Archive for the ‘Sometimes…’ Category

Today is a bad day.

Posted: May 18, 2017 in Sometimes...

Never in 30 plus years has any radio broadcast awoken me for any reason.

Until today.


I was awakened at 4 AM by a voice on the radio talking about Soundgarden. 


At first, I thought something may have happened at a show, maybe they won an award or got inducted into the Hall of Fame or something.


The cobwebs cleared just in time to hear the words; “Chris Cornell, dead at 52”.

I laid in the dark, crippled with a swell of emotion I was not prepared to feel until I finally drifted back to sleep around 6.

I awoke again at 7 to my alarm and hoped I had dreamed it. But it was true. It was real.

Soundgarden has always spoken to me in a way that Nirvana or Pearl Jam never could. They weren’t part of the complaint-rock movement.

Rather, their aggression, intelligence, fucked-up time signatures and overdrive steeped guitars made them the next logical step for a 23 year old kid who’d seen his beloved Heavy Metal become parody at the hands of Firehouse, Warrant, White Lion, Poison and the rest of the hair band poseurs.

Attending Lollapalooza ’92 literally changed my life.


In my eyes, it was Chris Cornell who was the spokesman for Generation-X, not Kurt Cobain. 


Cobain’s inability to surmount the obstacles that simply being born into our generation placed in our path made him a casualty.


We needed a SURVIVOR to relate to.


Chris Cornell was that survivor. Having outlived his roommate Andy Wood was proof enough of that and their daily songwriting competitions have given the world some of the most perpetually relevant music there is.

In an era where the natural state of being an angry young man was becoming some sort of sin at the hands of the new “Kinder, gentler Nation”, Soundgarden gave those of us who were unashamed of this natural state an outlet for our aggression, without which, we’d have all eventually exploded into real-world violence.

And that voice-

In a vast sea of Eddie Vedder clone, Scott Stapp phony baritones (there is only ONE Eddie Vedder), Chris Cornell went out of his way to remind us that a four-octave range was simply BETTER than the continuous drone of pale facsimiles.


As the man himself observed; “No one sings like you anymore”.

The only Pearl Jam album that means anything to me, or that I’ve ever owned, for that matter, is Ten.

I have had the entire Soundgarden catalog in my possession throughout the years and with their return in 2012 with “King Animal” was a glimmer of hope in a wilderness of souless, homogenized pap.


His brief, hysterical cameo in the Cameron Crowe 90’s classic “Singles” made him infinitely cooler in my book.

The deaths of Lemmy and David Bowie were devastating. The loss of Chris Cornell has a deeper emotion. Because as much as I loved them all, Lemmy and Bowie were lent to us by the generation before.

We were Generation-X and Chris Cornell belonged to US.

The death of Kurt Cobain gave Generation-X a pulpit from which to orate our collective ethos, an outward image to hang our identities upon.


The death of Chris Cornell closes the door on our relevance in a world where even our own alienation feels foreign.


But as long as there is one angry young person who doesn’t fit in and has no desire to do so, Drawing Flies will be heard at unreasonably high decibel levels.


Sleep well, sir.

With Friends Like These…

Posted: February 7, 2017 in Sometimes...

​It’s a weird world, yo. Like my dad always told me (and I have passed on to my own wee laddy)-  “You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose. Unless you have really good friends”.
Make sure to pick good friends.

Friends who can think you’re an idiot, but not judge you for it. 

Friends who might drift away for years and when the current brings ‘em back to your shores, you pick up where you left off as though they split yesterday.

Friends who help you move. Even when you don’t have beer. (serious loyalty is displayed here!)

Friends who have absolutely conflicting views on life, religion, politics and can argue with you with great conviction and fervor, but forget what you were talking about when “Jump Around” comes on the radio and you both start singing along in horrifically bad ways.

Friends who return books and records you lend them.

Friend who never return books and records you lend them, and remind you that they have no intentions of returning them with great regularity.

Friends who are there for you and never ask a thing in return.

Friends who lend you fifty cents and remind you of it when they ask to borrow your car to drive to Wyoming to pick up a highly suspect mail-order bride.

Friends who mercilessly make fun of you, but kick the snot out of anyone else who does.

Friends who realize the comedic genius of picking other people’s noses.

It’s a weird world, yo. 

Has it been awhile since you spoke to that friend who makes you laugh so hard your stomach and face literally hurt? Call ‘em. Right now. 

Don’t even finish this stupid column. 

You need that fucking laugh right now. 

Get the fuck off of social media, where people who would normally weep if you approached them face to face try and bully you because being an online warrior takes no balls- and go hang out with your friend who has the same opinions as the interwebs chickenshit, and have a real discussion with someone who respects you as a human and won’t just shout you down. 

Someone with balls enough to disagree with you to your face. Maybe you’ll both learn something.

What about the dude you used to party hearty with back in the day? Ten bucks says that when you put your respective kids to bed, you can still rage. Even without various and sundry libations.

The crew you used to hit every concert in a 300 mile radius with. 

It might be nice to discuss your memories with people who were there instead of pummeling your poor significant other with your eight-thousandth retelling of the exact same story… then when you get home, you can regale your S/O with new details and the fresh perspective you glean. 

They’ll still hate it, but If they love you, they’ll fake smile and go “Uh-huh” a lot. I mean, since you have to tolerate their nutwad family, boring friends and awful tastes in music- I figure it evens out. (I’m available for custom rationalizations at reasonable rates. Send your request written on the back of any negotiable bill featuring a portrait of William McKinley and I’ll send you an itemized estimate).

I know for a fact you have at least one friend that you don’t ever have to speak to, but can read like a book. 

Ferinstance, they give you one, nearly imperceptible glance and you understand that they are asking you to look at the huge, exposed buttcrack and corresponing wedgie of the 52” waistline jammed into a pair of 34” yoga pants on the middle aged man in front of you online at Arby’s. 

I’m lucky. I have about 10 friends like that. 

You should call yours.

You know that one friend that is an expert at assessing a situation and quickly surmising how exactly to manipulate it so that you’re on the spot? Such as shouting, “Ew! Dude, I am not going to make out with you” at the DMV. 

That guy. You love that guy. Why aren’t you hanging out with that guy this weekend?

Remember that time you and your buddy decided to get onto a crowded elevator and face the back. Remember how fucking insanely uncomfortable everyone else got? Remember how fucking funny that was? Ask that friend to come over. Now.

You know that amazing rush of good feelings you get when somebody you didn’t even realize you desperately missed shows up out of the blue? Be that person for somebody. 

Why am I bringing this subject up? 

Fuggifiknow. 

I’ve just been thinking about how lucky I am to have the friends I have and how there are people I pass every day who people I have never met cherish dearly.
That made me think about how everyone (Everyone! Me, you, all of us) quietly judges random passers-by. “Lookit the hair on that asswipe!” “What was she thinking going outside in those shoes!” “Dude- those are PJs. Ain’t ya got no pride?”.

I suddenly realized that somewhere, there was someone who would rush to those folks defense as sure as there were people who would back me up and defend my having made a judgement in the first place. 

There are insufferable assholes that somebody looks up to or tries to insulate from those who think they are, indeed, insufferable assholes.

That got me thinking about the friends I have that I neglect and how everyday life can get in the way of simply keeping in touch. 

That led to my realization that those people, in turn, have neglected me for similar, if not identical reasons. 

That made me realize it would be cool to call them out of the blue. So I did. 

And it was like a brand new day dawned with every call.

It made me happy. It made them happy. If we don’t talk again for another 3 years, it’ll make us happy until then when we think about it.

Allow me to refer back to and elaborate upon an earlier statement about social media- I have never, over the entire course of entire life been exposed to as much vitriol, abuse, judgement, reactionism, bias and hatred as is vomited upon the public in one ten-minute span perusing social media. 

 Huge keyboard testicles on well insulated armchair tough guys who practice an absolute lack of basic social decorum, fact checking, consideration of others and most notably absent; tolerance and kindness. 

Despite both being continually demanded by everyone, especially those who practice it the least.

Upon the briefest of visits to the internet, any joy, compassion, understanding,- virtually any emotion that doesn’t smack of straight-up nastiness- is ground to dust beneath the barrage of angry, bigoted, divisive vitriol.

So I’m going to try something suggested during a Tell ‘Em Steve Dave episode by podcast regular (and Impractical Jokers star), Brian “Q” Quinn.

You see, Q had reported that he has limited his participation in social media to a bare minimum and in doing so, his quality of life, anger levels and love for his fellow man have all improves.

I have, as of this moment, suspended any and all mobile notifications for all social media outlets (except Instagram, because I follow some amazing photographers and friends who do things worth looking at).
I’ve recently reduced my participation exponentially to posting only music I like and funny statements. I do not read any “newsfeeds”, only posts directly to my wall or inbox. If they’re not positive, they’re gone and in more than a few cases, so are the folks they came from.

A zero tolerance to negativity policy.

What has resulted is as follows: 
I have regained many added hours to my real existence that were once devoured by falling down the proverbial “rabbit holes” offered by the various social media outlets.

My general demeanor has risen from curmudgeonly to jovial almost instantaneously (and reverts with equal swiftness whenever I accidentally read other people’s posts).

My opinions are no longer manipulated by people whose opinions I think I share, or I think I disagree with. Only positive posting and no reading outside my own page!

Conversely, this has made my interactions and social intercourse equally positive. 

Unarmed folks can’t fire across your bow.
Most of my closest friends have very little to say on social media, or aren’t a presence at all. 

The ones who do generally post positive messages, videos of themselves performing music, their photos, positive affirmations. 

I can live with all that, but the fact is, if I actually go hang out with them, I can not only observe them being creative or positive, I can actively participate in the joy!

Also, the number of folks who’ve wrecked their car answering someone sitting in the passenger seat is a shitload smaller than those who’ve piled up their Edsel replying to some strangers inflammatory tweet. 

I recommend staying off Twitter entirely. 

Yes. Social media is a great way to keep in touch with long lost friends. 

Yes, it is a public forum where anyone can say anything they’d like about anything, to a certain extent (you can discuss the methods by which public figures should be liquidated, but you cannot show a human female nipple. Because apparently, assasination discussion is way healthier than not being sexually repressed).

I’m obviously not a completely zealous anti-internet crusader, or you wouldn’t be reading this. 

But I do firmly believe that, as is everything else on earth, moderation is key.

So, I issue a challenge to you, true believers. 

Since I don’t expect everyone is capable of logging in and not reading, those who cannot, I challenge you to remove yourself from social media entirely for 72 hours (after you finish this column, share it and leave a like, of course).

That’s it, 72 hours, three days. 

Three. A nice, primary, biblical number. 

It’s also one day less than four, for those who need the encouragement.

Afterward, if you’re so compelled, leave me a comment as to whether or not you noticed a significant uptick in your quality of life. 

You can delve back in full force if you so desire, or you can remain temperate in your usage of social media. I have no dog in that fight. 

But I think you’ll be significantly less miserable should the latter be your course.

Either way, keep checking back here for my next installment. Stoking your happiness is less important than stroking my ego.

So there it is. See you in three days. 

Now, stop reading this horseshit and call your best friend!

It’s the little things, muthahs!

Posted: December 13, 2015 in Sometimes...

I was just walking back from from dropping my boy at his mom’s. We had just ended a great, 66° and sunny (DECEMBER!) Boys Weekend with killer hike, when I saw something that the word ‘epic’ can actually be legitimately applied to.

A dude in his 50’s, cruising in a totally, truly bitchin’, totally rodded up candy apple red, big flake, chromed pipes dune buggy, Alice Cooper’s “Eighteen” BLASTING out of the totally open cab.

He was at a stop sign on the corner ahead of me and it was such a fucking rad scene that I couldn’t help grinning like a nitwit.

When he saw me, he gave me an equally enthusiastic  grin, a nod of late 70’s hooliganism solidarity, waved out of chromed roll cage, cranked the Cooper louder and chirped ’em as he took off.

Awesomeness.

I come from a broken home.

This is nothing more than a statement of fact. That fact excuses nothing. It is not responsible for any behaviors, good nor bad, that I exhibit.

Nor is it responsible for my legendary drug intake, copious quantities of booze, random outbursts of violence or romance, my humor, my proclivity to weep at the end of Rebel Without a Cause (when Jim rushes to Plato’s lifeless body, arm outstretched, a full magazine in his hand, crying “I got the bullets!”), none of it. Just fact.

However, that fact is responsible for one very, very important thing. My friends.

Many of us came from similarly dysfunctional environments. Some of us had no father, others no mother, some had both but were ignored to the point of feeling as though they had neither. Some were only noticed when their cowardly fathers turned their attentions and fists towards them if they were brazen enough to try and protect their mothers from his insecurity and booze fueled beatings and still others were charged with winning the bread for frail, worn parents that the world had ground to a nub.

Again, no excuses. Narry a one. However, it did leave a void within all of us. A need for structure. It made us very aware of what most children and teens took for granted; that if you are totally alone in this world, you are, simply stated, fucked.

We needed a hierarchy in order to establish goals and to compete, thus learning how to deal with loss and how to excel. We needed emotional support, however unconventional, in order to surmount the many obstacles that our social standing placed before us. The sort of things kids with even barely functioning families already had.

We didn’t have a “Lord of the Flies” approach, however. We were much more cut from the S.E. Hinton teen ruffian paradigm. Nobody got eaten. Not whole, anyway. There was some hazing, and some alpha-dog posturing, of course. And by white suburban, prep school standards, it might have seemed extreme. But we had no examples to be led by, and we had great disdain for weakness. So much so, that the absolute weakest of our ranks could break your jaw before you could say “Fuck your mom”.

Again- no excuses. We were this because this is what we needed to be.

By age 11, we’d all been drunk, smoked weed, were addicted to tobacco in one form or another. We regularly carried weapons, generally blades of varying illegality, procured by questionable means. We were randomly jumped and beaten by other, similar groups of misfit kids. Small town America in the 1980’s was way scarier than NYC, yo. But we never saw it that way then.

Tough kids don’t have the luxury of crying when they gets their 16 year old girlfriend pregnant. Certainly not if she simply dumps him for a football player. As a matter of fact, there were only two excusable instances for tears of any kind (outside of watching Brian’s Song). They were, in this order- If your mom dies, or if your dog dies. Period.

So we found other ways of comforting each other. “Who’d she dump you for? Let’s go fuck him up” or “Fuck it, man. Smoke this and I’ll go swipe a bottle from the old man”.

We reveled in annoying the citizenry. We’d tape M80’s to the chief of police’s picture window and disappear into the night before it exploded because we had no other way of fighting back against the constant harassment. Getting clubbed from behind and left on the sidewalk, or running into the woods, blood stinging your eyes because officer shithead didn’t like you, not because you did anything wrong.

We threw massive keggers, we camped deep, deep in the woods for weeks on end, we threw huge parties for exiles returning from over the border (once the heat died down). We welcomed the cousins, however distant, of all of our crew as though they were our own.

We drove endless loops through small towns on Saturday nights, hopping from one car to another. Who had the shrooms? Who had the weed? Who had that hot chick that was their sister’s friend in the car?

We had no rules, save those we placed on ourselves. Don’t curse in front of anybody’s mom, even if she does, don’t screw around with anybody’s little sister (their older sisters were okay, but if you did, don’t discuss it unless said brother is not present) and under all circumstances, keep your fucking mouth shut. Since all we had in the world was each other, betrayal was met with fast and ugly justice. But betrayal was rare. Not because anyone feared retribution. Rather because of pure, absolute loyalty.

Some might think “How primitive. What vile little creatures” To that, I say now as I said then, Fuck you. To draw that conclusion meant you were so far removed from our reality, you had no right to judge.

Why am I telling you this? I have no need for forgiveness. I had too much fun to be sorry. I’m not trying to explain away my disdain for authority. Quite honestly, I don’t give a fuck what they think of me. The truth is, I’m not telling you anything. I’m simply reminding my 47 year old self of what it was like when I had “The Gang”.

The past few days have been exceedingly tying. There has been betrayal of trust, a sense of uselessness and, worst of all, the loss of an amazing friend. All hot on the heels of a feeling of invincibility and that all was right with the world, literally the day before.

So, after sulking and skulking and feeling sorry for myself, I strapped on my Docs and walked. I walked for several hours, all the while with my earbuds in. First, I tried to find a Buddhist podcast to help me find my center, but I’d heard all of them already. There didn’t seem to be any new ones.

So I turned to Kevin Smith, but again, I’d wasted the new SModcast and TESD earlier in the week when I was feeling good.

I tried Bach, but it wasn’t meaty enough for my misery. I tried Black Sabbath, both Ozzy and Dio, but their pallor of darkness was making me start to feel at home in my misery.

Then, finally, I found it. The only thing that could save me. Van Halen. I started with VH, then VH II, Fair Warning, Women and Children First and, finally, the last great VH album to be released in my youth, Diver Down.

As The Full Bug filled my head with dreams of half-shirt wearing bleach blondes sporting way too much black eye liner and tri-colored frosted eye shadow, I expected instant relief. “Dave has never let me down”, I thought. “What’s happening to me?”

I listened to each album twice. Once before my realization, and once after. That realization was as follows: Without the support system of the group of friends I had as a juvenile delinquent, I will always be, essentially, alone.

Without gentle ribbing, or blatantly abusive jabs, I will never snap out of a funk. Without the expectations of toughness we had for one another, I will never endure. Without my friends, my true family, without The Gang, I will always be alone.

Then I got a text. It was from one of those very people. He was having similar issues in life and I mentioned how I missed the support of our crew. He concurred. I put the phone back in my pocket and hit play.

“Bom ba deedah bom ba deedah…Happy traaails to yoooou…”

It was then, that very fraction of an instant when David Lee Roth gave me the key to all the secrets of the universe.

“Til we meet aaaaaaaaaagain”

I will never be alone. Because I still have each and every one of those kids carrying me every step of the way.

We may drift apart, but we always drift back together again.

I wonder, how many people wish they still had the same friends they grew up with? Tonight, I realized I am a lucky, lucky man.

So, the bicycle industry would very much like me to believe that without 29″ wheels, dual, triple adjustable suspension (with on-the-fly levers…the REAL reason for the new “wide bar” trend if you’re a conspiracy theorist. Which I totally am…) dropper seat posts, boost hubs, slider drop-outs and scads of other “new and improved” do-dads and shiny bits, it will be impossible for me to have fun.

Bullshit. Hydraulic disc brakes? Yes. I needed those.Glad they came along. Stopping is important. Front shocks? Yes, I have more fun with them (but have no need for 8″ of travel, as I  don’t regularly attempt to jump Snake River canyon,so I don’t have to stick that landing).I like being able to feel my hands. Aluminum frames are nice, although I still have big love for real steel. Although I initially preferred it’s flexibility, the weight loss is so significant, I found the trade off to be worth it.

Now, to be perfectly honest, I’ve always been more or less a Luddite, but I’m eventually swayed by actually GOOD ideas. It literally took me 20 years to finally have enough faith in suspension that I broke down and got front shocks, but it wasn’t all stubbornness.  Waiting brought the cost of forks appropriate for my needs WAY down as well as allowing the technology to be honed and the lousy ideas to be weeded out.Luckily, this all corresponded with my getting to old to ride rigid, so it was kinda a win/win, yo. I’m ALWAYS open to ideas that improve device performance or if it reduces weight by a TON, but just because it’s shiny or new or the bike snobs dig it is NOT reason enough for me. Usually. As in all things, there are exceptions. My dumb bottle cage thermos and my Park tools apron, to name a couple of the dopier ones.

29ers fer instance. The next big thing they said. But they’re already being kinda phased out to make room for the vastly more reasonably designed 27.5ers. (I know what size they really are, so I can call em what I want.Pipe down). Lovers of both enjoy preaching the death of the 26″ wheel, but if a quarter century of watching these trends has taught me anything, the classics never go away.

The reason 26″ wheels remained unchanged for as long as they did is because the for the MAJORITY of riders, they functioned the best. It wasn’t until the dawn of several niche styles that anyone ever even thought things like this were necessary. But these fads fade, and eventually go back to basics. Everyone can ride XC. Red Bull riding is not for the majority. So equipping my bike with downhill suspension and giant wheels, or these new plus tires is something I don’t need to do. Because I’m not the only one who feels this way, 26″ wheels will continue to be manufactured in varying degree. And even if they become scarce, trends dictate they’ll soon enough be all the rage, once again.

I absolutely love that there is so much research going on in the mountain bike world. But not ALL of it needs to be trotted out the second somebody invents it, and not ALL of it is applicable to everyone. When the market is saturated with devices designed for professionals, amateurs buy em, misuse em and get hurt. Or, more often than not, their bike snob friends use em, and the average Joe, between his desire for acceptance and relentless advertising winds up buying super expensive crap they don’t need and will never use. At least not to the full potential the part was designed for.

I’m an old-school, wheels on the ground rider. I was when I was 20 and I will be when I’m 70. And I’ll STILL be riding when I’m 70 BECAUSE of that fact.But I love pushing my endurance. Riding ALL DAY, picking my line…I don’t WANT to go as fast as I can over any terrain without thinking because my bike has 500 feet of travel front and rear. I don’t want a single-speed because I don’t want to work that hard to get anywhere. I like my nice, happy mediums. A couple of inches of travel and a ton of gears. So I get to go longer, climb higher and move faster, not too easily, but without undue struggle. I also love watching other people do the stuff I don’t like to do or can’t do. But I can resist the pressure to buy the stuff THEY need because I know I DON’T need it, dig?

With my hardtail, I am forced to think. To make decisions, to develop my SKILLS. I cannot simply bomb over everything because of my BIKE. Plus, the idea of dropping 10 feet to hit the next section of trail to me just seems, I don’t know, dude,,,stupid, I guess. And it ain’t because I’m old. I always like not breaking my stuff if it could be avoided. Crank arms and testicles, both. Being old just makes me bitch about stuff more. But… if you’re reading this, you know this already.

Conversely, new riders can jump on, pedal once and fly down stuff it took me months to master without putting any thought into it whatsoever. This sort of mentality is putting folks on the trail who go way too fast and have no understanding of finesse, simply because they have no point of reference. This is ALL they have ever known! They actually think it’s SUPPOSED to be EASY. Not only do they fly past guys enjoying the challenge of choosing the best line (not only putting us in danger, but pissing us off and creating a rift in the community, weakening our strength and our voice on the trails). Should the trends ever change back (as they almost ALWAYS do), these poor suckers will be completely lost, and again our community will suffer a hit due to the shrinking of our ranks. Even if that never happens, sooner or later, everyone is going to be a dottering old crank. What use will all their go fast gear be then? How much blacker can their poor, elderly, disillusioned hearts become after realizing old farts like me were on to something? None. None more black.

This is all pretty extreme, but not impossible and although the actual results will most likely be more subtle, they will nevertheless be destructive towards the “art” part of trail riding. But it won’t ever die out completely. For every Bob Dylan gone electric innovation, they’re will be a Pete Seeger keepin’ it real.

But it still gets my asshairs in a bunch that the bike industry (not ALL of it, mind you, but a LOT of it) is giggling up their collective sleeve at how gullible us mountain bike douche-bags are and coming up with endless new ways to force feed us stupid trends. And it effects every new generation a little bit more. Sorta like MTV dumbed the collective intelligence of the world down with reality shows. Seriously, would Kim Kardashian ever been an idol to girls who listened to L7? That’s all I’m sayin’.

Combined that with newer riders expectation that all trails be sterilized,manufactured affairs where all obstacles are strategically placed in order to avoid challenge, the future looks bleak for the mainstream rider. Eventually trail building will revert to natural trails with minor modifications done to minimize the ecological impact. The rumblings are already stirring in mountain biking publications (real ones, not ones who’s content is dictated by their advertisers. This may help you distinguish…  www.churchoftherotatingmass.com ) and the backpedal is never far behind.

The big bike companies know the herd mentality. An industry that used to be insanely cautious about trotting out new ideas and spent TONS of money and time on R&D before the presented it to the public has done a complete 180. A couple of huge scoops by the few (SRAMs 2X, then 1X drive trains are a pretty massive example) have all of the other manufacturers scurrying to play catch up, and the original innovators groping around for anything to keep them in the lead. Combine that with what has become a zillion dollar racket and we have lots of “must have” crap that we simply don’t need flying at us from all directions like poop in a monkey fight.

I understand, I do. I am just as susceptible to advertising as the next guy. I love shiny. I love new. Luckily, I’m kinda an old fart, as you know. I’ve already bought things that were great until a few days later when they were obsolete, or recalled. That’s where you get that wisdom crap all us curmudgeons are always going on about.

I’m a business owner, so I totally dig the “strike while the iron’s hot” cash in. But I also know that a quick buck can lead to the public loosing trust in your entire product line if just ONE item is a lemon. Especially if it’s hailed as the “Next Big Thing”.

I am also not so much a masochist that I can’t appreciate something that TRULY makes riding better. Not necessarily EASIER, but BETTER. In my case, perhaps something to reduce fatigue over an eight hour ride, as opposed to something that makes it easier to navigate some technical singletrack. Something that deals with issues out of my control, as opposed to things that make the skills I’ve honed a little less useful.

I get it. I absolutely do. But I have enough experience behind me to know what I don’t need. Folks brand new to the sport don’t have this luxury. And that could be the death knell for their passion for the sport. Again, extreme, but possible. You have to dilute my fervor with your own sense of reason, dude.

Me? Well, I know where to find new rims & tires (another reason that kept me from jumping on the 29er bandwagon was the glaring lack of WTB Velociraptors in that size). I know where to get parts for my QR skewer dropout forks. I know where the badass trails, loaded with babyheads, washouts, slippery mud,wet leaves and moss covered roots are (No. I will not tell you- chances are you have a friend like the confused kids I described above and you’ll bring ’em with ya!).

And I know that everything old is new again at some point. Remember the fixie beach cruiser resurgence of the mid 90s? Seems dumb now, but you can STILL find em! But all this crap is just one man’s opinion. And we all know what they say about them. Truth is, whatever gets your ass in the saddle and outside is all good. Just remember to use your noggin for more than holing up yer helmet.

My name is Fud. I ride a 26″ hardtail. I’m twice your age and I triple-dog dare ya to ride MY bike down MY trails with YOUR skills, kiddies.

I’m not braggin’, I can do it.

Namaste.

Here’s an article that explains some stuff and some resources to help you make informed decisions…

http://www.pinkbike.com/news/The-Argument-For-Short-Travel-Bikes-Opinion-2012.html

http://www.mtbr.com/reviewscrx.aspx

http://www.bikeradar.com/us/gear/

http://www.pinkbike.com/news/pinkbike-reviews

http://www.singletracks.com/mountain-bike/reviews/best.php

If your bike ins’t just something you hang on your car to attract girls in spandex shorts, and you prefer riding a quality bike as opposed to working overtime to pay off the latest gizmo laden tech-fest, here’s a link fo’ youse! http://bikesdirect.com

This is the 1966 reprint of 1964 The Avengers #4 comic (the reintroduction of Captain America to the Marvel lexicon and his first issue with the Avengers) with Golden Records LP narration.SSPX0077F+ copies average $700. They go up from there. Way up. I almost blew $229.00 on a copy of the LP alone, no comic, because I had it as a kid and wanted to get one for my little guy.

Then I remembered, I still had a hundred or so LP’s in the basement that didn’t fit on my shelf. So I decided to look. There it was, comic and all. Granted, it was mine when I was 4, so it’s gnarly, but the LP plays fine and I ordered a 1992 reprint of the comic (the old one is all dark & crusty- but I HAVE it!) for 18 bucks.

Then I went through the rest of the LPs. Fantastic stuff, the entire Steeleye Span catalog, a copy of the Hobbit on book and record, the soundtrack to Ben Hur, literally a grands worth of vinyl that was just beginning to mildew on the jackets- saved because I remembered I might just have something I needed stashed away.

This weekend, I’m going to clean them up, alphabetize them and have a nice, long listen to things forgotten. And I saved 1200 bucks in the process. All I gottsta do is buy one more shelf for my rack. And that’s cheap, too.

Not a bad night, overall!

Booyah!

and

Namaste!

Just a quick note…

Posted: February 17, 2014 in Sometimes...

… to simply state that I am by no means lollygagging with my blabbing here. My poor old computer has, effectively, pooped the bed.

The groaning of a hard drive on it’s last proverbial hoof is what greets me every time I fire the old gal up, followed by randomly spaced, yet eminent blue screens of death.

So, until I get reinforcements this week- I shall be ruminating and marinating several subjects, including (although not limited to) some fine new music, revisiting Freaks and Geeks and a ’64 Gibson Firebird non-reverse I happen to be in a relationship with.

Two crashes while writing this- You see my dilemma-

Talk to alla youse soon!

Well, here we are.  February 7, 2014.

I don’t think this Winter has been remarkable in terms of snowfall, or frigid temperatures. I don’t think it’s been remarkable in any way.

Which is exactly what’s made it virtually intolerable.

Every single gray and cold day bleeds into the next from the last in an endless procession of below average mediocrity. It’s maddening. Any energy I may have built up, any excitement for living or sense of wonder and adventure had been beaten out of me with such lightening rapidity between the months of December (when I last had an opportunity to ride my bicycle and be outside) to now that it’s made my head spin.

Everyone I know is a miserable husk of their former, Spring through Autumn selves.

GOOD!

Now, with only a very little bit of luck, folks will be elated and joyful and thankful in few short weeks from this decidedly bleak and miserable day! When the temperature rises into the forties, we’ll be dancing in the streets! The fifties, shouts of joy! The sixties…you see where I’m going with this.  Most likely the celebration will be vastly less obvious that that, but you’ll notice.

There’ll be some extra politeness when conducting transactions, smiles with the “Thank you” at the supermarket. A few more doors will be held open, a few added wave-throughs at four way stops.  Maybe nothing that seems Earth-shaking on the surface, but all of this collective awesome adds up.  Moods lift, attitudes adjust, kindness is in much greater supply- think about it.  Summer RULES, right? But why?

Is it the blue skies, warm breezes, brilliant green everywhere you turn? Is it the golden sunlight, or the opportunities to be outside and DO things that said sunlight affords? Yes. It is ALL of those things. But the primary reason that Summer is so gloriously bitchin’?

IT AIN’T WINTER, YO.

So, thank you, Winter of 2013/2014. Thank you for sucking so badly.  Thank you for your overt dullness and infinite nondescript average-ness. Thank you for your dry, cold days that contain only about four minutes of actual daylight, and for nights that appear to last about seventy-eight years each. Thank you for appearing to be the season that will  go on without end, so that when you finally do shove off and let Spring take over, we can all go- “Ohmygodfinally” in that sort of half sigh, half whimper thing that people do when they find out the don’t have to pull jury duty.  Only on a more epic, cosmic scale.

Thank you, you miserable freakin’ Winter. Thank you for sucking so bad, so we can realize just how awesome it is when it’s NOT Winter.

Now, let’s get a move on.  My bicycle is getting fat.

Namaste

One of the most remembered lines from “Stand By Me”. And although I can relate to the sentiment, It’s just not so for me.

See, I still have most of the friends I had when I was twelve. I’m not sure why we bonded as tightly as we have, or even how I met some of them. The most likely scenario is the simple fact that, as awesome as most of our families were and are, we lacked SOMETHING at home. Some didn’t have dads, some moms, some had both but so many sibling they were kinda lost in the shuffle. Some had folks that worked so hard to keep food on the table, they simply couldn’t be present. Some of us just felt different, misfits in a sea of homogeneity.

The bottom line- we NEEDED each other. Very few of us had the Johnny Cade home-life. Most of us had hot meals and a decent record player. We weren’t neglected, or abused. We were different.

To the man, we were smarter. Some of the wits I was surrounded by (and subject to, in the way only guys are!) were so rapier sharp, they could literally be used as weapons. Laughter was found in even the most horrific situations. It was with these friends that I discovered that the true nuances of dick & fart jokes, and the subtleties of crafted, applied wordplay, insults and observations are one and the same. Dumb folks didn’t get us, and never, ever made us laugh on purpose.

We were tough. Now, some folks think of Jermyn PA as a kind of Mayberry RFD place. And it may have only 3000 inhabitants and be a quaint, pretty little place to drive through. However, in the 1980’s, it was still legal to defend your honor. If you kicked little Tommy’s ass behind the cafeteria for calling your mom fat, you were not arrested. You were sternly reprimanded publicly, and then given’ and secret “Atta boy!” before you got sent back to class. And there were more than a fair share of bullies who needed taking down. That was OUR job. It may have been on the absolute smallest level, but we protected the little guys, while slapping the hell out of each other.

We competed. (That was still legal, too) With each other and everyone else. Huge, well-organized full-contact tackle football games without padding, gladiator fights (yep, trash can lids & large sticks beat each other bloody & laughed the entire time), “gang” fights (which we tried really hard not to call “rumbles”, but did anyway) with the kids from the next school-district over. Kind of a “brothers in battle” mentality developed.

We were fairly…criminal. Since I have no idea of the statute of limitations on our various and sundry crimes, allow me to state simply that we were little bastards, but not because we were mean, but rather because of the adventure, the excitement in it. The vast majority of us eventually found new ways to satisfy out longing for adventure. However- this leads me to a facet of our lives many people outside of out tightly knit clique have overlooked the Explorer Scouts.

Now, we had, in our pursuit of excitement, gone just a tad too far in the career criminal direction and my dad, and my friend Gopher’s dad decided enough was enough. They formed (actually resurrected) Troop 81 from Jermyn, PA. Only they formed an Explorer Scout Troop.  Kinda the Green Berets of Scouting.  And attendance was mandatory.

These two guys dragged us on forced marches, on week-long canoe trips (ask me about sun burning my ass cheeks if I don;t tell ya, one of the crew will), taught us how to USE knots, not just tie them. Cross-country skiing, survival-ism, repelling, all manner of manly and, most importantly, ENERGY USING stuff!

Anyway, through that brief and select history, I am hoping to show how the bonds we formed when we ourselves were being formed,  could result in these life-long friendships. Some of us are no very far away. But even just last week, although “life” prevented us from doing any major partying, my friend Ernie (no, that’s not his Christian name. We ALL have nick names) swung by my work with his by to say hello. I haven’t seen him in several years, and we missed each other as I was leaving for the day. But I heard a “HEY!” in the parking lot, and instantly, my brain said “that’s Ernie!”.

Honestly, we were so tight as a group, we could tell you who was arriving by the sound of their car’s engine.

I see the vast majority of The Gang fairly regularly, Phi, Gopher and myself still ride mountain bikes as often as possible, at least once a week together.  We still consider ourselves a pack. There’s a “Locals Only” sign above us at all times, but we’ll give anyone a chance to hang out. Weather or not you tie your own rope is up to you! Buzz & Keeb, I don’t see them as often as I’d like, but whenever we run into each other, even if it’s been years, it’s as though I saw them yesterday. No “Why haven’t you called?” petty rubbish. Just “So, what’re ya up to?” followed by extended periods of laughter.

Same goes for guys I only see once every ten and, (now that more Summers are behind me than in front of me) sometimes every 20 years. We never look older to each other, even though we, of course, do.  We have millionaires and paupers in our fold and none of us is treated any different within the group.  Some of us are gone for good. But they are still included. We rarely speak of them in the past-tense. Rather, as if they were here, now. Being made fun of in person. Because reverence is too akin to maudlin-ism for our tastes.

I don’t know what it was about those summers in the woods, the keg bashes with fires so big they could be seen from space, the flying up and down Route 6 in some rusted out 70’s muscle care (with a pristine and bored-over engine). Chasing girls from other schools who wanted as little to do with us as the ones from our own! Wearing denim vests with Genesee beer logos and heavy metal patches, going to concerts in Binghamton , all piled into a van or in one of Lysander’s cars that went insanely fast, but you couldn’t steer, so you sorta just aimed. Judas Priest blasting out of boom boxes that took fifteen D batteries, named things like “Mr. Box” or “Refrigerator Box”, respectively.

I could go on all day, and I will after I’m done here, in my head. And I’m not even sure what I was trying to say, here, except perhaps that I DO have friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve.  Because I knew enough to hold onto them.

Or, maybe I’m just very, very lucky.

Namaste

Stinkin’ Thinkin’.

Posted: February 2, 2014 in Sometimes...
Tags: ,

Sounds dopey, right? “Stinkin’ Thinkin'”? Sounds like something a new-aged eight year old would say.

But it sticks in your head. And that phrase, and it’s stickiness are responsible for allowing me to change EVERYTHING about my life!

When my Z-Wife and I finally divorced, it wasn’t a 100% amicable thing. We both still had tons of hurt and anger and, quite frankly, neither o us were even remotely complete human beings. Way too much shitty stuff had either happened to us, or been perpetuated BY us for any sort “inner peace” business. (I dislike greatly using pop-culture terminology to describe life-changing events. Bu yo, sometimes, they be the bestest word for the occasion!). Both of us have found better, separate paths that have ultimately led us to the reality of one another. She’s my best friend. Divorce was the best thing that ever happened to our marriage and it was this unlikely event that set us on our respective journeys to ourselves. Here’s a but about mine;

Anyway- I wound up having to go to a therapist. And I did NOT want to. I was fine, rest of the world is fucked up, yadda yadda. And I went in with a bit of a chip on the old shoulder. But see, what I wasn’t expecting was this- she was WAY smarter than me, and, albeit in the most pleasant and kind way- she took ZERO shit and called me on EVERYTHING. However, her most constructive contribution to me fixing myself was that silly-assed term: STINKIN’ THINKIN’

And it was ME fixed ME. She just read the instructions to me- same for everyone, gotta do it YOURSELF! If you go into it thinking somebody else is gonna do the fixing, you’re fucked from jump street. But I digress…

Here’s how the term is applied- Say you’re driving down the street and somebdy cuts you off. Normal reaction (mine, anyway) “That motherfucking fat fucker! He didn’t even look! Trying to kill me! Bet he drinks! Bet he lies to trip old women carrying their grceries! Ten bucks says his mother hated him….” You get the drift.

Here’s the thing- what if I apply all that to the scenario, only I didn’t even SEE the driver, so even my assumption that they were a guy is based ONLY on speculation. So…where does that leave the entire pile of assumptions I based on THAT one? STINKIN’ THINKIN’! My therapist told me to repeat that word whenever a situation arose that I compounded my anger with assumption.  And because it disguises itself as such a moronic term- you almost CAN’T forget it! It pops up whenever you start working yourself up just by nature of it’s absurdity, then it triggers you to THINK about what you’re doing- eventually CHANGING the way you think!

Now, I was used to Freudian therapists who had never made any progress with me. “Tell me about your muzzer” didn’t help me, because my mom was kind of awesome, plus, MY problems, not HERS were the issue! This new therapist was a cognitive psychologist. Change how you think NOW- not WHY you think that way. Not that past issues aren’t something to be dealt with, but if you think like an asshole, you won’t ever be able to deal with them properly anyhow, so… learn how to think CORRECTLY first! A simple “Free your mind and your ass will follow” process. It was an amazingly different approach and although I’d STUDIED cognitive psych in college, I never actually saw it applied in a practical situation. Now, suddenly, it all began to make sense. It eventually resulted in the archetypal “AH HA!” moment.

So- once I realized nobody was telling me I was sick, once it was established that the ultimate goal was that I STOP needing to come, not that I need to visit her in perpetuity, I felt at ease and safe enough to dive in. An it worked. Not in a few months, or a few years- within days. Within days the “Stinkin’ Thinkin'” phrase popped into my head whenever I assigned attributes to a situation I had no evidence of.  Anger, I learned, was a natural and real emotion. All the shit after it, I made up.  BOOM! That’s the “AH HA” right there.

So- I steadily became a much, much less angry person. Something I never even WANTED to do- I always thought anger was bitchin’ and these peaceniks were idiots. But again- that was Stinkin’ Thinkin’ based on a paradigm I’d set based on one or two people who rubbed me the wrong way, and used to generalize anyone who reminded me of them even a little, combined my own feelings that mean meant safe. Took me a while to separate mean and tough. Tough guys are at peace, and they can take whatever is hurled at the, mean guys ain’t, and tend to create their own misery. Well- THIS mean guy, anyway. I can’t speak for any other mean guys, I don’t know how or why about nuthin’ but me. I was beginning to realize how little of what I thought was real was simply imagined, and if it was imagined- any anger attached to it was imagined as well… I was changing from the inside out!

Think about that for a moment- freedom from the misery of anger. Freedom from useless shit like road rage, bar fights, family arguments that last years- all because instead of going “They think they are so much better then me, THAT is why they talk to me that way” or some such stuff, you instead say “That dude is angry.”.

A few years after my therapist sent me on my merry way, I finally committed to Buddhism, which I’d been dipping my toes into for years, but too afraid to dive into. While studying, wouldn’t you now it- there is an identical philosophy to “Only see what is there”. As a matter of fact, it was a large factor in taking the actual first step into re-defining my ideas of faith and salvation, happiness and right-living. By only seeing what is there, you remove fear of the unknown, without removing caution. Because the old adage “Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there” is reduced to “I don’t know if it’s there unless I see it”.  It’s friggin sweet, man.

Basically, what I have found to be true (because I’ve SEEN the results) is this : If you want to be truly free, truly at peace, truly fulfilled- then stop reading BETWEEN the lines. There’s nothing there except Stinkin’ Thinkin’.

Namaste