Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Ambiguity: Mixed Messages and Style Overlap
If you're like most cyclists, you probably find yourself checking out other riders' bikes. And sometimes, when a singlespeed bicycle is stationary, it can be difficult to determine from a distance whether it's equipped with a freewheel or a fixed gear. Even a lack of a rear brake (or any brakes) doesn't necessarily mean it's a fixed-gear bicycle, since increasing numbers of people are rubbing the dubious single brake/freewheel setup. (This is a bad idea, because under heavy braking your rear wheel will go up in the air like the hind quarters of a presenting baboon.) But the true "hardcore" fixed-gear cyclist does not want to leave any doubt, and one way to dispel that doubt is with a message like this:
Still, I feel there's room for interpretation here. Is this rim decal a faux-"gangsta" answer to a hypothetical question? ("What kind of bike do you rub?" "Fixie, bitch!") Or is what appears to be a comma actually just a little bit of road schmutz? In that case it would indicate a completely different exchange. ("Excuse me, to whom does this bike belong?" "Fixie Bitch!")
Wondering if there is indeed a cyclist who calls herself (or himself) the "Fixie Bitch," I conducted some research with the help of a popular internet search engine. It turns out there actually is a "Fixie Bitch," and that she is also immortalized on someone's calf. (Note the caption.):
Now, it should be said that I do not approve of calling women "bitches," and I believe strongly that the word should only be used to refer to female jackalopes. (Jackalope bitches lack antlers and look exactly like regular rabbits.) Still, if someone wants to call herself (or himself) the "Fixie Bitch" she (or he) has every right to do so. And if I had to imagine someone who might call herself the "Fixie Bitch," she'd probably be a hard-drinking, fixed-gear-rubbing, septum ring-having lady like this:
This picture is just one of a series that was forwarded me by a reader, and they were all part of this Charleston, SC Craigslist ad:
1984 55' Gitane Tour de France Fixed Gear - $300 (Downtown Charleston, SC)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-03-14, 12:40PM EDT
Tired of walking or bumming rides from your friends? Do you get mad when your beach cruiser can't keep up with your fellow bicyclists? Well, stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it! Buy my bike! This beauty is a 55' 1984 Gitane Tour De France Edition Fixed Gear Conversion! This baby comes equipped with Milwaukee Deep Velocity wheel set with less than a 100 ridden miles of use. I had a brand new Origin8 crank set that I believe has a lifetime warranty. It has new bar tape and a break light. The frame has some surface rust but can be easily cleaned and painted over. I was told I could sell it for $500 if I painted it and replaced the decals but I'll just let YOU do that! If you are the lucky one to buy this eco-friendly hellfire, I'll even throw in a spare tube and seat pouch. Please call me at 843-425-[deleted] if you are interested in acquiring this wonderful item!!!
The bike has no "breaks," but it does have a "break light." In any case, I'm sure you'll agree it's quite a sales pitch--though of course the salacious photos probably should be rendered in sepia and made arousal-proof by including Larry King's face:
By the way, if you're wondering what she's drinking, it appears to be a 40 oz. bottle of Schlitz malt liquor:
Or if you prefer (which I'm sure you don't):
If you would like to see more pictures of the Gitane model and prefer not to visit Craigslist, you can also find them here in this photo album. You can also find pictures of people who are presumably her friends, like this guy:
Just as I avoid the term "bitch," I also avoid the term "hillbilly," since I understand some people find it offensive. However, it should be said that urban "hipsters" have adopted many aspects of the stereotypically rural aesthetic, such as bushy beards, old flannel shirts, affinity for cheap beer, and a professed appreciation for country and folk music. In fact, if you visit the trendy parts of Brooklyn now you will find lots of stylized "dive" bars decorated with taxidermy and patronized by young graphic designers dressed like Uncle Jesse. This makes sense, since we're living in the Age of Irony, and people now seem to be flocking to the city only to transform it into some kind of honky-tonk theme park. Still, as a result, it has become almost impossible to tell a "hipster" from a "hillbilly" in photos, and as such I have no idea what to make of the person above. Actually, the only thing "hipsters" and "hillbillies" don't share is guns (the "hipster's" only mode of self-defense is sarcasm), so this photo from the same album was slightly less ambiguous:
I think she may be getting ready for a jackalope hunt.
Speaking of "hipster" fashion, the lock-around-the-waist look is as popular as ever. Actually, a reader informs me that some people are now simply wearing the lock by itself:
Note the addition of sepia, as well as both Larry King and Oprah. That should keep your chain slack.