Archive for the ‘Absent friends’ Category

R.I.P., Paddy Moloney

October 13, 2021

Paddy Moloney, frontman and piper for the Chieftains, has gone west. He was 83.

Reports Mother Times, quoting Himself in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Our music is centuries old, but it is very much a living thing. We don’t use any flashing lights or smoke bombs or acrobats falling off the stage. We try to communicate a party feeling, and that’s something that everybody understands.”

I’m grieved to learn that Paddy has left the party to which he brought so much feeling. In his honor let us banish misfortune.

Satisfaction

August 25, 2021

You gotta love a guy who’d give Mick Jagger a puck in the gob.

I don’t know much about drumming, but I know what I like. And Charlie Watts had plenty of it. He was a kind of anti-Mick who just plunked down behind his minimalist kit and did his maximalist thing, without a lick of showboating.

But at least once he came unplugged. From Rolling Stone:

For all of his low-key skill behind the kit, Watts seemed well aware that he was an irreplaceable element of the Stones’ sound. As one famous story from the band’s heyday goes, Jagger once phoned Watts’ hotel room in the midst of an all-night party, asking, “Where’s my drummer?” Watts reportedly got up, shaved, dressed in a suit, put on a tie and freshly shined shoes, descended the stairs, and punched Jagger in the face, saying, “Don’t ever call me your drummer again. You’re my fucking singer!”

Ho ho ho. When I read that I immediately wondered whether Roddy Doyle had poached the bit for his novella “The Commitments,” in which the full-of-himself singer Deco Cuffe tells an audience,  “I hope yis like me group.” Drummer Billy Mooney takes exception — “It’s not your fuckin’ group,” he says — and after another miscue in which Deco botches his bandmates’ introductions Billy flogs the frontman with a drumstick and subsequently quits The Commitments.

It’s left to Billy’s replacement, Mickah Wallace, to punch Deco’s lights out.

So fair play to Charlie Watts. Total pro. Stuck it out with the Rolling Stones for a half-century. And as far as I know, he only clocked Mick once.

R.I.P., Harris Cyclery

June 13, 2021

Sheldon Brown lives on at his eponymous website.

Harris Cyclery — yes, that Harris Cyclery, the place where the legendary Sheldon Brown served the cycling public — is no more.

I stumbled across the news while scanning Bicycle Retailer‘s Twitter feed (I hate to admit it, but occasionally Twitter actually serves a purpose). The folks at road.cc fear for Sheldon’s voluminous website as the shop closes its doors.

As a ham-handed, thumb-fingered dolt, I’ve relied on Sheldon’s how-to archives to solve many a problem that otherwise might cause actual mechanics to laugh at me for all the wrong reasons. It would be a tragedy of cosmic proportions if this treasure trove were to vanish into the dim mists of velo-history.

Road.cc is trying to reach Sheldon’s people for the deets. Here’s hoping they plan to survive yet another sad passing.

‘Story!’ cried the Editor

June 3, 2021

My last piece for Adventure Cyclist.

It’s hard to retire when you don’t have a job.

It’s even harder when you have a couple-three-four of them.

Still, I keep trying to find that hole in the fence, because I am a persistent mutt.

I successfully “retired” from my last real job in 1991, when I bid adios to The New Mexican and took up the uncertain life of a freelance cycling scribe. I like to think I beat the rush to the door. The writing was already popping up on newspaper walls from coast to coast, and I wasn’t one of the lucky few who would be offered a buyout. Mine would be more like a “Get out!”

So, rather than wait for the shove, I jumped.

Other separations have followed in the 30 years since I hit that door running, or maybe cycling. Either the magazines have gone away or I have.

This month brings my departure from Adventure Cyclist. It was an amicable separation. Deputy editor Dan Meyer asked if I wanted to review a bike; I thought about it for a bit, then replied, “No, thanks.”

It may sound impulsive, but it really wasn’t. I have outlived Mike Deme, the editor who brought me aboard. His successor, Alex Strickland, has moved on to another job, as have colleagues John Schubert, Nick Legan, and others.

It’s been 10 years. The bike biz is moving in directions that mostly don’t interest me. I’m an old white guy who doesn’t need the work or the money and should really just get the hell out of the way.

Also, my last two pieces, about the New Albion Privateer and the march of technology, practically wrote themselves. This could not continue. Call it a premonition: By the pricking of my thumbs, something banjaxed this way comes.

So I jumped.

Mike and Adventure Cyclist came around at exactly the right time. I was in something of a rut, basically just going through the motions, and reviewing touring bikes forced me into new ways of thinking. Alex and Dan continued Mike’s generosity. I had big fun and made good money, and now it’s time someone else had a taste.

A thousand thank-yous to everyone who enjoyed my reviews. And if any of yis bought a bike on my say-so, may the road rise up to meet you. With the rubber side down, of course.

R.I.P., Laurence Malone

May 19, 2021

The details remain elusive, but it seems that five-time U.S. national cyclocross champ Laurence Malone died Monday in an automobile crash near Lancaster, Calif.

Laurence was the real deal. When he turned up in New Mexico back in 1990 or thereabouts he’d pin on a number and go round and round with the little people. But he never went Hollywood on us. He would race in the most outdated, anonymous gear you ever saw, and beat your ass with it, too. Sold lentil burritos, which he delivered by bike.

I knew him to say hi to, but that’s about it. Herself and I gave him a lift to a race once. Another time I saw him ride a sketchy, sandy descent to the pit with his spare bike slung across one shoulder like a messenger bag, and I thought: “Man. I want to learn how to do that.”

And I had the privilege of finishing second to him in the 1991 state road championships outside Albuquerque.

Laurence was good. I was lucky. I was actually riding OK for a change, and Laurence and I had both made it into the break coming into the finish of the masters-35 race. Everybody in there was better than me, so I thought I’d launch one of my patented, doomed, last-kilo’ attacks on Sedillo Hill, go down in a blaze of glory.

But it was everyone else who went down. Well, almost everyone. Cliff Loucks and Rick Quant got tangled up somehow, taking out Tim Schoeny, Neil Davie, and Louis Abruzzo, as the contenders jockeyed for position in what should have been quite a sprint.

I heard the clatter, looked around, and the only dude still with me was … Laurence Malone.

“Shit,” sez I.

And that, as they say, was that.

I should’ve been seventh at best, but instead I got to finish on the podium with Laurence fuckin’ Malone. I’ll remember it until the day we meet again on the Other Side. If I can catch him, that is.

Peace to Laurence, his family, friends, and fans. He left us way too soon.

Adios, Larry McMurtry

March 26, 2021

My Larry McMurtry collection falls far short of his actual output.

Larry McMurtry has loaded up his last rented Lincoln Continental and rolled west, into the sunset.

I didn’t come close to reading his entire output, but I managed more than a few of his novels; it’s a habit I have, working my way steadily through an author’s collected works.

Got started with “The Last Picture Show,” as I recall, after seeing the movie of the same name. Finished with “Duane’s Depressed.”

And is there anyone who didn’t read “Lonesome Dove?” As Skip Hollandsworth writes in his remembrance of McMurtry at Texas Monthly:

McMurtry had spent years railing against writers who produced clichéd novels about the Old West. He swore he would never stoop to writing a western. But he did, and the novel he produced gripped the public’s imagination. “Lonesome Dove” won the Pulitzer Prize and sold nearly 300,000 copies in hardcover and more than a million copies in paperback. It spawned a sequel as well as prequels, and became one of the most popular miniseries of all time, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall. To Texans, went one joke, “Lonesome Dove” was the third-most-important book in publishing history, right behind the Bible and the Warren Commission Report.

Like Stephen King, McMurtry was too preposterously prolific for some critics. Also like King, he wasn’t always winning Pulitzers for his work.

But he buckled down and got to ’er anyway. As his writing partner Diana Ossana told Hollandsworth: “Larry is like an old cowboy who has to get up in the morning and do some chores. He has to get up and write.”

Not anymore, he doesn’t. He can pull off the boots, put up his feet, and enjoy a well-deserved rest.

R.I.P., Tony Hendra

March 6, 2021

“It is the job of a satirist to make people in power uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable.”

That was Tony Hendra, and he knew whereof he spoke. Hendra, who died of Lou Gehrig’s disease on Thursday, helped make a lot of people very uncomfortable indeed with his work for National Lampoon and Spy magazine, among others.

Had it not been for the trailblazing Lampoon some of us would have laughed a great deal less over the past half century. The magazine had a nut-crushing stable of funnymen, among them Hendra himself. And its “Radio Dinner,” “The National Lampoon Radio Hour,” and “Lemmings” led directly to “Saturday Night Live,” “Animal House,” “This Is Spinal Tap,” and the “Vacation” movie franchise.

Hendra’s “Magical Misery Tour” was a brutal takedown of John Lennon using Lennon’s own words from an interview in Rolling Stone. I bet John wasn’t laughing when he heard that one.

Hendra may not be as familiar to you as Chevy Chase, John Belushi, P.J. O’Rourke, or Christopher Guest. But he was right in there among them, one of the ha-ha mechanics throwing shit, just to see what might stick, and to what, or whom. Making people in power uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable.

One of his last smiles before the disease took those from him came when he learned the results of the last presidential election, said his wife, Carla.

“He was an immigrant who sailed from London into N.Y. Harbor on the SS United States after being given free passage in exchange for performing stand-up,” she told The New York Times. “What was to be a two-week visit became 57 years, because he believed in the promise of America.”

R.I.P., Lawrence Ferlinghetti

February 23, 2021

The poet and his public. | Photo: City Lights

Ah, man, they keep shoving off. Not the first Beat, but the last bohemian, Lawrence Ferlinghetti went west on Monday. He was 101.

A World War II vet and a graduate of the Sorbonne, Ferlinghetti was a writer, the proprietor of San Francisco’s City Lights bookstore, and a First Amendment champion who got arrested for publishing Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl” … and beat the rap.

Like many a voracious reader, I made a pilgrimage to City Lights when I visited the city for the first time. Didn’t have the opportunity to meet Himself, alas. He was probably busy writing, or just “minding the store,” which is what he said he was doing rather than founding and directing an artistic subculture.

“When I arrived in San Francisco in 1951 I was wearing a beret,” he once told the Guardian. “If anything I was the last of the bohemians rather than the first of the Beats.”

• From the City Lights website: “He continued to write and publish new work up until he was 100 years old, and his work has earned him a place in the American canon. We intend to build on Ferlinghetti’s vision and honor his memory by sustaining City Lights into the future as a center for open intellectual inquiry and commitment to literary culture and progressive politics.”

• The Poetry Foundation remembers Ferlinghetti. Here’s their bio and a collection of his works, which include the poem titled (wait for it) “Dog.”

R.I.P., S. Clay Wilson

February 10, 2021

A sampling of the works of S. Clay Wilson.

S. Clay Wilson made Robert Crumb look like Charles M. Schultz.

Captain Pissgums and his Pervert Pirates. The Checkered Demon and Star-Eyed Stella. Ruby the Dyke. Dude didn’t push the envelope, he lit it up and pissed it out.

I was a fiend for underground cartoons in their heyday, and still am, now that I think of it. My personal fave is Gilbert Shelton, probably because he paid at least as much attention to being funny as to being controversial.

There was R. Crumb, of course. And Bobby London, Vaughn Bodē, Spain Rodriguez, Rand Holmes, Dan O’Neill, Dave Sheridan, Skip Williamson, Jay Lynch, Greg Irons, Robert Williams … shit, the list goes on and on and on. Many were outrageous, and quite a few were funny, too.

But Wilson was out there, all by himself.  Even Crumb knew it, and he could punch the squares’ buttons as well as anyone.

Interviewed in the early 1990s for The Comics Journal by the underground-comics aficionado Bob Levin, Mr. Wilson called comics “a great visual art form,” adding, “Primarily, I’m trying to show that you can draw anything you want.”

I took a page from Wilson’s book once, drawing a vile caricature of myself doing something unspeakable and faxing it to a publisher who had wronged me, as publishers are wont to do. I don’t recall whether the act achieved my purpose, but at that particular moment I felt that I could draw anything I wanted.

S. Clay Wilson died Sunday in San Francisco. He was 79.

Talking about ‘Mons’

January 2, 2021

Msgr. Richard “Mons” Soseman.

Diane Jenks, a.k.a. The Outspoken Cyclist, has posted her chat with Charles Pelkey and me about the late Msgr. Richard “Mons” Soseman and his generous, thoughtful contributions to our daily coverage of the grand tours over at Live Update Guy.

Our segment kicks off about 33 minutes into the show. Steve Frothingham, editor in chief of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, gets things rolling with a discussion of the year just past in the bike biz and what we might expect in 2021.

Thanks to Diane for giving the Padre, Charles, and me a little corner of her chat room. You can give us a listen by clicking here.