Amazed by the Ordinary: Feats of Meh

(Good for you.)

When you're a solipsist, you never get to ask, "Who farted?"

Think about it.

These are precisely the sorts of insights one ponders while in the throes of illness as I was yesterday, and I'd like to thank you all for bearing with me during what was in all respects a truly disgusting time. However, now that I'm more better, I find myself pondering less profound matters. Instead of asking myself The Big Questions, my attention has reverted back to the prosaic, and now I find myself wondering stuff like: What is the big deal about LeBron James riding a bike to work?

This story has been all over the news, and it's a perfect example of what's wrong with America. Where else would the sports media marvel over the fact that a professional athlete in peak physical condition was able to survive a bicycle ride of just over half an hour?

The ride took 40 minutes and he safely arrived at the arena with plenty of time to spare.

I'm not sure if they're amazed he was able to do something a typical Dutch grandmother does on a daily basis, or that he didn't get run over by a car, or both, but in any case it's a sad reminder of just how developmentally challenged our relationship with cycling is here in Canada's steer head belt buckle. I'm also not sure why James opted for the "Cat 6 scuba diver" look (especially given the fact that he's in Miami, where it seems like his usual basketball uniform would have been a cooler and more comfortable choice of attire) but I'm sure he had his reasons. In any case, I certainly don't mean to criticize James himself for his mode of transport; rather, I just wish I lived in a country where this wasn't considered in any way remarkable. (I also wonder if ESPN would have found it funny if James was hit by a car and sent flying into a barbed wire fence.) Even the "smugness media" is excited about it, even though James appears to be one of those infuriatingly un-smug "vehicular cyclists" who wears a helmet and doesn't ride in tweed.

At the same time, though, I shouldn't be surprised people find this amazing, for we are a spoiled people. In Miami it's considered newsworthy when a professional athlete is able to ride a bike for 40 minutes, and in Portland, Oregano it's considered a human rights violation when someone's "Disco Trike" gets confiscated:

Here's video of the shocking incident:

And here's the description that accompanies the video:

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland Police showed up in force to put down a peaceful protest march in solidarity with Egyptian revolutionaries on the anniversary of the Tahrir Square uprising Jan. 25. This video shows police surrounding and impounding the CrankMyChain Disco Trike, a human powered multimedia vehicle used by the PDX Bike Swarm to entertain, bolster and help pacify protesters. Owner/operator Dan Kaufman was handcuffed, cited for "unlawful operation of sound producing equipment," and released. The trike, its sound system and miscellaneous other equipment, remains in police custody until a court date of Feb. 13.

In other words, the people of Portland, oppressed by a magnificent cycling infrastructure, an openly gay mayor, and ready access to exquisite artisanal goods of all kinds, staged a protest "in solidarity with Egyptian revolutionaries on the anniversary of the Tahrir Square uprising," a people with whom they have absolutely nothing in common. Then, when the police showed up, they chanted "Get those animals off those horses," which anyplace else would guarantee you at least a spirited pepper spraying, if not an entire hoof up the derriere. This being Portland though, the police instead merely opted to take their biggest toy away, which seems about as oppressive as the time my off-brand Walkman got confiscated in high school. And of course anyone who's every been around children knows what comes next--the inevitable temper tantrum:

If the Disco Trike is not released by Friday, February 3rd, in full working condition, the PDX Bike Swarm will be forced to swarm the mayors office to ask more directly for its release. Anybody that wants to join the swarm is more than welcome, as we know the Bike Swarm are not the only ones that really appreciate the Disco Trike’s presence. Hopefully it won’t come to this, but if it does, stay tuned for details... We are giving the mayor a choice: either release the Disco Trike by Friday, or we will swarm to its defense!

So did the Disco Trike's curator get his Disco Trike back? Of course he did:

UPDATE, 1:37pm: Dan Kaufman has been notified by Mayor Adams that the trike will be released today. Stay tuned.

This is the inspiring stuff of which national holidays are made. Expect a solidarity march in Afghanistan to commemorate this great victory for human rights--in strict accordance with Islamic law of course. Perhaps they'll even trot out the beloved Three-Legged Ghazal Mule, which is the Afghani equivalent of the Disco Trike.

Meanwhile, in product-related news, a reader informs me that the inventors of the helment-hat will now sell you a pendulous under-the-saddle testicle:

Apparently you affix your helment-hat to this testicle and then engulf it in the weatherproof scrotal sack that is conveniently contained in said testicle:

Truly, the best designs are inspired by nature.

Lastly, Esteemed Commenter Daddo-One tells me that "Wired" have published an article about Ritte, which contains information on how to pronounce "Ritte," among other factoids:

As it happens, riding my own Ritte was the last thing I did as a healthy person this past Sunday before falling victim to the stomach flu shortly thereafter, and I kept to flat and windy terrain in order to honor the bicycle's faux Belgian heritage. Then, I stopped on the boardwalk, where I leaned the bike on a railing instead of on an indigent person and in so doing may have voided my warranty:

I remain extremely fond of this bicycle, though now that I think about it, an under-the-saddle testicle would really complement that long stem.


Obscure Bike Blogger Feels Yucky and Stuff

Brooklyn, USA, January 30th, 2012 -- On the eve of the return to his widely read bicycle cycling blog after a week-long hiatus, the blogger BikeSnobNYC (also known as "Wildcat Rock Machine") fell victim to the stomach flu.

The blogger acquired the illness from his young son, most likely while engaged in the questionable practice of handling vomit while not wearing a helment, and spent much of yesterday evening regurgitating Tibetan food.

"I feel like I just finished a Single Speed World Championship," said the bedridden blogger, "apart from the fact that I'm currently wearing pants."

"Scranus," he then added before rolling over and groaning.

In addition to curating, cultivating, manhandling, and otherwise molesting the BikeSnobNYC blog, BikeSnobNYC is also the author of the book "Bike Snob," the forthcoming book "The Enlightened Cyclist," and also, under the pseudonym Wiley McRothstein, the popular instructional manual "How to Pick up Women at Hospitals and Funerals," now in its 216th printing and the winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

BikeSnobNYC hopes to be able to return to his blog in earnest as soon as possible, and has already consumed an entire English muffin (top half and bottom half) with success.

Pending his return, BikeSnobNYC would like to share two (2) humorous videos. The first one is a trailer for an upcoming movie called "Peloton," which comes via Cycling Inquisition and which you may also have seen on the All Hail the Black Market webbing site:

Don't bother trying to fast-forward to the part where they finally start "doing it," because amazingly it isn't there.

The other is this hilarious video called "Shit Mussolini Says:"

Wow, the whole "Shit [Blanks] Say" thing never gets old.

With that, I return unto my private misery, but with any luck I hope to be back tomorrow in finer fettle. In the meantime, in lieu of flowers, please send any well-wishings in the form of a donation to your local Dachshund rescue society. Because all wiener dogs should have a loving home--and a bun.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz and Fun Announcement! (100% inorganic)

Firstly, I'd humbly request that you mark the following date in your calendars, "Palm Pilots," or prison wall tally marks:

Monday, January 30th, 2012

(That's planet Earth years, by the way. I'm finally off the Venusian calendar since I kept showing up 140.3 Earth days early for appointments.)

The reason I'd like you to make note of this date is because it's the date I'll be resuming regular updates of this blog. In the meantime, I will not be posting. However, I can assure you I will not be idle during that time. I mean, I won't be working, inasmuch as it would be silly to call whatever it is that I do "work," but I will still be doing the same non-work I usually do. See, like Comicus, I like to think of myself as a "stand-up philosopher"--or if you prefer, a "bullshit artist:"

The fact of the matter is that I will be "bullshitting" every day next week. However, that bullshit will not be posted immediately to this blog but will instead be made available for perusal at some later date. I apologize for this inconvenience (unless of course you hate this blog, in which case you're welcome), but such is the life of a bullshit artist, and it will all be worth it in the end. Or not. Either way, I look forward to returning on Monday, January 30th with regular updates.

Moving on, yesterday I mentioned some self-important Portlanders (yes, I realize how redundant that phrase is) who took their self-importance and lack of useful practical knowledge to the poor uncool people of the south, and similarly a reader has forwarded me this video of some people who live in Brooklyn (I hesitate to call them "Brooklynites") who were kind enough to present the backward folk of Virginia with the sleep-inducing gift of minimalist percussion:

Their group is called "Mantra Percussion:"

Though the really should think about changing it to "Men Without Girlfriends:"

Here's their leader, embittered former professional cyclist Floyd Landis:

And here's what people look like while listening to them:

("I'd request 'Freebird' ironically but I'm far too nonplussed.")

As for the music itself, to call the piece a "composition" seems grossly unfair. Really, even the word "music" is a stretch. This is more the kind of thing you're likely to hear played on a loop when you go to a MFA exhibit and one of the installations is a multimedia experience based on the artist's inability to reconcile that time the cat ate their hamster, or the morning they walked in on their parents having sex, or some other middle-class suburban childhood trauma.

Also, if you're wondering why they went from Brooklyn all the way to a Lowe's in Virginia instead of just performing at the Brooklyn Lowe's, I suspect it's either because it's probably too hard to get a gig at the Brooklyn Lowe's now (I hear they have a talent booker), or else it was Sukkot and there was a run on two-by-fours.

Meanwhile, a reader tells me those Budnitz bikes continue to get attention:

Let's fire up the BSNYC Enlarge-A-Nator for a closer look at that caption:

Firstly, it's not a "break lever," unless it's designed so that the moment you pull it the bike falls apart. (Actually, I wouldn't put such a feature past this Budnitz character). Secondly, it's not his name, it's the name he just happens to share with the company that made the lever. Then again, I'm starting to see how easy it is to dupe the dimwitted design community, so maybe Budnitz should just change his name to Paul Chris King Gates Schwalbe-Lynskey so he can take credit for the entire thing. I mean, they're already giving him credit for the concept of an attractive bike:

The progressions in bicycle design have been limited to high-end manufacturers creating ever more lightweight (and often ugly) machines designed for road racing, rather than reflecting the aesthetic concerns of the owner. In America especially, the great period of beautifully designed utility bicycles all but died after Peter ‘Bullit’ Yates’ 1979 bikecentric coming of age movie Breaking Away, after which everyone, it seemed, wanted a race bike and manufacturers responded accordingly.

Towards the tail end of last year that balance shifted however, when serial entrepreneur Paul Budnitz entered the market.

This would come as news to the roughly 90,000 bike builders in Portland alone who have been doing this for years.

The article also makes some astute technical observations:

...a carbon belt drive chain negates the need for lubricant, keeping clothes clean and chain on the bike - not wrapped around your ankles.

I'm not sure what that means, but if your pants keep winding up around your ankles when you ride then you are grossly misinterpreting what it means to "lube your chain:"

(Stopping for some mid-ride "drivetrain maintenance.")

And Budnitz himself also adds his own contribution to the canon of great frame material myths:

"Also, as well as being lighter, titanium is harder than steel and it’s a great material for riding on so there’s a sense of completeness."

If Budnitz was experiencing a sense of incompleteness prior to obtaining a titanium bicycle then he may have been riding a bike without a seat.

Penultimately, in entertainment news, from another reader comes this gripping film trailer:

I AM NOT A HIPSTER (the movie) from Destin Daniel Cretton on Vimeo.

Sure you're not.

And ultimately, from still yet another reader comes a music video which I found entertaining:

I recommend he seek out a titanium bicycle for a sense of completeness.

Post-ultimately, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz. As always, study the question, think, and click on your answer. If you're right you'll experience a sense of completeness, and if you're wrong you'll see a commercial for a high-performance mountaining bicycle.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and I look forward to returning on the 30th.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) What are they staring at?

(They may dress funny, but you can't put one over on the British.)

2) Amazingly, it turns out it's actually possible to enjoy riding two different types of bicycles.

(The visor is the yarmulke of the douchebag set.)

3) Which is not a tenet of the "Holstee Manifesto?"

--"Getting lost will help you find yourself."
--"If you don't like your job, quit."
--"Live your dream and share your passion."
--"If life doesn't give you what you want, stomp your feet a lot and cry."

4) Shane Warne is:

(Book of Moron: Gentrification missionaries spreading the Gospel of Bullshit to America's uncool.)

5) In which of the following ways were the Portland hipster migrant workers mistreated by their cruel organic farming overlords?

6) "Bi-keen" and beekeeping, together at last! Must be:

(Creepy wet bearded man stalks mother in supermarket.)

"You were in the bulk aisle. Tall, red-head, absolutely gorgeous, dinosaur son in the cart. I was bearded and soggy from the bike ride, just needed some oranges and some almonds. You said, "Now let's pick out some snacks for... me." You hesitated on that part, like you were going to say mommy, but caught yourself. It was cute. Seriously, I feel sorry for your kid. His friends are all going to crush on you hard. Hell, I'm going to crush on you hard."

7) In Portland, cycling can apparently cause you to grow a beard.

***Special Law Enforcement-Themed Bonus Question***

"Back in the day," bike cops weren't afraid to "get rad."


Disillusioned: Sampling the Menu of Disappointment

The Loch Ness Monster. Sasquatch. Larry King. For centuries people have sought these horrific legendary beasts. Some insist they are merely fantastical, while others maintain they are as real as Jesus's hatred of Buddhists (Are you kidding? Jesus fucking hated Buddhists!) and thus dedicate their lives to pursuing these creatures. For years, I too have been engaged in such a pursuit, and I'm pleased to report I've finally managed to photograph my quarry.

The day was yesterday, January whatever-it-was, and it was about the time of day when most people are thinking about what to have for lunch but extremely lazy people are finally dragging themselves out of bed and into the bathroom to scrub the red wine stains from their lips. I had just scrubbed the red wine stains off my lips, mounted my Scattante, and sallied forth into New York City's hated bicycle infrastructure, when I spotted the fabled rider I had been seeking for years--The Barefoot Bike Salmon of Brooklyn:

Granted, he didn't actually start salmoning until the next intersection, but as you can see he is clearly barefoot:

Also, I know it's The Barefoot Bike Salmon of Brooklyn and not just another random barefoot bicyclist on his way home after a picnic in the park, because this was the weather yesterday and only The Barefoot Bike Salmon of Brooklyn has the formidable foot callouses that permit him to ride a bicycle with metal pedals in the winter while unshod:

Unfortunately however I was unable to capture him, and therefore was also unable to claim the million-dollar bounty that the American Podiatric Medical Association has placed on his head (or, more accurately, his feet). Podiatrists believe that if they can unlock the mystery of his mighty footpads then they will also be able to use this knowledge to cure a host of disorders that have afflicted the human foot since the time we started walking upright, from hallux valgus to the dreaded unguis incarnatus. Sadly though, I will have to continue my search if I am ever to become a member of the 1%.

Still, I was glad I finally saw him, because I was starting to become disillusioned and instead am now filled with hope. I have, however, become quite disillusioned with Australia, which I had previously imagined as a quirky Edenic paradise where the toilets flush backwards and the koalas lovingly pick lice out of your hair while kangaroos box people of note for your amusement. As it turns out though, it's apparently just as awful a place as America is (at least if you ride a bike), and as you may have heard by now some Australian sports douche has attacked a cyclist with his car.

The sports douche is some guy named Shane Warne, and it's a good thing Wikipedia is back online because I was able to find out who he is:

Shane Keith Warne (born 13 September 1969) is a former Australian international cricketer widely regarded as one of the greatest bowlers in the history of the game.

I thought bowling was the thing with the alleys and the pins and the funny shoes, so I'm not sure why that has any bearing on his cricket career. Then again, I deeply hate all organized ball sports ("pocket pool" being among the few exceptions) as well as most organized non-ball sports, so I'm probably missing something. I was also surprised to learn that there is apparently doping in cricket, since Shane Warne failed a drug test:

His career was plagued by scandals off the field; these included a ban from cricket for testing positive for a prohibited substance, charges of bringing the game into disrepute through accepting money from bookmakers and marital infidelities.

My surprise was due to the fact that cricket looks about as strenuous as playing croquet, so I wondered what performance-enhancing drug they could possibly be using. Presumably it's just something to keep them awake. I don't mean to single out cricket, by the way. Baseball also looks about as strenuous as playing croquet to me, though I suppose it's a bit harder than cricket since the players also have to do it while being considerably overweight.

Unlike in America, though, the police are taking action against the assailant:

Police spoke to the cyclist and Warne but said there would be no further action.

Oh, sorry, they're not.

By the way, even though America is slipping from its coveted position as Most Awesomest Country in the Whole Wide World, I'd like to think that we're still at least the undisputed global leader in idiotic bicycle-related news article commentary. Unfortunately though I think we've finally lost that as well, since Australians seem to have us beat by a kalometer kolamater Euro-mile:

I'm with Warnie on this one. The guy deserves to have his bike damaged after riding in front of him in an aggressive manner. There should be more of it so thst riders learn their place. They think they have rights, but so do us motorists.

That's some impressive idioting right there. I give that comment five non-opposable thumbs up.

As for Warne, he cut out the middleman and took his idioting straight to his Twitter:

I don't consider myself particularly smart, but I had to watch five hours of quality PBS programming just to get the taste of stupid out of my mouth.

Speaking of disillusionment, you'll be disillusioned to learn that Williamsburg is no longer the hipster capitol of the United States, having in recent years passed that intangible threshold between "youthful exuberance" and "upscale douchery." For example, you used to find the track bikes locked up in front of bars or underneath people trackstanding interminably, but now you find them on the backs of Porsche SUVs instead:

The above photo was taken by a reader, and it's a perfect encapsulation of the evolution of the fixed-gear "culture."

In fact, disillusionment is so widespread these days that Portlanders are even growing disillusioned with Portland, as in this gripping (in that it will grip you with nausea) narrative that was forwarded to me by another reader:

(Portlanders on the loose!)

In it, two people find themselves experiencing the sort of vague dissatisfaction you can only feel if you've never, ever had a moment of adversity in your entire life, and so they decide to leave the safety of the "hipster belt" and work for free:

Jenne and I were both raised in Seattle, we began dating in Brooklyn, N.Y., and we moved together to Portland. We had been born and bred in blue America. Our parents held college degrees, professional jobs and predictable points of view on issues like reproductive rights, marriage equality and preemptively launched wars. We were raised to believe in recycling, temperance and respecting other people’s differences.

Recently, however, we had begun to feel a little disillusioned with the culture. The brew pubs and brunch spots. The high-class cafes and cheapo burrito shops. The happy hours and house pets and crass condo construction. We were tired of the hipsters, with their gaudy mustaches and flannel shirts, unimpressed with the environmentalists, with their blinkered social concern and preening sense of self-righteousness, disgusted by the corporate shills, with their shimmering cocktails and newly minted lofts, and put off by the housewives piling their shopping carts high.

After 25 years surrounded by such people, we were looking for something new. Farming provided us with a point of departure.

So essentially what's happening here is that the cultural phenomenon that is "hipsterism" is now in the process of doubling over on itself and is seeking an alternative to its own alternative. Also, in true spoiled child fashion, now that people in places like Brooklyn and Portland have every single toy they ever wanted they apparently don't want to play with them anymore. Of course, when actual spoiled children lose interest in their toys they decide they want to play with forbidden things, like glass and pieces of scrap metal. But when adult children tire of their toys they become fascinated by forbidden people, like "hicks" and "rednecks" and "conservatives."

And so our heroes restyle themselves as hipster migrant workers and go to work on organic farms in the south:

Jenne and I mostly work the weeds.

I bet you do.

They also have thrilling brushes with danger, like actually meeting people who tuck their shirts in and who vote differently from them:

Mark and Lindsay hardly look like volunteer farmers: He has bright blond hair sculpted in the military style and a stiff collared shirt tucked into blue jeans, while his wife wears a shy smile and a skirt covering her knees....

After the conversation turns to politics, Mark expresses regret about John McCain’s recent electoral defeat, while Lindsay professes to liking Ron Paul. Neither has even heard of our favored choice, Dennis Kucinich.

Amazingly, they not only survive this encounter, but also learn that uncool people actually have feelings too:

After we discover Mark has suffered a recent death in his family, as I have in mine, we talk grief, loss and the protracted process of healing.

"Wait, when someone in your family died you got upset? Me too, I totally hate that!," I can hear the narrator saying. I'm sure Mark felt validated when the Portlanders actually condescended to acknowledge his humanity.

But they're not out of danger yet, and soon they fall victim to a cruel Dickensian mistress:

It doesn’t take much to recognize the woman is having a hard time. She is moody, self-absorbed and difficult to communicate with. (“You ask too many questions,” she admonishes after Jenne attempts to clarify an instruction.) She feeds us inorganically and sometimes not enough. (Dinner the first two nights consists of corn dogs and potato chips.) Our sleeping area, which doubles as the packing room for her CSA (Community Supported Agriculture: a subscription program by which farmers provide produce to urban consumers), is open to the public, not to mention cramped and hot.

You may scoff at the notion that feeding someone inorganic food is tantamount to cruelty, but you have to understand that sheltered hipsters like this are simply unable to process the food additives that the rest of us consume so easily. See, we take the ability to occasionally eat diner food and deli sandwiches for granted, but a simple side of inorganic cole slaw is enough to send these people into anaphylactic shock. Incidentally, if you're ever traveling with a sheltered hipster and he has a bad reaction to a corn chip or a turkey sandwich, simply pass a locally-foraged truffle under his nose so that he can smell "the intoxicating smell of semen that the tubers emit--known to foodies as the truffle umami." It's the "woosie" equivalent of an epinephrine shot.

Anyway, I suspect that by feeding them corn dogs the Dickensian farmer just enjoyed watching them squirm. I also suspect she called the next farmer and told them how funny it was because he just fed them cat food:

We eat even worse with Joe than we did in Texas. Hot dogs and TV dinners, packaged ham and cups of noodles, canned vegetables and canned meat: The man’s diet runs the gamut of cheap, mass-produced quasi-edibles. One night, the roast beef rolled into my tortilla tastes suspiciously like cat food.

Incidentally, the reason he knows what cat food tastes like is because food trucks for pets are all the rage in Portland and it's easy to get confused.

But while it may seem like all these wayward Portlanders did was alternately do some gardening and complain about the food, the truth is they learned profound lessons about life:

But our trip was about more than just farming. It was about pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones, shedding some of our prejudices about what makes a life worth living, and opening to another way.

In some small way, it was about growing up.

Of course it was. They did fail to learn one lesson though, which is that if they wanted to eat processed foods while mingling with people who are broke and lack fashion sense, then they could have saved themselves a lot of time and just gone to the nearest Walmart.

By the way, if you want to know more about the author, here's his bio:

Alex Gallo-Brown's essays have appeared in Bookslut, The Rumpus, The Brooklyn Rail, and The Collagist, among other publications. He is currently working on a manuscript of poems about grief.

I'm really hoping there's a poem in there called "They Made Us Eat Cat Food."

If not, I'll be deeply disillusioned.

Blackouts and Black Buttes: Offline and Off the Grid

As you may have noticed, certain popular Inter Net webbing sites are participating in a "blackout" today. The purpose of this blackout is to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, or "SOPA." For example, if you go to Craigslist to buy a crappy used bike or get ripped off while trying to rent an apartment, you'll find this:

Or if you go to Wikipedia to gaze upon the raw essence of male sexuality that is Nonplussed Bib Shorts Model Guy:

You'll find this:

Though if you go to Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things, you'll still find this:

Unless you're actually in North Korea, in which case your "computer" is just a state-run newspaper taped to a cardboard box.

Needless to say, operators of webbing sites do not like SOPA, because while it is ostensibly designed to protect copyright holders, it could also hinder free speech as well as the sort of user-generated content that makes the Internet so simultaneously wonderful and awful. Imagine, for example, a world without videos of people "bombing hills" on their fixies to stupid songs for which they did not receive the proper clearances, or even a world without crappy bike blogs that make fun of the aforementioned videos. It would be a living heck. You'd hate it. In fact, you'd hate it so much you'd move to another world instead, like Narnia, or Hogwarts, or the idealized version of Brooklyn in which the Huxtables lived.

I too do not like the idea of SOPA, but despite tremendous pressure on me to join the blackout (well, one guy emailed me) I will not be doing so. This is for two reasons: 1) It would be disingenuous of me, because even though I'm against SOPA in principle the truth is I really don't know nearly as much about it as I should; and B) When Wikipedia participates in a blackout, millions of people take notice, but when this blog takes part in a blackout the 19 people who read it and already know way more about SOPA than I do just see me for the douchebag I am. Given this, it seems to me that it makes way more sense to leave the blog switch on the "on" position so that people can alternately leave intelligent SOPA-related comments from which we can all learn, and/or gratuitously post the word "scranus."

Of course, one argument in favor of SOPA is that the entertainment industry backs it. The Motion Picture Association of America says that piracy costs the business of show billions of dollars a year. This is a great tragedy, because without that money studios and producers couldn't give Will Smith $20 million to star in "Men In Black III," a movie that has already cost something like $215 million (about half of what Congress spends on all of public broadcasting) and isn't even finished yet. Yes, life without incessant sequels and insipid comic book movies that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce is just too nightmarish to contemplate. Plus, we should also remember that piracy supposedly costs the entertainment industry jobs, since apparently there's no way to budget for a film that allows the star to have a $9,000 a month trailer as well a $25,000 a month apartment around the corner from that trailer without also firing a few PAs that earn annually what Will Smith spends on lunch. Therefore Congress really should help these people with some bespoke legislation that ensures us the constant stream of shitty entertainment we all deserve. (Maybe they can plaster Big Bird with product placement while they're at it.)

Anyway, I doubt SOPA and PIPI and Pipi Longstocking and all the rest of them will get very far in the long run, since I've just had word that the Best Made Company has joined the blackout. However, they won't actually be blacking out their site. Instead, they're offering customers this $375 hand-stitched artisanal blindfold:

Just slip it over your face and--voilĂ !--instant blackout. It's also handy for generally living in a state of ostrich-like denial. For example, if you ever find yourself in an unattractive, non-minimalist environment where you're surrounded by ugly people (such as a hospital or a Walmart), you can just slip it on and imagine yourself in a rustic luxury "cabin" in the "wilderness" eating pancakes drenched with designer maple syrup and looking at framed maps of places that haven't existed for a hundred years.

Moving on, yesterday I mentioned Gene Hackman's bicycle "accident" (it's cute when they call getting rammed by a car an "accident"), which prompted a reader to leave the following comment:

Bogusboy said...

Is it, perhaps, just barely possible that Gene Hackman is not an accomplished cyclist and was, in fact, riding like a geriatric Fred?

JANUARY 17, 2012 9:02 PM

It certainly is eminently possible. However, another reader has forwarded me actual video evidence that Mr. Hackman in fact has crazy mad tight sick bike-handling skillzzz:

Though if that's what Hackman was doing when the pickup truck hit him I suppose we could say that he bears some responsibility for the incident.

Speaking of cabins (as I was a bit earlier) I also received an email from yet another reader informing me that cabin porn is the new bike porn and directing me to the following site, which was indeed full of some of the filthiest cabin porn I've ever seen:

That's the kind of porn that sends fans of the "Americana backwoods revival" straight to the outhouse for some hot and frenzied "whittling" sessions. Seriously, that's full frontal cabin porn--you can see the whole derned woodpile for Lob's sake:

(Exposed woodpiles are the "beaver shot" of cabin porn.)

I think I even see a solar panel, which is of course the cabin porn equivalent of a "tramp stamp," and I won't even address the fact that this cabin is in a place called "Black Butte." There's even bike-on-cabin porn on, though frankly it leaves a lot to be desired:

Unless of course you're into bikes with step-through frames and missing front wheels "getting it on" with storage sheds. After all, who am I to judge?

Lastly, from cabin porn to portage porn, from a reader in Austin comes this action shot of a rider portaging a couple of big rods and a nonplussed pussy:

If the rider is also en route to a cabin then I may have hit the jackpot.

Hard and Soft: Let Them Eat Ice Cream

It's all too easy to be critical of the American media, especially when it comes to covering cycling. However, you do have to credit them for their consistency. Sure, when cyclists get hit by drivers the newspapers tend to blame the victim, but at least they do it to all the victims--regardless of whether it's just some unfortunate schmuck, or it's celebrated actor Gene Hackman:

Hackman was riding without a helmet on an Islamorada street around 3 p.m. when the pickup hit him, throwing him onto the grassy shoulder, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report. No charges were immediately reported.

Yes, pretty much every news outlet made sure to point out that Hackman was riding without a helment, because this is America, and what could possibly be crazier than a former marine thinking he could enjoy a bicycle ride in a dense urban area like the Florida Keys without first donning safety gear? Yet while they all seem compelled to mention the helment, not one of them so much as bothered to point out whether or not Hackman was wearing a sun hat--as a fair-skinned octogenarian, the actor is at high risk for skin cancer, and going out without adequate protection from the harsh Florida sun would technically be far more foolhardy behavior.

I'm sure we all agree on one thing though, which is that it's a good thing the driver of the pickup was not charged. Again, this is America, so the helmentless Hackman almost certainly committed the hideous crime of somehow being completely and totally invisible because he was riding a bicycle. As we all know, human beings automatically vanish into thin air when they sit on a bike, so it's safe to assume that the driver "didn't see him," or that Hackman "came out of nowhere," or else he fell under any of the other innumerable excuses by which it's perfectly fine to hit someone on a bike with your car in this strange and vexing country of ours.

In any case, if Hackman had made a habit of wearing giant floppy red sun hat, maybe the driver would have seen him and the unfortunate incident might have been averted.

In other stale news, it was announced on Friday that the Volagi guys have to pay Specialized one whole American "fun credit:"

Clearly the judge was a big fan of the movie "Trading Places:"

This was certainly at best a hollow victory for Specialized, though Mike Sinyard did his best to remain upbeat and gave the following quote through his clenched teeth:

“This lawsuit was a matter of principle and about protecting our culture of trust and innovation. We respect the ruling of the court in our favor. We are very satisfied with the outcome and the damages set at $1.00. We really want to put all our passion and time into growing the sport of cycling.”

According to earlier court filings, Specialized had spent $1.5 million in legal fees up to the start of the trial last week.

Sure, $1.5 million in legal fees to sue a couple of upstart Fred bike "curators" for a singe dollar may not seem like good business, but Specialized will recoup it next year when they once again unveil their radical new frame decal placements and pad the prices accordingly.

(The precision-engineered placement of the "S-Works" decal is the product of thousands of hours of graphic design and results in a 120% increase in other people knowing what kind of bike you're riding over last year's model.)

In fact, between the branding and the celebrity product placement, Specialized are sure to more than earn back their legal fees and reduce the Great Trek Bicycle Making Company to "boutique" status in short order in the process:

Oh yeah, Duhamel's really putting that Specialized through its paces, because nothing says "performance" like "shredding" a handicapped parking space on a mountain bike with the reflectors still on it:

Incidentally, Duhamel was not wearing a sun hat when the wheelchair van hit him, and no known charges have been filed against the driver.

Meanwhile, a reader recently sent me what very well may be the most offensive video I have ever seen. It's called "The Holstee Manifesto," it uses "bi-keen" to stunning effect, and I must be the last person in the world to know about it because it has been viewed over 400,000 times:

Thousands of years from now, when the space lizard archaeologists excavate the remains of our once-great society and ask, "What happened to the humans?," I only hope they're able to watch this video because it should answer all their questions. In particular, it will explain how a disease called "entitlement" swept through humanity with a virulence that made the bubonic plague seem like the sniffles. First, after going into debt for hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to go to college, the very few people who were fortunate enough to get jobs afterwards decided they didn't like them and quit:

I may be mistaken, but that looks like the Occupy Wall Street protest. If so, we have to assume that the filmmakers actually sent someone to a demonstration about joblessness and told him to hold up a sign telling people to quit their jobs. This is the 21st century equivalent of going to a civil rights march with a sign that says, "If you don't like sitting in the back of the bus then take a plane and fly first class."

Also, here's the funny thing about jobs: you're not supposed to like them. That's why they call it "work" and not "masturbating." If you don't like your job, the last thing you should do is quit. Look for a better one in your spare time? Sure. Work to improve the one you have? Absolutely. Start a company like the Volagi guys and get sued by your former employer? Why not? But quit your job with no prospects just because you don't "like" it? That's the "If it rains take the bus" of career advice. If you don't like your job you're much better off doing it anyway until you become really awesome at it. Granted, this is old-fashioned thinking since we've mostly outsourced the concept of "paying your dues," but at least you wind up with some options that don't involve going back to school for that fourth MFA.

Next, after all the humans quit the jobs they were lucky to have because they didn't like them, they rationalized their choice by adopting the philosophy of "minimalism:"

Theoretically, this would reduce their overhead and give them more leisure and yoga time. Unfortunately though, all the beautifully-designed clutter-reducing products they coveted were sold by big companies, and despite what the humans had been led to believe by marketing the big companies were not in fact benevolent. Their computers were sold by Apple and their fixies were sold by Specialized, and paradoxically all these "minimalist" products were actually pretty expensive since the big companies needed lots of money for marketing and lawsuits. And even though the humans now owned products that were simple, they were still too lazy to actually use them properly, and in many cases couldn't even muster the energy to place their feet in their toeclips:

Soon, crippled by unemployment and the high cost of minimalism, their basic survival skills began to whither as well. No longer able to afford cellphone plans for their iPhones, they were forced to revert to paper maps. However, they no longer knew how to read the maps, and so they rationalized away that ability as well:

So the once-great cities of the world became dystopias. Just as Rome had once been plundered by barbarians, New York was overrun by lost flannel-clad meh-rauders in an aimless search for a "self" that didn't exist:

(Every one of these people suffers from the delusion that he or she is awesome at something and will find out what it is by doing absolutely nothing.)

They struck blows not with clubs but instead with total self-interest, and they were impervious to any sort of criticism since they were still covered by their parents' health insurance and had plenty of ready access to all sorts of prescription drugs:

And thus was born the modern-day monster, a fickle being who had never experienced the slightest bit of displeasure or discomfort, and whose greatest satisfaction in life was the intoxicating sensation that comes from peer acceptance and the belief that the city and the world was custom-made for you:

("Is there anything more ah-some than being special and having friends?")

In fact, they became so delusional that they adopted an all-ice cream diet:

Then they shared the ice cream and gave each other herpes:

And when they ate their Ice Cream of Conformity:

They appreciated every last bite:

And so their over-educated brains finally succumbed to both herpes and culture-wide brainfreeze.

Thus, the "entitlement" disease reached its final stages, and these herpetic entitlement zombies were reduced to roaming around and speaking to people incoherently:

By the way, next time you're on the subway, go ahead and ask the person next to you, "Excuse me, what's your passion?" Then watch in terror as he smiles lasciviously, unzips his pants, and produces his "pants yabbies" for your delectation.

And here's the final message of the film:

Sure, that all sounds nice, but the truth is that not all dreams should be lived, and not all passions should be shared. Sometimes it's better to just do your job and shut the fuck up.

Anyway, after watching all this I wanted to know what Holstee actually does, and it turns out they sell stuff like $99 headphones:

These are great for listening to the neutered faux-transcendent 21st century background music that now passes for rock, and presumably you can use them while you ride your fixie-out-of-a-box to your next sick waterfront ice cream-licking "sesh" with your limp, overeducated friends.

Also, Holstee will sell you a poster of their dumb manifesto:

As well as a frame to put it in, demonstrated here by a douchebag in a visor:

The world according to marketing is an odd one indeed. Apparently, when it comes to real life we're supposed to just quit our jobs and follow our dreams, yet when it comes to our recreation we're supposed to install power meters on our bikes, upload our "workouts" to Strava, undertake brutal "epics," and generally suffer and be miserable.

Just beware of smiling people bearing ice cream.