Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Increase the Piece: Tiny Tools and Propaganda

Further to yesterday's post, it would appear from the comments that I inadvertently managed to offend a minority group--that group being owners of stainless steel automobiles developed by alleged drug traffickers who were later found to be victims of entrapment:

Anonymous said...

Then stay home you fucking hack! The deloreans were for the St. paddys day parade. What do you offer to society?

March 16, 2011 2:54 AM

Wow. This comment saddened me deeply, because as it happens I have a sentimental connection to DeLoreans that predates the "Back to the Future" film trilogy by quite a few years. As it happens, when I was but a child my school bus used to pass a used car dealership, and among the vehicles for sale there was a DeLorean. Oh, how I used to marvel at its futuristic shininess and wedge-like shape as I passed. In fact, so taken with it was I that I used to attempt crude renderings of it in my notebook, and I still get very excited when I see a DeLorean. Even as an adult I have been known to point and exclaim, "Ooh, there's a DeLorean, there's a DeLorean!," and that's pretty much what I did in Seattle. However, one of the people on the ride was so profoundly smug and bikey that she didn't even know what a DeLorean was and asked, "Is that James Bond's car?" Aghast, I replied, "No, that's a Michael J. Fox's car!," and the owner smiled despite the triteness of my observation.

So, as you can imagine, this comment has rendered me rather despondent.

As for what I have to offer to society, this should be obvious. As the sixth wealthiest person in the world I have pledged, along with Warren Buffett, to give away most of my fortune. Granted, unlike Buffett, who's giving his money to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, I'm giving mine to a private aeronautics firm, but the idea is the same. See, this private aeronautics firm is building a spaceship with which they will travel to Jupiter in search of new metals suitable for framebuilding, and when they return to Earth I will develop a new alloy called "awesomeium" and take the North American Handmade Bicycle Show by storm. This may not seem altruistic on the surface, but when show organizer Don Walker (by this time either a cyborg or a disembodied brain in a jar) awards me the coveted "Best In Show" trophy I will then license the alloy to Specialized and donate a small percentage of my royalties to chihuahua rescue.

So put that in your DeLorean and go "Back to the Future" with it.

But my life is not all anonymous insults. In fact, not long ago I was lamenting how, as I child, I could never find a novelty license plate with my given name, "Increase," on it. Well, the Park Bicycle Tool Manufacturing Concern has heard my cries, and look what I found in my mailing box yesterday:

Yes, it's a personalized multi-tool with my actual, real-life, made-up name on it:

Not only was this an incredibly thoughtful gift, but it's also way better than the one their arch-rivals at Pedro's sent me:

That was just mean.

Anyway, I immediately placed my delightfully suggestive small tool that says "Increase" on it inside my dainty little man-purse:

(Because if there's anything a Big Dummy needs more than a fancy saddle, it's a tiny little bag.)

Before you think me hopelessly effete, I wish it to be known that when I traveled to Austin for the "Bicycling" magazine Editors' Choice bike-testing extravaganza, we all received gifts in the form of Brooks saddlebags. This served to underscore the general "lavish Bar Mitzvah" vibe of the trip. By the way, I was tremendously excited to receive this lovely little piece of British craftsmanship, until I discovered it wasn't British at all:

From this I infer that there is an entire "bizarro" Brooks factory in China, complete with a Chinese counterpart to Eric "The Chamferer" Murray.

In any case, I suppose I could have saved myself the trouble of traveling all the way to Austin and instead just bought a counterfeit Brooks somewhere in Chinatown (if your "Broooks" has an extra "o" it just might be fake), though my bag did come with a free packet of something called "desiccant:"

It was delicious.

Also, returning home from my mailing box I used the controversial Prospect Park West bike lane and rode behind someone with a Jizzy hat:

The quality of this photo does not meet even my usual sorry standards because I was forced to resort to my aging smartphone, but I can assure you that his hat said "Jizzy" on it. I have no knowledge of "streetwear" so I don't know if "Jizzy" is like "a thing" or whatever, but I do know that when I plugged "jizzy hat" into a popular search engine I got a lot of intriguing results, though none of them had much to do with fashion.

Speaking of things you put on your head, I mentioned yesterday that my excitingly-patterned Top Gear loaner helmet had a sticker that said "front" inside of it. This is apparently more important than I realized, for a reader forwarded me the following photo which he took in New Zealand:

If I need to spell it out for you, the problem is that he's wearing his glasses under his helmet straps. Something tells me these guys may not be actual pros, either.

Of course, cycling is a dangerous activity--so dangerous that you should never, ever, ever (everevereverever) contemplate attempting it without wearing a helmet, even if it's on backwards. In fact, it's so profoundly dangerous that a reader informs me CBS News has prepared a piece on "bicycle safety:"

Bicycling is dangerous. How dangerous? Each year, cycling-related injuries send more than 500,000 people to the hospital - and more than 700 to the grave. Kids are at special risk. But everyone who rides a bike - child or adult - should be acquainted with basic bicycle safety rules. Here, with help from the National Traffic Safety Administration, are 10 of the most important ones....

That's overstating it just a bit, don't you think? Motor vehicles send like 30,000 people a year "to the grave" and I never see any news stories that make driving sound this suicidal. Clearly we're now being subjected to a full-blown propaganda campaign. I remember when people used to give you "safety tips"--now they're "death-defying rules." They're also ridiculous. Consider these examples:

Make sure the bike fits you. And before you ride, always check to make sure the handlebars and wheels are secure. If you carry stuff, add a carrier so you don't have to keep things in your hands.

Yes, as everybody knows, if you're bike doesn't fit you, YOU WILL DIE! I don't know what the model is supposed to be doing with that derailleur, but it looks like she's trying to mesmerize it into not somehow killing her. At least her helmet's on frontwards.

Here's another useful tidbit death-defying rule:

If your bike has quick-release wheels, make sure they are firmly closed - and use the safety retainer if there is one.

This is good advice, and I see plenty of people who treat their skewers like wingnuts. However--and I may be revealing my ignorance here--what is a "safety retainer?" Do they mean dropout safety tabs, or "lawyer lips?" If so, how do you not use them? Sure, you can file them off, but are there actually people who don't know how to use a quick-release skewer but do take the time to file off their "lawyer lips?"

My theory is that they just made up the whole "safety retainer" thing so when people go to look for them and can't find them they decide it's too dangerous to ride and just take the car instead.

By the way, don't file off your "lawyer lips." If you file off your "lawyer lips" YOU WILL DIE!

And if you think "safety retainers" alone will save you, you're sadly mistaken. You've also got to "stay alert:"

Potholes, cracks, expansion joints, drainage grates, and railroad tracks can cause a fall. So can leaves, puddles, and ice. If you spot an obstacle in your path, be sure to plan carefully and signal to motorists. Cross railroad tracks at a 90-degree angle.

All true I suppose, but why the image of the woman riding a mountain bike in a river? Does this even remotely represent the sort of cycling in which most people engage? Are there a lot of creeks with railroad tracks in them? Is the woman in the picture not a recreational mountain biker, but rather a wayward city cyclist who ignored the "death-defying rules" above and consequently wound up in a stream? And how come you never see "death-defying rules" for drivers that look like this?

Potholes, cracks, expansion joints, drainage grates, and railroad tracks can cause a fall. So can leaves, puddles, and ice. If you spot an obstacle in your path, be sure to plan carefully and signal to cyclists. Cross railroad tracks at a 90-degree angle.

Equally good advice, and equally incongruous imagery.

Given all this, it should not surprise you that our old friend also makes an appearance:

Wear high-visibility clothes. Think neon, fluorescent, bright colors.

I guess the idea behind this is that the few remaining cyclists bold enough to take to the roads will be readily identifiable and thus easily herded into internment camps.

Speaking of the time-traveling t-shirt-wearing retro-Fred from the planet Tridork, a reader in the United Kingdoms of Great Brittania recently spotted him in a BBC television series called "Twenty Twelve:"

The extra "u" is for "ubiquity."

Interestingly, nothing in the "death-defying rules" specifically mentions "salmoning," and while most pedestrians decry the practice some find it positively seductive:

You were like an angel on a bike that I wish crashed into me - m4w (Gold st 5pm)
Date: 2011-03-15, 12:33AM EDT

As I was crossing the streeet, staring into my iphone trying to follow the directions it was giving me, I'm looking at it, and then up at the building not sure I got the right place; "was it 306 or 308 Gold st...." I stepped out into the road cause the traffic on this street was heading east from where I was coming and I didn't hear anything coming, and I did so without much caution. Ah, but I sense something is headed straight for me coming the opposite way the traffic should be moving. I look up and this beautiful girl on a bike is cruising toward me. She's seen me long before I knew I was stepping into the street I suspect. My blank look of dull electronic affixation is soon uncontrollably turned into a smile as my eyes meet her own. She smiles back, and my mind is instantly thinking about how to get her off that bike and into my world. A beautiful dark hair girl. I snap back down to see where my feet are moving and then back up to see her pass, smile still in place. She's peddling out of my life and I stand there in the middle of the street still, smiling myself, looking around to see if anyone else saw this and could tell me if I am actually apart of this. I stand there and look at the spot where I just was and that she rode over. I remain frozen thinking how cruel the universe is for not making me about two seconds later than I was, if only there had been some fat woman walking up the subway steps four blocks back, she would have slowed me down enough for this beautiful girl to have smashed her bike into me. And then we'd be in a pile right there on that spot pissed at each other, or laughing if no one got hurt. And I would have heard her speak. And I would have stole a line from a Bill Murray movie and asked her if she came this way often so I'd be sure to stay on the other side of the street. And I think...I hope I would have been smart enough to get her phone number...for insurance purposes of course. Maybe I'll be there same time tomorrow....maybe she can hit me then.


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