Friday, December 23, 2011

BSNYC Friday Fun Quiz and Holiday Recess Announcement Spectacular!

Oh, hi there, I didn't hear you come in. Do you like my slippers? How about my sweater with snowflakes on it? Did you notice when you pulled into my driveway that I dressed my Jeep Cherokee like a reindeer? It probably fooled you for a moment, but that's just how we get into the holiday spirit here in West Stereotype, CT. Please, ladle yourself out some egg nog, have a seat on the shabby chic sofa, and watch "Christmas Vacation" with us for the 17th time. We're happy to have you. Oh, the ham will be ready in 20 minutes. Doesn't it smell delicious?

(Shit, that's a bad motherfucking ham!)

In any case, now that you're comfortable, I should probably mention that it's officially Wildcat Rock Machine Holiday Recess Time. This means that, as of the freaky grilled cheese girl at the end of this post*, I'll be gone until Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012, at which point I will resume regular updates.

And while we're all gathered by the fire in my expansive Tudor style home, I'd like to tell you the story of my Bose:

In yesterday's post, I mentioned the above bicycle, laden as it is like Scattante Claus's sleigh. As a bike blogger, I know that any time I include a picture of a bicycle belonging to me--from the humblest Scattante to the loftiest neon green tiger skin-faired recumbent--it will receive some sort of criticism. I don't mind this at all, and in fact I enjoy it, since nit-picking is what this blog, cycling, and indeed the entire Internet is all about. I even make something of a game of of it, and try to guess which attribute will garner the most scorn. Will it be the headset spacers? The hue of the bar tape? The choice of derailleur or lack thereof? The live chicken I "portage" on the top tube at all times?

In this particular case though I was surprised that the object of derision was not a part of the bicycle at all, but was in fact the Bose box I was "portaging:"

From what I gathered from the comments, the common view of Bose is that they sell overpriced stereo equipment with poor sound quality to douchebags who don't know any better. My first instinct was to feel ashamed, and to explain away the box by claiming that it didn't house a Bose iPod thingy but that I was actually using it to protect my top tube chicken from the elements. But then I decided to own up to it, and to tell the heartwarming and sleep-inducing story behind it. Here goes:

Once upon a time, two people loved each other very much--so much that they decided to get married. However, they didn't want to have a douchey wedding with keynote speakers and lectures about cup recycling, even though one of them was an inveterate douchebag with a crappy bike blog. Instead, they decided to have a small party for their friends and family. (Well, the douchebag didn't have any friends, but he did have people who couldn't help being related to him.) So that's what they did.

Naturally, they wanted to have music at the party to fill the awkward silences, but the DJ from "Zoolander" wasn't available. So instead they decided to "curate" the music themselves and spend the savings on booze, and one of them (the one who is usually smarter, and who does not have a bike blog) had a cunning plan: to buy an iPod dock thingy, use it once for the party, and then take advantage of the store's liberal return policy by bringing it back for a full refund.

Well, after the party one day became two, and two became four, and four became 30, and before they knew it the window had closed, and even if it hadn't there was no way they'd ever find the receipt, and thus they became permanent owners of a Bose iPod thingy.

For years, the Bose was a symbol of lazy consumerism, and it languished in exactly the sort of storage unit that drives people like the TED minimalist guy crazy. (Now that I think about it, I should probably empty the storage unit and sell it to the TED minimalist guy, since it's even smaller than his apartment and he'd probably be willing to pay at least a few hundred grand to live in it.) But then the people and their 17 children were going away for the holidays, and they realized they might want to have music in the place where they'll be, and so the douchebag went to the storage unit and tied the Bose to his Scattante, and soon the family will bask in love and warmth and togetherness and holiday cheer and then they'll switch on the Bose and listen to this:

It makes me misty-eyed just thinking about it.

While I'm tapping a sentimental vein, I should also convey my sincere gratitude to everybody who reads this blog, takes the time to comment on it, or for that matter even takes two seconds to glance at it in order to remind themselves that they hate me. I'd also like to thank the proprietors of the "sponsored linkways" on this site, and to shamelessly point out that if you're looking for a last-minute holiday gift you should look no further than the right side of your screen. (Unless you're planning to buy someone a waffle iron. I don't think any of them sell waffle irons.)

As a parting gift pending my return in 2012, I'm also pleased to present you with a quiz. As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer. If you're right then holy crap wow!!!, and if you're wrong you'll see hilarity Italian style.

Thank you very much for reading, ride safe, and have a great holiday. See you on January 3rd, 2012, which is going to be the greatest year in the entire history of humankind.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

(Now that's personality.)

1) The BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award has gone to:

2) At Christmastime, triathletes hang compression socks instead of stockings.

(Graham Hill summarizes his TEDTalk by masturbating an imaginary phallus.)

3) According to the "Life Edited" philosophy, which of the following is a good way to simplify your life?

(Decorative rope makes a great compression sock stuffer.)

4) How much for this piece of rope, which is "for decorative use only?"


5) A bike just like this one was used in the 1998 Tour de France:

6) This holiday season, the discerning cyclist will outfit him- or herself with a:

7) This embrocation has "mystique" because:

***Special Holiday-Themed Bonus Giveaway Without Even Having To Answer A Question!***

(My present to you.)



*(Happy Holidays from Freaky Grilled Cheese Girl!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Locked and Loaded

Bikes. Who doesn't love them? They look good, they feel nice, and they smell fantastic. In fact, bikes are so delightfully fragrant that people sometimes even take them without asking. This is called "stealing." Nobody likes having their bike stolen. When someone steals your bike it means you have to put a missing bike post on Craigslist, Tweet about it, and send lots of emails containing frowny-face emoticons. Boo:(

There's no sure way to keep your bike from getting stolen, but there are things you can do to make it less likely, and when I'm forced to be away from my bike I use an old messenger trick called "locking." This involves finding a stationary object and fastening your bike to it using a keyed device of some kind. Until now this was secret knowledge possessed only by hardcore urban cyclists from the streetz, but I'm going to tell you how to do it and ruin the whole locking scene for everybody:

1) Find a stationary object that's not made out of ice, velvet, or Jell-O. Metal's good. If you're not sure something is metal, put your tongue on it. Also, don't lock your bike to trees, they can't be trusted.

2) Look out for filmmaker Casey Neistat. If you so much as touch his bike while locking yours, he'll get one of his starry-eyed NYU film school intern groupies to cut your bike in two with a Sawzall, then he'll make a movie about it for his unwatchable HBO series.

3) Take your keyed locking device and make it go around both the bike and the non-Jell-O object, carefully avoiding anything belonging to Casey Neistat. Once you've finished, flag down a suspicious-looking person, show them the bike, and ask, "Excuse me, does that look secure to you? I don't want my bike getting stolen, it cost me $2,500." If he replies, "Sure it does, I'll even watch it for you," you're in good shape. Also, leave him with a copy of your key in case he needs to move the bike for you. (For example, Casey Neistat might want the pole to himself. He has a special bike parking placard thanks to his work for the DOT on the "Don't Be A Jerk" campaign.)

4) Go away from the bike and do the thing you have to do. If it's still there when you get back, ride it to the next place you need to go, making sure to remove the locking device first. (Attempting to ride a locked bike is the second-most common form of locking-related injury.) If the bike is still there but part of it is missing, establish which part is missing and whether or not the bicycle is still rideable. Do not attempt to ride if it is missing a vital component. (Attempting to ride a bicycle after a thief has removed the saddle but left the seatpost is the first-most common form of locking-related injury.) If someone steals your cockpit, you are an idiot. If the entire bike is gone, take the bus, buy some Rollerblades, or steal Casey Neistat's bike. Then, when you get home, write a Craigslist post like this:

Mercier Kilo TT Stolen - $1000 (Williamsburg)

My Mercier Kilo TT bike was stolen today from in front of that place that sells $35 beer cocktails. Very recognizable--it's completely stock with a "One Less Car" sticker on the bar that goes across the top. Can't think of any more details, it's not like these things come in sizes or anything. It was my baby! $1,000 reward if found, I know that's three times more than the bike cost but its sentimental value makes it irreplaceable.

Then, if you're lucky, someone will find it and the police will make you steal it back:

“How do we know it’s their bike?” a police spokesman asked later. “We can’t give people back stuff just because they say it’s theirs. We need some sort of proof of purchase and a serial number.”

It seems to me that in the case of a stolen cargo bike it's pretty easy to verify a claim of ownership by means of a simple "sniff test," since all cargo bike riders have a strong odor of smugness wafting off of them. Instead, though, the police took the passive-aggressive approach:

“He told her, ‘I’m going say to you that the lock doesn’t look like it would be that difficult to cut,’ ” said John, who rushed to a hardware store, bought a bolt cutter and used it to liberate his stolen two-wheeler, one of an estimated 100,000 cycles that are stolen each year in the city.

I hope our emergency services also start using this method, since it should make for some entertaining scenarios. "'I'm going to say to you that that fire doesn't look like it would be that difficult to extinguish with a garden hose,' said the fireman who arrived at the scene." "'I'm going to say to you that that bone doesn't look like it would be too difficult to set yourself,' inferred the EMT to the cyclist lying under a minivan." (Actually, given the state of health care in this country, this is pretty much how it works already if you don't have insurance.) "'I can't have my assistant cut that lock for you because it's not inconveniencing me directly, but I can't tell you not to see if Hal Ruzal is available,' explained Casey Neistat." And so forth.

Anyway, speaking of locks, lately I've been "testing" a lock from Knog:

By "testing" I of course mean I've been putting it around my bicycle and seeing if it's still there when I return. Thus far, it has been:

I wouldn't ordinarily be commuting on a bike like this, but that happened to be the bike closest to hand at the moment. It also used to be my Ironic Orange Julius commuting bike, but then I "promoted" it to my ironic singlespeed cyclocross racing bike when the Scattante came around:

I have configured this bike in a number of ways and I think I may have finally settled on the optimum setup, though I now regret having gotten rid of the chainguard and may fit one for even less "street cred." Incidentally, those packages are indeed as precarious as they look, but I was caught without my "smugness flotilla" and had to make do with what fasteners were available:

It's the unexpected loads that are always the messiest.

Another thing that's messy is the streets of New York, especially when it comes to cars parking in bike lanes. Even though the city is growing preternaturally quiet as the holidays approach, there are just as many cars blocking the bike lanes as usual. In fact, the relative quiet only serves to emphasize the problem:

I go through phases when it comes to bike lane squatters. For months I'll be outraged, and then I'll suddenly decide to approach the whole thing with zenlike calm and smile at them as I ride around them, and then I'll find it really annoying again. Lately, I've been in an annoyed phase once again:

What's most annoying about it is that there's really very little you can do, since double-parking is a deeply-ingrained way of life here that predates most of the bike lanes. However, I think I've finally come up with a solution, and that's harnessing the awesome power of Homeland Security:

You may decry the fact that we're now supposed to be a nation of suspicious tattletales, but why not use it to our advantage? I mean, how do I know the Escalade in my path isn't full of nerve gas or deadly explosives? Who's to say that minivan isn't part of an insidious plot of some kind? Really, sitting around idling in a bike lane is pretty suspicious when you think about it, so maybe if we all "say something" then the government can start clearing them in the interest of national security. Then again, it's probably a bad idea, since instead of removing the cars they'll just remove all the bike lanes, like when CBS News said that terrorist cyclists might try to use the bike lane to blow up the Israeli Consulate.

Of course, if it's not cars in the bike lane it's pedestrians, and this very morning a man stepped in front of me into the bike lane while jockeying his cellphone. I saw him in plenty of time and gave him a wide berth, yet as I passed he exclaimed, "Hey, you almost clipped me!" Perhaps he'll pen an angry comment on an article about bike lanes, even though I had his safety in mind while he was preoccupied, and even though I was going very slowly--though not as slowly as this guy:

Must be one of those folding bike trials riders.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011: The Year the Walls Kept Closing In

As 2011 draws to a close, it will be remembered for many things: the #Occupy movement, the death of ruthless North Apple CEO and dictator Kim Jobs-Il, and the UN resolution to enforce sanctions against Portland, OR for crimes against humility all leap to mind. However, there is one phenomenon that has come to define the year 2011 above all else. That phenomenon is minimalism.

Minimalism is a movement consisting of people who admire modern furniture and who covet Apple products, and who have deftly hidden their avarice beneath a veneer of spirituality as deftly as Kim Jobs-Il hid the workings of his products beneath pieces of brushed aluminum. Well, yesterday I mentioned The World's Douchiest Wedding, and as it happens the groom's boss and "keynote speaker" at the wedding (when you don't have friends, you get a "keynote speaker" instead of a best man) is quite an accomplished minimalist named Graham Hill. In fact, Hill even gave one of those "TEDTalks." TEDTalks basically consist of people from various fields verbally "foffing off" before a disgustingly appreciative audience, and Hill pleasured himself so sensuously during his that the "Huffington Post" included it in their "Best of TED 2011 Countdown:"

Here is the video itself, but if you're squeamish about watching men masturbate I've also included a summary below:

Hill begins his presentation while seated on a box. This box is what motivational speakers call a "prop," or a "hackneyed symbol," and presumably Hill came up with this one after watching George Clooney do his whole backpack schtick in the movie "Up in the Air:"

Hill then explains that we have lots more space now:

"Did you know that we Americans have about three times the amount of space we had 50 years ago?"

Which, for some reason, is a problem. Then, he starts in on the whole minimalist "joys of less" thing:

"I bet most of us have experienced at some point the joys of less. College, in your dorm; traveling, in a hotel room; camping, where you've got basically nothing, maybe a boat... Whatever it was for you, I bet that among other things, this gave you a little more freedom, a little more time."

Well, yeah, traveling or camping might give you "a little more freedom, a little more time," but that's because when you do those things you're on vacation. People take all kinds of vacations, but that doesn't mean we should use our vacations as a template for life. Some people's idea of a great vacation is going to Disneyworld. Does that mean we should all wear Mickey Mouse ears and adopt the Disney Dollar? That's what most of Europe did with the Euro, and it doesn't seem to be working out too well for them. As for the joys and freedoms of college, that's less about the minimalist functionality of dorm room living and more about stuff like drunken parties, four-foot bongs, and not being an adult yet. Nevertheless, the conclusion Hill draws from all of this is as follows:

Fine. Sure, life can be a bit easier if you trim the proverbial fat now and again, but this is hardly a revelation to anybody except a minimalist like Graham Hill, for whom even the basic mechanics of life are all transcendent. So did he take his incredible discovery that everybody else knew already, use it to make his life better, and proceed shut the hell up about it? No, he didn't. Instead, he started a project called "Life Edited" to "further this conversation and to find some great solutions in this area:"

So how do you "further conversations" and "find some great solutions" to the painfully obvious? By "crowdsourcing" the interior design of your crappy apartment:

"I wanted it all," explains Hill. "Home office, sit-down dinner for 10, room for guests, and all my kite-surfing gear." Ah, yes, kite-surfing, the Rollerblading of the sea.

So basically, he wanted a douchebag's dream apartment in which he could stow his goofy sporting goods and entertain his friends who also wear sport jackets with jeans and who doubtless Rollerblade on land, sea, and air. So, being the good minimalist that he is, he immediately paid way too much for almost nothing--or, as he explains it, "By buying a space that was 420 square feet instead of 600, immediately I'm saving 200 grand:"

Wow. If he saved $200,000, that works out to $1,111.11 per square foot, which in turn means the guy telling us how to make our lives better by saving money paid $466,666.66 for his tiny shitbox.

Not only that, but he also says that "because it's really designed around an 'edited' set of possessions--my favorite stuff--and really designed for me, I'm really exited to be there." Note the crazed eyes as he tries to convince himself that he actually enjoys living in a half-million dollar version of the trash compactor from "Star Wars:"

I will give Hill one thing, which is that he's a refreshing antidote to all those HGTV shows about flipping houses and getting rich with real estate. Instead, here's a guy telling you to simply spend a fortune to confine yourself in a tiny space specifically so you can go broke--or, as he calls it, "live little."

"So how can you 'live little?," asks Hill rhetorically, since anybody with any sense now sees his life as a cautionary tale. "Three main approaches." Here's the first:

What does that mean? Well, it means "That shirt, that I haven't worn in years? Time for me to let it go."

Wow, that's some ruthless editing. But getting rid of that shirt isn't enough, because "Secondly, our new mantra, 'Small is Sexy:'"

Hill may have inadvertently revealed something about his own physical attributes here. I guess minimalism is the new "overcompensating." In other words, Porches are out, tiny apartments are in. Also, "Why have a six-burner stove when you rarely use three?"

Really, this is the problem, people with too many burners? Who the hell even has a six-burner stove anyway? Is that thing Photoshopped?

But the third and final part of his brilliant scheme of self-imprisonment is by far the most cunning, and that involves having stuff that's "multifunctional:"

Or, to put it in layman's terms, having a sink that's also a toilet:

So basically, here's a man who lives in a half-million dollar home the size of a minivan and is forced to brush his teeth and defecate in the same bathroom fixture telling us how to live. This guy truly is the world's worst motivational speaker. "One day," he might as well be saying, "if you work really, really hard, you too can wash your hands in your own pee."

Also, he sleeps on his dining table:

You've probably heard the expression "Don't shit where you eat." Presumably though it's okay to sleep where you eat, and then the next morning to brush your teeth using the same fixture into which you defecate.

Most crucially though, everything folds:

Which I'm sure is a lot easier and more efficient than simply walking into another room in a larger half-million dollar home that's actually worth what you paid:

All this to have a "smaller footprint," making this lifestyle the 21st century equivalent of footbinding.

Amazingly though, after all this, Hill still has the audacity to tell us to "Consider the benefits of an edited life."

Right, let's see, as far as I can tell the benefits are:

--Spending a ton of money
--Having very little to show for it
--Having to fold your entire apartment like a paper fortune teller every time you need to take a dump

In recent years, people like this have been ruining the word "curate" by using it when they mean "edit." Now, though, they want to ruin the word "edit" too, since sometimes editing means actually adding stuff. I think the word Hill is looking for here is "mangling."

Anyway, the video is accompanied by words from the groom from The World's Douchiest Wedding, who adds this:

We launched the LifeEdited project last year because we believe the story of humankind needs a good edit.

Humankind needs a good edit, huh? They're in good company. Kim Jong-Il thought the same thing.

Oh, also, this apartment will be "the launch pad for an editing movement:"

This small apartment will be the launch pad for an editing movement. We envision a future with large-scale developments that have beautiful, compact units, communal spaces and sharing systems. These spaces are extremely energy efficient and have healthy, safe air. These developments will support people in focusing on what's important to them. We envision a world where people spend more time with one another, where possessions and time can be shared, not hoarded, where products are passed onto children, not trash collectors

Yeah, right. You couldn't launch a water rocket out of that overpriced Rubik's Cube.

The only explanation I can possibly come up with for minimalism as a philosophy is that the 1% is using their lackeys in the 10% to convince the remaining 90% that cleansing and relieving yourself in the same body of water is actually desirable, and by 2050 we'll be back to fiefdoms.

Speaking of desirable, I don't really get the whole embrocation obsession in cycling, but apparently the only thing more desirable than burning hot goo is burning hot goo that's the subject of an intellectual property dispute:

Hot and hard-to-find (we ordered ours from New Zealand), Qoleum is the subject of an intellectual-property dispute that at least one expert tester felt "added to the mystique." Testers also praised it for its scent and for being easy to apply.

Bratz dolls were also the subject of an intellectual property dispute. Why not just rub one of those on your leg?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Slow Reveal: Synergize This

Pope Alexander once said, "To air is human; to forget, divine." I couldn't agree more, for as a human animal myself I make airers and forget to do crap all the time. Fortunately, now and then people email and alert me to the airer of my ways. For example, I recently learned that the phonetic pronunciation of bakfiets isn't "bake feets," as I have heretofore been rendering it:

Dear snob,
I must take issue with your fonetic spelling of the word 'bakfiets'. 'Bake-feets' is incorrect; the a in bak is short, it rhymes with 'fuck'.
Here is how it is pronounced.

Well fuck my feet, I've been pronouncing it wrong all this time! Given the ".nl" at the end of the sender's email address, I'm assuming he's from the Netherlands (or possibly their hated neighbor to the east, Holland) and as such that he knows what he's talking about. Anyway, the upshot of this is that I guess I should start saying "buck feets" from now on, but as an American it is my civic duty to mangle any and all "furrin" words, so I'll probably just keep saying "bake feets" anyway.

Speaking of linguistic matters, a commenter yesterday also had the following question:

Anonymous said...

Dear Snob,
Regarding the line "SRAM has picked this week to flog its new Red group", when did you abandon the treatment of corporations as plural nouns, e.g. "Cinelli have become the bicycle equivalent of a middle-aged divorcee in a Versace dress" or "Mavic may very well have found a solution to their self-destructing carbon spoke problem"? I always found the use of plural nouns for corporations on this blog jarring, although I do not believe it is in fact grammatically incorrect.

December 19, 2011 4:54 PM

My response to this is a hearty "Whuh?" The truth is, I don't worry about stuff like grammer and spealing when I write for the same reasons I don't use a power meter when I ride, and those reasons are: 1) I don't understand it; and B) What little I do understand is extremely boring to me. However, there are certain misteaks that even I can spot, such as this one which was forwarded to me by a reader:

(I can't believe I forgot to get Sidi a fiftief anniversarsary present!)

Obviously, the mistake is that the "s" in Sidi should be capitalized. Duh.

But if you're into grammatical mistake porn, there's no better place to find it than Craigslist:

To my star crossed lover - m4w (Park Slope 7th Ave and 5th St)
Date: 2011-12-18, 1:57AM EST
Reply to:

I was wearing a black jacket with white writing, and my heart on my sleeve. You were on a bike wearing a beanie. Our eyes met and worlds collided, boooom! (that was the worlds colliding)

Who are you...I want to know


You're Future

I hope "You're Future" and his erstwhile lady in a beanie eventually find each other, get married, and celebrate many, many anniversarsaries together. Then, they can have the world's douchiest wedding--though they'll have a hard time out-douching the current pretentious nuptial champions, as forwarded to me by a reader:

Apparently, instead of just having a wedding, these people decided to turn their union into an allegory of douchefication:

It would be easy to say that the couple, in their mid-30s, abhorred the idea of a traditional wedding, but Mr. Friedlander and Ms. Schmidt are not the sort of people who are in the business of abhorring things. They did not want their wedding “to be just about us,” the groom told me, but rather, about the world of creativity and social purpose that they inhabit.

Also, they figured they'd save the Earth while they were at it:

During the reception, Mr. Friedlander asked his guests to please recycle their cups, “because we’re really in a serious situation with climate change.”

If someone asked me to recycle my cup at a party "because we're really in a serious situation with climate change," I'd collect every cup in the joint, make a big pile in the middle of the dance floor, and start the world's biggest plastic cup fire--assuming of course I wasn't too busy proving myself worthy of attending in the first place:

When guests arrived on Saturday night two weeks ago, they were greeted with name tags that asked them to declare a commitment. Lest they not take the request seriously, the hosts had additional cards printed that asked them to “Name something you are really committed to.” The cards contained further imperatives: “Name one action you can take in the next 24 hours that is aligned with your commitment.” Other cards prompted guests toward a treasure hunt in which they were encouraged to meet new people.

I suppose a typical card looked something like this:

Name something you are really committed to: Saving the Earth by recycling cups at parties

Name one action you can take in the next 24 hours that is aligned with your commitment: Using the same cup twice.

Though I take it a step further and have officially pledged to become a one-cup household. One-cup households are on the forefront of the sustainability movement, and we use a single cup for everything: drinking, rinsing after brushing, playing Yahtzee, and even collecting our menstruation. "A toast to the bride and groom!," I'd announce to all assembled, though the "clink" of glasses would be replaced by an eerie latex silence. Anyway, a lot of people are worried about the state of the environment, but I'm not, because with visionaries like these we should have the whole global warming thing sorted out in no time.

Of course, when you read something like this, the inevitable question is, "What the hell do these people do?" Well, here's what, though it raises more questions than it answers:

Ms. Schmidt, who once served as the creative director of Moomah, the children’s cafe in Tribeca that caters to parents in denial about some of the distasteful aesthetics of child-rearing, made the cards in her favored style of heavy stock, neutral paper and quaint typefaces. Through her company, Screech Owl Design, Ms. Schmidt makes beautiful, twee paper products that would seem to demand an existence inside a Miranda July snow globe. Synergistically, Powerhouse is among the many places where Ms. Schmidt’s work is sold.

I was especially confused by Moombah, the place "that caters to parents in denial about some of the distasteful aesthetics of child-rearing," but then I went to the website, and I figured out it's just a Chuck E. Cheese for assholes:

In any case, if you're wondering what all this has to do with cycling, the answer is "nothing," apart from the fact that I wish the wedding had been crashed by a bunch of drunk naked people on recumbents. Also, this wedding was about "synergy," and (further to yesterday's post) SRAM is/are continuing to capitalize on the intense synergy that results when you combine the soporific words of Levi Leipheimer with boringly ambiguous photos:

Really, that? That's your favorite part? Guess the new Red group is all downhill from here. Still, this is high praise coming from Leipheimer, who is not easily impressed:

And whose vision knows no bounds:

I can't wait to see the right front brake pad.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lush Life: Just a Ridiculous Amount of Flavor

Like many people, I sometimes dream of kicking the wheel chocks out from under my gypsy caravan and moving someplace else. Sure, New York has a lot to offer, what with its abundance of chain drugstores and elevator disasters, but the simple fact is that each and every building in this town is being flushed of its contents and refilled with retro-chic knife makers and curators of artisanal beer cocktails:

Like any American with a chronic need to blunt the pain of my own existence, I enjoy both beer and cocktails. (And wine, and sake, and, when none of these things are available, the contents of a spirit thermometer.) However, the fact that I tend to enjoy my beer and my cocktails in separate glasses now makes me hopelessly old-fashioned. See, I just like flavor, but now it's about ridiculous flavor:

“We’re taking beer which, already within itself, is very complex with so many aromas and flavors,” Roshia said. “And we’re adding artisan spirits and liquors, and creating just a ridiculous amount of flavor.”

Ridiculous indeed. Brooklyn is now a place where even the simple act of getting a drink has been bullshittified beyond all recognition:

To craft the perfect beer elixir, Roshia uses booze as diverse as triple sec and clear corn moonshine. The result is colorful cocktails such as the Dark and Smokey, a moonshine beverage with rosemary, ginger liqueur, agave and a smoked porter; and the Clandestine Moon, which combines moonshine, Drambuie, blueberries, mint and Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold.

Clearly then I need to reside someplace where you can enter a simple dining or drinking establishment without first having to research its backstory. But where to go? This sort of thing is happening everywhere, not just in New York, and the only thing worse than modern Brooklyn-style douchefication is the lame second-tier douchefication you now find in other American cities.

At the same time, though, I am hopelessly and irrevocably urbanized, which means that the places where douchefication isn't taking place frighten and confuse me even more than the douchefied places do. In short, I'm totally helpless anyplace but here. Really, that's what's so insidious about the whole douchefication/bullshittification phenomenon. Eventually, what happens is you want a nice cocktail, and so you cave and go the artisanal beer cocktail place, and despite the fact that you're resolved to hate your drink you have to admit its delicious. Three days later you find yourself thinking about it, and so you go back again, and next thing you know you can't drink anything that doesn't contain artisanal home-fermented agave nectar.

Then one day you discover you can't start your day without a Japanese slow drip coffee, and you can't end it without a Appalachian Moonshine IPA Porter Gimlet. You are now a douche, and the only hope for you is a painful detox program deep in the American midwest.

Still, I know there must be a better place somewhere. In fact, this past weekend I visited my ideal city:

Sadly, it doesn't exist, since the city I visited was the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden. This is too bad, because when you take New York City's greatest architectural hits and combine them with an extensive rail network, lush vegetation, and a comfortable greenhouse climate in a car-free environment you have nothing less than the ideal city. Then again, maybe this is what global warming has in store for us anyway, so perhaps all I need to do is wait it out.

Meanwhile, in the real New York, filmmaker Casey Neistat (the guy who made that famous bike lane video, among other things) found himself embroiled in a controversy over the weekend after he posted a film in which he cuts somebody's lock because they passed it through his brake cable:

The perceived overreaction made many people angry, though Neistat defended his actions by saying that adjusting brake cables is a "major inconvenicence:"

Unfortunately, I never got to see the video, since I was so busy pretending to live in the fake Botanical Garden version of New York City that by the time I heard about it he had already deleted it:

Much to the delight of the "Twitteroni:"

Not having seen the video or Neistat's bicycle, I'm not qualified to comment on the difficulty (or lack thereof) involved in simply removing the cable and freeing the bike. (Though depending on his setup I'm guessing the difficulty level was somewhere between "pretty easy" and "laughably easy.") Furthermore, as a semi-professional full-time Internet douchebag, I'm really not in a position to judge somebody who exploits a minor inconvenience for the purposes of entertainment. I will say though that Neistat might want to use his angle grinder to "curate" himself a less-snaggable cockpit like this:

(Forwarded by a reader.)

Or maybe the owner of this bike already ran afoul of Mr. Leistat, who then went and hacked off his drops.

Another New Yorker who made bike-related news this weekend was Woody Allen, who apparently told Interview magazine that he thinks one of the worst things about present-day New York is "uncontrolled bike riders:"

New York has changed for the better in some obvious ways, like the dropping of the crime rate and people don't squeegee my windshield when I come to a stoplight. On the other hand, uncontrolled bike riders are a great hazard, and the wonderful idea of more and more people having bikes in New York will turn sour as people become alienated because so much of it is out of control. That will be a pity.

I guess he does have a point (perhaps he got buzzed by Lucas Brunelle at some point), though I was dismayed to see him single out reckless cyclists instead of much greater hazards like reckless drivers or purveyors of artisanal beer cocktails--especially since "back in the day" he didn't think cars belonged in Manhattan at all:

"They should ban all cars from Manhattan."--Woody Allen in his 1979 film, "Manhattan."

Sure, "Manhattan" was just a movie, but it's safe to believe it accurately reflected his beliefs at the time. After all, he also dated a 17 year-old Mariel Hemingway in the film, and while out-of-control cyclists may frighten Allen he's certainly proved himself to be a man undaunted by "epic" age differences.

Lastly, while I was perusing the Twitter I also noticed that component manufacture SRAM has picked this week to flog its new Red group on the aforementioned social network by using the hashtag "#RedDetails" and "leaking" ambiguous pictures. This mostly seems to involve sponsored riders like Levi Leipheimer issuing stilted "Tweets" like this:

The dynamic personality of Levi Leipheimer and a photo of a single derailleur pulley? It doesn't get much more exciting than that.