Facts: Who Needs 'Em?

Further to yesterday's post, in which I mentioned Ghost Bikes and ghost bikes, a number of commenters were kind enough to inform me that Ghost Bikes have been around since 1993, while ghost bike memorials began in 2003:

I suppose I might have learned this had I spend the requisite four and a half seconds checking dates via a popular search engine, but as I always say, I didn't get into the semi-professional bike blogging racket to "work." So why did I get into it then? Well, for the strange care packages, of course. (The dissemination of misinformation is merely a bonus.) In fact, here's a particularly strange care package I received recently:

At first glance this appeared to be simply a United Airlines toiletry kit of some kind, but when I opened it I discovered that it was in fact a clown car of weirdness:

The morbid rubber mask and unicycle brochure were disconcerting enough:

But it was the juxtaposition of the dreidel, the Iron Maiden badge, and the photo of a kid with holes punched through his eyes that really made me shiver:

At this point in the unpacking process I paused briefly to change the locks on my front door and adopt a pit bull. (I call him Cuddles. He has cigarette burns on his face, testicles the size of Fuji apples, and he's really angry). Then, I returned to the package and flipped open the smutty paperback as Cuddles sat by my front door alternately growling and licking his apples:

Only to find a secret vaginal-shaped cutout containing a fragrant object:

If you're wondering how all this made me feel, "freaked the fuck out" is probably the best way to describe it. You know a package is creepy when a parcel from All Hail The Black Market seems reassuring by comparison:

I haven't been this scared of my mailbox since I was a high school senior applying to college. (You don't know rejection until you've been denied admission by a SUNY; it's like being told you don't have what it takes to own a Scattante.)

Anyway, all of this is to say that I simply don't have time for tasks as onerous as fact-checking. Also, part of the problem is simple cultural misunderstanding. See, Ghost Bikes is a German company, and at least some of the commenters who corrected me appeared to be from Germany (or at least from Europe). Given this, I suppose they could be excused for expecting accuracy. However, that's just not how we do things here in Canada's apple sack. No, what we do is formulate an opinion, declare it to be truth, and then alter the facts accordingly. Consider this video from commenter "CE:"

Having been to Amsterdam with my family recently I can confirm that what Bill O'Reilly is saying is insane. Indeed, visiting Amsterdam and traveling there by bike was easily one of our best family experiences to date. It's pretty sad that you have to leave America in order to feel safe going on a bike ride with your kid (or even by yourself for that matter). The simple fact is that you have not seen pleasure on the face of a child until you have seen one inside a "bake feets" on an Amsterdam cycle path. Really, it's second only to the look of joy they get while visiting a legal prostitute, or taking a big hit of cannabis at one of the many coffee shops.

Interestingly though, if you take the Fox News video and substitute the word "Amsterdam" with the words "Las Vegas," then it does become totally accurate.

Speaking of America, during my "high-8-us" last week I received a very important press release:

Herndon, Va., January 26, 2012― At the Washington Auto Show today, Volkswagen of America, Inc. (VWoA) and the Bikes Belong Foundation, the nation’s leading advocacy organization for biking, announced a new two-year partnership to help develop biking-friendly communities, foster healthy lifestyles and create a cleaner environment. VWoA will donate vehicles and funding to support three core Bikes Belong advocacy and urban planning initiatives: Peopleforbikes.org, Safe Routes to School National Partnership (SRTSNP) and Bicycling Design Best Practices.

Awww, isn't that cute? Here comes a car company to finally lend cycling some legitimacy! Doesn't this make you feel better about yourself? Doesn't the Volkswagen logo look great next to the Bikes Belong logo? Doesn't the irony make you feel all tingly inside, like you just opened a United Airlines bag full of psychotic bric--à-brac, or like seeing Jim Perdue in one of those sexy naked PETA ads? Really, this is what American-style "biking" is all about: putting your hybrid bike on the trunk rack of your $45,000 Touareg TDI (it's environmentally friendly, you know), driving to the nearest recreational path, and then riding for 20 minutes in sweatpants around the local reservoir just like LeBron James.

Of course, cycling is a little more sophisticated in the larger American cities like New York, where instead of driving our bikes to the bike path we prefer to salmon into each other:

horrible biker on Tompkins - w4m - 24 (Tompkins in Brooklyn)
Date: 2012-02-01, 11:10PM EST
Reply to:

i just need to say a feeeewwww things:

As a biker you should be looking out for your fellow bikers.
Hightailing it around a corner the wrong way onto a one-way bike lane/road wearing all black without a light is not cool. Sure, in general that may not be a place you'd be concerned about getting into or CAUSING an accident...but really. Its not that hard to slow down a bit and look out for your own. Did you notice that I landed in the middle of the car lane? What would've happened had there been more traffic? We're both damn lucky you only caused me a ridiculously untrue front wheel and busted up knees. I'm pissed. You offered me a few bucks to true the wheel. Thanks, but honestly...had I been in your presence for another second I would have raged.
Obviously you didn't perform as a jackass biker on purpose, and I'm sure you feel terrible...but that was stupid.


Or else simply engage in the timeless Cat 6 Dance of Dorkiness:

Date: 2012-01-30, 8:50PM EST
Reply to:

You beat me, you son of a bitch.

I wasn't there, but I'm reasonably sure that shame was the only winner of that race.

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