Thursday, 17 September 2009

Bike-Cocky: The Audacity of Hype

While motorized conveyances such as mopeds and Cushmans seem to be increasing in number, I have yet to see any evidence that they are actually encroaching upon the bicycle. From my perspective astride the Ironic Orange Julius Bike, it appears there are as many cyclists as ever in New York City. Furthermore, there are also just as many bicycle-themed Craigslist "Missed Connections" as ever, which indicates that people are not only continuing to ride, but that bicycles also remain an integral part of the urban mating process. Here's one such post:

Date: 2009-09-15, 6:44PM EDT


I saw you ride by me down Clinton St at the corner of Remsen around 1:30 today. You were tall and thin and wearing a hat (?) and whistling and had a leather messenger bag. I thought you looked so cute and nice. I like to whistle on my bike, too. Also, you were wearing green/teal underpants. Sorry if that's lewd, but it's the most specific things I remember about your outfit (sounding worse) and might help narrow down my vague search. I was wearing an orange dress with black tights and a short haircut. I'm sure you didn't see me, but you are the first person I have seen in a while that turned my head. I was doing jury duty today and am not usually in that area, so I thought maybe it was fated? Below is an artist's rendering of what I saw (minus the soft middle). Please write me if you think this is you, or might be someone you know!

While the above post reaffirms my faith in the bicycle's cultural significance, it also shakes my confidence in our judicial system. The author indicates that she was "doing jury duty" that day; however, her powers of observation are clearly rather feeble. For example, she seems to be unsure whether or not the cyclist she saw was actually wearing a hat. Unless the cyclist had unusually hat-like hair, or was field-testing one of those ambiguous helmet-hats, the presence or absence of a hat is a crucial bit of evidence and should be readily apparent to even the least attentive juror. Granted, she may have been focussing on the cyclist's underwear, which she does describe in considerable detail, but to me this is simply proof that she is easily distracted and misled--a persuasive lawyer would certainly shape her supposed impartiality like a randonneur's posterior shapes a Brooks saddle. She also omits crucial information, such as what song he was whistling, but includes useless detail such as the fact the rider had a "soft middle." (All Brooklyn men have soft middles, according to the New York Times.) But most disturbing of all is the drawing she includes, shown here in greater detail:

If we are to believe that this woman has any credibility at all, then we must also believe that the cyclist she saw was riding a highly unusual bicycle with two downtubes that may or may not have been fabricated out of a pair of unicycles. And while his preternaturally long arms and legs might necessitate such a contraption, one would think that she'd have mentioned in her description that, in addition to wearing teal underpants, the object of her affection is also built like (or actually is) Gumby. (If she did see Gumby, that might explain her inability to determine if he was wearing a hat.) If you're not horrified yet, just imagine yourself on trial with your fate being decided by someone whose perspective is as skewed and distorted as this--though at least when she sends you off to life in prison for a crime you didn't commit, she'll be able to tell her friends what color your underpants were.

Fortunately though, some people are more attentive:

Boba Fett Accordion Player - w4m (Union Square)
Date: 2009-09-14, 2:59PM EDT

I was bowled over by your accordion skillz and your awesome cardboard helmet. I wanted to drop you a few bills in appreciation, but after buying my peaches and tomatoes I was all out of cash. So I made you a nice card to tell you how great you are, especially for playing the Zelda theme song. But when I went to go drop it in your accordion case, you had left!

Thanks for making my day! Keep rockin'!

This is clearly somebody who pays attention and who I would trust to make an important decision. Note that she includes all the relevant details:

1) The accordionist was dressed like Boba Fett;
2) His helmet was cardboard, and awesome;
3) She was buying peaches and tomatoes;
4) He was playing the Zelda theme song, skillzfully.

Furthermore, this is yet more evidence (if we even needed it) that the folksy instrument trend is hotter than ever, and that it may yet burn with the strength to engulf fixed-gears, mopeds, Cushmans, and "weird style diktats" combined.

Speaking of trends, the knuckle tattoo trend isn't going anywhere anytime soon (due at least in part to the fact that tattoos are permanent, unlike bicycles, teal underwear, and cardboard Boba Fett helmets), though it is being challenged by the foot knuckle tattoo:

However, it will doubtless be some time before the traditional knuckle tattoo is seriously challenged by its younger, smellier cousin. I'm guessing it's also safe from the giant head tattoo, at least for the time being:

I noticed this tattoo on the Rebel8 blog, which I visit from time to time in order to marvel at the audacity with which they plunder, rebrand, and resell the popular culture, as well as to gain insight into Mike Giant's creative process:
While there, I also noticed this "bukkake" theme bike:

Here's how Wikipedia defines "bukkake:"

Bukkake (Japanese: ブッカケ) pronunciation (1: IPA: /bu̜ˈk:ake̞/ 2: IPA: /bʊˈkæke/) is a sexual practice that features a person (usually a woman) being ejaculated on by several men. It may also involve the semen being eaten. Bukkake is similar to the related practice of gokkun, in which several men ejaculate into a container for the receiver to drink. The practice is a relatively prevalent niche in contemporary pornographic films, some of which involve hundreds of male participants. There is debate on whether to class bukkake as a paraphilia such as hygrophilia, sexual arousal from contact with bodily secretions.

Actually, the "Bukkake Bike" is one of the most relevant theme fixies I've seen in quite some time, since what Rebel8 and many other "street"-oriented fashion and bike companies do pretty much amounts to "cultural bukkake." Really, it's all about ejaculating massive amounts of logos onto things. That thing could be a t-shirt, or a hat, or a mass-produced bike, or even your own body. (You'll notice that the people on the Rebel8 blog get covered in random pop culture tattoos like a bukkake film starlet gets covered in semen.) "Cultural bukkake" is also the exact opposite of what the bike collectors from yesterday's post are into; in "adult" terms, that's more like panty-collecting.

By the way, bukkake bikes don't have to be fixed-gears; a reader recently spotted a geared bukkake bike on the Champs-Élysées:

Clearly the designer was inspired by the World's Greatest Madone, though despite some artful touches like the SPD-to-flat-pedal adapters and the mismatched water bottles I'm afraid this effort does not come close to the original.

Of course, the typical high-end shopper will hardly even notice this bicycle--it's just a bike-shaped sign. And while a crabon fiber bicycle might seem like an expensive form of signage, it's probably a relative bargain in the world of in-store displays and window dressing. Really, only a cyclist would stop to look at it long enough to be either troubled or amused by the fact that it would be pretty much untenable in the real world, where conditions are often too adverse for a crabon designer bukkake bike. Even the fight for bike parking has become cutthroat, as you can see from this photo taken in the East Village and sent to me by a reader:

I'm glad to see they're at least adhering to the rule of locking up in ascending order of cost. And as you can see, there's no bukkake going on here--it's just some quaint, old-fashioned pole dancing.


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