Anyway, long story short, it turns out Satan actually doesn't care much for Slayer, and His two favorite artists are in fact Billy Joel and Vampire Weekend.
He did like the tofu, though.
Also yesterday, I made the bike commute, and with my recent vacation still fresh in my mind I saw the city with new eyes--and those eyes wanted to cry because holy crap what a dump:
Every so often I'd look down and see the dust of Mount Tampon still clinging to my bike and this would elicit yet another wave of heaving sobs:
I tried to comfort myself with the knowledge that there were actual legal mountain bike trails just over the highway, but then I remembered that last time I'd ridden on them I'd interrupted an anonymous sexual encounter, and between that and the preponderance of human feces I've sort of crossed it off the list. (Well, off the riding list anyway. It's still tops on my list of places to go for "down-low" sex tinged with the odor of human feces.)
Oh, also, we have these new lime green taxis now:
The deal with these is they operate uptown and in the "outer boroughs" where yellow cabs fear to tread, and they are allowed to pick up street-hails, which the old-fashioned car service technically can't do (but often does anyway). They're called "Five Boro Taxis" or something like that, and while the one in the front is a real one, the one directly behind is an impostor that is cunningly painted in a similar hue, which seems to be what a number of car services are doing now. In any case, if you travel mostly by bike none of this is likely to affect you, apart from the fact that the new color is much easier to spot when they're double-parked in the bike lane, which is where livery cabs spend 75% of their time. (The other 25% of their time they spend actively trying to run you over.)
But while the streets of New York are a bit of a let-down from the slopes of Mt. Tampon, there's still nothing quite like riding here, because in the course of an ordinary commute you're likely to see global events unfolding right before your eyes. (Unless your commute takes you through Brooklyn, which is basically now just Portland with shittier drivers.) For example, the United Nations General Assembly is currently assembling here, and all over midtown police are using their laser vision to make sure young women aren't secreting weapons in their undergarments:
Yes, it's that magical time in New York City when, for a week, you're actually more likely to get run over by the armored Maybach of a visiting potentate en route to a strip club than by a taxicab or limousine ferrying cocaine-addled investment bankers to a strip club.
The other hallmark of the General Assembly is that the drivers start complaining:
(OK, this is from last year, but whatever, it's the same this year.)
All due skepticism of the United Nations as an organization aside, these people actually have some pretty important stuff to discuss, so it's the height of arrogance and stupidity when some putz from New Jersey gets his khakis all in a bunch because it's harder for him to drive his SUV to his job doing who-gives-a-shit for who-gives-a-fuck. Obama may be clogging up traffic for a few days with his motorcade and his "Audacity of Hope," but I'd argue that the "Audacity of Fucktardation" that most of these drivers subject us to on a daily basis is a far greater inconvenience for the people of this city.
Also, compounding all of this is that we're also in the midst of Sukkos Mania!, and Mitzvah Tanks are thundering through the streets and spewing out Compulsively-Observant Jews who then engage in a sad parody of revelry, as if partying lamely in ill-fitting black suits is somehow going to convince other people to join them:
If you want to know what's happening there, basically Compulsively-Observant Jew #1 leaves the Mitzvah Tank with his tickle-stick and joins Compulsively-Observant Jew #2 by the Cabinet of Dr. Caligaristein, DDS (also known as the "sukkah"). Then, they both step inside, and the giggling begins.
Incredibly, I survived the General Assembly, Sukkos Mania!, and all the usual fucktardation (some of it mine, I did almost crash while using my smartphone again) and got to where I was going. Then, at one point in the day, I looked outside to check on my bike and saw that someone was loitering on it:
It's one thing to just lean on a bike rack and inadvertently touch the bike, but this fucker is holding my lever, and I'm pretty sure the other hand is on the saddle too:
I'm not particular about my bike, but this goes way beyond familiar. This is like chatting up someone's wife with your hand on her breast.
But, you know, it's okay because he's smoking, and he's probably talking about art:
Anyway, as soon as I saw this I ran outside and unlocked the bike, and the smoker apologized with what seemed like sincerity, so all was well.
Plus, the joke was on him anyway, because that's the lever I operate with the hand I use to "adjust myself" while I ride, and I never wear gloves.
(Come si dice "frumunda" in inglese?)
Speaking of that bike, it's my travel bike, and a few (well, maybe two) people have asked about it in the comments, and even though I'VE ALREADY BEEN THROUGH THIS I'll go through it again, partially because I'm too lazy to find the old posts in which I described it, but mostly because I'm a bike dork at heart and kind of like talking about this stuff:
The bike is a Surly Travelers Check, which is just a Surly Crosscheck with S&S couplings, which are the things the green arrows are indicating. Surly no longer offer the Travelers Check as far as I know, and indeed mine has like a hundred feet of headset spacers because they didn't have many frames left and I got one that was a little on the small side. (I knew I could make it work, and when it comes to packing bikes I figured smaller is better anyway.) I think there are other bike companies that offer S&S couplers as an option, and obviously you can always get a custom bike with them or get your favorite bearded framebuilder to insert them into your steel bicycle for you.
Ritchey/Dahon also have a bike that comes apart in a similar place, but the joint seems very dainty, and I'm not sure how the tiny screws would hold up under repeated fastening and unfastening, though for all I know my concerns are unfounded. I do think it would be nearly impossible to strip an S&S coupling. Most importantly, a Crosscheck (which is basically what it is) seemed like the best bike for travel, since you can do a Fred ride on it with skinny tires, or else put these on it and you've practically got a mountain bike. (Also, horizontal dropouts, singlespeed if you want, blahblahblah.)
Here's the case I use:
It's unwieldy when you carry it like a suitcase, and I once wore it as a backpack with the bike inside and almost died. However, the advantage is that it's soft, so once the bike's out of it it's light and you can fold it up and stow it. (Theoretically you could put the bike together at the airport, throw your stuff in the case, and ride to where you're going. I've never done that though, because there's a time and a place for taxis and trains, and that place is the airport.) And most importantly, it meets the airline standard for regular luggage, so I just check it through without telling them there's a bike inside. To date, I have not incurred any oversized luggage or bike fees. (It weighs something like 42lbs with a bike, accessories, shoes, and suit of stretchy bike clothes inside, and I think the airline cutoff is usually 50lbs.)
The bike gets scratched in the case, but I don't care. Sometimes the brake levers get knocked out of whack in transit, but that's a thirty-second fix. Sometimes too the wheel needs a bit of truing, but that's a five-minute fix. Here's what I have to take apart to get it in the case, not necessarily in this order:
--Undo the S&S couplers
--Undo the cable couplers
--Remove rear derailleur from hanger (just in case)
--Slide stem off steer tube, loosen face plate so I can rotate the bars a bit for optimum stowage
--Pull seatpost (obviously)
--Remove bottle cage
--Remove wheels (no shit)
--Remove skewers from wheels and air from tires
And I think that's pretty much it.
I like the bike so much I not only travel with it, but also commute with it now that I live in the almost-suburbs and prefer to ride something a little more efficient than my old city bike. I also use it to go recreational bicycle cycling on mixed terrain (to the extent you can do that in New York), and have even used it in a cyclocross race--and while I finished pretty much DFL, I wouldn't have finished any better on a crabon bike with Dugast Flying Douchebag tires and dick breaks anyway.
The only problem with the bike is it needs a compact crank, because when I put it together I was still delusional.
I think that about covers it. Happy travels.
I love you.
--Wildcat Rock Machine