How Taco Bell Has Saved My Life – The Lifetime Original Film, Not Filmed

Why is a dirtbike website posting a headline that couldn’t have less to do about dirtbikes? Well, let me ask you this: why did you click on this post? Probably because you were intrigued as to how a fast food chain would ever earn a headline as such on our majestic platform that is far superior to any other platform in our realm of platforms. The answer to the aforementioned is simple: we just don’t care. We don’t take ourselves seriously. It’s dirt bikes, man. A guy throws a leg over a bike, goes in circles, has an overpaid trainer tell him he has to starve to death and that recovery is for the weak. And then, he retires at 22-years-old and hates his family. So, why not write an article about indulging in your inner fat kid. That makes everyone happy! If you want the hard hitting news and ground-breaking “journalism” provided by the others, it’s all there for you and you can block our website. But, if you want to know all about the importance of Taco Bell… well, then, welcome to, my friends. Your one-stop-shop for the most random shit possible. 

When I look back on my racing “career,” I can see that I was doomed from the start. The first problem was that I went to public school throughout my entire tenure as a student. K through 12. Monday through Friday. It was only on the weekends that I rode and raced thy dirtbike. My second dilemma was my diet. I liked to eat, well.. whatever I wanted. Taco Bell, In N Out, sodas, cookies; the shittier the food was for me, the more I was going to consume it. The third problem? I had friends at school that didn’t know what dirtbikes were, they didn’t care that I rode dirtbikes, and I loved that they didn’t care. It meant on Fridays after school, we would have a parental shuttle our obnoxious asses to the Disneyland Resort where we would run a muck until midnight, and then the next morning I would wake up at 7:00 a.m. to go ride and then 5:00 a.m. on Sundays to race. Don’t get me wrong, I always wanted to do well and I probably took my riding and racing too seriously at times. But, I had a balance. I got to be a kid. There was no pressure to do well other than what I put on myself. Come Monday, I got to check out from that aspect of my life and go back to being a stupid high school kid, consumed with making fucked up jokes with my friends, figuring out how to make girls like you, searching for the most obscure emo bands possible, and seeing what it took to get kicked out of class. 

Summer of 2005. Art Dog’s last year of giving it a go on the cycler. 125 intermediate holding down the back of the pack because he closed down Disneyland the night before and was probably hung over on fun. Photo: Will Topete

So, where exactly does Taco Bell fall into all this? Let’s begin, shall we? Across the street from my high school was a Taco Bell. When you were a junior and a senior, you could get a lunch pass sticker on your school ID card, which would allow you to leave the school grounds during lunchtime. The big ticket for juniors and seniors was walking across the street to Taco Bell for lunch. As freshmen and sophomores, we thought that shit was badass and “adult.” So, when my friends and I hit our junior and senior year, we got those lunch passes on our school ID cards and would walk across the street to Taco Bell for lunch. We almost always walked into fifth period feeling like a pile and ready for a nap, but it didn’t matter because we got to leave school grounds and have Taco Bell for lunch. Unfortunately, this iconic T-Bell location was shut down a few years ago and turned into some stupid vegan juice bar. Insert eye roll emoji here, please. Nonetheless, that was the origin story that commenced my passion for the stupendous fast food chain. But, wait, there’s more…

After I graduated high school, I spent my last summer racing 125 intermediate while also working a 9-5 job, Monday through Fridays, answering phones as a reservations person at a limousine company. During that summer (2005), I would end up calling it quits on my illustrious racing career. All I ever wanted to do was qualify for the night show at a Supercross, but I knew I didn’t have another couple of years in me to go after that goal. Simply put, I was genuinely done with racing. And, I’ve stuck to my guns. August of 2005 at Glen Helen’s REM was my last race. I’ve not lined up behind the gate in 16-years, and I have absolutely no desire to do so. I knew when I quit, it was a hard quit. From there, I went onto work at Disneyland, Starbucks, an art store, Target, etc (if you’ve read my Frame of Mind blogs, you already know this stuff) while pursing my still photography career. In December of 2007, I was working as a cashier at Target, making less then $8.00 an hour and barely able to convince them to give me 20-hours a week on the schedule while also attempting a full case load at a junior college. My 21st birthday would fall on a day I was working at Target back in 2007 and, it maybe the most pathetic and/or sad 21st birthday story you’ve ever heard about. 

This was the summer of 2007. Art Dog was working at an art supply store, stocking shelves and saved up enough money to go shoot the Hangtown Classic. First year with full track access. Photo vest and all. He looks like an idiot.

I’m not much of a drinker. I don’t do drugs. In general, I am what you’d call a pretty boring person. I was never invited to any high school parties and, even now at the age of 34, if you invite me to your party, chances are I will do everything in my power to avoid going because it causes me anxiety and, in general, sounds like a terrible time. Trust me, it’s not you… It’s me (reason 462 as to why I am currently seeing a psychologist). Anyways, back to 2007 and my 21st birthday. I was at work (Target), and my best friend from high school picked me up during my lunch break, which was roughly around 5:00 p.m., and took me out for a quick bite to eat. Our location? You guessed it! Taco Bell. Taco Bell was my birthday celebration for my 21st birthday. I had a couple of bean burritos with no onions and a Dr. Pepper. Aside from still knowing how defeated and lost I felt in life at that point, I also remember the bottom of my burrito falling apart (how metaphorical). So, in my typical fashion, I grabbed the beans and sauce that fell out of my burrito and smeared it across my face and started running around the interior of the Taco Bell like a kid high on all the drugs (a photo of this used to exist). Back then, doing shit like this was routine for myself and my two best friends. We would do just about anything to make each other laugh. And, in retrospect, I also think that laughter was a way to numb the pain I/we felt during that time in our lives of feeling like total failures. After being asked to leave the premises of Taco Bell, he took me back to work. I finished my shift, a closing shift, and went home. For my 21st birthday, I had no alcohol, no party, no cake, no nothing other then humorous yet sad birthday “dinner” at a local Taco Bell for which I was asked to leave the premises. For those wondering, it would be another six months after my turning 21 that I had my first drink of alcohol. I told you. I’m boring. 

Lets fast-forward about six years to 2013. A lot has happened. Shortly after my 21st birthday and trying to figure out how to make my life not suck anymore, I was offered a full-time job as photo editor and associate editor at TransWorld Motocross Magazine (my dream job at the time). I went from ringing up baby diapers and female feminine hygiene products for sub $8.00 an hour, to traveling the country, photographing Supercross and motocross athletes for the biggest dirt bike magazine in the world, with full benefits, retirement plan, and a salary. From TWMX, I went onto working in the marketing department at RG3 Suspension, handling all of their video needs. I spent 2009 to 2012 working at RG3 and freelancing for different clients on the side. Then, my freelance career took another turn when I linked up with Wes Williams in late 2011. Then, come early 2012, Wes brought me onboard at vurbmoto as a full time, salaried employee. The hilarious part is about a year into the relationship when he sent me an e-mail saying, basically, I was being fired while, at the very same time, I sent him an e-mail saying I was quitting. Still, to this day, as I think about that moment, it makes me laugh out loud. It was so amicable on both sides. You could tell both of us really respected one another, but also knew we needed to take a break from each other and didn’t know how to say it because we didn’t want to hurt each others feelings. That whole story would be a great article for Wes and I to write one day, because I know exactly why he clipped me and I know exactly why I wanted to quit. It could be a funny tale of how to get fired and quit at the same time and then get rehired years later while still being friends throughout all of it. Anyhow, this brings us to 2013 and yet another somewhat sad Taco Bell story. 

Not many images live that show Art Dog in his natural habitat. But, we located one thanks to our connections at TMZ. Summer of 2006, Art Dog working the front of the Indiana Jones Adventure at the Disneyland Resort. Wow, man. Wow.

Throughout my first full-time gig at TWMX circa late 2007 and all the way through 2013, the money I was making was a big upgrade from those 9-5 jobs. Not great, but it was better. However, I now had a car payment, car insurance, cell phone bill, taxes because I am an independent contractor, investing in expensive camera gear, computers, hard drives, etc. And, not to mention, when you are working as freelancer, you don’t have a steady pay check. You only make money when you work and you don’t always work. And, even when you do work, the client(s) can be real slow with paying you. So, needless to say, things in 2013 got a bit scary. A few instances stand out, two of which I spoke of in my last Frame of Mind article. The first being that, at one point during 2013, I was so poor that I had to cancel a few shoots because my bank account was negative money and I couldn’t afford to put gas in my car to go to the scheduled shoots to earn a pay check to get out of the negative. And, the second time was when I wasn’t eating because of the negative bank account situation. Ironically, this “not eating” story takes place at a Target. HA. 

At this point, I had worked through the fuel situation, but now I couldn’t afford to feed myself. It was something I didn’t necessarily speak about to anyone. I just kinda toughed it out and, somehow, got by. My best friend, who, if you remember back, took me to Taco Bell for my 21st birthday, and I were hanging out one evening. We were driving around, listening to music, and having our standard philosophical discussions about life, where it’s taken us, where it’s going, and all that crap. We stopped at a local Target because we were a bit bored and figured we’d wander around the aisles and bird dog any cute chicks we saw. In doing so, somehow, my financial situation got brought up and I explained that I hadn’t been eating too much because I simply couldn’t afford to eat (I was waiting to be paid from a job, but still had roughly a week before a check arrived). My best friend instantly handed me $12 or $15 from his wallet and told me to take it. I refused, he insisted. I refused some more. He insisted until I finally accepted. I felt embarrassed yet appreciative of his gesture. Embarrassed because I am in my mid-20s, doing my “dream job” that is making me poor. Be poor doing what you love, or be wealthy doing something you hate? The age old question. I remember eating Taco Bell for the next seven days in row. I would order two bean burritos that were each a little under a dollar and no drink because I couldn’t afford a drink. I made that $12 or $15 last the entire seven days until I was paid, literally eating Taco Bell every day (ordering the same two items) because it was cheap and across the street from where I lived. Thus, I could save on gas. Once again, Taco Bell is coming through to save my life during a sad and lonely time in my search to figure out this career path of mine. 

Art Dog was, apparently, quite the stills photographer back in the day. Here, he lingers in the stands circa 2006 or 2007 of a Supercross race, wondering when Jenny Taft will come to fruition.

Eventually, things within my career really improved and I am no longer in a state of only consuming Taco Bell because that’s all I can afford. Now, I choose Taco Bell. It doesn’t choose me. We fast-forward to 2020. The world had literally shut down, we weren’t working, and government was/is incapable of doing anything that benefits the people that elected them into office. So, what do we do? WE EAT TACO BELL! My wife and I turned every Friday night during the global pandemic into a unique date night experience. We would grab our little pup pup, drive the 20-minute to the then closed and abandoned Disneyland Resort, park the car, and do an almost four mile loop around the entire perimeter of the closed down Disneyland Resort. From there, we would drive to our local Taco Bell, order close to $30 in food, and eat our gross, yet wildly tasty Taco Bell in bed while binging The Office. We literally did that every Friday until last month when Disneyland finally reopened to full capacity. It was a fun tradition to make light of a difficult time in the world. I also have to admit that Taco Bell has become a vice of sorts in our house. Anytime things are feeling stressful and difficult, we just go over to our local Taco Bell for dinner, order a buttload of food, and pig out in bed while watching The Office. It’s a weird comfort food and way to cope with difficult experiences. At least for myself and my wife. Sure, we could select a better option. But, that’s not fun. And, hell, we love a good Cheesy Gordita Crunch! So, thank you Taco Bell for always being there with your affordable prices and tasty food when shit gets difficult. You’ve saved my life over and over again. And, if any Taco Bell CEO or CFOs are reading this, we’d love to discuss and advertising deal for the 2022 season and beyond at

This was the first week of the worldwide shut down in March of 2020, a photo ArtDog took of his wife and little pup-pup out front of an abandoned Disneyland Resort. These Friday nights were typical during the pandemic, followed by TACO BELL.


One Comment

  1. Somehow missed this even after you told me to check it out. ????????‍♂️ Another great read, Kyle!

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