Thursday, October 11, 2012

Age of Innocence: Won't Somebody Think of the Children?

(Do people really not realize what they're doing when they use this image?)

Well, it's official.  Everyone was cheating.

In times like this I take refuge in the lugged words of Grant Petersen, who puts professional bike racing in proper cultural perspective in his book "Just Ride:"

"Racers in the Tour de France (which I refer to as the BORAF, for Big Old Race Around France--since it's no tour) have exceptional genes, top coaching, the raciest equipment, but their job is to perform feats of endurance that the human body wasn't made for.  So it's no surprise that drug use among pros has reached the point where it's no longer a matter of gaining an edge, but of leveling the playing field.  Between the drugs, the gear, and the training in high-level racing, I can't think of anything good that comes from racing."

I'd argue that there is some good that comes from racing, which is that, at its best, it has tremendous value as entertainment.  Other than that though I pretty much agree.

Nevertheless, I do appreciate all the riders who have come clean when faced with the frightening prospect of token off-season suspensions, though I wish they'd stop short of invoking the prospect of hope for the next generation.  Consider Levi Leipheimer's piece in the Wall Street Journal, which tugged at my heart cables (I still use a mechanical heart, haven't gone electronic yet) until I read this:

When Usada came to me and described a solution—where my admission could be part of a bigger plan that would make the positive changes we've seen in recent years permanent—I said "I need to be involved." I don't want today's 13 year olds to be discouraged by their parents from dreaming about one day riding the Tour de France.

Again, I appreciate his candor.  I also don't judge him or any of them since we've all had to do some shitty things at work.  (If you've never had to do anything abhorrent to you at work then you probably have a trust fund.)  Nevertheless, parents absolutely should be discouraging their children from one day riding the Tour de France.  This is a race that started in 1904 as a publicity stunt for a newspaper and has in the ensuing years seen riders do everything from hopping on trains to transfusing their blood,  so I'm not sure why people think all of this confessing is somehow going to usher in some new age of integrity and cleanliness.  If anything, these riders should travel to schools and "scare kids straight" like in that Saturday Night Live skit.  "Next thing you know, you're lying on the floor of a team bus in the French alps with a catheter in your urethra as a Belgian soigneur named Guillaume funnels dog testosterone into your testicles.  'Cause this shit is real!"  If any one of my seventeen children expressed an interest in becoming a professional bike racer I'd steer them towards any number of more honorable professions.  Weed dealing, fetish pornography, investment banking...I'd proudly stand around the water cooler boasting that they'd chosen any of those career paths over professional bike racing.

Anyway, if you're anything like me you've had more than enough of "Shitstorm 2012" by now, so by way of changing the subject here's a picture of a bike with a fuckload of macaroni on it that was forwarded to me by a reader:

(That's a fuckload of macaroni!)

I totally suck at music, but I'm not sure that's enough to stop me from starting a band called "Fuckload Of Macaroni."

By the way, professional cyclists aren't the only people who dissemble, and a reader has recently furnished me with evidence that indicates David Byrne may indeed own a car:

Moreover, it's a Citroën, and he parks it illegally:

When David Byrne once visited me at KCRW during a nightly show I briefly did, he ran in all agitated, saying he parked his car outside in a no-parking area.   School was in and parking was always scarce.   I told him I’d move his car.  He told me “no, you won’t know how to drive this car!”.  I asked him what kind of car it was.  He told me it was a Citroën.  I told him that I once owned a DS 19 with the “citromatic” hydraulic clutch.  He handed me the keys and I parked it.

He would drive a Citroën, and I bet he even wears a beret when he's behind the wheel.  You might find this contemptible, but as far as I'm concerned he's now gone up a few notches in my estimation, since the fact that he not only owns a car but also parks it illegally like a typical asshole makes him vastly more relatable.  Sure, he picked arguably the most pretentious car it's possible to own, but while he may own a car we can't expect him to relinquish his fundamental David Byrniness.  Of course, it's always possible he's since sold the car, in which case some douchebag in Brooklyn is probably driving around in it and bragging about how he has David Byrne's Citroën in the same way that George Costanza boasted about owning Jon Voigt's LeBaron.  Either way, I hold out hope that one day I'll be riding in a bike lane, only to encounter a Citroën parked in it, out of which will emerge a guilt-addled David Byrne.

Even more potentially damning is the fact that David Byrne also owns an auto repair shop and knows a lot about rally cars:

Though I'm willing to entertain the possibility that this is a different David Byrne.

One thing's for sure, though, which is that he digs "black metal:"

Maybe he doesn't wear a beret when he drives the Citroën.  Maybe he actually wears that dorky zombie make-up and drives around upstate looking for churches to burn.

Anyway, for those of you who still ride bikes, a reader tells me you can convert your bicycle to a faux belt drive for only $20:

I had something just like that on my Schwinn Scrambler when I was about ten years old.  It was hanging on the pegboard at my local bike shop, right next to the dice valve caps.  I have fond memories of installing my ridged plastic chain cover, screwing on those valve caps, and then applying liberal amounts of checkerboard tape to the frame.  I had kind of a red-and-white motif going, and the end result looked like a hot rod crossed with the tablecloth from Italian restaurant.  Then I discovered you could steal chrome valve caps off parked cars, and the kid down the street turned me on to EPO and cigarettes, and now I'm coming clean because I don't want 13 year-olds to be discouraged by their parents from "tricking out" their bikes with corny accessories.

Alas, sometimes it can feel as though there's no justice in the world, but don't despair, for there is--at least in Portland, were a man and his "Disco Trike" were found "not guilty:"

Like most news stories coming out of Portland, this one contains gratuitous use of the word "adult," because without it you'd just assume you were reading about a bunch of children:

The Portland Police Bureau arrested Kaufman and seized his video equipment and his adult tricycle on SW Main Street near the Elk statue on the evening January 25th, 2012.

As for the charge, it seems the police accused Dan Kaufman of "agitating the crowd" with his syncopated disco rhythms:

The police testified in court last Friday that the amplified music being played from his Disco Trike was agitating the crowd and that it could be heard beyond the legal distance of 100 feet.

I'm all for free speech, but I can see how that would be tremendously irritating.  However, then Kaufman introduced a crucial piece of evidence, which was that he wasn't playing disco at all--he was playing Bob Marley:

During his testimony, Kaufman said he feels his music has more of a calming effect on the crowd (for what it's worth, he was playing Bob Marley when he was arrested).

Ultimately revealing that the police were motivated not by a need to curb agitation, but rather by their disappointment that he was not playing appropriate selections from the Marley catalog:

Kaufman testified that during prior protests, police officers actually requested that he played mellow reggae songs like Buffalo Soldier.

Oh, Portland.  I hope you never grow up.