I for one was hopeful, so I was excited to see the photos. Here we see Armstrong emerging tentatively from his car, checking for photographers. (Apart from the nutjob with the camcorder in the grassy knoll and the person who took the actual photo, the coast appears to be clear:)
(Photo by Chrissie Rosetta)
Here we see him outside of the vehicle, but still hiding behind the door. At this point I was sure he was wearing lederhosen but that he was still feeling a bit self-conscious about it:
(Photo by Chrissie Rosetta)
Finally, though, Armstrong (emboldened by the distant sounds of his beloved oompah music perhaps) summoned the courage to show himself. Unfortunately, though, he wasn't wearing lederhosen at all. He was just wearing some crappy t-shirt:
(Photo by Chrissie Rosetta)
The only possible explanation for Armstrong's clothing choice is that it was laundry day, and when he opened his t-shirt drawer all that was left was this one and his old Letle Viride World Tour '89 raglan tee with the hole dangerously close to the nipple area. Also, judging from the sunglasses and the rest of the photos, which show Armstrong hanging with Steve Hed, I wouldn't be surprised if they were both coming straight off an all-nighter at Shane Stock's house. In any case, he only had a few moments to collect himself before the autograph hounds came:
Incidetally, Armstrong did win both the ITT and the TTT, though with regard to his ITT victory he said he was only "moderately pleased" and that he "wasn't ecstatic." I like to think that the shirt confered upon him the power to find something negative in a positive situation. After all, that is how I approach my own endeavors. When life gives some people lemons, they make lemonade, but when life gives me delicious ripe oranges I squeeze the citric acid out of them and pour it into my eyes. Though I will say I was pleased to see Armstrong racing his bike this weekend instead of running the New York City marathon. Even if he didn't race in lederhosen.
Speaking of disappointment, last night was the New York City premiere of Macaframa, and I decided to attend. If you don't know what Macaframa means, I can't help you, because I still don't know. All I know is it's a highly stylized movie in which people in subtly different outfits ride their fixed-gear bicycles around San Francisco to musical accompaniment. I'd been seeing snippets from this movie for many months now, so when I learned it would be shown in my own hometown I figured it was my responsibility to check it out.
I proceeded to a place called Arlo and Esme on East. 1st Street in Mahattan, which New York Magazine says offers "coffee by day and coffee cocktails at night." Personally, I like my cocktails without any coffee, and I like them day or night, so I was already concerned. The flyer for the event had said "first come first serve," so I did my best to get there late in hopes that I might be turned away. My hopes were bolstered by the fact that the entire block was encrusted with fixed-gear bicycles like barnacles on a jetty:
The closer I got to the venue, the more severe the bicycle-clumping became:
In urban fixed-gear terminology, this is what's known as a "bike carbuncle:"
To my horror, they were even hanging from the trees:
Unfortunately, despite the fact that the venue was obviously going to be packed, I was granted access. (A bouncer duly checked my driver's license, which I have cunningly amended to fool people into thinking I'm actually over 21.) I made my way downstairs just as the film began and took my place at the back of the crowd, where I hoped not to attract any attention. (In an attempt at disguising myself, I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, and I hadn't showered since participating in a cyclocross race the day before):
Despite the poor vantage point, I could see enough to determine that this was no ordinary fixed-gear movie. Indeed, it was actually an ordinary fixed-gear movie with a much higher quotient of 60s and 70s rock music than I had expected. And while "Venus in Furs" by the Velvet Underground isn't exactly the sort of music you'd expect to accompany aggressive urban fixed-gear riding, it did work with the San Francisco gingerbread-house backdrop, as well as with the frequent shots of clouds and waving alfalfa fields or whatever they were. Bemused, I sought a slightly better vantage point:
Believe it or not, I could see pretty well from here, but despite this, I began to grow a bit bored. Firstly, while some might find watching people ride down steep San Francisco hills on brakeless fixed-gear bikes thrilling, I find it kind of ridiculous. The frantic spinning coupled with the upright position (short stems are the new long stems) of most of the riders makes high-speed riding look comical--it's like watching old-timey baseball footage. Secondly, while I'm not particularly impressed by most fixed-gear trick riding, I'm completely sick of those goofy elephant trunk leg-over-the-bar skids, and this movie has them in abundance. They're like the PBR of fixed-gear freestyling and it's growing tiresome. Of course, in other respects the fixed-gear culture has moved on. It turns out my dirty-person-wearing-a-hoodie costume was thoroughly out of date, as the new look appears to be flat-brim caps and puffy coats:
Ah yes, ideal riding apparel.
At this point, I decided I was going to need help getting through the film, so I sought assistance in the form of alcohol. Fortunately, the bar was right behind me, and there was no line since everyone else was riveted by the film. It looked eerily like that bar in "The Shining:"
I ordered a Guinness, since those take a long time to serve properly and I figured waiting for it to settle would help kill some time. I then returned to my place and promptly drank it in about three gulps. Going...
Meanwhile, the movie played on, and a pattern evolved. A new rider would be introduced, then he'd spin really fast down a really steep hill, then a song would kick in and he'd dodge some cars, pull some skids, do some wheelies, or jump over some things. When it comes to the technical aspects of moviemaking, I'm fairly ignorant, though I will say that to me the movie did look very professional. Actually, it was kind of like watching a commercial for California tourism in that it was pretty but otherwise fairly uneventful. As it drew to a close, I realized that for all the music and outfits and Golden Gate Bridge shots it would also be interesting to see a movie like this that gives the viewer a little insight into who these riders are. Then again, I suppose that's asking too much, since this sort of thing is essentially soft-core bike porn. Also, the place was packed, and everyone else seemed to really enjoy it, since they were pretty much watching themselves.
After the movie, I swiftly moved through the crowd since I wanted to go home and watch "Little Britain," and I was among the first people to the vast bicycle parking lot that E. 1st St. had become.
The Ironic Orange Julius Bike was easy to find, since it was the only one with brakes and without expensive anodized hubs. (My hubs are cheap and badly oxidized and basically look like rotting apple cores.) Most of the other bikes only looked crappy at a glance but were in fact very expensive. Except for this one, with the requisite Obama spoke card:
Until last night, I was still undecided with regard to the Presidential election, but that spoke card may have clinched my vote.
At any rate, if you like watching people ride fixed-gear bikes you'll most likely enjoy Macaframa. I'm probably not the target audience, but they seem to have done a good job. You'll also probably enjoy the upcoming "Empire," which involves none other than Prolly and is already getting lots of attention. Thanks to all these movies fixed-gear cyclists are fast cementing their reputation as urban daredevils. Ultimately, I'm sure we'll see a feature-length, mainstream film. It will probably be just like "Quicksilver," except none of the characters will be messengers.