(Unity, by Erik K)
As much as I long for a world in which cyclists and religious people can share the city's roads, even I must admit we have a long way to go. After all, the differences between us run deep--all the way down to the dermis layer of the skin. As we've seen time and time again, tattoos and cycling are inextricably (and indelibly) intertwined. Add to that the compulsion to display that skin without any clothes on it and you're sure to offend the devout:
A reader recently sent me the above image, which would most certainly enrage (and possibly arouse) any orthodox Jew worth his payis. As per my standard practice, I've applied both clothing and a sepia tone for art's sake, though you're perfectly welcome to view the non-sepia and unsafe-for-work version here. In case you can't make out the lettering on the tattoo, it says, "Every car a murder, every bike a love affair," making it perhaps one of the most politically-charged tramp stamps I've ever seen. I'm not sure why she's kneeling at the credenza, but it may have something to do with the dual cassette deck, and I've got a feeling she may be about to engage in a naked and sweaty tape-dubbing session.
Speaking of tattoos and positions, I think it's worth noting that one tattoo operation is currently positioning itself as the Supercuts of tattoo studios. According to the Wall Street Journal (which is shifting to trend reporting since there's no Wall Street anymore) Tattoo Nation in New Jersey is planning to become the first mall-based tattoo chain in the United States (and presumably the world):
The unintentionally sexual implications of a tramp stamp that says "Resilience" notwithstanding, the presence of tattoo studios in America's malls means that the tattoo has now officially become an impulse purchase, and that you'll soon be able to get a knuckle tattoo and a personalized hammock plaque under the same roof. I must admit that, as popular as tattoos have become, I did not see this coming. Of all the reasons I imagined people would become embarrassed about their tattoos, I never imagined one of them would be that other people might think they got it at the mall.
Then again, trends don't end with a bang--they end with a whimper. And the whimpering is the sound they make when they're neutered, packaged, and made readily available for mainstream consumption. Certainly the fate of the tattoo hints at the fate of the fixed-gear, and irreverent bikes like this (spotted by a reader in San Diego) will one day become extinct:
Personally, I feel that a wheel-borne message should be succinct, and so I found this one somewhat vexing. First of all, I'm not sure what "Fuck Nut Huggers" means. Is the rider simply averse to tight pants, or is "Fuck Nut Huggers" a band, like the Squirrel Nut Zippers? I'm also confused by the phrase "Fagget Ass Hipsters." At first I thought maybe it was a misspelling of the pejorative "faggot," but I ruled this out for two reasons: 1) everything else is spelled correctly; and 2) the rider is obviously a hipster himself, as evidenced by the hipster cyst on his headtube (and pretty much everything else about the bike too), so I doubt he'd insult them. And even if he is in fact a gay hipster who is trying to de-fang the slur by owning it, he would have spelled the word correctly. No, it's quite clear to me that he's trying to phonetically convey a "Sopranos"-type accent, and what he's imploring his fellow hipsters to do is to "Forget ass, hipsters." In other words, don't be distracted by tramp stamp-having, tape-dubbing, bare-bottomed sepia models like the one above--just ride your bike instead. (Preferably while listening to the Fuck Nut Huggers.)
I'd also imagine the fixed-gear trend whimpered audibly when this issue of the British Men's Health (forwarded to me by a reader) hit the stands:
"I'm all about shirts and jeans. Jeans in the city are key because you're always squeezing through traffic and scraping your legs. I often wear a bandana over my nose and mouth so I don't breathe in all those nasty car fumes. The best advice I can give is to keep your bike clean. No bells, no racks, no breaks [sic], no gadgets."
Oh yeah, that's all great advice. I've been riding in New York City for a long time, but I've never had a problem with scraping my legs in traffic. I suppose this is either because I don't ride hard enough, or because I actually have some degree of spatial intelligence which, combined with handlebars that are actually wider than the distance between my nipples, helps me to determine where I can fit and where I can't. His point is well-taken, though, and I'm sure if I do find myself scraping my legs on cars I'll run right out and buy a pair of Paul Smith jeans. I also agree that you should avoid things like racks and brakes. These things are terrible for cycling in New York City, since they'll conspire to make your bike useful and will detract from the overall non-functionality of your bike. Certainly when you're riding in Paul Smith jeans you wouldn't want something like a fender on your bike. That might help keep them clean. No, you're much better off giving them that distressed look by rubbing them against cars.
But of course as the article below points out, "riding fixed isn't for the faint-hearted." And apparently riding with brakes and a rack is faint-hearted, but riding with a hanky on your face like an Upper East Side dowager walking her poodle so you don't have to experience any nasty smells is not.
In any case, it's good to see more people are using my template.
*(Remember that tattoo price should not be included when determining overall outfit cost.)