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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Martinmas Concert

My Dad invited us to a pot luck at his church where he'd be performing a few folk songs. It was, in hindsight, a lot to ask my oldest daughter to hang with: Dad is 75 and he is far from any sort of elder status in this group. I don't know names, but growing up at this church, I recognized a couple of dudes who were scary old men when I was Em's age.

Anyway, the thing really took me back because when me and my brother were squirts, Dad would sing folk songs for us at bedtime. His choice of repertoire was questionable: play The Wreck of the Old '97 to a couple of preschoolers (includes the line "he was found in the wreck with his hand on the throttle, scalded to death by the steam") and don't be surprised if the lads have trouble settling down to sleep.

He'd follow that up with the Hobo's Lullaby, if there was ever a song designed to radicalize your children.

The occasion was the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, or Martinmas. Actually, I'm a little hazy on this, because from both the program and what I found Googling the subject, the feast is actually November 11, not March 11, but who wants to pass up a chance to eat?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Three O'Clock w/Klaus

There was lots of stuff I should have been doing. Unpacking crates in the basement, my taxes, putting in the early spring garden.

But I went on the Three O'Clock Ride instead, and it was not a mistake. We wandered all over town, out Cliff Drive and down Benton to Flush Creek, then followed the trail there to the Plaza.

A gent named Klaus was along this time, and he had the coolest folding bike I've ever seen. If I did more traveling by air, I would so want one of these bikes. No tools required, it condenses down to the size of a bowling ball bag in seconds.

Klaus folded it up to show us, and then when it was time to roll, he was ready before me and I didn't even have a kickstand to put up.

On the way up Benton we passed a church that is being demolished. It's sad, because you can tell it was a grand structure, but it's beautiful in a way because you can see the architecture in cut-out.

Interesting, too, because I took it initially to be a stone structure, but you can tell it's actually stone veneer on brick, with a steel beam frame supporting it all. It's made to appear much older than it is, I doubt it's more then fifty or sixty years old.

Coming down Benton to Van Brunt (or is it Cleaver II at that point?), what a fantastic descent. I hit 37 mph just coasting. You should be aware, as I wasn't, that there is a light at the bottom of it with a wicked short yellow. Bombs away, but be prepared to stop even if it's a green light when it comes into view.

And we had fun climbing on the fountains that aren't wet yet.

It's a beautiful trail along the creek, but in this section it seems little used. I'm not sure why that is, when you get over near the Plaza it's lousy with people, but we had the whole scene to ourselves on a fantastic spring afternoon with a cloudless sky and temperatures in the 70s.

Looking for water refills, we stumbled on a neat little garden adjacent to the Discovery Center.

As we were leaving, we realized our bikes weren't supposed to come in with us. Oops.

On the way home we spotted some cool tags we hadn't seen near the Switzer community garden.

It's in a little area just sheltered enough from street view to make a tagger, in this case Cosmo, feel comfortable.

Bus Monkeys (Wreck of the Edmund Fitz-Wal-Mart)

Me and Mo went to a movie on her spring break. She had some birthday money I was at a bit of a loss as to how to spend. It's been so long since I took her to the movies, though, she quit asking. It's expensive, but she loves it.

So what better to spend your birthday money on?

The first choice was The Lorax, but it wasn't showing downtown. John Carter was, however.

We walked down to the bus stop and must have just missed the 101 because it was a pretty long wait, but she did fine with that part. Then, as we were riding across to the Missouri side, I was pointing out the neighborhoods as we went through them and Mo thought it was hilarious that a neighborhood was called the 'West Bottoms.'

Because it has 'bottoms' in its name. It is an interesting image, the butts, but only the 'west' ones.

Mo has been really into a video with a reference to the 'love monkey.' And she started appropriating that to other things: we were waiting for Corinna at the T-Mobile store, and Mo said something about Corinna being a 'Done Monkey.'

I guess it's kind of like that song, 'Code Monkey.'

So as we used the transit system, we became 'bus monkeys.'

The next day, I rode downtown from work and met Corinna and the girls at the Steamboat Arabia museum. They were bus monkeys that day, but I was a bike monkey, I guess.

The things they recovered from the steamboat wreck, really, were a mid-Nineteenth Centry Wal-Mart. Including 'trade' guns and beads which weren't from China but rather places like Belgium. At the time, that was where cheap, barely good enough consumer goods came from.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Back in the Pink

I remember a movie I saw on TV as a kid, black & white, Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Okay, I don't really remember the movie except it was about a boxer who died by mistake, or someone else who died by mistake and a boxer took over his body or something like that.

It was a long time ago, and especially as I kid I had trouble tracking black & white movies most of the time. Except I remember this phrase the protagonist had for being in shape: 'in the pink.'

I'm sure I don't meet that definition of the phrase, but I am indeed back in the pink. When I met Corinna, she had a pink helmet mohawk made of tulle. It was awesome. Not long after we started dating, she gave me one just like it.

After awhile the things faded out, and she made a new one for herself out of some fine-textured pink tulle that I just didn't dig. She got a bunch of it when she bought it, so if I wanted to match I should have just made one out of that stuff, but I didn't like it.

When I went to buy some large-gauge, coarse tulle, I thought maybe purple for the color. So then we were riding with different colors and textures, and while anyone outside us would say they were pretty much the same thing I didn't feel like they were.

So we were in the grocery store the other day and they had shower scrubbies in a bin for a buck. I was in a shit mood, no interest in retail at all, but Corinna tipped the display over and started rooting around for pink ones.

She was right: shower scrubbies are texturally the same but most of the sewing is already done for you. And these had little cubes of colored sponge embedded in them for extra clownish density.

So last weekend I sewed two sets of three together and zip-tied them to our helmets to restore symmetry and geometry to our romance.

Whoop Dee Doo

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I got this from the top of the UMKC student union building the other night. With more time, a tripod, and less wind, it'd be a pretty good place to shoot the Plaza from.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Parade

I've watched plenty of parades, but this is the first time I've been part of the show.

BikeWalkKC was, I think, the 84th entrant in the Kansas City St. Patrick's Day Parade.

I was riding in a panic to get there by 9:45 as instructed. I needed some green helmet mohawk makings, so that meant a stop by a Wal-Mart. Which meant chancing the 18th Street Expressway to get to Roeland Park on the way to midtown.

It's not that scary a road, really, except there's not much of a shoulder for a lot of it, and the traffic (what little there is early on a Saturday morning) moves fast. The main danger point seems to be the exit to Kansas Avenue, which isn't any too long, so cars figure they have to make a dive for it even if that means diving in front of a bike.

But they're diving so much faster than me, there's not much chance for a collision. I hope.

Anyway, as I approached the parade route, there were cars everywhere. Parked, looking for places to park, trying to find a way through despite all the cars.

I got to a road block and decided it would be wiser to seek forgiveness than permission, and cruised right by a cop. Nobody said a thing, and I cruised right up Broadway the last five or six blocks to the staging area unmolested.

One of those things you can do with a bike. Try that shit in a car or even on a motorcycle and you won't even get to explain that you're part of the parade.

Anyway, the bike-pedestrian people were all still decorating their bikes, too. I only had green shower scrubbies to make a green helmet mohawk (more of a three-puff array than a mohawk it turned out), but was offered balloons and crepe streamers and spent over an hour decorating my bike thinking that any minute we'd be mounting up.

Nope. This is a huge parade, and we were near the last of it. So I got to take plenty of pictures.

The wind was pretty intense (I'd notice the headwind riding out to get there), but it blew the clouds away and we had a bright, sunny crawl down Broadway when we finally did get going.

An old black man with a cigar sticking out of his ear* joined us on the route. He wasn't at the staging ground, but his bike was decorated. Not for St. Pat's necessarily, but he had improvised reflectors running the lengths of his spokes. When the parade (frequently) stopped, he would hold out his shirt front to make sure people could read it.

It was a t-shirt advertising the Green Duck Lounge on Prospect. I thought I remembered it from twenty years ago when I had a distribution route to run down that street. A seedy joint as I recalled. A Google search reveals that a few months ago it drew the full attention of Jean Peters Baker's prosecutor's office because so much drug dealing and murder was going on in and around it.

There was a band near us in the staging area with a stage set up on a trailer, with their girlfriends to rotate the drum riser (which was on a sort of Lazy Susan).

Also the roller derby girls, no doubt the sexiest entrants in the parade.

It was, I think almost two hours after the official parade start time when we were finally rolling. I could have stopped for breakfast and shopped in three or four more places for decorations if I'd had any idea.

Even once you're moving, it's a real stop and go affair, more so than I would have thought by watching parades.

I really want a green head-to-toe suit. For cold winter days, it would be perfect: socks, gloves, thermal underwear and balaclava all in one.

The pelican bike wasn't very green, but the guy riding it claimed to be color blind.

After the parade was over, making my way back through midtown the traffic was even more jammed up than coming in. It was liberating to be able to weave between cars that had no possible place to move.

After seeing all the vendors along the parade route and not having had breakfast, I was hoping for a vendor to be stationed at the bottom of the route to sell to hungry paraders. No such luck, though I did get a truck that was packing up to sell me a couple of hot dogs at half price. The street sweeper was a half a block away, the pedestrians were gone, and he was going to have to throw them away if he didn't sell them to me. I probably should have driven a harder bargain than half price.

*You ever taste your own ear wax? This was a Swisher Sweet type cigar with the plastic holder on the end, but surely when he takes it from the ear and goes to light it up and take a puff, he gets that nasty, bitter, awful earwax flavor. Just when I thought smoking couldn't be made more across-the-board disgusting.