Friday, December 21, 2007

Photo Phriday 12.21.07

LIVE! From Culver City!

Ahhh...Colorful Culver City, Cal-i-for-ni-a...

...home of the Kirk Douglass Theater...which has a box office with a hairstyle to match its namesake...

...also home to Lucy, Desi and Bubalu.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Today I Scanned Cheese

As I was waiting for the printer to warm up this AM, I grabbed this off a gift basket and scanned it not only to myself but to co-workers. Though I distributed it anonymously, most of them surmised who the culprit was. What can I say? My reputation preceeds me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I just got back from a ride and ate a burrito for lunch, but it's not enough. What I've really been craving--for a few days now--are some sour gummi somethings or those sour apple straws and the post-workout famine is allowing me to justify it. Unfortunately, the closest thing we have in our vending machine is Starburst and I'm going to spend all my crap food credits on those. I'm pretty sure they are made of plastic and I know they're not nearly sour enough, but they'll have to do.
The plastic Starburst wrapping machine must have been on 'tight' this week as it's nearly impossible to get the little individual wrappers off.
"What? Haven't you ever seen a grown man at work opening Starburst with a groady X-Acto knife?"
For the record I like Starburst flavors in this order:
1. Cherry
2. Lemon
3. Strawberry
4. Orange
Also, when I do eat sour gummi patch whatevers, I shake the extra sour sugar from the bottom of the package directly into my mouth. I've also been known to freebase pretzel salt. There's nothing to shake in Starburst.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Photo Phriday 12.7.07

Here I am hounding Naked Raygun vocalist Jeff Pizzati at the Blank Club on Wednesday. I wanted us to throw up the "312" but I ended up doing a dorky "thumbs-up" instead. Some things never change. Photo: Troy D.

I pedal thwacked my shin while mountain biking a couple months ago and opened up this pretty fountain of red. I probably should have gone in for a stitch or two, but I didn' kinda left a mark. Permanent like.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Smells Like Bacon

I took side streets part of the way to work today to avoid a slickery 280 on the first day of rain. And near the train station all that still stands of Stephen's Meat Products is their dancin' pig sign. The rest is just a dirt lot now. I think it had been closed for some time....but I'm glad they kept the sign, for now anyway. I was so excited, I got out the Instamatic and took a snap shot of it. And made a t-shirt out of can get one here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Photo Phriday 11.30.07

Photo stolen from

Santa Cruz local pro bike honch and all around good tall goofy guy Barry Wicks won the Single Speed Cyclo Cross World Championships a couple of weeks ago and wasted no time donning the gold lamme world championship Speedo--he changed into it on the podium upon presentation. For that, more than his win, I salute him.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Yeah, I'm pretty juvenile

Someone sent me Harry and David's Mixed Muts....huhuhuhuhu. I said "mixed nuts."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

One Week from Today

A history of Free Shit courtesy of Naked Raygun.

Blank Club - San Jose - Tuesday(oops) Wednesday, December 5, 2007

They just don't make 'em like this anymore.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Photo Phriday 11.16.07

I spent the better part of last week on the road, working in Seattle and Boulder. Yes, there are worse places on the planet. And the rain was actually refreshing up in the Northwest. Anywho, my mission in these locales is a secret, but here are some spy shots...

UW Aeronautics Lab Wind Tunnel.

Hey, I got an idea...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Separation Monday

The diffused grey light streaming in the tall windows on an overcast Monday is my best friend as I polish off a second double latte. My head has one of those soft throbs right now that comes from two or three too many cheap beers which are inevitably followed by a fitful night’s sleep. It’s not that split-your-head-open-with-an-axe kind of hangover or anything…I wasn’t even close to drunk—just one or two more than advisable while Chuck and I played air hockey and pool and foosball and Golden Tee and Big Game Hunter at the Walrus last night. And I’ll only mention the peanut fight to point out that I think bar owners should be tolerant of naturally occurring low-level projectile skirmishes when they practically encourage them by placing large barrels of in-the-shell salted nuts within arms reach of the bar. It’s not like we hit anyone but each other. But I digress. No, I’ve just got this velvet hammering that comes with the diminishment of the youthful resilience that used to absorb such things. It doesn’t help that the barista has been playing an endless succession of live Grateful Dead recordings either. It would be so relatively comfortable otherwise.


Ahh. I just dialed up The Head on the Door on my iPod and that helps. I should mention I’m in my fourth hour at a downtown Boulder, Colorado coffee shop. Why I’m here is really an accident…or at least a mistake. I’m supposed to attend a meeting as proxy for the president of our division that he told me was today. It’s not…it’s tomorrow, so I’ve re-scheduled flights and hotels and have made this corner table my office for the day. I’m actually getting more done than I would in the office on a typical day, what without the phone and the drop-bys and such. I also feel I'm in a span of happy serendipity, which I hope continues.

Last night, before the beer and the flying peanuts and dead digital deer, we went to a nice dinner. As we entered the restaurant, some lyrics from a band I saw last Tuesday in San Francisco, The Hold Steady, were running through my head:

How am I supposed to know that you're high
if you wont let me touch you?
How am i supposed to know that you're high
if you wont even dance?

And then WHAM! Down the bar sits Craig Finn, lead singer of said band. In the flesh. On a bar stool. Looking like my coworker Phil’s older brother and all. I mean, how fucking weird is that?! Sure an Elvis or Curt Cobain or Elliott Smith sighting might have been stranger, but only because they’re alleged to be dead. I was literally humming this guy’s song in my head when I looked up to see him! I got inexplicably tingly with goose bumps and wondered if I were dead.

Anyway, I pointed him out to Chuck, then kind of felt my arms as if this would be some assurance that I wasn’t hallucinating after being hit by a car or meteor or something.

Trying to be nonchalant and un-superfanish, I walked up to Craig and thanked him for putting on a great show in San Francisco last week…he graciously said thanks in an almost bashful way. The woman he was chatting with gave off an incredulous laugh as if to say “wow, he really is a rock star.” We ate dinner, they ate dinner. We went to the Walrus and The Hold Steady played the Fox Theater…which I only found out afterward.

I’m feeling compelled to make the trip to Denver where they’re playing tonight, but I have a hob knob dinner in advance of the meeting I’m here for.

Damn responsibilities.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Photo Phriday 11.9.07

My parents paid a visit last weekend. They're funny. And they like their clip-on sunglasses. We went to Body Worlds2, which was kinda cool, though I think my dad likes his Ben & Jerry's infinitely better.


Don v1.0

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bizzare Nostalgia Triangle

10:07 p.m. - I'm totally digging this video right now on 120 Minutes:

Now I understand how people of a certain age can still love a band like Kansas.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Photo Phriday

I heart my scooter. We rode to work today and it was fun if not a little nippy.

Somebody left this on my desk the other day. Not sure who, not sure why. But I scanned it. And it smells tapey.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween at Work

The costume contest was tight and good as usual despite the departure of the perennial powerhouse Andrew F.

Angie R. got first with her 'Flower Pot' costume, Ryan P. was second with 'Jack' and Chuck P. was third with 'Bathroom Attendant."

Taking a poop at work has never been more luxurious.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bourbon Street, New Orleans 1955

"Man with garter" © George S. Zimbel 2007
I ran across this gallery online. So very cool.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Time to Get Sweaty

From Chicago's finest forges comes the mighty Raygun.
The Blank Club - San Jose - December 5th - 12 Measly Bucks
Buy Tickets Here

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Interbike '07 Part 2: Nic Nac Pattywhack

Knog slings bags for your inner hipster
So there’s this little company called Knog and I’m not sure what their deal is entirely (What do I look like, a reporter?). A couple years ago they came out with this coolish gelatinous little blinky light called the Knog Frog that you could attach rubber band-style to just about anything you can wrap it around…handlebars, seat post, frame tubes, etc. It doesn’t throw a ton of light, but it gives you a snowball’s chance of being seen before that Hummer’s brush guard processes you into a bag of tissue.

I like the Knog light’s industrial design…I’m pretty sure it’s what’s called a “blobject”; something that has an almost organic shape to it, roughly based on a blob of goo, as opposed to something angular or sculpted. The fact that it’s adaptable and doesn’t need a mounting bracket makes it exceptionally practical as well as good-looking.

Anyway, these Knog dudes apparently also do bags and have jumped on the messenger bag bandwagon. And while I’m perhaps a little too cynical and uncool for this brakeless fixie hipster playing-card-in-my-spokes I-look-like-messenger-but-I’ve-never-messengered-anything-but-a-pack-of-Pall Malls *THING* that’s going on, the Knogster’s have probably hit a home run with a couple of these bags.

There’s the naked bag, with the cool naked people on it showing dick and tits and stuff. It also says something cool on the inside flap like “Oh yeah? Well it’s better than television,” but I just made that up. I can’t remember what it says, but it says something infinitely clever and is printed in one of those scratchy kinda hand drawn fonts.

Then there’s the blueish one with the dude carrying the hotty on his top tube, kinda between this forearms. That one is stylie and cool too. I dunno if it says anything on the flap because I didn’t look.

Of hotdogs and shoe fetishes

Duffs had a skate-style shoe called Sweet Lou that I really liked. Mostly because its light blue argyle pattern looks like the packaging of the world’s best hot dog--the Superdawg...available at the corner of Milwaukee and Devon and Nagle in Chicago. I think they would sell a lot more shoes if they merchandised them with a Superdawg inside, but that’s just me.

Sidi had a new road shoe with a neon green heel cup. I’m not really a neon green kinda guy, but I found myself drawn to it. I think they retail for like $6K or something, but at least they’re made in Italy. And they have a green heel cup.

Despite Sirens, TI still serving up good, clean fun
OK, so this last thing wasn’t so much at the show as next to it, but I need to give props once again to the bars of soap they put in the shower at the TI hotel (formerly known as Treasure Island until they decided to slut up the pirate show, now called The Sirens of TI, and go more adulty). Anyway, the bars of soap there are nubbed for your pleasure! When you use it on your shoulders, it’s kind of like a mini massage! When you set it into the soap tray, it doesn’t turn into a bar of mush! The ingenious little nubs suspend it a few centimeters in the air and allow the whole bar to dry! When you use it the next time there’s none of that gloopy glop! Genius! Pure freakin’ genius!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Interbike '07 Part 1 - Sexy, cool and crazy

I’ve been stewing on my Interbike observations for a couple weeks, but had little time to get them down until now. I’m thinking I’ll do this in installments so that my six regular readers are not overwhelmed. I know you’re all busy. In any case, I hope you enjoy.

Pinarello brings sexy back
I’m not sure if it’s the same with all guys but I have some quite vivid recollections of my earliest arousals. I say this not to be boastful or anything, but as a matter of fact. Like the sunrise or the tides, it is just one of those things…I have a memory for boners.

When I was 11 or 12, I recall seeing a photograph of a wetsuit-clad beauty sauntering out of the ocean, flippers mask and snorkel in hand and a come-hither half smile on her face. She was radiant. And wet and exotic. The setting sun lighted her long wet hair to perfection. The tightness of the black neoprene transmitted her perfect shape in a way more revealing than if she were wearing nothing at all. The just-shy-of-navel unzippedness of her top tantalizingly hinted at her curvaceous breasts and the neon yellow accents of the wetsuit brought it all home with a snap of dazzling color. This was no girly mag, mind you, it was either the Dacor Scuba catalog or Popular Mechanics or something else equally benign. But in the early stages of my hormonal upheaval it might as well have been Penthouse or Hustler or OnTV’s late night programming.

And while the new, curvaceous, flat black carbon and tennis ball yellow Pinarello Prince did not, in fact, pitch a tent in my pants, I must admit that I did linger on the thought of it between my legs. I have no idea what it weighs or how it rides or what gruppo it comes with or what it costs, it’s just the sexiest bike I’ve ever seen.

Crazy and cool: Richard Byrne's repro Masi Special
Possibly the coolest bike at the show was one that was not for sale. It belongs to Richard Byrne, founder, owner and principal of Speedplay Pedals, who was at the show ostensibly to sell pedals, but who I suspect was having way more fun showing off his latest flight of fancy—a custom-built Masi reproduction of a classic original Masi Special, which he also owns. To clarify, yes, he has a fully in-tact 1961 original, and, yes, he now has an exact custom-built replica frame clad with original 1961 parts.

I say the following with admiration and respect—Richard Byrne is fucking crazy.

Restoring an old bike to its former glory—that’s one thing. Commissioning someone to build a frame that looks like an old frame, well that’s another one thing. Scouring earth and internet, and taking literally years to find each and every long-extinct original part that came on the original frame…down to the decals and pedal straps? That’s insanity. Sheer craziness.

I should be so crazy. We all should.

PS – Speedplay makes awesome pedals and the full details of Richard’s Masi can be found here on their web site.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

You know your fugly when...

You get the following note with your license from the DMV...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Red Light on Black Francis

Whether you call him Black Francis or Frank Black or Charles Thompson IV or that guy from the Pixies, this rotundish ball of sweatiness rocks. Here Frank churns out "Motorway to Roswell" during a sparsely attended show at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz on Monday night.

$300 Jeans are Not in My Genes

"Why yes I have been waiting nearly two years to figure out a vaguely plausable excuse to put a picture of my own ass on my blog, thanks for asking."

So here I sit at my desk in $300 jeans. THREE HUNDRED DOLLAR JEANS…that’s fucking ridiculous. I, of course, did not pay $300 for them and I never would. I can have these for free—ZIP, ZERO, NO DOLLARS, FREE.99—but I just can't do it...I cannot wear $300 jeans. I am not a $300 jeans guy.

I think if I were sitting across the table from my dad and told him I had $300 jeans on he would smack me. Well, after that look and that slight choking noise and his half-sentence shock—“You gotta be…” he would trail off, then WHACK! And I would be OK with that. He didn’t raise me to wear $300 jeans. It’s bad enough his son thinks he’s more Italian than he really is…that he shaves his legs and rides his bicycle all the time…that he lives in California…$300 jeans—Hells no!

Principle aside, these jeans ain’t all that. They make my ass look flat(er), the faux warn finish looks too faux, and—worst of all—they keep binding my nuts. Did I mention they cost 300 f-ing dollars? For 300 clams they should at the very least make coffee, fetch the paper and trim my nosehairs. And the oh-aren’t-we-super-fucking-edgy-because-we-applique-scary-skulls-on-the-ass-pockets-of-these-overpriced-clubjamas are just…dumb. A pirate wouldn’t be caught dead in these and they love skulls! Shit, I love skulls—and pirates!—but these just seem so contrived!

Nope, these are just not me and when I’m done typing and posting this, I will—carefully, so as not to rupture myself—remove them and return them, respectfully, to the giver of the jeans with the following note:

“Thank you but $300 jeans are just not in my genes.”

Superheros on Bikes

Were I going to be in town a week from Friday, I would go to this. In my absence, please go. I will be thinking superheroic thoughts.


Monday Morning Irony

So there we were in line at Noah's and just as Andy started telling me about the leak in his bathtub wreaking havoc on his home, Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" comes on the radio. I know, I'm a total geek for making the connection, but you can't script that shit!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cycling Tip #751

Never jam your freshly used cycling shorts in the same bag with your favorite hat. Your hat will smell like ass.

Friday, September 21, 2007

This morning I saw Jesus...

...on the back of a tow truck.

The secret of my success

I'm officially ready for Interbike.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I like the Portland

In advance of next week's big industry trade show, a small away team from the Marketing Mothership made a trip up to Portland, Ore. to check out our just-completed new booth.

"Booth" is a funny thing to call it if you ask me...when I think of booths, I think greasy spoon restaraunts, or hard-to-close glass boxes with telephones in them, or the place where you confess your sins to the good father, or that seedy little shithole in San Francisco where Chuck took me to see the girls spank each other--a booth whose walls you dare not touch and whose floor makes you consider burning your shoes. No, a booth it is not.

Neither is it a "stand" as the english like to call it. A stand is a little kiosk where you buy flowers or newspapers or hotdogs. Though I like the lot of those things, we sell none--we sell helmets. And who ever heard of a helmet stand? So a stand won't stand either.

Truth to tell this new canvass of marketing our wares is kind of stadium-looking, though that would be overstating it. And besides there's no grandstands, which I would think is a prerequisite, so stadium won't do either. I think I'll just go kinda Children's Museum on it and call it a "Helmetorium." And it is so.

All that aside, the gist of this rant is that it was a good day with a good vibe in a nice place with nice people. Which is to say it was an exceptional work day.

An early rise and on the first flight we were on the way to Portland. It was actually only my third time to PDX, the first being oh 10-12 years ago when my best friend Dan lived there. I went on New Year's holiday and it was rainy and grey but I remember doing a nice hike and a run in the mountains and watching Beavis and Butthead until we were numb.

The next time Dan was getting married and that was fun and we ate a restaraunt under a bridge called Montage where they made funny animals out of the tin foil they wrapped our leftovers in. The servers were somehow surly but nice and unpretentious...and they served Rainer beer as if it were Dom Perignon.

So this time was for work, but the folks who built our helmetarium feel like friends more than vendors and I like that, so it fells less like work work. They're laid-back and treat us as nicely as they do Sony, their biggest client, who last time I went to E3 had a $50 million booth just for Playstation 2 (see Captain Mullet above).

In any case, the ride from the airport to suburban Hillsboro reminded me how beautiful Portland is. For some reason everything I saw was exciting and intriguing--bikes everywhere, people paddling kayaks everywhere, bridges sprawling majestically everywhere... even the used office furniture stores that were everywhere held some inordinate allure. I so wanted to check out this funky optical shop that looked like they had some awesome top it off, their bike rack that was shaped like a giant pair of horn rimmed glasses! And did I mention the bungalows? It was just one of those days.

Arriving at the office we were not surprised that our helmetorium looks amazing. Though some $49.99 million less than the Playstation booth, I still think it looks like a million bucks. Or it will. It was partially assembled to give us the look-and-feel and to iron out a few last details. It needs to be in Vegas on Saturday, so they were literally taking sections apart and packing them minutes after we examined them.

Late in the afternoon we whisked back to the airport only find out that our flight had been delayed. After catching up on emails and phone calls, we wandered a bit and found this awesome Lego display and went forth quickly to creating a Cubist interpretation of Portland's bridges (again, photos above).

I think the children in the airport were frightened by our determined and frenzied pace as they dare not approach the playspace--though, truthfully, we would not have dissuaded them. We were all just kids for a while and duly dissapointed when our flight was finally called.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fishing for Vespas: A Lunker Bass Story

So it’s been a long time since I actually put pen to paper here, or pixel to plasma as the case may be, but life has been busy…good but busy. So without further apology, I continue…

I posted the photos of the Vespa without much explanation, but there is a bit of backstory and it’s kinda fun and potentially wordy. What can I say? It's feast or famine with me sometimes.

I think my first or second post ever to this here blogosphere was an admission of lust for a scooter…the Genuine Stella to be exact, an updated knock-off of the vaunted classic Vespa P-Series, made at a former Vespa plant in India. Reasons of practicality put my scooter dream on the way back burner for a time and in the interim Genuine stopped production of the Stella in the midst of a labor dispute that saw the factory shut down.

Random re-ignition
Fast-forward a few dozen months and a random series of events started the boulder named scooter on down the mountain again. And while my nostalgic side really wanted to go the vintage route, I ultimately targeted on a so-called ‘modern Vespa’—a late model, if you will, as my scoot of choice.

Without the time for a restoration project, not to mention my general lack of combustion engine aptitude, the modern bikes really serve my purposes much better, even if they lack a bit of romance. I know me, and I’m happier with the emphasis on riding rather than wrenching…not that the notion of beautiful plumes of blue smoke and visions of I, standing gallantly roadside, the wind ruffling my checkerboard scarf while I deftly clean the points of a fouled spark plug don’t truly hold a certain appeal. It’s just that without whole bunches of modifications I’m not equipped to do, the performance and reliability of the vintage bikes doesn't match the demands of modern traffic...not to mention my hamfistedness. Eventually I want to make riding the thing to work a viable option—the idea being to replace some car miles with bike miles—so modern it is.

Divining the bike
Was it obsessive to engage in marathon sessions that repeatedly lasted to the wee hours? Perhaps. But it seems to me that some amount of immersion is often needed as a litmus test to verify whether something is a true desire or just a passing fancy. It was also a great and necessary education…a way of figuring out what matters in a bike philosophically, mechanically and spiritually.

First I eliminated the ET-series bikes—now discontinued, they seem a bit underpowered and are styled a bit too modern for me…kind of a funky cross between a spaceship and a ladybug. Cool in their own way, but not in the classic sense that I favor.

Vespa's more classic-looking LX, GT and GTS-bikes fit my aesthetic sensibilities better, but it was a tough choice between these—I like the size and general scooterness of their smaller LX-series. But the performance of the 200cc plus GT and GTS bikes—given my desire to eventually commute over the big hill to work—made them a more practical, and in some ways safer, choice. And the styling was just as good as the LX, just a bit supersized. As a bonus, the GT/GTS makes my ass look smaller.

So, OK, I’m now good with getting either a GT or GTS…200cc carburetted vs. 250cc fuel-injected with near equal horsepower and top-end, really not all that much of a difference. Same body size and style with a few more chrome bits on the GTS. I could go either way. Out of frugality, I decided to go the used route and regularly scour eBay and Craigslist as well as a few scooter sites for “the deal.”

The waiting game
With not much coming up locally and my conclusion that eBay is dicey at best for this kind of purchase—it costs about $500 to ship a scooter cross country and there is no chance to test ride or inspect—I focus on Craigslist, but open my search a bit and bookmark my CL Vespa search for some slightly more distant in-state locales—Monterey, Sacramento, LA and Orange County—just for shits and giggles.

It was at this point that I remember thinking the whole process was a lot like fishing.

Time to cut the line
The next morning--BAM!--an unbelievable listing pops up somewhat locally:
2005 Vespa GT200 - Santa Rosa - $1950...2,000 miles and minor scratches. Holy shit! The photos look OK but don't show much detail.

I call immediately and talk to the seller:
Yeah it runs great. Really nice scoot. You’ll really like it.
Fuck yeah I will.
Oh, but I don’t have a key for it and it will cost $650 at a dealer to get the thing re-keyed. Oh and it’s a salvaged title.
Thinking--What the fuck does 'salvaged title' actually mean?
Oh and it’s got a couple dents and scratches and I think it might have leaked some batter acid.
Hmmm. do you know it "runs great” if you don’t have a key to start it?
Oh well, I got it at an auction and I test rode it before the auction in the parking lot…and when I picked it up they had lost the key, but it was such a great deal, I just accepted it as-is…and that’s why I lowered my price.
Hmmm. So what auction did you get the bike at?
At an auction.
Yeah you told me that WHAT auction?
Oh, the one in...uh...Fremont.

Which one?
The one in Fremont.
Oh yeah, THAT one…maybe I’ll call you back.
Maybe not, Sketchmo.

Landing the marlin
A week later, trolling the ads one evening. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Then there it is—in my head the bobber dives deep:
Orange County Craigslist. 2004 Vespa GT200, 1718 miles, runs great, in very good shape, a few scratches, $2500. Good pictures, the scratches are minimal. No phone number, only email.

Hmmm, sounds a little, well, fishy, but what the hell:
FROM: Don P - 7:00PM
TO: CL Anonymous
Hi - VERY interested in your scooter. Does it have a clean title? What condition is it in? Does it run well? Where in Orange County are you?
FROM: Randy K - 7:20PM
TO: Don P
Wow, quick response. Anyway, clean title, it got knocked over once and has a few scratches on the cowl and trim (see attached pic), it runs excellent and I just replaced the battery with a sealed one.
– Randy K---., Aliso Viejo

GOOGLE SEARCH: Randy K---, Aliso Viejo

RESULTS: Elementary school teacher. Scuba instructor.
FROM: Don P - 7:45PM
TO: Randy K
Randy- I’m really interested. Really, really interested and I have the cash in hand. Only issue is that I live in San Jose. Can we talk on the phone about this? I can probably be there on Wednesday afternoon (it's Monday night).
I'll spare you another phone call transcript...after speaking with Randy for five minutes I had a good vibe and felt the guy was on the up-and-up. His dad bought the bike to carry around on his motor home and use at the RV parks he visited. Dad liked it but admitted it was a little too big to load and unload by himself all the time, so he gave it to Randy's wife who rode it three times and decided she liked air conditioning, her cell phone and the radio better than the wind in her hair. Randy has a Triumph and not much interest in scooters.

As I was first to inquire, he gave me the first shot and was true to his word—no less than 12 people ended up emailing him about it. My only fear was that someone would show up cash-in-hand before I could borrow a pickup and get down there.

But clearly it was meant to be. Fourteen hours of driving later, highly caffeinated and a bit lighter in the wallet, I rolled the Vespa off the ramp and down my driveway. Exhausted and happy, I dubbed him Prosciutto in honor of my favorite Italian cold cut. The name was partially inspired—rhymatically so—by Phil Rizzuto, the diminutive Yankee shortstop who passed during my journey south. Though small in stature Rizzuto was known for good defense, clutch hitting and great speed on the bases. His nickname—"The Scooter."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Kiwis kill it in new HBO series 'Conchords'

I really like Flight of the Conchords on HBO. Funny as funk. And even if you don’t have HBO you can watch it on YouTube…at least for now (each episode has been uploaded in three parts).

Rhymenocerous vs. Hiphopopotomus is prolly my favorite thus far:

Ode to Ben Jacques-Maynes

My favorite local mountain bike spot is Soquel Demonstration Forest, a gem of a forest about half way between Santa Cruz and the Santa Clara Valley. To get there one travels southeast from the Highway 17 summit along a snakey, crumbling barely two lane road called Highland Way. It’s prone to slides and washouts, has more than its share of potholes and, while paved, drives more like a Jeep road than a freeway.

About half way out, the undulating route tilts slightly downhill towards Demo and it is here that I came upon local bike racing luminary Ben Jacques-Maynes on a training ride a few weeks ago. After catching up to him at this point—in my car mind you—I soon realized that, because of the down slope, it would be dangerous if not impossible to pass him for the next couple miles…which was actually just fine with me.

It’s not that I’m into men’s backsides or anything—I’m hopelessly hetero—but watching Ben was a beautiful thing. The stillness of his upper body and the effortless flow of his bike—into turns, over bumps, around rocks and holes—at close to 30mph—was just remarkable. I think there’s an unconscious efficiency that comes from riding a bike as much as he does…and it shows. I found myself hoping my form looks half as good.

At one point, a speeding pickup truck came barreling around a blind corner in the opposite direction and Ben dodged it with the ease and nonchalance of dodging a pebble.

Amidst all the doping hooha of the last couple Tours de France, it was a reminder that on whatever level, cycling is just a simple, beautiful sport.