Friday, March 28, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jimmy eat crepe

I unfortunately won't be in attendance tonight, but the great Jim White plays the Crepe Place in Santa Cruz tonight...and he's got 10 miles to go on a nine mile road.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Today marks five years too long.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tag This!

The City of Santa Ana, California is down wit it yo.

And there's more!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A ride of solitude

Note: I’m trying to get this post down while the cement is still wet…so please bear with the bad grammar/spelling/thought processes/rambliness.

If you ever watch bike racing on TV you might have heard the announcers talk about a rider “turning himself inside-out” with a really hard effort. And on occasion I’d like to think that I myself have inverted my physiology in this overly dramatic hyperbolic way…pounding down the coast at 30 mph or charging up a hill in a tall gear or setting a relentless pace on a group ride. But I found myself inside-out in a different way on today's ride.

Riding one of my regular routes, I passed the spot where two cyclists were killed last weekend by a county deputy who had, apparently, fallen asleep at the wheel of his police car. It’s been all over the news and on my mind more than I care to admit. I knew the spot was coming up and I tried to steel myself to the sight of it…as I imagined there was a makeshift roadside memorial…photos, jerseys, water bottles, flowers, bike parts and other stuff all piled in homage.

Though only cruising at a casual pace, I instantaneously found myself short-of-breath and panicked. I was overcome by dread and fear and anger and an overwhelming sense of loss. Tears found my eyes and my heart felt like it would explode.

Next were thoughts of Bill, a co-worker who was killed by a truck last year on his bike. And Paul Clark, the brother of a friend who was mowed down out on Mines Road in the East Bay. And thoughts of the teacher killed on Mission Street in Santa Cruz last year and the kid on his fixie who died down near Seabright and the bastard who got out of his car and downed a beer after killing a guy on his bike last year on the Peninsula.

A scooter buddy of mine was clobbered head-on last week on Highway 9 by a goof who was speeding and overshot a turn, locked his brakes, crossed the double-yellow and, in fact, the entire lane of opposing traffic. Fortunately the car basically split in half and Josh “only” has two broken legs and a busted up shoulder and nine months until he can walk again.

And though it was a while ago, I still have visions of my best buddy Troy repeating himself over and over in a hospital bed after an SUV clipped him and kept going. He’s, thankfully, as back to ‘normal’ as he ever was.

But the fact remains that we are ever-fragile and delicate and exposed. Though we, some of us, look like Superheroes with our funny costumes when we ride, we are anything but. We have no Wonder Twin Powers or magic lassos or protective bubbles we can conjure up…in some cases don’t have any defense at all—not even a chance at an evasive maneuver.

Despite it all, I will not stop riding. I refuse to live a numb and muted life of fear. But I, however, want to do something about this shit.

I want to remind people that the comfort cocoon that is the modern American automobile is still a deadly if unintentional weapon that should be attentively and judiciously used. That the luxury which seems so alluring in cars equals insulation from reality and our fellow human beings. That we should not be using it as a phone booth, dining room, reading parlor or entertainment center. That we should consider what features might save somebody else’s life as well as their own like a smaller vehicle or anti-lock brakes or not putting shit on your car that eliminates its crumple zones—I truly believe that the crumple zone of the car that hit Josh is what saved his life and that the effective elimination of it on the police cruiser (it had a steel ‘grille guard’) added to the devastation in the bicycle collision.

I want to continue to work for more funding for bicycle and pedestrian safety; for bike lanes and trails; for driver awareness campaigns and rider education programs too. For us to stop pouring billions monthly into unjust wars and put it back into crumbling infrastructure and alternative intermodal transportation and under supported schools and law enforcement and services here at home.

I want riders to take off the fucking headphones—you need ALL of your senses ALL of the time. For them to ride safe bikes with real brakes and keep the fixed-gears on the track where they belong. And to follow traffic laws better and realize that riding is as much of a privilege as driving, even if it doesn’t require a license. Be predictable and visible and sensible. And wear a helmet—at work we get letters EVERY DAY from people who would otherwise be dead.

Yes, shit happens, as they say, and it always will. But some of it IS preventable. So please, let’s all slow down a bit. Let’s be more aware and less adversarial. I want it to stop. I don’t ever want to have to write a post like this about you. And I don’t want you to ever have to write a post like this about me.

Spring Training Baseball Results

White Sox 5, Cubs 3

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Daily Distractions

Click on the pic.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Creature from the Desk #9

Okay, this one is more part of the cube than the desk, but you can see it from the desk, so fair play.

As space has inexplicably become less available here at work, I've seen my bicycle get moved, knocked over, run into and tripped on. Being that I neither want to see it nor anyone hurt, I improvised a storage syetem out of some old bike rack parts sitting around. Just put the wheels in the track and lean it against the wall..voila! I may need to add some restraint to make it earthquake-safe...and my mountain bike handlebars may be too wide, but, we'll see!

And, yes I am aware that my desk is a friggin' rat's nest mess!

Oh how I miss the Ish

Material Issue's "Diane" from the 1991 album International Pop Overthrow.

I had 120 Minutes on the tele while I was washing dishes last night and I heard this video playing—I'd never seen it before, but I'd seen the band frequently back in the day. The "Ish" was one of those bands in the Chicago scene that seemed so destine to break out, but never really did. They wrote amazing little pop songs mostly about girls and heartbreak, with hooks and style unapologetically borrowed from the play books of fellow midwest power popsters Cheap Trick and Shoes.

Jim Ellison, the band's frontman, was a whisp-skinny but charismatic fellow whose onstage persona belied his odd look. I must have seen Material Issue a dozen times and was always amazed by Ellison's magnetism and presence. He had the moves, chops and bravado to take down Mick Jagger in his prime...and it was just so unexpected.

Tragically, Ellison took his own life back in 1996 amidst rumors of a bad relationship and depression stemming from the band's dismissal from Mercury Records. It's both sad and ironic that this fun bright little band would end on such a dark note.

The first line from the title track of International Pop Overthrow—"I was ridin' around with the radio up and the windows down"—sums up the spirit of Material Issue and, along with a fine spring day, describes the best way experience their music. Roll down the windows and dial it'll see what I mean .

Saturday, March 01, 2008

An open letter to Barack Obama

Dear Senator Obama-

I would like to congratulate you on your strong showing in the Democratic primaries thus far. Your charismatic and positive campaign has energized the country, awakened an apathetic sleeping giant and elevated the democratic process within the national consciousness. It’s heartening to see interest in this country’s political future overshadowing our obsession with celebrity culture. Well, maybe the two are merging a bit, but motivations aside, I credit you—what with your obvious intelligence, amazing gift for communication and that winning smile—for creating a whole new generation of political activism. Bravo…and I mean that sincerely.

The use of this photo to discredit Obama is reprehensible. His response has been underwhelming.

I should tell you that I did vote for you and while you did not win my state (California), you did garner a sizeable share of the state’s delegates, and should you win the nomination, you can count on my vote—and hopefully a Democratic majority from California—in the general election.

Something, however, has been bothering me and I’m hoping you can do something about it. It has to do with all the BS and misinformation that’s been going around about you. I believe it was the great American fictional mob character Tony Soprano who uttered the phrase “fucking internet” upon learning that his children had found out he was not in “waste management” as they had come to believe, but a criminal.

I imagine that you had a “fucking internet” moment of your own—in a reverse way—when all this crap about you began to circulate on the net. Who could blame you—they’re all lies orchestrated to misrepresent you as something you’re not…and that sucks. What sucks even more is that some people really do believe it, which is why you—wisely—have systematically denied and corrected these rumors.

The one thing that has really bummed me out is that in your denial of being a Muslim, you have not taken the opportunity to point out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Muslim. That, in fact, there are millions of Muslims around the world who themselves denounce the fundamentalist factions that give Islam a bad name. I mean, I was raised Catholic (though I’m out of practice, so-to-speak) and I have as much to do with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (also Catholic) as most Muslims have to do with Al-Qaeda.

The fact is that the Muslims are good people—at least as good as Jews and Catholics and Mormons and atheists and Protestants and Baptists and the good folks from your Church of Christ—who want nothing more than to live good lives and exercise the right to express their faith as they see fit.

I’ve noticed that you talk about change quite a bit. I agree that this country needs it badly. Here is an opportunity to walk the walk, sir. An opportunity to show that you are accepting and open minded and accommodating—unlike, say, the current administration. An opportunity to show that you are willing to do what’s right, despite political risk. An opportunity to defuse the prejudice and persecution Muslims have been increasingly subjected to since that fateful day in September 2001.

Please, Senator Obama, take this opportunity to lead by example and help start the healing.


Don P
San Jose, CA