Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Relief Efforts: All You Haters Soothe My Discomfort

Many of you are no doubt familiar with the famous opening line of Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis," which reads thusly:

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

The rest of the story is equally familiar: Comedy ensues as Gregor Samsa attempts to prepare cereal with his new insect legs; Gregor Samsa's girlfriend is no longer attracted to him; Gregor Samsa gets stuntwork in David Cronenberg's 1986 remake of "The Fly" starring Jeff Goldblum; and Gregor Samsa eventually settles down with a sexy Brazilian cockroach and has lots of adorable, writhing larvae.

Of course, part of the reason "The Metamorphosis" resonates with so many of us is that we've all had our "cockroach mornings"--those days in which we awake and feel, as Ian MacKaye once yelled repeatedly, "out of step with the world." On such mornings, I wish that I had a fully-equipped spa in my home, and that instead of once again entering the daily skirmish that is life in the big city I could simply spend the day luxuriating and replenishing body and soul. This longing is only underscored by a commercial that runs every morning on the local news for the Mermaid Spa in Brooklyn:

By far the most seductive moment of this ad occurs at 0:07 seconds, when a man with a unibrow emerges from a hot tub and lavishly splashes water all over himself:

Even more than the guys with the "man boobs" who precede him, Unibrow Man speaks to a longing for peace and relaxation that resides deep in my soul. He's also a sort of Slavic male Aphrodite, and the embodiment of two universal truths: Firstly, you can be transported beyond the tedium of the everyday by bliss; and secondly, the Mermaid Spa does not offer eyebrow grooming.

Speaking of needing to be soothed, it appears that the so-called "biological passport" system of doping detection may be flawed, inasmuch as it does not take into account fluctuations caused by the aching, itching, and burning of hemorrhoids:

(Rosendo manages a smile despite searing anal agony.)

As a cycling fan, it is at times like this when I feel betrayed--not because a rider may be cheating, but because the only sport I follow is so doping-obsessed that the journalists literally live up the riders' asses. Certainly in this case, the cure ("TMI") is worse than the disease (doping). While fans of "mainstream" sports get to sit around on the couch eating Doritos and drinking watery beer, we are treated to detailed accounts of rectal bleeding:

The statement says: "Between these dates the only blood test result that we can define as abnormal was the one taken on April 20, 2009, which showed haemoglobin and haematocrit levels were very low, suggesting anaemia as a result of bleeding that the rider had suffered on April 8, 2009, due to haemorrhoids (the UCI has a medical note confirming this bleeding). For this reason, the level of reticulocytes increased. As well as the medical note already mentioned, the rider also presented statements from haematology specialists who confirmed their confidence in the normality of this clinical data."

I don't even know what most of those words mean, and the ones I can understand are disgusting. Frankly, I don't think clean cycling is worth the price. Meanwhile, Oscar Freire may not ride the Giro d'Italia due to his allergies:

I'm sure the medications that would alleviate his symptoms are banned by the UCI, but at the very least Freire might consider visiting the Mermaid Spa, since their steam room could work wonders on his respiratory system:
Rosendo might want to join him for that matter; those birch and oak twigs could be just what he needs.

Of course, if I'm forced to abandon the sport of professional cycling I can still continue to follow the exciting world of non-competitive group rides. Arguably, the greatest non-competitive group ride "monument" is the Five Boro Bike Tour in New York City, which took place this past Sunday. Here's the massive field of over 30,000 riders lined up at the start:

(Freds as far as the eye can see.)

As usual, I attended the ride in a support capacity, and perhaps the most endearing aspect of working at a ride like this is the endless succession of "epic" flat tire stories. Obviously the flat tire is the most common bicycle malfunction, yet in the universe of the typical non-competitive organized ride non-competitor it is a shocking and mysterious occurrence. The typical flat tire account goes something like this: "It was crazy! I pumped up my tire last night and it was full of air. Then, I left my house this morning, and when I was almost here there was a loud 'hissing' noise and it was like all the air rushed out of the tire at once. It was crazy!" Then, they watch the mechanic change the tube in the same state of amazement in which a baby regards a game of "Peek-a-Boo." Really, it's all quite charming.

As far as the ride itself, I did not participate, but one rider who did sent me a number of compelling photos. Among the amazing things he witnessed were a pole dancer:

The rare lycra-half-shorts-and-chelsea-boot combo:

A man in an Iron Maiden jersey carrying a life-sized doll in a baby seat:

And an RRMK (or Rear Rack-Mounted Kennel):

It's the sort of cycling spectacle you only get to witness once a year in New York City, although in Portland it's simply called "rush hour."

Fortunately, the bizarre world of non-competitive cycling continues to evolve, and you never know which local grassroots ride will one day become the next Five Boro Bike Tour. Indeed, from the tiny seed doth grow the mighty tree, bearing sweet and juicy fruits of Fredliness. Consider for instance the "Burrito Project," which I included in last Friday's quiz:

Burrito Project from Jon Chou on Vimeo.

I had mixed feelings as I watched this. On one hand, it seems wrong to impugn a group of college students who use their spare time to cook burritos and then feed them to homeless people, especially when I consider that, during that stage of my life, I was expending most of my extracurricular efforts on devising the best possible way to make use of an LSD trip. (Setting and executing an 8-hour LSD agenda is an undertaking akin to putting on a USA cycling-sanctioned race or producing an independent short film, and in a more sensible world would be an essential part of everyone's curriculum vitae.) On the other hand, it's almost impossible not to laugh at the volatile combination of "tarck" bikes, sensitive piano music, and burritos--though admittedly that could be because I participated in way too many LSD agendas and consequently have a permanently distorted worldview. Anyway, no matter how you look at it, I'm sure you agree it's high time the words "Burrito" and "Project" came together as the title of a film:

If you want to start your own "burrito project," it's easy. First, get a bunch of friends together:

Next, cook a bunch of burritos:

Then, cue up the languid piano music and deliver them to hungry people:

I must admit that I was surprised by how much effort it took to mobilize the Burrito Distribution Force. Besides cooking the burritos, they also had to load a bunch of "fixies" into a pickup truck:

Even after this, they still had some "fixies" left over, which they loaded onto a trunk rack:

After which they engaged in the all-important "group cheer:"

Then, once they were in close proximity to the unfortunates, they distributed the "fixies." Here's one for you:

And you:

And you:

Then, finally, they embarked on their mission:

For me, this film raises more questions than it answers. Why does it take so many vehicles to distribute burritos? It seems to me that they could either just use the cars, or else ride to the unfortunates using bicycles that are more conducive to hauling burritos over long distances. Also, they say "The reason why there is no footage what so ever of Burrito Project communicating with the homeless is only because we want to respect their privacy and to not turn them into a showcase for the public," though if this is the reason then why even make the film at all? And do they listen to that lugubrious piano music during their planning meetings? Is it playing in the background when they're deciding whether or not to include sour cream or while they're mashing up the guacamole? Most importantly, are they inadvertently administering Pavlovian conditioning in the good people of Santa Ana, causing them to start salivating uncontrollably at the first appearance of an Aerospoke?

Then again, perhaps I'm being too cynical. As a great man once said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but in the size and deliciousness of the burrito he distributes."


Post a Comment

Ping Blog

Step 1
Blog URL:

Blog Title (optional):

Blog RSS Feed (optional):

I agree with terms of service.

Step 2
Copy the following code and put it on your blog/site to help our blog ping tool track your submission (Need help?):

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Best Buy Coupons