Thursday, 12 May 2011

Hey, Salmon: Go Film Yourself

Earlier this week, I found myself plying one of New York City's newer bike lanes during rush hour. I was astride my "smugness flotilla," and my wardrobe was "cycle chic" (assuming you consider crusty babyfood stains "chic" like I do). The weather was perfect--not so cold that you needed a jacket, but not so warm that you'd start sweating and re-liquefying your babyfood stains. For just a moment, if you squinted to the point where you couldn't read the anti-NYPD graffiti on the Manhattan Bridge, you could almost pretend you were living someplace where it was all right to ride a bicycle.

Of course, what I temporarily forgot was that my slow rate of speed, my tremendous bicycle, my empty Xtracycle Peapod, and my generally schmutzy appearance marked me as easy prey for the legions of New York City's commuter (or "Cat 6") racers. I was a container ship brimming with consumer goods and sitting low in the water, the bike lane was a strait, and the Cat 6 racers were Somali pirates. One by one, they attacked me: a fixie shot by me on my left; a road bike with no bar tape flew by on the right; some crude first attempt at turning an old crappy 10 speed into a randonneur bike sat on my wheel for awhile and then came around me for the intermediate sprint points. I was under heavy fire, and no matter how vigorously I wagged my white flag of surrender I was given no quarter.

Finally, a textbook Nü-Fred with brand-new tattoos and riding a brand-new fixie blasted by me in the painted buffer. As he approached the intersection, he cut right, at which point his bicycle slid out from under him and he tumbled unharmed to a halt in the crosswalk. "I have no idea what just happened," he remarked as I passed, even though what had just happened was completely obvious. Leaving him to assess the damage to his off-the-rack "My Little Pony" bike, I continued on my way.

I maintain that the DOT should not be calling cyclists "jerks," but at the same time it's difficult to deny that it could be years before the denizens of the latest non-coasting bike boom figure out how to operate their machines. And you really can't blame them for being confused. On one hand, the DOT is insulting them, and on the other their peers are telling them that fixed-gear riding is a Zen experience in which you're totally connected to the bike. No wonder the fallen Nü-Fred had no idea why he fell--as far as he knew, your fixed-gear bicycle is supposed to take care of everything for you.

It also doesn't help that these people seem to think that filming oneself is an essential part of the cycling experience. Regardless of how much ineptitude there is out there, I don't think you should ever need a license to ride a bicycle. However, I do think you should need a license in order to film yourself on a bicycle. As it is, bike shops must be keeping helmet cams right by the register next to the "hipster cysts," because no new bicycle owner seems to leave without one. Consider this embarrassing display, which features more salmoning than the Pitlochry fish ladder:

Here are the filmmaker and the star, two fearless douches about to conquer the streetz:

Sunglasses pulls off some impressive moves, but perhaps the most astounding one is the "double salmon." After salmoning on one side of the street, he heads into the crosswalk:

Crosses the traffic island:

And then resumes salmoning on the other side:

Until now, most commuter racers maintained the "double salmon" couldn't be done, and this should do for the world of Cat 6 racing what the McTwist did for vertical skateboarding.

Also, at one point, Sunglasses plays "chicken" with a guy on a folding bike:

Finally, Sunglasses and the filmmaker unwind at a neighborhood wine bar.

I can't wait until the sequel when Sunglasses starts learning to skid.

Speaking of art and inspiration, you may have seen on, in, or around the news that this Andy Warhol self-portrait from 1986 just sold for $27.5 million:

I was immediately taken by its resemblance to the logo for the 1980s underground band The Amebix, which was a butt-flap mainstay that is still worn today by Sarah Lawrence students who spend their summer vacations sticking it to their parents in Greenwich by hanging around Tompkins Square Park asking people for change:

The Amebix's use of this image predates the Warhol self-portrait, and while I'm sure they in turn took it from someplace else, it's nevertheless ironic that the Warhol commands a fortune, whereas the Amebix butt-flap will probably net you barely enough to buy yourself a vegan turkey sandwich.

It's difficult to say whether the Warhol sale will enhance or diminish the Amebix logo's "street cred." Similarly, it's unclear as to whether the fact that Minnesota is now the number one hipster state in Canada's lint trap will serve to bolster or undermine its hipster status:

Either way, I agree with many of the points in the above article, in particular the one about "fakerjack" Williamsburgers emulating Minnesotans. Also, I have no doubt believing that Minnesota is full of quirky people with alternative sensibilities, whereas outside of the hipster strongholds of the Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick "hipsteropolis," New York City and state mostly consists of people who are looking for an excuse to kick quirky people with alternative sensibilities square in the "pants yabbies." Most importantly, as the article points out, from a cycling perspective Minneapolis is even more Portland than Portland, and so that would appear to be that.

For this reason, the seller of this bike (forwarded to me by a reader) is poised to make a fortune, since any hipster decamping for Minnesota is going to need a "hipster sled," what with all that snow:

Forged by Druids near Stonehenge at the dawn of time in Nottingham, England -- this bicycle will give you unprecedented Street Cred.

It's a Hipster's Vintage Pimp Sled Dream come true.

Frame was stored in box for 5 years (1987-1992) before being built up. This is my baby, but it's time for an upgrade.

If that's a "Hipster's Vintage Pimp Sled Dream," then this bicycle (forwarded to me by another reader) is nothing short of a Tri-Dork With Severe Back Problems's Ultimate Fantasy:

Whereas this Softride-inspired city bike (forwarded by still another reader) is mostly just stupid:

Lastly, I'll remind you that the deadline for the "There Will Be Action Wipes" contest submissions is tomorrow, Friday the 13th, and if you're the superstitious sort you'll doubtless want to get yours in before that black day. I should also remind you that, in addition to Action Wipes, the winner gets a Liz Hatch DVD, which means if Bike Month has been treating you poorly you can simply stay inside having a "collabo" with yourself until June. And if you don't believe Action Wipes are the most action-packed wipes money can buy, just consider this endorsement from someone who was at Burning Man:

What folks at Burning Man have said...
(some have been edited for family friendliness)

"The moistened wiping choice of discriminating burners...These wipes
rock! I gave up a hand full of soviet war medals for them, but they were
worth every ounce of Russian pain and patience. Not only are they the
next best thing to actually having a shower, but they clean off playa dust
AND sticky bodily emissions with equal ease. Now there is no excuse for
grody crusty burners: erase 4 hours of white-out build up or last mondays
makeup and bindi adhesive with ease! The wipes easily fit in your pink fur
turban, rubber horse mask or utili...skirt... thingy.In any case they smell
incredible and get the dust out of your cracks at the same time! Everyone
will know you are an epicurean burner with gourmet sensibilities when
you proudly pull out these fancy alternatives to Huggies and Pampers. I
really did love them and gave them away and turned people on to them
all over the playa. Actually I got the comment a few times that I just
looked too fresh and clean. They were great. Thanks so much for the
wonderful gift."

I may have to start handing them out to the pretend squatters in Tomkins Square Park.


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