What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?

One of the downsides of spending 22 years working solo in a home office, besides not being able to get a gig at Yahoo!, is that one tends to take on attributes of those lost tribes National Geographic is forever un-losing, or the Japanese soldiers jungled up on various Pacific islands who never got the word about the emperor’s surrender.

Outsiders are suspicious characters, their fabulous tales not to be given credence. And should they drag you from your village or spider hole toward what they deem “civilization,” you may expect to contract smallpox, TB or the clap. Better to make pincushions of the foreigners with blowgun darts and shrink their heads, or fillet them with a katana and get back about your business.

Boo Glissando

The Boo Glissando is a concept townie that marries a bamboo laminate with titanium.

Which is the long way around to saying, yes, I was compelled to attend the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver, where I was put on display by the white devils, and all I came away with was a massive tab for docking my Subaru Outrigger and a medium-heavy case of Snotlocker Surprise.

In all fairness, I wasn’t exactly dragged. Having missed last year’s NAHBS, I was determined to take in the Denver edition, if only because I wouldn’t have to depend on United Airlines to get me there.

But I was planning to attend mostly for kicks. I didn’t count on being shanghaied into helping judge the 2013 NAHBS Awards, filling in for the absent Patrick Brady of Red Kite Prayer. This was not unlike inviting a Jivaro headhunter to stand in for Len Goodman on “Dancing With the Stars.”

So I had to get there way too early for a daylong refresher course on how little I know about the velocipede, and if you were one of the losers who came away empty-handed, award-wise, well, I can only say that it wasn’t my fault. It was those other guys. My judicial pronouncements were limited to the usual half-witticisms, like “I’d ride the shit out of that one if someone gave it to me,” “That belongs on a wall with a frame around it,” or “I can see taking that thing into your average shop for a tuneup and finding out afterward that the mechanics all hanged themselves.”

Being simpleminded, I gravitated toward simplicity, as exemplified by the Level keirin bike, the Boo Glissando and the English Cycles time-trial bike, which we named best in show shortly after noon on Saturday.

This last really has to be seen up close to be believed, as photos don’t do it justice. Rob English is a time trialist, a two-time winner of the Oregon state championship, and his considerable talent and ingenuity were clearly focused by his love for the discipline.

Once we’d wrapped up the awards, I took another refresher course, this one in bullshitting. It’s easy to bullshit over the Innertubes or in a magazine column, but improvising chin music on the fly takes practice, which I was out of. So I spent the rest of the show chatting up a number of old friends and colleagues, and that’s probably how I contracted the Snotlocker Surprise.

Damn the white man anyway.

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33 Responses to “What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?”

  1. Khal Spencer Says:

    Sounds like you had a better time at the NAHBS than my cycling and blogging colleague from Bombtown, Tarik Saleh.


    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hey, K — I saw that earlier today, courtesy of the Twitterati. Your man was remarkably restrained, considering. I have a much shorter fuse. I had no idea you and Tarik were bros.

      Tell him things could’ve been worse. He could have been issued my press badge, and then people would have been calling him an asshole and trying to punch him for three days.

  2. Steve O Says:

    Liked Lindsey’s piece today about nahbs resembling the craft beer industry.

    More of both are desperately needed in this country.

    W F Buckley often cracked wise about the country being better run by the first hundred names in the phone book. What I’d like to see is a congress made of only the 5% of us who drink real beer.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Word, Steve. And the Congress should have to move to a new town every year, just like NAHBS, so they can get some idea of life outside the Beltway and the people can get a good strong whiff of their bullshit.

  3. John Dallager Says:

    Patrick: You should run for Congress! Your “It wasn’t my fault” comment would fit right in with the Sequestration crowd attempting to become Teflon-like frictionless, perpetual motion machines. Next we’ll see lead turned to gold!! 🙂

  4. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    Nice of you to fill in for Padraig. Besides, nobody messes with “Da Judge.” Did you get free beer? Hope the Deuce is doing well.

  5. khal spencer Says:

    You have used “word” a number of times as in “Word, Steve.”

    Translation for those of us who are both old and clueless?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      K, it’s dated slang for “well said” or “right you are.” I have a weakness for odd bits of language, which is probably why I loved “Clockwork Orange” and “The Wire.” Swear to God, a guy needs subtitles or multiple viewings to grasp some of the lingo in the latter.

      • khal spencer Says:

        That was my guess from the context, but I figured it was better to ask than to feel like an idiot indefinitely. Cheers….

  6. John O Says:

    That explains why when I drive by your street there is a big sign that reads “DIP”.

  7. Larry T. Says:

    Have they announced where next year’s show will be held? I’m hoping it’s somewhere nice so my plan to escape frozen Iowa next year results in escaping being frozen…and maybe riding a bicycle outside. I’m looking forward to admiring some bicycles that are a) not black and b) not plastic.

    • khal spencer Says:

      How about Las Cruces or Tucson? Of course if its Tucson, one has to dodge the crazies assaulting bike teams with their cars and the crazies shooting up shopping malls.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Charlotte, N.C., gents. Never been there m’self. Anyone in the commentariat have some intelligence on the place?

      • Larry T. Says:

        Been there, I think. With that race once sponsored by the rich kook with the dead squirrel on his head, or was it the noxious chemical company? Not so bad, some good NC BBQ can be enjoyed there among other things, though don’t know if it’ll be warm and sunny enough to be worth bringing a bicycle with me, But I plan to be there, as long as the wife OK’s it. She OK’d this weekend – seeing TWO races, so I don’t have much to worry about.

      • weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

        No way! Really? Just an hour south of mi casa- if traffic isn’t being trafficky. I reckon I’ll get to see one of these things up close and personal then.

        CLT’s okay…it’s not quite as overtly right-wing as the rest of these parts. Good barbecue (only ever a noun here) is to be had, but better is up in Lexington northeast of there. Riding is a distinct possibility this time of year Larry. It’s pretty much a crapshoot from one day to the next, but good days are to be had in February in NC- just don’t hold me to it.

        I’m looking forward to this already!

      • Larry T. Says:

        Well, I’ll keep my politics, unless they’re cycling related, under wraps. Lived for awhile in C’ville, VA so I know how that works – kinda like POG in Bibleburg I reckon. Might send a bike out there if there’s some riding to be found, but I remember Charlotte being a rather LARGE city so escaping the sprawl from the show venue might not be worth it? The BBQ has got to be better than anything around Iowa (or Italy) so that will be a plus for sure. What else ya got?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I believe the show is tentatively scheduled for March, so maybe the odds of decent weather improve. God knows we didn’t get much of that in Denver.

        I’ve spent next to no time in that neck of the woods. Born in Annapolis, MD; did kindergarten in Falls Church, VA; visited Nashville and Oak Ridge, TN; that about covers it.

        Does having read “Prince of Tides” or “The Great Santini” count?

      • Opus the Poet Says:

        Levels of intelligence can vary wildly, but they build “stock” cars from raw stock there by the thousands, so they appreciate people that know how to make things that go, no matter what the power source.

      • weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

        Hmm Larry…good question. Prolly not much. I do have an extra road bike- 58cm- for anyone that fits that size and wants to save traveling with their own. Riding in CLT may have gotten a bit better in recent years. They do have some extensive greenways and more bike lanes than even 5-10 years ago. That said, I haven’t ridden in that neck of the woods in close to 13 or so years. The riding up my way gets way better and it continues to improve as you head north from here- if anyone is willing to stray from the city a bit.

        The weather in March does tend to be an improvement over February; but the wind is most always a factor more in March as well. So you might get sun and 60-70 temps with a 15 mph wind- which obviously cuts those numbers a bit.

        Finally, I am Southern, so I’ve got some inherent hospitality in here somewhere.

      • Downhill Bill Says:

        I understand that THE prime residential real estate there is the condo development overlooking the race track.

        Larry – the editorial page of the daily fishwrapper here in Richmond sometimes refers to the “People’s Republic” of C’ville.

      • weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

        Well that’s rhetorically speaking, of course, downhill bill. The true prime residential real estate in these parts is on Lake Norman.

        Speaking of the speedway, ol Humpy Wheeler is a bit of a cyclist and has allowed for years a summer TT series around the track. It is kind of a neat thing to do- or it used to be anyway.

        Oh and Larry, in case you’re checking back here, all of my road bikes feature “the world’s finest cycling components”©- even the old ass Fuji tourer with an 8 speed bar end shifter and down tube front derailleur shifter.

  8. Andy Bohlmann Says:

    “Judge O’Grady”? Something’s not right here

  9. Libby Says:

    Patrick O’Grady, “sober as a Judge”. I’m glad you made it to NAHBS this year. Bad luck to pick up a bug. I hope it’s gone soon.

  10. Derek Lenahan Says:

    It was good to see you at the show, My wife picked up that bug too and is still sick. I must have sanitized the air I was breathing with Ale, as I missed it. Always better to be lucky than good.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Good to see you folks, too — and I’m sorry to hear that bug claimed your bride, because it is a ruthless sonofabitch. I’m still fighting a losing battle with it, too. After a few nights of fitful sleep due to thunderous racket from the other side of the bed Herself is giving me the stinkeye whilst oiling one of our smokepoles. A shovel leans ominously against the back-porch railing. This will end badly.

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