20years ago today, Devlin took my camera and took this photo and fucking millennials cannot geek out and check the exact time and gps coordinates of the photo because it was black & white film in a real live camera before 9-11 when large office building lobbies had life size santa statues and not security guards in ill fitting blue blazers and oversized grey pants.
20 years later I'm wearing the same outfit except I ditched the Sidis because there is no reason to clip-in for the ride from Benson Hall to Bagley Hall and I traded that sweet Pearl Izumi national champ jacket --that I like to think was Rebecca Twigg's and she ditched all her stars & stripes after the 96 Olympics in a fit of rage and that jacket ended up at the Chicken Soup thrift store on the hill where I purchased it for $5 nwt -- for a Tuborg jersey at the CMWC philadelphia.
20 years and more of messengers bags and I had one T2 and one PAC and six DANK bags that I wore the shit out of lowering my right shoulder several centimeters hauling around legal documents and six packs of tall boys but that's Ortlieb in the photo and there's Ortlieb on my back as we speak
Once upon a time in a small nonprofit bike shop warehouse I refurbished 1,987 used bikes and stripped or recycled or hacksawed into cheater bars many thousands more. When I replaced the cables and housing on a bike I also replaced the straddle cables. When the inventory of straddle cables ran out I would use a brake cable. Just like I do on my own bikes. However I soon stopped cutting this corner on the job when the shop mechanics told me of customer complaints claiming they couldn’t get their wheels off because they couldn’t release their brakes because they couldn’t get a grip on the straddle cable because it was actually just a brake cable and had no place to grab on.
The other day after a day of riding in the rain I met my old lady for a couple beers and then she offered me a ride home. I said hell yes I’ll take a ride up the hill. I walked my bike over to the car and started to take off the front wheel so I could fit the thing in the hatchback over the kid seats but I couldn’t release the front brake. I couldn’t get the fucking straddle cable out. All I could hear was Steve Maluk’s voice saying “don’t do that” with Homer and Kellen in the background frowning and shaking their heads.
I ended up riding my bike home.
I plan to continue to use an old brake cable to straddle my cantilever brakes when I replace the cables on my own bikes. I recently replaced my brake pads on my daily commuter and the brakes are so tight right now even with the finest straddle cable in the world there’s not enough slack to release the calipers. But in a couple weeks there will be.
these two were in my living room the other day holding green keg cups and I didn't take a photo to re-enact the moment-of-yesteryear so I could compare and contrast and win on instagram. what i did do is keep my phone in my pocket and actually talk to people so you now have to visualize these two plus or minus 10 years holding green keg cups.
I'm not sure who took this photo in 2018 but I know that guy and there's been a lot of photo shoots and press releases and blah blahing about the final 50 fucking feet and sustainability and the what not but I want to see that thing --half stationary bike - half tractor trailer-- actually working in downtown Seattle.
be careful what you wish for Long Island City
Andy Voight took this photo of that guy at CMWC in September of 2003 and this is how it appeared on the inside cover of kickstand #17 in January 2004.
When I was a kid my mom took us in a ‘71 Monte Carlo on a road trip to Seattle and then all the way up into British Columbia almost to Alaska and back down and around. Stopping along the way in various hotels and restaurants. I was fond of collecting sugar packets from one and depositing them in another. Taking them out of context and putting them back in somewhere else down the road.
I’m still a big fan of repurposing things retrofitting or flipping it sideways and making an end table out of it. I like road signs in living rooms. I like collections of toaster ovens in surplus piles. I like to make artwork from hundreds of discarded bike computers. I really like free piles on the side of the road and I like to shop in thrift stores.
The other Saturday I saw this shirt hanging in a thrift store. It was already placed on the end of the rack which is the only reason I noticed it.
The only thing cooler than that is spotting a shirt that I made moving around on a complete stranger.
wearing layers when it’s cooler outside and as the day or activity warmed up he’d shed a layer or two then add one as needed.
Layer upon layer of black. He’d step into an elevator dressed in black and take off two layers before the mezzanine exiting still all in black. Like a birthday party clown trick. He kept taking off layers and no matter how you sliced it he was dressed in black.
Did you hear the one about the former bike messenger
Now a crusty commuter he still dresses in layers some of them black rolling into work and at work he’s sporting branded apparel approved by the trademarks and licensing office some of it black rolling around on an electric assist cargo bike provided by the large government-run organization. On cooler rainy days he may have up to 4 layers on and he can still do the birthday party clown trick shedding one or two and they keep coming up with that W on the left breast.
Did you hear the one about the Uber driver
That stopped in the middle of a 4-way stop intersection effectively blocking all traffic without a hint of a warning to unload passengers from 3 doors
It was a disgusting example of where we are today
A conservatively dressed older woman on an E-Lime bike bombed through the gridlock at full speed downhill slicing in and out of it all like a seasoned pro messenger. She completely owned it. And that made me smile and feel a just a little bit better about where we are.
Playing a little rugby at the finest liberal arts school in the country I sang that song with beer in hand while earning an anthropology degree to be put to use immediately in the food service industry then later used as a bike messenger later still at a small carbon fiber wheel manufacturer housed in an old Wallingford bakery heavily influenced by the aerospace industry followed soon after by a small nonprofit community bike shop in an old house in Columbia City.
I used to work in Chicago in an old department store.
I used to work at Mad Fiber I don’t work there anymore.
I used to work at Bike Works I don't work there anymore.
Yesterday Steve sent me this visual of a recent donation at Bike Works maybe you saw it on instagram like 18 hours ago but it brings back memories of sitting on a stool in a windowless room with semiadequate ventilation hunched over a Mad Fiber wheel that looked exactly like the last wheel and exactly like the next wheel grinding away with a dremel tool in hand wearing two pairs of gloves goggles ear protection and a respirator huffing acetone and carbon dust for 8 hours a day.
There's a very good chance that I bonded those spokes to those hub shells and or ground out the valve hole and cleaned up the over flowing super duper super glue and then wiped it all down with a shop rag drenched in acetone.
the other Tuesday I picked up a rather large box out in the 98115 and to bring it back into 98195 I used two long bungee cords to strap it on top of the cargo box. Rolling south I visualzed wind tunnel testing a cargo bike with a stack of boxes on top and it felt like this
finally, in conclusion, because I'm into product placement, brand recognition, consumer loyalty and buying locally I'd like to draw your attention to that slow boat water bottle from the Slow Boat Tavern in the heart of Hilman City.
Darwin was desperate for proof that animals wept. It wasn’t enough that houseflies hum in the key of F or that Dall sheep keep lifelong their horns, adding like trees a ring each year. Darwin wanted tears.
Being the only species that weeps was lonely, thought Darwin, dreaming of manic animals. No, it wasn’t enough that honey bees can count to four. Darwin wanted more.
Or less. Confess it— the reason why humans cry is the mess they fashion in comparison to the paradise they can imagine. Animals, if they imagine, must be less distressed by the severity of the disparity. Or maybe they have less disparity. Or less mess.
As to why Darwin hoped that animals cry we can only guess— which is a form of imagining, and could lead to the emergence of tears. Instead let us hum in the key of F and count to four or more. Or less, and know the aurora borealis as glimpsed through the fretwork of a construction crane is a metaphor for our brain and also an analogy for why we cry, all the while— like Darwin— humming against the immensity.
I read this on the Sheena Easton train printed on the acid-free archival-quality paper of The Threepenny Review and it changed my day
awkward socially to silky smooth any situationally
back slapping hand shaking small talking
there’s a spectrum for everyfuckingthing
the super recognizers you’ve read about on one end of the facial-recognition spectrum with the face-blind people at the other end
there are people like Stevil that can’t tell you what day it is or make plans involving a calendar on one end of the perpetual calendar spectrum while on the other extreme there are people that can tell you what day of the week your birthday will fall on in 2027 as well as what day of the week you were born back back back then in that year that you were born
There are people that use a highlighter to cross things out and a paragraph later use it again to highlight things and they expect you to know what they mean if you know what I mean
There are people that input an exact time into the microwave to reheat their lunch in the breakroom and there are people that eat their food at room temperature with a smile
20 years ago I poached this from Mudflap and reprinted it in one of the first issues of kickstand
For about 15 years as a commuter and a messenger I wore a bag on my right shoulder. Always on my right shoulder. From T2 to PAC to DANK with a brief interlude to an Ortlieb backpack and some legal messenger time with a DANK backpack I'd say 14 of those 15 years a one-strap bag was tugging on my right shoulder wearing holes in the right side of my shirts and jackets altering my skeletal system and the muscles that support it.
7.5 years ago I stopped wearing a one-shoulder bag but my right shoulder is still noticeably lower than my left and my right hip is noticeably higher than my left.
20 years later this cartoon speaks to me in a new way.
Dr 37 Mike gave me this book a couple three years ago and now that I’m a commuter zombie with some sitdown time built into my day I’ve finally read it. it’s pertnear 40 years old but I feel like it makes more sense than ever in these horseshit times we live in today these times of instant tap swipe gratification where’s my uber where’s my jimmy john where’s my amazon fresh. When news is only news for 24 seconds. Calm the fuck down and harden the fuck up. go for a walk from upstate New York to New Orleans in a pair of Chuck Taylors with a badass dog and a backpack.
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
I got this book for my birthday it's a novel that takes place in and around a video store in Nevada, Iowa in the late 1990’s. so right off the bat I was hooked because I’ve been to Nevada and I know how to pronounce it and actually I’ve been to a lot of towns in Iowa and I really appreciate the Iowa landscape and references in the book. In addition I’ve lived through the be-kind-rewind years and I remember the look and feel of VHS tapes and video stores and VCRs. This book is a VHS sized paperback packed in a plastic VHS case. It’s perfect light-rail reading in a durable versatile package.
You Think It, I’ll Say it by Curtis Sittenfeld
I got this book at my local library it's a collection of short stories some of which you’ve probably already read in the New Yorker. I’m a big fan of a story that can take me some place I’ve never been or someplace I go all the time but I thought I was the only one that hung out there until I read of a character that goes there too and and and all that and more happens in 20 pages...
a rolling infomation kiosk like one big bundle of answers on wheels. these maps were my idea a couple months back when I was getting lots of questions about buildings located on campus. this week the maps were finished and installed on the entire fleet of bikes although one rider removed his map after only a few minutes of riding because of the glare bouncing off the map and up into his eyeballs.
yesterday I narrowly missed the opportunity to photograph a man taking a photograph of the map on my bike.
into and out of existence less is more everything you need nothing you don’t those who say don’t know those who know don’t say it’s the same on the weekend as the rest of the days radiating from or contracting to the original source it won’t go away it will only change shape from nothingness to nothingness between renewal and decay somewhere along the way anywhere nowhere everywhere
that photo was taken today but those words were sequenced in 2009
I was in New Jersey the other day and my dad - my biological father read those words aloud and brought them to fresh spot in my brain as I didn't make them up I just strung them together nine or ten years ago.
I'm not sure how long that phone booth has been there or how long it will continue to be there but the phone still works and please make your check payable to US West Communications and make sure the address reads clearly through the envelope window.
he'd like to lift us up but we're a very heavy load
May 14, 2018
On a bike your consciousness is small. The harder you work, the smaller it gets. Every thought that arises is immediately and utterly true, every unexpected event is something you’d known all along but had only forgotten for a moment. A pounding riff from a song a bit of long division that starts over and over, a magnified anger at someone, is enough to fill your thoughts.
not to the Doug Nufer-level but from the perspective of an average urban cyclist hopping on a cargo bike with an 8 foot wheel base and 200lbs of cargo you can't just hop that curb and run up those 5 stairs and lean it against the window while you drop that package.
but when you try to see it from the perspective of an average urban delivery driver in a giant truck hopping on a cargo bike opens up a lot of new possibilities between the streets there are plenty of handi ramps bike paths sidewalks and gravel trails
it's a working model of The Travelling Salesman Problem each day out there with results presented in real time and if seat covers could talk this one would have some stories to tell as safety measures have been put in place by designers brogrammers and developers to prevent such things from happening please keep in mind the manual override option to reintroduce the potential for human error once in while as the weather warms cycling money back into the cycling economy all along the I-5 corridor I need another one of these and another one of these and couple of these in the 2018 Pantone color of the year
with some discussion of vehicular cycling in a previous post Alistair sent me a copy of the letter Roger Durham wrote to VeloNews in 1982 that was then reprinted in the Rivendell Reader in 1995. Durham's letter sums it up and says it better than I can say it myself.
when you google "the Roger Durham letter to VeloNews" you can find all kinds of discussion and cyclists yelling at each other, saying things like "you're making us all look bad" which I feel is a bunch of horseshit.
Durham is right on when he says watch how bike messengers flow through the city and learn how to limit your exposure time.
"now entering period of maximum constraint, doors to my right"
April 13, 2018
as founder and president of the profile design cup holders club the addition of this bottle cage to the work bike makes it more functional and personal and versatile. as you know these bottle cages cover any situation no matter where you find yourself on the coffee-beer continuum.
what would John Forester do?
blurring the line between vehicular cycling and jimmy johns
John Forester never rode a souped-up electric assist purple haze cargo bike with an 8' long wheel base around a college campus full of winding roads, slick bricks, dirt trails, side paths and loading docks sprinkled with 40,000 undergrads looking at their phones. while the jimmy johns tear it up I smile and continue on in a safe and predictable manner monday through friday.
one of the guys at DANK bags complained about the prominent product placement of a Bob Anderton coozie in a previous post so I took this photo of one of the very first DANK coozies ever made sitting on a LYON barstool made in Aurora, IL with a plywood seat cover made right here at pw hq.
when you get old you don't need to go out of your way to be old school.
no matter where you are on the coffee-beer continuum
it’s like the Cave Singers unmistakably coming through the sounds of 24 auto-flush urinals in the mens room at Sea-Tac airport
it’s the voice of reason speaking directly to me as I stared at a small turtle mowing on an overripe banana on a bed of lettuce in an aquarium in a pet store in the Sunset Square mall in Bellingham in 1993 that voice that voice that voice was telling me to live life now and not work at a job that sucks for 30 years with all eyes on retirement crossing off days on the calendar counting down the time to when I could really enjoy life
crossroads not that mall in Bellevue actual crossroads
it's still not really about the bike but I'm not worried about the transom window anymore although the coils and coils of coaxial cable deadheaded get my attention and the pockets of urban decay surrounded by urban renewal are like little oasi where it's ok to wear the wrong shoes and have a bad haircut
one of the guys down at DANK bags sent me this interesting photo of a silver minivan and Craig Etheridge on a cargo bike. If you're on instagram you know this is so 24 hours ago. But the last time Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day fell on the same day there was no instagram but there were bicycles in dense urban areas delivering the goods.
when I say controlled demolition you say Silverstein and I say yes but this is the other Silverstein and go ahead borrow my bike awhile we may not be on the same page today but we'll all get there eventually
perhaps 10 or 12 years isn't enough time passing to comment on historic significance. so for now I have no comment but in 2028 I'll have something to say. until then I will not be cutting any pizza with this thing.
ditch the drop bar and hack a riser bar down to 9" then spray paint the front wheel
some kind of a joke making progress towards some unattainable ideal talking to myself at the bus stop when I realize this isn’t a bus stop and I’m not making much progress riding a stationary bike watching CNN receiving compliments as well as criticism for the exact same thing what’s the difference it depends on your point of view
that's Andy Friday in the hiking boots. found this photo as I sorted through all my old photos of messengers drinking beer in "public"
a little bird told me that a couple messengers were given open container citations yesterday at this very spot. as Seattle grows at a record pace and thousands and thousands more people are wedged into the city, it seems to me that a messenger drinking a beer would be the lowest of the low priorities and I'm sure the interim police chief has bigger fish to fry.
it's not about the bike it's about the transom window
it's about coils and coils of coaxial cable deadheaded in the gutter
it's about urban decay nature taking over
it's rat traps and paint chips
it's moss vs pressure washer
it's urban renewal and street level retail
when it is about the bike it's about the Ritchey Force stem and the Ritchey Logic cranks and the really old steel frame and it's always going to be about thumb shifters but it's never going to be about hydraulic disc brakes
please take a moment to locate the pilderwasser sticker nearest you. keep in mind it may be behind you.
January 2, 2018
Chris Murray sent me this photo and I have some recollection of the events in question but I don't even know if he took it. however, since 2005 he has taken a shit load of RAGBRAI photos and maybe he saw me put up a shot of Dan from 2006 yesterday and felt like maybe I needed a dose of 2017. in any case he emailed it to me. my first two RAGBRAIs I didn't own a cellphone and Chris let me borrow his to call home a few times.