Chamfering at the Bit: Hard Times, Soft People

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that I was the grateful (if sarcastic) recipient of some lights and various tools for my Scattante. "Surely," I thought to myself as I punched giant holes in my earlobes with my new chain rivet plier, "the holiday season can't get any better." How wrong I was, for later that day I checked my mail and found an envelope from the Brooks saddle-making concern containing this actual autographed picture of Eric "The Chamferer" Murray:

It should go without saying that I was thrilled to receive the photograph--in fact if it hadn't arrived in an actual Brooks envelope from the actual country of England via something called the "Royal Mail" (everything has such cute names in England, the whole place is just adorable) I might have dismissed it as a hoax. Even better than the photograph itself though is learning that I helped Eric "The Chamferer" Murray enjoy some "hipster pussy," and that knowledge is the greatest gift of all. Rest assured I plan to have this image framed, where it will occupy pride of place alongside my "vintage" autograph from Grandmaster Flash:

We actually weren't friends at all since I was only about 11 at the time, but I'm hoping that the fact I have it in writing might still be sufficient grounds to convince him to lend me money.

Speaking of holiday cheer, if you're in the Boulder, CO area you can get some at Vecchio's Bicicletteria, where they'd like you to know they'll be having a holiday party this Friday, December 17th, starting around 5pm:

I mention this because I was asked by both Vecchio's and by Stevil Kinevil of All Hail The Black Market, and when people of that stature tell me to jump you better believe I don't refuse--instead, I only ask "How high?," or maybe "Into what?" if there's a vat of something smelly involved. Plus, Peter Chisholm's Internet treatises on the virtues of handbuilt wheels are legendary, so if they build parties at Vecchio's as well as they build wheels, then the party will be evenly-tensioned, have anywhere from 32 to 36 attendees, all of whom will be butted and have brass nipples, and it will last until the walls wear out. (This is the opposite of a Mavic R-Sys party, which has a $2,000 cover charge and which goes for about 20 minutes before the floor suddenly collapses.) In fact, I'd be there myself, if only I lived anywhere near Boulder, and if only they hadn't specifically asked me not to come.

Sadly, though, not all is well in the state of Colorado, and you may remember that doughy money manager who ran down a cyclist and fled the scene. Well, apparently he's engineered a cunning new defense, which is that he was overwhelmed by "new-car smell:"

It's becoming increasingly clear to me that if you were addicted to humanity's shortcomings, and in order to feed your addiction you were to to take 21st century America and freebase it so that only its worst elements were left, you'd wind up with the quivering little gooey blob that is Martin Erzinger, which you'd then proceed to smoke and inhale. In any case, the patent absurdity of the "new-car defense" aside, I must say I'm tremendously disappointed in the current state of our rich people. At least "back in the day" they were ruthless in an above-board way, like robber barons, Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons," and the people in "Boardwalk Empire." Now they're just a bunch of cowardly whiners who can't handle the smells of their own luxury cars. Frankly, I think that when a human has devolved to the point where even the richly-appointed interior of his new Mercedes is too much for him, he's really not qualified for life in the outside world and should spend the rest of his life in a small enclosed area like the milk-fed veal calf that he is.

Of course, it's not just our rich people who are growing soft--it's all of us. That's why some people feel compelled to buy things like "artisanal axes" and other overpriced totems that evoke a life they'll never experience. In fact, a number of people inform me that Best Made Co., the very company that brought you the "bedazzled axe," is now selling a kit so self-conscious people suffering from feelings of inadequacy can make their own:

This is a very bad idea, in that the last person you want fashioning his own axe is the sort of person who would consider buying one from Best Made Co. in the first place. If I had to come up with a recipe for disaster, I don't think I could invent anything better than a bunch of fey hipsters with liberal arts degrees assembling sharp implements, and it should be quite a bloodbath when all those axe heads start flying off and embedding themselves in their friends' heads. I guess the Best Made guy missed the part in business school where they tell you not to kill your customers.

This is also why it's becoming increasingly difficult to live in New York City in general and Brooklyn in particular. You'd think it's the traditional trappings of urban life--overcrowding, pollution, crime--that would be the problem, but it's actually the opposite, and life here is becoming so bucolic that I'm beginning to feel as helpless and confused as Woody Allen on a dairy farm. Everywhere you turn now someone's fashioning an axe, or bee-keeping, or pickling something, or carrying a banjo, and it's hard not to want to cry "This isn't what I signed on for!" and ask for a refund. It's like Greenwich Village must have been during the height of the folk movement, only without all the talent. Really, if I wanted to live among a bunch of artisanal faux woodsmen I would have just moved to Portland. Even worse are all the New York Times articles about it, like this one:

Apparently people who moved to Brooklyn yesterday are upset about a Brooklyn-themed bar opening outside of Brooklyn today--as though marketing Brooklyn to the rest of the world were something new:

It's even traded on the NASDAQ.

Not only that, but they're also upset that non-Brooklyn corporations are selling their precious "craft Brooklyn" right back to them:

“The Gap’s mission right now is to be relevant to our target audience,” said Ivy Ross, executive vice president for marketing for the San Francisco-based retailer. “And this idea of supporting locally crafted products is very relevant.”

The shop carries not a single item of Gap clothing. Instead, it’s filled with the hip and the handmade: clever objects by local designers, upholstered skateboards and tattoo-brightening cream, an idiosyncratic selection of books.

I'm not at all surprised to learn there's a market in Brooklyn for tattoo-brightening cream. Until the late 1990s, tattooing was actually illegal in New York City; now, it's performed in storefronts that are indistinguishable from high-end cheese shops. However, I think the real growth is going to be in tattoo-distressing cream that will give fresh "hipster" ink that old, faded look for additional "street cred," and I expect it to be the next big thing by the time the first tramp stamps of spring emerge early next year.

Still, I can live with all the crafty stuff, and I can even live with the backlash to the crafty stuff, but where I really start to get annoyed is when people use it as an excuse to implicate cycling. As it happens, the Daily News recently ran a tongue-in-cheek article on the same subject, which prompted the following comment:

I've been living in Park Slope for more than 30 yrs. I witnessed the bad and the good. Mind you, gentrification renamed South Brooklyn to Park Slope back in the day which made property values soar. But, in the end we are approaching the downward slope in the bell curve which with all the attention is not necessarily all good. Can't find parking and tired of all the bicyclist who do not know much about public safety let alone their own.

I think bicyclists know a lot about public safety, which is why they want bike lanes. I also lament the "downward slope in the bell curve" of city driving--I miss the days when people didn't whine about how they "can't find parking," and when the measure of a driver was his ability to do so under any circumstances. (A real New York driver can always find parking.) Alas, there was a time when people took responsibility for themselves and their motor vehicles instead of complaining as they drive around yapping on their cellphones with Bumper Badgers (the top tube pads of the automotive world) hanging from their trunks to protect their dainty posteriors.

If this guy can't find a space in Park Slope for his Subaru then he's not looking hard enough.
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