Overzealous: Gotta Have Faith

This past Friday, I mentioned Bicycling magazine's interview with thrill-seeking IT specialist (and self-hating Fred) Lucas Brunelle. Like many cyclists, I find that Brunelle's antics cause me considerable consternation. Therefore, in search of lighter and less provocative reading, over the weekend I picked up a copy of my second-favorite magazine after Bicycling to peruse during my next bathroom visit:

Unfortunately though it would seem that even the world of bourgeois homemaking has fallen prey to the "making stuff dangerous for no reason" phenomenon, for in the magazine was an interview with some guy who participates in dangerous outlaw landscaping contests called "gardengophers" and films them for mass consumption:

From the interview, I was surprised to learn that "garden culture" is surprisingly similar to "bike culture:"

You grew up in an affluent Cape Cod beach town. How did you become the poster boy for gonzo gardening?

I resented my privileged upbringing, so I played hooky with my push reel lawnmower. One of my first riding mowers was a classic John Deere. My friends and I used to mow neighbors' lawns with the choke all the way closed and the grass bag removed. Sometimes we'd break into Walter Cronkite's garden and prune the topiary. I got my lawn care license when I was 16 and transformed our house into a stop on the annual Cape Cod gardening tour. In college I worked as a landscaper and became obsessed with outlaw gardening. You can't replicate the thrill of implementing unsanctioned landscaping projects in a public park, or of rototilling an uncleared Bosnian minefield, even by lowering your "pants yabbies" into a Venus Flytrap.

Your new movie, Brucas Lunelle: Load of Dung, offers up hair-raising gardening footage from Beijing, Boston, Dublin, New York, and Tokyo. What's the craziest stunt you've pulled?

In Miami, we cleared two acres of Bill Baggs State Park with chainsaws and replaced the trees with native groundcover, garden gnomes, and deadly booby traps like the kinds made by the Vietcong. The palms were crashing down all around us. When you're landscaping like that, the endorphins create this heightened sense of awareness. You notice the sound of a middle-aged Jewish woman slathering on sunscreen or a manatee farting.

Do you garden like that even when you're watering your plants?

Yes. Every hoe I have is as sharp as a whip, so you always double down on the good foot.

Last year you spent $80,000 of your own money filming gardengophers. Why?

Almost daily, I get e-mail from people who tell me I've inspired them to garden more. And they're taking senseless risks in their own gardens. One person has cancer; now she's using her savings to buy rare orchids and cigarettes instead of on treatment. Another was in a relationship with someone she didn't love; she murdered him with a Felco 6" folding saw, dismembered him, and buried his remains in her herb garden. For a lot of people, "No, you can't" is a motto. I'm saying, "Hey, you can live life on your own accord, just as long as you're independently wealthy and a giant asshole."

Are you ever scared, gardening like this?

I'm always scared—even if I'm mulching my flower bed I'm scared. You never know—the Lord has your number, and you really have no control over whether or not you step on one of those leftover Bosnian landmines you buried in it the night before and it blows you to smithereens.

Do you own a riding lawnmower?

I still have the John Deere. Fuck the environment. It's the sharp tools, combustibles and insecticides that make gardening fun. Without them, we couldn't cut off our fingers or develop respiratory disorders. For my next project I'm recreating the gardens of Versailles out of poisonous plants on a highway median strip in New Jersey and fertilizing it with my own feces. I love motor vehicle exhaust and irritants. It's an evil river, sure, but I love the scent of my own excrement.

Outrageous! Lunelle should be ashamed of himself--and so should Martha Stewart for that matter. I miss the bygone days of the wholesome Martha Stewart who used to give advice for making Christmas ornaments out of toilet paper rolls, and who used to spend an hour and a half on Great Head:

I also miss more genteel gardening advocates like Bavid Dyrne:

(Bavid Dyrne doesn't own a riding lawnmower.)

Any resemblance between David Byrne and Bavid Dyrne is entirely coincidental--apart from the fact that they're both unbearably smug, and they both think people from the midwest* are idiots.

*("Midwest" in this context is anyplace that lies in between the Hudson and Los Angeles Rivers, as well as the entire Long Island land mass excluding portions of Brooklyn and the Hamptons.)

Speaking of offensive behavior, a number of people have forwarded me this image of a bicycle employing a lobster as a fender filth prophylactic:

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I worship a deity to whom I refer as The Great Lobster on High. Like most religious converts, I am extremely zealous (as opposed to being mildly zealous, which technically isn't possible, though if it were I suppose you'd call it "meh-lous"), and my revelation came to me when I was at a particularly low point in my life. My addiction to non-alcoholic beverages was ruining my relationships and my career, and I was having a business power lunch at a fancy seafood restaurant when I hit rock bottom. We were supposed to be closing a multi-million dollar deal that would make me rich beyond my wildest dreams, but instead I was on my 16th Shirley Temple, singing songs from "Grease II" and dancing around with a bunch of paper umbrellas in my hair and a maraschino cherry up each nostril. Just then, a particularly succulent lobster in the live lobster tank swam up above the water line, leaned jauntily on the edge of the tank, and spoke the three words that changed my life. "Get it together, douchebag," he said while pointing at me with a rubber-banded claw, and then he simply vanished.

I never did close that business deal, but I did stop drinking Shirley Temples and now limit myself entirely to alcohol. And while I may no longer be a member of the wealthiest 1%, I'd much rather be a member of that other 1%--the people who worship the Great Lobster on High, and who are going to The Awesome Place when we die while the rest of you suckers burn in hell.

All of this is to say that I find the aforementioned bicycle disgusting, and as such am putting the Lobsterite equivalent of a fatwa on the owner. If you see this bicycle, accost the rider and demand that he or she "fatone" for his or her evil behavior immediately. Of course, it's also possible that this bicycle is a sign that the Lob-pocalypse is nigh, and that the lobster is actually The Great Lobster on High cryogenically frozen and ready to be thawed for the final Meh-coning, but this sign is also supposed to be preceded by a cat giving birth to a lobster with three claws followed by the appearance of an NJS track bike with dual disc brakes and a suspension fork, so pending those signs the "fatone" is still on.

Speaking of religion and fixed-gear cycling, the two lifestyles actually have a lot in common. In particular, they involve following lots of rules that don't really make much sense, and few people are able to engage in either unless there are other people around to watch. Consider, for example, this Craigslist post which was forwarded to me by a reader:

Phil Wood front hub NEW - $100 (East nashville )
Date: 2011-12-08, 9:52PM CST
Reply to: [deleted]

This is a brand new hub I never laced it. I moved here from NYC and there's a lack of a fixed gear scene here so there no need for me to make a new wheel so I'm selling it. Brand new if you have any questions call, text 917-XXX-XXXX or email me!

So not only is it impossible to coast on a fixed-gear bicycle, but it's also entirely impossible to ride one at all unless there's a "scene" around to watch you do it. Stranger still is the fact that this is a front hub, which means he could use it on any type of bike, fixed or otherwise. For, as it is written, "But when you build a wheel, do not let your front hub know what your rear hub is doing, so that your coasting may be in secret."


By the way, Nashville may just have made the top of my "dream city" list. No fixed-gear scene and less than 300 miles to Dollywood?!? I may have to move.

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