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Friday, June 28, 2019

Bethel Not Certain

“Government is at best but an expedient... Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority... If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1849

Beyond all that’s sacred, bicycles become vehicles for both revelation and revolution. By separating from automotive majority, even momentarily, one renews own perspective. If you can only see a single path, gatekeepers easily prey upon you. Civil Disobedience and Walden once appealed, required reading to a malcontent teen pedaling a Schwinn to a perfect-for-bicycling cadence from Happy Trails by Quicksilver Messenger Service with destiny concealed. No one knew much, were deliberately kept out of touch, only privy to broadcast news or dusty books, with no internet or such. Had no idea of what one wasn’t aware, or why some were not welcome, which instilled contempt for irrelevant info fare.

Only recall leaving Thursday evening in August, 1969, in back of a Willys Woody wagon, “The People’s Car”, bound for Bethel, New York. Convinced contingent to go based on rumors gleaned from late night radio and small ads in Village Voice tablo. Should’ve headed out earlier, but slept instead after a graveyard shift. By the time Peep Jeep got to Woodstock, roads were clogged, and, for hours having to hike there among many others, festival had become free. Tucked twenty for ticket into shoe. It was a wake up call, because some left behind 10-speeds would have served beautifully right about then. Came for legendary music, but it was more a scene of chaos and confusion, mayhem and mud, rebellion and resurrection, smoky stink and sonic disturbance, which made a lasting impression. Couldn’t actually see acts on stage with any clarity from behind a sea of semi-naked bodies surrounded by angels on sacred ground. Warner Brothers badly captured only its bands as best it could, many of which audience only vaguely experienced amidst crowded distraction and mounds of garbage. Critics may carp from afar, but spirituality can only be felt in participation. Crawled home on Monday in time for a bath, nap, and next night shift as if nothing occurred.

But something had: Counterculture. With such an immense army of adult boomers, fairy hairies of questionable orientation, men and women shoulder to shoulder, Congress was compelled to abandon its aggression in Vietnam, bolster social programs, bring civil rights legislation, and buoy self reliance. If half a million could gather for music, why not for representative justice? It wouldn’t last, quickly defused, sidelined by new sales and old spin. Were attendees all wet? Are human rights a joke? Is freedom just a myth?

Anything you let elected officials decide will favor some other side or themselves, of course. Begs the questions, “Who are your worst enemies?” and, “Why let sociopaths rule?” Are they a necessary evil, babies swaddled in frustration’s diaper, sticky skin on healthy garlic? Didn’t Americans beat Nazis into oblivion? How could these vampires have resurfaced? How many times must you fight same war, restore balance, secure liberty? Apparently, whatever you resist persists. You may even become whoever you push back from. Maybe subsequent generations must relearn same lessons.

Democracy doesn’t work anymore, as proven by winners of popular vote who are nevertheless beaten by unpopular electoral winners, who somehow convince rubes in rural districts through empty promises and moral rhetoric. The party most people belong to, however, doesn’t run viable candidates. Some would call that infantile or ingenuous, since it leaves nation divided and easily suppressed. City dwellers learn democracy having to deal daily with diversity, and their numbers are greater than ever, yet electoral clout remains unchanged. Farmers are increasingly isolated, or driven from ancestral land by multinational giants, who dominate consumption and diets.

For democracy to flourish, voters with principles from blue states would have to migrate by the millions to key districts in red states and register to vote. Only then could a certain coal bitch incumbent racist from Kentucky get ousted. Senators run country in collusion with PACs who fund campaigns. It almost makes no difference who chief executive is anymore, not allowed to take action over Senate anyway.

Mega-farms give us caloric substitutes laden with high fructose corn syrup, insecticides, sugar, and transfats known to cause cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. They alone decide elections, not majority of voters. They make arms makers look like heroes who relieve long term suffering. Bankers and billionaires round out PAC profile. Despite funding cuts and government shutdowns, this small cadre lulls majority of 300 million into accepting their ongoing theft of trillions in federal revenue through tax diversion and evasion. All have to go, but system has been rigged for decades, stacked against voters by district gerrymandering backed by Supreme Court inaction.

But, you say, government agencies protect the public against crime, danger, infection, starvation, and warfare. If anything, CDC, CIA, FBI, FDA and NSA have sketchy track records rife with scandals. They are funded by Congress, after all, so do what they’re told. Republicans repudiate entire scientific community, particularly when they warn of climate change and tip points when no remediation will avert extinction. Law enforcers favor luxury property owners. Despite whatever noble purpose agencies were founded, fulfillment soon settles into begrudging habit and bureaucratic scorn.

Woodstock Nation wanted to get back to the land, where rabid conservatives dominate. So what happened? Planet can be hostile to humans; geologists reveal various pre-industrial climate debacles. Archeologists also show that the enormous Sahara Desert was once equatorial jungle before men deforested for farming and ranching. Meteorologists say heat rising from it causes hurricanes that batter Caribbean a whole ocean away next to another continent. Mankind’s detriment to sustainable habitat has long been obvious. Since future doesn’t seem to matter to humanity, might as well fell Amazon forests, too, which supposedly produces a large percentage of oxygen humans need to breathe. Then fungi and molds can take over, since they thrive on greenhouse gases and rotting corpses.

Humans can’t elect to be vegetative, strung out on drugs staging nonstop festivals of supposed love and peace, and still survive. Someone has to eke out a harvest, embrace heavy labor, endure stewardship expense while fields lay fallow and land replenishes itself. Conscientious objectors have to absorb all abuse and work twice as hard as complacent bourgeoise and conservative stooges to sweep God’s House. Parasites thereby profit, not patriots who’ll be sacrificed. You can bet it will instill a phobia for toil in hell. Thoreau, in peaceful slumber now under a nondescript 9” marker at Sleepy Hollow, was right after all: Don’t contribute to what you can’t condone. Certainty rests its case in a cemetery.

The price of freedom is in assuming responsibilities few want to, unless you were born bound or forever linked to some bucolic Bethel. Kauneonga with its white wings never lifted hippies aloft, rather slapped shackles onto bovine herd curious enough to convene along Hurd Road in White Lake. Been to its nice museum, but nothing’s left at Bethel Woods that’s new to do, no big celebration planned 50 years later, maybe elsewhere, still not sure. Have already moved on, plan to stay home, perhaps study documentaries again, and try to pick out self in wide shots. Unlike motorists, can yet detect diffuse counterculture in small gestures and tie-dyed scraps while biking about.

“Well, you walk into a restaurant, strung out from the road, and you feel the eyes upon you as you're shaking off the cold. You pretend it doesn't bother you, but you just want to explode... All the same old cliches, ‘Is that a woman or a man?’ And you always seem outnumbered, you don't dare make a stand. Here I am on the road again. There I am up on the stage. Here I go playing star again. There I go. Turn the page.” Bob Seger, 1972. Bicyclists and motorcyclists alike respect lyrics of Seger’s road songs.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Father Scatterbrain

Every Spring roadie cyclists who emerge like bears from winter hibernation ask why they're repeatedly embarrassed and passed by single speed teenagers on bikeways. Going farther or faster tends to weigh on their minds, as if they had to match automotive expectations. Magazine articles take shots at explaining, none all that comprehensive or pragmatic, usually skewed toward selling you something. Sure, appropriate apparel, bike fit, and riding style all figure, but none impact nearly as much as equipment you don’t maintain, excessive weight, hilly terrain, and prevailing wind. Each can be dealt with at little to no cost.

Eat smaller portions and fill up with veggies. Less you have to carry, faster you can climb, and more time you save. A wheel improperly mounted with rim rubbing on brake pads or frame stays will slow you to a crawl. Hydration prior to riding lubricates muscles before exertion leads to cramping. Likewise, a well oiled chain cuts friction. Commute route should be a loop with different legs coming or going that take advantage of breeze at your back, descents when you’re tired, or natural shelter of buildings, climbs, and trees into wind. Climbing is cardio, increases your vertical ascent per meter/hour (VAM) score, and speeds you along subsequent flats. Handlebar drops let you assume an aerodynamic position; mountain bikes have straight bars for better off-road control on tracks slower rode. Constantly feeling for the next gear combination that evens crank cadence and foot pressure will yield longer trips up to 2 mph faster.

Such efficiencies only trim minutes over a dozen miles or more, so consider beginning earlier. Best time will always be just before dawn, when traffic is light and sunlight reveals what's afoot. Racers may average 25 mph, but only on closed courses and empty roads. You can get all nerdy and plot distance over time versus economical tweaks, but trying to match peloton speeds alongside busses, cars and trucks is incredibly risky, not worth compromising safety.

Reminded of economist Laffer and his plotted curve that supposedly links maximizing personal earnings by minimizing tax collection, better described as the worst kind of junk science that nevertheless drives public policy. Reaganomics were irrevocably disproven over three decades when class disparities did instead worsen, as, of course, intended. Not only did it create a few billionaires, it devalued savings and undermined all wealth. Laughing up his sleeve on way to a bank, Laffer's scheme earned him a medal from Trump. Now you have to be at least a celebrity or millionaire just to stay alive an extra year and survive health system set up to dump you back into poverty.

Tired of lies and traffic? Adam Conover has a new 80 minute podcast. Turns out, all private motorized transportation, even electric vehicles, allow anonymity, amplify aggression, eliminate middle class, equip criminals, exacerbate impatience, and expand evil. Labann has only been saying this for a quarter of a century; maybe eventually folks will awake and react. A car occupies 9 times the footprint of a person on a bike, bus or subway. Although cars are all about making mobility effortless and faster, airheads who design them fail miserably on both accounts.

Driving a car potentially divides time to arrival by 20, except you’re forced to deal with costs, gridlock, parking, and rudest of cretins who will kill to clip seconds for a thrill or to fulfill a minimum wage role at an impatient mill. Walking is easiest except when crossing roads and increasing distance. Riding a bicycle accelerates walking by 5 times, only 1/4 as fast as driving, but minimizes effort and investment to more than make up difference, so rates as the most efficient mode of transportation yet invented. Allow for freshening up after working up a sweat. While bicycling and walking may not suit your commute to factory set intentionally outside city in some industrial park next to a highway, you may still be surprised at its seasonal practicality.

If noted philosopher Henry David Thoreau, father of American environmentalism, were born in this century, he’d be a proponent of bicycling. Back in 1850’s, he extolled the logic of self propelling to go anywhere versus earning a wage to afford trip by train. At the end of the day, you’ll have already arrived instead of waiting to be paid before you can buy a ticket next day or week. Some might have called him cheap or lazy, but he thoroughly foresaw how enterprise would exploit wage slavery and threaten natural world. Ironically, Walden pond is now accessible by bicycle, which was concurrently emerging from Europe while he withdrew from society and wrote his renowned observations.

Labann’s weekly commutes and fondos ranging up to 120 miles did add up: Six times earth’s circumference of ~25000 miles (40 million meters). Any avid non-racing cyclist rides one of which every decade, though should exclude early years until mid teens and late after seventy when call fades and trips shorten. Sweet spot falls between ages 45 and 55, after you've earned enough to afford and insure, when family no longer so directly relies on your contributions or presence. It’s when you might cover 65% of lifetime total, though ages 15 through 35 see more real racing and randonneuring. A new father seldom goes farther.

Mean age of world peloton? Hard to determine, but very likely late 20's. In Tour de France it’s lately 28.5; peak performance years are considered to be 22 - 35, though age has crept up with medical advancements. Male racers in USA - where every week there are club crits, cyclocross meets, or ironman triathlons - average 39 years old if you include 35+ masters division.

Not because they’re physically unable, to the contrary likely anatomically superior for task, women have a tough time keeping up when intimidated on streets by male mashers. Late actress Lena Nyman depicted such inter-gender discontent during a harassment scene in I Am Curious - Yellow back in ’67, over a half century ago. Coming from a dad, though, complaints command less cred. To convince must defer to Unladylike podcast with distaff hosts Caroline Ervin and Christen Conger, Huffington Post, and news sources. In fact, bicyclists fill a legal vacuum, more akin to forsaken pedestrians than motorists, not driving a crushing vehicle, so unaffected by traffic code. Since bicyclists always have the right of way over motorists, when, if ever, can they be “at fault” in collisions? Would have almost have to crash into a stopped vehicle; even then, amount of damage would be negligible except under extraordinary circumstances.

As if music from a pair of 27" ride cymbals with long sustain, seem to repeat spinning same prayer wheels in an unrelenting beat driven by a scatterbrain. Incantations and supplications supposedly make wishes follow through, though evidence has always been circumstantial and occurrence coincidental. Often you don’t know what to do, yet personal attempts are the most educational.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Sag Caravane

Fourth Estate, the press, with its implicit right to defend citizens and frame political issues, has been under seige for decades by the might mad right. Dubya slammed Mapes and Rather, who dared document his draft dodging secret, among others who’ve been disgraced and driven from journalism. Vulnerable to ratings slippage, leftish CNN currently finds itself in administration’s crosshairs. White House wants to transplant with their counter-information organ, current cable frontrunner Fox. This leaves only friendlier MSNBC and neutral network news, should they survive next round of Republican excoriation, to divvy up voter attention, that is, if you sensibly shun administration’s relentless spam email and Twitter posts.

More get their news from radio or television than publications. Struggling newspapers of record will fail to survive versus the “free” dissemination of fabrication by blogs and other internet pages or podcasts. Cable suppliers reap most of profit through an insanely high monthly access fee for what once was free, while content providers toil in minuscule hope of someday they'll steal a morsel from a book deal or copyright lawsuit if they can get a jury to agree. Without compensation, dreadful effort of forming hypotheses, researching data, running around, and writing articles has become hardly worth it. No wonder pursuit for truth and real reportage have all but disappeared. All you’ll see in broadcasts will be actors reading scripts laid down by executive decree, in other words, what you already get on propaganda TV; might as well be papal bulls or royal writs from the 13th Century.

Are there no reporters articulate enough to encapsulate and expose official offenses? POTUS has time in his busy schedule to belittle and libel environmental activist, quadruple threat (Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe, and Tony winner) and Screen Actors Guild member Bette Midler as a “washed up psycho”? Wow! Self projection exemplified. It’s been 900 days of divisive partisanship, doubled deficits, golf junkets, impeachable recklessness, international scandals, lunatic plans, political incorrectness, position flip-flops, personal agendas, possible treason, ridiculous warmongering, staff indictments, tax waste, unbridled corruption, and white supremacy. Hardly a day goes by without some new and outlandish debacle. Nation is numb, tongues struck dumb. What do they need Fox for? Once you solidly establish a teflon brand, no need to further justify where you stand. Billions in PAC money need not be spent to bribe and coerce after majority believes and bows to oppressor’s tribe, who instead they should curse. Disgruntled whispers and wicked wicker get overlooked amidst paid spin and shopwindow clutter.

A century ago cyclist playwright Alfred Jarry foresaw how power corrupts and introduced sociopathic ruler Ubu Roi to readers and thinkers, who act as catalysts for change among the complacent, who were horrified having to face own hypocrisy. But authors, programed to coin not consume, prefer own copy over works of others, while all only wish anyone might eventually read what they’ve exhaustively assembled. Some take perverse delight in bending behaviors to their wills. Presidents should be public servants, not selfish megalomaniacs. Talk may be cheap, but taming truths to lay down on fields of white bound for as long as time concedes feels like chainring tattoos from ankles to knees combined with every other torture in degrees.

Whenever miscreants scoff at laws and skip penalties, they become bolder and do worse. Corruption is a cancer that kills communities, nations, and world eventually. Back when they still enforced laws against rackets and violence, they'd say, "Give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves," by which they meant collusion among felons and disregard for others wouldn’t pay, and swift retribution would arrive someday.

Citizens pay courts and police to act as a caravane of caring support with wagons carrying gear to sweep up after crashes and mayhem of this ruthless rat race, but meanwhile embedded press precedes and publishes, not as a trailer, to ensure transgressors are identified timely and get away with nothing. If Congress won’t, people and press must. To dispense with this so crucial social function, to enable what’s criminal, is to invite death, loss, ruin, slavery, and worse. A lively press levels crests and obstacles.

Those with nothing want more. Those with plenty won't share. Thus an eternal battle exists between polarities. Both get more than they deserve versus hard working taxpayers who ask for little and pay for everything. Bicyclists, to whom B&C was dedicated, break, therefore prove, this rule, since they often offer advice and components gratis, glad only to have helped their community.

If it takes being found riding about in freeze and fire and bicycling like Jarry bitten by the green fairy to regain your impartiality and humanity, do it. Despite how much bike sags and you slump, you’ll no doubt find being in balance beats leaning toward either bias. Nothing sadder than being a quitter swept up and tagged DNF, unless DOA, electing to give up bitter to those you only think are fitter. Without levelheaded challenge highest offices have been held by seriously unfit self servers throughout history. All were overthrown. Apologize for one last cycling analogy: Once caravane passes, party is over. Nothing surpasses now, when all things occur.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Bones Lurdane

Things Go Better with Coke,” no? By sucking down high-fructose corn syrup in water colored by caramel and tainted with carcinogens since childhood, lazy lurdanes, ne’er-do-well louts, develop diabetes, die sooner, get sicker, so go faster, and quicker is always better. How can you not agree? Plus you can never be too rich or too thin. Paired logic is incontrovertible, see? Unable to juggle three, you’re just an imbecilic brittle chassis saris wrapped by a thick skin.

If people didn’t crash and die, streets would be too crowded to be used effectively. Hospitals and pharmacies crave patient moans. Parasites thrive on waste with which they fill their half full cup. Politicians rely on life being like living in a zoo; otherwise they’d have no control over you. Rescue teams wouldn’t have anything to do. Yup, scavengers need to make a living, too. Junkyards and wreckers wouldn’t have any collisions to clean up. You’d think bicyclists would inherit pavement, but teens keep coming of age to augment divers’ ranks, while years supposedly take a toll on bicyclists’ bones, though osteoporosis is a pandemic caused by poor calcium uptake due to exercise insufficiency, intestinal malady, and Vitamin D deficiency.

Doubled pleasure can be fun by twice. Every indulgence can be deconstructed into vice. Insurance actuaries live to dole out advice. Apathetic lummoxes and pathetic lurdanes do exactly the converse out of advertising coercion, oppositional defiance, passive aggression, and pundit rejection. Egomaniacs rather be bold and refuse to be told, yet unwittingly submit to roles set by strict bullshit. Decisive action is what rabble seeks, as long as it improves their situation and keeps self above compliance. Fun and golf taking precedence, trumping duties, planet’s entire population will go down on this sinking ship because nobody’s manning pumps and sealing leaks.

CYA, cover your ass, may be America’s most common mantra. Against executive might you can’t say anything definitive or right or risk embracing endless night. Disavow any repercussions you might have enacted while your mull over report you’ve redacted. Officials under pressure straddle middle ground of trying to please everyone, thus no one, take no stand on either side, then whimper about feeling exhausted. Why not commit to a course on evidence you’ve come across and flow with its force? People are all you’ve got to work with, but they’re such slackers “work” means duties you alone fulfill as if it were your bliss and you’ve got unlimited time to kill, which they summarily dismiss, “Thanks for your sacrifice or service," whatever you deem it, is what you'll hear. ["Act alone and work your fingers to the bone, for all we care."]

Why can’t anyone find proverbial skeletons hidden in closets? Is it now all don’t ask, don’t tell? Closets are small spaces easily lit and searchable. Takes cadaver dogs, dumb luck, or ground penetrating radar to discover remains in caves, deserts, fields, forests, tundra and underwater. Maybe you’ll trip over a hominid skull hiking through an eon old gorge, though it’s only happened a couple of times over a hundred thousand years. Raiding tombs reveals nothing of value, just frame tubes made of dusty minerals, shiny bits all stolen before or during burials. Ultimately reclaiming all its treasures is nature, ever territorial.

Bicycle, Antigravity Freedom Machine, Bicycle’s Remarkable Hot Tub on Wheels, Mouthe, 2019, included to underscore just how banal emerging art can be when not defending freedoms or illuminating alternatives. Arts in decline or sign of the times?

“A subtle kiss that no one sees, a broken wrist and a big trapeze, oh well, I don't mind. You don't mind, cause I don't shine if you don't shine. Before you go, can you Read my Mind? It's funny how you just break down waiting on some sign. I pull up to the front of your driveway with magic soaking my spine.” Killers, Sam’s Town, Universal, 2007. Towards end of their Pacific Rim tour, they ride bikes in Tokyo, as shown in video.