Heat-Addled: Cooler Heads Will Prevail

Obviously an essential part of life in New York City is incessant complaining, and while we may seem unhappy the truth is we find this mode of discourse comforting. Really, it's less a way of expressing displeasure and more a form of familiar address. A Texan might greet a neighbor with a friendly "Howdy!" or a Hawaiian might offer a heartfelt "Aloha!" (at least according to what I've seen on TV, which is the extent of most of my cultural knowledge), but here in New York we simply exchange pained expressions and announce, "It's hot as balls out there!" And it is hot as balls, too--so hot that pedestrians are wearing minimal clothing:

(If she had "balls," you'd see them.)

Also, the saxophonists have been forced to practice outside under the shade of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway:

So evocative of summer was the sound that I was moved to capture it briefly on video:

Yes, summer in New York City consists almost entirely of women in revealing clothing walking lazily about to the sultry accompaniment of incidental saxophone music. In fact, it's exactly like the video for Glenn Frey's "You Belong to the City:"

As trendy a place as New York City can be, on a certain level it is eternally 1985 here.

But New Yorkers aren't the only people who like to complain; so too do Tour de France riders. Indeed, hot (as balls) on the wheel of the controversial Jens Voigt cobble-kvetch comes this bike-dropping, helmet-throwing freakout from Mark Cavendish, which was forwarded to me by a reader:

I am not conversant in the language of the headline, nor could I be bothered to translate it with the aid of a popular search engine, but I choose to interpret it as "Wild Cavendish goes with bike and helm." While I can certainly understand his frustration after having missed out on victory in Stage 4, he should also keep in mind that throwing a helmet around is not a good way to deal with anger. Not only is it unsportsmanlike, but he's also liable to hit somebody in the "kunstbox."

Speaking of sportsmen, you may recall that I expressed a cynical opinion about a designer ax (or "axe," if you're an excess vowel enthusiast) marketed by the "Best Made Company." Inasmuch as it is a symbol of outsized, Bunyanesque pretension, I admit I have become fascinated with it in the same way I can't seem to stop watching that Glenn Frey video. However, I now realize I may have been a bit harsh on this product, for while "Best Made Company" might obtain the ax(e) from a "secret source in Maine," they take great pains to carefully place it in a box all by themselves:

PACKING TIME from Peter Buchanan-Smith on Vimeo.

Ordinarily one would have to purchase a cured meat gift box to experience packaging this lavish, so when you factor in the high cost of artisanal salami this alone makes it worth the price. In today's world, it's important to remember that p
ackaging is important--sometimes even more important than what's inside the packaging. If you've ever given your dog a toy only to watch him totally disregard it and start humping the box, then you have just some idea of the power a well-designed package can have on humans as well. Also, red twine is involved, and you even get a certificate of authenticity that confirms it's "genuine," (which should come as a relief if you've ever opened a box containing a make-believe ax(e)):

I was particularly intrigued by the use of the word "issued," and the Best Made Company's certificate of (in)authenticity may indeed be a Rosetta Stone for my finally completely understanding the language of design. So far, I already knew that "colorway" means "color," and that "curate" means "to assemble, source, or slap together." Now, I also know that "issue" means "repackage or rebrand." Armed with this knowledge like a woodsman with a brand-new ax(e), I am pleased to report I have finally "curated" the Pretentious Order of Operations, which is as follows: first, you establish the "Colorway;" then, you "Curate" the product; and finally, you "Issue" it. The acronym for the Pretentious Order of Operations is of course "CCI," which is much easier to remember than PEMDAS.

Of course, I'm not a woodsman, nor do I have any meaningful wood-chopping experience, so it may be unfair for me to be critical of this product (even if it is just this ax with a colorful handle, a salami box, and an ersatz pedigree, as one reader suggests). Furthermore, if there really is a demand for pretty axes out there then I certainly can't indict this person for filling it, as much as the idea that such a demand exists may sicken me. Really for all I know, it is the greatest designer ax(e) ever CCId, and regardless of price I would wager that it at least does what it is supposed to do in the unlikely event that it is actually pressed into service (which is to chop wood). Unfortunately, not all designer bicycles do what they're supposed to do (which is convey a rider), and another reader has forwarded me these bicycle "sculptures" made of "DuPont™ Corian®," which I guess is the carbon fribĂ© of unrideable bikes:

Indeed, by "deconstructing the conventional elements of this traditional, environmentally-friendly vehicle," (or at least producing a computer rendering, since apparently designers don't even have to make anything anymore) he's done something the "fixerati" have been trying to do for years, which is render the bicycle completely useless:

It seems to me that if you like the way bicycles look and you admire their "environmental friendliness," then you might as well skip the sculpture and just keep an actual, rideable bicycle in the house. That way, you could look at it and ride it. Otherwise, it's sort of like having a decorative blender in your kitchen, or an unflushable toilet in your bathroom. Then again, I'm also one of those wrongheaded people who think you don't need a box and a certificate of authenticity for your ax(e), and that if you're cold you should throw on a shirt. However, the designer of the bicycle sculpture, Karim Rashid, feels differently.

Incidentally, the reader who forwarded me this also pointed out that Karim Rashid has "not bought a book, magazine, or paper in 5 years." This would explain why he's a bit out of the loop, and I feel it incumbent upon myself to tell him that we're all wearing shirts again, and that gratuitous tattoo displays went out of style when "Frasier" was still on the air.

In an age of pedigree axes and unrideable bikes, the absurd ingenuity you'll find on Craigslist seems quaint and charming in comparison. Consider this bicycle featuring a zip-tied chainring, which was forwarded to me by yet another reader:

Fixed Gear/ Fixie - $350 (downtown / civic / van ness)
Date: 2010-07-07, 10:38PM PDT
Reply to: [Deleted]


Hi, im selling a pretty new Windsor: The Hour bike. Only have had it for a month. There are a couple of scratches on the top tube, but it is purely COSMETIC, will not affect riding whatsoever.

As you can see in the picture, i have lost 3 chainring bolts because they fell out due to lack of tightness. I have used zip-ties as a replacement, (even two on one hole) and to be honest, it REALLY works. I am not just saying that to sell my bike, the zip-ties are VERY strong, and the chainring will not come off. (I have mashed down hills with it, and have felt no type of difficulty/problem.) You can pull all you want on the chainring, it will not fall off.

Please contact 415-573-[deleted] for quick replies. Text/call it. $350 obo. Talk to me about trades. Will be able to pick up and ride away.

Frame: Windsor The Hour; 49CM
Fork: 1 1/8
Crankset: Anodized 48t
BottomBracket: Sealed Cartridge 103mm
Pedals: Wellgo; Will include stock pedals. (Toe Clip/ Strap included on stock pedals, not on the Wellgo pedals which are installed on the bike)
Chain: KMC Z410 1/2 x 1/8
Hubs: Formula
Wheels: 32H Aero Track Double Wall (Stable wheels, true, run smooth,)
Tires: Front; Kenda 700x23c Back; Vittoria Marathon 700x28c (VEEEERY VEEERY Thick Tire! Will last a long time)
Stem: Dimension; Will include stock stem.
Saddle: SL Turbo Style Racing
Gear Ratio: 48/16

Tags: leader, iro, fuji, volume cutter, deep velocity, b43, deep v, h+ son, chukker, nitto, sugino, pake, fixie, fixed gear, track frame, aerospoke, hed 3, thrasher,

I'm intrigued, and I'm glad he's open to trades. In fact, I've got a spraypainted ax(e) I'd like to offer him. Sure, the head is duct-taped to the handle, but it also comes with a certificate of authenticity. You can chop all the wood you want--I guarantee the head won't come off.

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