Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Putting the "Meh" in Reme(h)dial

While this blog is ostensibly about "shed culture," I occasionally enjoy exploring other subjects such as bicycles, urban alpaca farming, and, of course, axes. That's why I feel it recumbent upon me to share with you the following recall, of which I was informed by a reader:


Yes, you read that right. The Gerber® Gator® Combo Axe--which is an axe with a knife inside the handle--is being recalled because it poses a "laceration hazard:"

Now, I may be a bit naive in the ways of cutting tools, but isn't the whole point of an axe with a knife on the inside to lacerate stuff? What's next, recalling Jack Daniel's because it's causing slurred speech, impaired motor funcion, and ill-advised sexual liaisons in some users? Last I checked, this was America--Canada's septic tank--and dadgummit I a-member a time when if a feller sauntered on down to the trading post and swapped a hunnert beaver pelts for a axe with a knife on the inside then that feller knew dolgarned well that he might git cut.

Then again, I suppose maybe an axe with a knife in the handle that's held in place by a magnet isn't such a great idea after all:

This seems like the kind of thing Specialized would design if they went into the axe business. I'm sure they'd market it as a laterally stiff yet vertically compliant "all-cutting" tool perfect for the serial killer who needs all the raw dismemberment power of an axe yet at the same time wants ready access to a knife so he can easily remove small body parts like ears and pinkies to add to his twisted trophy case. (Of course, it would also be made of crabon and have a Zertz insert in the handle.)

Most surprising though is that Gerber is located in my new hometown of Portland (though their wares are made in Taiwan) and frankly I'm disgusted that my smug neighbors would stand for this kind of shoddy outsourced "curation." As we say here Stumptownsburg, "Go artisanal or go home."

Speaking of going home, yesterday I temporarily repatriated to my ancestral home of New York City. After three whole days of pretending to live in Portland I was becoming a bit homesick, and I'm pleased to report that a leisurely ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan all but cured me of that condition.

Since beginning this blog back in 1972 I've been fortunate enough to travel to and ride in other cities, and I have to say that while New York City is on the "cutting edge" of many things (cuisine, media, art, mindless consumerism, soulless trend-mongering) I now realize it is very much a remedial city as far as cycling is concerned. Sure, the fixed-gear trend, the Dutch bike trend, and the moribund bike lane experiment have conspired to foster a new age of "practical" cycling here, but watching riders figure out how the whole thing works is like watching my helper monkey, Vito, try to carve a Thanksgiving turkey with a recalled Gerber® Gator® Combo Axe--by which I mean it's awkward and nauseating and you're lucky to come away from the whole debacle with all your limbs. Just stand on the Williamsburg Bridge for awhile and watch the legions of Nü-Freds streaming across it in their crooked skateboard helmets and with a look of terror in their eyes like doomed draftees storming the beach at Normandy and you'll know what I'm talking about.

However, some cycling sights in New York City predate this latest "boom," and one of these is the man in a sweatsuit riding a tricked-out mountain bike:

Just as the track bike appeals to fans of indie music and Apple products, so does the mountain bike appeal to the sorts of people who listen to club music even in their homes and who apply liberal amounts of cologne at all times in hopes that it will act as chloroform and incapacitate any woman foolish enough to come close enough to them.

In this particular instance the gentleman who shoaled me was not only clad in a tracksuit and riding a cross-country mountain bike complete with slicks and platform pedals, but he was also wearing Ferrari sneakers:

This is textbook "cycle chic" among the Eastern Bloc set.

Even more impressive was this singlespeed conversion, which marries the homespun rattlecan customization of yesteryear with the fixie "flambullience" of today:

That "colorway" is known as "LiveTarck."

In addition to the Nü-Fred phenomenon, another manifestation of New York City's remedial approach to cycling is in the recent proliferation of people salmoning on "bake feets:"

("Can we play 'chicken' with the taxis again, mommy? Pleeeze?")

I'm not sure what compels increasing numbers of wealthy New Yorkers to throw their children into wheelbarrows and then set out straight into oncoming traffic, but this is what's happening. I suppose it's because these are the sorts of entitled people who until recently triple-parked their luxury SUVs in front of their children's private schools but have since become born-again environmentalists. However, while their "carbon footprint" may be smaller, their ego and sense of entitlement are as bloated as ever, thus the notion that some tragedy could befall their Italian Ice Cart of Smugness is positively unthinkable. Still, you've got to hand it to them: It's a brave statement to "portage" your children by "bake feets" and leave the Range Rover out at the house in Southampton.

By the way, I have a sinking feeling that these parents are raising a generation of super-hipsters that will make our current crop seem like Tom Brokaw's "greatest generation." What's more, they're raising them in boxes like they're tulip bulbs:

It's like a Skinner Box of Smugness.

Then again, they may be on to something, since that particular contraption has three wheels and is not technically a bicycle. Therefore, they may very well have found a loophole through which to escape New York City's ongoing bicycle crackdown. This would also explain why young couples are doubling up on contraptions like this:

Hopefully I can physically move from here before they force us all onto Segways.

By the way, here in New York the bicycle backlash is inextricably intertwined with the hipster backlash:

Granted, I'm sure the above sticker is ironic, since only hipsters go around stickering street signs with designs they curated on their MacBook Pros, but nevertheless the backlash is real. In fact, commenter Ant1 informs me they're among New Yorkers' top annoyances:

As you can see, that's a New York Post survey, and I find it telling that the readers of that paper can't stand any of the above, yet they're perfectly fine with crime, bedbugs, police brutality, high taxes, public school layoffs, and rats that crawl all over your face while you're riding the subway.

No wonder it's so easy to make them hate bike lanes. It takes their minds off all the itching caused by the insects that are feasting off their blood in the night.

Speaking of hipsters, another reader informs me that the TV show "Triple Rush" is on the lookout for "Skid Extras:"

Skid Extras
Date: 2011-03-29, 8:43PM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

Needed for next seasons Triple Rush messengers reality show
This time we're stepping it up to include more Hipster Culture. So we need extras with Top Fixed Gear Skills that want to show them off.
Shooting begins late spring and ends mid summer so we need you to apply NOW!
Reply with photo of your bike and any still shots of you doing "Fixie Tricks."
This is an example of what we're looking for.



Sadly, I'm certain the post is fake--not because its ridiculous in itself, but because there's no way "Triple Rush" will go past the first season.

128 comments:

Geana said...

Bike on!

Anonymous said...

First!

shu-sin said...

tie!

Anonymous said...

podium!

Nick Cecchi said...

top ten.

Anonymous said...

Unironic mustache!

Astroluc said...

toptoptop

streepo said...

meh

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Anonymous said...

top whatever

ringcycles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OBA said...

Would hipsters delivering food on bikes come in at #3?

crosspalms said...

I don't have a fixie but I can pinch my own nipple, so I'll be sending those Triple Rush guys a very, very long video of me doing just that.

Anonymous said...

dangshankit! how come i didn't see you at astor place, snobie? i saw that couple's contraption as they were locking it up a couple of blocks up from astor place. next time i guess.

ringcycles said...

"a skinner box of smugness"

If somehow you get a pretentious cargo bike there will be no hope for the snoblet. oops.

ringcycles said...

I think "Divine Bitches" actually posted that Craigslist ad hoping to lure new "talent".

Adam Myerson said...

By "fixie tricks," I believe they meant hipsters who will also take money for sex.

Post de-authored said...

This author has been removed by the Post.

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

Pebes said...

I kinda like those basket bikes. there sort of expensive, but it would be nice to carry your young kids in there and not have to worry about them falling or straying into traffic. salmoning though... drives me crazy. yesterday on the way home the only other people in the bikeline were two salmons and a gigantic orca-whale on a motor scooter going painfully slow. i wish i was quick on the draw, i woulda shared that image and garnered tons of lulz.

Pebes said...

*they're

inb4 spelling nazi

3G said...

Steamed hams

Marcel Da Chump said...

Apparently, the charmed life of the self-entitled precludes the probability of accidents. Sign me up. But just how can I attain self-entitlement?

The man with 12 fingers said...

INCOME FUNNEL

Kenny Banya said...

Reme(h)dial finish

Anonymous said...

Please snoby: in the name of good taste...

"...doomed draftees storming the beach at Normandy...

The real doomed draftees at Normandy (the ones who by some miracle survived, that is) suffered from life-long trauma strong enough that their children (like me...) often underwent therapy 50 years on, having grown up with this man who hit the dirt every time a car backfired...

Too real, don't go there.

hardpush said...

i came in with the bake feets.

wait until best made introduces their own combo ax - part ax, part personal parachute. best used simultaneously.

Hitler's ghost said...

I lost a lot of good men that day.

Too real. Don't go there.

wishiwasmerckx said...

This hipster movement has hit a new low if the only requirement to be on a TV show is the ability to administer and receive a "purple nurple."

hillbilly said...

rock me a-meh-deus

Burt Columbus MXL said...

wiwm, it looks like that crew is pretty well working at the limits of their abilities, too. I hope they get the jobs.

mikeweb said...

Another great thing about Brooklyn is that on Atlantic ave. there's a place that you can drive your SUV into and have an entire team of wage slaves wash your hands for you.

samh said...

Witty remark.

grog said...

way to go ant1.
missing the babe.

crosspalms said...

Shouldn't that pie delivery woman ride a Bake Feats?

mikeweb said...

@grog,

Not so fast. Look at the 'Italian Ice Cart of Smugness' driver. The hair, the glasses, the reproductive insoucience? If it isn't recumbabe, it's at least her in spirit.

xyxax said...

Snob,

So glad "Atlantic Hand Wash" was captured in one of your photos. Since that place opened, I rarely wash my hands at home anymore. And yes it IS dishwashing liquid.

xyxax said...

@mikeweb

damn you for being first and more clever.

Anonymous said...

Eben, check out yesterday's NYT's "pictures of the day" for a photo of a Libyan rebel on a chopper bike with a grenade launcher

Anonymous said...

What's the grey box thingy that's on its point (in the 2-up big scooter photo)?

I'm not from round there, you know....

hey nonny mouse

Anonymous said...

who's eben?

Anonymous said...

LOLed @ Hitler's Ghost.

Marcel Da Chump said...

Anon 2:01,
That's NYC's fine public artwork. It's interactive: it rotates on its axis and it can be manipulated like a Rubik's cube.
There's a similar piece, but in red, in front of 140 Broadway, the financial district. Don'tknow who the artist is, though.

Anonymous said...

Skinner box of Smugness! Hell yeah!

MILF on a "Bake Feets" said...

That "titty twister" photo gives me a "Quadruple Rush"

SLAM said...

I could have been first, but I suddenly got a single speed convulsion.

ricky said...

i dont knows nobody in this neck of the woods who say guldurnit or something like that

you been watchin too many beverly hillbillies reruns

i do think that blonde is hottern hell

we we gets pissed we jest say aw fuck like everbody else

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

A bake feets looks kind of like a garden cart with half a bike stuck on the back. A wheelbarrow is kinda like a unicylce bake feets. I have a wheelbarrow but I got no shed to keep it in.

ken e. said...

MLTI KNFE
NPPL TWYK

SUNI VANC
CHRY BLSM

mikeweb said...

@xyxax,

First definitely. More clever? Not too sure...

mikeweb said...

I actually had a bike stolen about 50 feet away from the spinning 'Rubiks' cube sculpture thingy, 'back in the day'.

That couple copulscooting on Lafayette are heading in the direction of the scene of the crime.

David said...

It's goldarned, not dolgarned. I exist in Kentucky (we do have bikes here, though no clipless pedals, since they would require the wearing of shoes), so I'm in a position to know. C'mon, Snob, what kind doshgerned linguist are you, anyway?

Anonymous said...

Skinner Box? Either you're an academic, Snob (an academic snob?), eager to show off that thar college edjumacation you got, or you're dreaming up new ways to use use the knife-axe to skin things.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Snob, you've angered the English Curmudgeon again: "Hopefully I can physically move from here before they force us all onto Segways." You do know that means you will move in a hopeful manner, right? I suspect what you mean is that you hope youcan move. . . . Just sayin' (but not hopefully).

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's time to give up on pointless distinctions and let the language breathe. I'm glad we don't all try to speak Olde Englyshe.

Mother Tongue said...

Loosened collar and belt. Sitting down, taking deep breaths. Yes, feeling better now. Hopefully, to boldly go where no tongue has gone before.

ringcycles said...

mikeweb: can head down any Avenue in Gotham and NOT be heading toward the scene of a crime from some point in time?

Anon 4:20 said...

Whatever dude.


Hey you got anymore doritos?

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, I can use "hopefully" however I want.

Whom cares?

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/03/grammar_nazis.php

RhetoricPerson said...

Bike Snob NYC, if you move, what will the NYC in your name mean?

Phil O'Logy said...

Its smells awfully linguacentric up in here (up in here).

Not Bike Snob NYC said...

Not Your Concern

The King of Park Slope said...

SKID XTRA

Did I do that correctly?

tgs said...

Don't block the box hipster delivery guy!

leroy said...

Q: What do you if New York is your own Private Idaho?

A: When life gives you potatos, make potato salad.

Anonymous said...

No-one speaks Olde Englishe here either, unless they're doing Sealed Knot things....and they're generally in England. Up here it tends to be more along the the lines of "Are you lookin' at ma bird?" followed by violence.

Thanks for the information on NYC's public art.

hey nonny mouse

Anonymous said...

Steve Tilford has never posted a photo of dues squeezing each other's nipples and I don't expect that he ever will.

Lord Newton-Figg said...

Steve Tilford's tears can cure cancer.

No, wait. That's Chuck Berry. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Roses on the piano...I will take tulips on the organ.

-angry dragon

Anonymous said...

I feel empathy for roadies riding their winged Tampax...carbon geared bikes.

-angry dragon

Chaucer, O.E rapper said...

Whan that April with his showres soote
The droughts of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veine in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendered is the flowr;
Whan Zephyrus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tender croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye
That sleepen al the night with open yë-
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages-
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seeken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Canterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martyr for to seeke
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seke.

Chaucer's saddle said...

ohe crap!

Anonymous said...

#10 hipster delivery guys panhandling on fixies blocking cabs in the box

Anonymous said...

I felt like I wanted to talk about pussy, but know I only want to talk about knifes.

I just did a personal inventory of Gerbers.
First one my father gave me...hunting knife.

Years later I bought a gator...fit in the hand like brass knuckles.

Two axes...one of the best balanced axes in the world.

Last piece also given to me by my father was a bone saw...goes thru a rib cage like a butter knife.

-angry dragon

Anonymous said...

damn, when is St. George going to show up and put an end to our comments reading misery.

Chaucer, little help here please, I mean your acquainted, right!

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Chaucer said...

nay, he live a thousand yeers biforn.

Euro mtbiker said...

What´s wrong with a cross-country mountain bike complete with slicks and platform pedals?
Add fenders, change the suspended fork for a rigid one, and you´ve got an excellent city bike, fast, agile, and with great braking power.

My choice in order to ride safely in town.

Fakenchaucer said...

    Nowher so besy a man as he ther n’ as,
And yet he semed besier than he was as one biek messenger..

Fakenchaucer said...

    Up rose the sonne, and up rose Emelie upone mye woodie...

Anonymous said...

    For of fortunes sharpe adversite,
The worst kind of infortune is this,—
A man that hath been wid fair lady,
And didnent remember whan he hit it.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Hey yea Euro mtbiker is right. I gotta 26'er with slicks, fenders and egads! platform pedals. Sometimes I get crazy and even bunny hop a curb.

Don't have the bad ass Ferarri shoes though.

ce said...

Snob, this is weird, I think we have a psychic connection, or at least a psychiatric connection. A fortnight ago I bought a Gerber LMF 2 Utility Knife, for mehpocalypse survival, and was surprised to see etched into the blade "Portland Oregon USA". Similar in vein to what you wrote today about the "Axe-Knif", I was planning on writing a comment here about how my knife didn't fit with the Portland stereotype due to its distinctly anti-artisanal character. My new knife is in fact a talisman of sorts; a small piece of the mighty Military Industrial Complex that can be kept close, a handy reserve of its evil power. Anyway, in the end I decided that all this had absolutely nothing to do with bikes.

g-roc said...

Little known fact: If you wear a track suit while riding a tarck bike and hit a terminal velocity of only 8.8 mph you will achieve the Delorean effect and turn into the time travelling tri-dork.

g-roc said...

NYC? Dude, it's Portland. He'll be running the Nihilistic Yam Cart.

- Beware the alpaca lips.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to lawyers to ruin a good thing w the Gerber knife axe.Im sure some dumbass didnt hold it right and sliced himself up.Maybe the skinner box bike will be the key transitional mode of transportation and eventually pave the way for rickshaw acceptance in N.Y. I can think of some rosdies that dont have a job after the Pegasus .Fly V team collapse.Youd probably arrive sooner than a cab.

Anonymous said...

What does "meh" mean? Derivation?

ce said...

meh, why bother explaining?

sewa mobil said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

Twistyface said...

Hipsters are starting to form queues outside the LBS:

http://blog.brooksengland.com/wps/sneak-peek-at-the-brooks-england-the-worlds-finest-bike-polo-mallet/?utm_source=fbpage&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=blog30_01Apr2011

How disappointed are they going to be? Very.

Anonymous said...

g-roc @1:10 AM -- I prefer the existential yam cart:

"I think, therefore, a yam."

Neil said...

'drivers blocking the box'....is that like cock-blocking?

crosspalms said...

Neil,
Don't forget the Popeye yam cart: a yam what a yam and that's all what a yam

crosspalms said...

oops, not Neil but Anon 8:02. more coffee, please...

mcbentleson said...

Yesterday I got a red hand in Chinatown just before the manhattan bridge, looked to my right and saw the "fucking hipsters" sticker.

Made my night.

Lantern Rouge said...

I don't know how you can complain about NYC being un-bikefriendly. In the moutain bike picture, it looks like all the roads are painted up like the Galibier during the Tour de France. Allez!

Anonymous said...

GERB ERAX = BABY FOOD

Mrs. G Yousuf said...

What has happened to your spellcheck funcion?

Anonymous said...

@ ce 5.21am
Thanks,mate!
I apologise profusely for not being one of the in-crowd.
I'm an aussie who has followed this blog since I was given the book for Xmas. I was beginning to think that the comments are mostly puerile rubbish with a very occasional pearl. You've convinced me not to bother.

Anonymous said...

But I still don't know what "meh" refers to!!

Anonymous said...

The family in the bakfiets is not just risking their lives, they also riding the wrong way on Lafayette. It is north bound only and they are headed south. What sort of message are they teaching their children?

ce said...

Anon 9:20, I was being light hearted. "meh" is an expression of indifference, so I was using it in context by feigning indifference to your query. But yes, the comments are puerile rubbish and you may well do best not to bother. I however will be back again tomorrow like a pig in shit. Hey, if you're up my way can I borrow the book? I still haven't bought a copy. Did ya hear that Snobby?

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Fixie Bikes said...

That's a badass axe.

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