with all due respect to bull's head 1942 this is no-eyed deer 2019 (58" x 33"x 6"). the bike parts have been kicking around the garage for years and were displayed for a while in a dark corner with the horns sadly drooping down. The gold frame found at a yard sale has been on the wall for a couple years with nothing but dull blue paint within. But this weekend it all came together when the wall behind the frame got some fresh red paint and the no-eyed deer got a couple reflector brackets to secure its horns to the wall in their full and upright position. For the holidays I plan to ziptie on a little red blinky light to create the red nosed no eyed deer. Ask me about shopping days 'til Christmas.
Just last week a driver from the government job said to me “I saw you riding down Brooklyn, looked like you’re just out for a Sunday ride. You guys don’t even break a sweat on those things do you”
I thought shit I was coasting downhill toward an intersection, my bike was empty, my route was done, it’s fucking Friday afternoon what are you talking about? But what I said was “I’m not a Jimmy John, I’m not in a hurry” and I had to stop myself from trying to explain anything more. It all pays the same and it might look like I’m riding slow but I’m actually the most efficient person in the room right now.
To the untrained eye smooth efficient movement doesn’t register and nobody embodied smooth efficiency like Tim Mason did. Cutting graceful lines and arcs through the core making money or winning races. The epitome of smooth.
Just the other week I was riding on the Burke Gilman at 7:11am toward the mothership when some guy yelled “your bag’s open” and I thought was that some joker I know joking? Was that guy just being a dick? Or did that guy think he was actually being helpful pointing out something I was not aware of? In any case he was annoying. I’m a crusty commuter with an ortlieb backpack and I ride with it open all the time unless it’s really really raining. Is it raining? You’ve seen Jackie and Jason rolling with open ortliebs all over town.
In 1998-99 I had an ortlieb backpack I wore to work as an hourly legal messenger but I had to take it off and put it on hundreds of times per day digging for documents and binder clips and affidavits and exhibits so I soon went back to a one strap bag and I sold it to another messenger after I wiped all the Keith-Haring-like-painted-design off that I put on because it seemed like a good idea at the time.
In 2019 I roll an ortlieb because it was a free promotional item for all Bike Works employees in 2014 or something like that and it still works and I only have to take it off and put it on a few times a day.
Just a couple hours ago I cut the lower third off the legs of a pristine pair of bib tights that I got at Bike Works NWT for $125 less than retail because they were a donation from a semilocal bike shop that went out of business. I’ve never been a big fan of bibshorts bibknickers or bibtights but the price was right and now they’re knickers. As the weather is getting cooler and layers start to layer up bib tights remind me of a story this messenger from Copenhagen told me. (the guy on the left) One wicked cold winter day he was layered up in various spandex getups including bib tights and or knickers as well as multiple jerseys and jackets and he had to take a piss. He made it to the mens room but by the time he began to peel off all the necessary layers to get down to business, he pissed his pants.
We made it to the 4:00 show yesterday at Central Cinema. The kids and I but we did not ride there in or on a cargo bike. The film was pretty great. I like cargo bikes. I like bikes. The film brought me to tears a few times when it touched on parenthood themes. The changes that come along with hauling around a kid or two. The changes that come along when the single life on a bike changes, when the simple life ain't so simple…
The production time of the project was long enough to show her kids growing up from two toddlers smooshed in the cargo bike to two preteens riding off on their own bikes. And that was pretty great to see.
The film also made me smile and nod in agreement when it touched on the whole idea of sitting in cars and the insulation and isolation from the world and things around you.
we didn't hang out for the panel discussion following the film because my kids were really ready to get the hell out of there. we were the first ones in and the first ones out.
It was a helluva hella corndog that day before the other day. Matt put on a good show with only three days notice. I wanted to take one photo outside Wa Legal but I didn’t then I actually tried to take one sitting in Louisa Boren and my device was frozen inoperable touch screen no touchy touchy so no photo bro. If I did take that photo it would be here side by side with this Hella photo from 12.5 years ago featuring the same Louisa Boren overlook and the same Rob Fury my fellow quinquagenarian. You’ll have to visualize it.
I didn’t wake up the next morning with a corndog tattoo but I know a few people that did.
A highlight for me was having a couple beers with Mr. Corndog on memory lane and talking about the old days of the Seattle that used to be and how there is no job that comes next after being a messenger. There is no promotion because dispatching sucks and so does the office and the mailroom at Lane Powell is not an option. There is no job that years of messengering specifically prepares you for and there is no job that even compares or offers all the little things.
I’m not a messenger but I used to be. Now I’m the final fifty fucking feet guy on an electric assist bathtub so I still get to walk in to offices and deliver things and walk out. Just this afternoon I walked into an office and kind of had to hold my breath as to not inhale too deeply the perfumes, colognes, microwave popcorns, air fresheners, aerosolized feces and simple chronic halitosis that stews and festers and makes up the atmosphere of indoor air and when I got back outside I shook my head and took a deep breath and reminded myself why I’m glad I don’t fucking work in there.
Here's to you Steve. this bud's for you and this 1999 commercial sums it up you'll just have to change the names as you hum it to yourself and put in all the security guards, traffic cops, receptionists, elevator operators, paralegals, court clerks, US marshalls, bank tellers, baristas, bar tenders, dispatchers, office workers, mail room dudes and other messengers that give you the subtle nod of recognition and respect that you've earned over the last 20 years.
I don't do a lot of book reviews but this is worth it. This is the good shit. James Tate will sit well on the shelf next to Joy Williams who wrote a book that appeared here and was perhaps the last time I talked about a book worth owning. Pour me a beer someday and ask me about the line between poetry and flash fiction or the line between prose and journalism or the line between a bike lane and a sharrow.
Can't say I knew of James Tate before this year and if I did it was lizard brain level. But when I saw his work in Poetry, then Fence, then the New Yorker it seemed to be everywhere preceding the release of this book. So I bought the book and then I learned more about him and saw his 10 or 12 other books available at the library.
I prefer to auto pilot back burner low bandwidth subconsciously lizard brain muscle memory pigeonhole all the stupid petty bullshit of everyday existence the workaday subsistence whenever I can. It’s often easier said than done but when it goes down it opens up a little space for the good shit.
Being 40 hour work week weak I don’t really care about your weekend plans or the idle chit chat that seems to be considered normal and or friendly. All that banter is an energy suck.
You can make it yourself at home, it takes about nine hours.
You can buy a 10lb chub of it at Safeway for $2.49.
Don’t ask me about $400 12-speed cassettes spanning 10-50t or the derailleurs that go with them. You’ll get nothing. Ask me about 7-speed freewheels and thumb shifters and shortcage XT derailleurs. This little number Steve set aside for me at Bike Works opens up possibilities to transform my monstrous single speed Rock Hopper into a 1 x 7 or make my kid’s Mt. Lion 1 x 6 look a whole lot cooler.
Which reminds me, I like IPA. I like Caddy Shack. I like Caddy-Shack-inspired names for IPA. In this big beer vortex we live in there are endless choices. But the colorful packaging graphics and great names are often far more impressive than the actual beer. this time the beer is as good as the name.
“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["the perfect riser bar"], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the handlebar involved in this case is not that." Paraphrasing supreme court justice Potter Stewart’s famous quote. I’ve been digging around recently for a riser bar to neoretro-retrofit a bike I’ve had for 20 years. I cannot and will not try to document the metrics in millimeters of rise and degrees of sweep. I’m more into eye-balling it as I pull it from a milkcrate packed with used handlebars. Visualizing it and how it fits in on any given bike with particular attention to the stem it'll be stuck in. Visiting Bike Works yesterday I was surprised by the lack of packed milkcrates in both the warehouse and shop as they recently cleared shit out in their fall sale. Recycled Cycles actually had more used bars to look at this week and that hasn't happened very often in the last ten years. The search continues. I'll know it when I see you get nothing and like it.
“pickup a rush roundtrip from the ACLU going to 44 West Mercer. Wait for the signature then take it back right away. We need you in the core to cover Nooners!”
Who is this we? We only have two riders and the other one called in sick, again. And 44 West Mercer my ass. Bad addresses are no problem and We’ll be there right away. Labor costs are down while caloric output is steadily increasing in this December weather. It’s coming up Burberry everywhere, but where is the accompanying warm fuzzy holiday feeling I read about in the paper?
Oh yeah. It’ll be a quick little jaunt out of the core…
“Copy ACLU and the story to go with it”, I chirp
There used to be a little patch of nature on the way to LQA, a wetlands preservation greenbelt. It was one of my favorite strips of asphalt in Seattle. Surrounded by trees with a short descent into a sweeping right turn and no traffic on the smoothest road ever. The city recently sold the land to developers after the river dried up and there wasn’t really any wetland to preserve anymore. Then budget shortfalls heavily outweighed the weak protests about the loss of greenspace in the city. The loss of a place to sit down and actually feel like you weren’t in Seattle. The loss of a place where you could pull off the road to take a piss and easily disappear into thick undergrowth and maybe say hi to a few happy raccoons and some crazy looking birds and chirp out. The loss of a place where a Vietnam vet I once met, could campout for months.
“Base to Matt!”
“I’m still 4 blocks away” I say, “it‘s a bad address anyway”
“Swipe it once!”
What? Swipe what? I’m not exactly sure what that phrase means, but in this context, I catch his misinformed drift. No 10-9 needed. This job would be a lot cooler if I didn’t have to talk to anyone on the Nextel. If I wanted to talk on the phone, I’d work in an office. Now I'm starting to smell a little stress. The attorney I‘m looking for, if he even has an office on West Mercer Street, and if he's in his office and available, will most likely take his time signing these documents, especially since the ACLU appears to be hounding him. It’s all the same to me, but I don’t need any added stress direct connecting me. 44 West Mercer? Is that a typo or what? It’s not like it could be confused with “eighteen” over the phone. And it’s not as simple or recognizable as the old 1911 2nd Ave dyslexic slip.
I’m almost there or where it would be but this road doesn’t go through. Maybe I can take the stairs and they’ll spit me out up on Mercer...
I open my eyes and look at the clock, it’s 12:03 so I guess we don’t need to worry about those Noon rushes anymore... But I’m not sure where I am. These stairs could be in any building built within the last 30 years. There are no windows but the floors are clearly labeled on each landing. I try the doors on each floor, until I find one that's unlocked on level M2. When I step out of the stairwell the temperature is 20 degrees warmer and the stuffy air reeks like Graham & Dunn. The walls are covered with O’Keefe impressions and bad bleached bone desert scene murals. Around the corner I find myself in that Azteca we talked about earlier. Only it’s no longer an Azteca. But it obviously used to be. They just taped over the name on the sign and wrote the new name --Guadeloupe’s--in sharpie. If this building wasn’t even here three weeks ago how could Azteca already go out of business?..
I’m just trying to find the out, the way, up to West Mercer.
A woman in a hound’s-tooth coat with matching earmuffs is leaving the restaurant with a stack of Styrofoam clamshells to-go. She gets up in my personal space and tells me there’s an elevator that goes up to Mercer. But I didn’t even ask her a question. When I approach the front counter, the hostess and a two busboys are gathered around a large Anasazi ceramic bowl filled with individually wrapped peppermint candies. But these aren’t the good kind, they’re some cheap Chinese knock-offs that look stale. When I reach for a mint, the busboys laugh at me and mumble something and before I say anything, the hostess says she’ll show me the elevator. She walks around the counter once in a clockwise direction then into the restaurant. I follow her but have trouble keeping up. The place is packed. The aisles are full and the tables are too close together. The third aisle is less crowded so I make my way through and bang my messenger bag against the back of several people’s heads as they eat their lunches of chimichanga combo platters and nachos mega grande. Nobody says anything they just get very angry, Seattle style. Near the far wall I come upon a large bald woman with the heavy shadow of a recently shaved moustache. She’s wearing a fake tuxedo T-shirt and the bottom half of a Snuggy held up with an old innertube. I can hear Simple Minds blaring on the one earbud she has in, but it doesn't remind me of Breakfast Club. She’s sitting on the floor and she's in the process of breast feeding a kid in a Houston Oilers helmet with an Earl Campbell jersey that‘s too small for him. No matter how far I extend my leg to step over her and the kid, the cleat on my shoe keeps snagging on her shirt because of her enormous breasts. After a few attempts looking like karate kid, I’m committed and finally ready to shift my weight forward with a little hop off my left foot, my right shoe pulls her shirt down. She says, “I see an alligator” but I keep walking, scared to look back because I assume she’s referring to one of her tattoos that is now exposed. When I eventually get out of Guadeloupe’s, the hostess is long gone and all I can see are non-descript cement walls and rows of planter boxes containing no plants and no soil but filled with exhausted inkjet cartridges. There are piles of expired fire extinguishers stacked neatly here and there. Walking and walking the vacant office plaza there is nobody in sight.
Pondering various maladies that could cause me to feel like I’m walking in quicksand wearing cement shoes and a lead suit. Expending so much energy and accomplishing so little. It’s no longer stressful, just frustrating.
I have no idea what time it is and I can’t remember where I locked my bike.
a sweet sweet Italian steel frame with a Campy Record headset punctuated by a threadless stem converter, a stack of spacers and an adjustable stem maxed out to eleven clamped to a drop bar with interrupter levers.