Modern-Day Apostles: Spreading the Word

Are you an American, or just someone who wishes you were an American? Do you love freedom, and hamburgers, and dungarees, and sickening excess, and access to anything you want provided you're willing to assume debt beyond your wildest dreams? Well, if so you might be experiencing anxiety now, since the economy is currently shakier than a cyclocross bike with a bad case of fork chatter:

("I am sooo fucked.")

Yes, these are scary times. Uncertain times. The kind of times that compel you to sob in the shower while fully clothed. So what's the solution? What do we do? Frankly, I don't know. I'm more than willing to abandon the social construct of "money" and form a new society based on trust and sharing and the bartering of artisanal handicrafts, but that doesn't work unless everybody else is willing too. So, until that day when we all go, "OK, so no more money!," all we can do is keep both hands on the bars and try not to crash. Also, we can buoy our spirits by remembering happier times; more bountiful times; the sort of times when some quasi-intellectuals could get a bunch of money to travel around the country playing a handlebar flute:

(Two-man handlebar flutes are the new "rusty trombones.")

So when was this idyllic period? Well, apparently it was the golden era of prosperity known as "mid-June:"

Yes, apparently back in mid-June Americans were so flush with cash that they could underwrite road trips on which people traveled around blowing on bike parts in order to "spread the gospel of the bicycle"--albeit these travels were undertaken by car:

But lest you dismiss this as yet another "All You Strangers Fund My Self-Indulgence" scheme, you should know that the artists have more than paid their dues. In fact, one of them has a degree in talking clouds:

The Kjalvötn script was invented by Bob as an ancillary to his senior thesis - which was about clouds (yes, as in weather) speaking Old Norse. I bet you are curious. I bet you want something sealed with sealing wax.

This should serve to silence anybody whose ever said that studying a subject like Old Norse was a waste of time in that the language has no practical applications in modern-day America. Uh, yeah, it does--making up conversations between clouds. Like, what else would a cloud speak? French!?! And could anything be a better metaphor for liberal arts graduates than clouds that speak Old Norse? They're both white, fluffy, and insubstantial, and they communicate in a manner that's completely incomprehensible to the rest of the world. If that's what he was in fact going for, I hope he got an A+. (Or, if he went to one of those schools that uses an alternative grading system, I hope he got a "delighted chipmunk" or whatever the A+ equivalent would be. I understand some of these schools are using spirit animals as grades now.)

But such is the complex interplay between culture and the economy. In times of great wealth an artist can find patrons, and the culture too grows rich with creativity, ideas, and entertainment. But in times of great poverty we cinch our purse strings like a schlub tightening his sweatpants, and our culture becomes stagnant and reactionary. We seem to be entering into just such a period now--and it's not limited to Canada South, either. As we saw yesterday, up in Canada Proper, there's a growing anti-pennyfarthing movement, and a reader in Germany now tells me that p-fars are not welcome there either:

I don't understand German, but I'm pretty sure that says that pennyfarthing riders are not allowed to get rad. This is a backwards attitude--almost as backwards as the fork on this in-store display spotted by a reader in an Austin, TX wine shop:

That bike must handle like a p-far.

But there are glimmers of hope and forward-mindedness. Sure, it's considerably tougher to fund your handlebar flute tour now, but if your message is sustainability and cost-savings you can still find funding for your "epic" bicycle tour--especially if you want to "Bicycle Down the West Coast, Meet Women, Talk about Menstrual Cups, and Live on $4 a Day:"

A reader brought this to my attention, and I can't help wondering how many lascivious and wanderlust-smitten "duders" must have been taken in by the ride description. "Bicycle down the west coast? Yes! Meet women? Yes!!! Talk about...menstrual cups? Whoa." Personally though I applaud these menstrual cup apostles for promoting something they believe in, and when you consider that a single menstrual cup costs $35 and will last you for ten years then you begin to understand why they're the Chris King headset of feminine hygiene. Plus, I can't think of a better title for a folk song than "Talkin' 'Bout Menstrual Cups."

In fact, I may very well take to the road and preach the menstrual cup gospel myself, and if I did I'd almost certainly do so in this elegant recumbent that was forwarded to me by a reader:

Yes, they sure knew how to build recumbents in those days:

("Hey, wanna talk about menstrual cups?")

You can even play the handlebar flute together while you ride.

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