Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Who will save New Orleans? Biloxi? Gulfport?
I made a vow not to bring the BRC into this, but as a southerner, it is just too much to get your head around. The Quarter gone, and sinking deeper by the hour? Should I load up and go pick some random family out of a Red Cross shelter and bring 'em home? We could be grilling burgers and drinking bloody marys by tomorrow if I did. A nice idea, but those things never work out like you expect.
Trust me on that one, but still, I feel sick.
Please consider the excellent dialogue going on below the pizza to be active and welcoming new perspectives on fate, destiny, moving, friends, and bike rides. It seems most relevant.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
You live in Queens, NY and you use grits to dust your gourmet pizza crust instead of cornmeal.
This was done recently by my friend Mel (not his real name) while he was cooking up some homemade pie in his NYC hipster flat. Those of you who are familiar with Mel (Once again, not his real name) should take this opportunity to encourage him to exercise the 1 year plan, which has him back in Tally with a new Moots FS by February 06. The 2 year plan, which is ridiculous, involves staying in the city, saving more money, completing some sort of "schooling" and then returning to Tally, at which point we will have completely forgotten him and both of his plans. I mean, I appreciate his pragmatic approach to work, education, and a panic-free retirement, but really, who has a plan that lasts a whole 2 years into the future? I hesitate to commit to a weekend outing. What if something else comes up? (Not that anything ever does).
I would like to hear from some of you who may have a better vantage point than a single 35 y/o Man (with a capital M fuckin' A right!) who has no savings plan, still rides a hardtail, and plans on working at a bait shop during "retirement".
Dr. Detroit? Mrs. Dr. Detroit? Squatch? Squawtch? Hi-Tops? Sascha?(You can relate to the "first day of the rest of my life" dilemma), All the rest of you lurkers, shirkers, and overpaid office workers?
The choices for Mel (Not his real name) are clear.
NYC, a fat salary, and no bike vs. Tallahassee, ?(definitely less) salary, a sweet Moots, and some friends who appreciate him more than they let on.
I'm trying to use this site responsibly, so you be the judge.
1 year plan or 2 year (dumb) plan.
Juancho (Not his real name)
Well, we been through quite a few tough scrapes in our day, but this time I don't know. I think our numbers have done come up. It looks like we're trapped by some real tough hombres out there. I'm afraid we may never ride again.
You see up on that ridge? That's Roadbike Rex, he's been known to keep quite a few mountain bikers out of the cross country saddle.
And over there? Under that rock? That there is Careerface Carter. He don't take kindly to nobody trying to squeeze in a ride when there's work to be done, you know, of the paper shuffling sort.
Over here on our east flank is Ace Apathy. Shit, ol' Ace, he don't need no damn reason. He will just as soon shoot ya' as watch you throw a leg over the saddle.
Right down there, blocking our getaway route is Humidity Harold, and being a big fella, he just likes to kind of drape hisself over your shoulders and drag you down.
Nope, it looks like our little wagontrain has done circled up for the last time.
It's every man for himself now.
Juancho-lightin' a shuck!
Monday, August 29, 2005
The bloggers' union threatened to revoke my card if I didn't write about the Hurricane which is currently baptizing New Orleans. I can't think of a city more overdue for a cleansing. Sometimes, if you refuse to go to the river, the river comes to you.
It's a shame really. Few places evoke the spirit of the BRC like New Orleans. Fried merliton, steaming plates of etouffee over rice, more than a few dangerous connivers, and a ragtime trumpet wafting somewhere over the pee-drenched streets in a hot pre-dawn Sunday morning along the Mississippi river.
The crawdads belong in the pot, and instead they are now swimming leisurely through the kitchens, exploring Bourbon street from the other side of the table.
I am truly surprised that I have not heard any Sodom and Gomorrah type damnations. New Orleans, city of sin and vice. Gambling, prostitutes, hard drink, gluttony, lasciviousness of every kind, and not a single Christian Conservative willing to stand up and declare it to be God's will? Cowards. They finally get served the lob of the century and they are afraid to swing the bat.
Meanwhile, we get more hot, muggy weather. Tallahassee is the eternal hurricane bridesmaid.
Summer is over, a canceled check. Students are back. The pace of life in Tallahassee has assumed the busy, everyone needs to be everywhere flow, and all that remains of the summer of '05 is the heat. Powder is still at large in the Rockies, so for him at least, the idyll continues.
I'm ready for a cool dry wind, carrying the hoarse cries of 80,000 football fans, as I roll out of the house for an all day ride.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.
-Henry Valentine Miller
6:00 P:M -Still hot as hell-
For just a minute I stood there with my hand on the Bottechia, thinking maybe I would stick to the neighborhood and spin some crit style laps around the Beautiful Circle. Smooth, wide turns on a 53 tooth chainring, something totally different for a change.
Then I wiped my lipstick off and got on my real bike.
The natural line out of the neighborhood falls right down into the old cemetery at the end of Martin Luther King Jr. drive. A Chevy Blazer with VFW tags sits idling with the windows up, the driver, a lone old man paying his respects from inside, to who?
A young guy, I recognize him from the coffee shops, rides ahead of me with his dog, burnished red and shaggy, on a leash. The dog pulls up to catch a scent and dude makes a lurching bail save with a swing of his leg over the bars. Down he goes, but no harm done.
Onto campus and the run I have ridden 100 times or more. Start at the fountain, into the corner drop over the manhole cover, if you hit it right the world falls beneath you then catches you again in the secure palm of her hand. Up and over, through the hedge, squeeze between the bench and the emergency rape prevention phone, down again, carve it back deep to get under the Magnolia and hit the little hip jump that spits you out towards the business school.
Stairs, sets of three, four, eight, and twelve, whatever you want. Just sit back and hold lightly, stay off the front brake. still I can feel it in my wrists like I never did before.
A flash of yellow and red. Its a dude on a fixed gear, with a big messenger bag. A poser, but one with good taste, maybe poser is not the right word, his look is so 1979 NYC messenger he is more like a tribute band to the old school (older than me school anyway). Of course I run him down . He marks me as I get within 50 feet and he stands up and goes. He's got no gears so there are no surprise moves, just pushing pedals as hard as we can. I imagine it is like fighting with axes vs. swords. I get on his wheel, but I can't visit long, "So nice to make your acquaintance, I have to go push my aorta back down my throat, very well then!"
Sorority Rush- Ponies prancing, makeup melting in the heat, hoping to be accepted, have your life all spelled out before it gets going. Still, some pretty fine young ladies out and about this time of year. I may be grouchy, but I ain't crazy.
1997 Jamis Durango, rusty color, white rock shox, no mistaking it, my brother's old bike. It isn't the one that was stolen, but the recent trade-in. It now belongs to Katie, wide-eyed and brand new to town. She said she already took it to Munroe trails. I assume she means Munson Hills. Great, she will probably be passing me out there in another month, on a bike I helped rebuild. She paid $250, which is sweet because that more than covers my brother's balance on the new ride. she asks me what the bike was worth when it was new. I told her adjusting for inflation, probably $500, which would be like a $900 bike today. I have no idea what any of that means, but she likes it. I want her to be happy. she tells me to tell the guys at the shop she's taking good care of it. This will no doubt spur a run of the most vulgar sort of comments before everyone retires to the shop porch for a smoke and more lewdness.
Time to go clean up for poker night, and the hill climb up through Frenchtown, the historically black neighborhood, of which I am a proud fringe neighbor. City league football practice is gearing up, it looks like the first day. A man my age, thirties, in a shirt and tie is throwing passes under the 90+ degree sun to pairs of 7-9 year olds. I know he would say it is about respect. I can see by the all eyes on him posture of the line of boys that he gets it. I feel nostalgia sweep through me. I don't know if it is because I remember what it was like to be him, or if I remember being like the boys, at practice-paying attention and waiting in the heat.
Back up MLK Jr. Time to eat, change, go big or go home.
I may be wrong, but it seems my new feature, "Great Enemies of Moderation" is causing some of my pro-moderation allies great concern for my health and well-being. I am touched, truly touched.
They need not worry.
I am just drawn to the bad kids. I always have been. It's not about the self-destruction, although that is a sadly common side effect of the rebellious spirit. I like to challenge traditional values and mores, not because I disagree, but because it disgusts me, absolutely disgusts me, to see them go unchallenged. If you take the moral high ground and prevail, good for you, but if you climb up on that log, be sure you have what it takes to stay, because I'm coming after you.
One person's common sense is another person's cowardice.
We are all balancing our risks against potential rewards.
Juancho- Thug 4 Life
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Elvis Presley 1/08/1935 - 08/17/1977
Go ahead and get your fat jokes out of the way. Tell me the one again about how he died on the crapper. Maybe you want to blather on about how he stole the black man's music? Sure there were sleeping pills, bennies, black beauties, white crosses, marijuana (for his glaucoma) bourbon, and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. After all of the tired cliches about the King have been drug around the block, you have to face the facts.
Elvis' voice was better the year he died than it ever was before. Forget the young vs. old debate, old Elvis clearly rocked harder-scars and all. He loved his mama, Jesus, and Bruce Lee. He was deputized by Richard Nixon. He once karate kicked a violent, charging fan off the stage in Madison Square Gardens (1968).
In 1991 I stood in line with tens of thousands of fans from around the world in a candlelight vigil through Graceland. I met them all, Biker Elvis. Gay Elvis. Gay, Japanese, biker Elvis, you name it. That crowd was pure Elvis love, and it rocked me.
So hats off to Elvis Aaron Presley, the kid from Tupelo, who could sing pretty good, a great enemy of moderation.
If I can dream- Juancho
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
As a general position of temperance I understand the notion of "moderation" completely.
I understand it to be a general avoidance of gluttony for, according to the saying-"everything".
Another way I have heard this expressed is, "Enough is as good as a feast".
Well, isn't that just a sweet little homespun homily.
Living within a culture that celebrates ravenous gluttony while muttering, "Everything in moderation" out of the corner of a ham-stuffed mouth is just a bit much for me to take. Moderation is, and always has been, an object for derision in this country.
Think Jimmy Carter, " We can all wear sweaters in the house to save electricity during the energy crisis." Fuck you country boy, it's a new morning in America, time for you to go.
Ralph Nader? Pantywaist.
Carpooling? For total losers.
Bicycle commuting? Get away you poor, sweaty, freak.
There is no phenomenon of, "Girls gone moderately wild".
Manifest Destiny did not mean "Stop at the Mississippi River" or "Whoa, there's some people already living there."
Maybe it is just in my nature to dwell on the inconsistencies, but you can't just explain them away. Who among us is free of gluttony in this culture? If you are, then congratulations, although it seems you may be over-indulging in moderation.
Consider some of the things we celebrate, and appreciate--
Lance Armstrong- Nobody said, "Come on Lance, 6 is the record, you proved your point, show some class."
Really big vehicles.
"This house is just an investment to make some money before we buy our real home."
The Big Bertha Driver
6+ inches of full suspension travel
New, long-lasting flavor
2 for the price of 1
My partner doesn't accept me for who I am, "Why should I be the one to change".
"Self-help" books rather than "help others" books.
Hot dog eating contests rather than fasting contests.
John Goodman's comedic brilliance
I am not pointing any fingers here. I can say with some surety that I am down with half of the things on that list. All I ask is if you are a preacher of the "everything in moderation" tenet, please consider what the statement is actually advising...
What if the civil rights protests of the 1960's were exercised in moderation, like maybe every other Thursday in the Summer, you know, when school was out?
What about your desire to love someone? If you have a partner, do you love them moderately or fanatically? How do you want to be loved?
What if Louis L'amour wrote western tales in moderation? I would have finished them all years ago, and that would suck.
What if Cassius Clay aspired to be "The Moderatest"?
What if NASA had thought, "Oh I don't know, 1/2 way to the Moon is pretty darn far enough, we don't want to show off".
I realize there may be some of you out there who disagree, and perhaps you can offer a poignant defense of moderation, but luckily you never write anything, so I think my argument is safe. In an ongoing project to explore this issue I will be developing an "Enemies of Moderation" feature that will post at least as Haphazardly as the "Clydesdale Hall of Fame". Please feel free to submit your favorite over-achieving, excessive, people, places, or things for consideration through the comments section (It is quite easy, anonymous, and non-intrusive to your personal life) or by contacting the host at email@example.com
Juancho-turn me up and rip the knob off.
Monday, August 22, 2005
I was in the Steen Mountains, 60 miles south of Burns, Oregon, which is nowhere. My head and chin were shaggy, and I had not changed out of my overalls in 6 days. I had no intention of ever taking them off. Everything we had smelled like sweaty dudes and sagebrush.
My life in Portland was already fading away from me physically and mentally, and my new life in Tallahassee was nearly 3,000 miles away. Todd and I rode up onto a ridgeline overlooking the Alvord Desert and it appeared to be the true edge of the Earth. I remember thinking that I would never stand in that place again. I was excited about my next life in Tallahassee, although it did not have much shape in my mind at the time. Something about being poor and protesting genocide, that was the main point. I watched an ultralight aircraft whir across the desert below, a lone dragonfly on patrol.
The Barcelona bus station, crowded, noisy, and full of diesel smoke. Tired from staying up all night playing guitar, drinking Cava, and eating roast pork with my Catalan friends, I fell into a window seat. I was headed to Milan, then further east. I waved goodbye as the bus pulled out, thinking I would never see Jordi, Robert, or crazy Lamberto ever again. They told me many times they were not interested in ever leaving the beautiful country of Catalonia. Hell, they had never even been to Madrid (spit!).
They certainly weren't coming to Sarajevo.
Walking into the white house, and seeing all the fellas for the first time in years rocked me. I had no job, but I knew I was home. The grand ramshackle staircase, the dirty kitchen, the promise of a yard full of football idiots shelling out cash to park. We stayed up late drinking scotch and I remember laughing until I had no more tears and had to fall asleep outside on the porch, as I was bedless.
One of my friends just lost his job, that he had only started last week. It was supposed to be the job that would keep him around for a while. Now, he says, "This town is fighting me" and I know exactly what he means. He looks toward Hawaii, Costa Rica, and other past notches on the travel belt, but I think he would like it just fine if he could stay right here.
I can't decide if I'm jealous of him, or relieved it isn't me.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Though not a man of great physical stature, Hunter S. Thompson is hereby inducted as an honorary Clydesdale for his lifelong commitment to doing things in a BIG way.
Rest in Peace just does not seem the appropriate conciliatory response for a man whose remains will be shot from a cannon.
Friday, August 19, 2005
After the 4th consecutive bludgeoning, the other guys physically moved away from us, clustered and muttering. GM and I continued wreaking havoc on their self-esteem as they worked through all possible team combinations in a vain attempt to beat us.
Sometime in the long, late evening S'quatch appeared through the back door, lurking like a gorilla in the mist. His primate sensibilities enable him to track like a cougar. I felt at a distinct disadvantage seeing him out, in the evening on his bike, accumulating more 1/2 speed road miles, while I enjoyed some time, um, off my bike.
No matter, there will be hell to pay on the trail, and the bill is coming to me.
As yet another hangdog pair racked the balls, I harangued them with "I'm quitting after seven just like Lance". I, personally, found this to be hilarious.
After six in a row, they switched to, "This is boring".
After notching another 8 ball in the corner pocket I replied, "You're telling me!"
It was an 8 game sweep, unprecedented.
Have a great weekend, I'll try to write less sucky on Monday.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Otherwise you can just stand around like these girls, waiting for someone to ask you to dance.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
A buddy who lives up in Detroit e-mailed me yesterday. He says he reads the BRC every day but finds it somewhat limited in scope. Apparently I only write about bicycles, bicycling, and bicyclers.
He believes that this topic can only be mined for so much good material and it will eventually go stale.
It made me stop and think.
What the hell else do I have to say?
Politics? Nobody wants to hear it and I get angry too easily.
Love? I wouldn't know the first thing about it. I mean, I could say I love kicking S'quatch's ass on the trail, but that isn't the same thing.
Updates on the family and kids? The family is fine and if there are kids, they haven't found me yet.
Then it occurred to me, there is one other venue where I live out my scintillating, beyond the red carpet life. My back porch, and specifically, the dartboard.
Surely Mr. Detroit remembers the sting of defeat and the CHUNK-ping! of steel sinking in the bullseye. The dartboard is my television.
It isn't a glamorous setting, especially this time of year. It is very damp out there, and gear mountain constantly threatens to invade the "social area", but I tell you what, a lot of dudes would experience missing limb syndrome if porch operations came to a halt.
There is a word in Spanish, querencia, that is used to describe the place in the ring where the bull chooses to make his stand against the matador, the pecadores, and the inevitability of his demise.
This dirty porch is mine. Where is yours?
Juancho el Toro
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
For weeks that truck has stunk and stunk, and I assumed it was the accumulated funk of myself, my brother, and whomever else crams their ass in the jumpseats on the way home from a trail.
--Not that we drive to trails.
I couldn't take it anymore this morning. I had to find it.
Is it this coffee thermos? I stick my nose down in it and take a deep breath. Whew, sour, but not sour enough. Is it this pair of crunchy socks? I hold them to my face and breathe in. A little musty, but not so bad really.
Is there something rotten in my Camelback? I pick it up and immediately release the latent FUNK that has been lurking in it for weeks.
There is definitely something dead in my Camelback.
Sniff, sniff, cautious sniff. Oh my God that is nasty. Sniff, sniff.
I find nothing in the pockets, that's strange.
I pull out the bladder and find it 1/2 full of what looks like runny cottage cheese. Interesting, I don't remember putting any cheese water in there the last time I took it on a ride.
Now I hate to waste resources and lose gear unnecessarily, so I had a decision to make. Could it be salvaged? Could I return it to normal? Let me see, maybe if I just unscrew the lid here and-- My eyes! My eyes! quickly I screw down the lid and dump the bladder in the garbage.
So what do you suppose was in that thing? All I can remember is I used to have a little bit of that Accelerade stuff and now I can't find it. Their gimmick is 1/4 protein to 3/4 carbohydrates. This is supposedly a very big deal.
So what do they mean by protein? Where does it come from? Is it some synthetic, fruit-flavored protein? I don't think so.
As my brother said last night, "Bubba, there's only one thing that smells like that when it's rotten and that's chicken."
Accelerade is made from chicken water.
Tell the ladies Barbie's little dream truck is back in business.
Monday, August 15, 2005
It seems that, although "The Fridge" is actually known as a weak cyclist, the largest Superbowl ring ever made rests on the meaty digit of Mr. Perry. Well, a big man, known for not just a big ring, but the BIGGEST ring obviously deserves his place of honor alongside Tour de France rider Magnus "The Colossal Apostle" Backofthepackstedt, and Dan "Hoss Cartwright" Block.
When asked about his lifetime of cycling achievements, the Fridge had this to say...
"It is difficult to pick out one defining moment in my cycling career, but I would have to go with out-distancing Juancho and Sasquatch in a wheelie-riding contest in the Avon Park, FL Winn Dixie parking lot back in 1982.
It really hurts my feelings that Juancho, to this day, denies that I won."
So, a begrudging congratulations to William "The Refrigerator" Perry, latest member of the Big Ring Circus' Clydesdale Hall of Fame.
Friday, August 12, 2005
If you have ever felt Juancho's spurs in your shanks out on the trail, the man you want to thank is right here at the compound. If you have ever awakened in a cold sweat, heart pounding, with the nightmare image of a stout, hobbit-like man bearing down on you in the forest, stop by and thank my Dad today.
It all began with a Schwinn Scrambler, maroon with yellow mag wheels. The year was 1978.
Our dirty family secret is that my father was a roadie, and a highway commuter. He rode a blue Raleigh racing bike, leather saddle, silver toe-clips with leather straps, and I was not allowed to ride it. This is how I learned that a bike is not a toy.
(I rode it anyway, with one leg slid through the frame because it was too tall, but let's just keep that between us OK?)
There were other bikes, namely a Fuji Palisade, that came into my life one Christmas in the 1980's. I traded in my parachute pants for some lycra and raced a few sprint triathlons.
Then I got my hands on a yellow Jamis Dakar, and with the finality of a sex change operation, I gave away my road bike. No regrets, no remorse.
That Dakar survived many surgeries and mutations, eventually landing a second life as a messenger bike in Portland, Oregon, 1995. That almost killed it.
None of that would have happened without the Scrambler though, and the permission to ride it as far as I could as long as I could still get back home.
Last night I rode Munson in the company of my parents (two of them anyway) and my brother, Paco. They hung tough, they fell off their bikes, and they loved it.
...and S'quatch, Taco, that's the only reason I let you get away from me out there.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Thanks S'quatch, for sittining in on my little jam session yesterday, nice licks.
What you see here is the only song I ever learned on guitar. If you can play the blues, what else is there to learn? Just a lot of stuff that derives from this, that's what.
Very similar in fact to the hard tail vs. full suspension debate. My steel hardtail is a Gibson J-100, where say, an Ellsworth Truth or a Santa Cruz Superlight, is more like a Moog synthesizer. So really its a matter of taste and riding style.
I am more of a Robert Johnson or Sonny Terry style rider while someone with say, an Ellsworth Truth or a Santa Cruz Superlight is more along the lines of a Moby or Duran Duran style rider, especially if either of the bikes happen to be a metallic blue.
To each his own I say. Live and let live.
I got people in town, and the BRC is of course TOP SECRET, for no good reason whatsoever. Riverboat will accuse me of "mailing it in" and he's probably right. I just can't work with anyone else in the lab.
That's just one of the many reasons that...E-ver-y day, e-ver-y day I got the Blues!
Ba dum, da dum, da dum, da dum, da da da da Dummmmmmmmmm.....Oh yeah.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Sasquatch now has the mic in his big furry paw, y'all give it up for him one time.
A couple weeks ago I had to travel to Panama City on business, so I took my bike and my tent and told the wife not to wait up cause I wouldn’t be back until the next day. That’s how we roll in the Castle de Sasquatch. I waited a full five seconds before whispering, "Please?" A bitch has got to know his (I mean her) place. I don’t play.
I clocked out around 4:00 P.M. in Panama City and went in search of the closest LBS. I found a great one with a cool owner and he sent me to a state forest twenty miles north of Panama City (away from the beach and into the green) called "Pine Log State Park." For those who don’t know, the Florida Panhandle interior is so thick and green and hazified shimmering empty you feel saved just driving through it. Of course if your groove doesn’t materialize and you don’t get high on the humidity and snake-flavored varmint breath oozing from the swampy, black river laced pine stand Oak hammock cicada hum you’re cruising through, and if you don’t have to roll your window down and turn the AC off just to goddamn SMELL it good, then you know you’re NOT saved. One man’s heaven is another man’s hell, but my main point here is that I was one blissed out dude in these conditions, saved as a motherfucker.
Pine Log State Park is just your average patch of woods not close enough to anywhere special to attract development, and probably originally owned by somebody rich enough to donate a ton of land to the state without drawing the wrath of his spoiled heirs. I’m not saying it’s not nice – all clay dirt roads snaking through towering pines with a pond or two thrown in and a mountain bike trail for good measure – all I’m saying is it’s not known for anything distinct. It’s just a chance to pull off and play in the Panhandle landscape that I’ve already established cures sweet and smokes smooth in my pipe.
That trail was fun as hell!! And the main reason it was so fun is because it was brand new. You could talk to it like your bitch and it never rolled its eyes. "Oh, it’s the inclined, rooty section – that’s all you got?! Mr. swampy drop, that’s all you’re bringing to the party?! Hey it’s the big bad double log jump with the switchback kicker – where’s the rest of you?!" This trail had lots of nice long wooden catwalks over swampy sections, and smacking them hard out of the saddle in the big ring the woods would whisper in my ear that planks might be missing or rotten or who knows because every inch of this trail is brand new to you, but I wasn’t slowing down a LITTLE bit. This was partly because I’d read the trail review, but it was also because once you’re warmed up on a trail with flow, there’s nothing better than riding at the edge of control and watching with interest what the fuck is going to happen next. And when I say "on the edge of control," you have to imagine 6’4", 240 lbs on a runaway 29er flailin and floppin and slidin and skiddin – bursting wide off the trail on the corners and lumbering back on a line so sloppy nasty fine you wouldn’t want to look but you couldn’t help yourself (tell ‘em Juancho).
I’m not sure how this happened but I ended up on some mystery trail across a state road I don’t remember crossing, and when I broke out on the wrong side of that state road I was looking across at a double track dirt road behind a padlocked gate with a sign on it that read:
Primitive Youth Camp
It would take an electrified, fire breathing gargoyle with attitude to keep me off a double track road leading to the mysterious Baptismal Hole Primitive Youth Camp. I was over that gate and pedaling down that road before the locals even had the time to notice. And what a sweet, ride-ending detour it was. At the end of this double track was the most perfect little Baptismal Hole you’ve ever seen. It was a 90 degree bend in a black river/creek, about twenty feet wide at the bend and five feet deep in the middle. A Live Oak branch from a nearby tree with hanging moss swooped out, down, and across a portion of the river like a divinely appointed handrail in a church baptistry. I went to strip off my clothes and was set upon by more mosquitoes than you can probably imagine. I was breathing them in and they were trying to suck blood from my lungs. Baptism by mosquito fire was another option in this hallowed spot, so I just jumped in with all my clothes on and immediately discovered that this sweet black hole of redemption was spring fed and soothing beyond comprehension.
For a while I tried to figure out how a preacher might negotiate full immersion baptism with a current. Would he dip the beloved back into the oncoming current, which would mean the baptized would feel the full power of the cleansing water washing over his brow even as he pushed against it, or would the preacher dip the lamb with the current, so that while immersed the baptized felt he could simply relax and float away on a cleansing stream of liquid grace? I baptized myself both ways two or three times for good measure.
When I got out and pedaled out of there I didn’t feel any wetter than I had pedaling around in the liquefied air of panhandle summer before I found the hole, and I’d found an even deeper level of bliss, somewhere along the order of transcendent.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
The manatee knows that not all sea cows are equal, that with a little effort and practice one can become a slightly stronger sea cow than the rest of the pod.
The manatee knows that it ain't all about who can swim upriver faster, its about what line the manatee chooses to snake through the grass along the way that truly makes one talented.
The manatee knows it is exponentially better to shoot the river with other manatees, except those perfect occasions when it is not better, then the manatee swims alone.
The manatee knows that the river is full of danger, yet swim it does, every day.
The manatee knows it is not a dolphin, and that dolphins are universally more loved and respected. "Fuck a bunch of dolphin" says the manatee.
The manatee knows that he swims to eat, not eats to swim.
The manatee knows that perfect buoyancy is a direct result of psi adjustment.
The manatee knows its been running the river longer than the mullet, the turtle, the dirty damn snake, and the alligator.
The manatee knows that Fall is for traveling long, long miles.
Oh yes, these things the manatee knows.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
The rasping scrape of the stucco men on the scaffolding outside grew louder as they worked their way towards my open window on the 4th floor of 146 Avenida Sagrada Familia.
Three torsos crowded the windowframe, a familiar lunchtime sight for me.
"Hola, venga, venga!"
I had long since given up on righteous indignation and moved towards acceptance. For three months these same men tortured me with the sound of metal on concrete early in the morning, during lunch, or really anytime at all. I hated them.
I had stumbled upon the greatest language comprehension tool ever, The Cartwrights. Predictable at every plot twist, and the vocabulary limited to talk of cows, food, guns and weather, I could keep up. I was making serious progress. That rolling guitar lick which calls us to the Ponderosa -in the Lake Tahoe prairieland- was as much a part of the Barcelona soundscape for me as scooters and jackhammers.
The stucco guys and I made peace. Every day at 11:30 they would lower the scaffolding down to my window, climb through, (making perfunctory gestures of brushing themselves off, and kicking loose the dust that covered everything in my place) and settle in beside me on the couch to watch a 1/2 hour of Pa, Hop Sing, Little Joe, that dark and shifty Adam, and my favorite son, Hoss Cartwright. Between the stucco guys and Hoss, I learned to comprehend spoken Spanish.
This relationship never once veered outside the realm of a single 1/2 hour episode of Bonanza. I did not become friends with the stucco guys. We did not go out for beers. We sat, four in a row on the couch, and watched T.V. every single week, Monday to Friday. When the show was over, and the Cartwrights had: thwarted the rustlers, helped prove an old mine claim for a hard working man, fallen in love in a star-crossed affair, and laughed deep from their strong western bellies, the stucco guys would exit the way they came in, through the 4th floor window. They resumed scraping. I resumed hating. It was a unique situation, similar to the WWII soldiers at Bastogne, who came out of their bunkers on Christmas night to share bites of chocolate and sing carols-before returning to the business of murder the next morning.
Hoss Cartwright, played by the late Dan Blocker, weighed 14 lbs at birth. As Hoss, he stood a whopping 6'4, 300 lbs. To my knowledge, he only rode a horse, likely a 29'er.