Stake Your Claim: How To Pitch Your Way to Rich

In yesterday's post, I took a look at how each one of us can grab our own slice of the "artisanal pie." Sure, the economy is terrible, but in case you haven't noticed there's also something of a "bullshit gold rush" going on in our popular culture, and now is the time to stake your claim. And just in case you need some more inspiration, I'd like to introduce you to two Americans who have successfully harnessed the power of the "Artisan's Oath" to make their self-indulgent dreams come true.

First, meet NiCole "COLE" Robbins:

Like many of us, NiCole likes to ride her bike, and so she decided to ride hers from California to Alaska. Now, if you're like most people, when you feel like taking a long ride for no other reason than personal enjoyment, you probably figure that's just something you've got to do on your own time and with your own resources. Wrong! In fact, as you can see above, NiCole raised a cool $775 to fund her dream vacation.

So how did she do it? By taking the "Artisan's Oath" and turning her desire for recreation into a profound narrative:

The evidence of my work is displayed in the language created by the use of my hands: they are rough around the edges, with calloused fingertips and sliced cuticles. The focus of my research will examine the elements and demands, including the physical approach and process of creating art as object and physically navigating a line through space on a routine schedule. Careful attention will be paid to the sense of place and time and what becomes of the observations and notes shoved in between zippered pockets and sketched on studio walls.

See, you probably just tell people you like to ride your bike, but when NiCole rides hers she pays careful attention "to the sense of place and time and what becomes of the observations and notes shoved in between zippered pockets and sketched on studio walls."

Sure, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "None of the above paragraph is in any way even remotely comprehensible." Exactly! Reading this pitch is like staring at one of those "magic eye" pictures and failing to see the hidden image, which is exactly how it's supposed to be:

What conversations between strangers in passing can become the threads of new information and part of the process of creating and telling of the roads less traveled? The route I create will require precision, attention to detail and slowing down the pace – treating the body as machine – immersed in the spaces that seduce and challenge. I intend to investigate the question: what are the physical and psychological connections and processes between the daily activity of creating art while navigating uneven terrain north along the west coast on a bicycle.

Reading ethereal prose like this is like trying to touch a rainbow, or hold air in your hands, or hump the fog. You think maybe you've succeeded, but then--poof!--it's gone. And once you've sufficiently bewildered people, you go in for the kill:

The donations I receive for this project will help to cover the costs of food, accommodations and necessary gear to remain prepared for the expected and unexpected associations with long distance traveling such as: heavy rains, flat tires, first aid supplies.

In other words, she wants money for lunch, a raincoat, a patch kit, and some Band-Aids. So why didn't she just say so? Well, because people want to feel like they're Queen Isabella sponsoring Christopher Columbus. They don't want to buy other people Band-Aids.

Of course, if you're uncomfortable with the "quasi-intellectual obfuscation" approach, you can also use the "world-changing smugness" approach, which is a bit more daring but potentially far more lucrative, as Monica Hunken proves:

Monica raised almost $7,000, and here's here's her video pitch:

As you can see, she hits all the right notes. For example, during her bike trip, she will investigate "new methods of sustainable and renewable energy," such as camels with wind turbines on their backs:

It's estimated that there are as many as 77 million pet dogs in the United States, which means that if every dog owner were to affix a small turbine to their pooch's head we would solve the world's energy crisis overnight. Instead we're too busy feeding them Cheetos and watching Cesar Millan. This is shameful--and shame equals guilt, and guilt equals money for your Kickstarter.

It also helps to have a really good "concern face:"

This "concern face" is nothing short of excellent. In fact, if she were to ditch the helmet, the bike, and the compassion, she'd be a shoe-in for any Republican nomination.

She also may very well be the real-life inspiration for the HBO series "Enlightened" starring Laura Dern:

If the producers haven't already paid her for that, then she should sue. And lawsuits equal--you guessed it--more money!

In any case, there's lots of cash for the taking out there, and you shouldn't let these deft artisans have it all! Start working on your pitch, and in a few short months you could be on the bicycle vacation of your dreams.

Moving on from dream vacations to dream bicycles, yesterday I also mentioned the Überhood, and one reader informs me that the design supposedly dates all the way back to 1881:

Now that is a dream bike:

Just check out the specs:

A. Hoistable sun and rain protector.

B. Adjustable back supporter, umbrella holder, and knapsack with liniment and court plaster compartments.

C. Cowcatcher for preventing "headers" by removing loose obstacles, and switching deaf people and dogs off the track.

D. Adjustable balance to cowcatcher.

E. Inflatable side cushions to prevent lateral falls and running off narrow bridges. These being filled with hydrogen gas will overcome the entire weight of the machine and rider, leaving just enough bearing on the ground to supply the necessary running friction. With these attachments the rider is expected to outstrip the wind, and even ride to Naples via Canandaigua Lake.

F. Electric headlight.

G. Electric reservoir with motor for operating the various attachments, applying automatic brake, and containing also machine oil, crackers and cheese, cigars and benzine.

I've now fitted my Surly Big Dummy with a cowcatcher, and I suggest you do the same.

And while the bicycle umbrella clearly has a proud legacy, few things are prouder than a legacy cockpit (forwarded by another reader):

This impressively lofty cockpit, resembling a frontally-mounted pogo stick, was passed on from father to son, and now it can be yours:

K2 Proflex 4000 - $350 (Stanwood)
Date: 2011-11-09, 3:13PM PST
Reply to: [deleted]

Was my fathers, now it sits unused in my garage. Frame size is k2's "Way Big". Battery controlled electronic variable suspension. Many after market parts. You know you want it. $350.00 or best offer Please include phone number with response.

I do know I want it, but personally I was saddened to see this bike for sale, since my deepest hope is that one day I can hand down to one of my seventeen children a bicycle as fine as this and I would hate to see one of them turn around and sell it. As it is, they may need to fight it out for "dibs" on my Scattante.

Speaking of cockpits, yet another reader sends this fine example from Portland, where the abundant moisture clearly makes wacky cockpits sprout like mushrooms:

I can certainly relate to this rider, because I too never go anyplace without a spare fender and a whisk broom.

Apparently, the woman was as cunning and brave as the thief was stupid:

"I didn't really say much to them. All I said was, 'Oh, this is the bike?" And they said, 'Yes.' And I said, 'Well, can I give it a test ride?' And they said, 'Yeah,'" said Lucas. "So, I started riding it and I knew it was my bike, so I just kept riding it. (I) rode it to my car and then threw it in my car and then drove away."

As it happens, I first came across this story on Bikeradar, where I was less taken by the actual story than I was by the photo they used:

I'm not really sure what's going on in this image, unless it's meant to suggest that thieves like to amuse themselves by making shadow puppets while they work:

Either that, or it's an homage to "Nosferatu:"

Though that still doesn't explain why the thief's head is shaped like Frankenstein's.

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