Weird Style: Cast-Offs and Bolt-Ons

As some of you may already be aware, this past weekend was an auspicious one for this blog. Finally, I received acknowledgment from a famous media outlet I have goaded countless times. Of course, I'm referring to Craigslist, where I finally received a "Missed Connection:"

You on bike, me walking with Dachshund on Saturday - w4m - 26 (Prospect Park)
Date: 2009-07-24, 12:12AM EDT

You rode past really fast on the Southwest corner of the park and yelled something about me and my dachshund.

What did you say? I'm curious.

I'm blond, you were wearing crazy cyclist gear.

Well, to be completely honest, I'm not absolutely certain it was me because I don't remember the incident. Still, it very easily could have been me. Firstly, I often ride in Prospect Park. Secondly, as a dedicated and passionate heckler of dachshund owners it's very rare that I pass someone walking a wiener dog while out on my bicycle without shouting something, even if it's just a simple "put a bun and some mustard on that thing." Thirdly, the rider was apparently wearing "crazy cyclist gear," and cycling attire doesn't get any crazier than a full chicken suit, which is my outfit of choice when doing laps in Prospect Park. (In the Peloton of Insanity, chicken suits are standard team issue.) So given the fact that even in a city as large as New York there probably aren't that many people riding around in chicken suits yelling at dachshunds, I'm just going to go ahead and take credit.

Also, considerably less auspicious but still worth noting is the fact that there was an article about me in the New York Times yesterday. Here's an excerpt from it, translated from English to French and then back into English via a free online translator:

For the World of Bicycle, Hard Love OF one Described AUTOMATICALLY the Snob

IT keeps a day work in the edition sector. It takes his bicycle to work in Manhattan of Brooklyn. It married. It appreciates a margarita. It is a racer enthusiast of bicycle, but not a terribly voucher the one.

Those were little of the personal details the Snob of Bicycle wanted to reveal. It consented to meet for a tex-mex dinner in Does the Hill, Brooklyn, on the condition that a journalist does not unveil his true name, for fear that the world learns the true identity of the more of difficult mood and more blogueur of bicycle of talk about the moment. (The anonymity is, after all, the central element of his online role).

It also rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.

I must confess I found myself getting slightly misty-eyed while reading the article, flattered and grateful as I was that so many cycling luminaries took the time to comment. (Sure, I would have liked to have seen a quote from Cadel Evans as well, but he's Australian and the language barrier was probably insurmountable.) Also, you wouldn't think you'd learn anything from an article about your own blog, but I actually did discover a new word:

At first, I thought "weird style diktats" was a reference to the new penile tattoo craze sweeping Williamsburg, but it turns out it's just a more phallic way of saying "rules." In any case, this article could not have come at a better time, since I'm preparing to "drop" my very own brand of marmalade and I need all the press I can get:

This particular jar was spotted by the proprietor of Metal Inquisition in Spain, where I am currently test-marketing the "Guayaba" flavorway.

Speaking of test-marketing, Tour de France winner Alberto Contador seems well on his way to branding his now-famous "fingerbang" victory salute:

My guess is that a hat (shown here in the "fingerbang" colorway) will be the first item from the AC collection to "drop:"

Then, if the public is receptive, I would expect a wide range of garments to follow, and perhaps one day the logo will become so popular that it will attain the coveted status of Polo Shirt Left Nipple Ubiquity, like the Ralph Lauren polo player, the Playboy Bunny, or the Le Tigre tigre:

I only hope that in his rush to capitalize on his Tour victory by trademarking the "fingerbang" he doesn't neglect his signature "cockblock," as practiced on teammate Andreas Kloden during stage 17 to Le Grand-Bornand. In any case, Contador's win was an impressive one, and we may very well see him fingerbanging and cockblocking his way to victory for many years to come.

Of course, even if Condador's logo becomes all the rage, "Fingerbang Fever" has a long way to go before it eclipses "Messenger Mania:"

The above image was forwarded to me by a friend, and it comes from a catalogue produced by a company called eBags. I was particularly taken by the playfully suggestive manner in which the guy in the center of the page is propelling his Specialized New York City edition Langster forward with his groin. Here's another shot which is even more masturbatory:

Note his expression, as well the manner in which he's grasping the top tube. Note also the resigned manner in which the woman is defending herself, as if this is the sort of thing that happens to her all the time. She looks like she's saying, "At least just wait until I get off the phone."

It would seem then that the fixed-gear bicycle has officially attained parity with the electric guitar. Like guitars, fixed-gears are now just something people buy so they can waggle them around in front of girls. Also like guitars, most people who own fixed-gears have no idea how to actually use them. And perhaps most tellingly, whether it's a guitar or a bicycle, the average onlooker is completely unconcerned with the actual quality of the object; instead, all they see is the shape and the color(whey).

Take the Republic bike for example, which in a certain way is the bicycle equivalent of a fake Les Paul. As many people are aware by now, this is the line of bicycles being sold by Urban Outfitters. I was recently enjoying a cocktail in a bar in Brooklyn when I noticed one of these Republic bicycles (in the "Ghost Bike" appearanceway) leaning jauntily against a wall like a prop:

Now, like any obsessive cyclist, I can't help feeling some contempt for Republic bikes for the usual litany of reasons. It's a mass-produced iteration of a type of urban bicycle once assembled by people on their own. Its frame is made of cheap hi-ten steel. It's sold via mailorder instead of through local bike shops. And so forth. As such, I caught myself glowering at the bike. However, your average bar patrons are completely unaware of and unconcerned with these details. Instead, they're simply seduced by the pretty colors and they want to touch it and try it out:

And of course, once someone has touched and tried out your bicycle, it's that much easier to convince them to touch and try you out as well:

("Want to check out my weird style diktats?")

So then, is the obsessive cyclist's fixation with a certain level of quality justified? Or is it the equivalent of the obsessive-compulsive's fear of microbes and germs? Is the Republic bicycle and the sort of interaction it inspires based entirely on superficialities? Ore are our standards so inordinately high that they are preventing us from enjoying life in a normal fashion? Furthermore, does the Republic bike represent an alarming drop in standards, or is it something that will ultimately draw people towards both bicycles and each-other? Is it a sort of "benign virus" that will spread the joy of cycling to the masses, or is it just a piece of crap that simply serves as a pretense for hipsters to copulate and exchange viruses with each-other? Only time will tell.

Social questions aside, it will also be interesting to see what happens to the bicycles themselves. It seems unlikely that the Republic bike will attain "Pistahood," since most self-conscious owners will probably choose to "upgrade" the frame before they "upgrade" the parts. Instead, it's possible that they'll just become bicycle flotsam. Right now the reigning ubiquitous street sign bicycle barnacle in New York City is the SE Draft. There is hardly an urban fixture that doesn't have at least one Draft clinging to it. Will the Republic bike supplant it? After all, many of these Drafts are now either in an advanced state of decay, or else have moved into the "dubious customization phase," and in either case they are nearing the end of their useful lives and are due for replacement. Here's one with an old Specialized Body Geometry saddle that has been stripped of its padding:

The Body Geometry saddle was designed to eliminate crotchal numbness, so I find it interesting that this person appears to have actually modified his in order to restore its impotence-inducing properties.

Here's a newer Draft which has already acquired an "Improvised Filth Prophylactic" (or IFP):

And here's a bike that is not an SE Draft, but is nonetheless noteworthy because it sports a pair of Bandaged Finger Bars:

Speaking of handlebars and bicycle evolution, in the heyday of the "flop and chop" bar (before the riser bar took over as the dominant urban fixed-gear handlebar) I wondered what must have become of all those severed drops. Well, a reader recently forwarded me this photo, which indicates that at least some of them might have found new life as actual handlebars themselves:

As the castoffs of yesteryear (or at least yestermonth) become the handlebars of today, it would seem that the fixed-gear fad has once again doubled over on itself like a brightly-attired yoga instructor. We shall see if it becomes increasingly supple or if it ultimately breaks its own back. And if it does keep getting more supple, will it one day attain a state of transcendence, or will it simply stay inside all day fellating itself?

Either way, I'm certainly enjoying all the diktats.

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