Monday, November 22, 2010

Self-Styled: You Are What You Ride

Most people have heard the old saying, "You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs." Obviously, this is not true--especially if you make your omelettes out of Cadbury Creme Eggs as I do, in which case you simply put them in the pan whole and let them melt. (Few things are more delicious than a three-Cadbury Creme Egg and goat cheese omelette, I recommend you try it.) However, I do find it to be true when it comes to "curating" a sarcastic blog, since inevitably somebody is going to get upset. This was the case on Friday, when I offhandedly mentioned that food stylist who got pulled from a flight because of his knuckle tattoos, after which I ran afoul of an actual professional food stylist:

Anonymous said...

Um, there have been food stylists in America for about 50 years now. Which is 49 years longer than one has been able to make a decent living as a sarcastic bike blogger. This is the first you've heard of them (us)?

So, okay, I'll out myself for the sake of the other commentators on this here blog. I'm a food stylist and have been one for 10 years. I don't qualify as a hipster douchebag or have knuckle tattoos. My tattoos are not in plain sight and don't cause me to get kicked off of airplanes. I do, however, have a wife and kids to support and therefore need to work. Should I become a literary agent, supping at the teat of the creativity of those I "represent"? Or should I have chosen another path, say, brain surgeon? Like many in the media, I make fake shit up so I can support myself. There are waaaaaay less respectable fields to be in in these confusing times.

BTW, I'm also a regular reader of your blog and have your book - I didn't just show up here to defend my job. I think, because my line of work clearly does not take less fortunate people into consideration, I'll be cramming my copy of Book Snob into the change cup of the next homeless person I see. Good charity.

Lone Wolf

Yikes. Clearly I managed to break that egg quite handily, and I doubt even a legion of professional food stylists could manage to put this particular Humpty Dumpty back together again. I also find it odd that after years of flogging the "dentists and Serottas" joke I have yet to incur the wrath of a single DDS, yet when I mention food stylists one time my book gets given to a (presumably very disappointed) homeless person. Now, I shouldn't have to mention that whether it's dentists, or professional cyclists, or food stylists, all of my jibes are exactly what they seem like--that is, cheap, lame, and hacky jokes that don't really mean anything--and that in actuality I respect anybody who works for a living and indeed many people who don't work for a living (like most hipsters and bike shop employees). In any case, this comment saddened me deeply because I happen to especially admire food stylists and the important work they do (by which I mean tricking people into eating the fast food hamburgers that will eventually kill them). In fact, I'm a bit of an amateur food stylist myself, and here's my most recent project:

It's amazing how expressive you can make a lemon seem with just a can of whipped cream and a dollar store Sharpie knockoff:

And yes, that is a genuine Super Staunion. I know it's extravagant, but it's way better than the regular Staunion and at least twice as toxic.

Speaking of irate commenters, I also received the following scathing critique after admitting that I was freaked out by framebuilder Dario Pegoretti's steel-sniffing and that I've never owned a custom bike:

jerk said...

listen up bub-
you say some funny shit from time to time
but it really says something to me that you've never
owned a custom bike. people like you who make this
online image of yourself as an oracle of style
and substance better have the fucking chops to
back it up. some fat 40 + year old bike virgin with
a Trek and an iPad to post online doesn't have the right to
call himself a snob. sorry man your shark has jumped. go write a feel good book about something stupid. oh wait, you already did.

Sheesh! Now this comment actually depressed me. Believe it or not, there really are people whose identities are inextricably tied into what kind of bike they ride, and who think that if you've never owned a custom bicycle because maybe you can't afford one, or you don't live near anybody who builds them, or that the Bridgestone you bought 20 years ago still seems to be suiting your needs just fine and you just don't see the point of dipping into your children's college fund, you're somehow not a "real" cyclist. He even equates having a custom bicycle with having "chops." Sure, you need "chops" to build a custom bicycle, but you don't need any to ride one. Trust me, they'll sell a custom bicycle to any schmuck willing to pay for one, and the above comment is proof of this fact. By the way, I'm not sure where he got the "oracle of style and substance" part, or the part about the "Trek and an iPad." The only thing I'm an oracle of is douchery, and I wish I had a Trek and an iPad; all I've got is a Scattante and a legal pad, upon which I write douchey jokes with my trusty Super Staunion while under the influence of its toxic fumes.

Anyway, thanks to the "having a fancy bike" = "cycling chops" attitude, we now have videos like this:

BIKE CHECK 212 | 01 DONALREY from cycleangelo on Vimeo.

On Friday I posted a video all about a guy who has a Cannondale, and this is another video from that series. In it, the protagonist has a fancy Yamaguchi track bike that looks like it's never been ridden:

Then, he reflects on how awesome and pristine his bike is and how long his helmet straps are:

Then, he rides slowly through a red light on the opposite side of the street as the bike lane, his helmet straps flapping gently in the breeze:

Seems to me he could have done all of that just as well on a Pacific from Walmart and saved a bunch of money in the process. Most people would probably agree that buying this $9,500 Fendi city bike, which a reader and Twittererer spotted in the Wall Street Journal, is ridiculous:

But really, it's probably more sensible than buying a custom track racing bicycle that costs nearly as much and using it for the same purpose.

Even in Portland, Oregon, where the "bike culture" is so enlightened that any day now they're going to start installing bike lanes in the bike lanes, people have yet to transcend the "you are what you ride" mentality. Instead, they're actually marrying their Vanillas, as one reader informs me. Here is the blushing bride:

And here is the groom being wheeled in by the Jawaharlal Nehru enthusiast who officiated the ceremony:

While this would probably strike most people as a bit excessive, I'm sure in Portland it's a regular occurrence, and I can't imagine the "bike culture" even has much time to ride anymore since their social calendars are so crammed with bike weddings and bike Sweet 16s and bike Bar Mitzvahs. Moreover, I bet these bike weddings are recognized by the local government and are fully legal. In fact, when it comes to matrimony, a Vanilla in Portland probably has far more rights than a homosexual in pretty much any state of the union. This also means that, when you inevitably leave that Vanilla for some other artisanally crafted bicycle du jour, your Vanilla will probably wind up owning your house and having custody of your children.

Of course, the only thing more smug than marrying a custom bicycle is giving up your car, and a reader recently forwarded me the following article in which an Atlanta resident declares this his "best decision ever:"

It also contains some of the most smug lines ever written:

Now, my five-minute journey starts from my downtown loft which I bought four years ago and is stress-free and relaxing.

Each morning, my trek includes a walk down three flights of stairs, where I grab my handmade bamboo bicycle and enter the city streets with my helmet fastened and secured.

Downtown loft a few minutes from the office? Check. Bamboo bicycle? Check. Gratuitous helmet reference? Check. As David Byrne will happily tell you, adopting a car-free existence is easy--simply buy a loft apartment right near the place where you work. That's way cheaper than a Kia.

I especially enjoyed the helmet reference, since as we all know it's OK do whatever you want on a bicycle as long as you wear a helmet. I'm also a big fan of rap PSAs, so I was very pleased when a reader forwarded me this:

Intriguingly, one of the rappers is wearing a Crass t-shirt:

I don't think Crass would endorse helmet use, since in their worldview helmets probably represent police oppression, fascism, war, and the military-industrial complex. Instead, they would probably advocate protecting your head with vegan casseroles and then feeding them to the poor when you arrive at your destination. Perhaps a progressive food stylist can make that happen.


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