Thursday, 16 June 2011

Urban Exploration: I Once Was Found But Now I'm Found

(Okay, I removed the album cover.)

In yesterday's post, I mentioned a Kickstarter pitch involving a bicycle brake light. While I may have made light of this pitch, I assure you that I take the matter of bicycle illumination very seriously. Apparently, so do the French police, because they recently busted Giro d'Italia winner and indiscriminate meat eater Alberto Contador for training without lights on his bike:

Clearly French authorities have been taking their cues from the NYPD, though they're also woefully behind, since while they're still pestering cyclists the NYPD has moved on to more serious matters like arresting people for not playing chess:

Anyway, despite--or perhaps because of--the fact that he has won their eponymous tour three times, the police would not allow Contador to continue riding. Instead, he was forced to train in the French manner by giving up and putting his bike in the car. I'm sure Contador was not pleased, but to his credit he still managed to flash a desultory "fingerbang" before climbing inside:

Presumably Contador will be better prepared in the future, because bicycle blinky light concern Knog have just announced that they will make their first foray into Pro Tour sponsorship by providing him with a fingerbang-compatible "hipster cyst:"

The above model in the limited edition Giro d'Italia maglia rosa colorway will be available for only $175, though if you're handy you can also retrofit an ordinary pink "hipster cyst" to your own fingerbang by, well, placing it on your index finger.

Speaking of hipsters, not since the Europeans came to the Americas has a group of people proved so profoundly adept at "discovering" places that were already inhabited. Since arriving in Williamsburg way back in the 1990s, these bold urban pioneers have bravely explored the city astride fixed-gear bicycles festooned with "hipster cysts," and over the years they've discovered and settled exciting new neighborhoods that nobody knew existed except for everybody else.

In turn, these expeditions provide essential narratives for periodicals such as the New York Times, whose greatest journalistic strength is reporting on the unlikely corners of the city in which douchedom manages to take root. The latest installment in these Gentrification Chronicles is this article about how hipsters have found the Rockaways:

If you've read my book (and no, you cannot have your money back), you know I have a special connection to and affection for this peninsula. As a child, I rode her streets on my Tuff Wheel IIs; I thrilled to the undulations of the roller coaster at Playland; I pulled killy fish from her waters in a bottle baited with bread; and I pulled her tenacious ticks from my unmentionables.

For this reason, I had mixed feelings when I read this article. On one hand, I was pleased that people are finding what really is a beautiful place that in some places could stand to be beautified further by newcomers; on the other, I was horrified that it could be becoming "the new Bedford Avenue:"

Arriving by single-gear bicycle, Zipcar and the occasional skateboard, they’ve turned the once- neglected beach community into an anti-Hamptons, where polo games and Champagne galas have been replaced by bungalow barbecues and piña coladas at old Irish pubs. “The boardwalk is the new Bedford Avenue,” said Mr. Kaye, 34, referring to the cafe-clogged commercial spine of Williamsburg.

I can't imagine I'm alone in finding the prospect of an ironic Hamptons rather daunting. In particular, the big draw for hipsters seems to be Fort Tilden, a beach once touted in an Outlier press release as being "secret" and "accessible only by bike." Well, apparently the secret that was never a secret is now out, and hipsters are now flocking there so they don't have to cope with the sickening sight of children:

“I didn’t see one kid,” said Chris Martin, 27, a skateboarder and photographer from Williamsburg, who car-pooled to Fort Tilden on Memorial Day. “It was awesome.”

Take note Chris Martin, 27 year-old skateboarder from Williamsburg: when you look around and you don't see a kid, the kid is you.

Of course, no article about an up-and-coming gentrification hotspot would be complete without the dreaded "A" word:

Instead of freezer-burned hot dogs, Mr. Selig has created a kind of Brooklyn Flea by the sea, recruiting artisanal-minded vendors that send chowhound devotees into a lather.

Or without describing something totally mundane as a "movement:"

A unique scene has also emerged at Rippers, the boardwalk burger place near 86th Street that is a joint venture between Roberta’s and the Meat Hook, a butcher shop in Williamsburg born out of the nose-to-tail movement.

You may think "nose-to-tail movement" is simply a set of instructions for how to pet a cat (they don't like it when you pet them with the tail-to-nose movement), but you'd be wrong. Actually, the "nose-to-tail movement" is pretentious for eating a whole animal:

I've noticed a recent culinary trend in my Brooklyn community where restaurants are choosing to purchase entire animals raised naturally on nearby farms, butcher in house, and use most of their parts in the establishment's cuisine, leaving little animal to waste.

In other words, the "nose-to-tail movement" is a self-importantly nü-Brooklyn version of the "Clean Plate Club."

By the way, in other New York Times hipster news, Rockaway is also hotbed for bike polo:

Sure, the article is from 1902, but I have a feeling it may be poised for a comeback.

In any case, at the very least the people of Red Hook, Brooklyn can relax, since it looks like the New York Times has found another unique and transit-starved waterfront neighborhood to entertain itself with--at least until the summer's over. Also, if the hipsterization of the Rockaways continues, we should be in store for some exciting bike lane drama:

Just make sure your "single gear bicycle" and/or beach cruiser is equipped with a "Rockaway handgrip," as in this photograph sent to me by a reader:

Here's a closer look:

Actually, the reader spotted the bike in Salt Lake City, but it's a catchy name nevertheless.

Lastly, when I receive an email from a reader with the subject line "'fully loaded' touring bike pr0n," you can bet I'm all over it like hipsters on a childless beach:

"Fully Loaded" is clearly the "Barely Legal" of the beard-and-pannier set.


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