Some Nerve: The Audacity of Audacity

This past Friday, you may recall that I mentioned the following Wall Street Journal article about the Portland bike racer couple whose exotic homestead features a luxurious crabon-filled bike cabaƱa:

To my surprise, Friday's post has subsequently accumulated something on the order of 15,000 comments, due largely to the fact that some readers objected to my irreverent take on the article.

As a blogger, I welcome and enjoy all commentary I receive, whether it's positive, negative, indifferent, or just random anonymous people posting one-word comments such as "scranus" and "nipples." This is because I love my "job," and anybody who so much glances at this blog--to say nothing of actually reading it and taking the time to leave a comment--makes my "job" possible and is therefore exalted in my eyes. Furthermore, I expect to receive negative comments, firstly because I often deserve them, and secondly because, well, this is the Internet and not a kindergarten classroom, and it's vital for society to have a socially-sanctioned blow-off valve in which it's acceptable for people to call other people douchebags.

Nevertheless, I was a bit puzzled by the negative commentary in this case, since I really hadn't even said anything mean about the owners. If anything, I gently ribbed them by trotting out the same tired Portland jokes I've been making for years, since I am a sustainable green blogger and thus recycle all my jokes. In this case, the joke was basically that the Butlers' bike room was not "smug" enough by Portland standards, because it had a bunch of race bikes and no "bake feets." Har, har.

At first, I was tempted to put the negative reaction down to regional cultural differences. See, the owners of the house are from Portland, as are the offended commenters. Sometimes I forget that as a New Yorker I'm regularly exposed to something called "humor," whereas Portlanders only encounter it maybe once or twice a year. Therefore, on the rare occasions when they do happen upon it, they tend to get confused in an endearingly Spock-like fashion.

To test my theory, I headed over to BikePortland, where proprietor Jonathan Maus had also mentioned the article. More to the point, he mentioned it in a sincere and joke-free fashion, just as I suspected he would:

Nevertheless, Portlanders were mad at him too. Even more interestingly, they were mad at him for exactly the opposite reasons they were mad at me:
Babygorilla December 2, 2011 at 11:29 am

Wow. Just wow. I'm generally pretty cynical in my postings, but I think I'm done with this site. A $1.5 million house for a "financial analyst" and his wife and they're holding fundraisers as the thing's being built and it took the comments to point this out on a site that is simultaneously cheerleading the OWS/Bike Swarm movement? I hope that the community support last winter saved the Butlers enough to upgrade to a redwood sauna.

Recommended 30

As you can see, 30 people "up-thumbed" that comment--that's more approbation than was received by any other comment on that post. So basically, people were angry with me because they thought I was being mean to the Butlers. Yet, at the same time, they were also angry with Maus for not indicting the Butlers on ethical grounds and castigating them for a perceived lack of integrity.

Of course, this is only part of the story, and other commenters were angry at me because they somehow thought I was actually encouraging #Occupy protesters to break into the Butlers' house and form a drum circle. Obviously this was not my intention, and to think that it was is--let's be honest--completely crazy. I mean, to say that I wanted anybody to break into their house is like saying these guys actually want you to jump into a garbage disposal:

Though I do maintain that the fork-in-the-garbage-disposal dance is poised to become the new drum circle. Just imagine thousands of people doing this at once. "The system" would topple overnight.

However, in retrospect maybe it was a bit irresponsible, since those #Occupy protesters are pretty impressionable. For example, a lot of anti-#Occupy people like to tell the protesters to "Get a job!," and at least one protester has gone and done just that--as a financial analyst no less:

She’s gone from Occupy Wall Street to occupying a job on Wall Street.

Down-on-her-luck protester Tracy Postert spent 15 days washing sidewalks and making sandwiches at Zuccotti Park — then landed a dream job at a Financial District investment firm thanks to a high-powered passer-by who offered her work.

Given the fact that the protesters will clearly do anything you tell them no matter how antithetical to their cause, it's only a matter of time before the 1% changes their heckles from "Get a job!" to "Wash my car!," thus transforming the #Occupy movement into one giant brush-free car wash.

Nevertheless, if you're crazy enough think I was telling people to break into the Butlers' house, then you're also crazy enough to think that Jonathan Maus was doing the same thing:

That sounds to me like a threat--assuming, of course, you're completely insane.

Anyway, I try to learn from all my experiences. So what have I learned from this one? Well, I've learned the following:

1) Portland's hemp veil of smugness is actually masking a lot of repressed anger that they are channeling into cyclocross, artisanal handicrafts, and blog commenting;
2) Never, ever, ever leap into a garbage disposal;
3) Dried fruit is delicious. (This has nothing to do with the house post, I just ate some dried fruit for the first time in years recently and really enjoyed it.)

Most of all, though, I grew nostalgic, for I remember a time when, like the Butlers, I too warranted a mention in the Wall Street Journal. In fact, I warranted two: here; and here. However, in those cases all the responses were universally positive. To wit:

3:17 pm March 30, 2010

Robert wrote:

Well it’s terrific that this self acclaimed bike snob “is at peace with revealing himself”.

Is this some kind of early April Fools Day joke!

New York is filled with snobs. Delicious to know we now have one for bikes.

3:23 pm March 30, 2010

Anonymous wrote:

Who cares?

3:40 pm March 30, 2010

Anonymous wrote:

Never heard of him, love it when the snobs put down 10 grand on a silly bicycle, more money back into the economy. Most of these people are just buying the bikes to impress their friends…

Actually, now that I look at them I guess they weren't so positive, but at the time I was much too happy to care, and I'd like to think the Butlers are feeling the same way.

And while we're on the subject of bike storage, here's a question:

Which is more ridiculous, having a lavish storage space for your 22 bikes, or having one custom bike that takes up your entire home?

I'd say you can make the strong case that the latter is far more ridiculous, especially since it describes me. 29-inch mountain bikes are very large, especially with appropriately voluminous tires and wide bars, and mine makes me the equivalent of those people who buy flat screen TVs that take up their entire living room. Here's my bike filling a Long Island Railroad this past weekend:

Sure, you might say having a fancy Engin singlespeed makes me something of a hypocrite, but in my defense I need those high-end bearings because it's physically impossible to keep it in my tiny home without at least part of it being in the shower. This means the bike is subject to water each and every time I bathe, which can be as frequently as twice a week. Also, bike bloggers need fancy bikes so they can make "epic" offroad excursions in faraway, exotic places like Queens:

Where they compensate for their poor riding skills by taking pictures of their fancy bikes:

And rummage around inside their impossibly smug Rivendell fanny packs (oh yeah, I totally rode in a fanny pack this weekend) in search of dignity:

After which they go back home:

And luxuriate in their designer saunas along with members of the Liquigas team:

(Forwarded by a reader)

While watching irreverent singlespeed videos on YouTube:

Of course, while taking gratuitous photos of your equipment is important, if you don't also upload the details of your ride to a social networking site then the ride didn't happen, so if you want to see my ride on Strava you can do so here.

It was, I'm sure you'll agree, "epic."

And if all of this hasn't yet turned you against me once and for all, consider that this stolen "bake feets" was recently recovered not far from where I live:

And despite walking right past it while was missing I did nothing whatsoever to aid in the recovery. Granted, I had no idea it was stolen, but that's only because I don't do my part for the "bike culture." Everybody true "bike culture" member knows that you're supposed to regularly read "bike culture" blogs and study stolen bike postings, and that you should determine the provenance of any "bake feets" you see in Brooklyn before moving on--especially if it's located outside of the Park Slope/"BoCoCa"/Williamsburg/Greenpoint smugness nexus.

At the very least, I should have photographed it and made fun of it, and maybe the owner would have seen it and something good might have come out of this blog for once.

Really, I should be forced to forfeit my fancy bicycle and ride a "bisexual" bike, like this one I saw on the Twitter:

70's Raleigh 3 SPEED Bisexual i suppose boy or girl could ride it :>) - $80 (EAST LANSING)
Date: 2011-12-04, 2:08PM EST
Reply to: [deleted]

Nice shape

Will need a little Hub work that little thing that goes in and out in the center of back wheel is not shifting good


Space might be a problem, but I could always put it in the sauna with the Liquigas guys.

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