Monday, January 28, 2019

What A Long Staid Trip It's Been...

Last week, following the revelation that I am riding a new road bike, I received a fresh wave of accusations that I had sold out, or "jumped the shark" (presumably from people still accessing the Internet via dial-up modem and AOL given the hoariness of the expression), or other hackneyed phrases denoting the forfeiture of integrity.

While my addressing these comments may seem defensive, I can assure you that I delight in the irony.  Granted, by some measures I live a sumptuous lifestyle: hot and cold running water, streaming television, and a wide variety of savory Trader Joe's snacks available to me at any given time.  Nevertheless, most of us have a fairly specific image in our minds when we imagine what "selling out" looks like, and I'm fairly confident in assuring you that this ain't it.

Of course, as I've mentioned before, people have accused me of selling out for nearly as long as I've been typing this blog.  At this moment I don't have the time or the energy to find the first instance of it, but certainly when I announced my then-new Bicycling column in 2009 the pronouncements came fastly and furiously:

Anonymous said...

Did any of you podium twits read the column? He called you assholes and told you to suck his balls while he collect$ from glossy magazines.

MARCH 19, 2009 AT 1:09 PM

AshevilleMountainBikeRacing said...


You could have at least gone with a real bicycling magazine, instead of this "Bicycling" magazine which from my perspective has nothing to do with bicycling whatsoever.

I'm going to the bathroom to vomit, now.

MARCH 19, 2009 AT 1:12 PM

carlos said...

The shark has been jumped!!!

MARCH 19, 2009 AT 1:12 PM

Yes, the shark had been jumped, and the passive voice had been employed!

It all seems so quaint now.

By the way, looking back at that post, I particularly enjoyed this quote from the Bicycling press release:

“After months of begging,’” says Mooney, “BikeSnobNYC finally agreed to bring his unparalleled wit and sense of style to the readers of Bicycling.” 

That is so not how it happened at all.

Anyway, I'm especially enjoying this latest round of derision since it gives me an excuse to explore my favorite subject, which is myself.  More specifically, it raises what is for me a compelling question: while present-day me is certain he has not sold out, what would the idealistic long-time-ago me think?  In other words, if 30 years ago I could see myself right now, would I pass muster in the eyes of a teenager who held anything mainstream in utter contempt?

By way of illustration, here is 30-years-ago-me:

(Photo: Danny Weiss)

I'll allow there's a case to be made that I'd already sold out by wearing a Danzig shirt, and I'm pretty sure that's also a Swatch on my wrist, but I ask that I be judged in the context of the times.

Obviously the simplest way of determining whether or not someone is a sellout is analyzing how they earn their livelihood, so in an act of unprecedented disclosure I'm going to go through my entire resume, starting with my very first paying job:

BSNYC/RTMS/Tan Tenovo Professional Resume and/or Curriculum Vitae

  • 16 Years Old Or Thereabouts: Stockboy At a Neighborhood Drugstore

Proprietor let me go after a couple weeks.  He claimed he needed someone with a drivers license to make deliveries, the real reason was probably that I was incompetent. 

Sellout Status?  Not yet, because it was an independently-owned business and not like a CVS or something.

  • 16 Years Old, Through High School, and On And Off Through College When I Was Home For Vacations Or Whatever: Stockboy/Cashier/Schlepper/Delivery Boy/Taker Of Abuse At a Neighborhood Hardware Store
I hated every waking moment of this job but I learned a lot about life, people, and, for awhile anyway, hardware.  (Though I've since expunged it all from my brain.)

Sellout Status?  I suppose working at a job you hate is a kind of selling out, but I always knew I wouldn't be doing it forever, and also it was an independently-owned business.  Plus, hardware is like totally blue collar, even if half the customers were buying Weber barbecue grills and filters for their expensive central air conditioning systems.

  • 17-21 Years Old: SUNY Albany Art Gallery Assistant
My work-study job in college was helping out at the art gallery.  Mostly this involved sitting at a desk doing nothing but occasionally I'd bring my hardware store skills to bear by painting a panel or hanging some art.

Sellout Status?  Oh come on.
  • 20-21 Or Thereabouts: Intern/Assistant At a Book Publishing House
Towards the end of college I got it into my head I wanted to work in book publishing, so I started interning at a pretentious small press (I realize that's redundant, all small presses are pretentious) in SoHo.  The other interns were all Barnard students who had absolutely no interest in being there, which was great for me because it created the impression that I had a work ethic.  I worked for free but eventually they started paying me and after I graduated they helped me get a real job.

Sellout Status? Scrappy SUNY student stealing low-paying job from apathetic Ivy Leaguers?  That is a blow for the proletariat!  (If by "proletariat" you mean suburban English majors.)

  • 21 to 23 or 24 Or Thereabouts: Assistant At a Book Publishing House
This was my first "real" job, and it was at one of the big publishing houses.  Once again, the fact that most of my work peers had come from fancy private schools and were fairly unmotivated created the illusion I was a highly driven go-getter.  However, once it became clear I'd actually have to work hard in order to succeed, I left under the guise of "finding myself" or something.

Sellout Status?  I mean sure, it was a big company, but it was a big company that publishes books, not a pharmaceutical company that gets people hooked on opioids.

  • 24-Ish I Guess: Bike Messenger, then Assistant to Film Director
I'm lumping these together because I think the total time I spent at both jobs was only like a year, and in a way they were similar in that I mostly ran around bringing stuff to people who were indifferent to me.  

Sellout Status?  Being a bike messenger is being a bike messenger, and the film director was Michael Moore, so I don't think the kinds of people who accuse people of "selling out" would consider either to be selling out.

  • Mid-20s to Mid-30s: Incompetent Literary Agency Associate
After experiencing life as a film industry assistant, which mostly involves people with enormous egos ripping your guts out on a daily basis, I went running back to publishing like a toddler with a boo-boo and proceeded to hide from the world by working at a literary agency for the next 10 years.

Sellout Status?  Sucking at your job just badly enough not to get fired isn't exactly commendable behavior, but I don't think it technically qualifies as "selling out."  Plus, it was a small company that represents people who write books, not some evil corporation.

  • Mid-30s On: You're Looking At It
Writing about bikes.

Sellout Status?  Please.  I write about bikes.  Sometimes I appear in a major publication and say stuff like drivers shouldn't be allowed kill people  Let's get real.

So there you go, that's my resume, and I don't think the teenager who used to struggle emotionally when a band he liked signed to a major record label would be too offended by my career trajectory, downward as it may be.  In fact, thanks to this slightly embarrassing newspaper clipping from like the Nassau Herald or something, I daresay I fulfilled my modest ambitions:

(I must have been home from college for the summer, working in the hardware store, and bored out of my fucking mind.  I love how I sound like I'm in prison and not living a comfortable life on Long Island.)

As for what present-day me thinks upon looking back of it all, I'd certainly maintain that I haven't sold out, though I sure have squandered a shitload of incredible opportunities, which is easily about a thousand times worse.

And yes, I know what you're thinking: "You're not telling the whole story.  What about household income?  Your wife probably does something evil."  Okay, you got me, she's an attorney who works for a fossil fuel industry lobbying group.

Just kidding!

Actually she publishes young adult literature, a vocation I'd argue positively oozes integrity.

But it's one thing to say you haven't sold out just because you don't have fuck-you money and a yacht called the "Just Kidding."  It's another to say you haven't sold out because someone actually offered you fuck-you money and you refused to take it.  I certainly can't claim to have done that.  Oh, sure, I've turned down offers and told myself I did so because I had integrity, but in retrospect I probably did it because I was scared or lazy or both.  (See: squandering opportunities.)  Odds are if I hear the "beep-beep-beep" of the money truck backing down the street I'd run right downstairs and guide them safely to my front door.

Hey, I'm not mad at Henry Rollins for doing Infinity voiceovers or whatever he does.  Meanwhile there are people who would probably burn all their Dischord records if they saw Ian MacKaye drinking a kombucha or something, so it's all relative.

I guess what I'm saying is fifteen hundred bucks buys this whole blog, cash and carry.  Just drop me an email.


Anonymous said...

podium... longevity is the answer.

Anonymous said...

"I've turned down opportunities and told myself I did so because I had integrity, but in retrospect I probably did it because I was scared or lazy or both."

Uh, welcome to being human. Compare and contrast your goals in the paper with where you've arrived; well played sir, well played.

pbateman is currently selling some ads to corporations said...

$1,500? i'll take it!

(if can you throw in that spare ultegra groupo or maybe some spare 700c wheels?)

anyone who actually thinks you could "sell out" to s'p'lized with the ad money for your blog you are mistaken. at the going ad rates you'd likely barely be able to afford 3 hours with your mom. and she's a cheap whore.

its too f'in cold to ride today and i'm in florida so god knows what you normals are facing weather wise up there above americas balls.

but god bless ya if you are tough enough to tackle this cold crap.

Anonymous said...

I'll give you $1500 Canadian hockey bucks for the empire.

Pist Off said...

This blog is priceless! Don’t overanalyze what that means. I’m glad you’re writing or blogging or whatevs, glad that you’ve cut your hair- wait, what is that in your hair? A blowout comb shaped like a pistol?

Mark said...

Have you thought about writing your own obituary? I guess you've probably already done it:

"Eben Weiss- AKA Bike Snob NYC, Wildcat Rock Machine, Tan Tenovo- is New York City's 503rd bicycle cycling fatality this year. He died of major abdominal injuries after he was run over by a taxi in a protected bike lane. "He came out of nowhere," said the taxi driver. He was not wearing a helment.

"He briefly achieved some prominence writing about bicycling as a blogger, author of three (or is it four?) books, and a regular writer for Transportation Alternatives, Outdoor Magazine, and Bicycling Magazine. He is survived by a wife, seventeen kids, and a dozen bicycles."

Anonymous said...

Never get in an argument with someone who buys bandwidth by the gigabyte.

Anonymous said...


Russell Miller said...

Please keep blogging. I enjoy it. I'll be dead in a matter of weeks. You can quit then.

HDEB said...

Interesting to see BSNYC's professional trajectory. Agreed that he is not a sell out! But, a Specialized, ugh, yucky, current mass market bikes all get zero style points, very uncool. I got a BA and MS from fancy private schools and am very unmotivated to try to make money with a "real" J-O-B. "Real" wealth is created through ownership and capital gains, most jobs lead to a lifetime of spinning ones wheels to barely keep above water. I may be even more of a self-centered douchebag than I ever realized but I rock on two wheels : )

Anonymous said...

$1,500? Good to know...

huskerdont said...

If MacKaye reformed Fugazi for a series of $50-ticket reunion shows, folks could call him a sellout but I'd be right there at the shows not giving a rat's.

Mother, tell your children not to walk my way.

John Wares said...

screw the haters. the captcha for this comment required me to tap on pictures of CARS, snob. now I know you actually are a sell-out.

Justin Bieber didn't sellout, he never had integrity to begin with said...

Selling out involves PRIORITIZING money over artistic vision, but don't qualify. Also it seems only really big celebrities get accused of it, like Metallica or Howard Stern or game show host Snoop Dogg. Mainly "selling out" isn't even a common conversation any more, you're being kind of punk rock nostalgic.

leroy said...

My dog wants to know if you'll take a check.

I want to know whose check he has in mind.

Dooth said...

Sellout? Nahhhh...Dylan going electric was a sellout. But he did it with panache...went from downtube friction to Di2 in a flash. Tan just wants to have fun.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Justin Bieber...,

Hey, don't tell me, tell the people leaving angry comments because the bike blogger got a new road bike.

--Tan Tenovo

FR8 said...

This is America!; Isn't the whole point to sell out (in, up, down or however you can). Or did this transplanted Brit come here with false assumptions?

Anonymous said...

"books"? wtf are ''books''?

Not Mr. Griffin said...

Well, I commend you for at least not appearing to be in the market for that $238 million apartment overlooking Central Park.

pbateman sold enough corporate sponsorships today to fill a shark tank said...

the only thing i'm angry about with the new bike is that you got yet another black one.

what ever happened to that ritte with the nifty paint job? since you're obviously a colorist toward actual colors i figure i'll offer to take it off your dirty, money covered sellout hands.

i bet your hands are not only covered with money, i bet they are super rough too from holding on to that water ski rope handle thingy.

JLRB said...

Selling out would be writing anti-bike screeds for your wife's fake fossil fuel lobbying firm.

No bike shop work in the resume? I thought your categories of bikecyclists was partially drawn for working in a bike shop - maybe it was just from talking to people in bike shops.

JLRB said...

ps - The 13 year old me has been asking why I do what I do instead of something more fun. I tell him to fuck off, but he is persistent.

Anonymous said...

keep on keeping on Snob!

BikeSnobNYC said...


Yeah, I did help out in the bike shop on weekends for awhile but I didn't count that since it was more a team duty/volunteer/barter type thing.

--Tan Tenovo

Ellie said...

Go, Tan, Go! They're just jealous!!!

ken e.'s other guise said...

(steals resume)(steals new frame)(etc...) selling out? the world is a mirror, sadly most people won't be considering their reflection, ever.

Anonymous said...

Wildcat you make laugh and that is no easy task. Sell out all the way baby but keep it coming!

Grump said...

People act like "selling out" is a bad thing. Hey! ya gotta bring the bacon home. Would doing a cycling column for Rolling Stone, or The New Yorker, be "selling out"?? Every year I had to go to "Work", I thought that I was "selling out".

bad boy of the south said...

Looks like someone will start a "GoFundMe" page.
Here's my two cents."Just Kidding ".

Jimmy Dean said...

There's adifference between bring home an eight ounce package of bacon, or a ton of it. Actually, no difference, the stuff never spoils.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, a thoughtful essay that should spark some sombre reflection from the reader, but all I want to know is what the fuck are you sitting on in the "30-years-ago-me" photo!?!

It's either an extremely pernicious piece of military hardware or a Hadron Collider prototype.

The camo pants and combat boots make me think it's the former, in which case one can only be grateful you've overcome that flirtation and now fetishise bicycles instead of weaponry — the world really doesn't need another internet idiot waxing lyrical about their ideal EDC.

Blathering on about how 28c's hit the sweet spot, however, well, we could always do with a more of that...

Schisthead said...

"I have never fit the definition of this undefined phrase!"

Are you considering running for office?

Anonymous said...

where do _you_ put your Peloton bike?

blunchbelly said...

Thanks for filling the bio gaps. Observant and self deprecating is always more enjoyable than clueless and bragging and besides all you aspire to is NYC bike mayor not POTUS. Two more thoughts: 1 million sounds like a fair salary and isn’t work supposed to suck so afterwards you can totally put it out of your mind and do what you like?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 4:49pm,

The picture was taken during a trip to Israel; I don't remember offhand exactly where we were but it was some kind of military installation that was probably not active anymore. The pans aren't camo, they're just jeans I had splattered with bleach. Don't worry, apart from being way into my BB gun in elementary school I was never into guns and stuff.

--Tan Tenovo

Jimbo said...

Wait -- Michael Moore? Please don't leave us hanging like that. Or did he put you under non-disclosure?

Anonymous said...

I was hoping for a bike worth writing about; getting a black specialized is the opposite of selling out when you work as a writer and there won't be much to write home about.

Some guy from upstate said...

An overriding theme in this blog for many years is that a bicycle should be suited to the intended use (see discussions about people commuting on brakeless fixies). A carbon Fred sled is ideally suited to the purpose of chasing other Freds around Central Park. It's what I would choose if I was into races with no dirt in them (and could afford something with Dura-Ace).

All you haters can suck Wildcat's balls.

BikeSnobNYC said...


No, what do you want to know?

--Tan Tenovo

Die free said...

Goooo Henry go. He deserves it, Calvin Klein, Mercedes... whatever.

Oh ya, you too Snobby don't hold back.

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

If you want to see the definition of selling out, watch the second episode of the first season of Black Mirror.

Keep blogging please, I enjoy it. I feel like I'm part of your experiences.

Anonymous said...

Dude you look like Lou Barlow, you're sportin' the shirt of Danzig, and you're hanging out at (let's just pretend it's) Gasworks Park (even if it's actually Israel) like Chris Cornell & Eddie Vedder.

Anyway what kind of revolutionary did those 2009 people think you were? Like before you signed that lucrative deal with the devil you were Nelson Mandela? (No offense. I'm not Nelson Mandela either.) Or maybe you were like, I dunno, that Vietnamese Buddhist monk, just about to set himself on fire, but then somebody rushes up with a suitcase of $100's and says no wait, come self-immolate for OUR brand.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that to "sell out" you have to have something to sell out of. Again, no offense.

Also there's "selling in." When you abandon everything for money, that's supposedly selling out. [Even though we abandon stuff for free all the time, and thank fucking god for that, otherwise it would be so boring, and I'd still be drinking from a baby bottle and wearing a diaper. I abandoned those things, because it's part of my growth process, and the two weeks since then have been amazing!]

But yeah what about "selling in?" If you like the new thing you're doing, then haven't you "sold in?" Seems like you got rid of something shitty, made some money, and moved on. I mean what? It's just weird. Also if you reach a certain age and don't sell in, or at least sell out, there's something WRONG with you.

Finally whoever complains that you have money, has no goddamn money. So don't ask for their help; they're useless.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tan

You haven't yet shared with us which crab-on bike you got. Is it another Specialized?

What are the specs? #whatpressureyourunning?


Some Guy on the Innernets said...

An awful lot of butthurt for a guy who calls people morons on his blog. I really thought you could take a few jabs after signing up with the Evil Empire. Oh well, I've been wrong about a lot of things. Maybe we hit a nerve. Don't know, don't care.

Good luck.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Some Guy on the Innernets,

Hey, as I said, I quite enjoyed it, and I'll take any excuse I can get to talk about myself.

As for you, I thought you were going to stop reading. What's wrong, couldn't find someone writing about bikes with more integrity than me?


--Tan Tenovo

Beck the biker said...

That's one rollicking and humourous tale of the road less travelled with a razor-sharp focus, yet at the same time an oddly homogenous retelling of the gen x experience, when the degreed apathetic slackers were prolifigate and easy to one-up at work. Comngrats on having to defend not selling out.

Anonymous said...

Selling out is under rated. I sold out straight out of Technical school. It was called getting a real job. And it's sustained me for 36 years. I ain't rich, but I got MUCH better bikes then I would have if I hadn't gone to work for "the man". When I go into the Bike Cave and I am FORCED to choose between the Atlantis, Rawland Drakkar, Mongoose Kos Kruiser, Surly Ogre, Fat City Monster Fat, a couple of Breezers, (Just to hit some of the high spots) I just hafta pat myself on the back and think I did pretty good for a lazy slacker. - masmojo

Anonymous said...

Don't sell out to the man
Don't sell out to the man
Just because you can
Just because you can
Just because you can

I sold out to the man
I sold out to the man
Look at where it got me
Look at where I am

Simon said...

You should listen to the Rollins podcast episode about when Henry and Ian ran (or did they sell out to??? :) ) an ice cream bar together, it’s really funny.

Unknown said...

I used to think 25c tires were the shit. I still do,
But I used to, too.