"Avoid using words such as 'mate,' 'love' or 'darling'—they may sound friendly to you, but they could offend some people," he read on an April Tuesday.
The banishment of pet names that roll freely off the tongues here has stuck a stick in the spokes of pre-race preparations for the first part of the 2,270-mile Tour de France cycling race, which begins in Yorkshire this summer. The race hasn't started in England since 2007.
My first thought was, "Really? Who's going to be offended by that?" But then I read on:
Mr. Watt, a Tour de France volunteer from Edinburgh, said the first time a male bus driver called him "love" he did a double take. But now that he's lived in York for years, he embraces it.
Ah, I see. In Yorkshire, men call other men "love." Yeah, that's not going to sit well with your typical American moron. (Yes, I realize "American moron" is redundant, like saying "ATM machine" or "Schleck crash.") Just imagine typical American Keith Maddox were to come over for the race, and some affable Yorkie were to call him "love." Can you imagine his response?
(Artist's rendering of Keith Maddox. The tan line is from his kippah.)
"Hew yew cawlin' 'luv?' Yew a how mow? I awta run yew inna deeitch! Cumma think aboudit, I awta run all them Tawr Day Fraynce bye-cye-clits inna deeitch too! Why I come here for anyhow? I hain't really thunk this vay-cay-shun through. Dang Groupons..."
But that's not all, and the tourist visiting Yorkshire also runs the risk of being called "petal dust:"
He said he especially likes it when a colleague refers to him as "petal dust" or when he walks into his local bar in York and the bartender calls him "flower." (Mr. Watt, himself, only uses "mate" and mostly avoids referring to people as "pet," "duck" or "treasure," terms used in the region.)
"Petal dust?" What does that even mean? Sounds like something Chris Froome would say to taunt Alberto Contador:
("Eat my pedal dust, Fingerbanger.")
Or else something teenagers would use to get high:
(Teenager getting high off "petal dust.")
Anyway, apparently whoever wrote the manual is afraid of exchanges like this:
Many from Yorkshire say the terms of endearment are part of being polite. If, for example, tourists get too close to the cycling route, someone from Yorkshire might say: "Excuse me love, can you move back?"
What, this is a problem? It sure sounds a lot better than the "Move it, asshole," you'd get if the Tour came through New Jersey.
Speaking of drug parades, someone alerted me to this article on the ethics of doping, though I can't for the life of me remember who it was or how they alerted me:
I only skimmed the article because I was high out of my mind on petal dust, but among the points it raises is that even classical musicians use drugs to aid their performance, so what's the difference when athletes do it?
There are many other forms of mental doping. An essential test of archery, shooting or snooker is the ability to control one’s nerves. Propranolol, widely used by classical musicians to improve performance, reduces anxiety and tremor. Stimulants such as modafinil (a wakefulness and attention promoter) has recently been used in sports such as running, shot put and baseball, and stimulants similar to amphetamines have long been used in baseball, cycling and other sports. These are all forms of mental doping. Since they undermine the need for courage, determination and ‘toughness’, our very nature as human agents, they should be banned.
What? Classical musicians are doping?!? Fuck that! If I find out Yehudi Menuhin was dirty then I'm throwing out my entire Deutche Grammophon collection:
(The Eddy Merckx of the fiddle.)
I may have to make one of those caulking gun hypodermic needles and bring it to Avery Fisher Hall.
Anyway, I'm tempted to say the answer to doping is for us all to stop taking sports so seriously and come to terms with the fact that most of what we're watching is bullshit, but given that we're still willing to believe in ideas as absurd as "religion" and "God" then the chances of our accepting the truth as far as sports are concerned is virtually nil.
Still, I suppose there's a certain beauty in humanity's willingness to hold out hope for the future. Sure, it's delusional because we're all doomed, but what is life if not a flailing delusion as we hurtle inexorably into the void? Our instinct is to live in denial of our own futility, which is why we also make art, and ride bikes, and "curate" blogs, and launch Kickstarters like this one for the virtual bike shop of the future:
So one day I'll be able to "walk" into a "virtual" fixie boutique containing almost no merchandise and make my avatar stare at a blank wall? Sure, that sounds way better than the Nashbar website.
If you're wondering why the video comes to an abrupt end, it's because that's the moment in which the sun goes supernova and we're all reduced to cosmic petal dust.
Speaking of art, I received an email from the Oregon Manifest about the "City Helment Series:"
The first thing I noticed of course was that they misspelled "helment" in the graphic, so I corrected it for them:
Anyway, here's what it's about:
5 HAND-PAINTED HELMETS FROM THE ARTISTS OF ARTCRANK!
CHI, NYC, PDX, SEA, SF! We've teamed up with the talent magnet that is Artcrank to create one-of-a-kind helmet designs celebrating our five cities.
An Artcrank artist from each city has been busy working on a one-of-a-kind helmet design inspired by cycling in their city. In the weeks ahead we'll be releasing the individual designs and sharing "making-of" videos showing their design process from beginning to end.
On July 25 at our five reveal parties, we'll be raffling off each city's helmet to benefit our bike advocacy partner in that city. You could win a one-of-a-kind helmet and support your local bike advocacy group at the same time!
PDX : Brad Simon
NYC : Meera Lee Patel
SF : Jessica Henry
SEA : Ellis Latham-Brown
CHI : Justin Nottke
Naturally, I wanted to see who they'd chosen to represent New York City. "Let me guess, it's someone who lives in Brooklyn," I thought, and of course I was right:
Her illustrations are inspired by the magical mysteries of nature, the quiet stories that lace through everyday life, and the bold colors of her native India.
Sounds lovely and all, but I'm not sure what that has to do with something that's ostensibly made to keep your head from getting smashed in on the mean streets of New York City. I certainly don't care for graffiti "art," but if there was ever an opportunity to get someone who's handy with a can of spraypaint to make a badass helment that looks like a shattered skull covered with spikes then this would be it.
Then again, sometimes I forget I'm old, and that the new New York City is about sunshine and petal dust and pickling tomatoes and keeping chickens in your backyard and "curating" an apiary.
Also, there's no way this NYC helment will be worse than the one designed by David Byrne:
Of course, if someone did make a totally badass smashed skull helment covered in spikes, you'd need an appropriate bike to ride while wearing it, and here it is via a reader named Nick:
Years in the making. First prototype for the public to buy. $713.00 OBO Serious inquiries only please.
I wonder of the production model will also have Biopace chainrings.