Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Give It Up: The Best Gift is Nothing at All

As we move into the smarmy, treacly portion of the holiday season, many of us find ourselves under pressure to purchase gifts for other people. While gift-giving was once a natural expression of goodwill, it has since become a prerequisite, and our entire retail economy now depends on it. If you fail to purchase a gift and present it to someone else, not only are you tacitly telling someone you don't care about them, but you're also undermining the entire capitalist system. At this rate, in a few decades Christmas and its various ethnic spin-offs will no longer be considered holidays, and will instead be legal obligations like Tax Day.

Still, whether you're giving gifts this year out of genuine affection, or you're doing so out of obligation and fear, if you haven't finished your holiday shopping by now you're almost out of time. Christmas is a little more than a week away, and if you're shopping for Hanukkah you're dangerously late, for Jewish tradition states that if ye hath not purchased a gift before the eight and final candle of the Virtual Menorah is extinguished, then ye shall be banish-ed and shunned for all eternity. Unfortunately, though, ITTET many of us have even less money than we do time, which makes the gift-giving process extremely stressful. Sure, every TV show, magazine and website has an annual list of gift ideas, but what good is that perfect gift when you simply can't afford it?

As it happens, my bathroom reading has become increasingly spiritual as of late, and I was poring over the Dhammapada recently when I arrived upon this quote from the Buddha or someone claiming to be the Buddha:

"But there is a taint worse than all taints--ignorance is the greatest taint. O mendicants! throw off that taint and become taintless!"

Indeed, attaining total taintlessness is the loftiest of spiritual goals, which is why DZ-Nuts and in fact the entire crotch cream industry has a vested interest in keeping us all in a state of ignorance and desire by moistening and coddling our grundles. This is also why the true ascetic cyclist goes without chamois cream, so that he or she may remove the taint over time through a painful process of abrasion, thus eventually reaching transcendence and enlightenment.

In any case, as I pondered this, I realized that lack of time and money is not regrettable. In fact, it's a blessing, for instead of giving gifts to each other it affords us an opportunity to help the mendicants, those people who go without and depend on charity. Instead of stretching your budget to give your friend that hands-free umbrella he's been coveting, simply give what you can unto the mendicant in your friend's name, thus "embiggening" everybody. This is what the Buddhists call a "mitzvah," and it is gift-giving in its purest form. (Or what the Buddhists call "fixed-gear giving.")

The only hard part is choosing a worthy mendicant. So, in lieu of a "traditional" seasonal gift-giving guide, I'm instead pleased to present a short list of some lesser-known yet still worthy cycling mendicants. So give alms instead of gifts this year, and let the "stocking stuffer" remain what it sounds like: a euphemism for the male member.

Recycle-A-Bicycle, Bike Co-Ops, etc.

If you live in a city or town of any consequence you have at least one LBS, if not several. Their racks are brimming with crabon fribé pro bike replicas; their walls are hung with $200 helmets and $500 ballet shoes; and their selling floors are staffed by teenagers who can fit you (incorrectly) at a glance while they recite marketing copy like a guru can recite the Bhagavad Gita.

But what of that other shop? You know, the one filled with old crappy 10 speeds and staffed by people with strange body piercings and on loan from the food co-op. The one that considers things like cartridge bearings and threadless forks a gross indulgence. The one that offers a weekly class specifically to teach transgender people how to overhaul French bottom brackets.

As amazing as it seems, this shop is not drowning in revenue. In fact, it depends on the good will of others to provide vegans, graduate students, and other needy people with safe, reliable bicycles. So check with yours and see if they need anything. If it's anything like ours, then not only do they need money and parts:

But they also need tissue paper and string for some reason:

Remember: the best thing about giving to a bicycle co-op is not how good it feels to help. Rather, it's how good it feels to watch your friend's crestfallen expression when he or she opens a card that says, "A ball of butchers twine has been donated in your name to Recycle-A-Bicycle." So give until it hurts--to laugh.

Junior Development

If you've ever purchased or renewed a USCF or NORBA license, you've probably been prompted to help young and aspiring competitive cyclists:

Even if you haven't, at some point you've probably been solicited by a local club to donate money or equipment or to attend some event in order to help support their junior racers.

This holiday season, instead of ignoring those solicitations like you always do, consider actually helping. After all, there are people in their late teens who are right now being forced to race and train on last year's Dura Ace! Donating even a few hundred dollars can mean that somewhere a young road racer will have a season's supply of fresh white bar tape for his road bike, his TT bike, and his crit bike, or a track racer can use silk tires instead of cotton, or a cyclocross racer can have a duplicate set of carbon tubular wheels for his pit bike. Today's promising junior racer is tomorrow's 32 year-old freeloading Cat 1, and he should have every advantage before he's eventually forced to take a part-time job or start a coaching business.

Cycling Blogs

Did you know that most cycling bloggers are volunteers? Well, it's true. Many of them toil for little more than the occasional free component or the thrill of seeing themselves mentioned on cycling forums and reading about how their blogs used to be really good but that they really suck now. This is hardly adequate compensation for bringing the whole of "bike culture" to people who should really be working. Some of these bloggers are even forced to support themselves with "day jobs." (Fat Cyclist, for example, supports himself as a fisherman, and Stevil Kinevil is a freelance chicken sexer.)

Someday, society will look back in amazement and shame upon a time when bloggers were treated like little more than sweatshop laborers, and the bloggers themselves shall build sprawling estates and erect mighty statues in their own honor. But until that time comes, you should do what you can this gift-giving season to support your favorite blog. One way of doing this is by purchasing ironic merchandise from them. Or, if you look closely, some of them even accept donations:

If you read cycling blogs, then disappoint a friend or loved one by supporting a blogger in their name today. (By the way, in the extremely unlikely event that you even like the blog you're currently reading, you can support it by clicking here.)

Cycling Advocacy

Sure, bloggers do a lot for cycling, but how many of them actually have the courage to get up from behind their computers, put on their pants, and do something? This is where cycling advocates come in, and they don't run on smugness and self-righteousness alone. They also need donations:

Yes, it's your tax-deductible donation that lets people speak for you by dressing up as clowns or by running around foreign cities in animal costumes. And not only do they need wacky outfits, but they also need an office in which to plan and don their wacky outfits. If you're not currently supporting a child with a drug habit then this is the next best thing. Remember, you may call it "dignity," but they call it "apathy," and either way they don't have it.

Be Creative!

Maybe you're one of those skeptics that doesn't like to give to groups or strangers because you can't actually be sure that your money is going to good use. In that case, you can always make a personal connection by finding and helping one needy person. Some people do this by doing things like answering letters to Santa from underprivileged children, but if you're looking for something more cycling-specific you can always visit Craigslist. Here's just one of the many people whose holiday dreams you can make come true with a random act of altruism:


Hipster Road Bike Wanted - $150 (Upper West Side)
Date: 2009-12-13, 3:18AM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

I'm moving to the city January 18 and will need a bicycle. Oh and I'm broke so no carbon fiber or the like.


Every day another aspiring hipster arrives in a new city with nothing but an expensive liberal arts degree and some vague aspirations to be in a band, or else if that doesn't pan out in six weeks to make movies. You can make a real difference in this person's life by supplying him or her with the bare essentials he or she needs to survive, such as a fixed-gear bicycle, a powerful Mac running a full suite of video and music editing software, tattoo money, and a reliable drug connection. Best of all, their identities are highly malleable, so if you're really generous you can probably even rename them in a friend or family member's honor. Imagine how warm you'll feel this holiday season as you gather around the computer with your family and watch your hipster's latest exploits on YouTube or Vimeo. So why not adopt-a-hipster today?

130 comments:

Anonymous said...

first?

ant1 said...

ant1st!

ant1 said...

sweet

mikeweb said...

“the winner will seldom be the one that’s most functional, but rather the one that can become an inherent part of our culture.”

ant1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Astroluc said...

top tizzle

Anonymous said...

top ten!

Hans said...

top ten!h

rezado said...

hi-rez

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

blando said...

best in ages! hats off

poole said...

top 10?

poole said...

arrgh. Denied. Guess it's time to read.

Anonymous said...

the robot movement! the robot movement!

Anonymous said...

ten

mikeweb said...

My gift giving list in four words:

DG
UI
NF
KT
IC
NA
DR
OD
NS
U
T
S

Anonymous said...

5 new comments in the time I took to read the column. Great job Snob. I gift you a new year palping your viscous comfort zone.

ant1 said...

snobby - "ignorance and desire my moistening and coddling our grundles"

my = by?

rural 14 said...

ant 2nd!
moving up in the pack
must have been the doughnut from the farm stand.
How much cabbage can you carry in one front bag (it's kimchi season in rural 14 land) - 4! 4 big cabbages.

I'm concerned re the "embiggen" usage...just what do you spend your time doing? Are studded Nokians in your future?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Ant1,

Oops. As the wise man observed when the psychoanalyst fell down, "Freudian slip."

--RTMS

Anonymous said...

Has our materialistic society forgotten what the true spirit of Christmas is all about? It's not about giving and receiving expensive gifts, it's about getting way too drunk at your work christmas party and embarrassing yourself.

CommieCanuck said...

Shame on you, Snob.
Every holiday season well-intentioned families adopt a hipster for Christmas, only to have said hipster suffocate from ribbon strangulation under the tree.
From the Ohio SPCA:

" Hipsters just don't make good presents because they need so much attention and care," said Candy Roberts, Humane Officer at the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley.

Hipsters require constant attention and supervision when you first bring them home. They must be fed three to four times daily. Housetraining must start immediately and is a time-consuming process. Hipsters usually need to go out every time they eat, drink, play or wake up from a nap, including the sleepiest hours of these cold, winter nights.

During the holiday season people are so busy that they don't have the time it takes to fulfill a new Hipster's round the clock demands. It's unfair to bring a Hipster into the chaos of holiday celebrations and ignore their needs.

"Christmas is not a good time to introduce a Hipster into a household. It is best done later, when things are calmer and there's more time to help the Hipster adjust to their new surroundings," said Daneen Pacifico, board member of the Humane Society of Parkersburg, West Virginia.

With all the activity during this season, it's possible that the Hipster may be frightened or distressed. A Hipster may also be upset by the stressful emotions of the humans around them. A stressed Hipster, particularly an energetic and playful Hipster who is left unsupervised, is more likely to get into trouble.

The rich fare served during the holidays can irresistibly tempt a constantly-hungry Hipster to steal and devour these goodies from the table or garbage. Another temptation is to hand feed a Hipster tidbits as a special meal. Having access to spicy, fatty or excessively-sweet Christmas foods is a recipe for having a sick Hipster."

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas. In the spirit of this latest blog a free gift from today's post.

http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/fashion/best_lingerie_images_8NWXo9SLeErbyN7JtbFqOL

Daddo said...

this blog used to be good but really sucks now

rezado said...

Festivus for the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

one more time

http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/fashion/best_lingerie_images_8NWXo9SLeErbyN7JtbFqOL

Bad Lawyer said...

I'm totally stoked that I can buy nut-creme merch for the holidays. "Query?" (as the pompous ass-future bow tie wearing Baby lawyers used to say:) If you receive nut-creme merch from someone over the holidays, does that signify anything?

ringcycles said...

Snobbie, your mendicant recommendations are spot on. But the last one disturbed me. Do you really intend to be the Sally Struthers of hipsters? Have you just been trying to gin up our sympathy for them all these years so that "for the cost of a cup of coffee a day", a tatooed college grad can have a soy machiato?

ant1 said...

snobby - a second one:
"Maybe your one of those skeptics"

CommieCanuck said...

ringcycles..how can you say no to those big (bloodshot) eyes?

Dammit, we're not made of stone.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Ant1,

Sorry. I'm too cold and hungry to spell correctly.

--RTMS

ant1 said...

by the way, mendicant1st!

San Antonio Employment Lawyers said...

It's like giving gifts of spite.

OBA said...

FYI - Donations to Recycle-A-Bike (and Time's Up) are actually tax deductible.

Mrs. OBA actually gave me a tube of DZnuts for Hanukkah - I am truly blessed!

ant1 said...

no need to apologize snob. correcting your typos is the only productive thing i do at work all day. you're basically giving a mendicant1 some self worth. very christmassy of you. or is that christmassive?

Freewheel said...

Bike snob, keep bloggin'! (I'm giving everyone on my gift list a subscription to this blog.)

Anonymous said...

Snob,
How much is the subscription again? Last year I gave Stevil the $400 that he passed on to you. This year he says it has gone up.

ervgopwr said...

One of the all time great posts today.

Junior "development" especially. We should be taking those kids crabon wheels and such, how else will they learn it's "not about the bike".

Now if you excuse me, I have to brush up (wipe down?!) on some bathroom etiqutte.

Anonymous said...

Or what the Buddhists call "fixed-gear giving."

Awesome.

Isolation Helmet said...

Since all of the hipsters will be heading home to that middle part of the country that real NYers don't really believe exists to sponge off their parents the cycling should be much nicer for a few weeks. No need to avoid skidding fixed gears exiting the bridges.

slppy said...

Let's not forget trash day, all sorts of sweet holiday gifts line the streets every night of the week in nyc, just waiting for someone with an xtracyle or a trailer to come along.. in telluride we are blessed with a freebox where i just found some water socks for my brother as well as a nice button on gore hood that should go well with his water socks, although he is kind of tall. you can also wander around with some red bows and holiday spoke cards and lube peoples chains while their bikes sit out and rust. hauling a floor pump around to pump up those softy tyres.. it's also fun to carry some allen wrenchs' and adjust peoples bars and seats so they're f-ing straight like theyre supposed to be.. 'whoa why doesn't the back of my neck hurt anymore?' because your not trying hold yourself from sliding down your stupid f-ing 30 degree seat then again..

CommieCanuck said...

Hey, don't feel sorry for Stevil, there's big bucks in chicken sexing, plus the perks...like being able to have sex with the chickens.

HMMM MKFC

hillbilly said...

c'mon son!

love it, great stuff

Jesse Smith said...

Just to be clear, the link for the word "mendicant" seem to equate it with "begging". In begging, the focus is on the benefit for the beggar. In the Buddhist "dana", the practice of giving, the focus is on the benefit for the giver.
When Buddhists go on alms rounds, they do it silently. They simply present themselves and their bowls as an opportunity for people to practice "dana".
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/various/wheel367.html

sufferist said...

Ant1 is doping with some kinda alien fungus that is currently not regulated by the UCI, but after Ant1's several podium finishes this year, a test will be developed, administered and executed with all the flair, dignity and panache that has become the hallmark of the UCI Administrators (and Accountants, Actuarials, Lawyers, Piss-catchers, etc....)

Congrats on your victory...bask in the glow while you can....

Dave said...

Snob - In the spirit of the season, I have purchased for you a 50' Beneteau cruising vessal named the "Just Kidding". You can see the details here. www.ancasta.com/boatinformation.aspx?boatid=24066

The only issue is that you have to travel to Lymington, which I believe is in the UK. Good Luck and Merry Christmas.

Critical Ass said...

And just how are you supposed to make a bong out of tissue paper, beads, string and pipe cleaners?

Anonymous said...

The comments here used to be good, but really suck now.

Anonymous said...

In Mexico, real burritos are made from small burros, and have no guac.

CommieCanuck said...

Daddo used to leave really good comments, but really sucks now.

Also, plane travel used to be much easier.

Commie MacGyver said...

And just how are you supposed to make a bong out of tissue paper, beads, string and pipe cleaners?

Sigh...everything is all ready-made these days, people can't even make a decent bong, or pipe-bomb from simple materials any more.

I send this comment only using a paper clip, a "D" cell battery and a wad of chewing gum.

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ant1 said...

sufferist - until snob allows retroactive testing, i'm in the clear. pun intended.

flynn said...

these are terrible gift ideas. if you're broke, offer your services with coupons for things like "free cassette cleaning" or if your recipient rides a tarck bike; "one free taint rub"

ant1 said...

jesse smith - a mendicant is a beggar. the buddhist may be a special case in that he does it silently and has a spiffy name for goodwill, but he is doing the same thing.

OnTheDick said...

the last paragraph .... brilliant!

g said...

I am so glad they let me out of the stairwell (where I PR'd my stairclimb last night) to read this:
"you may call it "dignity," but they call it "apathy," and either way they don't have it."

Pure gold.

Now, I have to go push and pull.

Anonymous said...

Or you could get your hipster an investment in Panamanian oil pipe businesses. They could make $2,000 a day! That'd keep in Chris Kings and caramel macchiattos or however you spel it.

Anonymous said...

Shoutout to SF's Bike Kitchen and Berkeley's Street Level Cycles!

CommieCanuck said...

anon 2:58, sorry my money is all tied up in Nigeria right now, but once my Spanish Lottery winnings come in, I'll give you a call.

SPAM RTST

yogisurf said...

And don't forget to click thru Snobby's ads.

kale said...

Satire 2.0 - Sincerity

I think I'll support everyone by donating a beer coozie bought from Stevil to Recycle-a-bicycle with the street cred I'll have earned from donating a racing license (it's for the kids) to Prolly.

Reed Enwright said...

I assume I can tatoo my corporate logo on my newly adopted hipster.

sufferist said...

Reed Enwright - it's not beer drinking, it's growing ad space.

grog said...

and in the unlikely event that you DON'T like this blog, just click yourself.

BAN& SHUN

Fritz said...

"bare essentials he or she needs to survive, such as a fixed-gear bicycle, a powerful Mac running a full suite of video and music editing software, tattoo money, and a reliable drug connection."

and don't forget 20 cases of pretty bad ribbon...

baloo said...

hey bikesnob i just became aware of an extremely disturbing development in cyclocross racing. if this is legal i think the sport is about to get a whole lot more interesting.


http://www.canucklehead.ca/look/grin_bear_it.html#previous-photo

CommieCanuck said...

Baloo..

Fer crissakes learn HTML.

ant1 said...

CC - how about a little tutorial? i'm HTML-retarded myself. what do i type in before and after the actual link to make it all pretty?

Anonymous said...

"Today's promising junior racer is tomorrow's 32 year-old freeloading Cat 1, and he should have every advantage before he's eventually forced to take a part-time job or start a coaching business."

pure gold! merry christmas, bitches!

mikeweb said...

ant1,

Here you go

Happy Festivus.

Never Knows Best said...

Ant1,
It goes something like this, I believe.

Congrats on your win, and good filling in for Disgruntle.Ed

ant1 said...

Testing

ant1 said...

sweet.

Grundle Pheasant said...

DZFN NUTS

p.s. ADOP TME!

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of donating my hipster to a soup kitchen, but maybe I'll donate him to a bike shop instead.

Lucca said...

allright snob
i am a jouinor racer in nyc and i really did not like you "joking" about donating to jouinor racers, i still only own half my road bike, and the main concern for jouinor racing in NYC is to get me and other racers to Nationals and other large events. So top hating even if it is for fun, were not rich.
ps. i work my self to pay for anything i buy, none of my parents money

Anonymous said...

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
Lucca

ilennovy said...

Yo bike snob and other enthusiasts. Check it, there's a contest out right now in NYC for apps. One of the apps catalogs all the bike racks around town so you could know in advance if you've got a safe spot to lock up that precious 1200 fixie.

*note - I didn't design this but I think it's pretty awesome and am trying to spread the word. It beats looking up bike racks on google maps street views.

Details: This app locates all the bike racks in this city so you know in advance whether or not you've got a safe spot to lock up. Beats looking it up on street view of google maps. Find A Rack allows users to enter a specific address or have our website detect your current location. You can find out where the nearest racks are to your location. Don't forget to click on the details so you can see images and street view of the location near your rack. Plan ahead before your next trip, you'll save time and be safer

Website: http://nyc.bycycle.info/

Vote here: http://www.nycbigapps.com/application-gallery/nyc-bycycle-info

Public Voting Period Ends: 5:00pm EST January 7, 2010

Anonymous said...

Check out the tags

Fred said...

Thanks for the great year, Snob.

In your honor, I have donated a giant hairy vagina ball full of loose change (mainly Canadian) to my local chapter of the Man-Boy Love Association.

heath said...

this is so cute!

Anonymous said...

Top notch.

I too yearn for the day when we can recognize the taintless overhauling of a trans-gendered's French bottom bracket as the most sublime of occasions.

Anonymous said...

BROADWAY BICYCLE SCHOOL
BIKE SNOT BOMBS

I left my hat on the bus, I hope it keeps somebody warm!

Kenneth Buttercup said...

Never mind and app that tells me where to find a bike rack, I want an app to tell me where to find a payphone.
But they wouldn't do that!

Professor Dumbass said...

That is the longest blog post I have ever read in its entirety.

Do the planet a favor and give the gift that keeps on giving: AIDS.

sfauthor said...

Nice posting. Do you know about this edition of the Gita?

http://www.YogaVidya.com/gita.html

TheTye said...

maybe too late for anyone to read this... but:

All You Buddas, Coddle my Grundle!

leroy said...

With best wishes for the Festivus season, a freelance chicken has been sexed in honor of the BSNYC commentator community.

Just not by me.

kerry said...

You with male genderways have it good, taint fun being a girl.Try standing on your head, with your face in your cut away seat. Get the picture? ouchies..

kerry said...

Rural,
need to watch those doughnuts.I had some when I was ten and thats why I am in such poor form on my road bike..

kerry said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rikLwIxRwEs( sorry too much a moron at moment to learn HTML)

Roadie nightmares!!
I'm peeing myself, this is so funny!

rezado said...

JOUI NOR?

ant1 said...

rezado - maybe instead of donating bike equipment we should get him some spelling lessons.

migs said...

"Tattoo money.." lmao

Anonymous Coward said...

yes Dambit, like Lucca said, we must Top the hate!

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Nishant said...

How much cabbage can you carry in one front bag (it's kimchi season in rural 14 land) - 4! 4 big cabbages.

Work from home India

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Anonymous said...

Pretty Cool

Chicago Fence said...

Interesting theory

Atomic7 said...

did anyone notice that the powercrank sebsite dudes are also seem to be advocating rightsidded cranksets... how do they even attach rear derailleurs to their magic training bikes which will replace the fixed gear. and are made by famous Canadian companies like olevrec. And apparently have great attention to detail.

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