Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Unusual Flavor: Cycling and the Unaccountability of Taste

As you may know, this past Friday was renowned director Stanley "The Manley" Kubrick's birthday. As such, that Robert Osborne guy from the cable was showing a few of his films, including "Lolita," which Osborne failed to mention is the "Citizen Kane" of pedophilia movies. Having recorded it on my Betamax (the Campagnolo Euclid group of audiovisual equipment) I was watching it yesterday evening when I noticed that, save for the dimpled chin, the Lone Wolf looks a lot like the film's star, James Mason:

For a moment I thought that maybe the Lone Wolf is James Mason, but then I realized that James Mason is no longer with us--and even if James Mason was still with us, he would have turned 100 this past May. Also, as I pointed out, the Lone Wolf has a chin dimple, which James Mason didn't, although it's not impossible that the Lone Wolf's is not genetic and he had it added surgically to enhance his aerodynamics. If this is the case, then it's still possible that the Lone Wolf is somehow related to James Mason--perhaps he's a cousin, or a nephew, or even an erstwhile son. This in turn opens up the enticing possibility that the Lone Wolf also shares James Mason's characteristically suave way of speaking:



If he does, the bicycle industry would be well-advised to seek the Lone Wolf as a spokesperson. I can see him rolling casually on a Tarmac, wearing an ascot and a smoking jacket and saying "I am Specialized" in that lilting Masonesque tone. Listening to James Mason is like watching a satin sheet billowing on a clothesline, whereas listening to Tom Boonen or Paolo Bettini is like listening to some tourist in South Beach try to order a mojito.

Speaking of Boonen and Bettini, it looks like neither will be riding in this year's Tour de France. Boonen of course was banned for having "indirect contact with cocaine" (which somehow sounds even worse than having direct contact with it, like maybe there was an assistant and a suppository involved), and Bettini of course is retired from cycling and has moved on to rally racing:

I'd like to think he has a smooth-talking James Masonesque navigator ("Do bear right after the crest in the road, if you'd be so kind"), or at least someone who talks like 80s Dom Irrera, but I'm guessing his navigator probably sounds more like Roberto Benigni after a night of partying with Tom Boonen.

Ah yes, there's no surer sign of summer than the start of the Tour de France. I, however, prefer to savor the sights and sounds of the sweaty season closer to home. For example, I recently ventured into Williamsburg, Brooklyn (I'm shopping for a new identity and I heard they were having a sale on the retro gas station attendant look) and found its main thoroughfare, Bedford Avenue, to be in the throes of "Williamsburg Walks:"

Not only was Williamsburg walking, but they were also schluffing--on their fixed-gears!

Of course, where there are large numbers of hipsters attempting to saunter off their hangovers, there are people ready to sell them crappy bikes:

Note the pie plate on this makeshift display. Actually, when I first saw this I was excited because I thought it might be some kind game show, and that this was a Wheel of Bicycle Fortune. Had it been, I doubt I would have been able to contain my excitement. Unfortunately, on closer inspection I realized that the wheel didn't spin, nor was there a hipster Pat Sajak or even a hipster Vanna White with a muffin top and a tramp stamp. There was just some guy with a bunch of "vintage" crap, and if I wanted it I had to pay for it. Oh well, I guess for that kind of entertainment you need to go to Portland.

But summer in New York City means more than just closed streets. It also means lots of people on bicycles. In fact, there are so many bicycles out there right now that people are locking them up two-deep:

I don't really have any explanation for this except that people must now be parking their bicycles in ascending order of cost. I'm sure if I'd waited long enough someone would have arrived on a Pista Concept with an Aerospoke and locked it on top of the Surly, and so forth, until there was some sort of custom Chari & Co. monstrosity with white tires and H+Son rims and tiny anodized riser bars at the very top. It seems we've officially reached the point here in New York where the street signs are now just skewers for gigantic shishkabobs of trendiness.

Personally, I'm more than happy to acknowledge the Ironic Orange Julius Bike's status as the low bicycle on the totem pole, which is why I still lock it at street level. (Also, it's too heavy to lift that high.) However, I suppose I'm still somewhat audacious, because I did recently dare to lock it up next to (instead of beneath) this:

I've noticed with both interest and annoyance that in a relatively short amount of time the narrow riser bar has gone from affectation to trend to de rigeur. Nearly every fixed-gear I see in New York City is now set up this way. Actually, I've come to think of these kinds of bars as "moustache bars." Of course, I realize that a real moustache bar looks like this, but the fact is that since the days of Wyatt Earp you seldom see moustaches that long and wide anymore--Tom Ritchey and this guy notwithstanding. No, generally, when you see a moustache now it's relatively short and tidy, with just a mild curve--like a narrow riser handlebar, or like the hairy curtain above James Mason's mouth:


Still, it's too confusing to refer to both types of bars as "moustache bars." Also, I'm certain that Grant Petersen would fight any attempts to wrest the term away from the bars he sells, and as a "woosie" there's no way I'm going to tempt his exquisitely-lugged fury. As such, in the spirit of compromise, I should probably refer to them as "unibrow bars" instead:

This term may conflict with "wheelbrows" (formerly "fenders") but at least it gets Petersen off my case.

Speaking of eyebrows, the constant increase in the number of bicycles has brought with it an increase in brow-furrowing behavior. In the past, I've written of the "sandbar of idiocy," which is the result of this infuriating unwritten rule:

If you stop at a red light and there is already another cyclist waiting at it, you must stop your bicycle in front of the rider who is already there.

Well, lately these "sandbars of idiocy" are eroding in a hurricane of ridiculousness. It's not enough to just come to a stop in front of somebody now; instead, you've got to do it with "flambullience:"

I was waiting at a light recently when I heard the now-familiar and unmistakable sound of a cheap tire skidding behind me. The rider then cut in front of me, revealing a gilded bike, and proceeded to trackstand in the middle of the busy intersection. Interestingly, while the bike lacked "unibrow bars," it was equipped with a brake, which made the skid seem that much more melodramatic. In fact, the entire episode was overly theatrical--to me, skidding into the middle of an intersection and then just (track)standing there is like showing up late to a dinner party, leaping up on the table while everyone else is eating, and doing a model walk.

Speaking of models, a reader recently forwarded me a video in which a model demonstrates the perils of improper saddle adjustment:


Yes, it turns out that if you attempt to mount a bicycle with a vertical saddle the results can be quite uncomfortable--so much so that I was forced to both sepiafy and Larry Kingify them:


Furthermore, the video goes on to show that continuing to ride a saddle adjusted in this manner can make you prone to mishaps involving other household items as well, such as vases containing floral arrangements:

Yes, it just goes to show that even obscenity is subjective, and that one person's pornography is simply another person's cycling PSA.

98 comments:

Anonymous said...

Last!

Anonymous said...

donkey

ant1 said...

ant1st!

mikeweb said...

Freda!

Anonymous said...

Basso!

What a season!

Pete said...

yep

Anonymous said...

Top 10?!

ringcycles said...

Podium! There by an eyebrow (good thing I fluffed them out)

Anonymous said...

shdang!

ringcycles said...

Oh no, denied. Too much time grooming the facial hair I suppose.

John Zambenini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred said...

Dang, a bungie cord from my rack tangled in my spokes. Back to being dropped, like a proper Fred.

Anonymous said...

Lucky 13 ?

Anonymous said...

BOO-YA!

grog said...

schluff

mikeweb said...

I detect a tip-o'-the-hat to CC's new profile photo with the Ed Grimley viddy...

Anonymous said...

Fixed gears are the new fanny pack!

rezado said...

Only having one saddle for two bikes sucks.

Anonymous said...

here we go again, the next 10 hours will bring us smut-ridden posts (no pun intended) and irate Grant-fans.

Anonymous said...

chari and co link is not working.

Slappy said...

I'm confused with those last 3 photos in today's post. Perhaps I should stay that way.

hillbilly said...

Way to go Ant1!!!!!!

brilliant post as always, snob. This sentence really bugs me though, not sure if it is necessarily wrong, or just damn goofy: "seek the Lone Wolf as a spokesperson"

seek out maybe? I don't know.

The box blockers on the manhattan side of manhattan bridge are my new least favorites. Every day, btwn 5-10 sit there waiting to go straight, problem is some of us actually go east and have a green light and don't need to fight through a bunch of idjits. Ok, that's my weekly plea for people to realize that other people exist.

Test Tickle said...

balls.

Anonymous said...

TEXAS!

Seanywonton said...

Ugh...snob, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit!

Disgruntl Ed. said...

Yes. When James Mason speaks you have to wonder why anyone else bothers. Except maybe Astrud Gilberto.

I will have a mojito, now that you mention it.

Mr G. said...

Slappy, seeing that the last 3 photos are from a site called "fist-art.com" Id probably just opt to remain in the dark if I were you.

Unless that kinda stuff is right up your alley.

Pun intended.

db said...

Thanks for hitting on the subject of fellow commuters and the sandbar of idiocy. The shtuff I saw today had me thisclose to chasing down one idiot.

I'm really worried that instead of administering first aid when I finally see that inevitable automobile-asshat collision, that I'll just step off the pedals and give them a golf-clap.

mikeweb said...

I know the moustache man after Ritchey. He's a denizen of Red Hook named John.

hillbilly said...

Yes! Al Franken finally declared the winner!!!

Anonymous said...

I have now determined that the Lone Wolf is paying the Snob top dollar for front and center (or slightly off center) placement -- the early faltering steps of a massive marketing campaign to sell the world white tights.

ant1 said...

Fist-art.com. Nice, snobby, real nice. It's amazing the depths you're willing to sink to (pun intended) to bring us entertainment. Thanks for the cropping on the tulips picture. I'm assuming she's from holland.

Anonymous said...

Hillbilly,

I would suggest another commute bridge from brooklyn, but they're all pretty choked the same way since the nice(r) weather has taken hold.

The Williamsburg bridge is clogged with ass-crack-showing fixters trying to race people and not keeping right once they've dropped the old lady on the 45lb cruiser. So you pretty much have to debate between squeezing by them, or saying "on your left/right" (as they are usually swerving) and hoping they don't bewilderingly look that way and steer right into you.

I do love the crosswalk trackstander. All important accessories are displayed: cap, sunglasses, wife beater, messenger bag, possible ipod earphones, silly 'colorways' theme, obnoxious riding that inconveniences everyone besides himself. Ah, it's all about him and his generic trendiness that doesn't conform to...oh wait.

Anonymous said...

wtf? he looks more like john voigt.

Anonymous said...

I second the Voit Vote.

does TLW have a dottir?

hillbilly said...

anon 238- funny, good description of the WB....No, unfortunately coming from park slope and headed straight up 1st ave, the Manhattan Bridge is the bridge of choice, and I like it generally, just can't stand the clueless...maybe that's what makes people try to smash through the fence every few weeks.

Luck E. Seven said...

Not to derail your parlance, but those cropped risers de rigeur are the "sleazy stache" of mustache bars.

Think less unibrow and more Clark Gable as Rhett Butler.



A

grog said...

By "an assistant and a suppository" do you mean a tall female accomplice and a bunch of tulips?

VELO FIST
VOIT VOTE

Anonymous said...

You mentioned Campagnolo Euclid...the brakes and levers are kinda clunky and the seat post is definitely bizarre. I will say the derailleurs are nice and the hubs are VERY nice especially if you like shiny polished stuff. Perfect for the Lone Wolf types

g-rock said...

Still trying to figure out how they schluff without a freewheel...

rpophessagr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kale said...

Wwhat no... what!?

innerlighter said...

I find it kind of ironic, and a bit dorky really, that The Cricket has his race helmet painted to look like his old bike helmet.
Oh well, as long as he doesn't drive like Ulrich.


meh

Anonymous said...

Alas, if only Commiecanuck had used sepia, he might still be blogging today.

Anonymous said...

Two days in a row of Lone Wolf posts? A little obsessed are we? He is a handsome man though, so I understand the attraction.

At least you gave us this gem:

"...the street signs are now just skewers for gigantic shishkabobs of trendiness...'

Strayhorn said...

I honestly did not know, or even imagine, there was so much bike-related porn on the intratubes. What a wonderful modern age we live in.

christian said...

And Death Metal goes fixie
http://gattphotos.livejournal.com/375196.html

hillbilly said...

g-rock, just picture the needle of a sewing machine...or some other analogy that somebody more manly would make. i mean, i don't sew...really.

CommieCanuck said...

Awesome, those saddle pics will forever be in the anals of this blog.

Bettini is better suited to rally driving, as he can conveniently hang the blood bag off the roll bar.
My navigation voice while driving is Monica Bellucci whispering in Italian.
My GPS voice, of course, is Dennis Hopper or Gary Busey.

Mike, thanks for the TOTH for Ed, I'm leading a petition to place his face on the Canadian ten dollar bill. If it doesn't work I'll just go mental, ya know..

Anonymous said...

This blog is tiring.

CommieCanuck said...

Anon 3:56..I wonder what you're doing while reading this blog that makes it so tiring. Try switching hands.

Anonymous said...

Top tube teabagging is out, Deep saddle fisting is in!

Fritz said...

Whats the word? Say THUNDERBIRD!

mikeweb said...

CC, maybe Don Cherry can go on the 100 dollar bill.

bikesgonewild said...

..."it has a delightful flavor...not quite like anything i've ever tasted"...

...perhaps, mr mason, that's because most "wine" is made from grapes or other natural products...but thunderbird ???...meh, (oops, i did it again) not so much...

mikeweb said...

Looks like a rainy commute home today...

hillbilly said...

perfect floyd bennett weather!!!

bikesgonewild said...

...& while larry king has once again stuck his face in where it doesn't belong, i could only imagine the second foto shows an interesting solution to the time honored problems encountered in the crotchal/saddle aerodynamic interface...

spiny norman said...

The Lone Wolf is your Clare Quilty, BSNYC.

Anonymous said...

I'm a freak. Please post link to weird insertion video...

d. fofonov said...

Babushka is for certain applying for visa to America and Minnesota in particular. She is saying Franken is ass-kissing Communist toady worthy of anything she is seeing in old Soviet Union.

As for me, am having no opinion about internal affairs of America. We forreigners are not meddling in country of others.

But Franken when I read about him in Wikipedia parooski is sounding like a podium wooskie.

Fierce Panties said...

The Woosie note brings back good memories of "vintage" Bike Snob. I remember the box hanging from a Scat-Taint in Williamsburg asking "Is My Bike Cool?"

Can I use that for extra credit for this Friday's fun quiz?

Kapitan said...

Bonkers. Simply mad.

Anonymous said...

The model in the video is also handily demonstrating the "condom as horn protector" move for those rainy days when you want to keep the horn dry...

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:04-

Here you go - Link

bikesgonewild said...

...HORN RIDE...

...& tulips for two lips...

...just sayin'...

Anonymous said...

What's next? Bike bukkakke? Golden Schwinn showers? Pinarello poo-play? Sweet Jesus...

bikesgonewild said...

...& you gutter minds better understand that HORN RIDE was the only thing i could get knuckle tatted to express my displeasure & upset over chris horner not going to this years le tour de france...

g said...

Sorry I'm late. What did I miss....? Oh dear God!!

Doug said...

Just saw a guy ride by my apartment with Ortlieb panniers on a girl's Huffy... can barely contain myself.

Anonymous said...

thats is an interesting point doug. what we have here is a $15 bike, with $200 bags. is this bad? is this good? one thing we do know is he likes quality rucksacks, but not bikes.

ecotom said...

Is the unibrow bar rubbing a polished mutant?? ...Wait, what am I asking?

Blaiser said...

Who the fuck are you? You are the man, that's who. You are the MFA, Watership Down fucking badass holier-than-thou 10-gauge double-barrel Italian racing gruppo iron ironiclast mother from another brother. On ice.

I'm a fan.

Thadeusz said...

Snob,

I just noticed that Frida Kahlo has a helper monkey as well. How's Vito doing, by the way?

Not like I miss you or anything...

frilly said...

Deep saddle fisting?

I think I'd rather foff.

Cobalto Jewel said...

1) Nothing wrong with Euclid. It did what it did when it needed to do it.

2) "Listening to James Mason is like watching a satin sheet billowing on a clothesline" - excellent!

Paul Bowen said...

Cobalto, I'm still getting the hang of the Cult of Campagnolo, but I took the comparison of Betamax and Euclid to mean that Betamax, whilst now outdated, was the best there was in its day - and still pretty damn solid. But I'm probably wrong

I too loved the description of James Mason's voice but my fave today was "gigantic shishkabobs of trendiness", which is just gorgeous. Back in the 80s I used to employ a Californian who said 'kabob' and I thought he was mispronouncing 'kebab' but now after all these years I discover that US English has a different word.

London like NY is well into the Fairweather Cyclist Season (FCS). The London FCS rider makes his/her cycling status clear to others by displaying at least two of the following:

ill-fitting helmet (lopsided typically, though I've actually been lucky enough to see two already this summer worn back-to-front - the Penny Black of newbie spotting ); big spongey running shoes; respro mask. Is this look sported by newbie/FCS riders in the US too?

Anonymous said...

http://toronto.en.craigslist.ca/bra/bik/1246014028.html

ringcycles said...

Snob: I don't think I will ever look at a Brooks saddle cover again without feeling ashamed. Or a vase of red tulips for that matter.

two said...

hmmmm, is it possible to schluff on a fixed gear??

Luck E. Seven said...

Paul,
Yes. American FCSs frequently mix fitness/transportation implements and rub them in new and exciting ways. This brings me to my next point...

Frills,
I suppose that fisting requires some manner of fist. That is a saddle *insertion*. Foff on...


A

Anonymous said...

Paul Bowen- I like the helmet worn far back on the head with the straps UNBUCKLED! (Yes, I have seen this more than once!) It's the cycling equivalent of the Yarmulke - and about as protective...

jolene said...

i coodent wate for to tell yalls about the goins on at the viper librury they says that the law wont let me and ricky take the .308 in here no more i tolt them we was out huntin squirels and shit what we sposed to put it in dammit all to hell

at lese the steel letus eat nes to the computers i do love me these halpeno popers

Paul Bowen said...

Polystyrene yamulke, that's the one, haha!

RatherBeBiking said...

hey, look who it is!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bicyclesonly/3678390327/?addedcomment=1#comment72157620685563793

Anonymous said...

The expression on the Lone Wolf's face seems to convey true happiness and enlightenment. Long live the Lone Wolf!

Anonymous said...

bsnyc...how can u call urslf a bike SNOB whn u cant c at 20m(+/- 5m)..dat da brotha in gray is "schluffing" along on a 18t shimano FREEWHEEL threadd to phil hubs laced with dts to cxp33s attachd to a fbm sword & fork with duraace 7800 road cranks, sugino mssngr chnring with

TOECLIPLESS-GOLD animal pc pedals (not easily toe clip compatible)

..his left hand is also griping a brklvr dat oprats a 7800 duraace frnt brake.

snob...maybe u should eat more carrots

Jay said...

gross

Jay said...

...wait, how did you get those pictures? Aren't those for Fist-Art members only?

Anonymous said...

Kubrick was born on July 26th not June.

Anonymous said...

Fagged-the-fuck-out

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