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Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 2016 Critical Mass

I didn't ride Critical Mass this time, I wasn't up to it. I thought at first it was food poisoning, but that's usually over pretty quick. So it was something else. Something where you don't want to be too far from a toilet.

But I'd made some spoke cards, and I'd brought my bike to work on my car in case I was up to it, so of course I want to the tailgate portion.

My friend Vance showed up, I think it was his first Critical Mass. He seemed surprised by a lot of elements of it. I'm like, you know organized bike rides, we met on an organized ride. This is an organized ride's perfect opposite. No set route, we go where the guy up front goes unless someone decides not to follow him. It's half party, have parade, half protest, half not that good at fractions.

Oh, yeah, and most organized rides, there's only drinking after. Critical Mass tends to be a fairly wet event before, during and after.

And the only place I think I've ever seen more varieties of bikes come together for an event was RAGBRAI. BMX, tall bikes, fat bikes, time trial bikes, mountain bikes, roadie bikes, touring bikes, shitty bikes, chopper bikes, foldable bikes, etc.


The weather had seemed a little dodgy to folks who don't ride in the rain so that suppressed turnout a bit. But I still managed to run out of spoke cards, and I brought over 100 of them.

Cupcake Smasher was there, and of course David was (good thing since the primary spoke card I'd made was basically a David themed farewell.

Vance was back at his car pretty quick after they finally took off. Said he was overbooked for the weekend and thought this was like a one hour commitment, then spent an hour waiting for anyone to go ride bikes. Fair enough. Or maybe it was more anarchy than he's comfortable with, I can respect that. Before I experienced Critical Mass, it sounded like an all round bad idea.

But I'm hooked. So hooked that even with the illness issues I already shared TMI about, I was there with my riding shorts, helmet and bike hoping to go. Except my body was giving me unequivocal votes against doing any such thing.

I think the tailgate lasted longer than usual, but I think that was because everyone was so relieved that the rain had let up. It's been like a monsoon season here, and while it's not that unpleasant when it's warm, riding in the rain, standing around in it is another matter. And it's a hassle trying to keep your electronics dry (my iPhone 6s Plus, for instance, see also my Nikon D7000 these shots were taken with).

But all around it was a good time. I wish I could have gone along, I try never to miss it (I think December was the last one I didn't ride, and November was the last time I didn't at least stop by to say hey).

Friday, May 27, 2016

Bespoke: A Review

I didn't ride Critical Mass tonight but I did hand out spoke cards and take pictures. I don't always make Mass but I think me and Mo stopped in by car for the Christmas night one, I think maybe I missed November last year. Other than that I think I've made them all.

Since January I've also been faithful, even more faithful really, about making spoke cards to commemorate the ride. And a couple beyond that. January was Milk & Cheese (dairy products gone bad) themed. Then February was a kind of Hail Hydra thing.

They're not always brilliant, okay? But they are always well received. I've flush laminated a few and they hold up better than I expected (the edge lets water in, an issue if you're a bike commuter who gets caught riding in the rain regularly).

But classically spoke cards are black & white copies on Astrobright construction paper laminated on a kitchen table with contact paper. And my cards are generally full color, two sided, with 5 mil laminate. Because I'm a graphic designer in an awesome print shop, and because that's how I roll.

It's not all fun and games, either. Critical Mass regular and all round great guy Anthony Saluto was killed violently by a motorist who crossed two lanes into the wrong direction of a four lane street in early April. It's the end of May and there's still ben no release of a name, no charges, for all we know the motherfucker who hit Anthony and then drove into a light pole hard enough to shatter it (a block later) is still driving around. Jean Peters Baker's office (Jackson County Prosecutor), they don't seem inspired by the case at all, and when I called a few weeks after it happened I was told the police hadn't sent the case over, were probably waiting on toxicology. Which makes me wonder if it's the mayor's son or something, because when a cop gets shot, they have capital murder charges filed the next day, and apparently when a cyclist is murdered, everyone is supposed to sit on their hands for a couple of months and think this is normal and acceptable.

Oh but back to the fun and games (malfeasance and corruption is really a whole other post), I was struggling with a theme for this month's spoke card. Then my friend Luke asked me if I was going to do a David Dye spoke card since he's absconding from Kansas City and going to Seattle. Well, don't mind if I do!

David loves his Hamm's beer, I think because the Hamm's bear was his father (look at the pictures, the familial resemblance is impossible to deny). And a friend of a friend was able to provide me with a picture of him guzzling a Hamm's at a Holi (which, according to my research, which David says is bullshit, is a no alcoholic event). And since he's going to Seattle, he must be going to bring back grunge, spread the Starbucks gospel (after three years of working for a Starbucks ex-pat), etc. I'm sure I missed plenty of Seattle based jokes and chances to make fun of the guy, but I'm pretty happy with the result.

As I have the past few months I made the back of my Critical Mass spoke card a promotion for the Post Modern Pentathlon, an event I still need to iron out some specifics on, but it will be in midtown, it will involve riding a bike unknown to you (a B-Cycle), shooting (paintball, darts, disc golf), probably a toaster thrown for distance, bonus points for track-standing a B-Cycle. It will be fun.

Like I say, not all the spoke cards I've come up with in this fecund period are Critical Mass cards. Witness 'Jumpin' Jesus on a pogo stick! Everyone knows the burrow owl lives in a hole in the ground. Why the hell do you think they call it a burrow owl anyway?' (a sort of tribute to the Dead Milkmen).

Or my General Strike one from this evening. I swear, if my demands aren't met by the end of Monday, I'll make everyone stay out of work again on Tuesday. I will bring this nation to its knees if that's what it takes!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


So this billboard is across the street from my work. It's generally bought by McDonald's. It's a blight on the community, as were the gypsy car traders who built it (it's a 'highway' billboard, one that's supposed to uglify the countryside by an Interstate, but there it is right in the middle of Waldo.) I think I remember hearing it could be condemned and taken down if it went unrented for a period of time, though I don't recall the period.

Anyway, it's been blank for a few days now. One friend of mine suggested it was a promotion for the Spinal Tap album "Smell the Glove."

I liked my take on it better: it's a very clever promotion for a Rothko exhibition.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dave & Lizard Going Away

My friend David is going away. Very far away. To Seattle.

He's been a great friend and my go-to bike mechanic for a couple years now. So I'm sad to see him go, but then, I think he was bored with that gig and the one he's moving for sounds like it will provide satisfying challenges. And honestly, a chance to live in Seattle. If I didn't have family ties to Kansas City, I'd probably be in the Pacific Northwest by now, either Seattle or Portland.

Climate alone would move me there, I detest the extremes of summer and winter in the Midwest.

Not that we have it bad in KC. Boulevard is a world class brewery and there's lots of other little craft breweries and brewpubs around town. The Nelson and Kemper museums. The cost of living is very reasonable. And as far as bikes go, it's coming along (okay, it's still ass backwards on that front but there are a few glimmers of hope for civilizing our roads).

And there's the people. I know they have people in Seattle, too, and I'd probably love them once I got to know them. But just looking at the pics I took at the moving sale going away party at Dave & Lizard's, I guess I have more than just family ties to the area.

And as far as reforming that transportation system, look how fast the beer thing turned around in America. When I was in high school, it was all Budweiser, Miller, Coors. Guinness if you were really out in left field looking for adventure. Even when the craft brew thing started to catch, when I got into home brewing in the mid 90s, it was thought that at most craft beer couldn't be more than a percent or two of the total market (I think it's around 25% these days depending on how you define your terms, whether you include import craft in the picture, etc.)—it's changed so much that mostly the traditional powerhouses are buying up craft breweries left and right, not to shut them down, but to recapture market share. So when we reach a tipping point to sanity on transportation, it might well make your head spin how fast we park cars and add transit and embrace transportational cycling.