Of course, it took seeing a sales pitch completely bereft of marketing to make me realize that not only am I susceptible to marketing, but that I actually miss it when it's not around. It turns out the only thing scarier than marketing is the absence of marketing. Here is the video that sparked this revelation for me, which is sort of an infomercial for the Oso Bike:
I think you'll agree with me that the one thing this video could have used (apart from a warning about not operating heavy machinery after watching) is, well, a script. Sure, we're all sick of phrases like "laterally stiff yet vertically compliant" and "telepathic handling," but you've got to admit even those hoary descriptors are more evocative and less jarring than phrases like "teardrop-shaped bars" with regard to the frame tubes, "they also feel very well when you're riding it" with regard to the handlebars," and "it pedals very easily because of the way the tires are" with regard to the tires and the overall ride quality.
Granted, I can understand why Oso Bike proprietor Shane Stock might have been tempted to work without a script. When you've got the sort of natural charisma he has--the kind that simply bursts forth despite your best efforts to contain it, like love handles over the waistline of a tight pair of jeans--you figure you can just be the waterfall and the camera can be the bucket. But the truth is even Marlon Brando and Francis Ford Coppola had a difficult time working that way in "Apocalyse Now." And for all his raw magnetism, I'm sorry to say Shane Stock is no Brando. (Though the camerawork does evoke Coppola at times.)
In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that, while it was a reader that first brought this video to my attention, I did not elect to mention Oso Bikes here until I also received an email from Shane Stock himself. However, I assue you that I have accepted no compensation of any kind in exchange for mentioning Oso Bikes. I have not taken money, I have not been given an Oso, and I have certainly not partaken in any of the debauchery Shane Stock is famous for--and that includes attending any of his famously ribald, psilocybin-and-Red-Bull-fueled fortnightly hot tub parties. (The deck behind Shane's house is the Studio 54 of the cycling world. If only that pressure-treated lumber could talk, it would tell stories about David Duchovny, Grant Petersen, and Fat Cyclist that would send you reeling.)
No, I only mention Oso Bikes because I would like to see Shane Stock take his rightful place at the table along with other industry pioneers such as Gary Fisher, Mike Sinyard, and, well, Grant Petersen. (Though I don't think Grant will be sitting at any tables after last week's hot tub party. He's probably still in detox.) One way to do this would be to delve deeper into Stock's heady days as a student in the 70s, when he came up with the idea for the Oso and which he only alludes to in the film. He needs to take us on his journey of discovery, and perhaps even dramatize the "Eureka" moment when he started stripping parts off his 10-speed after a few bong hits. More importantly, he's got to employ some catchy slogans. "Oso--it's O-so sexy!" comes immediately to mind. He's got a pretty decent idea here--a cheap bike with a coaster brake that looks like a fixed gear--but he's not selling the "sizzle." In fact, the burner's not even on and he's just got a slab of raw meat sitting in the pan.
Shane Stock would do well to look to Tyler Hamilton, who successfully underwent an image makeover from innocent paperboy to slightly older paperboy trying to look tough while still delivering papers:
VeloNews recently published a hard-hitting interview with Tyler, in which I presume he tells all, though I couldn't make the time to read it. (My collection of vintage Colorado Cyclist catalogs is not going to organize itself.) But one thing I did read was this:
"I think I’ve just relaxed a bit, in general. I’m not trying to be a rebel or anything. I’ve always enjoyed having a bit longer hair, not so high and tight. And Michael Ball has allowed me to feel that way, to relax a bit, grow some shag, wear some glasses you want to wear. "
A-ha! The glasses! So that's what this was all about. Tyler just wanted to wear some cool Prada sunglasses. They're sort of his "Rosebud," except unlike Charles Foster Kane he got to put them on before he died. It's heartwarming, really. (Though the part about growing shag concerns me--I never would have pegged Tyler for a marijuana farmer.)
Actually, designer sunglasses could be the answer for Shane Stock as well. That Oso infomercial would have had an entirely different feel if he'd been wearing a pair of giant overpriced celebutard shades. I'm even wearing a pair as I type. I can't really see anything, but I already feel much better about myself. Instant charisma, and totally funda.