Painting the Town: Homogenized Exuberance

In yesterday's post, I mentioned Walmart, that friendly neighborhood store where you can buy oversized bikes, right-wing literature, and munitions, all at unbeatable prices.  So what's the opposite of this lethal, mass-produced, more-more-more ethos?  Why, it's life in Portland of course, as you can see in this video that was forwarded to me by a reader:

This video is an important anthropological document, because it encapsulates the Five Pillars of Portland Society, which are as follows:

--Making things pretty
--Making friends
--Being inclusive
--Being so profoundly self-satisfied it's disgusting

Yes, apparently in Portland people like to get together and paint intersections, though the Smugness Union requires that they stop every 15 minutes in order to snuggle:

("Hug break!")

You also have to hand it to Portland for being so resourceful, since they've managed to portray themselves as an inclusive culture despite the fact that it's one of the most ethnically and ideologically homogeneous societies on Earth.  That's not to say there isn't some diversity though, and some people there actually spell their names slightly differently:

(In Portland, Annes and Annies somehow manage to live together in perfect harmony.)

Though it's tough to disagree over anything when you're constantly stultified by communal art projects and overly earnest folk music:

("After this I'm playing at a same-sex dog wedding.")

Nevertheless, even Portland is not immune to discordance, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before some bike dorks start complaining that the pretty pictures are distracting attention from their precious bike sharrows.

Speaking of Portland, awhile back I mentioned that some Portlanders were making a leather bike handle.  As far as I'm concerned, a bike needs a handle like an aquarium needs a toilet.  Nevertheless, Stevil Kinevil informs me that the handlesmiths have since managed to raise $20,000:

Now, I've spent some time in Portland, and I know from experience that they will look at you askance if you so much as ask for a shopping bag in the grocery store.  Yet for some reason it's perfectly fine to for a cow to die so that you can have a handle for something that is already basically a giant handle.  I mean, what vehicle is more intrinsically portable than a bicycle?

This is not to say I have a problem with using cow parts for stuff, it's just that I don't understand how they managed to raise $20,000 in a city where only like 46 people actually have jobs.  (The Portland economy is sustained almost entirely by people who work for bike companies and then buy stuff from their employers with their employee discounts.)  But I suppose that's the power of Kickstarter, and still more proof that entrepreneurship now works on the "What About Bob?" model.  Indeed, every time I watch a Kickstarter video all I hear is "Gimme, gimme, gimme, I need, I need:"

In fact, I recently heard from another would-be bicycle accessory maker who will be launching his own Kickstarter on Thursday.  It is for something called the "Barbasket," and here is the video:

Barbasket from Chris Luomanen on Vimeo.

Like most Kickstarter projects, this combines elements from other accessories that already exist while simultaneously solving no problems whatsoever and creating some new ones.  See, if you want a removable bag for your handlebars, you can already get these things called "handlebar bags."  Or, if you want a basket you can take inside with you (or just leave at home), you can opt for these things called "removable baskets."  Meanwhile the Barbasket manages to require cumbersome proprietary handlebars while at the same time being really small:

Tellingly, the design concern behind the Barbasket is called "NRML:"

And it's clear that their though process was a bit clouded when they came up with it:

Though if you want a dedicated six-pack carrier that requires a pair of special handlebars then give generously.  Plus, the gratuitous handlebar loop looks like a great mounting place for that second leather bike handle.  Sure, you might have to take the beer out of your pouch in order to use it, but don't worry, you can always relocate that beer to the frame with yet another leather handle:

None of this would be a problem if people would just suck it up and ask for a bag at the store.

Sure, some people might think having an exquisitely-crafted leather handle for everything on a bicycle makes it beautiful, but I think it makes it look like it belongs to a metrosexual bike cowboy.  Still, it's better than this "flaming turd bike," as forwarded by another reader:

(Feces in motion)

At this rate I'm pretty sure it's only a matter of time before we start seeing leather bike locks, which will of course result in a dramatic uptick in bike theft, as well as a concomitant rise in polite vigilantism:

As I've mentioned, I belong to the "Your Bike Is Your Problem" school, and that extends to stopping bike thieves.  Firstly, I don't care enough about someone else's bike to interrupt a criminal with heavy cutting tools.    Secondly, even if I did care about it, chances are the owner doesn't care about it in the first place:

Res waited for the owner, but they never showed. She then went to the police, who told her that they couldn't help her. So she plastered these flyers up near the Starbucks. Res writes via email that she's reached out to Trek and is giving her the serial number on the bike, which may help them reunite the black bike with its owner.

As far as I'm concerned, Res should just keep that bike.  She earned it.  I probably wouldn't have even looked up from my Venti Soy Mocha Doucheaccino.

Lastly, in do-it-yourself research news, some Australians have proved that riding with headphones isn't actually that dangerous:


Based on these relatively simple tests, it is fair to conclude that:

1. A bike rider with ear-bud earphones playing music at a reasonable volume hears much more outside noise than a car driver, even when that driver has no music playing.

2. A bike rider with in-ear earphones playing music at a reasonable volume hears about the same outside noise as a car driver with no music playing, but more than a car driver playing music.

3. A bike rider with in-ear earphones playing music at a reasonable volume hears about the same outside noise as a car driver with no music playing, but more than a car driver playing music.
Ear-bud earphones set at a reasonable volume still allow riders to clearly here the warning sounds of other riders.

Put that in your ear and smoke it.

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