When I first moved to New York back in February of 2010, I had the privilege of working with some great people out in Astoria. Before arriving in the city I scoped out all the Craigslist adds for spots hiring and Tony’s Bicycles was the only shop that responded. I spoke with Tony’s son-in-law Dino who simply said, “Pass by the shop when you get here and we’ll talk.”
I’ll never forget the day we “talked.” I shmobbed my road bike from Bushwick to Astoria on a day that was around 37 degrees in a cotton t-shirt, dickies shorts and some Chuck Taylors. Mind you it was sunny and I had just finished the pilgrimage in a ’89 Toyota Land Cruiser, from San Diego. I didn’t fully understand what winter was just yet. I also didn’t have a smart phone, so it was directions written on piece of paper for me. Definitely took an unplanned detour. I arrive at Tony’s Bicycles and go inside to find Dino Gortex’ed from head to toe, smoking a cigarette in the shop with the front door open. I’m standing there sweating, with some bullshit San Diegan clothes on, and winter is rushing in. Dino looks at me, now shivering from the cold, and my old ass Specialized Allez (with fenders and a rack) then says, “So you like, touring or somethin’ bro?”
He went on to tell me that Tony would be getting back from Greece in the next couple of days and I he would ultimately say whether or not I had a job. That Monday I came in to a completely different shop. I was maybe a half an hour early and the shop was already open. I was greeted by blaring Greek music from the shop boombox in the back, and Tony. He was at sitting at his counter reading his newspaper (also in Greek) while I sat and had my cream cheese and jelly roll. He was pretty much silent, I remember wondering if he was shy about speaking English or something because he literally didn’t say shit to me. I mean, here’s this new kid who’s going to be working for/with you, it’s just the two of you in the shop, you don’t want to know anything about me? He barely raised his head from the news paper that first morning.
Breakfast With Tony
Over the years I’d come in early and have breakfast with Tony more times than I can count. Tony would lace me with gem after gem of life knowledge. I’ve always been the type to listen if you have a story to share, especially if you’re older than me, and man did he have some stories. One thing I know for certain is Tony loved his family. He put on day after day for his people. He would open up his bike shop at 7:30 in the morning (even though the hours said they open at 10am) AFTER going to the gym. Not a single day passed where someone from the neighborhood didn’t stop in to say hello or honk from the street yelling (in Greek of course) into the building to get Tony’s attention.
12 Daze of Summer
Tony and Dino gave me the opportunity to manage their second bike shop, which ended up being the set for a short pilot I created called 12 Daze of Summer. I wrote the script back in December of 2015 and we shot everything in January of 2016. A week after our one day shoot I finished a super rough edit, then decided I didn’t have enough footage and I didn’t like how my jokes played out on-screen. I had no idea that my 10 page script translated into ten minutes of screen time after editing. I also had no idea that 10 minutes of screen time generally requires ten hours of shooting. The learning curve was insanely steep and I was getting swept by the current. Time goes on, life happens and sometimes projects get scrapped.
Sunday was different though, I reopened Adobe Premiere for the first time in a LONG TIME and was compelled to put in all the work to finish editing the project. When I was writing the credits I wanted to add my list thank yous where I would get to give Tony a shout out, but I felt he deserved more than that. Before I went to sleep Sunday night I erased the whole list of thanks I’d wrote and ended the piece with “Dedicated to Antonios Karpathakis.” I’ve been thinking a lot about Tony lately and yesterday morning I found out that he passed away Sunday night. This didn’t come as a surprise because I was already aware of his health conditions, but it’s never easy.
I can’t tell you why I decided to finish editing that piece on Sunday, and I can’t tell you why I scrapped my whole thank you list and made that dedication, but I can tell you Tony was a huge part of my life and I consider him family. I’ve celebrated Greek Easter with his family, eating pig off of a spit, while drinking red wine and smoking cigars. Taking shots of ouzo and raki, eating lemon potatoes and loukoumades. The laughter, the cheers, the celebration of life. I hope someday to make it to Tony’s island, Nisyros, and pay homage to the OG.