Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nuggets of Wisdom: The Art of Crap Curation

Last night, as so often happens, I fell asleep in my bathtub. While I do my best to stay awake, once those soothing bath crystals take effect I am powerless against sleep's gentle caress, and even though my helper monkey, Vito, is under strict instructions to wake me before midnight he often cannot find me amidst all the bubbles. (I like my baths like Vegas showgirls or hastily-poured beer: bubbly and voluminous on the surface, but ultimately shallow.) Awaking this morning to the sound of Vito's electric toothbrush, I extricated my shriveled carcass from the tub, said my morning prayer to the Lobster God (crustaceous and ornery be He) and shuffled over to the computer in order to check my electronic mail. Among the emails I am fortunate to receive from readers are ones containing photographs, and among those photos was this one of a bicycle tool designed specifically for minimalists:

Obviously, this is yet another transparent attempt to capitalize on the minimalist trend that is taking the nation by storm (or, more accurately, by brief rainshower, which is a minimalist storm). Not only is this so-called "minimalist tool" not designed by Apple, but ten tools is also grossly excessive and no self-respecting minimalist would be caught with such a bulky and unwieldy contraption. Fortunately, Steve Jobs is creating a true multi-tool for the minimalist cyclist:
Granted, there's not all that much you can do with it, but it's sleek and elegant, and it costs $250.

Of course, once the subject of minimalist tools arises, my mind turns immediately to the ultimate minimalist tool: that "57 things" guy. "What self-indugent inanity hath he wrought today?," I wondered, and so I pointed my Internet browser (I'm using Rivendell's lugged browser, which is slower than other popular browsers but allows me to "surf the web" in a comfortable, upright position) to his blog, "Far Beyond the Stars," where I was overjoyed to discover that he was about to reveal the "secret of success:"


("I draw my douche-piration from the forest.")

Talk about fortuitous timing! Visiting a minimalist blog just as its "curator" is about to reveal the secret of success is like tuning in to "Basic Instinct" right when Sharon Stone reveals her vulva. So what is the secret of success? Hard work? Passion? Dedication? Owning and operating a lucrative chain of donut shops? Hardly. If you want to be successful, "You need to lead a lifestyle that you want people to live." Then, once you're leading this "cool lifestyle," you need to "describe it on your blog:"

I admit that I was skeptical when I first read this, since it didn't seem to correspond with the career paths of any successful people. For example, Warren Buffett's successful, and I'm pretty sure that leading a cool lifestyle and blogging about it is not the way he got started in life. Furthermore, many people have been successful over the centuries without being especially "cool" or without having access to blogs. Mahatma Gandhi, George Washington, Leonardo DaVinci, and Dave Thomas of the Wendy's fast food chain (all four of their visages are carved into a hillside in suburban New Jersey called "Mount Rush-meh," by the way) are just a few examples. In fact, "lead a cool lifestyle, and describe it on your blog" struck me as being a poor formula for success but an absolutely perfect recipe for being a giant asshole.

Suddenly though I realized the problem was not with the formula but with my own lack of understanding, for the truth is that what I consider "being a giant asshole" is in fact the minimalist version of success. I also realized that the reason I'm such a failure is that, while I may have a blog, I don't lead a "cool lifestyle"--unless testing bicycles in flip-flops and being covered in baby puke is cool. Really, on the vast spectrum of success, I'm little better than some two-bit chicken nugget blogger:

But is blogging about chicken nuggets really so lame? I'm not so sure that it is. The truth is that a truly enlightened person could divine the essence of the entire universe from a single chicken nugget. "57 things" guy might realize that if he actually meditated under that tree instead of simply using it for cover while "foffing off." Plus, there's this:

Something like this will do for your chicken nugget blog what "I'm Too Sexy" did for Right Said Fred's singing career (by which I mean make it incredibly popular while at the same time making people puke), and if nothing else this amazing and disgusting discovery is proof that if you eat enough chicken nuggets eventually something exciting will happen. As the Buddhists say, “Before enlightenment I carry water and sweep the floor. After enlightenment I carry water and sweep the floor.” Similarly, chicken nugget bloggers say, "Before amazing deep-fried chicken head I eat chicken nuggets. After amazing deep-fried chicken head I eat chicken nuggets." Or, if you prefer, "To thine own self and snack foods be true." (This was actually the slogan for McDonald's "Hamlet"-themed Happy Meal.)

Anyway, at this point two things are now clear to me:

1) "Minimalism" is a cult-slash-pyramid scheme that brings together the worst aspects Landmark and Amway and appeals to either people who are way into "design" or people who have read the collected works of Napoleon Hill but are still not rich yet;

2) So far, the biggest marketing trend to emerge in the 21st century is "crap curation."

Until now, marketing was mostly about crap. Companies made crap, advertising agencies came up with clever ways to sell you that crap, and people defined themselves by what crap they owned and how much they paid for it. Now, however, simply having crap is not enough, and we must construct our identities out of how we manage our crap and where we keep it. This accounts for the "minimalism" phenomenon, which is based on bragging about how streamlined your crap is, and which is the opposite of the "hip-hop" phenomenon (which covers everything from actual hip-hop to fixed-gear "streetwear enthusiasts") in which participants not only brag about how much crap they have but also advertise it to others for free. It also accounts for our obsession with "crap portage." Consider this video (or "sizzle reel") for the ScotteVest, which I discovered thanks to a reader:



The ScotteVest is the perfect garment for the minimalist and/or douchebag on the go, and as you can see it has been featured in all sorts of TV shows that nobody has ever heard of and that will soon be in reruns in the middle of the night on the SciFi channel. I guess the appeal of the ScotteVest is that it transforms you from some schlubby bag-schlepper into an action star. But what kind of action star needs a special place to carry his bottled spring water?

(X-ray reveals vest's douche-cessory-hauling capability.)

"Back in the day," Dirty Harry withdrew that Magnum seemingly out of nowhere while wearing a simple sport jacket. Now, his modern-day equivalent can't go anywhere without a bottle of Poland Spring and an iPod so he can listen to the neutered warblings of Sufjan Stevens.

I wonder if Jared Leto's "Captain Eo"-inspired jacket has similar hauling capabilities:


Though I can't help thinking an X-ray of Leto's midsection would reveal something altogether different:

That's called "auto-erotic crap curation."

Brilliantly, the same reader informs me that the makers of the ScotteVest have also sponsored this "challenge" (a "challenge" is a form of advertising campaign), in which some guy will visit a bunch of places without carrying a bag:

Apparently, he can only bring what will fit in his ScotteVest--though of course he can also buy anything he wants:

Buying items along the way is permitted

On that same token, I am allowed to buy things for myself along the way. If I suddenly decide that I want my own toothpaste supply, I can buy a tube in Paris or Cairo or Bangkok. The same goes for clothing and accessories: If I want to buy a pair of sunglasses in Casablanca, a fresh t-shirt in Johannesburg, or a pair of flip-flops in Singapore, I can. I can even buy a souvenir and mail it home from some far corner of the world — so long as I don’t break any of the above rules in the process. This is all in keeping with another time-honored travel virtue: If in doubt, bring less gear and more money.

However will he manage? As I see it, the only challenge here is to travel around the world while looking like a complete dork.

But when it comes to "crap curation," few people get more excited about it than cyclists--though in cycling parlance "crap curation" is called "portaging." Here is an astounding example of conspicuous crap curation (from Portland, obviously) that was forwarded to me by another reader:

Generally speaking I don't have a big problem with leather, but I can't help lamenting how many animals had to die so that one person could be a self-contained "bike culture" cliché.

Self-expression through "crap curation" in cycling even extends to the portaging of children, as I mentioned yesterday:

There are two Cargobikes but no children. In all fairness the kids might have just been dropped off at the daycare center but again, seeing people carrying their precious cargo around on bikes is the surest sign of the perceived danger being low.

The reason for having children, of course, is so that you can express yourself through their "portage"--and a cargo bike has way more smug-appeal than a rideable stroller:

All of this is to say nothing of the vast array of expensive messenger-inspired bags and cycling backpacks that, while useful, have also in their sheer proliferation served to reflect the "bike culture's" transformation into a loosely-organized consumerist collective of preening bag whores.

Hopefully some artisanal bag maker starts making leather chicken nugget holsters for 2011.

98 comments:

samh said...

Who will carry off the first prize, entering the pantheon where only supermen may go?

Anonymous said...

Wohoo

Chris said...

Is it True? Did I finally do it?

Anonymous said...

not me :(

jn

Chris said...

CRAP!!!!

Easton Heights Blogger said...

#6? maybe?

PawnShop said...

Meh.

Shu-Sin said...

top 10 again

wishiwasmerckx said...

Just missed the podium!

ringcycles said...

Still riding with humility

Hans said...

top ten anyway

Hans said...

or not

Anonymous said...

pack fillah

Anonymous said...

Taga is safe for other children using the side walk as the mother plows through them as they play.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, Ritual Roasters.That Johnny-Come-Lately-to-the-Mission cafe is the trendiest. It's both funny and fitting that a self proclaimed "minimalist" would choose to frequent a cafe that caters to those that engage in the most ostentatious displays of consumerism in all of San Francisco (I'm assuming this is Ritual on Valencia Street).

Anonymous said...

Minamulist Mulisha

hillbilly said...

boy howdy

Anonymous said...

Kid portaging is best with a trailer. Once you get used to the extra size, it works well- even in traffic.

The system shoals well, too.

Anonymous said...

If you're business plan's goal is that you don't have to "work more than 2 hours a day" your business plan is either:

A). A pyramid scheme,

or

B). Totally exploiting the labor of others.

In either case, not really on the same page with any sort of "enlightenment."

mikeweb said...

Napoleon Hill?!? That bitch ain't got nothin' on Zig Ziegler.

mikeweb said...

RIDE HMBL

preening bag whore said...

busted. And on my Rivendell browser, too.

Anonymous said...

I get it, the Minimalist blogger is trying t find a way to live the wealthy slacker lifestyle in the post dot-com era.

Stiveaux said...

You are on fire again, this is awesome

Anonymous said...

Snob, regarding the x-ray, I am glad to see that your wife is losing the baby weight.

grog said...

auto- what?
disturbing

sherry said...

love those minimalist blogs that ask you to click the dumb thumb or retweet the entry for maximum minimalism.

just how many plugs do those trees have, anyway? oh, right, wifi.

Michael said...

Why portage an existing child when you could simply make a new one from scratch? This setup even allows you to properly cool the mold while riding as to facilitate ejection of the workpiece: http://www.amazon.com/Bingo-Mounted-Bicycle-Carrier-Kettler/dp/B001V9SZ3I

Anonymous said...

Anyone who photographs themselves meditating is a fraud.Or at least they don't understand what meditating is. I don't think it's about posing under a tree.

Jefe said...

Is there some marital discord? How can you spend the entire night in a tub, and yet only a house primate notices?

That blue-handled tool appears to be an icepick. It's only cycling-related purpose might be to puncture tires. Minimalist, but passive-aggressive, too.

Anonymous said...

I did a no-baggage stint once, its called “lost all my shit en route from Delhi to Paris,in Decembere”. So I show up with the flip flops, and a salwar kumeez with two saltine cracker s inda secret pocket. Like 50 Celsius to minus 5C (to convert celzers to fargrinrihte, just use the ratio of the relative boiling temps of onion soup at sea level and the average temperature of a dogs anus). boy, I didn’t even have an Ipod with me to catch DB maestro Jared Leto in action.

MINI MAL!

Anonymous said...

BUBB TUBB
WRKL SKIN

Anonymous said...

You'd think a minimalist could express their thought with fewer words.

H

rural said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PawnShop said...

My blog is the mehnimalest!
No graphics, no ads, no articles, no URL. Haven't started writing anything.

Anything more would be conspicuously excessive.

ringcycles said...

BSNYC; your Jared Leto x-ray was the best "laugh out loud blowing coffee out of my nose" moment I've had reading your blog in a long time. You must be releasing your pent up bike comuter aggression ala Ed Norton in Fight Club.

"You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world" Tyler Durden - Fight Club

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Anonymous said...

Would baby portaging via baby bjorn and beach cruiser be an overt act of minimalism, stupid, or both? The baby loves it but we've only done this on grass in a park. (no the baby was not high)

Isolation Helmet said...

If I was the guy traveling around without luggage the first thing I would lose is that vest.

random thoughts said...

"i'm too sexy" was ironic ... RSF was an underrated band.

in terms of irony, however, nothing has ever beat casting brad pitt as tyler durden.

furthermore, fight club is the finest book-to-movie adaptation of all time. truly amazing how fincher captured that novel on screen, no joke. runner-up is "one flew over the cuckoo's nest"

g said...

How the fuck does an x-ray show the apps on your iPhone?

And, what's the philosophical enlightenment one gets from just buying and throwing away crap on a 'round the world trip?

Neil said...

Justice:

traveling lightly
I misplaced my credit card
now I beg for food

OBA said...

I was sent to fetch coffee from that Ritual Roasters on Valencia while crashing on a friend's floor in the Mission a few weeks ago -- I think I even overheard the author's conversation -- I was amazed at how many pretentious jackalopes could simultaneously afford $5+ cups of coffee while obviously not having to go to work in the middle of the morning. That, plus the place is huge -- like 10 times the size of Gorilla, but the same amount of customers.

RANTWICK said...

"consumerist collection of preening bag whores".

I love you, man. No, I mean it...

gene99 said...

Snob, Love to see what kind of bag your significant other is rolling with. And love to see you tell him/her he/she’s a “preening bag whore.” And what are you rolling with dude? Used army surplus canvass. K-Mart plastic Star Wars back pack?

Anonymous said...

gene99, does everyone necessarily have to roll with a bag, douche?

Anonymous said...

somebody somewhere right now is pawing through trash for edibles/scraps. Meanwhile, here in SFs own Ritual Roasters, our hero blogs.

artisanal leather chicken nugget holster said...

already on our assembly line...
http://www.newyorker.com/humor/issuecartoons/2010/09/06/cartoons_20100830#slide=13

Captain Eo said...

Thanks for the shoutout, Snob.

Manimalist said...

quote "Minimalism" is a cult-slash-pyramid scheme...quote

cult/pyramid scheme would work too comma would it not question mark

Just trying to help period

aD said...

gene99: She only uses pannier bags, of course. Portage all the way.

Anonymous said...

So Gandhi says, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Then Everette Bogue says, "You need to lead a lifestyle that you want people to live."

I guess it makes sense that minimalist philosophy just rehashes trite, bumper-sticker length nuggets of wisdom. It wouldn't be properly minimalist to create *new* ideas when you can just gentrify the ideas of others.

Mother said...

I get that the iPhone (iPad, whatever) is a lovely device that does the tasks that people used to need 57 discrete items to do. But what I don't get is how having an iPhone makes someone more minimalist than someone with a regular phone and the other 56 items. It's the same amount of crap, and life is still just as complicated. The functionality is just crammed into a smaller package now.

And now, for something completely different. Does the guy traveling without a bag know that buddhist monks have been traveling around the world for centuries without carrying luggage? They don't usually buy stuff along the way, either, but are dependent on the kindness of strangers for their toothpaste.

Anonymous said...

And by "gentrify" I really mean "curate," of course. Curation is gentrification2.0.

gene99 said...

Annon - I was using "roll" in the larger meaning. Can you roll with it?

Ugh said...

I guess on one hand you could be amazed at the thoroughness of minimalist guy's self-absorption. There is absolutely no self-awareness to dilute his complete fascination with himself. Perhaps that's his truest act of minimalism.

On the other hand, you could start lobbying for legislation that would create a hunting season during which shooting people like this would be legal.

Anonymous said...

it's interesting how that minimalist guy has it so you cannot comment on his blog, only "like" it, so it can only display when people like it, but if you hate it, you're not allowed to comment or click a "hate" button. I guess this is one of his minimalist ways of lining himself up for success.

bikesgonewild said...

...minimalist ???...fuck that...

...massively delusionalistical...(why can't i ???...if he's entitled to make stuff up, so am i)...

...in assuming he was in nyc, i thought he was comical...knowing he lives close, i find him entirely doucheffensive...(hey, when it's in your backyard it's about colorful anecdotes , when it's in mine, it's about a problem needs be addressed)...

...i only hope he continues to preach his gospel loud & clear...lives in oakland, hangs in the mission, huh ???...

...hope some late night he tries to magnanimously share his minimalistic "nuggets of wisdom" with some drunk, smacked out vato on the hustle who's only real option later that night if his girlfriend's trickin', is to go back his chica's mother's cramped apartment to see his wife & the faces of his 3 squalling kids & who has visions, understandably, of "down-sizing" his life himself...

...if minimalist man survives that shit, we'll get a better measure of just what he's selling...

bikesgonewild said...

...i mean, just sayin'...

Salty and Sore said...

Oh god.

My whole life has been a lie. Thank you, Michael 1:34 for finally enlightening me.

properly cool the mold...as to facilitate ejection of the workpiece

No, I am fully armed with how to properly woo Jared Leto. Anyone have his number? Do you think Cipo would get jealous?

PhilboydStunge said...

Back in the day I made a seat bag out of a old fanny pack and some toe straps. But last week I curated it with a BA Zimbale bag. I went from minimalist pretender to preening bag whore contender with one purchase! Ha! How's that for life style acceleration?

Anonymous said...

Is this post related to bicycles or is it the want to bash some poor bastard, and it counts on this blog because he rides a fixed gear? Wheres the content?

Anonymous said...

Is this post related to bicycles or is it the want to bash some poor bastard, and it counts on this blog because he rides a fixed gear? Wheres the content?

Anonymous said...

I like the sharp, seething tone of today's post.

bikesgonewild said...

...anon 4:18pm...

...anon 4:18pm...

...& your concern is because ???...

...& your concern is because ???...

Anonymous said...

bikesgonewild:

+1
+1
+1
+1
=
57 items

Test Tickle said...

anon 4:18

you sir

you sir

are a

are a

BAGW HORE

BAGW HORE

balls.

balls.

Anonymous said...

I like all the shit I own.

Blanche Dubois said...

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers and I ain't no Buddhist monk.

ken e. (is a fashion victim) said...

if i buy a new fastex buckle for my tattered ortlieb bag do i get whore status?

(please please please)

bikesgonewild said...

...i only hope that what bsnyc/rtms describes as "Vito's electric toothbrush" is indeed battery powered...

...should that hairy helping, pretentious primate ever decide his wages are too 'minimalist' - aka, too few bananas in his daily bunch, we could see bsnyc/rtms being retrieved from his bubbly bath crystaled tub by csi/nyc, looking boiled red like the venerable 'lobster god' himself...

...& vito with that innocent 'cute little monkey' shrug that sez "who me ???...i'm just a monkey"...

...careful, snob...

Anonymous said...

yes, lets keep it to gear inches ok? I mean, where does this blog get it's balls to tackle anything else?

leroy said...

Well I'll be darned.

I didn't even know Jared Leto was pregnant.

Looks like he's expecting a boy.

And he's going to be popular.

Anonymous said...

I don't think possessions defining identity is a new thing, but I think it has crept into a lot of recreational activities that used to be fun and not necessarily competitive--not only cycling, but other outdoor leisure activities like casual hiking and backpacking.

This whole thing The "minimalist" guys are just a reaction to the super-pro techie dorks. They both spend outrageous amounts of money on "gear", the minimalist guys just put a premium on aesthetics while the techie guys put a premium on weight and water resistance.

Minimalists are also faster at putting their old crap (and get much better ROI) on craigslist and ebay.

I've come to realization that I will never fit in with either group because I just cannot spend too much money on clothing that will get dirty/soaked in ass sweat.

luciferyellow said...

"And don’t forget to share this article. Imagine if everyone knew this? (sic) We could maybe actually save the world. That’d be pretty cool."

Anonymous said...

I'd like to send the "57 Things" kid to live on the steppes in Mongolia with nomadic "minimalist" herders for the winter.

Ron White said...

BGW, colorful antecdotes?

If I knew the difference between an antecdote and an antidote, my friend Timmy would still be alive today.

wyatt said...

I thought the whole purpose of having kids was so they could serve as front end crumple zones while bike salmoning in nyc.

Anonymous said...

Gotta Love this...

http://publicbikes.com/c/FAQS

Where are your bikes made?
The Taiwanese have become the world-class producers of production bikes, based on decades of hard work. Now it has become part of their modern culture and tradition. They are to bikes as Italy is to Parmesan cheese.

bikesgonewild said...

...ron white, you bastard...

...i hadda go back & check if i'd spelled that wrong...but then i remembered hearing it on the "blue collar" thingy & it is funny...especially in 'your' delivery...

...anon 5:30pm...

...not a bad idea...

...after that make 'minimalist guy' live homeless on the streets of, say, beijing...

...you know, not to be cruel, just to test out his theory...

gregoryyy said...

What's Vito's PayPal address? I want to send a donation so he can fly to California,kick that Blogger in the nuts and pour a Folgers down his throat.

Leto would have been a good target too,but,I don't trust him around Vito after seeing that Jacket.

kfg said...

So what can I do with that vest that I can't do better with an Aussie curated (sleeves ripped off) Wrangler Hero denim jacket ($25 at Walmart) and a Camelback?

cyclotourist said...

SAID FRED


57TH INGS

escalante blogger said...

Great collection of photos.

Its a zen thing said...

Give poor Everett a break. He's not meditating, he's practicing auto-erotic pine cone curation. Its the climax of douche-gnosis.

I Deraille said...

I forgot about Captain Eo, thanks for reminding me.

Anonymous said...

How do I e-mail you Snob?

Tap said...

Crap Curation, especially when it's cycle related, should be called by it's proper name..."Festoonery"

Michael Ochurtz said...

I am so confused. Why does it take so many words to describe the secret of minimalist success?

Anonymous said...

In the interest of full disclosure, I think you also need to know about this dude-- http://exilelifestyle.com/55/

He owns 2 less things.

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

Anonymous said...

Did he tag the cargo bike himself?

Self-Righteous Prick said...

Six-pack holder won't work.
Bottles will escape and brake under normal use.

And gets in the way of one's legs.

What a horrendous design.
I assume it was a joke.

How to be an alpha male said...

This is a sort of blog we can have loads of information i would like to appreciate the intelligence of this blog's owner

Anonymous said...

stop being such a whiny bitch, get away from your computer and go ride! man, both times i've read your pmsy, bitchy blog... it makes me want to smack you around like a foster child. shut up!

Anonymous said...

His jean shorts ratio is 29x05

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fixie bikes said...

that h-tool looks pretty cool.