Saturday, November 26, 2016

Laid Américaine

So ends an especially ugly election with a verdict laid down by the subpar mentality of deplorables and dunces. America has again been delivered to white prejudiced patriarchy. Arise, you angry, crude, ugly American men, if you can from your beer stained, chip littered couch. At last, your time has come again, as if you ever let go of it at all. Get out of the way, believers in the American dream, homeless, immigrants, jobless, liberals, people of color, residents in blue states who, despite their allegiance, can expect retaliation from conservative cadre, politically correct sensitives, rainbow coalition, sick, weak, and worst of all women. Retreat and strategize based on age-old papal pap, forever, "Weather the storm.” Hope you’ve put aside enough to cover at least 4 years worth of expenses while you struggle to reverse this profound setback.

Pope Francis, although a self appointed spokesman for the unfairly treated 99%, couldn’t support a woman atop planet’s richest country, though he didn't forbid yet she did represent society’s largest downtrodden segment, over 50% of population. Sexism was an implicit undercurrent: Better a male with no civic experience whatever in office than a female with a lifetime of service who lived for 8 years in the White House. Only idiots need to believe that any idiot can lead. Such an example of matriarchy might topple Catholic tower of phallic power. Trump owes a debt to their swollen presence; Hillary lost by getting shrill and pointing out their influential ill. Control of your assets and soul are where politics and religion convene in an unholy matrimony. Republican senate skillfully used your middle class resentment of having to carry all of the burden against you after ensuring it was so. So raped, you’ve reelected them? Elevating a billionaire suggests numbskulls prefer monarchy and serfdom. Democracy demands rational thinking, something in short supply, and rigorous effort, something few willingly expend.

Why do nonsensical candidates squeeze country through wringer every 4th year? Because they can funded by your donations and taxes, and whoever deserves job wouldn't collect enough votes. Forget fairness of meritocracy. Those eager to occupy oval office, with no corner from which an ambush can come, aired nation’s dirty laundry, drew attention to themselves, and refocused it away from issues that mattered. Every day America went from stalwart power to terrible condition on verge of collapse. Imagine how poorly this must be met by allies, and how significantly it emboldens enemies. They totally trashed office in the process. Far too much attention was paid to presidential circus, which changed nothing, though too many conservatives got into or stayed in office by riding coat tails. Remember, Republicans dominating Congress were responsible for last 16 lackluster years, despite relentless propaganda to the contrary by Fox News and talk radio shifting blame onto victims, the middle class and poor. Repeated lies lay bare luxuries too worshiped to lose.

While Hillary won popular vote, The Don carried electoral, which means he duped enough districts by tapping into fear, ignorance and pride. Country bumpkins bought his bogus slogans. Barnum, who said, "A sucker is born every minute," never had so loyal a proponent. Hillary carried urban knowledge base, who consistently provide innovation for job generation. Don awoke isolated farmers and know-nothing yokels. Klu Klux Klan boasted on how they intervened for him. National Socialists, organized crime, and white supremacists gloated. Foreign leaders awoke in disbelief and horror. #RIPUSA trended in social media worldwide, while violent protests spontaneously broke out nationwide. Vote may well have been rigged, as Trump contested, but by Russian hackers representing just about the only country that welcomed results. France, stunned, wonders what will become of global climate action, since The Don calls it a “hoax to weaken America”, which only manages perception of its pollution better than China while cramming landfills, emptying fisheries, and spilling toxins.

What does this election mean to bicyclists? Beware the crass grasp of capitalist greed bound to proceed from examples set. Conservatives hate any alternative to their coal and petroleum burning agenda, especially bicycling. They foster gun sales to children, who Labann has seen on several occasions shooting indiscriminately toward bucolic roads you might be riding along. Since WWII they’ve been trying to drive bicyclists off roads altogether. The last Republican president, the dumbest and most divisive ever, curtailed all spending aimed at improving bicyclist and pedestrian access according to laws that mandate; he bragged about rendering these laws unenforceable without funding, although bicyclists could have brought a class action suit bound to be struck down by Supreme Court.

You don’t have to be happy and shut up about this outcome. If anything, it proves that nation has had it with bad governance, grown desperate for improvements, and may be ready to embrace a new progressive party to supplant both Democrats and Republicans, neither of whom represent mainstream thinking or majority interests. Both bicyclists and independents outnumber those who affiliate with either party.

Surely a storm is coming. The Don will prove a corrupt puppet in the hands of a shrewd senate. International agreements will falter; foreign aid will ebb to lowest in a half century. During Dubya’s administration, nation suffered its worst recession, nearly equal to the Great Depression, some say worse. He already boasted of tax cuts for billionaires, voodoo trickle down economics that caused it. Oil prices will soar with his promise to end trade deals. War cannot be far off, since that represents fast track and last resort to diverting revenue into offshore accounts and private pockets. Billionaires laid their exit contingencies in place long ago with bicyclists, soldiers and workers providing a human shield for them.

As to domestic policy, "Fend for yourselves," has always been a conservative manta. This translates into grab whatever you want, ignore responsibilities, kill anyone who gets in your way, and run recklessly into ruin. Casinos cater to such piggish self interest, which president elect exemplifies. You will have to pay to secure president’s extensive holdings; Secret Service already plans to rent an entire floor of Trump Tower at $1.5 million/year. On Inauguration Day or soon after riots end, heads will roll, starting with FBI Director Comey, for not indicting Hillary when ahead in polls. "You're fired," an oft repeated and well known phrase will resound. He vows to cut NASA’s budget for studying earth’s climate. As under Bush, Trump will shrink agencies that oversee commerce, provide watchdog regulations, or succor the less fortunate. All this will foster consumer complaints, crime, death, frustration, joblessness, lawlessness, murder, repression, tyranny, and want. It will cost hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs. Abortion patients may serve mandatory jail sentences while miscreants freely roam. They intend to clear gridlock for the privileged to race along unimpeded wherever they want. Those forsaken may turn to bicycling their last resort to remain mobile. Almost everything on your bicycle will cost more since prices for imports will increase, though maybe the few remaining small domestic builders could expand.

Armageddon? The unthinkable can only cross threshold into reality when reason ceases and sociopaths decide policy. Changes affect rural homesteads least; suburbs and towns absorb most of the burden and harm. So backward rubes keep rabid conservatives in office on promises to punish anyone who thinks differently. One would call this textbook tyranny if aware beyond primitive and civilized above tribal. Yet society survived 8 years of Dubya because opposition maintained its resolve and people tightened their belts.Those with twin gifts of intellect and means will have to redouble their efforts to restore balance. On each beautiful ride, sometimes you crawl, sometimes you glide. You don’t need congressional or presidential approval to pursue decency, equanimity, fair trade, sustainable practice, and zero carbon footprint. But some policy shift could always sweep away almost anything that stands in the way of extremists, fascists and radicals, who wrestle for dominance alone.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Game Emplane

Major League Baseball's 2016 World Series ended a 108 year drought for latest champions Chicago Cubs. Winning coach Joe Maddon, named in 2015 a record-tying 3 times as Manager of the Year (and chance to stand alone after next week’s announcement), rides a bicycle to clear his head, explore many cities he visits, and get creative about how to win. He also mountain bikes off season and whenever possible; Bike&Chain last mentioned him in 2008 (p. 477 of Companion Reader). Losing coach Terry "Tito" Francona prefers his Harley motorcycle; did warn him to get a bicycle. Although Francona won 2 championships with Red Sox, only once in 2013 was he named Manager of the Year, an honor usually awarded to skippers with season records better than 100/62. He was nominated 8 times, and would probably accept another, since they award it to the best in both Leagues, American and National. Ironically, Tito presided over the end of the Red Sox's 86 year drought in 2004, but fell 1 run short in 10th inning hosting in Cleveland, after earlier sweeping Red Sox to get his Indians into this World Series. Doesn’t mean that Boston’s team wasn’t represented with Crisp, Epstein, Napoli, Francona, Lester, nearly Maddon himself, and Ross all playing pivotal roles as previous Red Sox champions.

Every Olympic game since 1896 included bicycle races. In 1908, the last time Cubs emerged on top, over 1 million bikes were sold in United States representing $13.6 million in sales. It was the year Ford Model T, among the all time top 10 selling motor vehicles, was introduced. Yet by the end of 1909, there were still only 200,000 passenger cars across America, less than 10% of bicycles then in service. After a century, cars now outnumber bikes by about 3:1, less than you'd think given the $1 trillion feds spend on interstate highways every decade and only $1 billion on bikeways this century following a spending drought in preceding 4 decades. Bicyclists surely need less than motorists, but not nothing, just painted stripes to share pavement they also pay for in income and property taxes.

Vote yes on referenda for a few millions in bonds toward adapting shoulders and finishing bikeways. Any infrastructure will get used and help ease tension between bicyclists and motorists. Consider candidates who support bicycling, too. Humpty Trumpty, having sponsored a national race in 1989, absolutely reviles them, wouldn’t be caught dead on one, though with the pace of bankruptcies surrounding his empire he might someday have to. Like Kerry, her Secretary of State predecessor, Hillary, shown on cycling family holiday in Martha’s Vineyard, promises not to forget bicycling improvements. Privileged conservatives can afford and usually need heart transplants; they don’t get how mobility eventually raises deprived people into trading partners.

Between elections and sports, how can readers wonder why there were no posts in last 2 months? Winning is why players persist, for example Series MVP Ben Zobrist, who produced the go-ahead RBI for Cubs in 10th inning, because rewards are heaped on heroes. Pitchers who strike out more batters than they allow bases will earn more in a year than corporate CEOs, yet seldom win more than 2 dozen games a season out of 3 dozen appearances. That's a deliriously high pay rate, possibly $300,000/hour, more than a skilled surgeon who performs transplants and saves lives. Leads some to question what capitalists value, seemingly entertainment above society’s survival. Bicycles seldom suit such a lifestyle, since continuous travel by bus and jet with sports equipment leave little patience for any perilous, slow crawl. Yet Maddon's role is more cerebral than physical and requires only changes of clothes and uniforms, so in his case emplaning with a bike provides a game changing advantage, as it does for 49 million other contingent workers, 40% of nation's 122 million workforce, who bravely face brutal financial pressures, holes in safety nets, and other uncertainties on a daily basis. Sport spectacles barely make working for a living tolerable. Venues do provide subsistence jobs for those not participating on field, and untold wealth for those who own teams, perform at major league pinnacles, or produce broadcast content.

Sources of sustenance are no longer readily available or taken for granted despite a slew of unaddressed issues. Society hugely relies on advanced technologies for which basic education in the 3R's has become inadequate. Students may gravitate toward what they’re good at or wired for, but shouldn’t expect gainful employment, since will likely arrive ill equipped to handle 21st Century challenges. Maybe this explains baseball’s wide appeal, an avocation for any teen and twentysomething capable and willing to train hard and truly leave every ounce of effort on diamond of dreams, no computer savvy or trigonometric solutions required. Hit ball, run fast, score safely, stay healthy, and win games. Sounds simple, no? Were it so, Maddon wouldn't need his bicycling meditations to fathom baseball's humbling intricacies or subtle machinations.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Commuter Train

What's the perfect bike commute? Must meet one’s own criteria for convenience, distance, health, schedule, terrain, and weather. Long have met own challenge, “Bike there instead of drive, if and when you can.” Those who take pride in propelling self would be remiss not to ride every dry day ≤3 miles each way, 3 days a week for ≤10 miles, and, say, minimally once weekly ≥15 miles. Comfortable cripples disagree, consider it likely to cause distress, and rather drive. Avid cyclists, annoyed at having to dress for less, often skip a 20 mile round trip as if preposterous excess. That’s only 100 miles per typical workweek. An example of whom to speak, Sam Bennett, Lanterne Rouge of 2016 Tour de France, covered >500/week for a month. Sure, bicycle sensible attire does not equal business casual. Have to bathe and change upon arrival, it’s true, but shouldn't let inconveniences deter you. There are always ways to extend routes and vary routine. Adapting to a different scene and new styles expands your mind. Rainy days address lawn duress, and are for swapping out odorous duds for laundress. Why not find advantages in all this logistical planning and physical training which prepare you for charity rides and criterium trials?

In latest role, commute climbs outbound with fresh legs in quiet dark on empty streets usually without slowing wind. Mentally replay folk tunes from youth by Bob, Mary, Paul, Pete, and Peter, Early Morning Rain. Suits introspective mood of an hour of slow slog begun in gloom that morphs into cool glow before sun eventually gains horizon. Begin amidst left over damp and miasma rising and steaming from morning sewers, but end with ducks preening on a golden serene pond. They say, “The darkest hour is before dawn,” to offer hope to anyone beset or deep in debt and each institutional resident, but it seems more like the best time to bike and least likely hour to encounter evildoers, though mostly notice crackheads, early risers racing to lousy jobs, and truckers abusing noisy beasts that probably wouldn’t pass mandatory inspection. Emperor Wu, who marches around his bistro, greets all alike including you. Teen cheerleaders waiting for their school bus sometimes urge, “Go, go, go,” as you fly past. Afternoons don sport headphones and sunglasses and roll downhill, enjoying prevailing tailwinds, along a motor free bike path to heavy metal, rap, and rock, "Run to You," referring to those at home preparing for a meal together. Return with tail tucked in after having been drained, but never complained, blessed amidst so many still unemployed due to domestic policy neglect. Bicycling boosts mood and leaves belligerence along roadside, or so the faithful have always confessed.

Bicycling invites in nature after spending long days in climate control. Concerned over EEE, Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus, or Zika? Bugs don’t usually bite or even alight when you’re cruising by bike. Did get stung by a pesky bee while trying to scratch an itch, inhaled some swarming gnats or midges, noticed jersey flecked with creature specks, but seldom worry even after swallowing a fly. Will someday surely die, but not because of it. Does choosing sensuality and embracing uncertainty elevate or reduce stress? Some thrive best when things are a mess. Seldom do anything twice exactly the same way, since conditions continuously vary. Change exercises reason, fosters tolerance, and increases understanding. Battle hardens combatants. When you face fears, probe boundaries, and survive, you grow immune to those who dare to impugn your transportation preference and ignore who’s jejune. When poor planning forgets bulk of contingencies, biking and brainpower both belong as remedies.

Do witness frightful behaviors. Beyond angry dogs, loitering gangs, soliciting whores, and staggering drunks, witnessed a guy brandishing a handgun threatening a sweatily defiant foe. He clearly warned, “It only takes one shot,” while retreating target gave him the double-barreled finger; okay, not exactly an OK Corral showdown, more resembled mayhem Lily Allen describes in her song LDN. Hugged base of wall to avoid catching lead in a likely miss and winding up as collateral damage. About all you can say about those who slash, steal, and want to see the world burn is they are the plague to avoid. Such situations seduce driving in rather than letting world in by pedaling. Vulnerable by bike, you doubt any attempt to oppress but notice more beauty and ugliness than motorists. Admit being fearful leaving home in black of night so exposed. Bright lights don't minimize hazards or reveal benevolence of a stranger cloaked in shadows. You can hardly see real menace of debris and potholes to your wheel, yet that too slows pace so reduces danger.

Afternoons harbor traffic havoc. Can hardly hear hiss and slap of trailing motor vehicle tires that bark their aggressive presence. Truckers rather meet a schedule than preserve a life. Car drivers at stop signs curse you as you pass intersections at 12 mph for an elapsed 2 seconds, yet they'd be content to wait 6 seconds for a tractor trailer to pass. They deem commercial trucking more important than whatever a cyclist might be doing, which might be traveling to conduct billions in commerce. Post ride you may be haunted by mood slumps after elation from endorphins and oxygen, and woozy feeling of gliding along, around, down and up that sometimes grips you when you're not riding. These frights soon pass.

Fear can literally kill you. By choosing an allegedly safe automotive shell, you invite a hell of a lot more highway threats against your life from impatient drivers desperate to slam into you in their conditioned response to be first, cut you off, and go fast to nowhere. By car, you’re death bait, downright anesthetized, dried like jerky, driven insane too much, vacuum packed, and woefully out of touch. Today's passenger car only seems like an extension of your parlor recliner. Always sitting, even while speeding through space, is as deadly as shooting or smoking. Stress itself debilitates. Bending to doubts limits your chances to derive biking’s benefits. Dark and light further highlight balance and lurch, blaze and smolder, calm and panic, yin and yang of bicycling, things that terrify those who run in routine ruts. Contented, tame, undisturbed cattle can be effectively bilked or milked. Nervous rabble seek abated anxiety and cool comfort. Being bright, enthusiastic and proactive intimidates mushrooms, nipple suckers, parasites, and vegetables. So hide your habits, or make little of them, lest they try to single you out from herd as an example to sacrifice.

Commuting by bike can trigger trains of thought that serve as sources for new blog entries. It’s the cycle of life, what goes through this cyclist’s mind on repeated circuits to daily destinations, meditations on life’s meaning. After driving over 500,000 miles then bicycling its hourly equivalent of 125,000 miles, collected myriad comparative insights from which to build Bike&Chain. Blog entries since raised them to a reliable level. Could focus on one point and make a case about it with gathered facts, as would any forensic or scientific investigator. Would only deprive readers and spoil fun. But if this were an appeal to get your butt onto a saddle, it wouldn’t have relayed recent agonies or waited until you already hung up equipment for winter storage. But internet blogs are global. Your local conditions may vary. It’s a brand new cycling season below equator. Tropics aren’t affected by daylight saving topics.

Midway through November, days here become too short to provide optimal visibility for already distracted and impaired motorists, who increasingly need their cars to decide when to stop for them. They used to joke about drivers so inept that cars drove them, yet driverless vehicles occupy horizon and worry bicyclists probably forgotten by this development.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Candy Quesne

La Mélancolie des dragons is Philippe Quesne’s absurdist theater play in which aging rockers stuck in a broken car are aided by naïf bicyclist Isabelle. Quesne, pronounced Cain, means oak in French, a language Labann has leaned on a lot lately for ever harder to find rhymes with chain. Play becomes an eye candy spectacle of kinetic art. Over a century ago (1913), French absurdist artist Marcel Duchamps produced the first ever kinetic sculpture, a bicycle fork and wheel mounted upside-down on an oak stool, a so-called readymade mashup of disparate functions, now lost. Bicyclists dread being stuck in place while spinning furiously. All too human. One wonders what became of humanistic Los Angeles artist and Midnight Ridazz regular Sarah Sitkin, aka Candy Cane.

While you’d expect artists and musicians like Talking Heads frontman David Byrne to warm to wheels, what’s happening with conservative actor/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger? The former Republican “Governator” of California denounced climate change against GOP hardliners and own Hummer collection, and has been seen recently riding a bicycle in Edinburgh, Scotland. Everyone is most assuredly allowed a change of direction and heart. Clint Eastwood, on the other hand, endorsed Trump, who claims any global warming warning is a Chinese ruse. Were he still alive B. T. Barnum would have had a better explanation for Trump’s polarized popularity, “A sucker is born every minute.” Eastwood once grumbled, “I tried being reasonable. I didn’t like it.” While acting responsible is only a duty to yourself, rest of world acts independently of your personal convictions yet suffers from your attitudes and vices.

Another setting star, Niner QB Joe Montana rides his bike to be closer to his family (and likely to ease knees for which he’s legendary). You can join him for better cardiovascular fitness, or race in Amgen’s Tour of California. Candy cranks out a roster of reasons why you should choose cycling. You can deck out your handlebars with a candy cane wrap by following directions from San Francisco's finest Mission Bicycle Company.

Along with other successful corporations with enormous facilities, Epic Medical Software maintains a fleet of black bicycles for their main campus in Verona, Wisconsin, so employees can borrow and cut the 10 minute walk across to a 2 minute ride. They emulate at least 2 dozen big companies including previously mentioned Apple, Facebook, Linked-in, Mercedes Benz, and Nike. Am intimately familiar with at least one company that actively discouraged bike commuting, now out of business. Although anecdotal, does say something, no?

Polls suggest the most popular color of bicycles is still candy apple red. Many builders default to red; some, like Richard Sachs, used to supply only his signature team red. With increasing use of carbon fiber, black has begun to supplant, though buyers also prefer brushed or clear finished natural metal. Doesn’t matter. Whatever wavelength of light gets brightly reflected gradually fades as sun sets. All offer the same sweet ride whenever you decide to go out and glide.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Braiment de l’âne

Conventions are over, presidential nominees and running mates named. For good reason Democratic Party is depicted as a braying donkey and Republican Party a bellicose elephant with a long memory of privilege and proclivity for stomping anything in its way. Extremism is brutish, repulsive, and uncivilized. America’s moderate majority has long since been beaten into silent submission by media aggression. If you apply logic to contest anything they say, or point out inconsistencies from day to day, you’re branded traitor, called coward, labeled liar who newshounds will gainsay. Dare impugn your honesty? They know nothing of thee: Influential Independent, no liberal tolerant, objective author, person who cares, seeker of truth, and singular creator of whom polarized simpletons will never be cognizant. To resist being cornered and to speak intelligently make radicals and thugs freak out and react with hostility.

Lived through one inane Republican administration after the next, all of which enjoyed congressional dominance, each of which were recovered by Democrats who spent tax dollars not yet collected. Mismanagement? Hardy. Rather national rape, race to oligarchy, resource disparity, and return to slavery. Honestly, who'd want to be associated with either party? Blue, red, or white, Eeewww! Divided you fall, leave some huge leverage hole for abominable despots or muslim clerics to fill.

GOP, the new know-nothing party, actively promotes class warfare, always causes recessions, and never succeeds due to its reactionary stupidity. Drug addled masses invite conservatism, monarchism even, because following dictates offers the luxury of turning off your brain. Xenophobic farmers and ranchers relate to GOP’s stranger disapproval and stronger approval of property ownership. Narrow-minded conservatives and nazis in Nebraska act as if blameless and everything everyone else does that doesn't perfectly align with their bizarre compulsions is criminal. Urban liberals for whom suffering fools and trading fairly are compulsions gravitate to Democrat side for want of an organized alternative. Meanwhile, majority going along in normality mode wouldn't think of blaming these mental defectives for their aberrant behavior, merely ignore, pity, or politely deter them. But some crimes can't be acquitted, and some diseases must be treated. Gun ownership presents a particular dilemma among martinets trying to enforce false notions of morality.

In shockingly clueless juxtaposition, Crews blurted out, “Right to own guns to protect families" and… "Sanctity of every single human life,” as if adversaries can be demoted to alien zombies and fetuses promoted to community property. Is this just an agenda drum thump from the stump or mindless admission of acumen slump? Has he not heard that insane gunmen are killing policemen? Those of privilege think guns and police protect their property and wealth; most don’t know how to apply either as deterrents, and tragedies strike more often to those who bring heat or own guns. Many sheriffs retire without ever having to draw one against a criminal, but you can be sure that recent killings will revisit innocents in a blur of retaliatory responses rationalized by self preservation. Speaker Cryin vowed retribution for a congressional Democratic sit-in protesting guns for the demented, a core conservative constituency.

GOP’s latest tactic is to cast a pall over Democratic nominee by belaboring a cynical witch hunt into prosaic email and phone text as if they might reveal state secrets, which they’ll continue through election day or until nobody pays any mind. GOP wasted years trying to impeach husband for having a legal pedestrian sex affair, when they could have jailed Republican religious clerics for heinous pederasty. About the only female head of state anyone remembers is Brit Hatcher, but she was a conservative medusa who turned anyone who looked at her into stone, probably why she wore that big hat. Chauvinists, misogynists, and rotarians are already against Billary, and they are legion. With the ill informed only hearing appeals to fear and pride, they miss what maneuvered them into a choice between bad and worse. GOP's "all or nothing" mentality is moronic, seditious, and tyrannical. Supportive mainly of automotive, Big Oil, commerce, defense, guns, and rules that apply to you not them - never gender identity, human rights, minority voting, sexual preferences, religious freedoms, and whatever else they deem suspect - key Republicans such as Clandenstine, Connedaway, Gorgon, Laundry, and Quaylude betray their inability to treat diverse individuals fairly, and lack of capacity to understand immorality. You can be sure whatever they say is rooted firmly in self interest rather than societal ethics. Rabble rally around their position, even though they seldom share in proceeds. Potential for greed is a powerful incentive.

Can’t they think of something better to do, like keep police safe from gun lunatics or reverse pubic debt every citizen shares? Agency, federal and state debt combined exceeds $30 trillion. Or is it a state secret where all this loot went? Bundles went to bankers, cabinet, chief, conflict caterers, foreign powers, and oil monarchy, instigators of terrorism against Americans. GOP nominee blamed lame duck for $19 trillion in federal debt, when a GOP run Congress was responsible. Duck inherited $17 trillion from Dubya, so did well to slow sprint to insolvency by ignoring mockery and improving prosperity. Debt spiraling out of control would doom every human.

As an Independent from the only viable party, never lazily pull one lever, and want to puke on every poster with moronic slogan, "Make America Great Again!" Not surprisingly, Donald aping Ronald accuses wrong parties with similar names, casts aspersions falsely, and says whatever supporters want to hear. Beset by conservative schoolyard bully tactics, Americans will jump to conclusions where angels dare not decide. Candidate has no chance to make good on this empty promise, even if he uses his billions to create more bingos for bimbos. Not presidents, representatives and senators govern nation, set policy, and write laws. The Don, like a mafia godfather, spreads fears and shame, as exemplified by Fox News fiction. America is already the greatest nation on earth from many perspectives; for example, its hard working classes are willing to abide any billionaire buffoon who insults everyone based on creed, gender, race, and service unto death. Support he enjoys signals a backlash against political correctness and descent into tribal spear rattling. Voters already dismissed as a hysterical egomaniac another supposedly self-made tycoon who presumed that qualified him as chief executive. Another dunce with no track record of public service, not even dog catcher, now blusters against a shady lady who spent 40 years serving in high offices, thereby inviting suspicion. Ironic how incessant drone "unfit to lead" now actually describes a POTUS pretender. Every vote for a marshmallow comb-over says another citizen has given up on this e pluribus unum crucible sustained through its diversity. Democracy loses all meaning if you hand over power to a king who'll delegate domestic and foreign policy and pontificate on issues over which he has no control. By the way, there is already a wall between Mexico and US under which countless tunnels have been dug. Every smuggled drug helps another clown run.

Electorate may miss an opportunity to restore balance in a congress dominated by Republican conservatism and tea party stupidity. Oust these maniacs and parasites. All attention is paid to animosities between Democrats (31% of voters) and Republicans (29%). But, as always, races will be decided by Independents, 38% of voters, who'll elect candidates on empty pocketbooks, merit, and message, not party endorsement. Independents are represented by a two wheeled horse, something bound to give a better ride than stubborn donkey or stupid pachyderm. Were you laid off during previous administration then rehired under current? Then you, too, should hold a grunge against bad governance.

What disgusts most is the degree to which inane commentary reigns in this election cycle. Issues which should be discussed are buried in illogical nonsense and sound bites. Democrats, with their clever speeches about responsible policy, sound to addlebrained throng as blah, blah, boring details, as if the braying of an ass. Unless an extreme sweet tweet that shocks, ordinary remarks have no capacity to capture minds or votes, and so are ignored. One ought to delight in accounts of how something went well, how whatever was accomplished served entire community, or how whoever participated was overjoyed with rewards and satisfaction. Instead, pols hit the road, spin wheels, and tour at your expense. Progress will never suit privileged few or those without a clue on how things could be better for you. Unless nation continuously improves and pulls together, it relentlessly declines.

“For I've been traveling on a boat and a plane, in a car, on a bike, with a bus and a train. Traveling there, traveling here, everywhere in every gear. But, oh Lord, we pay the price, with the spin of the wheel with the roll of the dice. Ah yeah, you pay your fare. And if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there… And I've been traveling through the dirt and the grime, from the past to the future, through the space and the time… I've been traveling on a wing and a prayer, by the skin of my teeth, by the breadth of a hair. Traveling where the four winds blow, with the sun on my face, in the ice and the snow.” George Harrison, Any Road, 1988, on posthumous album Brainwashed, 2002

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rain for Spain

Been watching Chris Froome zoom to his third Tour de France victory thanks to steady team pacing by Cardiff Giant Geraint Thomas, and Spain finally represented on next to last stage because Ion Izagirre descended fearlessly from col de Joux-Plane to Morzine in rain, whereas tentative members of peloton had all seen crashes on wet slick and white lines. Congratulations to all who embraced this 2,200 mile, 3-week torture with tens of thousands of feet of climbs, even those who never finished, though a record number, 175 among world’s best cyclists, did.

Between stages, been searching for films that depict bicycling culture conspicuously, summarized by year below. IMBD currently lists 1,100 movie and television plots that somehow involve bikes, some of which have already been mentioned, though others don’t bear to be. Neglect staying on top, and so many perfect examples drop like rain you can scarcely keep up. Propelled to an obsession, begins to resemble trainspotting or wondering just how many other ubiquitous appliances - such as blenders, movie cameras and spectacles - are used or worn and could be reported. In some respects, don’t blenders and eyeglasses resemble bicycles?

James Earl Jones in Dreamrider (Bill Brown, dir., 1993. 92 min.) inspires a young man who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident, played by actual para-athlete Matthew Geriak, to follow his dream, which means accepting a bet to ride his 10 speed Raleigh from Fullerton, CA to Boston, MA. Breaks a cross country time record, then gives away bike to first kid to greet him at Old North Church. Based on life story of Bruce Jennings and filmed entirely on location in a succession of cities, last reel finally exhibits some one-legged bicycling.

In made-for-television feature Footprints in the Snow (Richard Spence, dir., 2005, 96 min.), Julie Hill, paralyzed in a car crash, abides experimental treatment, restores leg mobility, returns to riding bikes with family, and thereby saves marriage.

Horror/slasher film Shadow (Federico Zampaglione, dir., 2009, 77 min.) is about soldier David, who, after serving in Iraq, begins a bicycle tour of Europe, defends beautiful Angeline, gets hunted by troublemakers, and winds up kidnapped by freaks.

The Parking Lot Movie (Meghan Eckman, dir., 2010, 14 min.) documents attendants of a Charlottesville, Virginia lot, who get by on bicycles and skateboards and get even with typically rude SUV drivers.

After an automobile accident, a veteran cyclist, played by director, acquiesces to train a prodigy (Michael Cuddire) yet struggles to teach him how to unleash The Potential Inside (Scotty Curlee, dir., 2010, 37 min.).

Catching Up (John Jenkins-Stark, dir., 2011, 7 min.) follows pressures facing a semipro racer in a sport that fellow Americans seldom appreciate. The European Grand Tours may attract unruly fans, but world’s hardest bicycle race crosses United States and has already inspired scores of films.

Traffic in L.A. Sucks (Rocio Mesa, dir., 2011, 18 min.) for Rocio, who arrives from Spain believing motoring is the only way around this megacity. Left after a crash without a car or cash, she turns to bicycling for a happy shock.

The Bike Heist (Brttany Baxter & Curtis Cleveland, dirs., 2012, 88 min.) occurs after avid cyclist’s bike and one he borrows from cute neighbor get stolen. Chaos ensues when an old friend suggests title caper to swipe all bikes in apartment building and wriggle out of responsibility.

Break Away (South African, Frans Cronjé & Morné Theunissen, dirs., 2012, 118 min.) has Francois (Frans Cronjé) applying advice from a pro cyclist and riding an old bicycle to deal with job loss, provide for family, and recognize own values.

Fixation (Alex Trudeau Viriato, dir., 2012, 40 min.) celebrates joys of fixed gear bicycling in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose.

High Tech, Low Life (Mandarin, Stephen Maing, dir., 2012, 27 min.) introduces Tiger Temple and Zola, two bloggers who take on the Great Firewall of China to report about issues government wants to suppress. Tiger sets off across country on a bicycle, Zola on a motorcycle, both armed with digital tools and free speech desires.

PBS ran a series in 2012, Pedal America, which can still be seen online.

Aftermass: Bicycling in a Post-Critical Mass Portland (Joel Biel, dir., 2013, 75 min.) describes how activism transformed the now famously bike friendly Oregon city.

In July, 2011, for 10th anniversary of attacks on September 11th, six Los Angeles firefighters biked 3,300 miles in 45 days across America to New York, documented in Let’s Roll (Matt Holwick, dir., 2013, 83 min.). They battled conflicts, despair, physical injuries, and severe weather; raised funds for Leary Firefighters Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project; and stayed overnight in welcoming fire stations.

In The Bicycle (James Richards, dir., 2014, 72 min.) resentful black 10-year-old Bobbi and divorced mother’s finance, 36-year-old Teddy, can’t stand each other. But when Bobbi’s bike is stolen, Teddy sees it as a chance to bond with his future stepdaughter.

In magic realism short The Bicycle Man (“Cyklisten”, Swedish, Aarne Norberg, dir., 2014, 13 min.), soccer mom in Torne River Valley suffers a tragic traffic loss then witnesses a miraculous healing by an Italian cyclist headed to the Arctic Circle. Cynical journalist wants to disprove.

Bikeman Begins (Odin Lindblom & W. H. Bourne, dirs., 2014, 100 min.) explores environmental superheroes riding bicycles to Comic Con in San Diego and resulting mayhem.

A Convenient Truth (Dominick Bagnato, dir., 2014, 85 min.) blows whistle on California assemblyman Coleman Burleson’s plan to cure climate warming, energy shortfall, foreign oil dependence, illegal immigration, obesity epidemic, and unemployment with a unified solution: Hire workers to pedal bicycles that generate electricity in his factory.

Serbian film The Disobedient (Mina Djukic, dir., 2014, 106 min.) sees childhood best friends reunite as adults and spontaneously embark on a bike tour and misbehavior.

Fort Tilden (Charles Rogers & Sarah-Violet Bliss, dirs., 2014) is the summer destination for NYC fixed gear hipsters (Bridey Elliot and Clare McNulty), who, like a lots of young adults lately, seem stuck in adolescence.

Njinga (Martin McCann, dir., 2014, 138 min.) documents Kate Leeming’s unprecedented transit of equatorial Africa by mountain bike, 13,700 miles in 10 months of 2010, to highlight needs of a poverty stricken, war torn continent.

Omega Rose (Australian, George Dorobantu, dir., 2014, 100 min.) begins 3 years after all but ten million humans have been annihilated. A bicyclist rides to a show that might explain what happened.

April 9th (Roni Ezra, dir., 2015, 33 min.) is a docudrama about Denmark in 1940, when the first troops Danes could muster against German blitzkrieg were South Jutland bicyclists.

The Ataxian (Zack Bennett & Kevin Schlanser, dirs., 2015, 21 min.) is a documentary about Kyle Bryant, unable to walk because of terminal nerve disease Friedreich’s Ataxia, who nevertheless attempts the bike Race Across America (RAAM) to seize every moment versus mortality.

Odd couple with a long distance attraction meet in Paris but quarrel over her gift of The Bicycle (Arne Körner, dir., 2015, 82 min.). The Bicycle is listed as a cast member.

Bike Against the Wind (Mark Vashro, dir., 2015, 60 min.) documents director’s 4,700 mile ride from Boston to San Diego through American South, and interviews locals he meets along the way.

In 2012 racer Jason Lane, The Hammer (Hornsby films, 2015, 85 min.), attempted RAAM, world’s hardest cycling race, 3,000 miles in 10 days. On day 3 he got run over by his own sag vehicle yet persevered.

Ithaca (Meg Ryan, dir., 2015, 96 min.) is based oh William Saroyan’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Human Comedy. Set during WWII, teen bicycle messenger Homer Macauley (Alex Neustaedter) delivers telegrams to families of fallen soldiers. Mom and pop are played by bankable stars Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

Filmmaker bikes 6,500 miles to Alaska to name a mountain, Mount Lawrence (Chandler Wild, dir., 2015, 90 min.), after his father, an outdoor enthusiast who committed suicide.

The Rider and the Wolf (Nathan Ward, dir., 2015, 62 min.) documents mountain biking pioneer Mike Rust. Rust often repeated Stewart Parker’s line, “The bicycle has a great past ahead of it.” Defending his home in remote San Luis Valley, he chased out intruders but was never seen again.

Blue Bicycle (“Mavi Bisiklet”, Turkish, Ümit Köreken, dir., 2016, 94 min.) looks at preteen Ali, played by Selim Kaya, forced to weigh his dream of owning a bicycle against democratic justice.

Set in Aqaba, Jordan, Five Boys and A Wheel (Said Zagha, 2016, 20 min.) is an Arabic-language adaptation of Raymond Carver's novella Bicycles, Muscles, Cigarettes.

Ovarian Psycos (Joanna Sokolowski & Kate Trumbull-Lavalle, dirs., 2016, 72 min.) covers an East LA bike crew of Latina self described misfits who ride together as protection against neighborhood violence.

Interesting 15 second 2016 spot for Quaker Oats has child fueled on oatmeal take his first “Bike Ride”.

During 103rd Tour de France, Smith showed a race specific ad for its sport sunglasses. Taiwanese manufacturer Giant was another major sponsor with a commercial for their line of bikes and a team with as many stage wins, 2, as Froome’s, Sky. GMC didn’t disappoint with typically nauseating SUV commercials to match the horrific use of motored vehicles running down pedestrians and snapping frame of Froome’s bike on Mount Ventoux.

Bicyclist crosses Maine and finds Somes Sound to be Too Cold to Swim (D. W. Young, dir., 2016, 80 min.). He then befriends an ex-marine and younger sister, and reconnects with dying, estranged father.

Fish Without Bicycles (Daisy Aitkens, dir.), in oven and not due until 2017, concerns unwed motherhood. Based on oft repeated metaphor for women not needing men, don't know if bicycles will show prominently.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Brooding Graphomane

Still sitting on fence about whether collecting, sorting and theorizing about cultural artifacts serves any practical purpose. Now attuned, you notice every humble bike you once filtered out. They call anyone with an insane writing compulsion a graphomane. Computers have expanded outlets for poets and public's chance for rants by a quantum advance. Journalism died. Media became infotainment. Social media promotes hipster hegemony. You can assume this means most of what you read merely deflects criticism, incites mayhem, provokes replacement, or spins fables, unless you stumble into some backwater where brooding deliberation over decades seeks beauty in reality.

B&C deserves a snappy anthem. Listed many songs that nicely align, but to select only one would show bias. So wrote own that quotes names you might know or ought to.

Bicycling Culture by Labann

Sport or transportational:

Labann wrote tomes on this
conveyance you pedal.

Vulture for cycling culture:

On something less vulgar,
could've avoided ulcer.

Fervor, fear beget regret.
Yet so does parking

your butt on a soffette.

Buy wheels at a bike swap,
junk dealer [1], trendy shop,
or yard sale next door stop.

Can ride it if you like [2],
though many bust or rust [3]
when no longer a tyke.

Chorus:
Go outside. Ride, ride, ride.

Play the fool. Just decide
to swallow your damn pride.

Learnt really hard lessons [4].
Dodged some stones in the road [5],
during cycling sessions.

Ever look left, right, left
across, not let yourself
of living be bereft.

Pass losers, motorcrashes [6],
balderdash on diaper rashes.
Steer clear of bigot clashes.

Activist Morrisette heed.
Dan Behrman, Illich read.
Bike’s all you’ll ever need.

Wake white [7] or yellow [8] zeal.
What will you reveal
pursuing an ideal?

Chorus:
Go outside. Ride, ride, ride.

Ignore jibes and sneers snide.
No pet? Be your own guide [9].

Don’t forget to mention [10]
how Pierre Michaux’s bike
was world’s best invention.

Choose a freedom machine [11].
You will get glad and lean,
but it won’t keep you clean.

Never get there? Went far
on fixed wheel with crossbar [12],
faster than driving car.

Tied my bike to a post [13],
shamed to fret. Still almost
got stole' by some foul ghost.

Depressed you say? Why not
be on a flow today?
Pedal your blues away [14].

Chorus:
Go outside. Ride, ride, ride.

Neither be pushed aside,
nor let rights be denied.

Ride bike slowly [15], sans dread,
wherever you like, Grateful
Dead songs in your head.

Beasts and botanicals,
spandex mamils, fat bottomed [16] wamils,
such amusing mammals.

You, me, and the devil
make two [17]. Not merely revel,
peddle on the level.

Bicycle built for fools [18],
forget about it [19]. Tools
can’t touch me, beyond rules.

A’cycling through village [20]
’s legal right, no breakage.
Driving’s just a privilege.

Chorus:
Go outside. Ride, ride, ride.

Safer than your next stride;
motoring’s suicide.

Snippet Sources:
1 Paul McCartney, Wings, “Junk” (1970)
2 Syd Barrett, “Bike” (1967)
3 Tom Waits, “Broken Bicycles” (1982)
4 Melody Gardot, “Some Lessons” (2008)
5 Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Stones in the Road” (1994)
6 Björk, Sugarcubes, “Motorcrash” (1988)
7 Tomorrow, “My White Bicycle” (1968)
8 Tracy Jane Comer, “Yellow Bike” (2006)
9 Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Bicycle Song” (2002)
10 Be Your Own Pet, “You Are My Bicycle” (2006)
11 Matthew Price, “Freedom Machine” (2009)
12 Wild Billy Childish, “Medway Wheelers” (2005)
13 Woody Guthrie, “Dance a Little Longer” (1946)
14 R Crumb, “Pedal Your Blues Away” (1978)
15 Trey Anastacio, “Let Me Lie” (2006)
16 Freddie Mercury, Queen, “Fat Bottomed Girls” (1978)
17 Scissor Sisters, “Bicycling with the Devil” (2004)
18 Jimi Hendrix, “My Friend” (1968)
19 Kevin Bacon, “Got Damn Bicycle” (2008)
20 John Lennon, “New York City” (1972)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Chanson Neuvaine

A bike can be your best friend, extension of soul, or prie dieu kneeler on which to supplicate blessings. Novenas consist of prayers repeated, often sung for nine days or more, usually toward favorable happenings. All songs beseech attention, not necessarily divine intervention, yet forever exhort some spiritual connection. Can't forget that catchy tunes now owe a whole lot to Gospel Plow long before and sacred hymns of yore. Never look back. Pedal onward.

Angus and Julia Stone, Main Street, Angus and Julia Stone, self, 2014. “My bones are aching for yours. You rode me on your bicycle down Main Street… Held me as though I'd never leave. You rode me on your bicycle down Main Street.”

Ariana Grande featuring Nicki Manaj, Side to Side, Dangerous Woman, Republic Records, 2016. “This the new style with the fresh type of flow: Wrist icicle, ride d*ck bicycle. Come true, yo, get you this type of blow. If you wanna menage, I got a tricycle.”

Ben Weaver, Split Ends, Mirepoix and Smoke, Bloodshot Records, 2010. An environmental sensitive and Minneapolis native, Ben tours between engagements by bicycle and writes poems and songs inspired by his journeys. While most lyrics don’t specify bicycles, riding intensely informs his reflections. Fellow Bloodshot artist and Chicago wrench tech Al Scorch credits local bike advocates for launching his music career, and similarly bike commutes to gigs, though unlikely to live up to surname while lugging gear.

Blonde Redhead (Amedeo and Simone Pace) wrote score of The Commentator, a new Brendt Barbur documentary that trails Paris Roubaix race coverage by legendary announcer Jørgen Leth set for debut this month.

Darryl Worley, Nothin To Lose [c&w], Here and Now, 903 Music, 2006. “Gasoline prices are higher than ever. They line up to buy 'cause they hate going slow. Someday I might learn to ride a bicycle, but I ain’t got no place to go… I used to spend all my time making money, much in the fashion of my dear old dad. He could have taught me to ride a bicycle. Now I bet he wishes he had.”

Fetty Wap, Go Hard Boyz [hop hop], single, self, 2016. “Bikes up, guns down… bought a Banshee [brand name bicycle]... Riding all day, and all night… We believe in bicycles, don’t believe in helmets… Bam! Bam!”

Fossils, Bicycle Chor [“Bicycle Thief”, Indian], Fossils 2, self, 2004. Founders of the Bengali underground rock scene, Fossils derived named from feeling crushed by early disapproval.

K’coneil, Bicycle, Love/Lust, Gedion Soldiers Entertainment, 2016.

(Adrianna) Krikl & (Viviane) Be, Bicycle, Odds & Ends, self, 2016. “I hop on my bicycle and ride, anywhere… Cruising downhill nice and slow, ‘cause I don’t got nowhere I need to go, spinning wheels… All I want to do is have some fun. I like to ride my bicycle… Grab your 10-speed, because it’s about to get hot.”

Monkey Majik, Bicycle, Time, Avex Entertainment, 2008. "Don’t wanna fall on my head. Don’t wanna botch up my chain… The whole notion of balance and gravity, my chin wasn’t up. Where was I headin’? I’m closin’ in on a fire hydrant, disaster’s waitin’. Ain’t goin’ far, I get up, I get up, don’t give up. I reassemble it all. I found out, you’ll do it if you wanna do it.”

Nahid Afrin, Loraalir Uraajaan [Assamese-Indian pop], Chor (The Bicycle) soundtrack, Terakota Records, 2015. Tune scores trailer for a new film in Assamese language about innocence of children who share a bicycle until it's stolen.

Stoffer & Maskinen, Vi to Er Smeltet Sammen ["The two of us have melted into one", Danish], Stoffer & Maskinen, A:larm Music, 2008. Anchors soundtrack of 2014 feature film Copenhagen in which an adult bicyclist visiting city meets an adorable teen waitress [still image above]. While a peripheral mention for being in a bike movie, its lyrics speak directly to wheel obsession in a sort of Flann O’Brien, Third Policeman way. “We are melted into one. We can no longer separate… You are my pulse, heavily throbbing, that makes my blood circulate with every beat of every second. You'll follow the rhythm of my heart around. You are the centre of gravity of my thoughts, my lightness when I feel heavy. And, if I float for no reason, you'll pound the rhythm of my heart around… all alone and without a day, cause we will never go back.”

Wax, Two Wheels [hip hop], single, Island Def Jam Music, 2011. “I'm just riding through the valley on my bicycle, just pedalin’, pedalin’, pedalin’, pedalin’, pedalin' along… I’m gonna sing, oh yeah, oh-my-my, ‘I don't give a f*ck about a DUI.' You can take away my license, but you can't take away my pride. I'm a keep drinking until the day I die. Two wheels is the way I ride.”

Y.N.RichKids, My Bike, single, 2013. A gang of Minneapolis ragazzi recorded this def hip hop jam. "Ok, I'm back on my bike. I don't need a car; these two wheels gon' take me far… I'm ridin' around real slow, and 'u' already know that I'm fresh to death on my bicycle. And you should 'prolly' know, that I can do it with no hands. I'm the man.”

Update: As is always, no sooner than a list is released, other entries magically appear. Carlos Vives and Shakira, La Bicicleta [Columbian in Spanish], single, 2016. [Shakira] "Your way is not complicated on a bicycle that takes you everywhere… Take me, take me on your bicycle. Hear me, Carlos, take me on your bicycle. I want to travel around together…” In official video, both Columbian superstars ride dangerously against traffic and neither wears a helmet. Doesn't much matter after Shakira shakes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Tour Submontane

Before Tour de France commences along coasts and pursues alps, couldn’t resist a quick look through Bike Snob’s latest book, The Ultimate Bicycle Owner’s Manual (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishing, May, 2016, 240 pp.). Unlike earlier offerings, author Eben Weiss has honed and toned his humor for an insightful exposé of condoned aspects of contemporary bikedom with practical ink for urban boredom. Not one to dodge a dare, he dives right into controversy and expects your conditioned outrage. He does, however, provide concise answers to the nagging questions of fear and inconvenience that deter two thirds of nation who don’t ride, though he’d make a better stand up comedian with whom you’d want to someday share a beer and steer toward sincere.

Ultimate it’s not, instead an abridged compendium of hundreds of books covering identical subjects in greater depth. Resembles an Edwin Abbot x-y spin in flatland that crests no peaks and possesses no z in spaceland. Can hardly find any point with which to get nose out of joint. Bold and captivating chapters concern the future and your rights as a bicyclist. “The automobile did its best to figuratively and literally kill the bicycle. It failed.” B&C has been reporting details of B-icycling C-ulture for decades over thousands of pages and still honking uphill. Worrisome on immediate horizon are self-driving cars, which might impose onus for road safety back onto bicyclists. Worry, however, wastes imagination. Those who assess motoring’s costs seldom mention mining tons of among planet's rarest metals, palladium and platinum, for catalytic converters. Filthy Big Oil rightly bears brunt of global disgust, but surely aren’t the only bad actors enabling automotive lust.

Disagree about swapping front tire onto back out of sheer impracticality. Two remounts? Tiresome. Besides, always replace used tubes with new; tire levers abrade whatever they touch. Front tires can take on sidewall cuts and splits from unseen potholes and stones, from which your quick reflexes protect rear, so wear can be different but no less traumatic. You could carefully inspect, lay aside, and once you have a pair, mount onto your wheelset spare, nice to have on hand when at doormat ready for combat and inconveniently find a flat.

Almost any advice you glean therein will be tainted with bicycling’s ambivalent dilemma: Why be vulnerable or endure suffering when so many transportation temptations surround? Because it’s a common misconception that cars, SUVs and trucks are easier and safer. Earning price of ticket takes far longer than just biking wherever you want to go. Owning a private passenger vehicle is more expensive than taking a buss or taxi. Waiting for rides and walking it necessitates waste time. Speed compounds risk. Bicycling’s average pace of 13 mph makes ideal progress as it mitigates danger. Bikes take you from dawn to destination, harbor to home, portal to portal. Its two undeniable downsides are how fragile you become on a long run and unpleasant landscapes through which you must pass without access to bridges, highways or rail corridors. Sticks you in the thick of it. Cycling otherwise resembles most forms of mobility, practically a land kayak or terrain plane unless you think you're nobility. Everyone, either directly or indirectly, benefits from bike use: children gaining confidence on safe routes to schools, motorists bypassing additional traffic snarl, parents who stay fit for their families, poor who can’t afford private vehicles, rescue squads clear to respond, and those thereby saved.

Technical ingenuity has economic, environmental, political and social consequences. Automotive and transportive account for 50% of private businesses, belch pollutants and toxins, cause cancer and cardiovascular disease, consume nonrenewable resources, despoil land and sea, and doom humanity to dystopia. You can recycle most of a bicycle's materials, either rebuild to renew or recover for raw. Its only effects are positive: cleaner air, fewer potholes, improved health, less congestion, more interaction, unless you consider as threats clearer thinking, collaborative equality, and critical analysis. A paradigm shift is inevitable. During transition, people who can will choose bikes, while suckers who can’t or won’t will pay skyrocketing prices, since obsolete technologies must maintain profits to provide alternatives and stay on top while consumers migrate elsewhere. Already happening, battery, hybrid, and hydrogen fuel vehicles are made available only at unnecessarily prohibitive cost, thereby forcing traditional purchases and leaving options open.

Alienation and isolation are what pioneers find when they successfully break new ground. Demand for innovation remains much less than conventional mediocrity. This explains why so many authors pander to ignorance and repeat popular opinions, seldom probe lofty visions or seek unique stances. Interaction occurs below; mountaineers stand alone. Every review elevates authors selected and sentences those overlooked to obscurity. How-to's act as gateways to personal awareness; no one size suits all, especially when a bicyclist measures self. Enough. Back to the century old contest between brilliant breakaways and knotted belligerents.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Leopard’s Bane

In Season 4 (2014), Episode 4, And the Old Bike Yarn, of sitcom Two Broke Girls, Caroline adopts an abandoned bike half woven over by a homeless knitter and plans to use it to deliver cupcakes they’ll bake. Max reveals in shame she doesn’t know how to ride one. An attempt to teach her ends in a crotch injury, which she ices with cold cans of diner soda, as the rest of RICE - Rest, Compression and Elevation - wouldn’t be practical. Premise provides gags full of sexual innuendo, which seems this show’s main purpose. Sex turns the average participant from tool to fool; picture a vulgar medieval jester, and you’ll get the level of intelligence to which sitcom panders, imbecile monarchs and mindless minion.

Ah, summer, high season for touring, when every distance seems nearer, and you take on more than you can handle. Never know how much you’ll suffer even if you’ve done it all before. Bike&Chain mentions pain on every tenth page but never resolves how to cure beyond a hot shower or soak, then long nap in loose wrap with legs elevated, safe recommendations that smother litigations. “Pain and pleasure are equally interesting, for some inseparable.” Suffering pays, but that fact offers little comfort. Turin Brakes conversely called bicycle a “pain killer” in summer rain, but they meant a mood boost not pharmaceutical remedy.

Painters pour pain onto canvas as complaint. Protests go nowhere. If you complain, responses of those who might hear include, in order of likelihood, annoyance, avoidance, bemusement among the blameworthy, kindly advice you can’t apply, race to capitalize, and, rare though superlative, suggestions that actually work validated by vast experience. Bicyclists mostly bawl about bonks, butts, calves, feet, knees, thighs and wrists. How bike is adjusted and equipped effects all. Chamois balm, padded shorts and well worn leather saddles eliminate or lessen posterior discomfort. Bar tape, gloves, and multiple hand positions assist either wrist. Weight loss also helps, since dragging around excess elevates distress, and wool socks deter abrasion.

You’ll undergo fewer aches and pains if you hydrate before, during and following, whether plain water, special sports drinks, or water suspended powders. Nutrient rich diet and sensible exercise regime will gradually harden bone and flesh and increase endurance. Digestion stores glycogen and lipids that legs use as fuel, but water lubricates muscles and metabolizes both. Sneaky sugars don’t last and exacerbate diabetes. Importantly, avoid exceeding your physical limitations, or risk complications. Cocaine during or opioids after defeat any health benefits. No prescription beats prevention. “Pain, after all, can be short circuited by ketamine, mental discipline or morphine drip, but only ethics, nonviolence, and safety awareness work to prevent suffering.” That is to say, don’t engage in road rage, and stay out of harm’s way.

Muscle spasms may be spam bicyclists can’t simply delete. It’s said that potassium insufficiency causes, why many cyclists eat apples and bananas. Arnica montana (aka leopard’s or wolf’s bane) diluted in a gel is one topical remedy that works nearly instantly for a charleyhorse, deep bruise, or severe cramp. Not for internal consumption or where skin is broken, since it’s a poisonous herbal, you must heed adverse reactions or health contraindications and use sparingly. Other liniments don’t work as effectively or quickly. Daub menthol HEET liquid on tender site but likewise don’t get it into eyes or on fingers. Bengay or Icy Hot are for arthritis or discomfort, not spasms. All, however, reputedly reduce inflammation that induces pain, as do aspirin, acetaminophen, and NSAIDs, though use of any can potentially be fatal to some.

Long rides so increase body heat that all you want to do is cool off. Sweat evaporating from skin is what nature provides as a restorative, further reason for fluid intake. Professional athletes set bedroom thermostats at 65°F and take ice baths. Yet direct chill may trigger vicious contractions, so be careful how you position yourself relative to air conditioner and cool breezes. Sleeping is the best cure, since your autonomic system directs hypothalamus to automatically shed 1 or 2 degrees. Good advice and loose moisture wicking garments ease adversities, possibly persuade riders to attempt full and half centuries, though somewhat gaudy and sweaty skinsuits suffice for shorter jaunts.

You aren’t born with an instructional manual on how a human body operates, only instincts urging curiosity and moderation and senses from which to learn. The only arbiter of whether you are having fun or preparing to compete in next Grand Tour event is you. In peak shape once assumed a challenge comparable to most difficult Tour de France stage. Didn’t regret it, but won't retry. Nevertheless, not letting any teen on a mountain bike pass uncontested, even when nearing end of a hot 50 miler. Dug deep, overtook, and pulled far ahead, while he vanished in rear view mirror. Competing too easily tempts, but maintaining race cadence for prolonged periods maximizes chances for injury and pain.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Aim Reattain

On information overload, nobody today wants to sort through facts, though one must find what’s worthwhile hidden beneath ordinary hype, or get someone else to do it. A Cycle Trades of America 1940 ad proclaimed, “A bicycle is a boy’s birthright,” but motoring scammed most of them out of it during subsequent decades. You’re reduced to armchair cycling when roads no longer support car-less self propelling. Actor Will Smith warned Hollywood hype machine they can no longer cheat audiences into watching bad movies, but if you buy ticket you ought to take the ride, and USA remains sadly gullible as proven, not repudiated, by social media. Besides, who’s to deem any movie bad? Measure isn’t its budget, guilty of both flops and hits despite investments, but how story resonates, which could mean revisiting what’s familiar or taking viewers where they’ve never before been.

Aim depends on what direction you wish to reattain. Bliss can only be achieved by ignoring media totally from onset, too late after decades of education and exposure. Instead of paragraphs or scenes, motionless images may suffice, but, if you explore further, they suggest a plethora of backstories and explanations, and thereby offer empathy in suffering but no solace in silence. As in other art forms, a painting or photograph may incidentally or mainly depict ubiquitous bicycles as an aspect or attraction. Bicycle Fine Art is a New York showcase that offers emerging art but none related to bicycles.

This year, Jules de Balincourt referenced dystopia, exodus and globalization when he studied bicycling in 2 original oil paintings, “As Far As We Could Go West” [shown here] and “Cycledelic Wanderers” [now being shown at Joyride Art Exhibition in Brooklyn]. Both represent reality within abstract landscapes, sort of a mashup of fact and imagination, which has become a popular motif. Nonrepresentational art, unlike representational, perceives what is inwardly observable, not outwardly, thus expands universe of what can be experienced. Landscapes can be less exciting than twisted memories, what you ultimately retain whether factual or fantastic.

Fine Art America lists 10,000 objects labeled bike art including 4,100 paintings, though many relate only to motorcycles or reprints of old masters. Notable original examples among them? Andrew Macara has a handful of oil paintings capturing 20th Century summer light. Arlon Rosenoff attacks bikes of all types with a palette knife for 10 impasto treatments. During the last decade award winning oil painter Colleen Proppé has portrayed several relevant San Francisco scenes. Linda Apple loves lines and shadows in hyperrealist oils. On 28 canvases, Peregrine Roskilly enthused over World Naked Bike Rides held every June to protest Big Oil domination. Ryan Radke has at least 4 postmodern cityscapes patrolled by bicycle, reminiscent of George Stein’s Belle Époque impressionist images of Champs Elysses, which naturally featured bicyclists amidst traffic a century earlier.

Marilyn Dunlap represents Paris romance in a pâtissier's dozen of acrylics. Phyllis Andrews amuses with 26 humorous, meaningful and tidy acrylics on board and canvas. Hers contrast with Carrie Nixon’s, who had [at Procycle 2009] a dynamic, large format acrylic and charcoal on handmade paper [shown left] meant to explore control and lack thereof while cycling fast in winter.

Oregonian Jenny Armitage has at least 15 watercolors of bicycles and bicyclists in European cities, though she depicts 3 times as many musical instruments, which do possess similar lines and shapes. Australian Shirley Peters recently celebrated Tour de France pelaton in a series of 35 watercolors.

Antonio Grambone produced several evocative photographs with urban themes. Sports photographer Bob Christopher snapped 55 action shots and racer portraits. Odd Jeppesen’s contemporary collection tightly focuses on dismembered components in every season.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Moral Moraine

If personal morals fall by the wayside - like a glacial moraine of powdered rock and rolled boulders that bicyclists, geologists, and property owners are prone to ponder - what hope is there for an ethical society? Communities abandon homeless and hungry, religious congregations scatter, motorists run down the vulnerable, and scribblers who promote greed succeed. Virtue used to be its own reward. Morals are self defined. Ethics allow individuals to follow own codes of conduct, not merely submit to self exploitation, stone wall isolation, and unexamined convention. Neither can you force yours on others, only suggest that activism, altruism, intelligence and tolerance are in their own interests. Today’s leaders and successful followers work overtime as examples of what not to do, so you have your work cut out for you. Your only audience spends all its time avoiding harm by blindly toiling in a sandy ant farm.

Worry that kindness might lead to overpopulation. Earth can hardly support 7.4 billion humans, while life expectancy creeps ever closer to 80 years on average. Then remember that insatiable simpletons have more insupportable children than intelligent sophisticates. Education could be a key. Cartesian perspicacity and consequent sagacity lead directly to ZPG. Affairs between homosexuals or with postmenopausal crones produce none. The elderly eat less yet require services, so an aging population represents more opportunities than threats. Vegan food can be grown in hydroponic soilless gardens indoors built safely atop toxic brownfields, thereby quadrupling yields and recapturing forsaken space through government grants. But instead of adopting local, consumers are bullied by policy into buying imported. Transportation generates more jobs than any other sector, but wastes dwindling resources faster than rest combined. With states not proactively addressing groundwater contamination and reservoir strain, a lack of potable water still looms as hugest threat to humanity, though legal mandates to produce at point of use make too much sense.

Chances to earn exist, but you must expect less and manufacture them yourself. Innovative entrepreneurs diversify and thereby strengthen economy. Can’t rely on existing companies, corporations and mills anymore; most are run by multinational conglomerates recording record profits despite foreign threats by exploiting least paid workforces. Because debt-strapped millennials still living with parents produce art and books for free, only a few remarkable professionals have a chance to earn anymore. Quality deteriorates when phenomenal exponents get ground down and give up. It’s no wonder engineering declined and slavery returned. It’s almost too easy to oppress masses when producers ask for nothing and can’t be bothered with marketing. When policies create economic depression, those in deep valleys of despair abide bondage for food and shelter, or grab whatever they can from the craven and weak.

In terms of insect fear films, greedy people and needy sheeple resemble THEM! Giant ants would ruin your picnic. Between self serving reactionaries and starving anarchic revolutionaries, most would elude the latter, favor the former, yet find vast majority resides in the middle fulfilling mankind’s demands. Capitalist icon Adam Smith himself agreed that the rich “spurn the most basic standards of moral conduct”, because their esteem derives not from good deeds but jealousy of those less fortunate. Angry moderates seem to have no say until they speak en masse. Anger and hate are easily comprehended, evoked and exploited. Machiavellian leaders thereby deflect wrath from themselves and pit the poor against the middle.

Nursed on conservative Kool-aid since birth, Cameron Huddleston offers advice on how to get rich. It comes down to change your attitude, don’t hate money, pull yourself up by the bootstraps. All you have to do to join ranks of 1% is make a half million a year! Easy, peasy! “Make efforts to improve your finances because your don’t want to get kicked out of your social group.” But money amassers have no friends, only feckless disciples and vicious rivals who’d rejoice if they fail. Having money or owning property entail becoming a target for every scammer and schemer on planet. Can’t Fox News come up with anything less repulsively self serving? Who buys propaganda and self help books loaded with such malthusian drivel? LaMonte Fowler dispels every myth they use to connive and inveigle. As a nation USA remains world’s bigger producer surpassed only by a combined European GDP. If you likewise included Canada and Mexico, North America would easy surpass economy of every other continent. So? Gave Americans a chance to be the most generous nation on the planet.

Who is more repulsive: a casino billionaire who built an empire on bad habits and human misery or the mindless minion with whom his mean message resonates? Monarchists, oligarchs, theocrats, tyrants, and wealth hoarders on top pitch the empty promise of conservatism nonstop. When you have nothing but a rational mind to think things through, equal distribution and liberal communion sound better. Billionaires become a barrier, make your life miserable, slow flow of resources. Amassed wealth impedes everyone else’s ability to earn, survive even. They give none away, the only reason to amass in the first place. Buffett and Gates each vowed to direct billions, some fraction of net worth, toward problems for which they can’t claim blame. Why not punish, squeeze or tax those actually responsible? Banks don’t let your deposits work for you anymore, instead make risky loans in order to wipe out investors in small businesses that inevitably fail, costing jobs and property. Worth doesn't disappear, just slips into hidden pockets. Laugh at anyone whose line is, “Give it to me and I will ensure those in need receive.” What’s wrong with meeting own needs and salting away a bit for family’s future? Worked for millennia. Oh, yeah, ego. Lording affluently over others means everyone must value owning excess as you do, the national obsession and only patriotism. Accordingly, lives are wasted, souls are bought and sold, and taxes are misappropriated. Gives award winning luster to such revolutionary hacks as Mr Robot and V. They are the mirage of, “Just hang on a bit longer, some hero is bound to arise.” You personally decide and realize the future by what you allow, consume, fund, support, and work toward.

After too many rejection letters to count, Labann labors toward the day when this zero sum game ends. Then just one will have it all, money will cease to mean anything, and playing field will again level. Banks will have long since collapsed, insurance houses closed, nonprofits ended, and Wall Street tumbled like Jericho, thus doing humanity a favor. A barter economy will prevail among survivalists. Wealth has never been an honorable goal, rather an unused tool to promote ethics. They give no prizes for being biggest borrower or having highest net worth, though all awards are skewed to those whose work made millions for the already too rich. Achieving, earning, and saving are supposed to permit individuals to seek out hardships and share as desired, not gatekeepers and third parties, who only decrease dividends, hinder turnover, and maneuver profits into own pockets. They act more like rotten parasites than trusted advisors.

Instead of admiring huge stockpiles how about redistributing them to doers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and visionaries? To assuage guilt, Federico Pistono and Rutger Bergman would give everyone alive a base stipend. Welfare? You can’t build fortunes without it. What else can you call business bailouts, farm subsidies intended to keep groceries scarce and prices high, and, worst of all, tax breaks for highest earners and one percenters? By policy, money flows everywhere except towards the dwindling middle class, because they intentionally want to cripple those who’ll fight to hang onto home and land ownerships and voter rights, though it’s said that if voting mattered it wouldn’t be allowed. SNAP and TANF enslave recipients, who have to first divest themselves of property to qualify, while benefits have fallen by 20%. Could you live on $5/day, that is, $7,300 for the typical family of four on relief? In all but 3 states that doesn’t cover shelter, never mind food, no free ride. Neither can the average $27,000 per year household with two minimum wage workers, only $10,000 above FPL, get by. Giving $500/month would not overcome poverty, the #1 health hazard and root of most crime; feds currently draw line at $11,600/year, so it would barely get you half way. But tax free and unconditional grants would stimulate economy and work out for homeless wretches.

Battle can be defined simply: Better versus worse. Decent people want everyone to succeed and survive, but not at their expense or initiative. Otherwise, problems become difficult to remedy, prisons get filled, and tax burdens escalate. Businesses are busy getting leaner by cutting their number one expense, salaries. Too many bellies vie for resources to avoid someone going hungry. Rats who run sly networks promote disparity where deprivation, famine and pestilence visit majority. How society treats constituents was never their intended content. How a caged gorilla had to be shot to protect a three-year-old child is, with debaters condemning or supporting action taken, thereby devaluating human life. Issues of substance don’t entertain masses, so news media lose focus, neglect detriments of wealth, and report nothing that affects your livelihood.

Nobody sane would disagree that gravity attracts. But act and write with gravity and you’ll attract nobody. Bicyclists weigh heft every time they pedal uphill. You’d do better to heed the ever present hum of chaos with which most people can identify. But if that’s all you can do with freedom, for which forebears died and soldiers put their life on the line every day, why invest countless lives and trillions of tax dollars on such an unsatisfactory option? If you comprehend chaos, you may find your angel amidst mayhem. You'll earn no pass for being kind, just the opposite. Decency attracts opportunists, punks, sadists, and thieves who'd cruelly use you. The more you care for others, the more heartache you'll embrace, thus growing stronger to face ever more emotional challenges, quite a bit to contemplate on your next long bike outing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Next Hurricane

With cyclonic season officially entered, nothing weathers whirlwind days hunkered down without electronics, or otherwise lounging on beaches away from plugs, like a printed book. Several worthwhile choices include:

Brent Kitching, A Bicycle Without A Chain (iUniverse, 2016, 332 pp.). Just out, biographical novel pits chasing capitalism against cultivating a higher consciousness. Oh, my!

Buzz Ponce, A Long Ride Coming: How the Struggle of Losing a Parent Led to a Bicycle Journey Nearly 50 Years Later (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016, 336 pp.)

Cristina Spínola Taller de Felicidad (The Workshop of Happiness, self, 2016, 87 pp.). Author describes adventures of a woman touring Latin America alone by bike.

Daniel Shea and Jeremy Withers, editors, Culture on Two Wheels: The Bicycle in Literature and Film (University of Nebraska Press, 2016, 366 pp.). Well anticipated accessible set of scholarly essays follows the 125 years of evolving symbolism that this "favored ideological steed" conjures. Shea’s own covers Ai Weiwei’s famous bicycle sculptures.

David Herlihy, Bicycle: The History (Yale University Press, 2004, 480 pp.), Previously mentioned his The Lost Cyclist. In The Guardian, Rob Penn recently gave a Eurocentric top ten of books about bikes, which included Herlihy’s History and others hitherto overlooked. How can it be that Kent Peterson’s best list on Outside Online, except for Herlihy’s, is completely different?

DK (Dorling and Kindersley), Bicycle: The Definitive Visual History (Penguin Random House, 2016, 256 pp.). With a magazine approach, celebrates commerce, designs, makers, and racers from graphic, journal and published evidence.

James Runcie, Grantchester, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (Bloomsbury USA, 2012, 400 pp.). In the mold of Chesterson’s character Father Brown, sleuth/vicar Sidney Chambers rides a bike around Cambridgeshire in 1950’s England while solving crimes. Made into a PBS series for Masterpiece Mystery!

Jobst Brandt, The Bicycle Wheel (Avocet, 1993, 150 pp.)

Mike Magnuson, Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180 (Three Rivers Press, 2005, 252 pp.). Highlights losing weight and regaining health through self propulsion.

Travis Hugh Culley, The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power (Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2001, 352 pp.)

Blue Bicycle Books, a shop located in Charleston, South Carolina, hosts a creative Summer writing camp for kids to get them into good habits.