Monday, August 16, 2010

Consumption: Now With More Minimalism!

Ever since discovering The New Minimalism last week I've been taking inventory of my life, both literally and metaphorically, and I've come to the realization that I am indeed in thrall to my own possessions. Do I really need that climate-controlled penguin habitat? When was the last time I actually used that sausage maker? Is it worth employing a live-in massage therapist when I actually have a deep-rooted phobia of human touch of which my live-in psychotherapist has as yet been unable to cure me?

Alas, these are simply things that "society" and "commercials" and "the system" and "Wall Street" and "Madison Avenue" have duped me into thinking I need, and in reading the "Far Beyond the Stars" blog I've finally been awakened to the fact that I'm merely a slave to those insidiously catchy sausage maker jingles with which we are eternally barraged. I've also learned that it's important to be mobile, and that I've actually been foolish to pack up and fly with my climate-controlled penguin habitat every time I leave town. Instead, I should be like the "Buddhists:"

Oh, those wily Buddhists. Oh, those stupid Americans. "Can you imagine what it would be like to simply fly from New York to Chicago with just a satchel bag?" Actually, yes. It's only like a three hour flight. In fact, I can't really imagine flying from New York to Chicago with more than just a "satchel bag," and I'm sure many business travelers feel the same way. (By the way, a satchel is a bag--for a minimalist he really likes to waste words. Calling a satchel a "satchel bag" is like calling a bike a "bicycle cycle.") However, I can imagine traveling without "a laptop bag with a couple of books in it." I thought this guy had an iPhone. Doesn't he realize you can read books on them now?

Anyway, after berating his fellow travelers the minimalist asks this question:

1, What would you bring with you, if you had to leave now?

Say in a hypothetical situation you wanted or needed to leave your house at this exact moment. What would you bring with you? You have to go right now! There’s no time to sit around and mull over the decision.

Holy crap! Right now?!? What's going on? Are we being attacked by terrorists again? Is the building on fire? Have the penguins escaped? Actually, I know exactly what I'd bring in any of these situations:


I'd just "GTFO," as they say in Internet parlance.

Clearly, though, I've got a lot to learn about minimalism. Actually, in the event of terrorist attack, conflagration, or stampeding penguins, you should bring the following with you when you flee:

Here’s my list:
5 shirts, 5 underwear, 5 pairs of socks, 1 pair of jeans. Suitable jacket for overnight weather at my destination. iPhone, iphone charger. Moleskin. Cash, credit cards, and ID.

The "moleskin" is especially important. Penguins, as everybody knows, are deathly afraid of moles, so disguising yourself as one by donning a moleskin is a highly effective means of self-preservation in case of penguin attack.

Of course, if it's really urgent--like, if the penguins also have rabies--you should bring even more crap:

If it was an emergency: sleeping bag, tent, any food available in my area, water bottle.

I can't believe he left out the duct tape.

Oh, and if the situation is less urgent--like the terrorists are attacking, but in sort of a "half-assed" fashion and not so violently that there will be a disruption in Internet service--you can bring a laptop:

Less urgent situations: I’d bring my laptop.

He also adds the following:

Obviously this is a rather small list, but I actually don’t own many more things than this.

Actually, he does. We know he has 57 things (not counting the stuff he shares with his partner), and he's only listed like 10-25 things here, depending on how you count and how serious the emergency is. So, at most, this isn't even half of what he owns.

Still, this doesn't change the fact that it's important to be prepared, and he presents us with the following exercise:

Think about what you would bring with you, if you had to leave now. Make a list. Maybe even pack a bag and see how heavy it would be. Consider if you had to walk 50-100 miles with that bag. Does it still seem doable?

After thinking for approximately a half a second, I made the following list:

Actually, I dictated the list to my helper monkey, Vito, whose penmanship is improving considerably thanks to the journal he's been keeping. (He carries a Moleskine notebook at all times.) In any case, it definitely seems "doable," and when the Penguin Apocalypse begins and I run past some guy who's carrying a week's worth of clothing, a suitable jacket for the weather at his destination, a sleeping bag, and a tent--while simultaneously making notes in his "moleskin" notebook and checking his iPhone for the signal that no longer exists--I'll be sure to thank him for all the great advice.

But what if you decide to flee the Four Penguins of the Apocalypse by bicycle? What sort of bicycle would you bring, and how much stuff would you carry? Well, if you're these two, you'd just bring a couple of brakeless "fixies," a couple of messenger bags, and a whole lotta love:

A reader recently alerted me to this couple's journey, and they are the latest fixed-gear riders to heed the call of the open road but to ignore the call of practicality by not using things like brakes, derailleurs, panniers, or even water bottle cages:

Though in a surreptitious nod to hydration one of them does use "butt rockets," the favorite accessory of both the Nü-Fred and the "tri geek:"

Together, they're elephant trunk skidding their way across the American Southwest:

When you consider those guys who went to the pyramids, and those other guys who went to Japan, and now "American Fixed Gear," as well as all the other ill-prepared "fixie" riders who have "lit out" in search of meaning and sore knees, it's clear we're close to a moment in which every single fixed-gear rider in the world will be on a journey of some kind. At that time, the "hipster ghettos" of all the world's cities will be empty, leaving their lofts and artisanal boutiques unguarded and vulnerable to looting and plunder. The masses will rise up and seize any Apple products or similar "minimalist" commodities they may have left behind, the "minimalists" will become the hunted, and the penguins will roam free.

Speaking of minimalism, another reader forwarded me this grotesque example of conspicuous minimalist consumption:

The builders call it a "nice little commuter," and it is indeed a perfect commuter if you need to ride to your job as an animated extra in a Japanese cartoon, or you're competing in an Ironyman--which is of course the "hipster" equivalent of an Ironman. (Ironman finishers get this; Ironyman finishers get this.)

Really, sometimes it seems like the only true minimalist is Mario Cipollini, who doesn't even wear a jersey when he rides:

"Cycle smarm" is the new "cycle chic."


Anonymous said...

1st place!

Chris said...


Anonymous said...


mikeweb said...

Obviously Vito also takes dictation.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Drat, just missed the podium!

mattoidbunko said...

Smarm on

streepo said...

Top ten

Anonymous said...

By the way, Snob, I watched the entire, Cipo vid, last friday and I was so spent I had nothing left over for a comment.

Anonymous said...

I knew Cipo would be back.

hillbilly said...

Vito rules.

Anonymous said...

As I have made clear, the hydration fetish is one of my passions, in Internet parlance, wtf? How can anyone consume as much water as I see along the roads and parkways that I meander along? Butt rockets, is perfect coinage for this stupid looking hydration innovation which has taken hold these last couple of seasons. Thanks, Snob.

Anonymous said...

Man, if I looked like Cipo I'd show you true minimalism -- the only clothes I'd own would be two pairs of white cycling shorts.

Travis said...

Minimalists are just attention whoring hermits.

Anonymous said...

These guys are missing the joy of a fast descent down a twisty mountain road just so they can document an extended trunk skid.

Why do they hate fun so much?

Unknown said...

Fleeing from penguins on a bike is no big deal. What happens when the fixed gear apocalypse happens and you have to flee the Four Recumbent Riders? No Apple products or gaudy tattoos can save you then.

mikeweb said...

So the American fixies are sponsered by Continental?!

No wonder the 4000's I just bought were over $10 more a pop than the 3 y.o. ones they're replacing.

ant1 said...


Anonymous said...

I wish I could ride jerseyless! The only problem is my tan lines from riding with a jersey are too bright.

Anonymous said...

live-in massage therapist? why don't you just throw on some Sufjan Stevens and ask Lance if you can borrow Ryszard for a few hours?

Anonymous said...

Looks like the fixie touring couple posed for that photo at the city dump

Desert Rider said...

SRAM chain

Anonymous said...

the true way to go minimalist is to first spend many years as a shallow pompous selfish self centered whiney douchebag (hipster)

Anonymous said...

brakes, derailleurs, etc would ruin the minimalist look of the bike. the minimalist is going to end up naked in a cave somewhere with just his moleskin notebook (no pen?) and his iphone, which are redundant by the way.

Anonymous said...


You've stepped in it this time. You've managed to jump the newest trend (or all the newsies read this blog)

I guess "minimalist" is the new "black." Or maybe I'm old and black hasn't been black since I wasn't.

Anonymous said...

As much as I want to hate, that tour from Texas to Colorado looks pretty badass.

Re: City dump, hahahaha. Former Austinite myself, and it's hilarious to see how the kids slum there now... it's like you've got $3,000 worth of Apple product but you've got a broken down 70s Ford pickup in your backyard, and your dad's a lawyer in Houston. It used to be you had a cool house in Hyde Park, now you have to live on the east side and get a chicken coup.

But still, the bike tour looks like fun.

Anonymous said...

errr...chicken COOP, not a chicken coup

wishiwasmerckx said...

Chicken coup!

Overthrow factory farming!

wishiwasmerckx said...

Butt rockets?

Q: Why would somebody want to fart all over their waterbottle mouthpeice?

A: It's a triathalon wouldn't understand...

yikesbikes said...

This is great...

ervgopwr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ervgopwr said...




All the things i learn on the intertubes.

Anonymous said...

I'd add items 2 and 3 to your list:

2) gun
3) ammo

That way you will able to procure needed goods whether or not society continues to function correctly. Taurus has some nice compact titanium pistols, probably the last gun you'd ever need.

g said...

Why the hell do I have to work when so many others seem to have figured out how to spend all day just riding around and telling people about it? Is there still room left on that gravy train?

Foaming Solvent said...

"Satchel bag" is like "dive bar." A dive IS a bar, you gits! Stop calling them "dive bars"; they are just "dives." (It is all the fault of the Pet Shop Boys, who in the 1980s used the medium of song to teach this British bastardization to impressionable young Americans.)

Fixed gears were good enough for old-timers said...


I'd prefer gears and brakes, but it's still doable. And it looks like fun. Why let lack of sensible gear stop you?

Messenger bags? Ouch!

But how they found sponsors is far more of interest to me than their bike tour.

Tommy said...

I love how he makes fun of people who bring suitcases with them on a flight. How dare you bring clothes and things you like when you go on a hard earned vacation or to visit family! Maybe the monks bring so little because when they show up at the monastery their clothes and iPhones are given to them.

Tommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom should be working said...

Wait a second, if you win the ironyman you get a Mickey Mouse tat...Where do I sign up?

3G said...

Best tweet ever

TJ Eckleburg said...

I saw George Clooney giving that seem speech about packing a backpack.

Anonymous said...

wiwm--Two thumbs up on overthrowing factory farming.

Two thumbs down on dissing triathlons.

I finally pulled the trigger & signed up for my first triathlon in September. Yay! Stupid plantar's fasciitis took forever to completely heal.

bikesgonewild said...

...this embracing "the new minimalism" is all fine & dandy but i hope we're not gonna see the 'new kid on the block' (your block) being given away in some bsnyc/rtms contest 'cuz you realize he's just another possession & one that has to be fed, at that...

...just concerned...

Anonymous said...

Why do people that ride stupid fixies have to constantly film themselves? Is it to justify their utterly complacent existence?

On a completely unrelated note- Messenger Worlds is in Guatemala this year. I wonder what the average Guatemalean will think when a bunch of westernized hipster douches (no offense to the real actual hard-working messengers of the world!) show up to invade their city wearing clothes and riding ridiculous bikes that cost more than the average Guatemalean makes in a year? I can't help but wonder how many "epic" films will be made of the hipster journey to this ironic World Championship.

Git said...

Mario C - Protecting the world from hipster doucheness.

David Kirkbride said...

FWIW (and apologies if you knew this already but decided to have a bit of fun anyhow), I am guessing the minimalist actually did mean "moleskin", a product to put on your feet to prevent / treat the blisters you tend to get when portaging a bunch of crap on your back for long distances.

CommieCanuck said...

You had to bring up my pathological fear of penguins, initiated in the 90s by this commercial.

They're birds, but they swim, they have wings, but they can't fly, they can swim, but they chose to live in -40 weather. Fuckers make no sense, like Albertans.

CommieCanuck said...

I am guessing the minimalist actually did mean "moleskin", a product to put on your feet to prevent / treat the blisters you tend to get when portaging a bunch of crap on your back for long distances?

No, no, he's talking about that thing Sarah Jessica Parker had removed recently, penguins are terrified of SJP, or her mole skin.

dux said...

No Brakes/No Brain is cool. Just sign yer ORGAN DONOR CARD.

db said...

I, for one, welcome our new penguin overlords...

Anonymous said...

foaming solvent,

i'm guessing your a brit? it's the first time I've heard an englishmen, well known for longwinded pompous verbal overkill, suggest a more sparing use of words. also, as big as the pet shop boys were in the uk, they didn't have as much as a social influence here in the states. Finally, dive is not synonymous for bar, a dive can describe a number of establishments, cheap motel, seedy diner, etc.. so there.

Tennessee Tuxedo said...

I guess American Fixed Gear is the new March of the Penguins.

Anonymous said...

It seems that the minimalist guy, rather than being free from the shackles of owning lots of crap, actually spends a whole lot more time thinking about the small amount of crap that he owns than most people ever spend pondering their possessions.

Jose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KP said...

'Ironyman' is brilliant, I would love to read a full write up on that event. Thoughts on Levi breaking Lance's record at Leadville?

Anonymous said...

Does the notebook have to be moleskin? What if the apocalypse comes and all I can find is a standard ringed notebook, or a day planner with a faux-leather cover? Wait, do they even have moleskin notebooks at Walgreens?

ringcycles said...

I only want to know what the other two events in the Irony-man are; ironic beachcombing and dive bar hopping perhaps?

Anonymous said...

1 .45cal automatic
1 box of ammo
1 miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible
100 dollars in gold
100 dollars in Rubles
1 pack of profilactics (non filth)
sleeping pills
pep pills
3 lipsticks
3 pairs of nylon stockings

Major Kong said...

Shoot, a fellow could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff!

L. Lovett said...

I don't go for fancy cars
For diamond rings
Or movie stars
I go for penguins
Oh Lord I go for penguins

Throw your money out the door
We'll just sit around
And watch it snow
I go for penguins
Oh Lord I go for penguins

Penguins are so sensitive
Penguins are so sensitive
Penguins are so sensitive
To my needs

red neckerson said...

fuck if i had to git out off my trailer i a hurry id take all my oxyconten with me

its happened before and allus pulled me thru

Foaming Solvent said...

I am not a Brit, I am an American, an American old enough to remember before the song "West End Girls" introduced the phrase "dive bar" to the United States, before which it had never been heard on these shores, because everybody in the US (unlike the UK, and apparently, unlike anonymous) knew that "dive" meant "seedy bar," and did not mean anything else.

anonymous, if you and your little friends are saying things like "dive motel" and "dive diner," in addition to "dive bar," then we are all laughing at you (behind our hands, pretending to cough, so you don't notice).

wishiwasmerckx said...

This minimalism is starting to mess with my mind. I have more than 57 items, and that's just in my spice rack.

Anonymous said...

foaming solvent,

are you SFJ?

g said...

Not that I really care about this, Ijust don't want to give the Pet Shop Boys any more credit than they already have:

"The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary indicates that, in the United States in the 1880s, the term "dive bar" referred to an illegal drinking den or other place of ill repute, especially one located in a basement.

Foaming Solvent, you are one old fucker.

Anonymous said...

I heard there's a great dive bar in Williamsburg that just opened. I want to ride my Steamroller fixie to it!

Sigurd said...

That Jon Keller's legs are a mite pale and skinny. He needs to train more, and maybe even eat some food. Nikol's boobs show up nicely under that top, though. They'll both be regretting those messenger bags - their weak hipster spines should be screaming out their displeasure after about five miles down the road. Urban accessories are ... well, urban.

Anonymous said...

ok minimalists, you do yoga... we get it.

rainer said...


Wicked Fixed said...

In the event of any emergency I grab the most important thing in my apartment( aside from my wallet/cash/I.D.)....Pouchy, my wool zip up pot portaging pouch made in Nepal..holds my zig-zags, a glass bowl, and plenty of stinky herbs to make any emergency much less stressful! "Terrorist" attack, Nuclear winter, Penguin invasion.."dude what? whatever pass that thing back here"

SFJ aka OC said...

Want to know what's really scary? The difference between Dive Bar and Dove Bar is only one letter!


Yes, please. More behind the scenes on Ironyman competitions, please.

leroy said...

What I have discovered about minimalism right now:

If you let a smile be your umbrella, you get a mouthful of wet molars.

I'd be all for consumption if consumption be done about this rain.

Glad I packed a rain jacket, glad I found a non-minimalist pre-modern building with an awning.

Note to self: don't unpack ski poles and wave them in the air while crossing Manhattan Bridge.

I am the naked engine said...

You don't need moleskin, if you have shoes that fit and don't chafe.

In an emergency how about two pairs of pants and shirts, something to wear when you hand wash the other.

You can not be a minimalist with an I phone and laptop.

Even Buddhists carry cameras.

Beat him to death with a U-Lock.

Stupid Name said...


Apparently Lyle ONLY travels with his penguin suit.

Jumping up and down, I think it is some sort of artsy thing.

True minimalist.

GIT said...


331 Miles said...

If I had to ride through west Texas in the summer, the one thing I'd take (after water) is sunscreen. Which the fixie couple apparently forgot.

Jason Crane | said...

"Consumption: Now With More Minimalism!"

Easily in my top 5 BSNYC headlines of all time.

All the best,


Jason Crane | said...

I should add, in re: my earlier comment, that "A Reflection On Buddhists And Stuff" is easily in my top 5 unintentionally funny headlines of all time. And stuff.


Anonymous said...

Butt rockets: I prefer the term "double-barreled ass cannon".

on the fence said...

religion aside, is it better to leave the moleskin on newborns? Will my kid be ridiculed in the locker room later for having uncut moleskin?

PawnShop said...

That depends on whether the locker room is Kosher, or Halal.

Anonymous said...


When you rub it, it turns into a coffee-table book.

Anonymous said...

Those kids riding from Texas to California are going to get killed. They're just now hitting Denver. Whats going to happen when they start down a real mountain and are too tired to stop by doing a ridiculous elephant skid?

Seedy Run Down Dive Bar Beer Joiint said...

I know a guy who lost his moleskin in a dive bar a long time ago. He never really got over it.

Anonymous said...

BikeSnob comments section: where USAnians come to argue about Pet Shop Boys lyrics and accuse each other of being British.

There's some irony somewhere.

Ronan said...

In the interests of your new found minimalism fascination I'd recommend reworking the phrase "5 pairs of socks" to "10 socks". Consequently my comment ought to be rewritten as "Change 5 pairs of socks to 10 socks".

Or just wear sandals.

Anonymous said...

Give those Fixie guys from Texas a brake. They made 150 miles in just four days :-) That's probably also called minimalism.

Sleepy Head said...

everything I need for the apocalypse is in my Nashbar seat bag. My only problem would be which bike to take with which pedals, which of course would necessitate a decision about shoes...and by then the apocalypse would probably be over.

CM said...

Why use messenger bags when there are so many purpose built bike backpacks available, which are comfortable and offer great ventilation. No water bottles is just stupid.

Anonymous said...

If a hipster is hip enough to qualify for the Hawaiian Ironyman do they have to wear an ironic Aloha Shirt while competing at this highest level? ce

Anonymous said...

I believe that, as a minimalist, that hipster douchewad could do WITHOUT anymore links from your blog... I know it's funny and all, but why not hotlink every mention of his name to the WPP Group website, for example? Irony within an irony, smarm within smarm...

Anonymous said...

I just came across the "Fixed Gear Switzerland" website, which ironically goes under the motto "united in minimalism". Oh, and speaking of "more fixed gear riders in search of sense and sore knees", did I mention they also do rides up mountain passes like this one: . In the comment section one guy describes his choice of gear ratio (51:15) as "tough to climb and hard to hold on skids".

Fran said...

You know the number '57' used by the minimalist may be interesting to think about. I wonder if there is some meaning to that. Was he trying to achieve that particular number and did those counting 'tricks' to end up at '57' ? Is there a spiritual meaning to the number ? Or a marketing strategy ? It does match the 'Heinz 57'

Anonymous said...

I just saw the latest instalment of 'Man vs. New York City' on Mehscovery Channel (team sponsor for tarck bike/messenger bag tourers everywhere). As usual, Bear Grylls is inserted dramatically into a strange and hostile landscape from which he must escape. In this episode Bear commando rolls out of a yellow taxi into the middle of a place called Williamsburg. All Bear carries is a canteen filled with PBR tied to the end of his scarf, a cigarette lighter, a small colourful ax(e) and of course a MacBook Pro. Among the minimalist survival skills demonstrated, Bear eats a raw penguin and crafts an ad hoc notebook cover from its skin; drinks bong water through a straw fashioned from a hollowed out artisanal pencil; and gathers together discarded bald bicycle tyres to make a large signal fire. ce

Pontius Pilate said...



Anonymous said...

Porn? I have seen the blogmaster in a gay gangbang movie the other day, he was high on pills and was taking cock in every hole, that horny gayass cocksucker son of a bitch.

The author of this blog is dumbass motherfucker, he is a faggyass pillpopping maniac.

K9 Gromit said...

Nikol went so minimalist she left that weighty e behind and swapped out the ch for a k. Epic.

K9 Gromit said...

Nikol went so minimalist she left that weighty e behind and swapped out the ch for a k. Epic.

K9 Gromit said...

Nikol went so minimalist she left that weighty e behind and swapped out the ch for a k. Epic.

CommieCanuck said...

"Consumption: Now With More Minimalism!"

Easily in my top 5 BSNYC headlines of all time.

It should use the tools of bike marketing and state, "now with 32.8% more minimalism!". This way, every year you can just add 15-20% more, like every year frames are getting 18-32% stiffer, which is why you should pay more, and your current bike sucks.

CommieCanuck said...

In the interests of your new found minimalism fascination I'd recommend reworking the phrase "5 pairs of socks" to "10 socks". Consequently my comment ought to be rewritten as "Change 5 pairs of socks to 10 socks".

Or just wear sandals.

or paint your feet black. Simplify, man.

Seedy Run Down Dive Bar Beer Joint said...

Re: Anon 10:19

Damn, those Mini drivers sure are persistent.

Anonymous said...

Funny how the minimalist needs a trillion dollar internet infrastructure maintained by millions of workers and accessed by high tech laptops and iphones which are built in Taiwan by thousands of factory drones and shipped to American by container ships that are fueled by oil pumped out of the ground of countries that the we bombed into the stone age to keep oil prices down. Or maybe I'm quibbling over details?

spanish bombs said...

re: Buttrockets:

Where can I buy these, and what are they really called? My mountain bike does not have a good place for a cage, and I am getting sick of a hydration pack. Thanks.

Also, this blog is too popular! My expectations of getting a real answer are basically zero!

Anonymous said...

In your dissertation on minimalism, you failed to comment on the rarefied experience of folding bicycles (owning one is an opportunity to give up bike lock, car rack, etc.) Your support of us Foldie Fanatics would assist us immeasurably in achieving street cred we so richly deserve. And the producers of foldies can, on occasion, push the envelope of bicycle design (check out the STRIDA).

Anonymous said...

Don't steal bikes bro...

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fixie bikes said...

think butt rockets make you go faster?

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

Hey, someone has to work while they have fun.

Unknown said...

Cipollini starts having breakfast at a castle dressed with a tailored suit, then the video shows the making of his over engineered bike... how is that minimalist?