In the early 90s, the sport of BMX all but died. The magazines, sanctioning bodies, and many of the companies disappeared. In the void left, the pros of the previous era started their own companies and events, following the model Steve Rocco had established in skateboarding in the late 80s. With many of the old pros busy with companies and organizations and the field of riders thinned-out in general, this new milieu left room for new pros. It was during this time that Taj Mihelich emerged as one of BMX’s new stars.
Eventually, Taj Mihelich and Joe Rich (another 90s-bred pro rider) ended up in the BMX-rich town of Austin, Texas. There they started their own company, Terrible One, and became BMX moguls themselves. Taj was always doing zines, and started a zine distribution service. During a stint in Olympia, Washington in 2001, he started an indoor BMX-park, but earthquake damage prevented its opening.
The following brief interview was conducted just after Thunderdome had been closed for good and Taj moved back to Austin.
Roy Christopher: As an 80s BMX zine kid, I’m stoked that you’ve provided an outlet for alternative media in BMX. What is your aim with Taj’s BMX Media Distribution?
Taj Mihelich: I guess it pretty much came from me remembering being a kid and wanting to see more BMX magazines and zines than I could find. Also, because of T-1 we get lots of cool zines and mags sent to us that most riders don’t see. I wanted to make a place where riders could find all this cool “underground” BMX media.
RC: How did you get into zine-making? What keeps you doing it?
TM: I started making them way back when I lived in Michigan. I guess we did it just because it was something BMX related to do in the winter. When I make zines now it’s always fun because you can just do whatever you want. You can make one in two hours or spend two weeks. A zine is such a fun way to express yourself.
RC: One of the first things one learns in graduate school (if one doesn’t know already) is time management. How do you manage your time among all the projects in which you’re involved?
TM: Fuck! I don’t know. I go crazy and burn the midnight oil, I guess. Sometimes its easier than others, but mainly I just dig in and try to do it. I don’t have any formulas for time management, but I guess mainly I just try to focus on what’s important to me.
RC: Why did you and Joe start T-1 in the first place? What was the impetus for starting your own company?
TM: It was created out of our desire to see some of what we loved about BMX represented in a BMX company. At the time, BMX was represented as total glam and competitive or total apathy. To us, BMX was way more than an image, it was our lives.
RC: Did you come away from the Thunderdome experience with any new insights?
TM: Not really. That whole thing worked out well enough for being what it was. There’s certainly no one to blame for an earthquake. I miss the park a lot though. It was probably my most favorite place ever to ride.