Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Doctor Is In...

In cyberspace, that is. Seems drj0n—soon to be of Single Speed World Championship fame (if he isn't already)—has pedaled into the virtual realm with a blog of his own.

Check out the Scotchman here. Good stuff from "the land of the mountain and the flood..."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mug Shot...

Yeah, shameless self-promotion. But hey, the image came out great, despite my neophyte status with Illustrator (of course, it helps to start with pen and ink). Gotta hand it to for making a one-off possible at a relatively affordable price. Image transfer is spot-on, mug is solid and capacious (15 ounces!), and the artwork is one of a kind, for what it's worth. And yes, that's coffee in the mug in the pic, though it seems to hold beer quite nicely, too.

Speaking of which, also available here is a pretty husky, 22 ounce beer stein sporting gold trim, for those of you who prefer downers to uppers. If you rode it, own it, at cost. Remember, when my oeuvre is hanging in the National Gallery of Art overlaying the Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein pieces (hell, this mug would be the perfect accessory to Duchamp's Fountain, n'est ce pas?), you won't be able to afford me, and I sure as hell ain't giving you a price break then, even if you're cute and charming. It'd be beneath me, and I ain't stoopin'. You've been warned.


(Just got back from my first team meeting at The Bicycle Escape in Frederick—more about which soon.)

"Art is a form. A form is something that does not exactly have a history, but a destiny. Art had a destiny. Today, art has fallen into value, and unfortunately at a time when values have suffered. Values: aesthetic value, commercial value...values can be negotiated, bought and sold, exchanged. Forms, as forms, cannot be exchanged for something else, they can only be exchanged among themselves, and the aesthetic illusion comes at that price. For example, in abstraction, when the object is deconstructed, when the world and reality are deconstructed, there is still a way to exchange the object in itself symbolically. But abstraction later became merely a pseudo-analytical procedure for decomposing reality, not deconstructing it. Something has fallen apart, perhaps through the sole effect of repetition."
—Jean Baudrillard, The Conspiracy of Art

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Into the Arms of Mother Night...

"Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt."
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
1922 - 2007

Internecine irony: I quote Baudrillard and express concern about the charge left on his lifetime battery. Less than five months later he takes a dirt bath. I quote Vonnegut only ten days ago. Now he's gone.

Who's next, Vaneigem?

Keyboard of Death.

Suddenly there are a handful of people I'd love to quote right now whom I'd otherwise prefer to ignore...

"Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Canine Cravings...

Iggy and the Stooges performing "I Wanna Be Your Dog" live at the 9:30 Club last Thursday/Friday. Unfortunately, the video fades before the song ends. Oh well.

Thanks to the Outlaw for tracking down this one.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Power's Still Raw!...

Met up with the Outlaw last Thursday evening at the 9:30 Club and pedaled over to trendy hipster Adams Morgan to hit The Reef for some preshow beer and eats. Zack managed to join us, and the three of us threw down several pints (Maredsous, Allagash Dubbel, Bell's Two Hearted Ale) and a bison burger before heading back down U Street and splitting up near the Club. Zack went his own way, and Joe and I locked up the CrossChecks outside and headed in for the show.

Iggy Pop turns 60 this month. But with the energy and physique of someone half his age, he delivered almost 90 minutes of raw power, highlighted by a couple of trademarked stage dives into the pulsing horde and backed by some of the original Stooges and the venerable former Minuteman Mike Watt on bass.

The voice was strong, the presence formidable and unrelenting, and the volume knob cranked to 11. If I had been rendered deaf before the show and could only witness the visual spectacle of this octo(soon to be sexa)genarian, it would have been well worth the price of admission. Even with the midnight start time.

Indulge in the audio portion now, courtesy of NPR.

The show set drew heavily from the Stooges latest release, The Weirdness. Memorable verbal interludes include:

"Turn those cheesy lights down, asshole!" (14:25 on the NPR recording)

"Sometimes, in the course of human events, people will say that you're fucking dirt."

"Fucking thanks for fucking showing up. We are...the fucking Stooges. We're happy—very, very happy—to be here; we'd be happy to be fucking anywhere!"

"I can't stand this bullshit anymore...I want a crazy invasion! Get up here, get up here...c'mon, break this shit down!...I want action! Action!"

Below are the best pix of the lot. Low light, a shaky hand, and an at times fiercely moving target conspired to render execrable (okay, shitty) my efforts to capture the magic. Gary, where the hell are you when I need you?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

From Aviemore, With Love...

'Av-yee-more?...what I'll be asking after downing the first pint of Scottish ale, no doubt:


You have sent us an email for entry to the SSWC 2007 on 1st & 2nd September 2007, Aviemore, Scotland.

The next stage will be to forward payment to us via Paypal which will secure your race number. The cost is xxGBP each. Send payment via Paypal to xxxxxxxxxxxxx. Please make sure to enter the names of all the riders that you are paying for in the "Message to Recipient" box.

We would ask to receive payment within the next 14 days. After that point we would feel obliged to pass the places on to others as entry has been oversubscribed. We hope this doesn't sound rude.

Once we have received payment we will return an email with your race number as soon as we can and that's it, you're in.

Thank you: we look forward to seeing you!


Chris, Jon and Marty"

Now to dig out my black mask, oil up the Glock, find a sack with a big $ on it, and head on down to the local bank to make the appropriate "withdrawal"...air fare to Scotland don't come cheap, baby!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Toasting Tristan...

Raise a frosty is the birthday of Romanian poet and founding father of Dada, Tristan Tzara. Or is it the 16th? matter, consensus is overrated. And anyway, two weeks is long enough to go between beers.

Or so I've heard.

"We have had enough of the intelligent movements that have stretched beyond measure our credulity in the benefits of science. What we want now is spontaneity. Not because it is better or more beautiful than anything else. But because everything that issues freely from ourselves, without the intervention of speculative ideas, represents us. We must intensify this quantity of life that readily spends itself in every quarter. Art is not the most precious manifestation of life. Art has not the celestial and universal value that people like to attribute to it. Life is far more interesting. Dada knows the correct measure that should be given to art: with subtle, perfidious methods, Dada introduces it into daily life. And vice versa. In art, Dada reduces everything to an initial simplicity, growing always more relative. It mingles its caprices with the chaotic wind of creation and the barbaric dances of savage tribes. It wants logic reduced to a personal minimum, while literature in its view should be primarily intended for the individual who makes it. Words have a weight of their own and lend themselves to abstract construction. The absurd has no terrors for me, for from a more exalted point of view everything in life seems absurd to me. Only the elasticity of our conventions creates a bond between disparate acts. The Beautiful and the True in art do not exist; what interests me is the intensity of a personality transposed directly, clearly into the work; the man and his vitality; the angle from which he regards the elements and in what manner he knows how to gather sensation, emotion, into a lacework of words and sentiments."
— Lecture on Dada, 1922

Monday, April 02, 2007

Karmic Relief...

"What is time? It is a snake which eats its own tail, like this..."
—from Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, referring to the serpent Ouroboros.

On my ride into work this morning, I came upon another rider fussing with her wheel on the side of the trail. Being the noble gentleman that I am, I stopped to ask whether she needed help. She did. Seems she had flatted twice already this fine spring morning on her way to work; once earlier with the rear wheel, which she fixed using her only spare tube, and again just before I found her.

The front wheel was the victim this time, its innards pierced by some invisible trail missle or friendly fire from an unfaithful rim. As McFate* would have it, I had two tubes in my pack, so I offered her one. She accepted it, but only after asking to buy it from me, a polite enough gesture I suppose, but one that destroys the karma of the gift. Of course I refused, thinking some random good luck in the near future was far more valuable than a few bucks in my pocket now.

I waited while she began installing the new tube after pulling out the old one and dropping it in the grass beside her, where it lay motionless like a dead snake, tail in mouth. She had only a CO2 inflater, no pump, and I wanted to be sure she would be on her way after the fix—those micro inflators can be capricious sometimes, and a new tube is no good if you can't breathe life into it. She seemed willing to chat a bit while she worked, and the day being as nice as it was, I was in no great hurry to get to the office anyway. The way I see it, time spent idly is never time wasted, and he who finds work for idle hands is indeed a devil, to paraphrase an old adage.

She was petite and young and attractive, clad in winter racing lycra that must have been a bit warm for the mild temperatures slowly heating up beneath a brilliant sun already high in its climb. Her hands were tiny and her fingers thin—a combination that seemed to offer little hope of success against a reluctant tire bead—and the nails were short and rounded, suggesting in their shape a sort of deliberate utilitarianism, like they were used to things like this. Her bike, upended with fork legs stabbing skyward like some rigor-mortised roadkill, was a light-blue Cannondale with those delicate looking, sparsely-spoked race wheels whose lacing pattern resembles nothing so much as an Iron Cross.

For the next few minutes, we talked about riding and flats and commuting and racing (yeah, I was lost on the last topic), about the privilege of being able to enjoy a ride on a morning like this one, and when it seemed she couldn't get the last bit of bead over the rim despite her best efforts, I offered to help, and she let me. The tire was slick from the dew on the grass, making the process tricky, but I strummed the stubborn bead into place, taking care not to pinch the new tube. In the meantime, I learned that she commuted from Vienna to Georgetown and back, some 26 miles in all, besting my daily jaunt by six miles, that she raced road for a women's team, that she hasn't strayed into mountain biking yet (but wants to), and that her name is Leslie. And then I handed the wheel back to her.

She thanked me and slid the wheel into the dropouts. I mounted up, said goodbye, and took off, with the idea of giving her some space to ride alone.

This evening, on my ride home, I got my payback in the form of a broken nipple on the drive side of the rear wheel, the clicking of the loose spoke finding its way through the gaps between tunes on my Shuffle to signal a warning. Sadguru works in mysterious ways. Or perhaps I've already squandered my good fortune in advance and am simply paying in arrears (even Karmic credit can bite you in the ass). That, or maybe 10,300 miles on a rear wheel that often shoulders the burden of full panniers and has trundled the length of the C&O Canal Trail is a lot to ask of one of my first builds.

Credit, first image (B&W invert): unknown
Credit, second image (B&W invert): Jen Woronow

*Humbert Humbert's term personifying the series of uncanny coincidences that Nabokov throws his way in the literary masterpiece Lolita.