I don't like to use the word "genius" lightly. For that matter, I also don't like to use the word "scranus" lightly. So when I say that the above photograph is a work of scranus-tingling genius then you know I'm being serious. Then again, I shouldn't even have to tell you how serious I am, because when you look at a work of Art-With-A-Capital-A like this you just know. It's the same feeling you get when you gaze into the Mona Lisa's preternaturally knowing nostrils, or stare at the Milkmaid's jug (that's jug, not jugs), or contemplate the floppy little penis of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
It may surprise you to learn that I know so much about art, but the fact is that I do. I know that truly great art can lay bare the very workings of the Universe. I know that some of the greatest art in the history of humankind has been rendered in the age-old medium of macaroni. And I know that a genuine masterpiece is equal parts mastery and serendipity, with just a sprinkling of paprika for flavor.
Take my masterpiece, which "Photo Slut" magazine has already said is "like having sex with God on a hot bed of sauerkraut." Sure, to some extend it's the product of a lifetime of training: the elite boarding schools; the nine years as an undergraduate at Bard; and then the successive MFA programs in 1970s billboard art, limerick poetry, and modern phrenology. After that came the tough years of paying my dues as an aspiring artist in Brooklyn, quaffing artisanal cocktails and living in a $3,500-a-month apartment in a building still redolent with the cooking smells of the ethnic families my peers and I had only recently displaced.
To be honest, there were moments when I had doubts, like Jesus on the cross when he came this close [indicates small distance with fingers] to giving up the whole martyrdom thing and getting back into carpentry. Sometimes at the bar, when I was feeling the financial pinch and had to pass on that sixth $21 dark chocolate-infused malt liquor-and-single-barrel rum mojito, I'd catch myself thinking, "Maybe I should just take that limerick-writing gig at Hallmark." But then, on just such a night, as I teetered once again on the edge of selling out, I spotted a Knog light submerged in a glass of water, withdrew my $5,000 camera from my $500 bag, and produced what will undoubtedly be one of the most enduring images in photographic history.
But as inspiring as my story is, it's hardly unique. In fact, the same self-affirming moment of artistic catharsis happens somewhere in Brooklyn every night, and this means only one thing: all these hipster assholes are here to stay.
Anyway, as I thought about art I thought about longing, and about how the two are intertwined. Then I went to Craigslist, where I saw this Ross Apollo:
There was once a time when I longed for a Ross Apollo. I coveted its split top tube, and its lofty sissy bar, and its noble ape hanger handlebars. However, I never got one, and while I'm not sure why it's probably because my father rightly recognized that the bike was completely stupid and thus refused to buy one for me. Now, though, I'm a member of the 1% (not in the #Occupy sense, but in the "Skim Milk Appreciation Society" sense), and the $250 it would cost me to own a Ross Apollo is a mere pittance when you consider I spend about that on a single night of spirited artisanal cocktail quaffing:
But this is where the cruelty of longing reveals itself. Sure, I could own a Ross Apollo now (and an "orking" one at that, which is nice because all too often the orking feature on a 40 year-old bicycle is broken), but the truth is I don't want one any more. Yet, while I no longer long for a Ross Apollo, I still have that same longing for other things that lie just beyond my reach, like waterbeds filled with champagne, heated dimmer switches, and solid gold remote control bidets. Furthermore, I may obtain some of these things, or I may not, but either way at some point they'll wind up just like that Ross Apollo--something I once wanted with every cell in my body but which now means nothing to me. Yes, material gratification is fleeting, and the only constant is the rosebud of longing, that gnawing sense of discomfort and non-fulfillment that torments us all until we die.
Speaking of longing, the North American Handmade Blah-Blah-Blah is almost here, and bike dorks from all over will converge in Sacramento, where they will slobber all over custom replacement horses while longing themselves right out of their shants. Many of these bicycles will be steel (increasingly stainless steel, probably because of all the drooling) but for sheer ferric abundance it's tough to beat a Ross Eurotour:
The only aluminum parts on the Eurotour are the shifters, the brake levers and the brake calipers. Everything else, except for a few plastic parts is steel. The weight before accessories is 39 lbs.
Now that's what I call a North American steel bicycle. By the way, he didn't specifically exclude the tires, so I'm going to go ahead and assume they're steel too. As I read this, I fantasized about dropping a 40lb Ross Eurotour from a helicopter and onto the Sacramento Convention Center, where it would crash through the roof like a set of janitor's keys through a piece of wet tissue paper. Then, Don Walker would have to rent one of those scrap metal magnets just to get it out again.
Also, I was interested to learn that, "back in the day," Ross bikes were manufactured right in my backyard:
The company moved its manufacturing plant to the old Arverne Hygeia Ice plant in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York in the 1950s.
Though by the time I was longing for an Apollo they had probably moved to Allentown--not that I cared where they were made, for as far as I knew the lovely Apollo bicycle was dropped from a helicopter straight from heaven. Lastly, I had no idea Ross even dabbled in high-end race bikes like two or three bike booms ago:
This was also the year the pricey high-end Signature series, which featured Cro-Mo tubing and Campagnolo or Shimano 600 components, was launched with Tom Kellogg in charge of the division.
Meh. Sounds pretty wimpy. As far as I'm concerned, if it doesn't sink hub deep into moist soil then it's not a true Ross.
Speaking of Sacramento, a reader has forwarded me this article about the inventor of the "Bike Valet:"
People build entire houses for their cars, yet apparently a simple bicycle remains the greatest storage challenge of the 21st century. In any case, one man has risen to that challenge, and this article contains the inspiring story of how he came up with the idea for a decorative bike hook:
Tiller, a carpenter and furniture maker who kept bumping into his bike in his cramped apartment, went to sleep one evening mulling over the problem and awoke in the middle of the night with a solution – one that's getting buzz on design websites and bike blogs throughout the U.S. and beyond.
I don't need to tell you the rest--after waking up and falling over his bike yet again, he simply hung it from his "night boner" while he went to the kitchen for a glass of water, and the rest is cycling history. It's a story as famous as Tullio Campagnolo inventing the quick release wheel skewer, or Mario Cipollini inventing breakaway thong underpants.
Speaking of entrepreneurs, a reader in Cape Town, South Africa sent me the following photo, which proves Portland isn't the only place brimming with bicycle businesses (even if they are car-themed):
Plus, while you're waiting for your car to get fixed, you can always enjoy some fat cock:
As the reader explains, it's probably a phonetic transcription of a food called "vet koek" in Afrikaans, but a cock by any other name would be as fat:
I wonder if it could "portage" a Ross Eurotour.