Rhinestoned: Bedazzled and Confused

Good morning!  Welcome into my home.  Please, have a seat.  So good of you to join me.  Don't mind that stain on the couch, it looks like it's wet and it also smells funny but it's totally dry.  Just sit right on it, you won't stick to it.  Watch TV, help yourself to some Cheetos®, add a few more stains to the couch, whatever.  I'll be over here typing words into my computer, but my helper monkey, Vito, will fetch you whatever you need, even if it's illegal.  He only asks that you spend a few moments delousing him in return.  There are few things more relaxing than delousing a monkey while watching daytime television, I strongly recommend you try it.

Owing to what has been something of a busy morning for me (meaning I actually had to put on pants and leave the house for a short period of time, which is a frightening proposition when you're an aspiring shut-in) the words you're reading may be somewhat disjointed and slipshod, like a homemade bamboo bicycle frame or an NYPD investigation of a driver-on-cyclist collision. Rest assured however that I will not be skimping on the inspirational stories, and a reader who was fortunate enough to meet the Lone Wolf informs me that as of late he has been "bedazzling his bike with 9,000 gems:"

He also deigned to pose for a portrait with the reader's friend, and it's shocking how much cooler the Lone Wolf's White Lotus of Truth is than than that MUSH Cannoli "collabo" fixie or whatever it is:

The reader even managed to gain some rare insight into the Lone Wolf's creative process:

Also, food for thought, I asked Lone Wolf if he sits in silence as he bedazzles or if he listens to some sort of music. Totally no shock, but he says he does it in silence.

I usually listen to classic Madonna while self-administering mani-pedis with lackluster results, and  clearly I would be well-advised to follow the Lone Wolf's example and work in an atmosphere that was more conducive to quiet contemplation.  I may try it when I move on to bedazzling the crotches of all my bib shorts.  (The insides of the crotches, of course.)

Meanwhile, in Portland, another reader tells me that educators are finally challenging the white hegemony inherent in the peanut butter and jelly sandwich:

Evidently, the problem is that too many children feel alienated by this Western imperialist luncheon food:

“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” says Gutierrez, principal at Harvey Scott K-8 School, a diverse school of 500 students in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood.

“Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”

Yes, one culture's white bread is another culture's "white privilege:"

Through intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives, the premise is that if educators can understand their own “white privilege,” then they can change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance.

It's a good thing the people of Portland have the courage to expose these elitist schoolteachers for the one-percenters that they are, and when the revolution comes I hope that they're the first ones with their backs against the wall and their tongues stuck to the roofs of their mouths because they've been gorging themselves on haute cuisine like PB&J sandwiches.  If I was a painter I'd render the Lone Wolf as a pan-cultural deity with many arms, dispensing tortas and pitas and falafels and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to all the children of the world as he smiles beatifically with the bedazzled disc wheel of his Lotus creating a halo effect behind his head.  But I'm not an artist, so instead here's a picture of a naked lady on a recumbent bicycle:

Of course, by censoring a naked woman on a recumbent we attempt to mute her seductive power, but we do so in vain.  Similarly, yet another reader tells me there are people out there who think you can keep things from getting stolen by putting tape on them, which is similarly futile:

Make your bike ugly. Well, not too ugly, you still want to to love your bike! For example though, this author's bike seat has a hole in it that's covered up with a piece of electrical tape. This seat has no value whatsoever to a criminal because it's damaged. Why not put a piece of tape on your bike seat and deter criminals from ever taking it?

People seem to think you can "un-dazzle" a bike or component to the point where nobody will want it, but go ahead and put a piece of tape on your fancy-schmancy Brooks and see what happens.  I suppose that depending on a thief's unique set of cultural references he may not steal a saddle with a piece of black tape on it because he thinks its a symbol of mourning and he fears divine retribution, but for the most part your typical workaday peanut butter and jelly sandwich-eating stealer of bicycles is not going to give a shit.

Speaking of stolen bikes, submissions continue to pour in for the Free Bio-Whatever Cable-For-A-Downtube Bike Contest (which ends at 12:01am on Friday, which is colloquially known as "tonight"), and here's someone who very well could find himself astride one of these things in the coming days:

I am Al Dimond, I live in Seattle, I write software, my favorite TV show is HBO's telling of George R. R. Martin's "realpolitik fantasy epic" Game of Butts.

My bike was stolen while it was locked at a bike rack with a "high theft area" sign at it. Um, overnight. I didn't intend to leave it there overnight, but when I went to pick it up in the evening I found that someone had tried and failed to cut the cable lock, and so instead had cut my brake cables. I had a party to get to and didn't want to be burdened with a brakeless freewheel bike in hilly Seattle, so I left it there. Went to pick it up the next morning and, naturally, it was gone.

My stolen bike was exactly like the one you're giving away except a few years older, with Puma branding, and glow-in-the-dark paint. I got it from a guy I met at a party who won it in a raffle at his office. He worked for an advertising agency and it had been used in a promotional photo shoot by Dr. Dre. Anyway, I'm pretty sure you can ride it with the downtube cable removed. I didn't test that extensively, but I rode it up and down an alley with the cable disconnected and the bike didn't fold up directly into my groin or anything like that. So I guess I need a folding bike so I can actually fold it up and take it places with me this time.

It's not like I should win this contest or something, but you should know that this bike

(LOL, fatfingered tab + spacebar). ... but you should know that this bike's built-in cable lock apparently doesn't deter theft in any meaningful way. This supposed anti-theft system won some kind of design prize a few years ago, so it's no surprise it's useless, right?

First of all, he watches TV, and even though I don't watch his favorite show I like that he likes it.  (In this contest, passion counts for a lot, especially when it involves TV.)  I also like that he locked his bike up to a rack with a "high theft area" sign on it (meaning he's not that smart) yet he also refused to ride a bike with cut brake cables (meaning he's not that stupid).  Basically, he hits the intellectual "sweet spot" between surviving and flourishing, and as someone who occupies that same portion of the brainial spectrum I feel a certain affinity for him.  Most endearingly, he's already owned the same bike, thought it was stupid, and doesn't really want another one--which makes me want to give him one anyway.  It's the sort of cosmic joke in which I'd take great pleasure in participating.

Here's another promising contestant:

1.  Who am I?

I'm Kurt Morris.  I live just outside of Philadelphia and I grew up in Pittsburgh and travel there frequently.  I work, all day long, with big and important powerful lawyers - I'm not a lawyer.  I do their administrative work.  I'm comfortable enough to admit that my favorite TV show is, and always has been, The Golden Girls.

2.  How was my bike stolen?  What did I learn?

My brand new bike (Scattante - purchased in May) was stolen out of my shed while I was sleeping earlier this summer.  I have many suspects in my head - neighbors, hoodlums, Bea Arthur.  Deep down, in the bottom of my heart, I can't help but hold myself accountable.  My friends laughed at me - but I totally should have continued co-sleeping until the end of the summer.  I'm not justifying my actions but I decided to park the bicycle in the shed, rather than in my bed next to me, because I do value the independence and personal freedom that my new bike gains by being parked in its own space.  That should count for something, dammit.  

That's all bullshit - I don't actually sleep with my bike.  I parked my bike in my shed and didn't lock it to anything because I assumed that it was safe.  Stupid stupid stupid!  Anyway - my main take aways were - that it can happen to me; That my bike can be stolen right out from under my nose; And that I hate people who steal bikes... like.. a lot.

3.  Why do I need a folding bike?

Honestly - who NEEDS a folding bike?  Anyone?  I don't... really.  Should I admit that?  Anyway - I'm just trying to be honest.  I have, however, come up with several justifications as to why I FEEL like I need a folding bike.  They are:

*  It will fit in my bed with me much easier than my old bike (or a dead horse...)
*  I commute to center city everyday on my bike (used to - hope to again).  On days when it rains or snows, with a folding bike, I can more easily bike to the train station and fold it up to take public transportation into work.  It is a bit of a pet peeve of mine that I can't take my bike on the trains or subways or other public transport during rush hour, if needed (more on that in a second).  My office is a bit away from the train station in Philly so I would then bike to my office from the station.  I'd much rather do this than drive into work or drive to the train station.  I won't leave my bike at the train station all day - even locked up.  

*  Rather than drive, I frequently take the MegaBus to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia to visit friends and family.  I'd really like to take my bike on the hills and trails rather than borrow one when I get there (or drive in order to take my own bike).  One of my major complaints is that MegaBus will not accommodate bicycles on their buses.

A folding bike will allow me to bike to the bus stop in Philly, board the bus (with my folding bike collapsed), bus to Pittsburgh, and then bike to my destinations once I get there.  MegaBus doesn't specify if I would be permitted to take a FOLDING bike on the bus - but if they don't, that would become part of my answer to question #4.

4.  How would I make the world a better place with my fancy new folding bike?  

Simply put, (in addition to changing the MegaBus policy) the world would see my joy in riding my new folding bicycle and every time I was asked about it, I would shamelessly promote your books and blog.  (That can't hurt, right?)

Thank you for your consideration.  Regardless of the decision, I honestly love reading your work (both books and blog).  Thank you!   

As a fellow Scattante owner I empathize with the fact that his was stolen, but at the same time I resent him because he owns a shed, which clearly means he's a one-percenter.  (I bet he eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches too).  Nevertheless, he does have a clear need for a folding bike, since he does ride the bus (the "MegaBus," to be precise), and he also grew up in Pittsburgh and continues to visit there, which is good for sympathy points.

Anyway, between these two contestants and the one I've mentioned yesterday, I've now read a grand total of three (3) submissions which means I've only got about 197 to go.

Lastly, still yet another reader informs me that even in 2012 the art of fixie customization is sill flourishing, and here's a particularly stunning exaple:

Not only that, but you can own it for a mere $500:

Everybody knows that cyclocross bikes are the new fixie bikes, but this bicycle is uniquely designed to make sure that its owner stays loyal to fixiedom forever.  This is because, should the rider ever be tempted to flirt with cyclocross by "portaging" the bicycle, the strategically-placed decorative chainrings will sever his arm at the shoulder in short order.

It's a touch lesson, but the fixie gods demand loyalty.

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