Up on the roof

February 6, 2023

On the roof, the only place I know,
where you just have to wish to make it so.

Every day you are above the sod is a good one.

I was a little further above the sod than is my custom this morning, filling up four 39-gallon Hefty bags with the pine needles carpeting the northernmost corner of our roof.

Ordinarily this would give me some worthy topic for complaint (“Flat roofs are stupid,” and so on). But we don’t live in Turkey, or Syria, so we still have our stupid flat roof intact above our heads instead of in pieces smack dab on top of them.

Plus, we had a roofer take a look-see up there the other day, and he said he thought we didn’t need a completely new roof, just a few precautionary touchups here and there. And maybe someone should rake up that shaggy carpet of pine needles on the north side, he mused.

This roofer worked for the company that installed our roof back in 2007, and shortly thereafter launched his own operation with a lot of the same people from the previous outfit, which is no longer with us (due to personal matters rather than personnel matters).

So we’re inclined toward optimism, which regular visitors know is not Your Humble Narrator’s natural state of being.

Below the roof, down there where the sod lies, a landscaper whose work we have admired has had a walkaround — like the roofer, The Big Boss Man of his outfit — and one of his people just popped by to take some measurements. So we’re expecting a design proposal and cost estimate directly.

Maybe, just maybe, since it seems we might not have to put a new bonnet on El Rancho Pendejo, we can afford to have its grass skirt hemmed. Use a little less of our imaginary Colorado River water. Encourage the lawn-gobbling deer to browse elsewhere, which would endear us to our gardening neighbors.

Flat roofs are stupid, though. Just sayin’.

I’m tired

February 4, 2023

“Vhy don’t you admit it? He’s too much of a man for you. I know! You’re going to need an army to beat him! You’re finished. Fertig! Verfallen! Verlumpt! Verblunget! Verkackt!”

“Joe’s not quick on the draw!
“Won’t lay down the law!”
The GOP croons

But as the Chinese keep spyin’
Joe sends jets a-flyin’
And busts their balloon.

-pop-

Oh, no, there goes the barrio

February 2, 2023

Go go Rockzilla!

Rock on: This morning Rockzilla saw his shadow, which as you know means six more weeks of fiery breath, stomping things flat, and general devastation in the Greater Duck! City Metropolitan Area.

Jonesin’

February 1, 2023

Mr. Jones and me tell each other fairytales.

Now and then I think it’s time to thin the velo-herd, so I start taking neglected bikes out for re-evaluation.

“Why are you still on a hook here after all these years?”

“Uh … because you’re a bike hoarder?”

“Oh, yeah, right. Carry on. Next!”

Now, anybody who talks to his bicycles when he’s not arguing with the voices in his head probably should not be evaluating anything without the guidance of trained mental-health professionals in a residential setting.

Yet, here we are, with all these voices and bicycles and daylight to burn. Someone has to take hold. Herself is slightly preoccupied, having the full-time job, plus the eBay side hustle and her volunteer work for the local Donk collective on behalf of The People, whoever they might happen to be.

And anyway, she only has two bikes and one voice, the one she uses to rebuke me for scattering bikes and bits all over the house.

But I digress. As usual.

The Co-Motion Divide Rohloff was getting a lot of love in January. There is no good reason on God’s green earth that I should (a) own this bike, and (2) like it. But I do, with its stout German gizmo hub and shifter mounted near the stem, the Gates carbon belt drive, and even the disc brakes.

And every time I think I should send it away, I treat it to some trail-and-tarmac combo platter by way of a fare-thee-well and come away cooing, “Nope, naw, nuh-uh, not gonna get rid of you. Not this time.”

Mr. Jones and me, stumbling through the barrio.

Yesterday it was the Jones and I who were getting reacquainted in the Elena Gallegos Open Space.

Both tires were flat when I pulled the Jones off its hook — no surprise, since I hadn’t ridden it in nearly nine months, and I only run 15 psi front and 20 rear. I pumped ’em up, they held air, and off we went.

Now, in my garage, the Jones is something of a weirdo, with its 170mm triple crank, wildly upright position, and swept-back H-bar atop a fork that looks like the uprights at State Farm Stadium. At a prom it would be the oddball in the oversized thrift-store duds slouching in a corner, looks like he cuts his own hair with a Buck knife and no mirror.

But it’s XT all around, with a 19.3-inch low end, and those plump 29×2.4-inch Maxxis Ardent tires soak up an awful lot of rough stuff that a 33mm cyclocross tire just ricochets off of like a stray round from the passenger window of a Civic street racer blowing the red at Central and Pennsylvania.

So, anyway, what was envisioned as a casual one-hour afternoon outing turned into 90 minutes of trails with the sun dropping faster than the New Year’s ball in Times Square.

And once again I came away cooing, “Nope, naw, nuh-uh, not gonna get rid of you. Not this time.”

“Next!”

Antisocial media

January 30, 2023

Just another fart in a skillet.

Brooding is one of those many useful parts of life that you cannot admit to anymore. People will jump all over you, try to get you committed, drop you off at a yoga retreat. — Ken Layne, “Encounters with Coyote-Man,” on Desert Oracle Radio

I wasn’t brooding, exactly. But I had seen something like the 89,261,254th story on how E. Lawn Mulch has beshat Twatter. Or maybe it was the 63,294,204th “hot take” on how Orange Hitler skirted Buttface’s Maginot line.

Whatever the cause, the effect was my consultation via Apple Messages with colleagues Steve Frothingham and Hal Walter about undertaking a little urban renewal on the virtual town square.

Start sinking today!

“How about ‘TarPit™?'” I pitched to Steve. “‘Stumble into TarPit™ and start sinking today!'”

Instead of a page, users would get a Morass. Instead of tweets or posts, Bubbles:

“Dumbo’s going down for the third time!”

“Hey, I gotta reBubble that … whoops, too late, he’s a goner.”

“I think you are on to something,” replied Steve, who has a magazine and a website to put out and probably included that “to” out of professional courtesy.

As Steve seemed busy for some reason, I took the proposal to Hal, fronting him a couple of Bubbles I thought might be representative of the TarPit™ community.

“Help, help, I’m sinking!”

“Good! ’Bout time, you libtard cuck! Die! Die! Die!”

Hal found the concept interesting but, as is his practice, gave it a redneck spin.

“I’ma launch one called ‘Skillet,’ he announced. “Posts will be referred to as ‘Farts,’ as in, ‘I just Farted about ——.’ And they will be Farts in a Skillet.”

Well sir, I don’t mind telling you we got right on down to some cowboy cooking.

“Instead of ‘Friending,’ people will ‘Sniff’ each other,” Hal declared. “As in, ‘She sent me a Sniff request so I Sniffed her.'”

“ReFarting will be called ‘Lighting,” I added. “‘Hey, I just Lit your Fart!'”

Some unresolved discussion followed about whether direct messages (DMs) should be rebranded “Silent But Deadly” (SBDs) or “Pull My Finger” (PMFs).

As regards a logo, I was thinking — since we’re talking social media here and probably poaching more than a few red hats from Twatter — that we needed something monstrously racist, like a cartoon of a grinning pinto bean sporting a garish sombrero, a huge mustache, and a prominent gold tooth. Good draw for the NextDoor-OffMyLawn shutins, too.

Nope, said Hal. “The logo is just a frying pan: ‘SKILLET.'”

“That would be simpler,” I agreed. “Avoid the DOJ. Also, the Brown Berets.”

“Fucking A,” said Hal. “They don’t play.”

In the end nothing came of all this spitballing, which is probably just as well. It starts with a noble quest — help people heap abuse upon each other without getting punched (and while making bank for yourself) — and next thing you know you’re going off-piste into virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and space travel to places that make Ash Fork, Arizona, look like Maui.

Pretty soon you’re wearing a goggled helmet for real because you can’t breathe what Nuevo Arizona (the planet formerly known as Mars) has for an atmosphere. Orange Hitler’s Meata avatar runs your HOA. And E. Lawn Mulch is doing donuts outside your pod in his AWD Testo with an AI Sex-O-Bot 9000™  working his lap like a Sherwin-Williams paint shaker.

“There goes the neighborhood,” you grumble on NextPod-OffMySand. And then Mark Schmuckerberg Farts at you, and Jeff Bozos Lights it, and your pod explodes before you can create a GoFundMe to underwrite your return trip to Earth.

Resurrection

January 29, 2023

Desert Oracle, Vol. 1. May there be many, many more.

Weirdos and those who love them, rejoice: Ken Layne says he’s reviving his Desert Oracle quarterly, which many of us thought had died and was buried without ceremony somewhere in the desert, like Cactus Ed Abbey.

I bought and enjoyed the first book, a collection, compendium, companion, whatevs. And I help underwrite Desert Oracle Radio, the only audio project I support, though I subscribe to a wide range of virtual and actual magazines.

My next step along this twisted trail is probably subscribing to the quarterly. In for a penny, in for a pound, as the fella says.

In his “An Ode to ‘Desert Oracle'” in Alta Journal, Layne cuts straight to the heart of the beast:

Publishing a little magazine is attractive to exactly one kind of person: a writer who doesn’t want to work for somebody else’s magazine.

My old Pueblo Chieftain bro’ Hal Walter, who didn’t want to work for somebody else’s newspaper anymore, did something similar with Mountain Athlete, which lasted about six or seven years back in the late Eighties and into the early Nineties. Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen did likewise with Colorado Central, which has outlived him.

I contributed to both efforts in small ways, once loaning Ed one of my trucks so he could make it to a speaking engagement.

“Now remember, Ed, you can’t smoke in my truck,” I told him before he motored off. The trip took him about twice as long as it would have taken me because I wouldn’t have stopped and climbed out to burn one at every other mile marker.

But the closest I ever came to “publishing a little magazine” is this comosellama you’re looking at right now. The deadlines are flexible and the audience tolerant, and I can bear the small expense without having to sell a few bikes or vintage Macs.

Not adding books, podcasts, and road shows to the to-do list helps, of course. Saves trees, eardrums, and gasoline, too.

Besides, someone’s got to rustle up the grub around here. There are only so many hours in the day.

A matter of degrees

January 26, 2023

Bare trees, gray light. Oh, yeah, it was a cold night.

We’re still in the freezer section here in The Duck! City.

The thermometer has been pegged at 13° since I got up way too early this morning because I was feeling chilly even in the bed, which Miss Mia Sopaipilla appropriated after I had adjusted the thermostat (and provided her a couple helpings of kibble, a tuna-water ice cube, and a soupçon of butter from my morning toast).

“I’d like my meals delivered, please.
As in ‘now.'”

Of course, 13° ain’t shit to you stolid Midwesterners, Canucks, and other polar explorers. And my man Hal reports minus-11° this morning at his compound in our old stomping grounds of Crusty County, which makes me miss the place not at all, not one itty-bitty bit.

I remember stuffing chunks of cedar, oak, and aspen into our Weirdcliffe woodstove like a Vegas bluehair shoving nickels into a one-armed bandit. But Hal can’t even do that, because his stove is on the DL.

Thus he burns propane and electricity like a city feller while he awaits parts for his wood-burner, a Drolet Outback Chef, some Quebecer deal with an Eyetalian overlay.

I don’t suppose Hal will pass the time by reading the continuing adventures of The Count of Mar-a-Lago, now available on Twatter and Buttface. But he does have a perverse streak. How many people do you know who cook their meals on a woodstove in the the Year of our Lard 2023?

Blowin’ in the wind

January 23, 2023

The wind is shrieking like a House Repuglican
whose Koch Brothers rent check got lost in the mail.

God is running His leaf blower today, and my back yard sports more needles than the alleys around Pennsylvania and Central.

Speaking of the mean streets of The Duck! City, a couple state legislators did a photo op over the weekend, kipping in a tent at 4th and Marble to draw attention to homelessness.

A few of our local TV stations took the bait, because they are local TV stations. And while some might take offense that one story was peppered with ads from Vrbo, Hotels.com, and Expedia.com, I doubt that many of the unhoused were browsing the ’Net from their cardboard condos. No harm, no foul.

The legislators would not have enjoyed street life today, though I hear Oz is lovely this time of year, and Emerald City Airlines rarely loses your tent.

Meanwhile, there’s an air-quality alert in place until noon tomorrow, and anyone who likes their air regular instead of extra-crispy is advised to hold their breath until then.

Symphony for Voices in the Head

January 20, 2023

And a-one, and a-two. …

Maybe it’s time for a stroll down Musical Memory Lane.

What/who were you listening to while growing up, or at least older?

My folks were into the big bands, so we had Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and the like blaring out of the stereo whenever they were in the mood (ho ho ho).

I liked that just fine, and still do. But we all chart our own musical courses, and mine led into some very different waters.

The Beatles hit “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964, and while my sister was wowed, I snorted and thought, “These guys will never be as big as Elvis.”  This was the first installment in our “I Will Never Be Smart” series, which continues 59 years later.

I eventually got into the Fab Four, like everyone else, but early on I leaned toward the Animals, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Byrds, the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, The Sir Douglas Quintet and just about any act coming out of Motown — the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

This goes to show the power of TV and AM radio in the mid-Sixties. Randolph AFB, Texas, was not exactly a multicultural paradise. To be blunt, it was light on Brits, Blacks, and surfers. But Ed Sullivan, Dick Clark, and AM radio helped us find them anyway.

If AM was the gateway drug, FM was the hard stuff. When we got transferred to Bibleburg in 1967 I discovered KKFM, and later KILO; the family console stereo had an FM receiver built in, and so did my mother’s 1962 Mercedes-Benz 220S.

So shit got loud, is what. Led Zeppelin. Black Sabbath. Iron Butterfly. Steppenwolf.

But along about the same time I was stumbling across Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone and Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and Moody Blues, Cream, Traffic and Mountain. Then it was The Allman Brothers and Elton John, Leon Russell and Santana. The Stones were still hanging in there, but the Beatles were off the back.

There was a long stretch of country-hippie during my second tour in college — Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Flying Burrito Brothers, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Charlie Daniels Band, Jimmy Buffett, Jerry Jeff Walker, etc. — which made about as much sense as soul and surf, as I was a middle-class white boy from the ’burbs.

John Prine, Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt made the cut too, for obvious reasons. And the shapeshifting outfit George Carlin once called “Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Merrill, Lynch, Fenner, Pierce, Sacco & Vanzetti” was always warbling in the patchouli background wherever dope was smoked.

Tom Waits stumbled into my playlist somehow, after the Eagles covered his “Ol’ 55.” Los Lobos, too, possibly because I was running around with a crew of San Luis Valley vatos. Where Parliament-Funkadelic came from I have no idea, but suddenly they were there and they stayed and wasn’t nothin’ we could do but put a glide in our stride and a dip in our hip and head on up to the Mothership.

Rockers like ZZ Top and Bob Seger proved invaluable for road trips, which I undertook regularly, being indifferent to long-term employment.

I tiptoed into jazz via the back door — fusion combos like Crusaders and Return to Forever, and smooth-jazz dudes like Grover Washington Jr., Stanley Turrentine, and George Benson — and kept one ear tuned to classical because I had played piano and flute as a sprout.

This was a breeze, thanks to NPR. In Corvallis I could pick up three different NPR affiliates, each with its own specialty — jazz, classical, and whatever. Samey same in Bibleburg, with its excellent stations KRCC and KCME, and Denver with KUVO and KVOD.

I was late to punk, which may explain the Green Day discs in my collection. The Cars, Stray Cats, and Brian Setzer Orchestra are in there too, as are Stevie Ray Vaughan, James McMurtry, Planxty, Elvis Costello, Miles Davis, Steve Earle, The Pogues, Warren Zevon, Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Frank Zappa, Lyle Lovett, The Bueva Vista Social Club, Dire Straits, and Half Man Half Biscuit.

Good God awmighty. Each of the voices in my head likes a different kind of music! No wonder they’re arguing all the damn’ time.

Sun’s out, guns out

January 19, 2023

Looks cold up there. Let’s stay down here.

The weather turned a wee bit brisk this week. January can be that way, even in The Duck! City, with hired assassins throwing hot lead at decent people’s houses.

When we’re talking 30-something with wind and gloom outside, I’ll stay inside, or lace up the running shoes and go pound ground for a while. A short while. I’m not training for anything other than staying above the auld sod a while longer.

I’ve gone running twice this week, and stayed indoors once. But today the sun was out. Just 35 degrees, to be sure, but still; big yellow ball in sky. Which it apparently will not be tomorrow. Cloudy, cold, windy, 50 percent chance of snow, yadda yadda yadda. In other words, January.

Snow on the Crest, mud on the trails. But hey, the sun was out, and so was I.

With that in mind, I layered up, grabbed the Co-Motion, and got out there. Not for long, mind you, but I was riding a 30-pound touring bike on singletrack, so extra credit, please.

When I climbed off to take this photo some dude wearing VeloNews kit soldiered on by. I didn’t recognize him, but then I wouldn’t, having walked away from that low-speed crash back in 2016.

It took them six years and a change of ownership to stop sending me free copies of the magazine, which kept shrinking like a solo breakaway’s lead on a long, flat stage. I sold all the kit on eBay.