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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Uneven Terrain

José Guadalupe Posada (1851 to 1913), "Calaveras Riding Bicycles", depicts belligerent reporters at Mexican velodrome races, engraving print, circa 1900

When terrain gets bumpy or steep, input seems unduly rapid and unexpectedly grumpy. Suddenly under attack, you must react quickly or suffer misery. With an uncertain forecast, neither know what to ignore anymore, nor what well founded strategies will last. Likewise, hard to keep up with boatloads of bicycling references from all over during a bona fide bike boom. Haven’t been able to post since February because preoccupied by a massive bicycling research project.

What do Arnold “Terminator” Schwarzenegger, Ashton “Dude” Kutcher, Bill “Deadhead” Walton, Brad “Achilles” Pitt, Hugh “Wolverine” Jackman, George “Ocean” Clooney, Jennifer “Friends” Aniston, Jennifer “Selena” Lopez, Matt “Bourne” Damon, and Russel “Maximus” Crowe have in common? Off, and sometimes on, camera they’re all avid bicyclists and genuine characters, along with scores of others mentioned in a magazine article, including Joe POTUS Biden. No surprise, a billion humans prefer bikes to gas guzzling cars for at least some trips; why shouldn’t celebrities? Brains of bicyclists are bathed in neurotransmitters and oxygen, so operate more effectively; distant destinations and insurmountable obstacles teach them empathy, humility and patience.

“High gas prices affect so many aspects of life, like, from getting to work, to childcare, to, you know, all your friends who bike becoming even more smug about it.” - Trevor Noah, Nov., 2021

Jefferson Airplane, Fat Angel, Bless Its Pointed Little Head, RCA Victor, 1968 - 
“He will bring happiness in a pipe. He’ll ride away on his silver bike. And apart from that he’ll be so kind in consenting to blow you mind. Fly Translove Airways, get you there on time.”  Live jam at NYC’s Filmore East is an excellent cover of Donovan Leitch’s song, who in 1966 mentions same silver bicycle on Ferris Wheel from album Sunshine Superman.

Always tried to fairly evaluate motile methods by carbon footprint versus perceived convenience. Autonomous private passenger cars are easy to pilot and carry cargo aplenty. But escalating costs for fuel, failing emission systems from contaminated gas and converter thefts, and mounting environmental damage make them world’s worst transportation choice, diametrically opposed to just walking, which impacts nature the least and improves participant the most. Bicycling is more efficient than jogging, but requires employing some amount of energy for manufacturing and shipping. Busses, subways and trains (often electric) move multitudes with much lower emissions per capita than diesel and gasoline cars. Container ships move merchandise more efficiently than planes. Yet people prefer to drive themselves to airports and fly on business and holiday trips irrespective of high costs and intolerable hardships. Unwanted consequences and utter chaos always accompany resource wastes. Devil-may-care consumers choose whatever’s available, while callous capitalists make sure their merchandise fills bills and forces losses on those they oppress.

“Civilians lay dead in the middle of the street. Others lay by the side of the road, next to or underneath their bicycles.” - New York Times, April 6th, 2022, regarding Russian troop withdrawal from siege of Kyiv, Ukraine, and unequivocal evidence of war atrocities

If your worst grievances are having to endure petty inconveniences, prices hikes, and wise advice you don’t want to hear, you’re blessed beyond condolences versus tragedies so many others must bear. To a bore on Bloor, bicyclists know what you are, rude to the core, something all those as deplorable as you obviously ignore. Labann hardly notices despicable motorists anymore. What used to be unforgivable pales against heinous acts and naked aggression by a power lusty, territory mad bully. Unlike invaders driving thirsty tanks, Bucha’s bicyclists managed to get around town until Russian butchers cut them down. It’s another Chinese Tibet sangha-cide or Spanish Guernica genocide guaranteed by dirty gas and oil deals. Later, a captured Russian soldier pleaded guilty to killing bicyclists, probably expecting mercy, as usual for whoever mistreats those who are most vulnerable on streets. In stark contrast, Russia has been convicting and executing foreigners suspected of helping Ukraine’s army, but stupid Americans never much cared what happened in other countries, not realizing tyranny irrevocably spreads, resembles pandemics or tsunamis that massacre millions, and winds up in own backyard.

Blame!? Murderers who pulled triggers didn’t take matter in own hand, but followed orders sent down a chain of command. Devious dictators build for themselves a bubble of deniability to further despicable rackets. They seem either too powerful or too removed to be convicted or even indicted, even though it’s obvious they ordered atrocities. There’s no guilt or shame in choosing a bicycle over a car.

Oppositional conservatives and reactionary dragons are all about blame, chastity, dominance, fraud, greed, guns, impotency, hoarding, patriarchy, privilege, slavery, and such stuff that preoccupies the guilty minds of twisted villains. Antebellum good old plantation days are what they mean when they demand Make America Great Again, because USA already leads world in all measures that matter, why foreigners fight to breach borders on their flight from barbarous tyranny. Conversely, diggers, fairies, hairies, hippies, huggers and yippies were proponents of free love without gender biases, and freegan economics after generations of compliance without rewards. Chemical haze notwithstanding, Jerry Garcia was their gentle conscience, reasonable voice, and shamanistic statesman. Counterculture opposed crooked institutions with consumer boycotts and nonviolent protests. Extremist insurrections, intolerant hatred, knee-jerk brutality, and slaughter of innocents  left majority met speaks volumes about far right’s cultural sellout, delusional threats, and false expectations.

Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, What’ll You Raise?, Go To Heaven, 1979 - “Just rolled in from the golden state, a dusty spoke on the wheel of fate... What will you raise to stay in the game? I follow the breeze, the quick autumn leaves. Who can deliver us all? Is there a reaping, or any safekeeping? If not, how far can we fall?”

“We were grappling over bike racks trying to hold the line... It had become a war zone.” - Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, January 6th Congressional Committee Presentation, June 9th, 2022

Commentators don’t seem to comprehend why so many American artists are preoccupied with what it means to be an American, when it’s painfully simple: It’s a nation of chaotic diversity, intentional obfuscation, and wonderful amalgamation, so perpetually amusing, which annoys conservatives no end. One size will never fit all, so quit demanding that everyone conform to some narrow minded values. People elsewhere view America as a reality show with outrageous scenarios. Age and experiences make one bitter, demented, hopeless, jaded, reckless, yet sometimes wiser.

How consequent and pivotal bicycling scenes are to a film’s plot can be hard to ascribe. Just being out and vulnerable among strangers raises bicyclists from low to medium risk, somewhere between stay-at-home fuddy-duddies and streetwalking hustlers. Movies reflect these truths through a glass darkly.

Nature documentary A Survey of Open Spaces (Peat Duggins, dir., 2013) follows urban bicyclists Chris Comfort and Michaela Duggins 4,000 miles around America’s last wild places, where they dodge grizzly bears and get sunburnt. Film dispels notion of impossibility that so often accompanies opinions on bicycle touring. These days you can die attending classes, congregating at churches, going shopping, or simply joyriding; you might be safer pedaling amidst apex predators.

Based on actual events, The Ride (Alex Ranarivelo, dir., 2018) beholds John (Shane Graham), after an abusive upbringing, come of age as a BMX champion with the help of adoptive interracial parents Eldridge (Christopher Brian “Ludacris” Bridges) and Marianna (Sasha Alexander) Buultjens. With a name including velo, wonder why this French director, well known for sports dramas, has no other cycling titles to date.

Both Jules (Hunter Schafer) and Rue (Zendaya) ride bicycles and take drugs to get to Euphoria (Augustine Frizzell, dir., 2019, Season 1, Episode 1). Both are into self harm in different ways. Rue won’t get high then go for rides due to several past crashes. Jules chucks a finger to an abusive football star pickup driver, who then runs her off the road into a bruising collision on a suburban lawn.

Bikes of Wrath (Cameron Ford, Charlie Turnbull, dirs., 2019) chronicles adventure of five Australians who by bicycle cover same route from Oklahoma to California as characters in John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, and explore lesser known localities.

Nobel laureate studded documentary Life on Wheels - Transportation For a New Urban Center (David Hodge, dir., 2020) exposes automotive paradigm for its annual/fatal/global 1.3 million crashes and unnecessary holocaust in the name of greed. It recommends cities be revamped to accommodate bicycling and walking, as they once did, though doesn’t solve obvious factors, namely tripled population since good old days.

Oscar winning Canadian composer Howard Shore produced Bicycling, for Holocaust film The Song of Names (François Girard, dir., 2020), in which an orphaned violinist taken in by an English family bikes and bonds with their son, then disappears just before a recital. Later boys, now middle aged men, bitter sweetly reconnect. Neocon legislators want to outlaw mentions in history classes of genocide, racism, slavery and such things of which they’ve been guilty and want to resume without remorse.

Margaret (Kathryn Newton) and Mark (Kyle Allen), both stuck in a time loop reliving the same day, find each other and survey The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (Ian Samuels, dir., 2021). Growing unafraid of consequences, Mark rides his bicycle while taking serious risks. Margaret steals a car trying to teach herself to drive, though not well enough to avoid crashing into a rack full of bicycles. In aftermath of pandemic, time seems to have stopped for many of those grieving lost loved ones or working from home in isolation. For those unemployed, time’s inexorable passage leads to concomitant foreclosures and dire consequences.

In biopic set a century earlier The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (Will Sharpe, dir., 2021), penniless governess Emily Richardson (Clair Foy) marries ne’er-do-well title gentlemen (Benedict Cumberbatch) and urges him to pursue his talent for drawing and painting cats. His hobby illustrations become wildly popular, but Louis, with no head for business, gives them away, though he bicycles to judge cat shows and get appointed president of Britain’s Cat Society. His real passion is studying effects of electricity, which he legitimately perceives in his feline friends, a neurological insight of which Victorian Englanders had yet no idea. Labann relates to twin themes of contagion grief and obsession relief, neither of which often result in fan adoration or productive application of one’s belief.

Throughout a 15 second Legal Zoom spot (October, 2021) a diligent local bike shop owner wrenches alone before opening for business.

Home2Home (Dennis Kailing, dir., 2022) narrates story, condensed into just under 2 hours, of 24-year-old German Kalling who bicycles 27,000 miles through 41 countries on 6 continents to circumnavigate planet in 761 days. On his first bike journey ever, he asks,”What makes you happy?”, and heads east. Answers come in natural, profound, simple, small experiences on a living planet.

The Mojo Manifesto: The Life and Times of Mojo Nixon (Matt Eskey, dir., 2022), featuring Eric Ambel, Jim Dickinson, John Doe, Kinky Friedman (SchwinnTwenty-four song), and Winona Ryder, takes a bicycle trip across the country with young Neill Kirby McMillan, Jr. After befriending enigmatic Skid Roper, Neill finds mainstream success but makes a decision that could jeopardize his career.

Amazon TV series Mixte: Voltaire High, set in 1963 small town France, tackles teens coming of age after local lyceum decides to go co-ed during emergence of feminism and sexual revolution. True to its name and nation, unisex frames abound in every Saint-Jean-d’Angély outdoor scene, whether mopeds or utility bikes. Class beauty Annick Sabiani (Lula Cotton-Frapier) nearly gets expelled when she’s late after a stalker steals Solex that she uses to quarter the hour it takes to walk across town. A rich classmate offers her a lifeline by giving her his sister’s unused bike.

Final scene of documentary We Feed People (Ron Howard, dir., 2022), according to its Oscar winning director, covers a 10-year-old bicyclist who spontaneously volunteers for award winning chef José Andrés and nonprofit World Central Kitchen’s mission to provide the baseline dignity of wholesome meals during disasters, akin to Hog Farm and Wavy Gravy, no? Youth leads humanitarians around devastated city to homes of locals going hungry.

Comedian Seth Myers took a Closer Look at conservative leaders, "'Torturing living things gives me joy,' ...the most honest articulation of [Trump’s] belief that if you can’t empower or enrich him personally he doesn’t care about you... The only way [GOP] can get away with this stuff is because we have an ass-backwards electoral college system that lets Republican vampires write off anyone who doesn’t live in one of a dozen swing states. If we had a national popular vote, Trump and GOP would have to campaign in places like Portland or New York City; I’d personally love to see him try to pander to Portlanders by growing a mustache and riding a penny-farthing."

Recent Greenlight spot has kid earn own money to save for a bike, then ring bell on Wall Street as an IPO tycoon.

New Amazon series Troppo (Jocelyn Moorhouse, dir., 2022, Season 1, Episode 1) set in crocodile infested tropical Queensland, Australia has bicycling private investigator and tatoo artist Amanda Pharrell (Nicole Chamoun) hiring disgraced ex-detective Ted Conkaffey (Thomas Jane) to help her find a missing Korean tech pioneer. Amanda takes her e-bike right into her studio rather than risk damage from reprisals by Crimson Lake villagers, all of whom seem to despise her. Ted profiles her riding and remarks correctly that she spent time in prison. Labann often pondered whether those in the prison he commuted past daily for years might long to be free to ride like he, maybe behave better to pedal as a released parolee.

Primatologist Mireya Mayor, accompanied by researcher Ronny Le Blanc, ride quiet e-bikes hoping to gather cryptid proof in Travel Channel’s Expedition Bigfoot (Ronny Rose, dir., Season 3, Episode 10, May 22, 2022). While many summarily dismiss their existence, for no amount of money would Labann ride wooded trails at night where angry Sasquatches have been reported. People go entire lives without ever seeing a bear, deer. elk, fox, moose, mountain lion, or wolf, though Labann saw them all while riding suburban roads.

“Nothing will stay. It all fades in the end. But we saw angels riding bicycles. Oh, what a sight to hold!” Keston Cobblers Clubs, (Angels Riding) Bicycles [Brit folk], Almost Home, Tricolour Records, 2017

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Loser Chieftain

“If there are no positive things to tell, then what should we do? Should we spread false hope? We can’t do that; we have to tell the truth. People ask me if I’m an optimist or pessimist. We don’t need to be hopeful to act. The only thing that creates hope is action.” Greta Thunberg, Climate Change Clarion, 2021

Pride precedes perdition and persists in ruins. Jet set accuses bike get for being reactionary because they’d rather let nature reset as they propel fuel free. It’s just the opposite: Cycling should be seen as progressive compared to motoring, more like space age titanium nanotech versus steel stinkers stuck in traffic and waiting weeks for service. Adding electrical motors onto human powered carbon frames, now down to less than one pound, seems planet’s peak of technological advancement for getting around. If not for supply chain woes, reluctance to use public transportation during latest pandemic would have resulted in biggest bike boom ever, even among those who’d consider cycling too scary or strenuous.

Global disruption due to major conflict, resource depletion, or system collapse would grind auto drivers and petroleum burners to a halt, whereas, with diversified existing bike building enterprise, lucky cities wouldn’t revert to stone age. Unlike motorists, all bicyclists need to keep moving are bowls of grain, decent gear, empty streets, local bike shops, and single track paths through forests.

Neocons are the ultimate reactionaries, wanting to return to antebellum master status and slave ownership. A Mussolini wannabe acting as Commander in Chief didn’t know that the Kansas City in question wasn’t in Kansas State, while a Missouri Chieftain with a big ego showboated his football team into a season ending loss. Nevertheless, Don the Con carried both states in 2020 election, whose marks and rubes, motivated by ego and fear, blindly cast ballots for a self absorbed sociopath who cared nothing for them, represented their worst impulses, and stole heirloom furniture and secret documents from the White House. How many bankruptcies, billions and bribes does it take for a paranoid portly power monger to feel secure?

Decent people don’t endanger public, don’t seek fame, fortune or retribution, don’t swindle people using despicable ruses; they’re satisfied to feed family by serving society without undue stress; they forget that criminals, monsters and traitors threaten their existence unless they arrest, indict, prosecute, and send them to prisons. However, human nature abhors cloud server vacuums and races to fill with trivialities, while offenders who complain continually they are being persecuted get a pass on their criminalities. Only debate over The Big Lie is troll bait that tests your patience and wastes your time. Beware of those who’d reinterpret not only archeological artifacts but even recent events to grasp at evidence that vainly promises to overturn consensus and purge guilt.

Americans are too tolerant of executive licenses, greedy crimes, and gun violence, yet intolerant of personal preferences, sanctioned freedoms, and sensible disagreements assured by laws. This grants licenses to outrageous ambition. Saying forgiveness starts with self is self serving crap for sociopaths, who don’t deserve decency, kindness or understanding. Doing the right thing means never having to say you’re sorry, puts you in a position to forgive; otherwise, your passive response is tacit support. Kindness is not for combatants, criminals, or corrupt officials in positions of power to be bestowed only to those who can be trusted.

To paraphrase late culture vulture Frank Zappa, “What’s the ugliest part of your body” of laws? It’s that they’re “badly written, randomly enforced,” and somehow conveniently exempt seditionists and terrorists, suspiciously suggesting high level conspiracies. Stock Act, already passed to limit advantage congressmen have to profit off insider trading, has no teeth and impedes no lawmaker laughing as they pad war chests and personally profit. Nobody indicts officeholders, Proud Boys, or public enemies. Loud Minority spreads their pathetic Let’s Go Brandon, Make America Great Again, and similar empty slogans for slowwitted suckers. Fact checking showed that Dolt 45 signed two hundred legislative bills (among least in nation’s history), but only one of any consequence, a backbreaking tax break for billionaires, while writing nearly as many executive orders to bypass representative legislation that interfered with his own authoritarian agenda. Since defeat, his obsequious praise of Putin can only be explained by his hope to flee to Moscow once charges are filed.

Felonies for which DJT, with no executive privilege or exempt status, could be charged include:
Aiding enemy nations
Committing perjury
Conspiring crimes with those convicted
Defaulting on hundreds of millions in loans
Defrauding citizens and government
Destroying evidence and official documents
Evading taxes
Extorting individuals and officials
Inciting riots and sedition
Laundering money
Obstructing due process
Receiving stolen merchandise
Running a phony charity
Seizing illegally
Selling pardons
Selling state secrets
Stealing public heirlooms
Suborning espionage
Taking bribes
Tampering with voting
Violating multiple oaths of office
Witness tampering

If convicted, any would carry a remaining life sentence; given mid-70’s shape he’s in, he won’t age 20 more years. Collective concurrent minimums would ensure it; some carry a maximum death penalty. Plea bargain to implicate colluding senators might mitigate sentence. Bad taste acts like arranging illegal immigrations, charging security details a half a billion in fees at his own resorts, lying to public which resulted in massive pandemic deaths, sacrificing lives for political power, urging fraudulent and illegal acts to start WWIII, and waging the greatest misinformation campaign in history against Americans would be harder to prosecute amidst such a systematic war against autonomy and democracy. Rule of law supposedly protects against attempts at tyrany. So why does DOJ drag its feet before prosecuting?

The silver lining, if you’re unrepentantly positive, is that such threats underscore needs for being duly diligent and proactive, recognizing enemies despite deception, and staying strong in every way: armed, determined, physical, skilled, and wise. Solutions to problems never entail destroying sustaining systems, since worse problems result.

Making sure neocons aren’t allowed to stay in office after midterm elections ought to be among your New Year’s resolutions. Lifestyle columnist Jen Murphy (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 1, 2022) wants you to invest in your workout to help you stick to a routine, “Investing in pricey gear, like new running shoes or a tricked out road bike, can also be an incentive.” Yeah? Clever but not wise, no bonfires or milkshakes for Brigid on Imbolc, by Groundhog Day resolutions have been forgotten. No need to stimulate sales during history’s best economy. Have seen many bikes gather dust and rust, because owners just couldn’t trust easy exercise, good sense, and mood boost from this legitimate alternative, though snow covered potholes inspire no wanderlust. Plus finding what best suits you can be both bewildering and costly. [More on this next time.]

Costs are up for all sorts of consumer items, particularly food and gas. Not many consumers connect price uptick with labor shortages and pandemic deaths of an irreplaceable million fellow countrymen. Despite viral furloughs and vital statistics, by February of 2022 nation’s workforce had grown from 160 million to a record 164 million, but many who worked menial jobs refused to resume at minimum wages that hadn’t risen in decades. Amidst a national crisis, heartless tycoons cried bitterly they couldn’t maximize personal gain, while paying far less than their fair share of taxes, if at all. Real inflation would have resulted in increased deposit and mortgage interest. Instead of conserving resources and tightening belts, people amuse themselves by wantonly burning fuel to escape cabin fever and winter blahs. Satré said, “If you are lonely when you are alone, you’re in bad company,” With a countless blogs, books and digital content readily available, are you ever alone except by choice?

Although many stayed home, traffic accidents and fatalities have risen from a 30 year low in 2009, The Year of The Bicycle, to a 50 year high in 2021. Analysts suggest that coronavirus stress and personal distance led to social disengagement with increasing disrespect for life. Concurrently, car crashes, opioid addiction, suicides, and violent crimes have all increased by 10% or more. Collectively, these causes killed as many as coronavirus over same period.

God laughs when smart alecks set themselves up as judges over society, it’s said. But decline of democracy worldwide, naked aggression and national threats from communist countries, and new invasions into sovereign lands by fascist despots tilt toward apocalypse, unless cooler heads and conscientious diplomacy prevail, but when has that ever happened? Clock is ticking down last few seconds to midnight, while movies reflect cusp of despair.

American Babylon (Robert Stone, dir., 2000) documents a month in the life of Vice Squad officer Jeff Fauntleroy, who raised himself out of Atlantic City’s devil's dungeon by becoming a cop, patrolling Monopoly streets, and studying human dereliction in the shadow of temples to greed and sin, while ghetto dwellers circle on bicycles in every other scene. Decades before Trump divested himself of casinos in this city, citizens picketed against his cruel practices, as depicted above. It's little wonder he lost New Jersey in both elections. 

Cold Moon (Griff Furst, dir., 2016) casts a pall over a small town when Margaret Larkin (Sara Catherine Bellamy) goes missing. A search finds her murdered and thrown into a nearby creek tied to her own bicycle. Meanwhile, killer in their midst, greedy banker named Nathan Redfield (Josh Stewart), picks off entire family in his quest to take over their oil rich property, only to get his supernatural comeuppance in penultimate scene. Horror genre could be considered light amusement compared to news heard daily.

Book of Love (Bill Purple, dir., 2017) has blithe bicyclist Penelope (Jessica Biel) urging her staid architect husband Henry (Jason Sudekis) to, “Be Bold.” She also makes him promise to help cycling teen Millie (Maisie Williams), an abandoned waif rummaging through neighborhood’s garbage for wood. Lives intersect after Penelope crashes her car; last person she sees before she dies is Millie. Henry honors his promise by hesitantly helping reluctant Millie, who only wants to build a raft to cross Atlantic Ocean to the Azores and escape her abusive uncle and find her father. Convinced all is lost anyway, Henry joins her impossible quest. 

Syfy comedy series Resident Alien (Season 2, Episode 1. Robert Duncan McNeill, dir. 2022) shows alien whose name is unpronounceable (Alan Tudyk) posing as Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle, who he killed and stole from an identity as town's medical examiner. When Harry arrives at his lakeside cabin, he’s greeted by a BMX and a helmet, which he respectively tosses and punts. He’s angry with biking teen and mayor’s son Max Hawthorne (Judah Prehn), who messed up his escape by causing him to crash his spaceship. In next scene D’Arcy Bloom (Alice Wetterlund) comes by riding “The Beast”, a garishly bedecked tandem bike, tempting Asta Twelvetrees (Sara Tomko) to take a spin with her to the lake. Like Max, Asta can see Harry in his alien form. Asta is a Ute first nation direct descendent, so isn’t fooled by Harry’s shapeshifting. Harry grows fond of her, though his mission on Earth is to arrange for a mass extermination of all of humans... before residents do it to themselves through climate mismanagement and internecine conflict.

Doom and gloom accompany all mortal lives, but heroes destroy them and enjoy journey. Majority knows only radical losers don’t want systems that sustain to succeed, and realizes history records countless catastrophes mankind has survived with humor. Defusing psychopaths is democracy’s principal duty.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Inform vs. Infotain

Still from Dropkick Murphys’ droll music video, The Season's Upon Us: “I'm so glad this day only comes once a year. You can keep your opinions, your presents, your happy new year. They call this Christmas where I'm from.”

Always meant to sum up best advice for bicycling before shuffling beyond:
Ask yourself, “Can I bike there instead of drive?”
Beware bad pavement and mad motorists.
Brake and downshift before you must.
Carry a cell phone, tools, and tubes.
Choose best venues and times, mindful of weather forecasts.
Don’t antagonize motorists or pedestrians.
Hydrate often or suffer later.
Keep at least one hand on handlebars, preferably two.
Lock bike up securely when not riding, lest you wind up walking.
Maintain equipment in proper order; recheck before each outing.
Mind traffic controls at intersections, where behaviors are unpredictable.
Never lay or lean bike on derailleur side.
Pay attention above, afar, ahead, around, beneath and behind while you ride.
Pick and stick to a sensible track; weave only as much as you must.
Tuck in on curves to avoid clippers.
Use lights and reflectors.
Wear gloves, helmet, safety glasses, and visible apparel.

Surrounded by even more dire threats, also warned people about losing health, liberty, life, love, sustainability, and what matters most, despite fact that everyone is beset by so much detail they can’t digest the least bit and forget or ignore it. Facing enormity of this universe of reality, carved out a niche from which to observe, test and theorize, if only to make sense for self’s sake. Someone else benefitting would be an unexpected plus.

Bicycling is safer than driving, even when both are equivalently done responsibly, though those with vested interests will dissuade against pedaling, or persuade you into frivolous spending. Neither destiny nor doom will ever be assured, except by lying schemers who’d use such notions while deluding simpletons to pledge devotions. After all, humankind has always lived on borrowed time, but paradigm continues to unwind despite fret and grime, while peeps pursue crime, football, sitcoms, or some other stimulating pastime with hours they have left after working double shifts or overtime.

Why do so many submit to wills of authors, celebrities, dictators, emperors, experts, geniuses, kings, leaders, opportunists, rulers and saints? Because it’s easier and lazier than figuring things out and putting in effort themselves. Never underestimate craving for convenience and extent of mankind’s laziness. But someone, maybe a self funded scientist or street corner prophet, ought to simplify complex issues with intent to inform, not just opine, perhaps even reform.

Used to be that social commentary about newsworthy facts was what they broadcast during dead air and ratings voids. Political infotainment primetime only became possible because cable and network programming reeks of seen reruns and unentertaining chores. If not for discovery, history, movies, science programs, and sports, there’d be nothing worth watching on basic cable. Broadband advancements now allow internet streaming; soon cable will be obsolete, though monthly fees haven’t yet declined to reflect this fact, rather increased while anticipating inevitable end.

Historically, cults of personalities brought civil and social catastrophes. Broadcasts named for hosts instead of topics prove they persist. Those who ruled inevitably committed prideful outrages and sacrificed enthralled followers. Pride goeth before your humiliating fall, while prideful instigators are protected from it all. “In a land of wolves and thieves, don’t put your hope in ungodly man, or be a slave to what somebody else believes. Trust yourself,” advised Bob Dylan in 1985. Leader of the world's most powerful country is a magnet for history's most evil villain. 

Gone are the days when one scandalous act was enough to cost candidate an election. Today, politicians rely on constant mixed publicity to raise status to celebrity. Being known as a circus spectacle seems to trump securing spotless renown. No one is innocent when it takes society’s consensus to cause this predicament. But unless you’re on the campaign bus stealing alongside bosses, you’re never informed as to what their intentions really are, so should you blame yourself? Frank Zappa urged others to despise apathy, insincerity, phoniness, and lies, since almost everyone’s passionate about own investments toward success.

Admit, also, any subrogation of autonomy can be considered a root cause for all sorts of ills, among them burdensome oversight, government interference, political corruption, and reprehensible “sheeple-dom”. This doesn’t impugn or negate contributions of agents of improvement and regulation, but does warrant questioning motivations and outcomes. If you fail to arrest and indict, laws become shams, something Zappa once described as randomly enforced and suspiciously written, ways to keep masses afraid and subservient. Yet those who bristle over guidelines recommending distance and masks during a pandemic miss real human rights violations directly imposed upon them.

What should citizens expect as a baseline in a just society? For starters, The Four Freedoms - from tyranny and want, of religion and speech, ratified by both UN and USA - imply a host of specific rights. Each revolves around identifiable conditions, none indelible, often lost, and only regained through battles, death, pain and sacrifices.

Tyranny takes many forms, among them browbeating, bullying, crime, extortion, low wages, jailing journalists, misinformation, monopolies, price gouging, propaganda, slavery, state religion, unconstitutional acts, unforgiving policies, and vote restriction. Worse, bicyclists are being forced off ever more roads through elimination of shoulders and lack of accommodations. One shouldn’t have to fight skirmishes daily, scrutinize some bureaucrat’s decisions, take lawmakers to task on how well they represent will of constituents, or worry over secret agendas. Oaths seem to be taken as empty rites that don’t apply personally.

Want includes homelessness, hunger, joblessness, lack of hopeful enfranchisement, and poverty, which kills more people than any other cause. Dickens’ twin specters of ignorance and want arise from failure or refusal to create own opportunities and too few owning too much. Wealth is a finite resource that allegedly rewards able bodied and agile minded. However, for every new billionaire, more than twenty-thousand families tragically sink below poverty line. Among industrialized countries, USA has the most lopsided ratio of poor to rich. Unlike others, Reagan’s trickle down with tax breaks for richest few has proven a dismal failure in countless ways, worst of which are burden on middle class taxpayers for corporate and family welfare, resentment of failure and success, and sense of despair and envy that a few who sell their souls can make it while you are condemned to ignominy and poverty after shouldering responsibility upon every opportunity. Forever coming in second or up short can be maddening, but never having a chance could either be devastating or liberating.

Some Americans persecute members of certain religions, notably Muslims, and favor others, often white Protestants. Evangelicals polled showed a notable bias toward cult leadership and empty promises, with three quarters tenaciously supporting Dolt 45, who attorneys general of 5 states want to indict and imprison. While creed is poison to villains, one shouldn’t fear being agnostic, atheistic, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, or new ageist, yet often must. Religious rights include clear passage to place of worship and no private or public penalties for your affiliation to any congregation, but not forcing your beliefs on others, since that constitutes tyranny. Founding Fathers kept religion and state separate based on disastrous precedent and no theocratic upsides to celebrate.

Americans, unlike probably billions of others, can supposedly speak aloud with access to existing forums over worldwide web. But social media reeks of obligatory guidelines and self appointed censors who limit what you post about taboo issues: Politics, religion, sex, and wages, that is, what affects lives the most. Wars of words aren’t going to save you from iron fisted oppressors. Increasingly, First Amendment doesn’t exonerate those whose message departs from what ruling class imparts. Not even fiction and films are exempt, lately losing credibility for truths they convey. Only coalitions acting at local voting boards, encouraging apathetic to cast theirs, keeping ballots honest and open to all, and working proactively ahead of each primary will give democracy a chance, help freedoms advance, keep checks in balance, and protect justice parlance. Civil liberties have been eroding worldwide during this century; for example, an estimated 50 million slaves today have no voice and possess zero rights.

During pandemic, films entertained better than propaganda, made quarantine tolerable, and mitigated desperation, though suicide rates are still rising. Attractive and clever actors in roles preserved on film make better friends than coworkers. They don’t ask for a favor or bother you later. In person interaction is slowly being supplanted by arguably safer virtual delusion devoid of infectious proximity and socially transmitted diseases.

In coming-of-age dramedy The Battle of Shaker Heights (Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin, dirs., 2003), battle re-enactor Kelly Ernswiler (Shia Labeouf, Transformers) has a teen crush on older hottie Tabitha Bowland (Amy Smart). Kelly bikes to crash her wedding unsuccessfully, then bikes to visit dad in a clinic. Despite his two-wheeled awkwardness, a comely coworker still desires his attention.

Bicycling math prodigy Martin (Elijah Wood, Frodo in LOTR) teams up with renowned professor Arthur Seldom (John Hurt) to solve clever homicides of patients who would have died anyway in The Oxford Murders (Álex de la Iglesia, dir., 2008). The nature of truth underlies conflict between them. Arthur sides with ivory tower chaos; Martin with Euclidian conceit of factual math and physical solidity that all bicyclists know too well. Dunning–Kruger bias is in full force; experts underestimate their own ability, while incompetents overestimate theirs. Emotions govern more decisions in a week than logic ever will. World is full of stuff of which most are unaware, so disproves Kant’s theory of reality being generated internally. Measured results and scientific proof always beat conspiracy theories and information denial.

A couple who bikes, he a budding journalist and she a candidate for doctor of criminology, expose a rogue governmental cadre and get assassinated for their efforts in Swedish thriller The Girl Who Played with Fire (Daniel Alfredson, dir., 2009), second installment of the Millennium Trilogy. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo heroine Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) holds the key to unravelling their trafficking syndicate. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest concludes series with yet another innocent bicyclist being randomly murdered by Lisbeth’s psychotic half brother Ronald (Micke Spreitz), although her attending physician Anders (Aksel Morisse) is spared from this bicyclist massacre.

Victoria (Sebastian Schipper, dir., 2015), recently arrived from Madrid to party hearty at a Berlin disco in the wee hours before her breakfast shift as an underpaid cafe waitress. As Victoria (Laia Costa)) bikes to work, a rowdy gang accosts her. She plays along with their flirtations, then gets recruited into a driving getaway vehicle for a bank robbery. Although caper succeeds, subsequent events leave gang dead and her holding loot.

In London romance blooms for shoe-belled Christmas shop elf Kate (Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones) and too-good-to-be-true bicyclist Tom (Henry Golding, Crazy Rich Asians), in Last Christmas (Paul Feig, dir., 2018). A reluctant heroine with little to lose meets a patient suitor who’s eager to crash every gate to give her his heart, literally.

In Sundance Film Festival award winning supernatural drama Nine Days (Edson Oda, dir., 2020) Will (Winston Duke) interviews and judges prototype souls before they inhabit living bodies by being born. He grants candidates not selected their choice of peak experiences before they cease to exist. One such consolation prize is a bicycle ride through a city. 

Single pregnant mom Abigail (Christina Ricci) goes on a bittersweet bicycling date with commitment averse kidult Benjamin (Hamish Linklater) as one of 10 Things We Should Do Before We Break Up (Galt Niederhoffer, dir., 2020), where they traverse an empty painted urban night-scape without helmets or lights to a waterfront picnic. She drops her bike on derailleur side the last time audience sees her with it.

Jacob Marley points out a boneshaker while he ushers Scrooge through Christmas Past in latest Mercedes EQS commercial. Bicycles have long been considered ideal Christmas gifts for young recipients. However, few could afford to gift a brand new Mercedes. Horsepower corrupts, and high performance absolutely empowers arrogance, impatience, and murder. Often see manias publicly demonstrated in road rage, but not private depravities of mechanized psychopaths.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Anquetil’s Gitane

Blink and you’d miss this befitting redolent frame that recalls Natalie Merchant's lyrics, "...these streets, in the madhouse asylum they can be, where a wild-eyed misfit prophet on a traffic island stopped and he raved of saving me." It's from bio-musical I'm Not There (Todd Haynes, dir., 2007) in which Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw portray various personas from Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan’s 80 year life to date. Title is from a tune off Bob’s 1967 Big Pink Basement Tape never officially released until film's soundtrack album. “It's too hard to stay here, and I don't want to leave. It’s so hard for so few, you see, but she's hard to me... It’s a crime the way she mauls me around... Yes, the soul gypsy told her like I said carry on. Wish I was there to help me, but I'm not there, I'm gone.” After publishing over 600 self written songs including those released on last year’s studio album (his 39th), Dylan regrets not be able to defend himself from insanity of those whose heads he got inside. Did it motivate continued involvement? Do charismatic personalities destroy lives or exert positive influence?

Aloof intellectual Jacques Anquetil repeatedly left lunchpail populist Raymond Poulidor behind. With his gypsy queen Gitane, go-to frame for peloton from 1952 into 1980’s, God’s Kettle won Tour de France 5 times, first to do so, popularizing bike racing and setting a dynastic precedent. Meanwhile, a myth of book learned mediocrity got spun by jealous losers whose experiences taught them nothing. Having worn a crown a king never wants to step down, oblivious of how a clown impacts life in your town. Steel may be real, but Gitane’s Reynolds 531 alloy is lighter and stronger. Anquetil, Gitane and Peugeot were essential to America’s big ’70’s bike boom, though these brands, still distributed in France in small quantities, have faded into antique status in United States.

Gratis offering of books and broadcasts also abates. Five decades of carrying burdens, eschewing renown, shaming villains, and wearing a frown have ground Labann down. One does what one can, but inevitably gives up, passes baton, withdraws. COVID convinced mankind that life's moments are too precious to waste. Commitment to personal freedoms and political democracy will get you banned from sites where your unvarnished truths and vetted reminders offend guilty censors. They’ll cleverly demand you prove your identity to cancel you online or threaten you at home. How did you think pseudonym Labann began? Gave less grief than got, received far more support than opponents, and tested moderators intentions, which consistently betrayed conservative bias. Maintaining balance suits neither side’s agenda. American radical patriot Woody Guthrie sang in 1963, “There’s a road that leads to glory through a lonesome valley far away. Nobody else can walk it for you; they can only point the way.” Too bad typical advice is malicious, sad, useless, or vindictive.

To be fair, Twitter did suspend Dolt 45's account when his hissy fit about a stolen election became a quixotic joust against reality. Having attempted to deny and nullify votes, extort officials, misinform shamelessly, rig results, and staff key positions with sycophants (for example, appointing a Postmaster General who might disrupt mail-in ballots), he was incensed when he failed to win, again, since he never officially won any popular election. His sole victory in California presidential primary as candidate for Reform Party didn’t count, since he had already withdrawn from race. But he did signify how vulnerable constitution and government are against an all out authoritarian siege.

Fearful need triggers greed with misspent lives guaranteed. A selfish minority hides within a major party attempting to wrest control with no intention of serving nation’s best interests. Those whom responsible Americans despise - anti-intellectuals, Aryans, climate denialists, conspiracy theorists, criminals, fascists, highwaymen, hypocrites, misogynists, monarchists, narcissists, Nixon’s army, nouveau riche, opportunists, pale evangelicals, pimps, racists, religious bigots, Russian mobsters, sociopaths, supremacists, tea baggers, and xenophobes - threaten democracy, liberty, sensible regulation, and social contract. It’s not partisanship, sides diametrically opposed in an ideological struggle. It’s everyday majority versus fringe groups at behest of a few oligarchs applying filibusters, gerrymander, terrorism, and vote suppression on a totalitarian bid.

Opening scene has teen Natasha Romanoff (Scarlet Johansson as an adult) bicycling happily around her Ohio neighborhood in award winning action blockbuster Black Widow (Cate Shortland, dir., 2021). Black Widow Patrizia Reggiani Gucci said, “I would rather weep in a Rolls-Royce than be happy on a bicycle.” Gucci would have been better off, since she wound up in prison, serving 18 of a 29 year sentence for murdering her husband. But that was back before pandemic, when attorneys general and justice departments used to arraign criminals and sentence convicts. These days, Gucci sells its own custom bike cruiser for $6,500, while officials give murderers medals and persecute innocents. Most disturbing is prosecutors' inability to indict for armed insurrection, broadcast sedition, and presidential treason.

To build convincing arguments some cherry-pick biblical passages or celebrity statements out of context, as if any source text stays infallible when crazily applied. An essential condition of reality is the moment incident occurs. Once influences disappear and time passes, related facts may no longer apply. Witness historical revision and viral mutation. You must continuously reevaluate input and repeatedly redirect actions upon judgment calls based on experience and knowledge, not just repeat what ancestors did, especially since they left a legacy of horror that haunts future until you irrevocably dismantle systems of oppression. In other words, as on a really long bicycle ride, life begins eagerly, beguiles fate, dodges peril, and ends wearily. If you accept chaos, does it nurture you in return?

Statements don’t always communicate, might bring more trouble than release is worth, and tend to gloss over relevant details. Not every bleary eyed sentence hen scratched in the wee hours has value or holds meaning, but one can find other habits just as destructive. Give money and time generously to just causes, but to live serenely one must improve conditions for everyone equally. People without shame once became authors for emolument and fame, but nowadays this would be irrelevant, like winning some casino game.

Will never admit kinship with a lying fraud and racist hypocrite who believes himself a white knight on a holy mission for some dead monarch, as if a modern day Gawain lopping off Green Knight’s head to merit a holiday plaudit, who really serves selfish interests under a delusion of superiority. Sad when you’re related to such a sanctimonious sociopath and virulent misogynist. Guilty perps despise anyone who exactly records what they did, don’t want to be reminded, will kill not to be exposed. Crime doesn’t pay if you’re incarcerated. Treason respects no oath of office, not even reason, nothing constituents agree on. Laban lambastes stupid cruelty, makes no presumptions, simply observes, so suitably serves. There are worse things than seeking references to bicycling culture in films and songs.

Hard to catch bicyclists in action, since they roll almost invisibly along back allies and tertiary streets. Dwayne Perkins joked, “US is a car culture. If you’re over 18, and you ride a bicycle, you kind of have to explain yourself. ‘I notice you’re on a bicycle; do you want to talk about it? What happened with your life exactly?’ ...Here you see a man in a 3-piece suit on a bicycle going to work, and you say to yourself, ‘His divorce lawyer sucked.’ ...Whenever I see guys whose shoes lock into their pedals I get sad, ‘I should probably tell him how pedals work.’ Whenever you go into a bike shop, they look down on you. It’s like a cult; you can’t walk out without spending a thousand dollars.”

Final scene of Swedish tragicomedy A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson, dir., 2015), which according to director was inspired by Italian postwar classic Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, dir., 1948), takes place outside a bike shop. Film throughout presents inexplicable drollery as if seen from perspective of doves perched in tree limbs in Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s seasonal painting The Hunters in the Snow.

The Bicycle (Arne Körner, dir., 2015) portrays Hamburg native Mark (Akin Sipal) and Canadian Antonia (Carly May Borgstrom) as old flames trying to rekindle romance. They vacation together in Paris, but he behaves distractedly and pays more attention to The City of Light than her, despite her gift of a bike. Language barriers and long distances sink their relationship. To revisit scene of love lost, Mark rides his gift the 47 miles back to Paris. Likewise, Labann finally got to view this film mentioned years ago in passing.

Los Días de la Ballena (Days of the Whale, Catalina Arroyave Restrepo, dir., 2019) follows a pair of bicyclists, graffitists, lovers Cristina (Laura Tobón, shown) and Simon (David Escallón), who tag walls where they live in Medellín, Colombia. When art collective to which they belong is targeted by gang extortion, they defy retribution by painting a tremendous whale mural over threatening slogan, “Snitches Get Stitches.” Being articulate and creative aggravates bullies, whose key trait is brain dysfunction.

Brooding bicyclist and budding author Stella Nicholls (Zoe Colletti) of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (André Øvredal, dir., 2019) hooks up with other misfit youths including draft dodger Ramón Morales (Michael Garza) in frightening adventures, the first of which is pedaling crowded streets of Mill Valley, PA, on Halloween, 1968. Stella breaks curse and cheats death by telling truth, while Labann cheers.

Any film shot in Paris will likely show bicyclettes. Old fashioned romantic comedy Les Amours d’Anaïs (Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet, dir., 2021) has penniless 30 year old scatterbrained bicyclist Anaïs (Anaïs Demoustier) falling out of love and rebounding with couple Daniel (Denis Podalydès) and Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) in the kind of romp one longs for but seems denied during a pandemic.

Still in theaters, The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson, dir., 2021) begins its eccentric slant and send up of journalism with bicycling travel reporter Herbsaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson) under crusty editor Arthur Howitzer, Jr. (Bill Murray), dramatizing stories from the final issue of a fictitious continental magazine.

A half dozen songs just discovered or recently released seem particularly relevant or timely:
Kevin Bloody Wilson [Dennis Bryant], Hey, Santa Claus (where’s my f***ing bike) [Australian], single, X Rated, 1989; sounds like many children's holidays, but shouldn't parents try harder to create sustaining memories? Happier holidays and high hopes for next year. 

Emily's Army, Village Bicycle, Lost At Seventeen, Rise Records, 2013; produced a while ago by Billie Joe Armstrong, front man of Green Day, only appears on vinyl version.

Helium Cosmik, Sur mon bicycle [Quebecois], Sur mon bicycle, self, 2019; quartet features a harp and ukuele. “...on my bicycle I'll take you somewhere where it's less sad... I pedal at lightning speed. Don’t worry, there's no danger.”

Garth Prince, Amabhayisekili [The Bicycle Song, juvenile], single, 2020; South African dance tune produced for children stuck indoors during pandemic.

OSS (The Orb, Alex Paterson, Fil le Gonidec), Digital Bicycle Clips [techno], Enter The Kettle (Classified As A Weapon), Orbscure, 2021

Landon Caldwell, Bicycle Day I and II [psychedelic synth], Bicycle Day, Mock Records, 2021; recently debuted on 2 sides of a 45 minute, limited edition cassette. An early version of Part I was broadcast from a speaker mounted to a bicycle and played throughout neighborhood as community solace during first winter of COVID pandemic. Part II sonically reminisces about dropping acid and riding bikes as teens in small town Indiana.

Finally, an unintended pair that ought to relate to bikes:
Scooter Lee, Ribbon of HighwayMoving On Up, Southern Tracks Records, 1998, often used as a square dance number; “Rolling down that ribbon of highway, I’ve gone another mile, another day going places I ain't never been, seeing things I'll never see again. But, I'm gonna keep on keeping on ’til the memories leave me alone, and the pain I felt is finally gone...”

Bob Dylan, Black RiderRough and Rowdy Ways, Columbia Records, 2020; “Black rider, black rider, you've seen it all. You’ve seen the great world and you've seen the small. You fell into the fire, and you're eating the flame. Better seal up your lips if you wanna stay in the game. Be reasonable, mister, be honest, be fair; let all of your earthly thoughts be a prayer.” Sounds like spandex and spirituality.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Agrawain to Ywain

Bright New England Autumn Sunday mornings plying side streets where you dodge more crazy squirrels than dogged joggers, and more dog strollers than driven cars, are what define best places and times for bicycling. Was satisfied by riding west on Easton winding up after miles of colorful foliage on willowy Widows Mount Circle. You’re better out pedaling than personifying Wallace Stevens’ “Complacencies of the peignoir, and late coffee and oranges in a sunny chair.” Inertia brings flab, rot, and wretched poetry. Bicycling should be obligatory before lounging on couch for weekly football and World Series baseball, your capitalist nation’s so-called pastime, which is really a cash cow, dull cult, and temporal hole.

Out for another spin, wondered again whether bicycling wastes time. Does not, provided you don’t drop dead prematurely, because life expectancy rises hour for hour due to fitness reacquired, unless your genetic clock’s mainspring has already unwound. Benefits get overlooked, especially for transportational riding, since it cuts creeping malaise, motoring risks, and parking craze. What many dismiss as smug excuses don’t begin to explore existential impact from pedal bicycle versus motor vehicle uses: Carbon neutrality, cleaner air, fuel avoidance, less traffic, lower costs, mental health, neighborhood involvement, no reason to wage war over oil, peace, understanding, whither survival and sustainability. Studies show the same can be said for writing a blog or journal, therapy for what ails you.

Biking oxygenates brain, recalls memories, stimulates creativity, and triggers revelations. Otherwise, boredom prevails, projects end, or sleep ensues with peak experiences tossed in at unexpected intervals unless you plan adventures. Routine tasks can bring pleasures; for example, satisfaction can flow from multitasking when results fall nicely into place. But bicycling depends heavily upon the sum of civilization. Without a human presence and reliable pavement it would be unsafe traversing biodiverse nature among apex predators and cavernous potholes.

After 13 years in print, Bike&Chain finally earned a bibliographical entry in America Goes Green: An Encyclopedia of Eco-friendly Culture in the United States, Volumes 1-3, edited by Kim Kennedy White and Leslie A. Duram (ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA, 2012, 1297 pp.) thanks to an article about Bicycle Transportation by Alon Raab. It’s fittingly relegated to an erroneous footnote, as if a minor planet, such as asteroids Agrawain and Ywain, named for nearly forgotten Knights of the Round Table. B&C itself has twice as many pages compiled as a Doppler hub of emerging or fading bicycling culture. What a misspent investment for such a minuscule return! No venture capitalist, questions own motivations.

Labann (not Leban) had a compulsion to share and nothing better to do for whoever might care. Labann does best to never repeat self, but sought to cover all similar ground. Can’t be helped if you ride from home. Each body of knowledge deserves a champion. Doctoral dissertations intentionally delve into unique topics for posterity’s sake to broaden understanding into areas thus far ignored. Mindful of confabulation and exaggeration, individuals excel at describing own experiences versus secondhand accounts likely framed around agendas.

Written out of oppositional defiance and velorutionary noncompliance, B&C offers honest insights into doubts and dreams, personal revelations, and primal screams. Always was and will forever be about best practices, continual improvement, delusion disruption, ethics, factual truth, freedoms, nonetics, non-violence, responsibilities, semiotics, standing upright every day, and watching clichés melt away. Anticipated every survey laden with selection bias and worded to reap approval, then, for maximum efficiency, preempted with actual preferences seldom solicited by any selfish billionaire, rather than ever answer another opportunistic questionaire. Better to share link, then shut up or switch thread, than be driven mad or serve narcissistic word salad.

Could just heed authority’s decrees and obey without dissent or unsought analyses. Makes living a lot easier. Would have made money making readers feel good about themselves or simply distracting them with salacious stories. Left advised should’ve to devious liars. Transgressions aren’t even punished because prevailing stupidity can’t recognize whether or not you’ve complied. But inquisitors do treat objections and questions as disloyalty or threats. They abhor fact fletcherizing and rational thinking, deny proof, and prefer fearful folks groveling and kneeling. For those who act responsibly only a shade of connotation separates blameworthy from trustworthy.

Beside cars and motorcycles, Labann also held licenses to drive school busses, taxis, tractor-trailers, and trucks. Used to think motoring around detours was better than jockeying desks; nevertheless, settled into an intense, nerve-racking, sedentary occupation. Just as well, because stymied with gridlock, highways became hell. Driving beneath a rising or setting sun ceased to be fun. Dispatcher schedules force protocol forsaking and increase accidents from risk taking. By bike day and night with or without a light have been nearly run down by many a big brown and blue and/or white clown. Strangers reported shortages of every necessity due to a lack of drivers and handlers.

Long made same comparison, but New York Times recently admitted that car motoring is more of a youth killer than disease contracting. “Covid appears to present less risk than some other daily activities. Among Americans under 17, fewer than 500 have died of Covid since the pandemic began; many more—a few thousand every year—die in vehicle crashes.” In general, COVID’s 2-year toll on American lives has been eight hundred thousand, fewer than those from automotive crashes this century to date, around nine hundred thousand. Both demand extra care to avoid. Worst outcomes only begin to represent injuries and losses of nation’s 90 million accidents since 2001 along avenues to afterlife, byways to bereavement, paths of perdition, roads to ruin, and streets of sorrow. During double century of bicycle’s popularity, more have died in vehicle crashes than in wars.

Conservatives dote upon new Clinton Era biopic about Lewinsky scandal, for which they wanted to impeach a president. Who cares what Monica [recent sighting] puts between her legs? The scale of hypocrisy is so out of whack it’s almost laughable. Republicans just want to make anything sound worse than crimes they’ve committed. Neo-Nazi idiots, peril politicizers, and science deniers all need to be censured by courts, recalled in disgrace, sued into oblivion, and thrown out of office. Liberals are all about failures. Red flags flap where ambition meets delusion, commentators cry over trifles, sluts smile about scandals, and smirking mouthpieces boldly lie. Have seen brothers, sisters and spouses deeply divided and tragically divorced by political talk. Arguments may be framed in simplest of terms, so everyone can participate. But issues aren’t simple, because billions have completely different customs, an estimated quarter of populace is insane, one policy doesn’t fit all, you can’t eradicate diversity no matter how divisive, misogynist, patriarchal, or xenophobic you are.

When you see two people of opposite sexes with new haircuts who’ve shaved heads except for bantu topknots, you get an idea they are a couple or might be seeking each other. You might be tempted to intervene, tell one who remains where other went. Mind your own business. Though this grooming seems unlikely, it proves nothing about identity, unlike days of yore, when monks and priests had shaved scalps as promises of lifelong piety. Tattoos were forbidden in scripture, but not self mutilation or tonsures. Sports fans wear face paint and team garments, which they wash before resuming Monday business. Piercing and tats are commonplace except when taken to an extreme by people who seem to want to bolster self esteem by defying norms through image transforms that intend social transgressions.

Ironic how bicyclist and pedestrian sightings are chaotic, infrequent and random; once that could have been said about passenger cars. Same applies to books, films and songs spiraling downwards from complexity to simplicity for which everyone longs. Convenience convinces you to abandon activities that you didn’t realize actually sustained. Without some organizing loop, blog entries wind up as word soup.

Young Jabez Stone ties helium balloons to his brand new Schwinn in an attempt to regain favor of a childhood crush in Shortcut to Happiness (Alec Baldwin, dir., 2003). Bike rises above barn during opening, then wends its way over city in finale, as a metaphor for putting aside trappings of boyhood to become a man, more an unaware cager trapped in an automotive paradigm.

Feisty 16 year old English cyclist Lynda Mansell (Emily Lloyd) curses like sailor and teases dull boys in her Sussex seaside town. Parochial environs and prosaic conventions bore her. Eager to get on with sophisticated pleasures, she seduces her dad’s middle-aged bookie in Wish You Were Here (David Leland, dir., 1987). Childbirth became yet another passage in her wild life devoid of shame. Previously mentioned Monella, aka Frivolous Lola (Tinto Brass, dir., 1998), retells a similar story, though none so eloquently as Nabokov’s Lolita, a pedophile’s apology for reliving a teen fantasy.

Parents of manchild Matthew McConaughey, who refuses to fledge from nest and spends all his time pedaling bikes and playing with grownup toys, hire interventionist Sarah Jessica Parker to end his Failure to Launch (Tom Dey, dir., 2006) and get on with life. She learns he’s in grief over his dead fiancée, not such a slacker after all, rather a kind soul in need of sympathy.

Single elementary school teacher Poppy Cross (Sally Hawkins) is Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh, dir., 2008), cheerfully optimistic yet never naïve. After her bicycle, her main means of transportation, is stolen, Poppy tells her cynical roommate Zoe (Alexis Zegerman) she wants to learn to drive, even though she can’t afford a car. Intolerant, judgmental downer Scott (Eddie Marsan) offers her lessons, and unwanted advice, misinterpreting her joyful mentality for lackadaisical motoring. Regretting never being able to say goodbye to her old beater bike, she should’ve used 20 quid a week spent on lessons to buy a new one and skirted Scott’s misogynistic abuse.

An earlier episode of long running, previously mentioned crime drama Midsomers Murders (Season 12, Episode 4, The Glitch, Richard Holthouse, dir., 2009) has most folks from this Oxfordshire hamlet turning out for annual Pilgrim’s Bicycle Ride. An anticipatory group train together including middle aged theorist George Jeffers (David Haig), who's techno-crafted a device that might revolutionize air traffic control once a glitch gets resolved. His refusal to release it makes him a target with two resulting homicides. George goads villain Clinton Finn (Nigel Whitmey), by holding up his folding rig and saying, “Respect the bike!” Finn snorts back, “Don’t get a puncture.” DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) collars real perp.

During 15 seasons of FBI drama Criminal Minds (various directors, 2005 to present), bikes are frequently shown, in and out of use, but once they jet to scene in their sleek Gulfstream Chevy SUVs magically appear as vehicles of choice to race around during unsub chases. Roadkill (Season 4, Episode 23, 2009) quotes 4 time Pulitzer winning novelist Booth Tarkington, ”I'm not sure about automobiles. With all their speed forward, they may be a step backward in civilization.” Unstable disabled pickup driver Ian Coakley (Craig Baxley, Jr.) runs down people he suspects caused an accident that killed his wife and left him paraplegic. Fourth victim he targets is Blake (Keith Burke), who’s out on a winding road riding with his buddies. But BAU team intervenes to save Blake and scores of other cyclists. In several episodes attentive bicyclists find victim corpses. Image shows brother of two young cyclists who were abducted years ago and never found. Team chief Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) has a black Trek road bike hanging in his office, but never seems to find time to ride it until Season 7, when he trains for a triathlon. Hashtag (Season 10, Episode 7, 2014) has a teen bicyclist as serial killer they nab right after he u-locks his BMX at a mall. Statistics show that more law enforcers are killed in traffic accidents than any other cause, though perps and scumbags with whom they deal put them in harm’s way. Popular series gives false hope that heroes frequently deal out justice whenever mayhem occurs, but facts are that more cases go unsolved than not.

Everything goes Downhill (Patricio Valladares, dir., 2016) for American MTB racing threesome Joe (Bryce Draper), bestie Charlie (Eyal Meyer), and hotie Stephanie (Natalie Burn), who train together. During next race Charlie crashes and suffers a fatal head injury, which derails Joe into a grieving hiatus. Old friend Pablo coaxes Joe back for an exhibition in Chile. On their first race trail test run, he and Stephanie encounter a badly injured man dying from a mysterious illness. For their samaritan efforts, they become targets of relentless killers trying to keep a biological secret from leaving The Andes.

David Attenborough’s Extinction: The Facts (BBC, 2020) would agree that the list of species on an escalator to extinction because of habitat destruction must also include humans due to an increase in pandemics and resource depleting economics. Honesty dispels delusions, sometimes explosively. Secrets and taboos create victims. Those who are guilty hide facts, but those who communicate candidly get attacked. Whatever you say online is forever accessible, even misconstrued and taken out of context, which serves people in charge the most. Expletive bleep, dodges people apply and secrets they keep run exceptionally deep. History definitely isn’t how it’s been told, since it must continually be updated as evidence emerges and facts unfold. Journey from Alpha has been an extensive plight but Omega destination is now within sight.

“Oh, what's the time again? I think I should get going. I’ve got nothing more to say. Oh, what's that sound again? I think that it was nothing. Just a bird, a leaf, the wind. And I rode my bicycle down by a lake, and noticed how the ripples in the water reach the shore.” - Providence, Rhode Island based indie band Sketch Pilot, Bike Ride, Handshakes with Dinosaur, self, 2021