One Marin, hold the fire, please

October 15, 2017

Going down. …

There are days — approximately seven per week — when I’m delighted that I no longer work for a daily newspaper.

… and going up.

Instead of following fires, terrorism and ruthless, blithering idiocy for fun and profit, I get to ride my bikey bike.

Or, in this case, someone else’s bikey bike.

The Marin Nicasio is next in the review pipeline, and while product manager Chris Holmes watches copters chatter in and out of the Petaluma airport I get to pedal one of his products up hill and down dale here in the Duke City.

There will be more of this sort of thing today. I may not work for a newspaper anymore, but I still have deadlines.

El mejor

October 14, 2017

The mayor-to-be Back in the Day®, with a much lighter ball in the air, and only one of them, too.

Back in the Seventies, after Chris Coursey and I had completed our majors in beer with minors in journalism and gone to work for an unremarkable Colorado daily, neither of us had the slightest inkling that he would one day be the mayor of Dresden.

If there’s any good news to be found here, it’s this: Chris has already been to hell and back, and more than once, too. Santa Rosa is in good hands.

Back to the future

October 13, 2017

Check the date: March 10, 1989. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

That’s the cover of the first VeloNews in which a cartoon by Your Humble Narrator appeared.

It practically goes without saying that it featured the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter.

The Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter, v1.0.

How long ago was this? Well, President Ronald Reagan had just delivered his farewell address, Ted Bundy had taken his ride in Mr. Edison’s rocking chair, the last Soviet troops were leaving Afghanistan, and Eurosport was debuting in France.

The previous year, Felix Magowan, John Wilcockson and David Walls had acquired what was then called Velo-news from founders Barbara and Robert George.

After moving the operation to Boulder they declined to hire me as managing editor (a wise move). Time passed, as it will, and then in 2008 Inside Communications Inc. sold out to Competitor Group Inc. (not so wise in my opinion, but you know what they say about opinions).

Wilcockson — who would later get a ruthless, senseless and unceremonious heave-ho, along with Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey — wrote about the history and acquisition of Inside Communications here.

Il Fattini as he came to appear further on down the road.

As for me, I quit, was coaxed into returning, and then quit again, that last time for good.

But I always kept an eye on the joint, the way you sometimes bicycle past a ramshackle house you used to live in, shaking your head at the carelessness of the new owners.

And so did one member of that Original Trio — Magowan — who has repo’d the joint, with Pocket Outdoor Media partners Greg Thomas and Steve Maxwell.

Included in the sale are VeloPress, which just published Nick Legan’s “Gravel Cycling,” and the magazines Triathlete and Women’s Running, along with their digital counterparts.

“Despite the well-known challenges in print today, our team is thrilled to have the chance to rebuild these iconic titles as well as their sister digital operations,” Magowan told Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. “We have ambitious growth plans, and want to restore these brands to their historical industry leadership positions as quickly as possible.”

Here’s hoping Friday the 13th turns out to be a lucky day for Felix, The Trio v2.0, and for VeloNews (turn that number upside down just for luck, guys). Meanwhile, for anyone with the flashback blues, here’s John Prine.

The Bravo Foxtrot Hotel

October 12, 2017

Every day a little less green and a little more gold.

Thursday has its roots in the Old Norse for “Thor’s Day” (thōrsdagr), and it was definitely hammer time round El Rancho Pendejo today.

I burned a bunch of daylight polishing the penultimate “Mad Dog Unleashed” screed of 2017 for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, then scribbled a “Shop Talk” cartoon for the same outfit. No work, no eating, as the Zen master Hyakujo has taught us.

This shot makes the Elena Gallegos Open Space look a lot less active than it was.

Then it was 90 minutes on the Voodoo Nakisi, chasing myself around the dusty trails of the Elena Gallegos Open Space. Next to nobody in there yesterday and today it looked like the Big Eye at rush hour. Go figure. Are there no prisons? No workhouses?

The Boo requires a variety of medications and we were short one, so off to the vet I did go, flushing still more dinero down the medical loo that is our smelly little one-eyed pee-weasel.

And I checked in with friends in Santa Rosa to gauge the state of affairs out there. Not good, as you probably already know. Nearly 3,000 homes destroyed, 29 people dead, and both numbers expected to rise.

Among the houses incinerated was one belonging to the late Charles M. Schulz, creator of the fabled “Peanuts” strip.

My man Merrill is planning another cross-country run before settling into his new life on the Left Coast and hopes to pass through the Duke City this time around, so I’ll get a full report sometime next week from a former New York Times man. Right now he’s couch-surfing at the mayor’s digs and resting up for the final push.

And my old buddy Miz Lo is hiding from the smoke down Petaluma way but hopes to return to the Pink Palace soon. She knows many people who won’t be so fortunate.

Hell on earth

October 10, 2017

The peloton prepares for a training ride from Santa Rosa to Hopland back in 2006. The mayor-to-be is at left, and the retiree-to-be is in the middle. The unemployable at right you already know.

You never like to see your friends on the hot seat, and my old bro’ Chris Coursey is on a very warm squativoo indeed.

Chris is mayor of Santa Rosa, Calif., which abruptly went from a pretty close approximation of heaven on earth to something else entirely on Monday.

You can survey the damage courtesy of The Press Democrat, where Chris spent a couple decades as a reporter and columnist. He and I go way back, to the Seventies — roommates at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, we later worked for what then was called the Gazette Telegraph in Bibleburg before I left for Tucson and Chris split for Santa Rosa.

Chris spoke about the fire to his old paper, and to NPR, too; you can listen to that report here.

Another of our old Gazette pals, Merrill Oliver, recently retired from The New York Times and bought a place in (wait for it) Santa Rosa. He’s in transit — last I heard he was in Denver, which is too cold to burn at the moment — but clearly, this is not going to be the joyous change of venue he had been anticipating. I’m told Merrill’s new home was not among those destroyed, but it seems like early days yet, so keep your fingers crossed on his behalf.

We have other friends in the area — Gazette and Press Democrat alum Mike Geniella and his wife T, up Hopland way; Lo Esparza and Scot Nicol in Santa Rosa; Patrick Brady of Red Kite Prayer; and many, many more. Here’s hoping everyone comes out of this OK. Stuff you can always replace, but friends are always in short supply.

Gasbag

October 8, 2017

No snow here yet, but the trees know it’s fall.

No, not that one.

Last night Herself and I were walking The Boo around sunset when I noticed an object in the northwestern sky.

“If that’s a balloon,” I observed, “it’s not tethered. That sucker is on the move.”

And so it was. The gasbag sailed right over El Rancho Pendejo at dark-thirty, bound for the East Mountains and points east, as part of the 22nd America’s Challenge. I hope the pilot got over the Sandias without incident. There’s more than gold in them thar hills. Yogi and Boo-Boo would dearly love a pic-a-nic basket, especially if it’s delivered.

Meanwhile, as you can see from the photo up top, the trees are turning with all possible haste. And there’s a winter-storm watch in effect for the Front Strange.

Lucky for us we’re residents of the Duke City, where we’re looking at a sunny stretch of 60s and 70s.

 

Ready, AIM, fired

October 6, 2017

AIM, the groundbreaking instant-messenger service from AOL, will be buried on Dec. 15, 2017.

I relied heavily on AOL when I went freelance back in 1991, and used its instant messenger religiously once it became a thing. It was lots cheaper than long-distance calls on our landline — remember those? — and thus the far-flung crew that assembled the Boulder-based journal of competitive cycling whose name eludes me relied upon it to stay in touch from their various corners of the globe.

Today, the only person I still “chat” with via AIM is Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey, a PC geek. Most of my chat pals these days are Mac users, and we stay in touch via Apple’s Messages app or simple texts.

And when it comes to assembling the fake news, your modern rumormonger uses an entirely different toolbox, as John Branch of The New York Times explains.

Any number of alternatives to AIM sprang up over the years, but I expect the main suspect in this murder most foul is Facebook. Just one more reason to steer clear of that outfit.

A eulogy for AIM from Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic.

Hee haw

October 5, 2017

Oh, yeah, it’s fall, all right.

OK, it’s been far too dark around here lately, and it’s looking darker today as another storm system rolls through.

So, to lighten the mood a bit, let’s have a look at a story about a 69-year-old progressive sportscaster from Texas (!) who has a miniature donkey named … no, it’s too good to just give it away. You’ll have to read the story. You’re welcome.

From our No Shit Dept.: Hotels aren’t secure

October 4, 2017

No bag limit.

Sometimes I get the impression the fake news thinks we rubes never leave our flyover-country shacks.

Of course hotels aren’t secure. Nothing is.

Look at the pile of luggage I dragged into the Luxor for Interbike last month. I could’ve had a crazed midget with a sawed-off shotgun inside that rolling suitcase, a MAC-10 and a couple dozen extra magazines in the messenger bag, a few bricks of C4 in the backpack, a couple of Glocks with spare mags’ in the camera bag, and the boiled head of Sean Spicer in the cooler.

Nobody batted an eyelash when I hustled all this crap from the self-park up to my room. Not even The New York Times.

Air Subaru flies again

October 4, 2017

Bibleburg, as seen from the overlook at Palmer Park.

Another week, another flight aboard Air Subaru. This time it was back to Bibleburg to clear some stuff out of the garage at The House Back East™, which is to have a new proprietor by close of business Friday.

We’re talking your basic high-speed up-and-back, so apologies to the many Bibleburghers I missed during my whirlwind tour.

I was able to visit our old friend and former tenant Judy, who’s now living in a senior center off Lower Gold Camp, and looking fit despite a bad fall that required surgery, some aftermarket parts, and a whole lot of rehab.

Looking stormy this morning off the side patio.

Too, I caught up with John Crandall and the rest of the gang at Old Town Bike Shop, where we spoke of Tim Watkins, another recent victim of gun violence.

Then I beat it back to the Duke City in time to vote in Tuesday’s election, sign closing documents for THBE™, and score a half-bushel of freshly roasted green chile, some of which went almost instantly into vegetarian quesadillas for Herself and Your Humble Narrator. A green chile stew is to follow directly, as the weather is said to be turning damp and chilly for a couple of days.

And now, after piling a couple thousand miles onto the odometer in two weeks, it’s time to give the old hunk of junk a break. The Subaru could use one, too. So it’s back to human-powered transportation for a spell. Look for me on two feet and two wheels for the foreseeable future.