BSNYC Friday Cat Pee!

As a sarcastic bike blogger I like to think that I have a pretty good eye for parody, but the truth is that as time goes on I find myself increasingly unable to identify it.  This could be because our culture has become more finely nuanced in the digital age, but more likely it's just because I'm getting old and ossified.  Either way, the point is that I have no idea if this "Pop-Up Espresso-oh Party!" in Brooklyn (via this blog) is real or not:

If it's a parody it's very funny, and if it's real it's very offensive, but I guess it doesn't really matter since either way it's highly entertaining.  Basically, the author has just moved to Bedford-Stuyvesant, and he's disappointed that there aren't enough similar-minded douchebags following him.  This, he posits, would be remedied if there were more twee coffee houses:

And Bed-Stuy, my current living location, could learn a few things from Starbucks and the Greeks. The infrastructure and layout of Bed-Stuy is no different from other parts of the city. Apartment blocks, storefronts, parks, “walk-up” brownstones with the quintessential New York fire escape, it is all there. So what is missing,  Why is the area still not one which people flock to when looking for apartments?  Why the fuck can I not get a decent coffee? Well, simply put, there is no where to get one. And this is the basis for exploration and investigation. Can neighborhood perception, pride, and responsibility be transformed through quality espresso?

Yes. Espresso. Coffee even. Coffee is the problem and the answer.

If this is indeed parody then he's capturing the voice of the enamored transplant quite well.  ("Ooh, fire escapes!  How urban!")  He also takes that crucial extra step, which is to subtly insult and demean the people who have lived there for generations:

What Bed-Stuy needs is more community members, not merely people who reside there. The most widely recognized catalyst for this transition has historically been…coffee. Coffee creates the trickle down effect every community needs. If a community cares enough to demand a decent cup, that is a community that cares enough to make real changes.

As Malcolm Gladwell famously outlined in his book “Outliers” it is a broken window theory. If you let small details slip, such as allowing graffiti to go unchecked, then the whole community will slowly devolve into more serious crime and disrepair. A similar route is true on the other end. A community focused enough on small details, especially coffee, will bring with it larger issues, eventually lowering crime rates, lowering drop-out rates, and reducing the number of sexually transmitted diseases. In the end, this leaves all participants with a higher value community, one which people would love to call home.

If people really care about their situation, they can take steps to improve it. It is not easy, but effort over time shares. Will every single member of a community contribute to it, no.  But some will. Change Agents as they are sometimes called, whatever label you give them, they increase and maintain the value of the community.

So how can we change Bed-Stuy (and all under-serviced areas?) Action. Bitching about the espresso. Demanding a higher quality of not only coffee, but life.

Profiling an entire community as sexually transmitted disease-addled dropouts?  Sure.  Pricing families out of the neighborhood in order to save them?  Absolutely.  Implying they're not involved in their community because they don't drink expensive coffee?  Naturellement.  But here's the best part:

Proceeds from the event will be used to plant new flower beds around the trees on Patchen Street.

Now that's what I call "giving back."

Anyway, if anyone's brave enough to actually go to this thing I'd love to know if it's for real, though go at your own risk because I'm pretty sure it's an ambush.  I also agree with the writer that "gentrification" has acquired a negative connotation, and that's why from now on we should call it what it is, which is "Portlandification."  Yes, I realize I'm getting old and ossified, but parody or not the attitude embodied in the espresso post has become palpable throughout much of Brooklyn.  It's gotten to the point where living here makes me feel all squirmy and uncomfortable, like I'm wearing someone else's dirty pants.  Then again, I guess it could be worse, and I could be living in San Francisco next-door to Mike Giant, as played by Philip Seymour Hoffman in this cringeworthy interview:

Mike Giant - Philosophy on life from on Vimeo.

This too flirts confusingly with the line between sincerity and parody.  Giant is highly skilled at copying and selling gang graffiti, but he's less adept when it comes to matters of history.  "Recently the city has changed a lot," says Giant of San Francisco, because "the young people who are moving here are hoping to make a million dollars."  I'm not sure this is a new development.  Wasn't San Francisco the commercial hub of the Gold Rush?  I also enjoyed the part where he explained that he's trying to make less money.  Perhaps Mitt Romney should try that line in order to endear himself to the middle-class voter.  "I'm doing my gosh-darn best not to make more money but whatever I do the stuff just keeps coming at me in gobs!"  Actually, I'm pretty sure this entire interview was scripted by Christopher Guest.

And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz.  As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer.  If you're right that's great, and if you're wrong you'll see "Screaming Song" by The Bicycling Guitarist.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and if you go to the pop-up espresso party I recommend wearing a helment.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

1) The USADA's reasoned decision report will surely usher in a new era of honesty and integrity in professional cycling and ensure a clean future for the next generation of riders.

(At the height of the fixie craze, a tight "collabo" bike could win you an election.)

2) Forget debates.  Which politician would be most likely to win a trackstanding competition?

--Barack Obama
--Joe Biden
--Paul Ryan
--Mitt Romney

(À la recherche du temps fondue.)

3) Fill in the blank: "Absence makes the heart grow _____."

("My other bike is a car.")

4) David Byrne drives a:

("Please stop mentioning me.")

5) David Byrne wears clogs and drives around shirtless in a Buick station wagon with a big Campagnolo logo on it.

(Premium Cush: "Soft seat, two brakes.  Can't go fast, don't want to.")

6) According to an Australian newspaper, this bike is "a popular choice for couriers."

7) "Entertainment" doesn't get much more smug than:

--A vegan hot dog-eating contest
--A freegan game show called "Whole Foods Dumpster Sweep"
--A human-powered improvisational play about bicycle network planning
--A re-imagining of Peter Shaffer's "Equus" with bikes instead of horses

***Special Pundit-Venturing-Dangerously-Outside-The-Area-Of-His-Expertise-Themed Bonus Question***

(I'm using this picture ironically.)

"So, what if we thought about Lance and competitive cycling as auto racing. It's on three levels: you got a bike, you got a driver, and you got science. When you look at what Lance is alleged to have done, basically he was better than everyone else at using PEDs. He was the guy who sat down and was rigorous and focused and thoughtful and intelligent and cutting edge in how to use them, and apply them and make himself better. Like, I don't know, so is that a bad thing? He's being rewarded for being the best at his game. It was an element in the competition, and he used that element better than anyone else.

"Why don't we just make that a part of the definition of what it means to be a great bicyclist?"

Who said this?

--Bob Costas
--Malcolm Gladwell
--Bill Maher
--Bill Nye the Science Guy

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