Bearing Witness: Hitting From Behind

("What pressure are you running?")

As you may know, next week I embark upon a series of Book-Related Appearances (or BRAs). My tour of America's "Hipster Belt" terminates at its muffin top, the erstwhile #1 cycling city of Portland, Oregon, which is now languishing beneath Minneapolis in the standings like a feeble "hipster" beneath an ample, corn-fed lover. The elaborate tramp stamp on this muffin top is of course Powell's bookstore, where I will be appearing, and for whose website I am currently writing a "guest blog." You can read this blog here, and while today's post has yet to "drop" I can reveal that it involves those stupid boot sandals:

I took this photograph moments before she opened that garment bag, crawled into it, and disappeared in a burst of glitter.

In the meantime, pending my departure, I feel uneasy--not because I will be stepping out of my "comfort zone" and visiting cities whose folkways, inhabitants, and condiments are strange, frightening, and unfamiliar to me, but because ever since yesterday I have been haunted by the GHMOIARBH from that video:

The truth is that I am of frail emotional constitution, and I am easily distressed by disturbing countenances. That is why the Legions of the Nonplussed to whom I have borne witness over the years reside eternally in my mind like a Pantheon of Disapproval or a Jury of Derision:

The foreman of this jury is of course the Nonplussed Journalist:

Being of fragile mind, I feel judged in every endeavor, and it is the Nonplussed Journalist who never fails to deliver the verdict of "Guilty."

Also, beyond the GHMOIARBH and the Jury of Derision, I'm also totally spooked by that staring guy from the ads for that HBO series "In Treatment:"

As well as by the menacing and mustachioed spokesman for 1-800-LAWYERS:

His 'stache is a pushbroom of justice, sweeping his opponents into neat little piles like so much sawdust.

Speaking of lawyers with toll-free numbers, they can come in handy when you're rear-ended by a car service driver:

I happened upon this scene only after the accident had happened, so I can't say with any certainty what happened, but I do have my suspicions. First of all, note that the Town Car has body panels from at least three different donor vehicles:

This is clearly not the first time this car has crashed into something.

Secondly, consider the car service driver himself, seen here talking to the rear-endee:

As all New Yorkers know, car service drivers are always talking on cellphones, and they have flabby jowls which they cultivate specially so that they can cradle their phones to the sides of their faces at all times. These jowls effectively hold the cellphone in place, and are their idea of a "hands-free device." I would confidently wager that, if one were to lift this man's jowls, one would find the impression of a Motorola logo still visible in his skin.

So, given the Town Car's colorway and the driver's chinway, my best guess is that the car service driver is at fault. Then again, I could be wrong, but in either case at least the Fat Chance was spared:

It's a good thing he wasn't using a trunk rack.

Shortly after passing this scene I mounted the Manhattan Bridge, which was coursing with bicycle commuters like a doped racer's veins course with red blood cells. So varied were the wheeled conveyances that I even saw a unicycle commuter, which is as dorky as it sounds and is kind of like seeing a pedestrian hopping. I couldn't help wondering to myself, "Is this it? Has New York City finally become the equal of Portland?" Between the commuting and the "bike culture" evidenced in that Streetfilms video, it's tempting to think so. However, you've got to wake up pretty early in the morning and put on a pretty ridiculous costume to out-silly Portland. With regard to the New York City "David Bowie Dance Ride," a commenter had this to say:

Anonymous said...

I hate to break it to you, but NYC copied that Bowie dance ride from Portland, where
a 'Bowie vs. Prince' dance ride has been an annual feature of Pedalpalooza since 2008.

June 8, 2010 3:45 PM

And so it has:

There are, of course, two lessons to learn from this: 1) When it comes to theme rides, Portland wins every time; and 2) When Bowie fights Prince, the only winner is androgyny.

Speaking of costumes (or a lack thereof), this Saturday the World Naked Bike Ride will take place in New York City, and a reader recently forwarded me this promotional video he made:

World Naked Bike Ride 2010 Promo... the making of.. from ps on Vimeo.

Why must people constantly embroil bicycles in their embarrassing behavior? The only way these people could possibly do more damage to cycling's credibility would be if they put on Ku Klux Clan robes and started burning crosses. Immediately after watching that video, I did this, followed by this. If you're looking for me on Saturday, expect to find me in Antananarivo.

Of course, if you insist on engaging in naked bicycle abdomen surfing on Saturday, you should at least make sure you have a comfortable saddle. Here's one, forwarded by a reader, that would probably be perfect for such an application:

The fish skeleton design will cradle your painted torso as you humiliate yourself, though attempting a cyclocross-style remount would no doubt leave the inside of your thigh looking like you were taunting your a cat with your "pants yabbies" instead of a piece of yarn.

But to remount you've got to dismount, and not everybody is proficient in the esoteric art of "clipping out." Recently, I observed a "Streetsign-Assisted Fredstand," which is a technique frequently employed by those who have not quite mastered their choice of pedalway and are reluctant or unable to disengage:

In the absence of a streetsign the Fredstander may employ a lamppost or a parked car, and in the absence of a stationary object of any kind he will most likely ride around in circles until the light changes or until he is felled by toe overlap.

In addition to the Fredstand, I have also witnessed the "Tri Geek Walk of Shame," wherein the triathlete walks his or her bike to or from the park in stocking feet with the empty shoes still dangling from the pedals. Unfortunately though, I have not as of yet managed to capture one on film. Similarly, I did not manage to photograph the strange gold motorized bicycle I saw darting through a traffic circle the other day. Amazingly, though, another reader forwarded me this photo, and it is indeed the very bicycle I saw:

It sounded like a hundred leafblowers, it was doing at least 35mph, and it was even more spectacular in motion.

Given the proliferation of power-assisted bicycles, is it any wonder this whole "motorized doping" controversy has arisen? And could Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso be guilty of the practice? Well, I don't know, but a number of readers have pointed out that he does have a single knuckle tattoo:

Keep in mind though that a mono-digital knuckle tattoo does not necessarily mean someone is guilty. As for the thumb gesture, he looks like a painter about to start a portrait, and one wonders if that portrait could be of his sister, Elisa:

Only the deadened groin of the GHMOIARBH could fail to be stirred by this ravishing she-Basso.

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