Tolerance: Let's Talk About Your Big "But"

Further to last Monday's post, the artist known as Erik K has confirmed that he was indeed the "curator" of the pennyfarthing image that first appeared on this blog back in 2008 and has recently found new life on the Internet:

Moreover, he's also taken the opportunity to update it with the latest in deep-section "steampunk" wheel technology:

Pair a ride like this with a high-quality artisanal axe and a matching knuckle tattoo/sweatshirt combo (as forwarded by a reader) and you'll be a local celebrity in no time:

Speaking of retro-chic, another reader tells me that General Motors has attempted to redeem itself for that whole "Reality Sucks" ad debacle by traveling back in time to the 1970s and producing a bicycle-themed PSA:

Sure, this film may be old, but it's an artifact that speaks volumes ("volumes" is retro-chic for "megabytes") about how cycling in Canada's expanding waistband became what it is today. (Which is to say tantamount to a criminal act). In fact, notice that as the title flashes, a child who's just fallen off his bicycle is disappearing beneath the car's front bumper. Stupid cyclist. Notice also that the film is a "collabo" between General Motors and the Centron Corporation of Lawrence, KS:

"I Like Bikes, But..." is the final PSA in a trilogy that also includes "Some of My Best Friends Are Black" and "How to Humor Women in the Workplace." Anyway, here's the complete film, though unfortunately it has advertisements. (The advertisements I saw featured an effusive Irishman ranting about how I needed to visit the Emerald Isle, but I may just have Irish "cookies" in my browser since I've been looking at a lot of leprechaun porn lately.)

I like bikes... by yoruse

We meet our protagonist just as she's getting her driver's license. Yes, it's that tender time in every American's life just after we ride our bicycles for the last time and just before our asses start widening rapidly and we begin our losing battle with type 2 diabetes. As she begins driving, she immediately notices certain "truths" about bicyclists, such as:

Having trouble seeing this guy? Me neither. However, apparently the Centron Corporation feels he's the perfect example of an invisible cyclist just begging to be run down:

By the way, if you're wondering what the typical non-"fixie" cyclist in Williamsburg looks like today, just imagine this guy, only with a Bern helmet on crooked and/or backwards. I don't know what bottomless suburban garage all these old crappy 10-speeds are coming from, but landlords must be handing them out as apartment lease-signing bonuses.

Anyway, according to a popular user-edited Internet encyclopedia, the Centron Corporation was "one of the top producers of industrial and educational films." It's difficult to argue with this assessment. Not only do the suburban settings and hairstyles of the day indicate a subtle mastery of mise-en-scène:

But when it comes to suspense they also rival William Friedkin's work in "The French Connection." Here's our new driver wrestling with a steering wheel the size of a satellite dish:

Unwittingly on a collision course with that "invisible" cyclist:

I braced myself for the inevitable crash and ensuing race riot, but fortunately they never came--because apparently, our enlightened protagonist likes bikes too much to kill the foolish people riding them. Similar scenarios follow, during which we see various other ways in which bicycles suck. For example, bicycles fall down a lot:

And they also just plain don't watch where they're going:

Hardcore fans of the Centron Corporation's work will immediately recognize these as the same title cards from their lesser-known "Coping with Feminists" PSA , only with the word "bikes" replacing the word "women."

Ultimately though, the film ends on a positive note--with a message that cyclists are a shifty and untrustworthy bunch that should never be trusted, read by the narrator in that maddening California drawl:

I like bikes
They're number one with me
I like their style
They make me smile
They suit me to a "T"
But safetywise
Please realize
You NEVER should trust me

Basically, it's the "White Man's Burden" approach to sharing the road--drivers are the great imperialists who must save the savage cyclists from themselves--and it remains the prevailing notion in the United States of the USA to this day.

Given this, it's no wonder so many American cyclists want to flee to Portland, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Mobile Bike Shop/Rolling Party guy now has five hundred and one more USA Fun Tickets than he did before I mentioned his Kickstarter campaign:

This means he's now 10% of the way to fulfilling his fundraising goal. Sure, accomplishing only 10% of what you set out to do may not be all that impressive by "real city" standards, but it already makes him one of the most driven people in Portland before he's even arrived there. Soon, though, he'll be in the city of his cycling dreams, and that cloying atmosphere of coffee and smugness will choke the ambition right out of him like so much chloroform. I know, I've been there. "Sleep," that eerie disembodied voice begins to intone on about your third day there. "Have another craft beer." If you don't jab yourself repeatedly in the leg with a tire lever for the duration of your stay you run the risk of succumbing to the voice and missing your return flight. Then, before you know it, you've got a Rip Van Winkle beard and 26 handmade cycling hats, and you're spending 40 hours a week fashioning bike polo mallets and posting 2,500 word comments to BikePortland about whether the Oregon Manifest bikes were "practical" enough.

Yes, it's important to maintain your "edge." However, being too ambitious also comes with its own problems, and at worst it can come at the expense of morality. Consider the problem with doping in cycling--or, increasingly, in the fiercely competitive world of goat-showing:

A reader forwarded me the above article, and while as an avowed goat show fan I find myself crushed and disillusioned, as a cycling fan it does lend some credence to Alberto Contador's story.

Sometimes, it seems the only people left with any integrity are "walk-behind unicyclists," as forwarded by yet another reader:

rare walk behind uni-cycle - $1000 (lovely Paonia)
Date: 2011-09-09, 9:35AM MDT
Reply to: [deleted]

this thing is freaking cool-i just can't keep my collection up anymore. my research found it's a rare walk behind uni-cycle for those not ready to ride one but wanting to partake in the joys. not many of them left and this one is all original. $1000 or trade for a months stay in a shack w/a wood stove---thanks...and please put "roadkill" in subject of any email response or they go to trash unopened-peace

I was tempted, though personally I prefer my walk-behind bakfiets:

It's the ultimate in bipedal chic.

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