Krohn. Though I understood people like Burt Rutan were building breathtaking private sector spaceships, I still thought of model rocketry as something done by kids with modest kit rockets. Silly me…

The Face of Krump? on 366 2008

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Tommy the Clown, the undisputed father of clown dancing and the de facto face of krump, is no Bozo. Risen from the mean streets of South Los Angeles, his self-reinvention from young drug thug to beloved community role model is classic Americana…just like his rainbow wig.

Krump Moves Fast on 365 2008

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Standing amid a sea of ecstatic juniors as they danced, cartwheeled and cavorted their heads off in the gym of San Diego’s Jackie Robinson YMCA may have been the closest I’ve ever come to heaven…or krump.

What is Krump? on 362 2008

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Roc’co the clown — a sick dancer, a great krump/clown dancing ambassador, a complete cut-up and one of Tommy’s go-to clowns — breaks down krump for us.

Clown School (dress code not enforced) on 3529 2008

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Tommy the Clown and his young dancers woke at 4 a.m. to get made up, then performed at three separate venues, punctuated by random, mid-traffic promotions for an upcoming show while still managing to crack each other up (and everyone else within earshot) throughout the day.

On Standing Downwind of a Tire Fire (or autoerotic asphyxiation) on 3314 2008

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Don’t pretty much all mobile organisms with a lick of sense, particularly those that respire, flee toxic plumes of rubber smoke? Such thoughts raced through my head as a whirling wall of tire smoke, car exhaust and track funk engulfed me, obscuring drift cars, mere feet away, careening sideways around Irwindale Speedway.

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