Roll of the dice

Off with your head!

Here’s your helmet, there’s the door, what’s your hurry?

Megan Tompkins, the publisher of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, “has left to pursue other opportunities,” in the parlance of our times.

Marc Sani, the semi-retired co-founder of the trade magazine, has stepped in as interim publisher. Given the present economic climate, and with Interbike Reno just around the corner, this must feel like climbing out of a hot tub and into a piranha tank, wearing a pork-chop Speedo.

I’ve done bits of this, that and the other for Sani and the gang since 1992. Alas, the mag’ has dwindled, in tandem with the trade it covers, and so I do a good deal less of it now than I once did. In fact, I’m down to drawing the “Shop Talk” cartoon at the back of the book, period, end of story.

But that’s the carefree life of the independent contractor for you. Easy come, even easier go. Happily, I also contribute to Adventure Cyclist, and I married well, so we will not lack for kibble in the dish here at El Rancho Pendejo.

The remaining full-time BRAINiacs are not breathing so easily, especially after such a high-profile departure, with so much at stake.

So here’s hoping for better days. Maybe Marc will roll nothing but sevens in his old hometown next month.


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20 Responses to “Roll of the dice”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    “…Tompkins helped navigate the magazine through a challenging industry and publishing environment as the publication has weathered declines in print and digital advertising, prompting cost-cutting measures.”

    I suppose those cost-cutting measures included the Megan Tompkins boot ride. Sigh.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The good ship BRAIN is lurching through heavy seas. Many a lesser swab has already been marched off the plank at cutlass point. It’s rare to see the captain getting the shove, though.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I guess that depends on who owns the ship. But surprising anyway, especially since you didn’t exactly describe her as temperamentally resembling William Bligh.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Who owns the ship? It’s an interesting arrangement. Emerald Expositions, which owns Interbike, also owns BRAIN. The National Bicycle Dealers Association publishes the magazine under license from Emerald.

        Now imagine a ship with a couple-three layers of bridge watch teams, all on duty at the same time.

        I bet that plank would start to look pretty good after a while.

  2. Sharon Reed Says:

    What a journey, experienced, gainfully employed people in many industries are going through these years. I am so glad I took the early retirement package when I did 5 years ago. My vp begged me to stay, but I could see the writing on the wall that it was only the beginning and morale was already in the toilet. I suppose I could have made more money through those 5 years, but my retirement pay was maxed, my social security was effectively maxed and I was totally burned out. And another person got to keep a job since I volunteered to take the money and run. Since then, I’ve watched round after round of cuts and friends lose their jobs. Friends that were not as ready to move to on as I was…It’s the new normal it seems.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Well done indeed. I’ve been likewise fortunate. Jumped out of the newspaper biz in 1991 before that got really ugly, and it looks like I may sneak off the back and into “retirement” as a cycling free-lancer before all the bike mags wind up in the ditch.

      It’s tough to watch so many friends trying to keep the rubber side down in these evil winds, though. Some of us have been joking that the only way to survive in the bike biz these days is to have a spouse with a real job. Maybe it’s always been that way.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        In many ways the biz has always been that way. The old “How to make a small fortune in the bike biz? Start out with a large one.” is pretty much always true. Just like you PO’G, I married well but at the same time our bike biz has done just fine, sometimes great, sometimes far from it but I’m always glad I did whatever kind of job it took to put the wife through grad school so I could do only things that were fun forever after.

        Now the financial wizards tell us we’ve worked enough to retire, but neither of us just want to sit around and do nothing so the philosophical wizardry/publishing/academic conferences continue along with the dolce vita in bicicletta biz. When the bike biz stops being fun or starts costing us $$ we’ll be done with it. Meanwhile the wife’s working on grooming some younger wizards to carry on her work.

        With the current state of both bicycle retailers and the industry it’s a good question how long a publication aimed at same can survive. How relevant can the thing be in a world where the Big-S, T and G pretty much tell their retailers what to sell and how to sell it or just skip over them and go straight to the consumer?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Herself grabbed the brass ring with that sheepskin from DU. Now she has a great job — with any luck at all, the last one she will ever need — and I can slouch around the rancheroo being a pretend journalist with sidelines in the culinary arts and feline management.

        We’ll never exactly retire either, having hobbies that can add a few coppers to the old begging bowl.

        As regards BRAIN, I’d like to think any well-done publication would find readers and advertisers, but the industry is hopping around like a grasshopper on a griddle. You’d have to use telepathy to cover it with anything like timeliness.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        I retired at 55, a lucky one with a pension and health insurance, and never looked back. It will be 15 years next July 4 since I pulled the trigger. It’s my very own independence day! Two years after I retired I woke up at 2 AM and found Sandy working in her studio to get out a quilt. The customer said no hurry on it, then called back, and said I need it tomorrow. I told Sandy she could close her business down if she wanted to. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had enough. Still do unless the dumpster sues me for something.

    • Hurben Says:

      My job disappeared last year after years of endless restructuring etc.. I wasn’t too heartbroken as the work environment had come to resemble ‘Game of Thrones’

      Fortunately I managed to get a redundancy pay out so decided to take a sabbatical & do a bicycle mechanics training course then seek employment given that at 63 I’ve still got another 2 years before I can claim NZ superannuation & also draw down on my private.superannuation fund.

      Sadly the wheels fell off the plan as shortly after completing the course, I was hospitalised with a blood disorder followed by being diagnosed with Prostrate Cancer with surgery being the only option.

      All good now so back on the employment hunt.,,

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Hurben, I’m glad to hear all’s good now and you’re back in the hunt. I turn 65 next year and will sign up for Medicare in January, but can’t tap the Socialist Insecurity until age 66. I can get into my IRA (no, not that IRA) right now, but you-know-who says ixnay.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Sorry to hear that Hurben, but glad you are on the mend. I hit the Medicare band wagon 4 years ago, and Sandy hops on in October. Problem is you still need a supplemental policy unless you want to end up living in a van by the river, with collection agencies putting repo notices under your wiper blades, when a medical emergency strikes. Patrick, listen to Herself. She will always be smart, unlike us.

  3. Pat O'Brien Says:

    There is no good on line substitute for a magazine that you can hold in your hands and read with no battery required. I tickles me every month when the Adventure Cycling Magazine hits the mail box. It seems that 50,000 other folks agree with me. I even relish getting the new Cyclosource catalog in the mail.

    I know, an old fart spouting old ideas. Put your nose in the screen pal, and keep the fucking thing there. Clicks make the world go round.

    • khal spencer Says:

      I really appreciate Adventure Cycling arriving in the mailbox. It is a solidly bike-geek magazine in the way that Bicycling was back in the 1980’s when we bicyclists would hover in the Geology Dept. mailroom waiting for the next issue to show up.

      O’Grady and the others who write the new bike reviews all should get the Frank Berto Memorial Cog Calculator Award.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Adventure Cyclist is a damn fine bit of work and it’s a pleasure to contribute to it. All praise to the late Mike Deme for giving me the opportunity, and to Alex Strickland for not taking it away.

  4. Dale Says:

    I have to say that I was a participant in a failed coup attempt at a heath care center that was focused more on the family of the director than the needy public. Perhaps I was not subtle. I had indications that my stock was falling.

    I was indispensable in many ways (keeper of the keys, so to speak), but I don’t like being fired, so I gave notice after I had found another job.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Remember your Ralph Waldo Emerson: “When you strike at a king you must kill him.” It’s a more genteel way of saying “Don’t let your mouth write a check that your ass can’t cash.”

      My mouth has bounced a few checks too.

  5. Steve O Says:

    IIRC, “pursuing other opportunities” is one notch above “wants to spend more time with his family” on the “I quit before you fired me” list.

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