Friday, June 29, 2018

Best of Bourdain

"What have you got to lose?" is a rhetorical question advisors ask of those chewing over change that recommends leaping before looking. Change is inevitable, necessary even. Decay feeds plants; their growth feeds humans and livestock. Days divide nights; seasons become years; centuries, eons. An incredible amount of transactions occur while one civilization after another coalesces then crumbles. Casino owners, insurers and tax revenuers size up what you have to lose and take from you whatever they can just shy of you organizing revolt. Swank restaurants charge a week’s salary for a single meal after which you’re still hungry, but at least they decorate place with a poster of a bygone track cyclist on a fixie. Life somehow perseveres despite stress.

Imagine how different society must have been several centuries ago, before education was free and opportunities abounded. Monarchs undermined education, which furnished students with tools to teach and think for themselves. Made them too clever to subjugate. Nowadays, practically no one obeys traffic laws; wonder what other covenants they break and transgressions they make while you politely stay right within limits. Some only occupy left lane and proceed slowly because it leaves space ahead, so they can react timely while savoring distractions.

What of texting? Where's the harm? How is it unlike listening to radio? Indeed. Talk radio totally transports listener into a tiny sphere alone on road with a rabid copilot urging driver to fixate on his disembodied hypnotic voice, ignore all else as if in a psychotic break, Son of Sam territory. Should instead be dancing courteously, paying close attention, and reacting defensively. Social media and traffic snarl leave participants frustrated and vulnerable, wear patience thin.

One could directly link a lot of crime to birth defects: Bad nutrition or crack addiction while pregnant, FAS, interbreeding. Leads to brain insufficiency, inability to learn, insanity that sooner lash out against complex demands than apply reason. Later they’ll snort up nose, stick in arms, and stuff faces with harmful substances. Food gets abused most. Yet fat is where flavor’s at, dissolved by beer and wine into a triglyceride stew and vascular menace. Putting bullies on a short leash makes sense, though shouldn’t lower expectations for their achievements. Focus can easily be disrupted by social fears. Restrict sources, and some who would've sunk can now swim. A forgiving and trusting nature invites assault and theft, as Labann has too often personally undergone.

A master wordsmith concocts stories seemingly out of thin air; whence they come include inner dialogue, input responses, personal experiences, stuff that might percolate over a lifetime. Not every act in which one engages is worth repeating; not every thought imagined bears expressing. Certainly some mustn’t be stifled lest individual or society suffer. Takes copious attempts and enormous effort to master the craft. Humanity has arrived at juncture Douglas Adams joked about, where an innocuous statement reverberates across universe and starts an intergalactic war. What one mostly hears are ads for crap you don't need, come-ons for charities that only pad directors’ pockets, and propaganda aimed at intimidating you into political submission, seldom thoughtful analyses meant to inform you what's at stake, sometimes life itself.

While immersed in meaningful projects, who has time for despair? Challenges demand completion, yet suicides have risen to an epidemic proportion among middle-aged men. While clinicians search for answers, causes couldn’t be more obvious. To avoid operating expenses, insurers recommend replacing them with healthier youth, ripping rug from under their sense of purpose, tossing them onto an ash heap of uselessness. Plus they regret in silence being complicit with what ruthless executives in male-dominated industry did to consumers, employees, and stakeholders. Drugs and liquor goggles overcome disgust of a date with a gun to head or rope around neck. Who can afford food, never mind therapists once health coverage lapses? Government policies also pave way for hostile takeovers and resultant downsizing. Being displaced doesn’t exempt an individual from having to earn, eat, survive; those ineligible for Social Security or Welfare have few alternatives. Severance, unemployment, and workmen compensation only fulfill short term needs. States do almost nothing to get displaced workers back into saddle before retirement saving run out and true desperation begins. Back in FDR’s day, there were CCC, PWA and WPA, though gap from poor to rich is bigger today.

Can’t reverently lay Anthony Bourdain’s roasted ashes to rest without saying what about him you should admire best. He was no snob. Broke bread with both celebrities and nobodies, particularly in nations where USA ran rampant leaving them in shambles. Seemed to accept role as ugly American abroad, only transformed it by being genuinely caring and warmly sociable. May have appeared an elitist globe trekker, but began humbly as a dishwasher and performed backbreaking KP on brink of bankruptcy until well after 40, when he began to write and got a break. An admitted crime buff, published stories about underworld in Manhattan’s Little Italy. But his exposé of nauseating restaurant practices brought notoriety. Expert chef, the real deal, middle-aged Tony acted out other people’s perception of a bad-boy hipster and provocateur, vilified for his addictions and candor. Apparent sympathy for sin attracts fans, but bravery was what he was all about, not anger, gluttony, greed, or pride. Passionately against food waste, Hollywood rape, and policy tyranny, he was recognized as an authentic voice for the downtrodden everywhere. This put him at odds with powerful enemies, whose spooks know how to stage a scene to look like suicide.

Do bipolar personalities fail to thrive on cycling? Long bike trips mess up hormones, elating many, leaving others in funks. Biking helps assess your vitality. Doctors even measure health by putting patients on stationary bikes. Tony spent his last day stoking a tandem through gorgeous Alsatian countryside of which one can only dream. If you must go, what better way? He once quipped, “Life’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride,” echoes of Hunter Thompson, “Buy the ticket, take the ride,” both firmly in charge of their independence, not the bad examples snide commentators make them out to be. What have you done with your hard won freedom? Many sell it for a transitory sense of security, trade a reliable cow for a handful of fascist beans. In the end, what you choose decides your fate. Do you really know what’s on someone else’s plate?

Feeding strangers implies behaving responsibly. Quoting self, “Instead of squabbling, learn to bake cookies and brew 2 cups.” To be magnanimous, one must immerse oneself among recipients willing to reciprocate. Americans have long since ceased to match mercies, respond in kind, and transcend Darwinian imperative to eat or be eaten. Can you blame anyone for selfish motivations given mainstream opinions?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Débat d'entrain

Feelings are fleeting, insights tricky to intercept, in tandem, require real effort to recall. But does writing them down reinforce memories or relegate forever to forgotten? In senility one misquotes statistics, mistakes billions for millions, or single-mindedly repeats same old story. Genuine and superior sail away together leaving you marooned. Precise quick recall rates just below muscular reflexes among survival mechanisms. While content here may seem disjointed, Labann knows connections but skips explanations; when warning of peril, you'd only identify immanent threat, not obscure in wordy malarkey. Could find another place to fall and flop, forsake in disgrace once duties you face dissolve, give up on it all, and stop. Expire, migrate, or stand fast: Yours to decide. Exit strategies are endlessly tempting. Once elation of peak experiences, including bicycling, wears off life grows depressing. Despair leads to losses. Disturbing.

Reconsider immigrants for a moment. Do some perpetrate crimes? Of course. Members of Bratva, Mafia, Sinaloa Cartel, and Yakuza operate internationally and pile collectively upwards of $40 billion in illegal loot each year enabled by an insatiable appetite for illicit sex, off-track gambling, smuggled narcotics, stolen merchandise, and unsecured loans, which can all be gotten legally at lesser costs/risks. Organized criminals intimidate targets into accepting their contraband and falling into their trap. They need you, not other way around.

So 95% of all crime could be eliminated through better education and policy realignment, that is, if people really wanted to be informed. Instead, mayors consider downsides, and dole out one-way bus tickets to dump addicts and indigents into some other jurisdiction. Make it go away? Solves no problem. Other mayors cynically pay for bus rides from third world to their cities to build a base of dependent voters while they extract costs from homeowners in soaring taxes, so pay nothing personally yet stay in power. Treachery against community comes easily to sociopaths in office. Heinous assaults and imaginative scams make life almost too difficult to bear.

Most acts of terrorism on American soil originate domestically, of course, given cost of travel. Any market economy that forsakes individuals and glorifies profits makes 99% losers, who then base self worth on success of 1%, blame scapegoats for failures, and lash out inappropriately wherever they reside. Capitalists, who ensure weapons remain cheap and plentiful, seldom forgive victims and vice versa. Illegal immigrants bear brunt of resentment, when it's rich patrons paying them under the table who warrant punishment. Besides, they perform menial tasks citizens don’t want: au pairs, domestics, gardeners, harvesters, or unskilled roles below minimum wage. In a race to the bottom, will you kill to be last?

Fake news pigs, who wallow in mud of culpability, and few who pay them to dupe rubes and refute scientific facts to suit profit motives, cause most attacks. Boosts ratings, reinforces fears off which mercenaries make money, and ruins reputations of real journalists. To whom do you look for guidance after all institutions have been scandalized? Silt and stones do not account for rising sea levels. Billions have made their presence felt in innumerable ways, like ants who tend jungles, without which jungles would die from rot and disappear. Unlike ants, humans negatively affect entire planet through atmospheric pollution, deforestation, ozone depletion, public confusion, worsening storms, and worst calamities. All reputable scientists agree. Yet Fox News broadcasts contradictory nonsense, because facts might be right, thus upset uptight who mine anthracite and pump crude into fossil fuel’s twilight.

Leaders lack foresight to understand how automaking, gaming, munitions manufacture, tobacco growing, and slaughtered beef saturated in artery clogging fats represent health costs that negate profits. Aren't these the ethical issues you elected them to solve? Perhaps they figure they have already, reason letting them fade away would be wisest course, reckon your perspective doesn’t matter one iota. Unless developing timely alternatives to supplant those depleted, conflict, deprivation, and devastation will result. With one hundred thirty-seven motorists worldwide dying every day, one every 10 minutes, you can be sure leaders will always sacrifice lives of the lowly to stay in power. Ought to obligate everyone to represent majority, resist upon principle, and stand resolute against tyranny.

One tires of chipping away concrete under which truth got buried, of interminable burden to analyze and inform, of paragraphs laden with paradoxes and pessimistic wordplay. Delve deeper, extraneous opinions detract from fact, and you divert further from confidence. Do have options: Plan an exit, stay until blog’s 10th anniversary next month, or stop abruptly. Suppose that’s a question followers should answer, not that there’s ever been intended débat d'entrain. Could also, if so inclined, delete content, disassemble blog, go commercial, or sell out, though that would be vengeful backlash to any lack of lively discourse. In this fragrant season of warmth, one should be outside cycling as far and often as sprung legs in shorts support, restoring own wellspring of hope.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Oil of Mirbane

If can’t be incorruptible, at least be independent. Can only speak with complete authority when no debts are owed, strings exist, or ties bind. If censors must review every word before you can disseminate, little or no decency, honesty or legitimacy remains. Any committee exist specifically to bury truth before it causes its members losses. Belong to human species with no band, group or political affiliation. Let conscience guide actions and speech, so sound off often unafraid of obligation.

So what of June 3rd’s inaugural World Bicycle Day, new praxis rite ratified by the United Nations this April? Will #June3WorldBicycleDay recur annually? Could be confused with September 17th’s World Cycling Day, first ever global bicycling cultural festival begun in 2017 to coincide with supposed 200th anniversary of bicycle’s invention. WCD originators specified this date because in Chinese “917” could also mean “Just Cycle”. In either case idea was to adjure pollution abatement, sustainable development, and traffic reduction that cycling affirms and driving negates. Been practicing and promoting all this for decades already, so don’t need to join anything, rather World joins Labann for once.

In an interview around time The Who played halftime at Superbowl, Pete Townsend disparaged Keith “The Loon” Moon for drumming wildly undisciplined. Why ridicule one of group’s better attributes? Impugns entire output; implies none of it bears listening. Instead they had John “Thunder Fingers” Entwhistle, bassist of the millennium, who provided beat and bond, so Keith, Pete and Roger Daltry could dance, noodle, sing, soar and windmill, which they surely did. The Who were the real deal: rebellious rock delivered with distinction and humor to receptive youth. Rumor has it that Pete still begrudges deceased Keith for having exploded his drums live concluding performance on Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which may have left Pete a bit deaf, though hearing loss usually results from cumulative exposure to ear splitting decibels. Hearing heightens not only enjoyment but safety, so worth preserving.

Why not let the audience decide whether your approach works or message resonates? Rating based on arbitrary rules or repeating something that succeeded reeks of feckless and irrelevant. Right thinking lives in present and looks towards future. Past, now immutable, possesses little worth resurrecting and really can be too painful to recount. Will always prefer authentic to ersatz. Take, for example, oil of mirbane (nitrobenzene), a poison manufacturers once added to soap for its fake almond smell. Unless cheaper than almond oil itself, why bother? Makes you wonder what hides inside products as basic as detergent or foodstuff. Fruits are obviously treated with insecticides and other toxins, which is why you should always immersion wash them, even spin dry, before consuming.

Speaking of sound, regret not elaborating on birdsong in B&C chapter Guilty Pleasures. Of course, deliberate tweets and twitters constitute a significant input on morning spins. In fact, silence does disturb at dawn, since it indicates disorder that frightened away feathered friends and represents danger riders should heed before they proceed. For example, around next corner have found a bunch of police cars and sidearms drawn in a raid. Miners used to bring canaries to work; when singing stopped it warned them of noxious gases. Birdsong inspired entire classical compositions, most notably Olivier Messiaen’s Le réveil des oiseaux (1953). After decades of intense study, biologists and birders can distinguish among a cacophony of random chirps to identify individual species. These days public doesn’t value their insights into extinction and migration, since it’s seldom good news and sure to cost them more somehow. Explains why so few will be celebrating WBD.

In a deepening sea of complexity and irrelevance, the best doesn’t readily float to surface. Cyclists who spin up to high points get frustrated by fact that tallest was built by waste disposers in state’s landfill. Crowd noise, human cacophony, rises or swells at shopping malls or sporting events. It may contain potent hidden content, as do songs, each a small digest of contemporary influences, some with mind warping effects, which is why you ought to listen judiciously. But, then, songs representing bicycling culture from around planet will surely get overlooked, as were these curious expressions of individuality:

The Bennies, My Bike [Punk], Better off Dead, Jackknife Music, 2013

Café tacuba (yo soy), Bicicleta, single, self, 2010

Clutch, When Vegans Attack, From Beale Street to Oblivion, DRT Entertainment, 2007
“Manifestos at Kinkos, pinko commies play no fools. I feel the spirit moving over me. There are clouds beneath my feet. When vegans attack on ten speed bikes. Tattoos with meaning, American Spirit Lights.”

Craig D’Andrea, Three Mile Bike Ride, Getting Used to Isolation, Candy Rat Rec., 2009; previously mentioned, recommend watching live video of this lovely guitar instrumental.

El David Aguilar, La cumbia de la bici [Mexican], single, Qué Te Importa Rec., 2014
“Everyday sees more of us because it’s so magic. A cumbia dance for bikes since they move us around. Wonder if they can recycle a track for us now.”

Eminem, Legacy, The Marshall Mathews LP2, Aftermath, 2013
"Why am I so differently wired in my noggin? 'Cause sporadic as my thought come, it's mind bogglin'... look at the bright side. At least I ain't walkin'. I bike ride through the neighborhood of my apartment complex on a ten speed, which I acquired parts that I found in the garbage, a frame, and put tires on it. Headphones, straight ahead.” Album won a Grammy Award for Best Rap.

From Autumn to Ashes, Streamline, Abandon Your Friends, Vagrant Rec., 2005
“I see an empty space next to the yellow bumble bee; that could be the perfect place to park my broken down ten-speed. Just tell me when you get off work and where you'd like to meet. Then we can pedal up and down the crowded New York streets. My shoes are worn out, because the breaks don't function. I just put my feet down, let them drag on the pavement.”

God-Des & She, Get Your Bike, Three, self, 2009

King Charles, Mississippi Isabel, Mississippi Isabel, Universal Rec., 2011
“I rode her on my bicycle all the way in the rain. She kissed me once, I took her out for lunch, and she never kissed me again.”

Sam(antha) Shelton, Bicycle, single, self, 2014

Taylor Turner, Bicycle, Versus, self (Kickstarter Project), 2014

Turbo Mansion, Bicycle, Danger Laces EP, self, 2018