Kill City Choppers moved to Joshua Tree this week.
Steg J. von Heintz showed up maybe three years ago: fiftyish with a silver mohawk and black jeans over feminine, English-style hips, black shirts, thick New York accent. He rented a space that had been a recording studio – it sits next to a different recording outfit that operates fairly covertly as the owners probably don’t want to advertise the location of lots of expensive equipment. The bands more or less sneak in and out of the building. A friend who has been inside says he saw Sean Lennon there recently. But if you didn’t know better you might think the place was empty. There’s trash in the yard, and black plastic sheeting.
Similarly, Steg’s Kill City Choppers, vintage motorcycles, had a sign no bigger than your hand, and it was some months before I knew what the mohawk guy was doing inside of his studio. I assumed it was music, and I was partly right as it turns out Steg was guitarist in more than a few bands, one of them being School of Violence, a metal band, which I hear was pretty well-known for a while. Most of the time the roll-up gates were rolled up, but occasionally you’d see the smoked glass – classy looking paned doors – and the choppers inside. You’d see Steg riding around on what now looks like a tiny bike that made a big noise – too much noise for such a small machine. The horror of thinking of how much noise all of our auto machines are making underneath their mufflers. Beautiful young women went in and out of the shop, and there was a brindle-striped pit bull who never got walked and may have been the culprit when a friend of mine was nearly attacked by an escaped pit bull, my friend on his way to help fold-and-stamp the Echo Park Historical Society newsletter at my house. A cursory google search shows that in New York, Steg had a motorcycle shop called Psycho Cycles. His name sometimes is paired with a vintage motorcycles guy called Indian Larry.
At Chango coffee house on Echo Park Avenue, Steg was a large presence. For a while he seemed to live there, sipping coffee and hanging out with a coterie of musicians who resided there every day, all the time, it seemed. Some of them gorgeous, assured people, beautiful young women who were glamour stealers: no matter how good you thought you were looking that day they took away a little bit (or a lot) -- just by being in the room. That said, one of the regulars was a helpful guy who often brought with him one of the ugliest dogs I’ve ever seen: skinned tail that sticks straight out, rippled flesh, feet that would look fitting on an eagle, etc.