Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Over the Hills: Bombs A-Meh

In 1776, an explorer named Christopher Columbus was out looking for the Northwest Passage to Africa when he discovered a new land. In one of history's oldest examples of product placement, he named this land "America" after a popular brand of mulled wine. (Back then, drinking mulled wine and watching bear-baiting was what drinking beer and watching football are today.) Here is what America looked like when Columbus discovered it:

As you can see, most of the cities and states are as we know them today, the only real difference being that back then Hawaii and Alaska were still located in small boxes in Mexico. (America purchased Hawaii and Alaska from its southern neighbor in the mid-1980s in a deal known as the Lou-Weezie-Anna Purchase.)

Columbus arrived at a pivotal moment in American history, for the Indians had just declared independence from the British and were fomenting revolution under the command of their general George "Dances With The Stars" Washington, as played in the movie version by Kevin Costner:

Things were going swimmingly for the Indians until Columbus and his crew arrived, infecting them all with smallpox at the World's First Thanksgiving:

Subsequently, the hated Redcoats put the ailing Indians to rout at the Battle of Iwo Jima, which is why the British remain our dark overlords to this day, and which is also why we are forced to sing their twisted national anthem every year before the Superbowl of Bear-Baiting.

At least this is what I learned at Bard College. (I didn't actually attend Bard, but I did take LSD there on occasion--and oddly, four years later, they sent me a diploma.)

Anyway, for some reason America soon became the trendiest country in the world, and by the end of the 19th century proto-hipsters from all over Europe came here to pan for gold, open artisanal ethnic mulled wineries, put their children to work in ultra-cool factories, and generally gentrify our cities. Here is what this wave of immigration looked like:

Note that by the late 1800s America had adopted an attractive purple-and-orange "colorway" that would take decades to rinse out. Note also that almost all these immigrants came to New York City, attracted mostly by its marketing slogan: "Bring me your poor, yet trendy, appealingly ethnic masses yearning to make pizza and bagels." Well over a century later, New York City remains incredibly crowded.

(As I typed that last paragraph, Bard College emailed me another diploma, this one for something called "Yogic Gnosticism.")

Today, as a New Yorker, I am acutely aware of the weight of all this history as well as of the intense crowding. It manifests itself in the brusque exchanges, and the filth, and the exorbitant amounts of money we pay to live in tiny boxes. Sometimes I wonder if the city will continue to crush me slowly like liverwurst between two crackers until I fall out the side and land with "splat" in the suburbs, or if I'll suddenly go flying out with a "pop" like the mystery juice from a plump hot dog and land somewhere on the other side of the country. Of course, my spiritual presence resides in Portland, but I may have to move my body too eventually, and it would be nice to park it someplace with better weather. I don't know where that will be, but I do know two things: 1) With two degrees from Bard, I'm only three nose rings away from finding employment in any cafe in America; and 2) the city I live in doesn't want me, as evidenced by this whole "bicycle crackdown" thing.

I suppose I could live with the crackdown if I thought it was actually doing something, but I can assure you that it's not. This past weekend my travels brought me through Central Park--where police have even gone so far as to issue cyclists speeding tickets--and I'm sorry to report that despite the blitz I witnessed multiple riders on $8,000 crabon triathlon bikes blowing lights and buzzing pedestrians as their loose-fitting t-shirts fluttered in the breeze. It is incredibly frustrating to know that you're being singled out by the NYPD because of some hairy-legged Scud of dorkiness riding a Kuota and wearing a XXL Hanes Beefy-T.

Some miles, a bridge, and a state line later, a complete stranger on an orange crabon blob actually called me an "asshole" for passing him on a climb (I am an asshole, but there's no way he could have known that), and then on the return trip over the bridge I was nearly hit head-on by a rider who panicked for reasons I was unable to discern and who could not operate his brakes or extricate himself from his clipless pedals.

Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation issues "tweets" like this:
I wonder of any of those workers were hit by bikes. I'm guessing they weren't. Obviously this is tragic and I don't mean to make light of the situation, but I do find it sad and ironic that New York drivers are so awful that even fixing the streets for them is a potentially fatal endeavor.

All of it is enough to make one crave the cloyingly sweet taste of smugness, and so I headed over to Streetsblog and sampled some of their most salacious "bike lane porn:"

Sadly, what I saw horrified me, for instead of some urban "livable streets" idyll I saw senior citizens running amok with wheelchairs:

Not only are they jaywalking, but I'm reasonably sure one of them has a Flip camera and they're on their way to the park to make some sick hillbombing "edits." No wonder Prospect Park West bike lane opponents think it's so dangerous:

Originally I thought she meant it was dangerous to seniors because they might get hit, but now I realize it's because it only encourages them to "shred."

I must say I was also stunned that none of the commenters on Streetsblog commented on the fact that this young child is not wearing a helmet:

I don't mean to say I have a problem with it, but the fact is that children under 14 are supposed to wear helmets under New York State law, and that seems like just the sort of thing the "smugerati" would enjoy pointing out. Again, I don't have a problem with it--I never wore a helmet as a child and despite numerous bicycle crashes I sustained absolutely no adverse squirrel nugget submarine captain what time is it again?

Speaking of hillbombing, I was visiting Probably's blog recently (this is like visiting a teenage boy's room in that there's lots of bad music and overpriced toys and you get the creepy feeling you might have just interrupted somebody masturbating ) and saw this one:

Emi Brown Pt. 1 from A Wi Mer on Vimeo.

A few short years after the advent of fixed-gear freestyle, the "sport" (I love it when they call it that) has hit something of a wall, with many of the practitioners' bicycles gradually evolving into the BMX bikes they should be riding but won't admit they need. Instead, it's sort of a subconscious transition infused with denial, like Jeff Goldblum in the remake of "The Fly" when he won't acknowledge he's actually turning into one until he starts growing strange hairs and puking on his donuts and slurping up the mess. So, since fixed-gear freestyle is an evolutionary dead end, it would appear that urban fixed-gear riders are increasingly tuning into the absurd spectacle known as "hillbombing," and here is the hillbomber from the video making a "doucheclamation point:"


I should point out that the "hillbombing" doesn't really start until later in the video, though as you can see riding a fixed-gear bicycle down a hill requires not only a videographer but also a still photographer:

Remember when people used to say they rode fixed-gear bicycles because they were simple? Well, brakes and a derailleur seems a lot simpler than needing multiple cameramen and a follow car for every ride.

I like fixed-gear bicycles, and there will always be a place for them beyond the velodrome. However, I also don't think the fixed-gear trend will truly end until people have explored each and every scenario in which they are totally stupid and useless, and I suppose with fixed-gear freestyling and long-distance track bike touring down, hillbombing is now the latest foray into futility. What could be simpler and more pleasant than the reprieve a descent offers after a difficult climb, when we lean forward, rest our legs, and enjoy the feeling of the wind and of effortless forward motion? And what could be more pointless than spinning frantically down that same hill, ruining a perfectly good tire, and whip-skidding like an agitated dog trying to gnaw a dingleberry off his ass and run at the same time?

I suppose its all worth it when you get to the bottom and mug triumphantly for the ever-present videographer:

And then your "Me Too Friend" does exactly the same thing:

All self-styled renegades need a "Me Too Friend"--a Squiggy to their Lenny, a Louise to their Thelma, a Dumber to their Dumb.

But even the "Me Too Friend" isn't "down" for the last scene, in which the hillbomber slowly and reluctantly picks his way down a steep hill like a toddler confronting his first staircase:

Moments later he was actually passed by the seniors with the wheelchair from the Prospect Park bike lane, but the hillbomber didn't want to be upstaged.

That's why they call it an "edit."

85 comments:

The Cheat said...

last

Anonymous said...

numero uno

Japser said...

gasp

wishiwasmerckx said...

Just missed the f%&#@!% podium.

ringcycles said...

Hincapie!

OBA said...

EDIT THIS

Anonymous said...

Podunkium?

agent detroit said...

top ten, bitches!

Dustin said...

Top ten?

RhetoricPerson said...

Top ten dicks.

Astroluc said...

elvenelveneventh?

Anonymous said...

Blah blah blah, the important things in life. Like racing to comment before you've read the dang thing.

mikeweb said...

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

RhetoricPerson said...

Keanu Reeves is making a new Bill And Ted. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1661245/keanu-reeves-bill-and-ted-3.jhtml

thegock said...

BATN KILL

The Cheat said...

I was hoping that my comment would discourage all other comments as nothing could be after the last comment.

Astroluc said...

I read it :(

Hairy-legged roadie said...

"And what could be more pointless than spinning frantically down that same hill, ruining a perfectly good tire, and whip-skidding like an agitated dog trying to gnaw a dingleberry off his ass and run at the same time?"

Wonderful, apt image.

PJO said...

You assholes really hurt my feelings yesterday.

ringcycles said...

The NYC Fixed Gear Hill Bombing Grand Prix, sponsored by the American College of Orthopedic Surgeons. "because we know you're going to need new knees"

I am the bebop engine said...

Keanu Reeves is making Cowboy Bebop Movie, that guy is the only two steps away from being a real cartoon character.

PJ article in WSJ was written and printed on April 1, it must have been a joke, just came out a little late.

hillbilly said...

Maura Kelly would like to paraphrase this blog entry for you.

Anonymous said...

I believe that an Amy Grant song would be more fitting for the fixie video.

Anonymous said...

http://www.themarknews.com/articles/268-two-wheels-good-four-wheels-bad

Now this is funny.

Anonymous said...

Looks liek Bike Porn is on tour an landing in NYC on the 9th.

http://bikeporntour.blogspot.com/

Ugh!

crosspalms said...

So I wasted my money on that "hillstrafing" trademark? Great. Anyone want to buy some loose-fitting T-shirts?

Aristotle said...

Is it really a life if no one filmed it?

DORK SCUD

skid mark said...

dingleglory!

who ate my dingleberry? said...

"squirrel nugget submarine captain what time is it again?"

exactly.

grog said...

T-shirt aflutter

Anonymous said...

Where is Vito to check the facts here?

"Hillbombing" is one of the staples of "west coast style" a key step in the evolution of "fixed gear freestyle" and what were seeing here is a "throwback" style "edit" by an "OG" in a "sport"

Save the track bike indeed.

Anonymous said...

how about some fixie trials?
http://vimeo.com/6200166
or its bastard son unfixed trials
http://vimeo.com/17433440

amy! said...

Dude looks like a lady!

Anonymous said...

Columbus' America didn't include Port Angeles and Bellingham. Less dank I guess.

Bleevo said...

Bike snob your book be tiny! make bigger book.

Pontius Pilate said...

HAIL CSZR

-P.P.

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

no comment.

ervgopwr said...

That video is shit. Get out of my city.

DNGL BRRY

Marcel Da Chump said...

I'd like to see a video of someone riding safely and courteously.

Jimio said...

I keep my 12 speed mountain bike in 1 gear all the time [a lower gear] so you could say I got a fixed gear bike. I coast down hills and pedal slowly up hills. It just saves energy on shifting gears mainly.

ken e. said...

all we need here is a comedic slam of the future....

Gary Puckett and the Union Gap said...

One other thing, Mr. O'Rourke. You are hypocritical, greedy, violent, malevolent, vengeful, cowardly, deadly, mendacious, meretricious, loathsome, despicable, belligerent, opportunistic, barratrous, contemptible, criminal, fascistic, bigoted, racist, sexist, avaricious, tasteless, idiotic, brain-damaged, imbecilic, insane, arrogant, deceitful, demented, lame, self-righteous, Byzantine, conspiratorial, satanic, fraudulent, libelous, bilious, splenetic, spastic, ignorant, clueless, illegitimate, harmful, destructive, dumb, evasive, double-talking, devious, revisionist, narrow, manipulative, paternalistic, fundamentalist, dogmatic, idolatrous, unethical, cultic, diseased, suppressive, controlling, restrictive, malignant, deceptive, dim, crazy, weird, dystopic, stifling, uncaring, plantigrade, grim, unsympathetic, jargon-spouting, censorious, secretive, aggressive, mind-numbing, abrasive, poisonous, flagrant, self-destructive, abusive, socially-retarded, puerile, clueless, and generally Not Good.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Twistyface said...

Looking forward to "Emi Brown Part 2", widely rumoured to beat "The Empire Strikes Back" in terms of sequels.

Expect more zany antics, interspersed with nervous male bonding, and other assorted self-aggrandising twattery.

Thanks for sharing episode 1.

Anonymous said...

Emi Brown is one bad ass dude and his fixie/outlaw lifestyle seems amazingly awesome. Thank god he was kind enough to record it so we can all bask in his divine glory. Thank you Mr. Brown, we are not worthy.

Anonymous said...

In the sage words of Jeff Probst, "I got nothing for you."

cycle

Marcel Da Chump said...

Gary Puckett and the Union Gap never sounded so good.

Anonymous said...

Late to the bombing run because here in Milwaukee (Home of the 2010 World Hardcourt Bicycle Polo Champions) I was voting.

I chose Kloppenburg because her name sounds like a climb in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Also I hear she's against Walking, and who wants to walk everywhere?

-max

Anonymous said...

Steve Tilford is in a slump and all you can whine about is bike lanes. Where's your humanity, Snob?

bikesgonewild said...

...marcel da chump...while i agree with you, i just wish gary puckett & the union gap would express how he REALLY feels about pj o'rourke...

Emi Brown said...

All You Haters Scared (of) My "Bombs"

Anonymous said...

Like androids having sex, you are hitting with precision. Thank you, Snobby

Fritz said...

Those hill bombers need to try highsiding an Maico 501 at Saddleback park circa 1975 if they want real "steet cred"

Anonymous said...

NYC cops are real A-holes? Giving out tickets for make believe helments and now for make believe speed limits. I am surprised that they didn't put up a temporary sign.

Portland-people-eater said...

Just another high-potential customer for the trauma unit. God speed Mr. Brown, God speed.

Marcel Da Chump said...

bgw,
I think you're right. He left out a choice word or two.

g-roc said...

Rehash of the Hitler scene, this time depicting Vancouver's bike lanes. Starts out pretty funny but gets kinda lame and advocative at the end:

http://youtu.be/0C7AYsfB_dM

Anonymous said...

Keep up the hill-bombing -- the world needs kidneys!

"Will power,
it's now or never ... " - GP&TUG

People like to think back to the car songs of the 60s, but the sexual frustration songs are another wonderfully rich genre.

Bobby said...

Fritz! That brings back some memories, back in the day of Saddleback Park. Too bad they developed the crap out of the area. I remember the old "Motor Playground" sign. Street cred indeed. Instead, we have a skid-O-douche, on asphalt no less.

samh said...

America, fuck yeah.

le Correcteur said...

"And what could be more pointless than spinning frantically down that same hill, ruining a perfectly good tire, and whip-skidding like an agitated dog trying to gnaw a dingleberry off his ass and run at the same time?"

Funny, Snob, funny!

Puffy Peter Peckerpusher said...

Isn't Saddleback about cowboys eating pudding?

HK 416 said...

Maybe in part 2 we will see him ride uphill...

Fritz said...

Yep Bobby its nothing but a memory but I can still smell the Belray fumes if I think hard enough...

Saddleback, Carlsbad, Mamouth Mtn all gone

Anonymous said...

crap, need a faster bike...

Chazu said...

Beauty is my bidness.

JDH said...

67TH!Be-hotches!

Yoda said...

Aptil Fool, PJO? April Fool?

Anonymous said...

Snob, I agree.

But that is still a thing of beauty.

Dan said...

Steep hills, shots, and "heavypeddle!" AAAAAARGH!

sewa mobil said...

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Anonymous said...

Snobby, there is only one option for you, and its crystal clear: move to Amsterdam: bike heaven and the land of Beautiful Godzillas of the type that have had the Godzilla portion bred out of them. Average bike commute within Amsterdam is 2.5 kilometers, or about a mile or so. Bike deaths are surprisingly low for a place where about 98% of the population owns a bike and more than 60% of trips within the city are by bike. It doesn't get better than Amsterdam. Plus, the Wednesday weed. It doesn't get any better than this.

David said...

Snob, you ain't from the South, or ye'd know to write (an pernounce) the name of that state where they have hurricanes and Mardi Gras as "Loozyanna." It's pronounced that way because you lose something when you go there, unless you live there permanently, in which case your just lost.

LK said...

I like the Crackdown. It keeps me "Edgy."

But if you're gonna bomb hills like a kid, wear a helmet, it's the LAW.

pxd said...

"Again, I don't have a problem with it--I never wore a helmet as a child and despite numerous bicycle crashes I sustained absolutely no adverse squirrel nugget submarine captain what time is it again?"

can i quote you on that?

Anonymous said...

Seen the new Pearl Izumi print ad? Not the sex one but the guy sitting on the throne with the tag line "So Anatomical, you'll take a dump in your shorts?"...er..."You'll feel naked?"

Not enticing me to buy.

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Fixie Bikes said...

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