Breaking the Chain: Feeling Contrary

When I was an adolescent, I began forming strong opinions about our culture and our world.  These opinions were informed almost entirely by Dead Kennedys albums, and they had almost no basis in actual life experience--not least of all because I had no actual life experience.  Nevertheless, I was enraged by all manner of injustices.  For example, I knew--knew--that evangelical Christians were determined to rob me of my freedom of expression, even though I had never, ever encountered an evangelical Christian, and even though my only exposure to religious fundamentalism had been via other kids whose parents made them keep kosher during Pesach which meant that for a week we had to eat at Pizza Pious instead of at the regular Italian pizzeria.

As I got older, however, I "matured," and my outlook on life became more pragmatic.  I no longer grouped things into "good" and "evil" categories based on where they fell on the Jello Biafra Outrage Scale.  (The more shrilly Jello Biafra sings about something the more evil it was.)  I no longer automatically rejected anything "mainstream," and I stopped assuming that anything that was part of the mainstream was somehow automatically tainted.  Most of all, I laughed at my own naïveté, I dropped the attitude, and I got down to the non-ideological business of becoming an adult.

But then, years later, something amazing happened, and I realized that all those albums I used to listen to were right.  Well, maybe they weren't right about a lot of the specifics, but it turns out that the general message--that mainstream culture is vacuous and bankrupt--is pretty much entirely correct.  The truth is, from birth we're all steeping in a tea of cultural dumbassery, and unless we wake up and pull ourselves out of it we become infused with idiocy for life.  Or, to use another metaphor, if we don't clear the cookies from our mental cache then over time our consciousness is basically just reduced to spam and pop-up windows.  Yes, this is the default browser setting on the typical American brain:


Actually, I'm not sure if he's American, since he mentions kilometers and Americans only understand the metric system in the context of illegal drugs.  Also, he says "aboot."  Therefore, I assume he's Canadian, and it makes me sick to to think that if he were to crash into a tree while filming one of his stupid "vlogs" that he'd actually be entitled to complimentary medical attention.  This may just be the stupid American in me talking, but the fact is that sometimes heath care should not be universal, and this is one of those times.

Indeed, from our smallest towns to our largest cities, and from our highest mountains to our plainest plains, and from our fanciest Starbucks to our filthiest Starbucks where the homeless all go to the bathroom, America is full of obstinate morons who just say stupid things and cockblock for no reason.  Consider the Prospect Park West bike lane in Brooklyn, and the handful of supreme douche-wallahs who live next to it:

It's a bike lane.  It's painted green.  The city put it there so people could ride their bikes without dying.  There is still plenty of room for the driving and the parking of cars.  Why is this a problem?  Why did the douche-wallahs sue the city to have it taken out, and why, after they failed, are they now appealing the decision and trying again?  Just leave it there, you idiots!  This is what's happening--New York City is getting bike lanes now so the rest of the civilized world will stop laughing at us.  Sure, you can try to reverse it and pretend it never happened, just like those guilt-ridden "born-again virgins" do, but in both cases the denial really isn't helping.  You're better off just reconciling yourself to the fact that it went in, and you might as well just learn how to enjoy it, because once it's in riding on it is actually a lot of fun.

Still, I'm sure the douche-wallahs will figure out some novel new anti-bike lane tactic.  For example, a reader just sent me this photo taken on the bike lane in question:

As you can see, someone has appropriated the wheels of a Cadillac Escalade and left it sitting on blocks.  I'm tempted to laugh, but it's only a matter of time before the douche-wallahs start arguing that the bike lane simply encourages auto theft by giving the thieves more room to work--and while nobody in America really cares if you get run over by an SUV on your bicycle, we have no tolerance for the molestation of our SUVS.  By the way, don't ask me how I know, but it turns out you can carry four Escalade wheels on the back of a Big Dummy.  No telling yet how they'll look mounted up on my new car, but once I've installed them I'll let you know:

Speaking of sweet custom vehicles, it's almost time for the North American Handmade Bicycle Situation, brought to you once again by Don Walker:

This year's installment will take place in Sacramenty, Californy.  NAHBS is a Don Walker production and registered trademark of Don Walker Enterprises, and anyone who attempts to so much as show another person a handmade bicycle within 100 miles of the Sacramento Convention Center during that time will be shot, or exquisitely lugged, or both.

The 2012 NAHBS will also mark the official kickoff of the Gates Belt Drive Anti-Bicycle Chain Conspiracy:

Not content with automotive industry domination, Gates now want to take over the sole aspect of a bicycle to which a belt is in any way even remotely applicable, and they're starting by infiltrating the custom bike scene:

Even if you didn’t ride your single-speed cyclocross or city bike today, you probably used a Gates product to move around.

Gates has a hundred-year history providing mechanical components for a whole host of industrial applications, including things like the timing belt and hoses in your car’s engine.

Yes, they use belts in cars, so that means they belong on your bicycle--even though it doesn't have any of the parts that would require a timing belt in the first place.  (As for whether an engine timing belt is preferable to an engine timing chain, I will defer to any automotive experts on that one.)  Of course, if you insist on comparing bicycles with internal combustion vehicles then a more relevant question might be whether or not belts are used on motorcycles as a final drive (as opposed to opening and shutting valves or powering fans), and indeed the answer is yes--but mostly on the big farty ones:

(Belty and farty.)

Whereas the performance ones pretty much all use chains:

(Chainy and speedy.)

Even the ones that race in the mud:

Given this, I can see the belt might be a reasonable option on a bicycle on which low maintenance is of far greater concern than performance:

Though when you consider that chain maintenance on a bicycle like this amounts to doing pretty much nothing anyway it seems like a moot point.  Then again, I've already reached my Retrogrouch Breaking Point, and my experiences with the Belt Drive Freakout Bike may have dampened my enthusiasm for belts irrevocably--therefore I may have officially become one of those people who has no business opining on new technology.

Plus, I'm still slightly conspiracy-minded thanks to all those Dead Kennedys records, so I worry that once Gates gets a foothold in the bicycle world they'll start adding all sorts of accessories to bikes that also require additional belts, and before we know it we'll be riding around like this:

It's clean and low maintenance, except for the thrice-monthly tension adjustments and $500 timing belt changes.
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