Sunday, October 02, 2011

DoppelBacchanalia: The Sixth Annual Bootlegger's Bliss is Almost Upon Us......

"The majority of wines, almost all spirits, and every one of the beers whose memory I have evoked here have today completely lost their tastes — first on the world market and then locally — with the progress of industry as well as the disappearance or economic re-education of the social classes that had long remained independent of large industrial production, and so too of the various regulations that now prohibit virtually anything that is not industrially produced. The bottles, so that they can still be sold, have faithfully retained their labels; this attention to detail provides the assurance that one can photograph them as they used to be, not drink them." 
Guy Debord, "Panegyric - Volume I" (1989)
"Suffering results from constraint. A portion of pure delight, no matter how tiny, will hold it at bay.  To work for delight and authentic festivity is barely distinguishable from preparing for a general insurrection."
—Raoul Vaneigem, "The Revolution of Everyday Life"
"Sooner barbarity than boredom."
Theophile Gautier

This then, is it.  Again.

Fall returns. Leaves renounce their lofty perch and drift (dérive! dérive!) like wayward angels to the waiting earth.  The air, cool and crisp and clean, beckons smoke from blackened chimneys.  Autumn skies whisper elegies to summer evenings past.  The moon is a melancholy mirror.

And the dirt in Pennsylvania, the very dirt to which we all return one day, is already like poison in the wound.*

Now is the season when the Bliss reigns supreme.  Post-Halloween, pre-Thanksgiving, its timing is nothing if not divine.  And this year is different.  This year, the preternatural power of the Bliss to renounce the anhedral, stultifying grip of modern culture is two-fold.  The late, great Terrence McKenna, in speaking of hallucinogens, said, "When in doubt, double the dose."  Indeed.  The Bliss, second to no substance in its herculean ability to transcend the ordinary, to burn the paper throne beneath the ego's bloated ass, to rouse the sinful spirit from the plastic puppet that dutifully bends to the might of the moneyed marionettes, the Bliss, the Bliss is racing toward you on a fat-tired tandem, and over its shoulder can be seen a diabolical double, a dastardly doppelgänger, a querulous Quilty to the hapless Humbert at the helm, leering and drooling and laughing maniacally.  And hell-bent on destruction.

This, my friends, is going to be good.  Stay tuned.

*With profound apologies to the Potentate of Parody, the Prince of Prose, Vladimir Nabokov.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blissful Thinking...

To the two faithful readers who come back to this blog once a quarter to see if I’ve galvanized myself into throwing pixels on the page once again, I say, "Thank you for your misplaced fidelity!”  To those sloth-like embracers of pop technology who are pushed here via RSS feeds, I say, "Welcome back!"  And to the handful who are led astray each week by less discriminating search engines to find themselves run aground on this oft-barren beach, I say, "Better luck next time."

All these introductory words to say that, yes, the Sixth Annual Bootlegger's Bliss will indeed go down this fall.  Zealots of zymurgy, rejoice!

Here's the status and some fuzzy details:  I am anxiously awaiting word on the availability of a particular venue that would allow us the proper luxury of a two-day event.  The target date is the weekend of Satyrday, November 5 October 29.  Although it's a two-day event, I have taken pains to plan it in such a way as to allow those whose free time is limited the option of attending either one of the two days.  If I the two-day venue logistics don't pan out, then it's back to a one-day event, which would be the aforementioned Satyrday (11/5).  Partakers of Bliss's past can expect an email with details tomorrow evening.

If you haven't brewed, it's late, but you still have time, depending on the style.  My apologies for the procrastination.

Quick Summary of Tentative Details   
Date: Satyrday, October 29, 2011, through Stunday, October 30, 2011
Location: Awaiting Confirmation--if confirmed (likely), this will be a new and fantastic venue
Time:  11:00 a.m.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bikes, Beer, and "Bug"...

Hello, and welcome back. Let's get right down to it...

This Saturday is going to be busy for me. First, I'm putting on a SSOFTeam ride that incorporates the White's Ferry Loop (80+ miles)--in reverse--with the 4th Annual NOVA Summer Brewfest (50+ breweries), a brilliant combination that is guaranteed to press all the buttons on the pleasure/pain master panel and thus to meet with approving nods from the spectral crown of the Marquis himself.

Before I launch into what's next on the agenda for that day (see far below), here are the details for the ride:

Leesburg Loop of Lusty Libations
(Sponsored by The Bicycle Escape and Single Speed Outlaw Factory Team)
First half - C&O Canal Trail from Georgetown to White’s Ferry (near mile marker 35 on the C&O)
Second half - W&OD Trail from Leesburg (near W&OD mile marker 33) to Arlington, then Custis Trail to Georgetown
Date: Saturday, June 25, 2011, at 8 am (wheels down at 8:15 am)
Ride Level: Intermediate (due to distance)
Cost/fees: $1 per cyclist for White’s Ferry; $22.50 (in advance) per cyclist for the NOVA Summer Brewfest
Description: Get your brew on! Come on out for a day stuffed full of the best things in life—bikes, beer, food, and friends. The first half of this loop takes us along the scenic, historic C&O Canal Trail from
Georgetown to White’s Ferry, where we’ll hop aboard the ferry ($1 per cyclist) and float our way across the pristine waters of the Potomac. Once on the Virginia side of the river, we’ll pedal a couple miles along the wide shoulder of Route 15 in rural Leesburg, where we’ll arrive at a vast, open field that is the venue for the 4th Annual Northern Virginia Brewfest. This ‘fest never disappoints! After supping sudsy samples, gorging on grub, and shaking off the miles, we’ll get back on the bikes for the second half of the loop.
From Leesburg, we’ll take the W&OD Trail into Northern Arlington, and then switch to the Custis Trail for the final leg into Georgetown.
Some (other) important information:
• This loop is approximately 80 MILES long. Adding in a couple hours at the brewfest means that this is, essentially, an all-day event, even though we will be back before sunset. No promising the spouse you'll be home--sober--in plenty of time to shower and make dinner, yeah? (S)he ain't buying that shit, not again.
• The pace will be moderate, with short breaks each way as necessary. Though not a fast-paced ride, this one isn’t for people with questionable endurance. That said, no one will be left behind.
• The terrain varies from crushed limestone hard pack (C&O Canal Trail) to smooth asphalt (W&OD and Custis Trails). A ‘cross bike or similar with size 32 tires or wider is recommended, though if you have a plump ass, by all means, use it and go with skinnier treads.
• PARKING is available in the public (free!) parking lot at Teddy Roosevelt Island, just off the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The parking lot is located on the Virginia side of the Potomac, near Key Bridge, and is accessible only from the northbound lanes of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Northbound traffic: the entrance to the parking lot is located just north of the Roosevelt Bridge. Southbound traffic: take Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to Constitution Ave. Take a right on 23rd St. and cross Memorial Bridge. Once on the bridge, bear right to return to the GW Parkway.
• The closest METRO STATION is Rosslyn, less than a mile away. Metro permits bikes, so this is a good option if you can't bike to the start. Once off the metro, simply head toward Georgetown (Key Bridge), take the Mount Vernon Trail a very short winding distance downhill after the bridge and when the trail levels, you’re in the parking lot.
• There is a FEE to attend the brewfest. Tickets online are $22.50. If you’re not sure you can attend the ride, I suggest buying your ticket at the gate and not in advance. Also, there is a FEE of $1 to ride the ferry across the Potomac.
• Drinking and biking can be dangerous. Drink and bike responsibly! The brewfest is a sampling event, not an all-day bender. Neither I nor The Bicycle Escape (nor any employees thereof) assumes liability for anyone participating in this ride and/or in the activities surrounding it.  Participation in this ride and/or in the brewfest is entirely voluntary.
• The RAIN DATE for this event will be the very next day, Sunday, June, 26—tickets are good for either day, so if you buy a ticket in advance, no worries there. All other details remain the same.

Okay, that covers the ride and brewfest, for the most part. Now on to the second stage. Because I don't tolerate schedule conflicts very well, and because I have a predeliction for acting, then thinking, I'm tacking on another 10 to 15 miles roundtrip to attend the highly anticipated Dinosaur Jr. performance of "Bug" at the 9:30 Club in NW DC that night.

Now, the 9:30 Club has a pretty impressive line-up of beer on tap (see below). Add these to the stellar offerings I'm sure to encounter for most of the day, 4 ounces at a time, at Leesburg's version of Bacchanalia, and you can bet my liver is gonna be calling my brain all kinds of nasty names--some of which may confuse other parts of my body (think pelvic zone) who think they are being summoned--well into the early morning hours of Sunday.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Like Greyhounds in the Slips...

Outside the floor-to-ceiling windows of the bar, heat lightning flashes in the near distance, just over the top edge of the curiously perdurable Inns of Virginia hotel across the street from Mad Fox Brewing Company, where I sit alone among what could only be optimistically and loosely called a crowd. Still, they are a persistent, noisy lot, and one can only hope that their livers, like mine, are exceedingly forgiving.

The Vaya is all but built. I have only to cable up the derailleurs (what an alien undertaking!) and wrap the Woodchipper in fine Cinelli cork, and it's all ready for a ride. It's about damn time, isn't it? Should be fully beta-tested before RamJam next weekend, where I can better experience how it shines as a randonneuring rig.

Slightly related, I recently picked up a new IRO Phoenix frameset (linked pix are not mine)—due for delivery sometime this coming week—in black for $199 online, to go with the workhorse high-flange hubset (pink is the new pink, which is to say it's the old black) I all but stole from IRO for $40 a while back. This because, well, dammit, I absolutely need another bike!

Switching topics again, in a blatant by-proxy effort to roam and experience, I've started reading Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey, by a gentleman with the unlikely name of William Least Heat-Moon. (The titular Q-word denotes “a noun, both singular and plural, referring to anything strange, incongruous or peculiar; at its heart is the unknown, the mysterious.”) The book is a lengthy travelogue of sorts, full of colorful accounts of small town Americana, from what I've gathered. Heat-Moon, accompanied by his wife, to whom he gives the curious appellation Q (quoz?), makes a journey by car in a series of short trips that trace the itinerary of the 1804 Hunter-Dunbar Expedition (the wha? Yeah, me too). This route takes him through the small towns and lesser trafficked backroads of Arkansas, Louisiana. Florida, Maine, New Mexico, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, and Texas, if the Publishers Weekly and Booklist are to be believed. Since I haven't read the book, I can't really comment from my own perspective, but it seems like Heat-Moon's search for the holy quoz is a gasoline-powered variation on the dérive so enthusiastically and refreshingly endorsed by the SI, may they drift about in peace.

I am probably making a small mistake here, both in sequence and in preference, as Blue Highways, Heat-Moon's first literary undertaking, and the first of his books I perused, preceded this book by 16 years and is more highly regarded by the vox populi willing to peck at the keyboard to share its opinion. Finally getting it right can be a blessing and a curse, because expectations set the bar high. Still, moderate success beats failure any day, and I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy this book. It was, admittedly, an impulse buy. That's often how I find the best reads.

Specifics about my promotion at work remain nebulous; again, it's realization is a certainty, only the start date and salary remain unknown. Yeah, I think I fucked up, you don't have to say it. I am still restless; more so than ever. But there's still much left to do in the readying, much that is mandatory (the rest must be left to fickle Fate—anything overplanned is, almost by definition, sterile and lifeless and poisonously predictable), and I'll use the time wisely. On another front, I somehow managed to pass a background check required to volunteer my questionable mechanical and social skills to support Phoenix Bikes, a nonprofit LBS located at Shirlington Village in South Arlington, and dedicated to providing "affordable bikes and bike repair service to our community." It's a once-a-week gig. I'll be meeting with one Kelly Auer next Tuesday to kick it all off. I met with her briefly last week, and was surprised to learn that she, through at least one of the extremely young mechanics toiling there, had heard of my clan, the Single Speed Outlaw Factory Team (SSOFT). According to Kelly, the young wrench had recounted a race (my guess is Big Bear) he witnessed, describing us as "a bunch of older guys who were kicking ass on the younger guys," or something to that effect.


Yeah, okay.


So, suddenly, I'm a fucking self-appointed saint. Expect the end of days to follow shortly. I can only hope the staff at Phoenix don't judge me by my lack of head protection when I roll in on my commute home next week. Until then, I leave all 14 of you followers (the blog is dead...long live the blog!) with a salty salute. Happy life!

P.S., do I drink this beer the chick tending bar just bought me? I don't ignore the irony that answering such a question requires lofty contemplation among the warm, loving, effervescent company of yet another beer, but this one is free. Is there really a choice here? And beyond the brim of the pint glass, through the window, nestled up and away in the velvety plushness of approaching night, the lightning continues insistently its pyrotechnic posturing, mocking the continence of the clouds.

And no one notices.

We are but a flash. Burn brightly.

P.P.S., just because:

Lovely the suns were in those twilights warm,
And space profound, and strong life's pulsing flood,
In bending o'er you, queen of every charm,
I thought I breathed the perfume in your blood.
The suns were beauteous in those twilights warm.

—Charles Baudelaire, from "The Balcony"