Monday, March 27, 2006

Manly men...

“Manly men, doing manly things, in a manly way!”

Here’s another hairy-chested real man, who confuses sexuality with the clothing some people wear. I know a few just like him, guys who smoke unfiltered cigarettes, treat their wives like servants, and don’t know how to make a meal or even a cup of coffee for themselves. Real men, yeah. The chest-thumping display of manly testosterone is almost comic.

I think it was Robert Heinlein who said a man should be able to hit what he’s aiming at, plot a course, build a shelter, diaper a baby, skin a mule, and cook (or something close to that). His point, as I understand it, was to emphasize that a man has to be versatile. He has to do the nasty, dirty jobs as well as the fun, interesting ones, and he can’t let self-image or ego get in the way. ‘Cool’ doesn’t enter into it.

Self-image is at the top of the list for many people, whether they’re being ‘cool’ like this guy, or whether they’re wearing the latest pro team kit right down to the socks and sunglasses. But for many of us, performance is more relevant. (“Can this group beat me to the top of this hill?” is a question I’ve pondered on various group rides. The answer all too often is “Yes, they can!”) It really doesn’t matter if someone is wearing cutoffs and a t-shirt if he’s capable of riding in a group, sprinting, or climbing. It doesn’t matter if someone is wearing lycra cycling shorts while just riding to work. And it doesn’t matter is someone wants to (gasp!) WALK half a mile to school, or work, or the grocery store. The important thing is that they’re out doing what they want to do, without giving a tinker’s damn about what other people think. And that, my friend, is very cool.

These things almost always start off with “I ride a bicycle” then go off on some rant against cyclists. There’s a world of difference between a guy-on-a-bike and a cyclist. The guy-on-a-bike is a pedestrian on wheels, riding on sidewalks and against traffic. His skill consists of little more than the ability to balance.

We have a local journalist, another guy-on-a-bike, who does an annual column in the spring or summer about the maniacal drivers who won’t let him ride his bicycle on the road. When we’ve contacted him with an invitation to ride with the LCI group, he never returns calls or emails. He prefers cursing the darkness to lighting a candle. It’s difficult to reach people like him or this Suburban White Guy. Bicycling education isn’t ‘cool’ and it interferes with a good rant.

I own and occasionally ride a bicycle. Although I manage to do so without being a spandex-clad, cyborg-helmeted total fucking nerd. I make bike riding cool. Got an ashtray mounted on my handlebars, and a little tray that holds my smokes and a drink.

…we were headed north on Southview Drive. Those of you familiar with the area may know that Southview runs parellel to 291. Between Southview and 291, is a bicycle trail.

In front of us, ON THE STREET, not 5 feet away from the designated bicycle path, was a guy on a bike!! We had to slow to a CRAWL and wait for traffic in the other lane to clear before we could pass his obnoxious ass!… felt like opening my door as we went by and clobbering the geeky sonofabitch!

Every year, when I renew my car tags, I have to pay taxes and fees for the upkeep of the roads that I drive on. Fair enough. I understand the logic. I drive the roads...I pay for the roads.

What about those inconsiderate, nerdy fucking assholes on bicycles?? Why IN THE FUCK should I have to slow to a crawl or swerve into an opposing lane of traffic and take the chance of a head on collision with another TAX AND FEE PAYING CAR OWNER just to avoid taking out a few tree-hugging "cyclists" decked out in gay-cyborg-superhero regalia?

Don’t get concerned, though. Between the cigarettes and smoldering anger, this guy won’t be around for the long haul.

On the other hand, there’s a thoughtful piece like this from Oil Is For Sissies.

The efficiency of American Suburbia

I'm listening to an interesting program on MPR now about suburbs. …As a result of this drive toward consistent consumer experience, if one was blindfolded and taken to any residential or shopping district that has been constructed in the past 10-20 years, it would be hard to determine by inspection where exactly it is.

…The guest on the radio program made a statement in regard to the American transportation system that I find hard to swallow. The guest was contrasting the European "hub and spoke" geometry of sprawl, which is mass-transit-friendly, to the distinctly American "dispersion" model, which tends to be single-occupant-car-friendly. She pointed out that over the past several decades, the average American commute has increased by a minute or two, which apparently indicates that the dispersion model is an efficient way for development to proceed.

…It's interesting how the car-friendly dispersion model seems to penetrate even those areas of society that most of us might think would be immune. The bike shop that I started is about two blocks from my house. I walk this distance in just a few minutes everyday. This was a deliberate choice to remove myself from the car culture (though, regrettably, the short commute cuts into my bike miles). My business neighbors, who occupy four or five storefronts along the same stretch, also live in the neighborhood. Last week when we had a big snowstorm, on my walk to the shop, I met some of my fellow neighborhood businesspeople as they were out shoveling their portions of the sidewalk. They all recognized me as the owner of the new bike shop, and we chatted for a few minutes about various things, namely how close we all lived to each other and to our respective businesses. One of them said, "you're the only one who walks though," and everybody shared a good chuckle about that. Huh?

I’m not a fan of New Urbanism ideas, particularly the ones advocating high-density housing and in-fill. I get perhaps too much amusement from pointing out to a friend that my grandparents lived in high-density housing when they arrived here from the old country. They just called them ‘tenements’. And really, who wants to know when it’s kielbasa and sauerkraut night at my place, unless they’re planning to show up with fork in hand?

Still, the pattern of an urban core surrounded by suburban sprawl seems depressingly common, yet it’s the pattern most people prefer. If they didn’t want it, developers would offer whatever urban or suburban design they could sell. I think in this instance, the marketplace really does work.

Yet, here’s a guy who dares to walk to work, defying the more common practice of driving whatever the distance. The neighbors think he’s a bit odd, but I think he’s stepping out the door, doing precisely what he wants to do, regardless of the neighbors. And that’s cool.


Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

Ahem. Let me clear up a few misconceptions.

1. Not "hairy chested" at all. Smooth as a baby.

2. Smoke filtered cigarettes, nut unfiltered (and have finally decided to quit. Soon. I swear!)

3. Not married but treat women like the goddesses they are.

4. Better cook than any of the women I have dated. My Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo is to die for.

However, you were absolutely right about me not letting facts get in the way of a good rant.

Loved the quote from the Journal of Lazarus Long, btw.

Ride in peace. Just not around me. LOL!

6:03 AM  
Blogger Coelecanth said...

I love the end of that quote: "Specialization is for insects." As someone who knows a little about a lot, it's my mantra.

So what type of developement do you favour?

If car accessed suburbs are not sustainable, and I don't believe that they are, what's the solution?

4:37 PM  

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