Monday, February 1, 2010

Brazen Schemes: RTMS and Sympathy

If you've been following this blog for awhile, you know that I occasionally refer to myself as RTMS. Back in the spring of 2008 (a much simpler time when Lance Armstrong was still retired, the fixed-gear scene was still open, and the PistaDex soared into the high three figures), somebody accused me of "jumping the shark" for reasons I cannot recall, and so in true shark-jumping fashion I announced that I would change my name to an unpronounceable symbol, à la Prince or Rock Racing owner Michael Ball. The symbol I chose was actor Rip Torn's mug shot, taken after a drunk driving arrest:

I've always been entranced by Torn's expression in this photo. It is insouciant to the point of being beatific, and Torn maintains it despite the fact that his world is crumbling around him--he's like Buddha mingled with George W. Bush declaring victory on that aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. To me, this attitude neatly sums up the human condition, and while this photo is ineffable I abbreviated my new moniker as "RTMS" for the purposes of shorthand. Subsequently, commenter Urchin created this graphic, and the name change was complete:

Naturally, then, many readers emailed me over the weekend to tell me that an armed Rip Torn had been arrested for breaking into a bank while intoxicated. While this would imply that he was trying to rob the bank, the police now believe he didn't realize it was a bank and thought it was his own home, which makes perfect sense to me--I often smash my own window with a revolver and then pass out on the floor after a night of heavy drinking, and if my home were more bank-like in appearance I'm sure I'd find myself in the nearest Chase branch every so often. I'd also like to take this opportunity to express the disgust I feel towards the media, for if they think that a famous actor drunkenly smashing his way into a bank while brandishing a loaded weapon is more interesting than something as monumentally important as the Grammys then they clearly have a lot of soul-searching to do.

Still, it's obvious that Torn needs help (or at least a new pair of glasses and a front door key), and I sincerely hope he gets it. In the meantime, let's remember Torn in happier times. Here he is in 1970, beating the crap out of Norman Mailer:

Forty years ago, attacking a respected author with a hammer could become the cornerstone of your career; now, simply passing out in a bank can land you in jail. It just goes to show how much we've regressed as a society. That said, celebrities and weapons don't tend to mix well. Consider New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress, who accidentally shot himself in the leg, or Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, who recently fingerbanged himself in the ear:

("There was earwax everywhere!," says a terrified witness.)

Hopefully he recovers from his accidental earbanging in time for this year's Grand Boucle.

Speaking of competitive cycling, yesterday was the elite men's cyclocross world championship, and among the competitors was the Mongolian cyclocross team, under the tutelage of retired classics star and flax mogul Johan Museeuw. While they were not exactly in the medal hunt, to their credit they did manage to finish (albeit a few laps down), and even managed to beat the guy from Israel:

Granted, the Israeli national cyclocross program consists entirely of watching YouTube videos of Sven Nys, but beating them is still impressive. Also, top Mongolian finisher Bold-Erdene Boldbaatar would have placed much higher if an untimely mechanical hadn't forced him into the pits. Here's footage of his mechanic at work:

This unplanned stop threw Boldbaatar off his rhythm, and then a sloppy dismount later in the race ultimately consigned him to the back for the duration:

After that he kept getting lapped like the field was a giant tabby and he was a bowl full of skim milk. Still, it was a strong showing from a cyclocross backwater, and the Mongolian cyclocross team will undoubtedly come back strong next year. In the meantime, they plan to stay sharp in the off-season by playing polo with Museeuw's head.

Speaking of competition, sometime this week I will announce the winner of The Great Meh BSNYC Free Scat Contest!, but in the meantime I'd like to share a few entries from people who will definitely not be getting a free bike. One of them is from someone named Bob Gong, who submitted this because he just wanted to see his name in print:

1. I live in Granite Bay, CA, about 30mins north of Sacramento, CA.
2. I'm 46 years old.
3. I currently own 7 bikes (ok, maybe I do need an 8th one since the number 8 is good luck in Asian cultures, not that I'm superstitious or anything. Honest, cross my heart.....).
4. I've never had a bike stolen, but I'm willing to learn. Maybe this bike is the perfect opportunity... I've lived a very sheltered life or have just been stupor lucky.
5. I would use it to utilize 2 new bike storage hooks I just bought from the hardware store. The biek would be a replacement for my loser social life in that I've never been able to be a true hipster. This biek would give me the tools to be the most baddest, mo-fricky hipster in a 4-county radius, let alone restore my waning, self-confidence.

I'm happy to put your name in print (see above), but alas, your hooks shall remain Scatless.

Here's an excerpt from another submission:

4) How your bike got stolen- Actually, I don't need a new bike. Just thought I'd give this a go, as the only other contest I have won was a drawing at the Sean Kelly site- a heart-rate monitor book, that I never received. Bastard. I do not frequent Sean Kelly's site any longer

I was shocked to learn that the great Irish cyclist apparently lures people in with promises of free heart rate monitor books, which he then fails to deliver. I can assure you that whoever wins the Scattante will in fact receive the Scattante, though it will not be this poor heart-rate-monitor-bookless soul. Still, I do appreciate his "ratting out" Sean Kelly.

Then there were the submissions which were obviously made up, like this one from Canada:

1) Hamilton, Ontario, Canukistan Petrostate
2) Physically 43, mentally, eight
3) 4
4) It wasn’t stolen, it was blown up by a terrorist test rider/looky-loo with an explosive chamois.
5) This was my 2009 Pinarello Va Fungulo Speciale, with Super Record and Zipp 1080 Crabon wheels, the signature “James Huang” edition. This bike was never actually ridden, it resided on the back of my Audi TT Quattro, which I drove to my local Starbucks-disguised-as-a-local café, I would dismount the bike from my German motorcar, and walk it into the café with my cleats ruining the floor. I would then flip open my laptop and post angry messages to Bikeforums to those assholes buying Chinese-built bikes, when they should be buying Amurican-imported frames with Shimano parts. I’d also frequent the racing forum and talk for hours about wattage, elevations , junk miles, why cat 3 racers and the French suck, and just how awesome Lance is. The second important use of this bike was to hang it from a digital LCD scale and post pictures on Weightweenies forum, then engage in a posting tete-a-tete withCharles Manatanan about handlebar tape weights. Oh, Charles, we agreed to disagree, but the discussion was always 4.5/5 stars. The last important use of this bike was to take it to wind tunnels and test various parts off the bike for aero effect at 65 km/hr, the use those numbers to prove why Fabian Cancellara wins TT races, back on Weightweenies. I don’t know how much more typing I can do, as my emotions have overcome me and I feel my perfectly electrolyte-balanced tears (thanks to FRS Energy Drink) may cause an electrocution hazard on this keyboard. I would use the Scattante to post poignant questions all over the internet cycling forums about every single part, then progressively replace every single part with Chinese sound-alike parts off Ebay. I hope that one day I can once again ride around on the hood of my 4T handlebars with a nice set of Zepp 1080 crabon wheels and my aero helmet from Rouis Galneau, and once again connect with the internet fraternity, my Band of Brothers of junk milers…sniff…that godless Al Queada bastard even blew up my LCD scale, I have no way of knowing if I’m below the UCI weight limit of not. And they say people in Haiti have it tough. If I don’t win this, I’ll have to wait another three months for a bonus cheque to buy one (hundred and eighty).

Charles Ponzi-Skeeme III
VP, Bank of America.

I have a feeling a certain frequent commenter is behind that one. Incidentally, a disproportionately large number of the submissions I received came from people in Canada. I'm not sure why that is, though I suspect it may simply be that Canadians are accustomed to receiving free handouts.

But while our guileless neighbors to the north simply wait for people to give them stuff, we Americans are a far more scheming breed. This is because we live in a country which forces us to be conniving, and where simply receiving life-saving medical treatment can require us to weave a vast web of lies. Really, we need to use every weapon in our respective arsenals. If you're Rip Torn, that weapon might be a loaded gun; if you're this woman, it might be an adorable baby:

How did your bike get stolen? from Leah Archibald on Vimeo.

Honestly, who would not want to give this face whatever it wants? (The one on the left I mean.)

Still, it's not going to work on me. Not only is my heart as black as crabon, but the video also reveals the contestant's lavish, sun-drenched home. Clearly, this family lives in luxury and they are not people in need. Had she smeared both their faces with fake dirt and filmed the video in a Dumpster or an abandoned car then they would have had a much better chance. Still, I appreciate the video, and I'm sure they're already on their way to the LBS where she will attempt to use her child to get 15% off a 2009 Trek.

Unethical? Perhaps. But it's better than simply walking into the shop and taking a bike at gunpoint, which is what recently happened in Issaquah, WA:

Keep in mind though that things aren't always what they seem. The thief may actually have been Rip Torn, and he may have just thought he was walking into his own garage.