The Head Is Fully Protected

“Until the notion of Helmet-Assisted Life catches on with more people, you may be seen as a threat if you wear a helmet during moments of intimacy. Yet it might also be true that relaxed intimacy cannot occur unless the head is fully protected.”
― Ben Marcus, Notable American Women

Local Hub Bicycle Company, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Local Hub

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Sweat Up the Hills and Coast Down Them

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Fullmoon Bicycle Ride, Dallas, Texas

The line of bicycles behind me, heading down the Trinity Skyline Trail, heading for a certain spot and waiting for the moon to rise.

Eat it Off

“The minute you land in New Orleans, something wet and dark leaps on you and starts humping you like a swamp dog in heat, and the only way to get that aspect of New Orleans off you is to eat it off. That means beignets and crayfish bisque and jambalaya, it means shrimp remoulade, pecan pie, and red beans with rice, it means elegant pompano au papillote, funky file z’herbes, and raw oysters by the dozen, it means grillades for breakfast, a po’ boy with chowchow at bedtime, and tubs of gumbo in between. It is not unusual for a visitor to the city to gain fifteen pounds in a week–yet the alternative is a whole lot worse. If you don’t eat day and night, if you don’t constantly funnel the indigenous flavors into your bloodstream, then the mystery beast will go right on humping you, and you will feel its sordid presence rubbing against you long after you have left town. In fact, like any sex offender, it can leave permanent psychological scars.”
― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

When you are on vacation in a city with as varied and variable opportunities as New Orleans there is always a struggle between new experiences and going with what you have known and enjoyed in the past. A balance between the two is best.

I drove from Dallas to New Orleans to stay with my son and attend the 2018 New Orleans Writing Marathon. He lives in a downtown high rise and parking is horribly expensive, so I stashed my car a couple miles away on a side street in the Lower Garden District. It sat there untouched for a week. I took my Xootr Swift folding bike out of the back to ride back to his place on Poydras.

I drive a tiny car – a Toyota Matrix. I always liked it because I could fold the rear seats down and get a bike (barely) into the back of the car (never liked exterior bike racks). I’m always surprised at how small the Xootr Swift folds down. I’m able to fit it easily in the small space behind the rear seat. Now I have a four-passenger car again.

It was hot and I was thirsty and I was hungry so I decided on a stop at one of my favorite and familiar places in the Big EasyThe Avenue Pub.

My folding bike locked up outside of the Avenue Pub in New Orleans

The big black thing on the back of my bike is a Bushwhacker Omaha grocery pannier mounted on a Xootr Crossrack. Very ugly and even more handy.

The beer selection at The Avenue Pub is second to none. It was a hot day and I wanted something cold and lighter and selected an excellent French Saison – Cuvée des Jonquilles from The Baron and Baileux brewery. Really nice on a summer afternoon.

They have a good kitchen in the bar and I ordered something I had before, and will certainly have again – Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remoulade. Delicious.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remoulade

New Orleans is actually a good city to ride bikes around in. It’s flat and the ancient streets slow the traffic down. Once I finished it only took me seven minutes to ride from The Avenue Pub to my son’s place.

I don’t think I could have driven it in that time.

What I learned this week, August 5, 2017

Speaking of Bike Lanes…

Someone took the future into their own hands and installed a bandit bike lane on a street in Oak Cliff. Complete with barriers and paint – it was done for a couple hundred dollars and in a few hours – not over the years and tens of thousands of dollars the city requires.

Of course it was deemed “illegal” and immediately removed.

Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.



 
 
Sometimes there are no words for the pernicious vastness of human stupidity.
 

Not a shot! Anti-vax movement prompts Brooklynites to withhold inoculations from their pets, vets say

 

A Clinton Hill–based veterinarian said she has heard clients suggest the inoculations could give their pups autism, however, echoing the argument of those who oppose vaccinating kids. But even if pooches were susceptible to the condition, their owners probably wouldn’t notice, according to the doctor.

“I had a client concerned about an autistic child who didn’t want to vaccinate the dog for the same reason,” said Dr. Stephanie Liff of Clinton Hill’s Pure Paws Veterinary Care. “We’ve never diagnosed autism in a dog. I don’t think you could.”

My son’s dog, Champ


On the Road with Cirque du Soleil: Brompton is the Star of the Show

I have always loved Cirque du Soleil – now I like it even a little more. Run away to the circus on a Folding Bike!

I drive a tiny car – a Toyota Matrix. I always liked it because I could fold the rear seats down and get a bike (barely) into the back of the car (never liked exterior bike racks). I was surprised at how small the Xootr Swift folded down. I was able to fit it easily in the small space behind the rear seat. Now I have a four-passenger car again.


More New Yorkers Opting for Life in the Bike Lane

Biking has become part of New York’s commuting culture as the city expands bike routes and Citi Bikes become ubiquitous. There are more than 450,000 daily bike trips.


I found these articles on the word’s worst smelling stuff fascinating. Then again, it is what I do for a living.

Things I Won’t Work With: Thioacetone

But today’s compound makes no noise and leaves no wreckage. It merely stinks. But it does so relentlessly and unbearably. It makes innocent downwind pedestrians stagger, clutch their stomachs, and flee in terror. It reeks to a degree that makes people suspect evil supernatural forces. It is thioacetone.

The Dangerous Stink of the World’s Smelliest Chemical

“During early experiments, a stopper jumped from a bottle of residues, and, although replaced at once, resulted in an immediate complaint of nausea and sickness from colleagues working in a building two hundred yards away.”


The amazing ways the function keys F1 to F12 can save you a ton of time


When I Replaced Soviet Workers in the U.S. Embassy

If this seemed like overkill, I quickly learned that it wasn’t. Over the course of my time at the embassy, all kinds of strange episodes occurred. One Saturday, while I was on a sightseeing trip to Leningrad, a Russian stranger sidled up to me and murmured, “So, how’s everything at the embassy?” (A classic K.G.B. move, a diplomat later told me, to “let you know they’re watching.”) Another time, a new Russian friend — a pianist at the Moscow Conservatory, whom I’d met by chance in the Metro — referred to plans I had for the following weekend, although I hadn’t yet told him about them. Even more ominously, after I tipsily confessed to a fellow American that I’d had a girlfriend in college, a pretty Russian woman started showing up at embassy parties and chatting flirtatiously with me. Was she a K.G.B. agent, sent to seduce me just as Violetta Seina seduced Clayton Lonetree? Or was I just imagining things? It was impossible to know for sure.


Here’s another short film for your enjoyment – this one also stars Natalie Dormer.

What I learned this week, July 30, 2017

How Government Wrecked the Gas Can

Soap doesn’t work. Toilets don’t flush. Clothes washers don’t clean. Light bulbs don’t illuminate. Refrigerators break too soon. Paint discolors. Lawnmowers have to be hacked. It’s all caused by idiotic government regulations that are wrecking our lives one consumer product at a time, all in ways we hardly notice.

It’s like the barbarian invasions that wrecked Rome, taking away the gains we’ve made in bettering our lives. It’s the bureaucrats’ way of reminding market producers and consumers who is in charge.


Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.

Why car drivers just lost my support for city streets

I have been somewhat skeptical of this whole car and vehicle lane investment the city has been building for the last 200 years …. They’ve built them in front of my home and my neighbors’ homes. My first thought, naturally, was of the inconvenience and safety issues — cars drive so fast! What if they hit my house? Or my neighbor? Or, me? But I also understand the desire of cars to have priority. They are so large, so loud and so dangerous, after all.

However, an incident that keeps occurring every day has tipped the scales. As I was making my way home, I was stuck at a standstill trying to cross the street. “What was the reason for this?” I wondered. As I got closer, the answer was evident: Hundreds of cars were riding down the street to gloat. (As they do every day now!)


For the Love of Kettle
Looking at the art

The Weird and Wicked World of the Singing Cowboy
by Clay Stinnett

13 REASONS WHY ORIGINAL ART IN THE HOME IS AS IMPORTANT AS A BED

Having original art in the home is vital to your well being. Art is a key piece of furniture for many reasons and yet it is sometimes put on the back burner in comparison to other home objects. This list is dedicated to the understanding of importance of art from perspectives of interior design, well being, social atmosphere, creating a mood in the home, and more. One quote that stands out about the importance of original art is the following, “You would never put fake books on your bookshelf, so why would you put fake art on your walls?”

Tethered to an Upside Down Giant
by Richard Ross

I am always amazed when I am in an expensive house and the shelves and walls are filled with stuff purchased from some “home store” – unoriginal crap made by some poor semislave laborer in some far-off tropical country. I want to scream, “Buy real things! Buy local art! Put something that means something to you on your walls and shelves!” It’s like they want to conform to some unwritten rule – “you will buy crap from the appointed crap stores and you will display it as a flag to other idiots that you know and follow the unwritten rules.”

Persuation, from Twenty Heads


I remember when Aw Shucks opened. I was living a block away at the time. There was a nice little family-owned Mexican restaurant in the building and I was a little disappointed when it closed… until Aw Shucks opened – it was really good. And it’s still there, 35 years later.

Love it or Not, Aw Shucks Has Had an Undeniable Spirit on Greenville for Nearly 35 Years


From the same series… The Inwood Lounge. I remeber when it opened – it was so cool. This was before Netflix and there was nothing better than going to a film at the Inwood – going early and meeting in The Lounge for a Martini beforehand. That was the 1980’s… and that was a long time ago. But The Lounge is still the same… maybe it is out of date, but maybe out of date sometimes works.

Where the ’80s — and Maybe Some Ghosts — Live On: Inwood Lounge, the Haunted Movie Haunt

The Inwood Theatre is a baby boomer, celebrating its 70th birthday in May, but few things are more iconically ’80s in Dallas than The Inwood Lounge. Instantly, you may picture the wall of thick, squared glass and violet runner lights, like something you’d see in the club Sarah Connors visits in Terminator, or the crystal-clear, ice-sheened martinis.

“It’s definitely a victim of its time,” Clardy says, describing the lounge space. “Between the glass tile, the wall, the little fountain running through it — it looks like the ’80s had one too many cocktails and vomited all over the place.”


A Lot Like Prayer: Remembering Denis Johnson

I did not know he had passed away. It’s sad, I love his work.

He does have a posthumous book of short stories coming out next year. I wrote about the title story here – A Month of Short Stories 2015, Day Thirteen – The Largesse Of the Sea Maiden. You can read the story online from the New Yorker here – The Largesse Of the Sea Maiden


Ohh Crap

The Dallas Library Is Selling Off a Bunch of Books

After the demise last summer of its bookstore, BookEnds, now the site of the madhouse that is the Office of Vital Statistics on the first floor of its downtown branch, the Dallas Public Library turned to moving its surplus stock with biannual clearance sales. The summer sale is set for Aug. 12 and 13 at the J. Erik Jonsson central branch, the library announced today.

About 40,000 books (print and audio), CDs, and DVDs will be on sale at exceptionally low prices, which, as far as we’re concerned, makes this the social event of late summer in Dallas.


I enjoy short films and have been pleasantly surprised at how many are available for free on youtube. Here’s one I like:

Adios Technium

My road bike - an ancient Raleigh Technium.

My road bike – an ancient Raleigh Technium.

As I’ve said before, I’m not sure I can remember every car I’ve owned – but I can sure remember every bicycle.

My first really good bike was a 1974 Raleigh Super Course – Reynolds 531 steel and stock leather Brooks saddle – that I bought my freshman year in college. It was my major form of transportation for years. I lost it in Dallas in 1982 or so when it was stolen off my second story balcony one winter. I bought a replacement road bike from a pawn shop and rode that thing hard for a couple years until I literally tore the big chainring off.

I was living near White Rock Lake and was riding around the thing almost every day (back then there would be no more than a handful of cyclists on most days – hard to believe now) so I decided to spring for a nice new bike. I’m not sure exactly which year – either 1986 or 1987. I went down to the local bike shop and, remembering my fondness for that old Super Course, bought another Raleigh, a Technium 460.

These were very popular bikes at the time, among the first mass market aluminum bikes. The three main tubes were aluminum, while the rear triangle was steel. What set it apart is that the main tubes were glued together, not welded or brazed. That made some folks nervous – but my glue joints held.

I rode the heck out of that bike. I was young, thin, and pretty fast.

Until my sons were born and I spent a quarter century going to soccer practice and eating at McDonalds.

Then, three years ago, July 2012, I dug my old Technium out and cleaned it up. A few replacement parts and it was as good as new. I still mostly rode my commuter or, later, my folding bike – but I enjoyed having the high efficiency option of the road bike if I wanted to have some fun or try a longer distance.

Then, recently my older son Nick had been riding the Technium, both for fun and transportation. He is young, strong, and fast and was pretty hard on the old bike. He wore out the cranks, chainrings, and wheels. So he took it down to the local bike shop and had it all redone.

But then, only a few days later, he was coming home from work when the drive-side rear dropout broke off. That side of the frame takes the stress of pedaling and after thirty years… that’s a lot of metal fatigue on the thin steel of the dropout.

Broken drive-side dropout on my Raleigh Technium 460.

Broken drive-side dropout on my Raleigh Technium 460.

So it’s adios to my old Raleigh Technium 460. Nick rides a lot and is getting fast, so he picked up a modern entry level road bike (a Specialized Allez) off of Craigslist. He loves it. It is an amazing machine – so much lighter than the old school road bike.

But now I feel there is something missing. I thought about having the frame welded back together – but I’m worried the heat will affect the bonded joints – another frame failure could be a catastrophe. It’s a shame, there are two brand new wheels (27 inch – so they won’t fit on a modern 700c frame) and a lot of good parts there…. I’ve been scanning Craigslist for a vintage frame – maybe I can build something new/old back up.

In the meantime, here’s some pictures of my old Technium.

Adios….

Cross Timbers Bike Ride

Candy and I at the finish if the Cross Timbers Bike Ride in 1988

Les Ondines, by Henri Laurens, and my Raleigh Technium

Les Ondines, by Henri Laurens, and my Raleigh Technium

harmonic_vivarium2

My bicycle locked up to the TRex in Exposition Park, Dallas, Texas

My bicycle locked up to the TRex in Exposition Park, Dallas, Texas

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle. (click to enlarge)

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle.
(click to enlarge)

What I learned this week, March 13, 2015

Kindle

Call Me Ishmael

8 books to lift you out of darkness

When Shaka Senghor (Watch: Shaka Senghor: Why your worst deeds don’t define you) was nineteen, he shot and killed a man — and was sentenced to spend the second nineteen years of his life in jail. At first, Senghor sat in his cold cell and rationalized his worst deeds. “In the hood where I come from,” he says, “it’s better to be the shooter than the person getting shot.” Then, Senghor found solace in literature — and his perspective was transformed in prison.


My Xootr Swift bike with picnic supplies loaded in the pannier.

My Xootr Swift bike with picnic supplies loaded in the pannier.

How to Set Up a Serious Folding Commuter Bike : Xootr Blog

I actually rarely commute on my Xootr folding bike – I view it as more of a versatile, fun mode of transport. I took a used Craigslist Giant Mountain bike and outfitted it with racks and fenders – use it as my commuter and light cargo bike.

Commuter Bike with Dallas skyline in the background

Commuter Bike with Dallas skyline in the background. I need to take an updated photo – this one doesn’t have the fenders installed.


Magazine Street, New Orleans

Magazine Street, New Orleans

How Bicycling Brings Business

Bicycle Second Line New Orleans, Louisiana

Bicycle Second Line
New Orleans, Louisiana



Herb Alpert, Whipped Cream

Herb Alpert, Whipped Cream

Herb Alpert’s ‘Whipped Cream Lady’ now 76, living in Longview and looking back

Do I remember the album cover from back in the day? Even though I was only eight when it came out – of course I do.

One bit of useless trivia, Leon Russell (as Russell Bridges, a member of the “Wrecking Crew”) played piano on the album.


5 SXSW Eateries Off the Beaten Path

For my Austin peeps and visitors.


Bike lane on Yale, near my house.

Bike lane on Yale, near my house.

Why bike lanes are battle lines for justice


15 Of the Best Jack Kerouac Quotes

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”—The Dharma Bums


Look At This Tiny Drone [Video]

This would mean the end of privacy, if wind didn’t exist