"Ten-nine" is a reference to 10 codes. If you worked at an open channel messenger company, there were probably a lot of 10-4's, 10-8's, and clearing jobs with dispatch. A lotta numbers on the board.
These photos are a fraction of the work I did between 2001-2012 or so. Friends of mine I made through skateboarding and other urban pursuits introduced me to some bike folks way back in the day, and the rest is history. I was a photo student at Seattle Central Community College, and looking for things to shoot. Things like skateboarding. So I went to the first West Side Invite in Portland. There I was introduced to messenger culture, and I was doomed to pursue a life on 2 wheels after that. I became a bike messenger, working in Seattle from 2001-2003, then in San Francisco from 2003-2008.
A key point in this body of work is the where. What you're seeing here are messenger events. There is the CMWC, NACCC, WSI, some other acronyms, you get the point. Regional, national, and international events are held annually in the global messenger community. Most of us gave a shit too, and would make the effort to show up to at least socialize and hang out, if not to compete. That is what I wanted to capture over the years, rather than the day to day unglamorous life of a blue-collar worker in a downtown core. I was too busy to shoot during the work week anyway.
I'll get more film scanned, edited, and should have something in print sometime before 2023. I'm also collecting stories from friends to bring out some of the context of what you're looking at. Feel free to get in touch if you have any insight to go with an image in this collection. Want an example? Of course you do, here goes one about Numbers.
Back in Seattle my friends had a company called Stealth. It was and probably still is a solid commercial messenger company with ties to the independent riders in town. Anyway, an experienced messenger named Jason moved to town from Philly. He tried out and landed a job with Stealth. Bryce was dispatching at the time, and Jason was like, "What do you go by on the radio?" Bryce said, "What do you mean?", probably fucking with him like any dispatcher would do. So Jason says, "Well everywhere I worked I would always go by numbers." So Bryce said, "Alright cool we're calling you Numbers." That's my favorite nickname origin story. There are so many more.
Thanks for looking, keep the rubber side down, pray to the bicycle Jesus, and the Gravy Dog too.