Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thieving for a Living

I've often wondered if Thievery Corporation's music was primarily done with machines. This is clearly not the case, as seen in this video from KCRW.

I am not sure about the 'stache - are women wearing them now in addition to the legions of hipsters jumping on the bandwagon, albeit a little late?

My wife loves doing this trick...

If you didn't know about KCRW before, like me, now you do. There's some great performances on their site. I originally was drawn there to watch a live Black Keys performance, which is also really good. Patrick's sense of humor is great and leads me to believe they would be fun to hang out with. The everyman's band.

All Hail Auerbach and the Open G.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Anything to Report?

Not much. It started raining again yesterday. The ride in was wet, real wet. I went to court to fight a $48 parking ticket. The judge dismissed it and let me go with a warning. Stoked.

With that, this guy has a lot of time on his hands ... and on his feet. Pretty incredible really.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday's Playlist

Instead of posting prose and exposing my so-so skills as a writer, I will instead start making playlists on Fridays. Everyone needs some good music to get them through the day and prep them for the weekend, right? Let me know if it sucks or if it rocks.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Thursday, September 22, 2011

BMXtremely and the Traveling Fowls

Having spent a lot of time at skateparks, riding skateboards, I often had words with the BMX kids who frequented them. The pegs found on freestyle bikes ruin coping (that slick stuff that lines the bowls and the apex of ramps for those who don't skate), especially if the coping is concrete. Bikers take up more space too, and regularly hang out in packs at one side of the park where there may or may not be skateable terrain, blocking other users. Bikes also travel much faster than skateboards, and they have components on them that can cause bodily harm to unsuspecting old guys working their way up a snake run.

One day that old guy was me. I had just gotten there and started pushing around when one of the BMX'ers had just finished riding a line in the adjacent bowl and then aired out, into the flats where I was traveling with speed. By the time I could react he hit me head on. I took most of the brunt to the shins. Suffice to say it didn't not hurt.

In my initial angered state, I picked up his bike and threw it out of the park while yelling at him to pay attention. One of the regulars decided to chime in and eventually told me to fuck off and that he would shoot me. Oh boy ... there I was, an ex-Marine, trying to have fun on a skateboard in my hometown where I had moved back to finish college. The one who threatened me was wearing a Slayer T-shirt. I thought to myself, "I saw Slayer in 1986, probably around the time your mom spit your dumb ass out. Plus, I have a lot of experience with guns, so if you care to challenge me, I could surely teach you a thing or two."

Luckily, I came to my senses and walked away from the incident while simultaneously biting my tongue to avoid further escalation of the argument. Who knows, maybe he would've taught ME something that would've landed me six feet under the dirt and him a long sentence in the state penitentiary, biting a pillow.

I still don't think bikers and skaters should share the same space at the same time when it comes to the parks. I don't dislike bikes, obviously, but in this case the two vehicles have a difficult time coexisting without conflict ... come to think of it, there's a theme here, as most groups can't seem to get along with others these days. Roadies hate fixed-gear hipsters and vice versa. Skaters hate rollerbladers. Motorists hate cyclists. Germa-phobes hate potlucks and buffets. Airline pilots hate stray geese. Christians hate homosexuals. Mormons hate everyone. As for me, I hate pennies. But I digress....

I came across the following video recently and it shines a light on what people are able to accomplish on a bike, outside of the parks. It is amazing how the street skate scene has influenced the BMX freestyle scene.

Can't we all just get, uh, move, along?

Monday, September 19, 2011

2011 Interbike - Lights, Bikes, Smoke and Warpaint

I made it safely back from Interbike and Las Vegas, and all I can say is WOW. I didn't go in expecting much but it ended up being a wonderful experience. I met many "industry people" and made friends with some pretty cool and interesting folks. Having had bad experiences in Sin City before, I can honestly say my view has changed for the better ... but that's because of the company I had while there, and ample free beer. At 3 p.m. each day long lines started to form after the kegs were broken out, mostly by the bigger companies, and gentlemen in pseudo tuxedos tended bar. I don't believe much business was accomplished for the remainder of the day when this took place, but I do believe many friends were made.

The crew from Seattle's Second Ascent were there and I was fortunate enough catch a cab and to hang out with Isaac and Aaron after Cross Vegas where earlier I lucked into the VIP area - complete with free Sierra Nevada beer - thanks to Paul Tolme of Gates Carbon Drive Systems.

Isaac, Aaron and I ended up at one of the many casinos inside Treasure Island double fisting bottles of Coors and talking about bikes and our families. None of us gambled, as beer seemed to be a safer bet. We ended up at Gillies watching people ride the mechanical bull and laughing about the ridiculousness of Vegas and the no-holds-barred attitude of most who visit. People drink and smoke anywhere and everywhere, sex is offered on printed flyers, mini 'zines, on top of cabs, on billboards and by the people who fornicate for a living themselves. We collected "trading cards" of the women who, supposedly, would be on the other end of a phone call and ready to serve. These cards were passed out mostly by throngs of minorities desperate for commission - the cards ended up in the trash, of course, as we are all spoken for by our wives, but we didn't want to be rude by not taking them. The folks handing them out appeared to be desperate and probably worked for pennies a day. Besides, if I were ever disloyal to my wife I would hope it to be with the extremely talented girls in this band:

Vegas is fun ... for a couple of days.

Monday, September 12, 2011

2011 WHCBPC Finals

The top teams on the planet descended upon Seattle’s Magnusson Park to claim bragging rights of being the best in the world. The city saw five straight days of continuous play, as each outfit fought hard to reach the finals. In the end, a threesome of Canadians earned the title.

Upon arriving to Magnuson Park, and after feebly driving around for 15 minutes looking for a place to park, my friend Max and I eventually decided to leave the truck at the entrance and ride in (we were coming from a cyclocross race in Kirkland, Wash.) At first, we couldn’t find the polo courts. It didn’t take long to figure it out, as we could hear a large crowd yelling and some other strange sounds coming from the woods. As we got closer to the venue, following the high decibels of raucous roars, we came to a clearing where there were four sections of courts set up for play. In between sides were barriers where spectators could safely watch play on both sides – a very cool touch.

I recognized many folks from the Seattle bike scene, mostly mechanics, messengers and others from local bike shops. The weird noises I heard earlier turned out to be spectators beating their fists on the boards surrounding players, much like hockey fans beating on the plexiglass surrounding the ice; and the similarities of bike polo and hockey doesn’t stop there.

Much like hockey players, many polo enthusiasts use thickly padded gloves to protect their hands – some also wear full-face hockey helmets. The nets used in bike polo are very similar in size to the NHL nets you see on the ice as well. Perhaps what’s most like hockey is the fast paced play that changes directions frequently and the superior skills of these elite players. And, just like hockey, there are some serious hits and inevitable spills that happen when two teams are desperate to get control of the puck - in this case, the ball.

Just in the three hours I was there I saw fresh blood, bruises, and multiple bike problems, including broken spokes (why many players use homemade discs to cover them), bent rims and snapped brake cables resulting mostly from the handlebars twisting around during a crash. Fortunately, these guys are used to it and mechanicals were quickly repaired, and the blood … well, they’re used to it, and it was apparent they most likely play polo most of their waking hours. Also in those three hours were several trips to the beer garden, where vendors were serving $2.50 pints of Pabst. Hey, journalism is difficult work and, for Seattle, it was down right hot out there.

Local favorites and this year’s North American Hardcourt Champions, “The Guardians,” played extremely well during the tournament. Chants of “TWO-OH-SIX!” were heard throughout the matches every time the team – consisting of Dustin, Julian, and Sebastian (aka Sea Bass) – pedaled onto the court. Their strategy has served them well in prior events, with Sea Bass tending the goal the majority of the time while Dustin and Julian work the ball down the court. In the end, they fell short with back-to-back losses to Switzerland’s “Iron Ponies,” followed by a defeat at the hands of team “Call Me Daddy” from France, and ultimately placed third.

The final consisted of East Vancouver’s (Canada) “Crazy Canucks” vs. the three Frenchman of “Call Me Daddy.” The action was hands down some of the best I’ve seen, as both teams made remarkable moves seem easy. With many strategic block-ins and numerous body checks into the boards, it was apparent that neither team wanted to lose. “Call Me Daddy” plays extremely fast and react quickly while the “Crazy Canucks” rely on both setup tactics and sheer brawn, as two of them clearly outweighed their opponents and used this to keep them from playing the ball. At one point there was a check that could be heard, and felt, all the way from the other side of the court. The Canadians took the win with a lightning quick shot from mid-court as soon as play was started following a hotly contested goal by the French team that was shot shortly after play was timed-out by the officials. The reason players and spectators didn’t know play had ended was because the audience was so loud, proving we have some great polo fans here in Seattle.

Many Canadians who traveled down to see the tournament went nuts and mobbed the Canuck team following the winning goal, and the celebration soon ensued. The 2011 WHBPC will surely go down in history as one of the best polo tournaments on record. Due to Seattleites stepping it up and making sure this event was top-notch, including multiple sponsors and support from the community, I have a feeling the Championships will only grow bigger, with more teams and more fans recognizing what a truly unique and skillful game bike polo is to play.

Now, off to Vegas for three days. A report will soon follow. Wish me luck, I may need it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Grid Collapses and Parking Lots

This photo was taken yesterday by my good friend Eric during the power outage/blackout in San Diego. The first thing that imbued my twisted mind was Michael Douglas in a white shirt and tie wearing birth control glasses. The second thought that came to me was, "Is this a parking lot?"

Apparently people panicked when the electricity went out and so decided to flee their places of work. Since there was no air conditioning, the people revolted and hopped into their shiny autos - where there was air conditioning. Unfortunately, they couldn't go anywhere and were forced to spend their time confined inside the metal boxes of inefficiency, waiting for something to happen, or at least for a green light to guide them home - perhaps as close as three miles away. Oh wait, lights run on electricity. Shit.

Cynicism aside, the photo shows a dire need for change. What's frightening is that most of us put up with it and don't change anything or our habits. In order for us to change we may need more things like this to happen, regularly. Living in Seattle I often wonder what would happen when THE earthquake happens, which it inevitably will. I work on the waterfront, in a building built on soil that is like sand and right next to a major viaduct that serves as one of the main north/south arteries for the city. Also, Seattle is surrounded by water, which means bridges to get in out of the city are plenty. What happens when the bridges collapse or are blocked by autos packed full of hysterical people trying to escape?

For me, I believe scenarios like this provide one of the many reasons why legs are better than motors. They only require a little food, a bit of maintenance, and a few beers. But if the automobiles and semi-trucks can't get anywhere, how do we get the goods necessary to fuel the legs? This quandary is one we will have to face someday. I may be short on answers and solutions, but starting a conversation may get people thinking and coming up with ways to avoid some stark realities.

In the meantime, hit me up if you wish to discuss any of this. Or if you want to discuss how bad ass this video is by Portland's Red Fang.

"Time to kiss your ass goodbye."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Canibal

Before there was cycling chic, Team 7-Eleven and Lance Armstrong, there was Eddy Merckx. Before there were clipless pedals and carbon fiber bikes, there was Eddy Merckx. Before there were integrated shifters and helmet laws, there was Eddy Merckx.

Enough hero worship. Next week I head to Vegas for my very first Interbike experience. In general I can't stand Las Vegas. I was detained there when I was 18 for underage drinking and gambling. I later totaled a VW bus I had just bought during a freak sandstorm while en route to California from Colorado; the people at the lot where it was taken to after the accident stole everything I had in the van and the owner insisted it wasn't his employees... Right. A couple of years later, I was pulled over for driving 105 mph just outside the city when I was heading home after being discharged, honorably, from the Marines. So far I've had bad luck every time I've been near the stinky furnace appropriately named Sin City. Hopefully, this time, it will be different. Although, with the bike people I will undoubtedly meet and befriend while there, many of them "Vegas Veterans," I may have my work cut out for me...

On a final note ... I would like to wish my sister a happy 45th birthday today.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bike Shops Need More of This....

I recently discovered this on YouTube. The band is called The Joy Formidable, the shop is Mellow Johnny's, located in Austin, Texas. They rock - the band and the bike shop. I'd buy a bike from them, well, at least a tube or something...

Music and bikes. They go hand in hand.

What doesn't go hand in hand is the band Europe and anything that represents, umm, anything cool? As seen in this video:

The keytar and the hair products couldn't get any worse.

Back at It

Alright, it's time to get busy. It has been a long time since I've updated this blog. Hopefully that's going to change, as in right now. There are just too many things that seep their way into my chaotic and somewhat twisted mind to not write about them.

Updates: The first half of the year was spent planning and coordinating a wedding with my lovely now-wife, Erin Thomas. It was an incredible experience and I don't know if it could have been better other than not spending more time with friends and family during the big weekend. So many amazing people were there and one of the most rewarding aspects was seeing friends from different times in my life all together in one place and hanging out together: surfers, cyclists, artists, musicians, professionals, etc. And Leonard Lake is an all-out sanctuary of beauty.

After the wedding we slowly headed up the California coast into Oregon and Washington, chilling the hell out for week after a marathon year of making our fantasy wedding into a reality. I got to surf good waves along the way too, which I have not been doing the past couple of years.

OK, onto bicycling. I have been riding this year ... a lot. So much so I entered a 50-mile mountain bike race, the Capitol Forest 50/100, on my Kona Big Unit 29, a singlespeed shredding machine. I placed 5th in the SS category, completely surprised at the results as I have not raced for a long time. It was super fun and it has got me making more plans to race, including this fall. Cyclocross season is right around the corner. Seattle Bike Supply is supposed to hook me up with a Redline Conquest Pro for a product review. If they do, I have no reason not to race. I may just turn the Kona into a pseudo 'cross bike and race singlespeed anyway.

I am looking forward to sharing the results of my mud-encrusted suffering and meeting new people while having some well-deserved beers.