Monday, July 12, 2010

The Way We Were: The Future's So "Meh" I Gotta Wear Pom Poms

This past weekend the Tour de France entered the Alps, and few riders had a harder time of it than Lance Armstrong. He was beset by misfortune after misfortune over the course of yesterday's Stage 8, prompting Versus commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen (seen here getting naked together) to observe that "Lady Luck" seemed to have finally abandoned him. From where I was sitting though (which was in a leatherette adult-sized bean bag), it looked less like abandonment than actual abuse--as if after seven consecutive years of "putting out" for him she she finally decided the relationship was over. Unfortunately, Armstrong seemed not to have gotten the message, so when he tried to casually slip his hands down Lady Luck's pants as he had so often before, she instead started swinging her purse defensively and a large ornate buckle hit him right between the eyes.

As has often been the case in the outsized career of Lance Armstrong, the day was also replete with symbolism, and few symbols in competitive cycling are more evocative than that of a lurking Thomas Voeckler:

Failed breakaway specialist Thomas Voeckler is the human manifestation of dashed hopes and thwarted dreams, and especially when clad in the French Tricolore (for the past 25 years the official "colorway" of unsuccessful Tour de France attempts) he is like unto a vulture, salivating (inasmuch as vultures can salivate, and I defer to any ornithologists on the subject of buzzard drool) at the prospect of impending death:


Click here to hear the sound Thomas Voeckler makes as he rides behind you, and remember that sometimes that creaking you hear isn't just your bottom braket; rather, it may also be your own demise.

Still, even if Lady Luck has moved on and is now flirting with Condator, Schleck, and Evans, with seven Tour wins stuffed down the front of his pants Armstrong will always be able to pick up somebody, and a selfless ride in the service of his team for the remainder of the Tour could even make him seem "sensitive" and allow him to tap into a whole new dating pool. In fact, he's already dipping his toe in this pool, since he plans to dig his "mankini" out of the mothballs and return to triathlon next season. Granted, it's a perverse pool even by competitive cycling standards, but everybody needs a rebound relationship, and he should be fine as long as he manages to avoid waterborne STDs (seen here under extreme magnification).

Speaking of being doomed, a reader recently forwarded me a video called "Courier Breed," which is a "documentary" about bicycle messengers in Boston:

Courier Breed - A Documentary on Boston's Bike Messengers from Brendan Coughlin on Vimeo.

I learned a great deal from this revealing documentary. For example, in recent years bike messengers have moved away from dark hues and tattered clothing, and are now favoring pastel tones and pom poms:

Evidently, "hoodies" are "out," and scarves with testicles are "in."

Also, I learned a lot about bicycle messenger history. Consider this conversation between the pastel nü-messenger and the orthodox messenger wearing the Hoodie of Yesteryear:

"This has been a job for fucking 200 years plus, you know?," observes one to the other. "Like, people been riding bikes, just delivering packages."

Obviously, messengers have been around for as long as there were messages to deliver, but bicycle messengers have not been around for anywhere close to 200 years. Inasmuch as the pennyfarthing (or "p-far") is roughly 140 years old, and its predecessor, the so-called "boneshaker," is not much older, one wonders what sort of conveyance a bike messenger could possibly have been riding back in 1810, when even the crotch-torturing "dandyhorse" was but a phantom throbbing in inventor Karl Drais's "pants yabbies." In any case, even though people have been delivering packages by bicycle since before the bicycle, the profession is now a moribund one--at least according to this messenger in the $2,000 outfit:

"I can't say whether there's any future in this business."

Now, you might think that, since messengers were riding bicycles for almost a century before the bicycle was even invented, they could not only predict the future but would by now have moved on to something better and faster that doesn't exist yet, like teleportation. However, instead they're just sitting around and complaining about how computers are taking their livelihood away. (In the messenger world, Computers are Immigrants 2.0.) They're also perpetuating "urban myths" about what it was like to be a bike messenger "back in the day:"

"There's no money to make anymore. Back in the '90s, you know, messengers used to pull in, you know, a grand or two a week."

Unfortunately, what this messenger forgets is that a crucial component of making stuff up about a past decade is making sure that nobody who remembers that decade is still alive. For example, as ridiculous as the "This has been a job for fucking 200 years plus" claim is, no early 19th century footmen are around to point out that this is untrue. On the other hand, plenty of people are old enough to remember that messengers in the 1990s were not earning six-figure salaries:

Indeed, adjusted for inflation, that $104,000 is more like $150,000 today:

In fairness to the messenger, he does say "a grand or two," not "two grand," but even the low end of this estimate has a typical messenger earning over $50,000 a year, and while I realize there's a myth in the under-30 "hipster" community that before that mean and nasty George W. Bush came into office "hipsterism" was heavily subsidized, I'm here to tell you that this simply was not the case. (Except for a very short period called the "dot-com bubble," of course, and I'm sure Kozmo.com and Urban Fetch are the basis of these "urban myths.") In any case, I wonder how much bike messengers made in 1810. I hear they were paid their weight in gold bullion weekly.

But while it's easy to fabricate the past, there's no denying what's going on in the present, and the messengers in Boston clearly are just spending most of the day sitting around like dogs whose owners have long since lost interest in playing fetch, or like a Tour de France champion waiting for one last "sympathy tug" from Lady Luck:


Essentially, I suppose messengering has now officially become really cool waiting, and if "Quicksilver" were made today they'd probably just spend the whole movie sitting around in a park until the very end of the movie when the characters all fight to the death for a single job.

Incidentally, if you too pine for a past that never was and are looking for something to blame, here's a bizarre explanation of all that's wrong with modern society that was forwarded to me by another reader:

Change from Vernon Huffman on Vimeo.

Sometimes, though, the simplest explanation is the correct one, and the sorry state of current affairs might simply be due to the fact that people are no longer bothering to conceal their genitals:


To cute guy on bike on in tiny shorts with his dick hangn out - m4m (5th ave and Union)
Date: 2010-07-10, 4:04PM EDT

You were stopped on your bike at Union and 5th and your shorts were pushed completely aside so the entirety of your dick and balls could hang out the side of your shorts. As you rode off, your genitals bobbed up and down with every rotation of the pedals. Everyone was just looking at you like viewing a car accident.
I am sure there are plenty of places you could go where exhibiting your sweaty flacid junk would be appreciated, but visually tea bagging all the residents of Park Slope is not appropriate. Get it together brother.


I guess even Park Slope is not safe from the tea baggers.

84 comments:

Cool The Kid said...

Podium!!!

Astroluc said...

podium

-dean said...

Second

-dean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Astroluc said...

robbed for first, though... "service unavailable" my a$$

3TYM FALL

ant1 said...

ant1st!

wishiwasmerckx said...

Top ten to start the week off right.

streepo said...

Top 10!!

ringcycles said...

Letle Viride!

wishiwasmerckx said...

Top ten to start the week off right.

Anonymous said...

Yoza!

Anonymous said...

and they're off?

stovtop said...

huff huff huuffff

Anonymous said...

Hey Ladies...
top 40, again.

Anonymous said...

Armstrong! (Actually, probably not. This is way too soon after the post "dropped" for him to have finished.)

streepo said...

I remember back in the eighties when we made 4-5 grand an hour easy.

Chris said...

If that's where you get your bean bags, you've never heard of LoveSac (www.lovesac.com) and yes despite the name it is SFW.

wishiwasmerckx said...

A little World Cup porn as a proper send-off to the tournament:

She arched her back and writhed with pleasure as I placed my lips on her vuvuzela and began to gently blow.

Anonymous said...

these Boston bike-messengers are a frickin' embarrassment. Get a life you frickin' losers!

"well hell, I heard that back when they was portaging packages propped upon a pinto back in the old West, they was makin' their weight in whiskey and women!"

nocar said...

Vulture's stomachs hold an acidic brew capable of digesting whatever microbial miscreant hides in their fetid feasts. As a defense mechanism, vultures will retch this awful, burning, stinking bile on attackers. So, yes, vulture drool is unpleasant stuff.

Bad Lawyer said...

Is that Cadel in the hoodie?

Anonymous said...

Back in the early 90's in NY I had to really hustle to make $500 a week. Fucking posers.

BOST NSUX

Anonymous said...

"Failed breakaway specialist Thomas Voekler..."

Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

"Gallic-themed livestock containment..."

Brilliant!

mikeweb said...

Is there a future in the courier biz?

Well, pom pom is mop mop spelled backwards.

Wonder if Levi is letting Lance know how many bottles he's going to need tomorrow.

PawnShop said...

The Boston messenger was on point, he simply got some of the details wrong. 200 years ago there were cow messengers. A cow ( unlike a well-curated bike ) weighs more than milk - it weighs milk + meat + leather. And messengers of the time were paid their weight in milk.

Other than that, a post entirely devoted to balls, and I couldn't be happier. AYHPMPP - All You Haters Palp My Pom-Poms.

debichan1a said...

seriously WTF at that change video! i took me a moment to realize that was one person.

Anonymous said...

former Boston messenger here, worked from '91 to '95. one: it was of absolute and agreed importance that we called ourselves 'couriers' and not 'messengers', two: we sat around Winthrop a lot and talked about how much guys used to make. I'm amused that this has not changed.

Justine Valinotti said...

I was a bike messenger back in the days before hoodies and neon-colored V-shaped rims, before "hipster" was ever used in the same sentence with "fixie." And I can tell you that we all thought it was dying then: Offices were starting to get fax machines, which was eating into our document-running work.

As for tea-bagging: As someone who was once able to do it, I am qualified to say that it's highly overrated.

ervgopwr said...

LANC CRSH

PARK SLPE

TEAB AGGR

LET LEVI RIDE?

Let Chris Horner Ride?!

Release the Horn!

Fwedewick said...

You'd think that the m4m people on craigslist wouldn't mind seeing such a thing.

Daddo said...

I work right in boston's financial hub and ride past "Messenger Park" every day. What is astonishing to me is that the offices around here EVEN USE meesengers - they are typically sending stuff across the street.

frilly said...

wiwm--Makes me feel all tingly inside.

mikeweb--Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Seriously, even though I'm not a fan, I feel a teensy bit bad for LA. To be so completely humbled with the world watching has to be just awful.

Anonymous said...

If the money sucks, then why don'y you quit? Must be all the other perks you get.

Messengering always has been a shitty job, even back in 1810 when you had all that horse manure on the roads to centend with.

Daniel said...

I'm a bicycle courier in Auckland, New Zealand. It is a tradition here, also, to sit around town and talk wistfully of the how things used to be Back In The Day, when everyone made, yes, a grand or two a week, the receptionists gave you blowjobs in lifts, and it never ever rained.

I've only been doing this for a year and a half, but the old hands assure me that it was indeed so, and that the downtown in business is the fault of Teh Internets.

Good to see that traditions are global.

Personally, I average about NZ$800 a week. It's no way to get rich, but it's a living, and in NZ, it's the only way to ride one's bike all day and get paid for it. Unless you're Julian Dean. Who, I should point out, isn't actually in NZ most of the time anyhow.

CommieCanuck said...

hey, go easy on the BBox boys, they obviously have some type of parasite, hence the reason for those large flea collars they were wearing.

Lance..dude..it was just sad watching him fall all those times, and watching Horner sand-bag the old man to the finish line. Clean racing is hard, isn't it?

grog said...

and whatever became of Bullwinkle the Moosenger?


TBAG FAIL

CommieCanuck said...

What is astonishing to me is that the offices around here EVEN USE meesengers - they are typically sending stuff across the street.

I have no idea why people are still shuffling paper, presumably important documents or high security documents by some pothead making minimum wage at 30 mph.

They should bring back vacuum tubes, the only problems are fitting the messengers inside without extinguishing the spliff.

mikeweb said...

CC, I think the 'Shack team bus is due for some 'engine trouble' on a remote road during the rest day today.

That's right, Levi is going to learn the hard way what really happened to Trooper.

Ian McCarty said...

I need assistance. This past Saturday, a good friend of mine - and a former Boston Bike Courier - was explaining to my non-cycling cousin the merits of fixie-dom. Unfortunately, this occurred in my presence. Mr. "I'm-not-a-hipster-I-just-USED-to-be-a-bike-courier-on-a-Bianchi-and-have-since-upgraded-to-a-custom-road-bike-but-wasn't-truly-happy-with-it-until-I-shaved-off-those-last-22-grams-with-a-carbon-bottle-cage" described the fixie experience as more "organic." While sitting on my couch. In Clark's shoes and jeans that he made sure to point out "did not come this broken in" (including, I'm assuming, the added stressed seams on the lower right leg). He then went on to explain that this "organic" experience is fine, so long as you steer clear of hills, because brakes, like gears, are the cycling equivalent of pesticides, evidently.

Can anyone point me in the direction of a therapy suitable for cleansing myself of this awful experience? I was thinking of riding around Boston with my balls haning out, but it looks like that might not be so theraputic, after all. Please help.

bikesgonewild said...

...mikeweb...ouch !!!...

...but old habits die hard...i'll bet ol' tejas will still make levi drop back to pick up his bottles before he's allowed to go to the front...

...& 'bottle' will do it w/ a smile...

Surly Bastard said...

The Voeckler bit was absolutely funny- fucking brilliant.

Todal Looser said...

Don't fake it, "bottom braket"!

Anonymous said...

that messenger video is completely inane. if it sucks so bad do something else, I'm certain your parents are pretty tired sending you checks every week. BITD(late 80s) I was a messenger in philly. Getting paid for riding your bike around the benign streets of philly (would never do it in NYC) is not a bad summer job while in college. However, as a lifestyle career choice, not such a good idea.

Looser said...

Don't fake it, "bottom braket"!

stream of nothing said...

RIDE LEVI

CommieCanuck said...

Can anyone point me in the direction of a therapy suitable for cleansing myself of this awful experience?

Sorry only self-immolation is really the only way to go. Flame on.

Anonymous said...

the benign streets of fluffia? you're kidding, right? where red lights are stop signs when a cop isn't present, and all parallel parking is still done by "feel" (i.e., banging into the car behind and in front of you until you're properly wedged in)

CommieCanuck said...

CC, I think the 'Shack team bus is due for some 'engine trouble' on a remote road during the rest day today.

Yep. And we finally figured out Sunday what 5800 euros bought Frank at Fuentes' clinic.

Actually, I think this year the 'Shacks have so many microscopes so far up their asses (20X Trek seatposts)that they may actually be riding clean. Even Horner admitted Lance bonked this weekend.

Frankly, Armstrong has a lot more than bike racing to worry about in the coming months.

bikesgonewild said...

...leatherette...

...i remember i once had a kinky girlfriend named 'leatherette'...

...she, ahhh...well, no, never mind...

Doug said...

Back in the day- (200 years ago in the early days of cow messengering), Bikesnob made me laugh so much it hurt. Now I hardly feel the pain at all. Maybe I'm just jaded.

bikesgonewild said...

...actual quote from levi's tweet "One of the best rest days I've ever had in the TdF: slept in, great ride, good food, massage, chiro, movie, compressed the legs & horizontal"...

...think there was more - "washed lance's bikes, brought him a drink by the pool...asked him if i could please, please, please try & 'go for it' tomorrow & he was nice enough to say 'yes, bottle, after your chores - best rest day ever !!!"...

Salty and Sore said...

I used to, like, be a receptionist, like, back-in-the-day, when bike messengers were all,.. like, you knooow... haahht?.

J-Bird said...

Just think, if all those bike messengers hadn't invested their massive fortunes in risky derivatives, we wouldn't be in the frickin mess we're in right now. . .

The King of Park Slope said...

I am not amused.

streepo said...

200 years ago he wasn't bikesnob, he was cowsnob.


COW- SNOB

bikesgonewild said...

...200 years ago in canada, couriers used canoes...

...tabernac', mudderfuck !!!...(esoteric canadien stuff)...

...we didn't have roads 'til 1952...

CommieCanuck said...

if all those bike messengers hadn't invested their massive fortunes in risky derivatives, we wouldn't be in the frickin mess we're in right now. . .

Not to mention all those aluminum tubes sent to Iraq to make WMDs to make room for Steel Pistas. Now, I hear those same tubes are making WMDs in North Korea.

I'm not sure what the design is, but apparently the buzziness from miles of aluminum tubing will take out a whole Dental School faculty.

What then ? Bad teeth, poor eating, starvation, death. Oh, the humanity.

Keith Hearn said...

I was amused to watch a bike courier complaining about how the internet was destroying his job, in a documentary made for the internet.

ant1 said...

did you hear of the 400 prospect park geese that were massacred? pie plates are now safe again.

Jefe said...

Oh, you typical Americans (and Canadians)! You think that Lance has "failed" because he has not crushed all opposition and won an 8th TDF. This is France we are talking about. He is about to become their hero for soldiering on despite all odds. Nothing makes the French tear up more than a tattered kit and busted bike crawling to the finish. You probably don't think Jerry Lewis is a genius either.

Anonymous said...

I feel like this blog post tea bagged us all!

I am the mellow engine. said...

I think the gift watch was a zen like reminder that his time is up.

Karma is a bitch.

Color Me Curious Itchy said...

So let me get this straight: your genitals go on the inside of your shorts? Hmm. Sounds crazy to me. I mean, what's the purpose of shorts in the first place if not to get a little air in the summer heat? Might as well just keep the Rapha pants on instead of going all crazy like and sending them to the cleaners to be washed for winter. I mean, girls get to hang all sorts of stuff all sorts of places and no one complains.

You know?

Anonymous said...

Hah, funny to see I'm not the only ex-Boston messenger to chime in.

That was a really painful video to watch, but amusing all the same. As others have suggested, in the mid 90s we all longed for the mythical late 80s and early 90s, when there was allegedly more money to be had (e-sign really did kill the business).

I remember Fidelity paying people to go between floors in buildings (no joke).

The only thing I can really say in the defense of Mr "they used to pull down 1-2k a week" is rent was much cheaper in Boston back then... 400 or 500 a week wasn't half bad when rent was 200.

ringcycles said...

Is Mr. pom-pom "zen state" a member of the super secret Astana messenger team? His colorways match their uni. And he sort of looks like Vino's case of PBR a day cousin. Hopefully WADA catches up with him before he makes his "delivery" prior to Tourmalet.

red neckerson said...

what the fuck

g-roc said...

Too bad you put a link to the "leatherette adult-sized bean bag" or we'd all be trying to figure out the euphemism.

Jen G. said...

omg this was so funny I was actually crying! Thanks for a good laugh snob

Stranded said...

Does Voeckler ride a fixie? Speaking of messengers--what with Lance fallen (no pun intended) on hard times, his next cause should be to return the messengers to golden-braceleted hipsterdom by taking up a career as the only TDF winner to try to deliver a memo faster than the Interweb.

Anonymous said...

就像許多外遇故事一樣
男人有了外遇想要離婚,但是女人死不放手
所以他藉故發揮、所以她不甘示弱
他總是說這樣不可理喻的女人俗不可耐才讓他想要離婚
她總是說這樣背棄婚姻的男人她絕對不會離婚讓他們好過

記憶中我從沒有過快樂的童年、幸福的家庭
父親在家的時候總是爭執不斷
父親離家的時候母親總是數落不斷

我總是想,為什麼不離婚
這樣的婚姻意義何在?

母親認為離婚就是輸了
但是她不知道,自己身陷在漩渦中無法掙脫...

Anonymous said...

知道他有了外遇
面對他的低聲下氣妳冷嘲熱諷、無理取鬧
妳瘋狂似的大吵大鬧
甚至到他的公司去亂、向他的親友抱怨、向鄰居們哭訴…
妳把他的外遇鬧的人盡皆知
最後,妳把他的愧疚消耗殆盡…
最後,妳把他想要回頭的念頭打消…
最後,妳自己把他推向外遇的第三者身邊…

Anonymous said...

Just managed to cling on to the riders from China Postal Service at the back of the Autobus. So, I'll be back again for more, at least for another day.

ce

Anonymous said...

I think it's to early to call for Lance. There is still a remote possibility that Evans, Contador & Schleck may spontaneously combust whilst climbing Tourmalet. Stranger things have happened. They pack an amazing amount of energy in those gel sachets these days.

RCMC467 said...

Dear BSNYC;

While I thoroughly enjoy your blog on a nearly daily basis, I think it's time for you, and everyone else on the planet to understand the phrase is POM PON...NOT pom pom.

Thx

streepo said...

A day late, Cadel comes in.

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

Remy, Patron Saint of Rainbows and Puppies said...

Hi there, Bike Snob, everybody else.

I'm the former Boston bike nü-messenger who is wearing the colorful outfit with the pom pon hat who made the egregious comment about 200 years...

Honestly, I don't know what I was referring to when I made that comment. I'm not sure I was referring to bike messenging in particular - I am aware there were no fleets of couriers on their new-fangled velocipedes and other 'running machines' darting along the cobblestone streets. I do think that I had just woken up from a nap and had possibly shared a spliff with someone. I was bored, and there was no work, and I was babbling/joking/ejaculating nonsense from my mouth. Sorry if I misinformed anyone.

Anyway, I thought the film kid got it pretty right with this docu. It's worse then it ever was out there - we're not whining, just telling it like it is. I'm one of the lucky ones: I've got a new job now, so I'll soon be able to buy more non-traditionally bright and pastel clothing, Indian scarves, and silly hats with pom pons. That outfit, by the way, was perfect for the job/weather - incredibly breathable and yet warm. The fact that I look fabulous is just a bonus (other messengers did call me Punky Brewster though).

Have a good one.

Remy, Patron Saint of Rainbows and Puppies said...

Oh, and in response to ringcycles:
no, I'm not a part of the super secret Astana messenger team, despite it sounding way too cool.

Remy, Patron Saint of Rainbows and Puppies said...

F-it. One last note. While I never made a grand or two a week, I certainly did pull in at least $500 a week back around 2004-2005 (even in the summer). By 2009, I was lucky to make about $325 a week in the winter, which was a dramatically unhappy change.

NatiKid said...

word. the guy who said he had to hustle to make 500 a week was right on. 100 a day was kick ass.

if you went the weed delivery route, though, you could readily make 1-200 a day without too much effort. shit, you could even take the, gasp, subway!

James said...

Couldn't help myself... this is a buzzard; this is a vulture.

"Buzzard" is a misnomer for vultures only used in the New World; in the rest of the world, buzzard refers to a hawk. Both would eat carrion, though the vulture eats nothing else. And both would salivate. In fact, I can attest to personally witnessing a drooling vulture.

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fixie bikes said...

we like that sum of money.