Friday, May 29, 2009

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz!


Today is Friday, and that means only two things: 1) it is time for my weekly mani-pedi (I save money by having it done at a dog grooming boutique); and 2) it's time for a quiz. As always, study the question, think, and click on your answer. If you're right you will be assured of your correctitude, and if you're wrong you'll see a fixter-in-training beginning a lifelong love affair with fixed-gear cycling.

Thanks for reading, good luck, and ride safe. And most importantly, always use an ANSI or Snell approved protective toddler and be sure to replace it in the event of a crash.


--BSNYC/RTMS




1) According to the New York Post, "Dangerous Bike Riders Run Wild With ________:"






2) What is this significance of this sign?





3) What is the significance of this seatpost?




4) At the Giro d'Italia, the best view is from the podium.

--True
--False





5) This electrically-assisted bicycle may be a sign of the coming Meh-pocalypse.

--True
--False



6) What is this guy doing?

--Injecting heroin
--Injecting CERA
--Practicing descending while on the toilet
--Foffing his Knog





7) What is this?*

--"New York City Urban Warfare Cro-Mag Training"
--"Baldwin, LI Suburban Altercation Crumbsucker Training"












8) The above are:

--Pop cultural currency
--Images juxtaposed with the sources from which they were appropriated
--Just a few examples of Mike Giant's stunning creativity
--All of the above



***Special Optional Extra Credit Philosophical Essay Question***



The bicycle above, seen locked in New York City, features S&S couplers. As such, though the bicycle is locked, the front half could theoretically be stolen. In a city where people will even steal "Hipster Cysts," is this a legitimate concern? Can a thief find a use or a market for half a bicycle? And as S&S couplers become more common, is it possible the streets will one day be crawling with hot black market hybrids cobbled together from different halves of stolen bicycles like mixmatched pairs of socks?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ineftitude: Getting in Touch with your Inner Lizard

Ever since yesterday's post about cultural Xerox machine Mike Giant, something's been bothering me. While I've never actually met Giant, I was almost certain I'd seen him before. Then, while watching this video, it hit me:



He's the guy who played Weird Jimmy in Cheech and Chong's "Nice Dreams:"


If you haven't seen "Nice Dreams," it's the one where the particularly potent strain of marijuana is turning people into lizards. And when it comes to potent drugs, there's always one celebrity who finds the subject Twitter-worthy:



Yes, Dennis Hopper is always throwing in his two cents. Unfortunately, they've usually been through the stretched penny machine.

Of course, while some people believe that marijuana can turn you into a lizard, others feel it can make you more creative. (Mike Giant certainly seems to subscribe to this theory, though in practice it only seems to inspire him to copy stuff.) If this indeed true, then this guy must be smoking the stuff by the bushel:

This image was forwarded to me by an esteemed reader, and it depicts something that was heretofore only the stuff of myth: the reverse-quill, inverted-handlebar, Campy-ergo-with-bar-ends cockpit setup. And as a bonus the bike even includes a mini pump despite the presence of a pump peg, which is visibly yearning for the sweet kiss of a frame pump. Really, the whole thing is just a filth prophylactic away from perfection. I don't know who set this guy's bars up like this, but I suspect it may have been M.C. Escher. If you don't know who M.C. Escher was, he's like Mike Giant, only his drawings are interesting.

Speaking of people who steal stuff, yet another Deep V has vanished:




STOLEN: White Rear Velocity Deep V (williamsburg/broadway)
Reply to:[deleted]
Date: 2009-05-27, 8:53AM EDT

some inbred stolen the back wheel off my bike last night outside of Trophy bar. ofcourse if you're reading this i'm being very specific for the inbred/s that stole it. oh boy you're one lucky lucky person. if i had caught you ohhhh deary, 808721[deleted].

Stolen Deep Vs is the third most common cause of hipster temper tantrums in Williamsburg, just behind STDs and parents who won't foot the bill for their airfare home when they attend their siblings' graduations. I'm not sure what sort of retribution a Deep V thief should fear from a person who says "ohhhh deary," though it might come in the form of a saucy note. In fact, the Saucy Note Bandit has already stricken in Greenpoint, with hilariously devastating results:




whoever vandalized my bike on frankin st - w4m - 23 (greenpoint)
Reply to:[deleted]

Date: 2009-05-24, 8:47PM EDT


It read, "locking to a tree is a dick move." And it also read, "yeah ur a dick."


so amazing. gave me a hilarious laugh this morning. i assume it was a male due to the hand writing... who are you?


In an attempt to unmask the Saucy Note Bandit, I ventured deeper into the moldy cheese cave that is Craigslist, and found what I thought might be a clue that the SNB actually comes from out of town:



11 May - A train from JFK - m4w
Reply to:[deleted]

Date: 2009-05-27, 2:05PM EDT


I was reading "man, mystic, monk" Dalai Lama. Sandals you were wearing, I was wearing sandals as well. Paint blotched NB tied to your Timbuktu. I was lugging a big blue bike bag. Glasses... I still think about you. You said goodbye at Hoyt, and I haven't stopped hearing that. Want to know you...


However, I soon dismissed this theory. Firstly, while someone who reads the Dalai Lama might be fiercely protective of trees, he probably wouldn't go so far as to leave an angry note. Secondly, the syntactical structure of the post doesn't match that of the note. Take this sentence: Sandals you were wearing, I was wearing sandals as well. This actually suggests the Dalai Lama reader is himself another noted spiritualist:



And whoever the Saucy Note Bandit may be, it most certainly isn't Yoda. If it was, the note on the tree bike would have read: "Dick move is locking to a tree. Dick you are."

Having absolved Yoda, I continued to comb Craigslist, where I encountered even more dicks--though this time they came in an altogether different form:



Chelsea mini-storage BJ - m4m - 35 (Chelsea)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2009-05-26, 9:54AM EDT

I was there around 6:30pm last Friday night picking up my bike from storage and when i turned the corner, you were getting your dick sucked with your storage unit door open.
I walked past but then came back slowly and watched, just out of sight of the guy who was getting you off.

It was really hot.
We didn't say a word, but you watched me watch you and I think its what got you off in the end.

I'd like to meet up there sometime and re-enact the scene; this time I'm on my knees.

At this point I realized I wasn't going to find the Saucy Note Bandit on Craigslist, so I figured now would be a good time to conclude my search and leave these gentlemen to it. I guess New York City Craigslist is a lot like a storage unit--you visit innocently in search of a bike, and you wind up walking in on some man-on-man action. This caused me to reflect on what Craigslist must be like in other parts of the country. Certainly I was just one click away from finding out, but I preferred to leave it to my imagination, and I wondered if this was what a Craigslist Missed Connection was like in the Pacific Northwest:

I was taking a stroll through the forest when I saw you and your sweet blue fixie. You had alabaster skin and were wearing nothing except Daisy Dukes and a pair of suspenders, and your right breast must have been itchy because you were scratching it against a tree. I should have introduced myself but I am a Yeti and I was afraid of someone finally obtaining photographic evidence of my existence. Regretting that now. Anyway, if you see this hit me up and I'll scratch you where you itch with my terrifying claws.



I realize that the original photo may be unsafe for some workplaces, so here's a less titillating version featuring another noted suspender enthusiast:


Wow, I guess the Yeti does exist. I wonder if she'll let him ride her Klit:

(Klit Fixedgear, forwarded by a reader)

By the way, if you also like to wander around in the forest (either as a Yeti or in search of one), you might read Outside magazine. Well, it seems I garnered a mention in a column in the June issue. (The column does not seem to be online so you'll have to look at the actual magazine. I recommend waiting three months and then making a dentist appointment, by which time there should be a copy in the waiting room.):



Of course, what I'm really holding out for is Outside's acceptance of my article, "The 40 Best Places to Urinate Outdoors in New York City" (Place #17: The Stoop at Chari & Co.), but in the meantime this will have to do. Yet while I've been mentioned in Outside, and of course have my very own column in Bicycling magazine, my favorite periodical in the whole world by far continues to be Geico Direct Magazine. However, as a cyclist and loyal reader, I have to say I was quite disappointed by the cover of their latest issue:



Really, there isn't much more that could be wrong with this picture. Firstly, who rides a bike on the beach? Not only that, but there are two people on the bike, and neither of them are wearing shoes. The whole thing looks really painful. Why wouldn't they just take a nice romantic walk instead? This is the equivalent of the next Performance catalog featuring a photo of a couple tearing through a park in a Honda Accord. Both doors would be open, the guy would be driving barefoot with his seatbelt unbuckled, and the girl would be sitting on the roof. They might even be plowing through a picnic.

But I suppose I shouldn't expect too much from a car insurer--especially one whose spokesperson is a lizard:

They must be smoking too much weed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Giant Wheels: The Cartoonification of Cycling

If you're a cyclist, chances are you have emotional reactions to certain bicycles. In my case, some bikes such as lavishly-appointed and colorway-coordinated fixed-gears tend to make me angry. Others, such as tandems, make me cheerful. Still others, such as recumbents, make me feel frightened and confused. And I felt considerable confusion and not a little fear yesterday evening when I spied what was either a giant bicycle or a tiny rider making its way over the Manhattan Bridge:



At first, I thought I was finally having one of those acid flashbacks they used to to warn you about in grade school, and I worried that I might not have enough time to procure psychedelic essentials such as glow sticks and Magic Eye posters before my face started melting and I was no longer able to find my way home. So I put the metaphorical hammer down and headed over the bridge. However, as I approached the strange bicycle, I realized that I was not hallucinating and the bicycle was in fact some weird old-timey looking thing with 36 inch wheels. It was even stranger up close, and the rider looked like a cartoon character getting caught between two big rollers--I kept expecting her to get sucked through completely and pop out the other end like a sheet of newsprint. I quizzed the rider about her bike and she gamely answered my questions even though she was regarding me with the nonplussitude to which I am accustomed. Anyway, it turns out it's a Bologna, and you can see it here:



At this point, my confusion yielded to cheerfulness and I decided I liked this absurd contraption, even though it's missing a front fender. Sometimes it's fun when the world around you suddenly turns cartoony--not the sort of anime cartoony that fixed-gears evoke; rather, more like "Scooby Doo."

But different people get angry about different things, and the same people can get angry about different things in different circumstances. I'm sure under different conditions this pointless steampunk 36er might have enraged me instead of delighted me. Ultimately, this is why anger is sometimes comical. And when it comes to comical anger, nobody does it better than the fixed-gear scene. Ever since fixed-gear culture closed itself to new members, they've been a touchy bunch indeed, and the latest thing they're irritated by is this fixed-gear themed Dell computer:


If you read the comments to the post, you'll find that many fixed-gear enthusiasts are angry that Dell appears to have appropriated their "culture." Of course, this is ridiculous, since fixed-gear bicycles have been around much longer than the people who now claim them as their own. For that matter, so have Dell, who in my opinion are positively rife with street cred:


Remember that "Dell Dude?" Well, way back in augt three, when the fixed-gear fad was just a lime green glint in a few hipsters' eyes, the Dell Dude was already running afoul of the law:


Getting busted for buying the Wednesday weed on the Lower East Side is vastly more street-credulous than blowing a few lights on your IRO while wearing some sneakers that match your hat. So if Dell want to use fixed-gears to sell their laptops, I say they're entitled--between fixed-gear fashionistas and Dell the latter is certainly the "OG" in this scenario. Plus, when a scene places such importance on candy-colored bicycles that look like they should be hanging above baby cribs, how can you expect the larger "culture" not to pick up on the imagery? Like it or not, these goofy bikes are now just another meaningless element in the pop culture mobile that dangles above the drooling heads of the masses.

I only wish the Dell computer were actually a fixed-gear computer. I'm not sure what that would entail, but it would probably involve its not having a space bar or a delete key.

But while the fixed-gear scene doesn't like Dell crashing their party, they don't seem to have a problem with cultural plundering in general--just as long as it's cool. On the very same blog which jeered at the Dell computer was this post celebrating streetwear monger Mike Giant:


According to the Trackosaurus post, Mike Giant is somehow using his hand to "better the cycling community." I'm not sure how he's doing that, though from what I can tell it involves drawing the sorts of graphics Pushead drew better 20 years ago, putting them on clothing, and selling them under the brand name Rebel8. Personally, I'd be embarrassed to get a Major Taylor tattoo. People get tattoos of things because they identify with them and feel as though something is part of them, though the implication that a white graffiti artist born in 1971 can make what Major Taylor experienced part of him by sitting through a two-hour tattoo session is sort of like saying you understand the perils of deep sea fishing because you saw "The Perfect Storm." Sometimes getting a tattoo is less like making something part of you and more like dry-humping its leg.

In addition to dry-humping (or, if you prefer, pie-biting) Major Taylor's legacy in particular and cycling in general, Mike Giant also dry-humps Latino gang style:



Learning these fonts wasn’t something a white kid could do. “I remember being really jealous of the Mexican kids in my class that would get cholo fonts written out for them by older kids. They kept them hidden from me, mostly because I showed interest, and I was a pinche huero (fuckin’ whiteboy).”

...


His body keeps this link to his past alive as well, fully tattooed by some of the most formidable practitioners of the craft. “I can see now that I covered my arms with cholo-style tattoos to look intimidating to the kids that used to pick on me.”


This is like a gentile moving to a Jewish neighborhood in New York City, thinking Hebrew letters look cool, and getting a bunch of Yiddish phrases tattooed on himself. "Yo, can I sit in on your Talmud study group? I think the Mishnah would make some sick ink." I guess the goal of "artists" like Mike Giant and "streetwear" enthusiasts in general is to skim the visually pleasing surface of every subculture and either apply it to yourself or sell it to others if you've got the ability to reproduce it. That way you can reach the ultimate "hipster" goal, which is to be a living reference to every fad, fashion, trend, lifestyle, religion, subculture, and phenomenon that ever was or will be:



Of course, this is not to discredit people like Mike Giant. These "├╝ber hipsters" have a legitimate skill, which is to identify dangerous yet visually appealing subcultures, make forays into them, gather material, and then smooth and devenomize it for mass consumption. It's a skill that's in high demand--if we're going to have a constant flow of new trends, we need cultural snake handlers. It worked for tattoos: 20 years ago, a tattoo might keep you from getting a job; now, it might even help you. It's also working for bikes: all you need to do is roll around slowly and trackstand.

The only danger is that it can go too far. When you take away all the rough edges and over-polish something in the name of "art," you can eventually wind up with porn. And porn is ugly in its own way:



The above image was forwarded to me by a reader, and has been duly sepia-toned and censored. I was appalled by the turtle mistreatment, but you've got to admit it looks a lot like Larry King.

At any rate, for better or for worse (and probably for worse) between people like Mike Giant and companies like Dell a new generation of riders is coming of age who are obsessed with documenting themselves and their exploits, as you can see in this video, also forwarded by a reader:

Albion in the Gloaming from Albion in the Gloaming on Vimeo.



These riders call what they are doing "documentary bike-packing," which as far as I can tell is some form of hipster randonneuring in which you film yourself riding impractical bikes over long distances. It also involves pretending to fly:

This trip may very well be to cyclo-touring what hockey stops are to braking. Yes, it's an ugly scenario, and unfortunately cycling is the turtle.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Colorway Me Badd: Excessive Demands

The Memorial Day weekend is now behind us like Levi Leipheimer is behind in the general classification of the Giro d'Italia, which means we've now leaped forward into summer just like Carlos Sastre leaped into the top three yesterday in the general classification of the Giro d'Italia. Like many American cycling fans, I was sorry to see Letle Viride slip back yesterday, though we can always take solace in the fact that while his place in the GC may be tenuous his position as the official Road ID spokesperson remains secure. If you've been following the Giro on Universal, you've already seen the Road ID commercial countless times, but just in case you haven't here it is:



While I commend Leipheimer for endorsing a responsible product, I also think that roadies shouldn't be the only ones to benefit from it. There are many other types of cyclists who could also use something like this but who also don't think bracelets or road racers are "cool." As such, I'm proud to announce that I'll be endorsing a version for "hipsters," the Fixie ID:

BIEKSNOB Get your own knuckles at the knuckle tattoo gun.


Unlike that dorky nursing home-style bracelet, Fixie ID is applied to the knuckles and enhances both safety and street cred. Fixie ID is also permanent (as are the typos, unfortunately) and unless you try to brake with your knuckles it remains legible in even the most disfiguring accidents. Sure, the eight-character limit doesn't allow you to include detailed contact information, but hipsters rarely venture outside of their neighborhoods anyway. And there is sufficient room for feeding instructions:

LACTOOVO Get your own knuckles at the knuckle tattoo gun.


See? This hipster will eat eggs and cheese, so bring on the omelettes! Stay tuned for the commercial, complete with catchy motto: "Fixie ID: It's Who I Pretend to Be."

Speaking of bracelet magnates, I was checking in on the Twitter of one of Letle Viride's domestiques when I noticed something intriguing:

I immediately headed over to noted basketball handler Shaquille O'Neal's Twitter for more information:



...and eventually I found it:


One aging celebrity athlete challenging another to a race of some kind? What could this mean? Unsure what to make of this, I consulted Dennis Hopper:



As usual, he's got his finger on the pulse, and his tongue on the blotter acid.

Of course, a new race for Armstrong means only one thing: a new custom inspirational theme bike from The Great Trek Bicycle Making Company. Everybody's seen his Giro Shepard Fairey Obey monstrosity--in fact, it freaked Dennis Hopper out so bad he emptied out a fire extinguisher on it. Well, apparently Trek isn't even waiting to find out what kind of race this is, because they've already released images of Armstrong's new "Shaq Killer:"


As you can see, every visual element is intended to not only sting Shaq but also to mock the entire sport of basketball:

The TTS (Top Tube Shacks) that decrease in size as they make their way towards the rider's crotchal region are themselves enough to send Shaq into a spiral of self-doubt, but taken together this bike should bring the giant to his knees. Yes, this race is going to be as ugly as a Lance Armstrong one-off theme bike. All You Haters Cup My Fruit.

And as if that wasn't bad enough, Trek even released this viral video:



Poignant and demoralizing.

It just so happens I know exactly how Shaq feels, as I too was demoralized recently. Yes, on the very eve of my slaycation, I secured my bicycle to a pole. However, I was in a hurry, and in my haste I forgot to de-Knog it. (As you may recall from my Scattante review, I'm sitting on a rubbery mountain of Knogs, so I figured I might as well use them.) Yes, here in New York City people actually steal the lights off of bicycles, and I'm sorry to report that when I emerged from my bikini waxing my most favoritest Knog "hipster cyst" was gone. So I beg of you, if you hear or see anything of this Knog, or if someone on the street tries to sell you one at a price that's too good to be true, let me know immediately. You'll know it's mine because it's black. (It was originally lime green, but I had it powdercoated.) Also, I couldn't be bothered to change the battery so it barely worked anyway. Here are some nostalgic photos of the wonderful times we shared together:


This is my Knog on a teapot shaped like a camel.



This is my Knog on a small bottle of Grand Marnier.




This is my Knog being used as a capo, just moments before I picked up the guitar and sang a folk song about how much I love my Knog.

Oh, and to the thief: you may have taken my Knog, but you'll never take my memories, for they burn as brightly in my heart as the first time I switched it on. Also, the Knog you took was down my pants a few times. (You really can put those things anywhere!) So the joke's on you.

Speaking of things that come in lots of "colorways," I was recently checking in with fixed-gear freestyle impresario Prolly's blog, where I learned that a new urban fixed-gear tire has "dropped," and it comes in more "colorways" than a Knog-strangled extremity:



Ever ride home in the rain to be alarmed by something and when you whip into a hockey stop, your bike kicks out from under you, landing you on your ass and your bike in the street?

Ever ride home in the rain and crash because you had to whip into a hockey stop? Me neither. That's because I rock something like this:


Sure, the "colorways" leave something to be desired, but this accessory does eliminate the need for hockey stops, lacrosse stops, lawn bowling stops, and any other inconvenient and ineffectual sports-themed stops you might find yourself forced to perform on a brakeless bike. Incidentally, I'm not sure what purpose a "directional tread" serves on a wet road, since bicycles do not hydroplane--though I suppose those cosmetic sipes are useful in that once they disappear you should probably refrain from hockey stopping until you've replaced it with a brand-new pink tire.

Well, it's good to see that the bicycle industry is addressing the needs of the fixed-gear rider, even if those needs are based more on "colorways" than they are on the excessive demands they're placing on their equipment. Actually, I'm not sure relying too heavily on one component because you've omitted another one constitutes an "excessive demand"--really, it just means your bike's not finished. It's like wearing two sweaters and no pants. Maybe I can start leaving off my tires altogether and some company will come along and make a super-thick inner tube. Or has that happened already? I can't keep track.

But don't expect brakes to make a comeback anytime soon; after all, when you ride with brakes you can't come up with cool names for your stops. I'm fine with that, though. It only expands the market for the Fixie ID.