Archive for the ‘Absent friends’ Category

Like rain falling on the city

February 17, 2018

The sky is crying.

It was gloomy around here the past couple days, and not just for the obvious reason. The weather finally turned and we got something like a half-inch of rain; a long, steady soaking.

Something seems dreadfully wrong
with this picture.

Even the normally stoic Turk grew unsettled, first spending an unusual amount of time under the bed, and then following me around like bad news.

This morning he was finally back to his routine: yowling outside the bedroom door when he’s decided that I’ve logged enough shuteye; jumping into bed for a brief cuddle; and finally nodding off as the sun crept over the Sandias.

Herself is easing back into business as usual, hitting her workout classes and fencing with the taxman, whose clammy hand is even less welcome in our pockets than usual.

Mia performs her one-cat show “Sit Like a Cat,” based on a poem from the Ted Kooser-Jim Harrison collection “Braided Creek”:

We should
sit like a cat
and wait for the door
to open.

And the unflappable Miss Mia Sopaipilla, who came to us from the same shelter that gave us Mister Boo, continues to provide some much-needed comic relief. The other day it was zazen on my drawing stool; this morning it was mortal combat with a long-forgotten toy mouse.

Me? You’d think I should be chronicling some velo-business for fun and profit, what with CABDA just concluded and Frostbike, NAHBS and 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo ongoing.

But I’m not, so maybe I’ll go for a ride instead.

• Editor’s note: Gassho and deep bows to one and all for your condolences following the passing of Mister Boo. Sifting through the piles of photos and videos depicting the sprightly young Boo of days gone by, and seeing the pleasure his presence provided beyond our own household, helped us remember the good times, bright moments that often fade under the harsher light of day-to-day caregiving.

R.I.P., Mister Boo, 2005-2018

February 15, 2018

Mister Boo at play in the fields.

The Boo has left the building. Gone ahead he has, to join Jojo, Fuerte, Bandit, Tina and Ike.

We — OK, I — occasionally joked that Mister Boo was God’s gift to veterinary medicine, and there was always a bit of an edge to it, because medical care for anyone, man, woman or dog, dollars up on the hoof right quick.

But we dug down, and paid up, because that’s what you do for family.

One tough little dude. “Where’s my dinner, bitch?”

It helped that Mister Boo was a tough little son of a bitch. You wanted to be in his corner. Abandonment, imprisonment, eye operations, bladder surgeries, patellar issues, senility, incontinence, renal dysfunction — they all knocked him down, but nothing could keep him on the canvas.

Or so it seemed.

The bum kidneys and liver were what finally rang the bell on him. They forced him to surrender his disco kibble some time ago, and he considered the prescribed renal diet a bad joke, so I cooked for him. The food was not what the doctor ordered, but it was what he liked, and we figured the auld fella was near the end of his days and entitled to eat as he pleased.

Thus I was Mister Boo’s chef. But he was never my dog.

Oh, I spent a ton of time with him, because I can do my little bit of business from home while Herself suffers from gainful employment. It was usually me who took him to his vet appointments because see previous sentence. And come mealtime I was That Man, the anonymous dude with the food.

But Herself was That Lady Who Gives Me Things. Liberation from prison; baths and walks; toys and treats; pills and potions; hugs and kisses.

In a word, love.

It was Herself who gave Mister Boo a home in the summer of 2011, when she volunteered at the Bibleburg shelter, and it was Herself who gave him peace this bleak February morning. It’s one of those chilly winter days he enjoyed so much, and I’m sad that he couldn’t be here to savor it.

The Boo and Herself enjoying a brisk walk in April 2016.

• Click the “Read the rest” link below for a memorial gallery.

(more…)

R.I.P., Mad Dog Unleashed

December 17, 2017

Editor’s note: “Mad Dog Unleashed” went to meet St. Peter in December 2017. It was 18. Survivors include its landlord, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News; its father, Patrick O’Grady; and a small, deeply disturbed readership. Its final words are appended herein.

 

Your Humble Narrator at work (or so he says, anyway).

Plan? What plan? What we have here is dogs chasing cars

“Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just … do things.”The Joker, “The Dark Knight”

By Patrick O’Grady

Donald Trump finally made it to Vietnam.

True, he was a half-century late, but you’ll recall that in 1968 there was a ton of golf that needed playing back home. Waving your 1-wood around for a few decades must do wonders for bone spurs. I hear it’s the new cycling.

Speaking of which, the bike business missed a golden opportunity there. We should’ve given Gimpy a beautiful golden bike to make the trip, because he looks like he could use the exercise and I’m pretty sure he can’t swim.

He would’ve needed one hella long ramp to launch from DeeCee to Danang. But man, what an ad for travel by bike! Any old fool can get big air in a plane. C’mon, casino dude—bet the roll, jump the ocean.

However he traveled, this was a trip that bore watching for our industry as the Taiwanese hunker down and Cambodia, India and Vietnam step up.

Our erstwhile enemy has become a favored trading partner, if you believe the feds—we’re their largest export market, they’re our fastest-growing export market—and Vietnam’s annual economic-growth rate is second only to China’s.

And I’ll concede that November’s pestilential visit seems to have been a success, or at least not a disaster, which these days are the same thing.

For starters, I don’t hear the B-52s cranking up, which is always good news. And Gimpy didn’t get captured, which, well. …

We all know how he feels about guys who get captured.

“I was never a fan of the Vietnam War.” I didn’t want to go to Vietnam either, being otherwise occupied. Not with golf, but with various brain fertilizers that I hoped would grow my hair down to the ground so I wouldn’t have to wear clothes.

I didn’t need a doctor’s note or college deferments, either. I was registered for the lottery, but the Army had all the fresh meat it required in March 1973 when it was my turn in the barrel. The last draft call was in December ’72, and the authority to induct expired six months later.

What I had instead of Vietnam was the newspaper business. My war stories are about reporters, editors, rim rats, slot men, shooters, printers and publishers.

That tour of duty lasted 15 years, and in all that time it never occurred to me to try something else because I loved the work. Also, I wasn’t qualified to do anything useful.

Manufacturing? I can make trouble on the cheap, but the market is unpredictable.

Service? I’m worse with my hands than Roy Moore. I did fix the wife’s beeping sports watch once, with a hammer. You can fix anything real fast with a hammer.

Retail? I couldn’t sell Bibles in Missouri. And I tried. Didn’t help a bit that I looked more like Jesus than Jesus did, either. I had to hitchhike home, a drummer who couldn’t even earn the price of a bus ticket.

Buy the ticket, take the ride. So, yeah, newspapers. I flagged down that old Greydog in 1977 and it dropped me off here at the bike shop before trundling off and over a cliff.

Now and then I pedal up to the edge, peek over and down, and mutter, “That was quite a ride. Maybe I should buy another ticket for old times’ sake.”

Nope. My freelancer’s kit—shorts, sandals, a T-shirt that a cat uses for a climbing gym—wouldn’t pass muster in the modern newsroom. Nor would the two-hour lunch ride, followed by the two-hour lunch.

And in the newspaper game some Assistant Managing Editor for Wasting Your Time is always tugging on your leash. Nope again. “You see a collar on this SOPWAMTOS shirt, Pinstripes? Up to date on your rabies shots?”

’Sides, who goes backward? Not King Donald the Short-fingered, that’s for sure. Nobody knows exactly where he’s going or what he’s doing, especially him, but one thing’s certain: He has his beady eyes affixed firmly on the front of his face, staring straight ahead, at his phone. “Mirror, mirror, in my hand, who’s the greatest in the land?”

Back of the bus, buddy. Anyway, I enjoy this work, if you can call it that. I’m not sure the other fella likes his. With a little luck, he won’t have the job much longer, and we can move on to making other, subtler mistakes. Time passes, and things change.

Even here. Come January 2018 something else will occupy this space we’ve shared for the past couple of decades, and I’ll return to my roots as a cartoonist.

That’s how I snuck into cycling rumormongery 28 years ago, when VeloNews declined to offer me full-time employment but asked that I contribute cartoons. BRAIN’s Marc Sani liked what he saw—an appraisal he and others have had occasion to regret—and the rest, as they say, is history.

And with this column, so is “Mad Dog Unleashed.”

In the new year, look for me and the Mud Stud in the back of the mag’, and I’ll look for you up front as the bike industry continues its full-throated pursuit of The Next Big Thing®, like a dog chasing a car.

That dog likes his work, too. We just … do things. And what the hell, we’re not squished yet.

• Editor’s note v2.0: Thus endeth the final “Mad Dog Unleashed” column in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. I’ll continue to draw the “Shop Talk” strip for that publication and review touring bicycles for Adventure Cyclist. And of course, the daily (sometimes) chin-music concert will continue here in Lesser Blogsylvania.

Bummernacht

December 4, 2017

Now, more than ever.

R.I.P., Dick Gregory

August 20, 2017

Dick Gregory, activist and comedian.

Back in 1978, as a young reporter at what then was called the Gazette Telegraph in Bibleburg, I spoke with two people who could not have been more different — David Duke and Dick Gregory.

Duke was all PR and puffery, arguing that integration wasn’t “bringing peace and harmony to America, it’s accomplishing the complete opposite.” He described his button-down version of the Ku Klux Klan as “a white counterpart of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,” and crowed about “a surge of interest and membership in the organization.”

Gregory, as you might expect, approached civil rights from an entirely different angle, knowing a line of horseshit when he smelled it. It was a product he did not carry and would not distribute.

“As long as we have racism and sexism, we are a nation divided,” he said during a speech at the Fort Carson Field House, where he received a standing ovation before heading downtown for another talk at The Colorado College.

“If I walk about for a week with a pile of horse manure in my pocket, ready to throw on you, then whose pocket stinks for a week?” he asked. “And if I walk around with hate in my brain, what is that going to do with my brain?”

Pockets full of horseshit and brains full of hate. Nearly four decades down the road we’re still covering the same old ground. Sisyphus is all like, “Damn, y’all really like rolling that rock, huh?”

• Update: Rolling Stone‘s obit is a good bit more, uh, colorful, than the one in The New York Times.

• Update the Second: Holy shit, now Jerry Lewis has left the building.

R.I.P., Steve Tilford

April 5, 2017

It seems that Steve Tilford has followed Mike Deme’s wheel to the Beyond.

Few details yet, but it appears that he and a friend were in a horrific pileup involving a van and two semis west of Grand Junction.

Steve and I weren’t close, but we used to bump into each other now and again at various races, and he was always approachable, friendly and generous with his time.

And he wrote unsparingly of his sport, bicycle racing, on the blog. If you cut a corner, Tilly was gonna call you on it.

This is shaping up to be an exceptionally bad year. My condolences to his friends, fans and family.

R.I.P., Mike Deme

March 30, 2017

I always snickered at the mugshot Mike Deme used when he was still in the editor’s chair at Adventure Cyclist. He always looks like, “Goddamnit, are we gonna have some fun here or what?”

My friend and colleague Mike Deme has gone west. He was 51.

Mike devoted nearly a quarter-century to the Adventure Cycling Association, winding up his tour of duty as director of design and media.

We may have first connected when he was editor of The Cyclists’ Yellow Pages — Lord, that would have been a very long time ago — but we had our first real professional how-d’ye-dos in 2009, when he emailed in his capacity as editor of Adventure Cyclist to ask:

“Ever do any touring? It’d be great to get an O’Grady story in Adventure Cyclist. Any interest?”

I confessed that I had never toured, so Mike wangled me a slot in the ACA’s 2010 Southern Arizona Road Adventure as something of a test drive. I wrote that up, and nobody threatened legal action, so next Mike shanghaied me into writing reviews of touring bikes despite another protestation of blithering and disqualifying ignorance. The rest you mostly know, because I’m still at it.

Listen you, enjoy your time,

you really don’t have very long.

You were born just a moment ago,

in another moment you’ll be gone.

—Wang Fan-chih, the Buddhist Layman, in “Cold Mountain Poems: Zen Poems of Han Shan, Shih Te, and Wang Fan-chih,” edited and translated by J.P. Seaton

Working with Mike and the rest of the Adventure Cyclist crew proved a welcome change from pretending to care about bicycle racing for VeloNews and pretending to write about the industry for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Basically, Mike yanked my cycling head out of my racing ass, reminded me that it’s not all about counting grams, going fast and cutting corners.

We tackled a bunch of Interbikes together, along with a couple of North American Handmade Bicycle Shows, and keeping pace with Mike was always a tough hustle. Short and stout, he never meandered, but always marched, to the beat of his own running commentary. There was work to be done, and a booth to staff, and liquor to drink come quitting time.

And the man was funny. On our separate ways home from NAHBS in North Carolina we texted briefly about the joys of airport travel. When I noted that I’d dodged a cavity search at the Charlotte airport Mike replied: “That place was easy. I’m in Detroit drinking a Miller Fortune. All I can say is we really needed High Life in another package with a bit of Malt Liquor Bull added to it.”

This was his professional opinion, mind you. When Mike wasn’t overseeing the magazine, golfing, or touring, he tended bar in Missoula.

He was gruff and abrupt, liked all the right music and disliked all the right people, and I never had to pester him about money. Ask any freelancer how rare a bird that is. Practically extinct, is what.

I’m sad that he’s gone, and that I never got to ride with him. All the wrong people are shoving off lately.

• Late addendum: The ACA bids farewell to Mike.

Curtis Imrie goes west

January 23, 2017
Curtis Imrie (left) and Hal Walter in a photo lifted from one of Hal's columns at Colorado Central magazine.

Curtis Imrie (left) and Hal Walter in a photo lifted from one of Hal’s columns at Colorado Central magazine.

Just when the Republic needs every man jack it can muster, one of the true wild ones, Curtis Imrie, has left us.

Longtime readers of the DogS(h)ite are familiar with my old friend Hal Walter; we’ve known each other for the better part of quite some time. But Curtis is the guy who introduced Hal to the manly Western art of pack-burro racing, and they were friends, rivals and friendly rivals for more than three decades.

As soon as Hal posts a proper obit, I’ll provide a link. Meantime, the long and the short of it is that Curtis Imrie was (among many other things) an actor, and while he played other roles — including that of the murdered Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Mike Rust — the part he was born to play was that of Curtis Imrie.

A scion of privilege (among his forebears was Robert S. Brookings, founder of the Institute for Government Research, which would become the Brookings Institution), Curtis drove a Triumph motorcycle across Europe and the USS Enterprise across the galaxy, and nearly got killed by a wandering 18-wheeler near the National Western Stock Show complex (where he finally did die almost exactly a dozen years later, reportedly of a heart attack, at age 70).

He worked in front of the mic at Salida’s KHEN-FM on Tuesday evenings; worked both in front of the camera and behind it on a movie that seemed to have no ending (and now never will); won the World Championship Pack-Burro Race at Fairplay three times; and ran quixotic campaigns for Congress from his ranch in the Upper Arkansas watershed nearly as often as he ran for the top of Mosquito Pass. That race, he never won.

Curtis was an honest-to-God, sure-enough character in a world of ciphers, devoted to democracy, donkeys and drama, a spiritual cousin to Ed Abbey, Doug Peacock, Ken Kesey, Thomas McGuane and the Pilgrim from Kris Kristofferson’s “The Pilgrim, Chapter 33”:

He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction

Taking ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.

He’s gone back home now. Peace and comfort to the friends and family he left behind.

• Update: KHEN will host a live memorial tribute to Curtis beginning at 5 p.m. Salida time on Tuesday, Jan. 24. You can stream it at their website if you’re so inclined.

Leon Russell, R.I.P.

November 13, 2016
Leon's walk along the high wire is over.

Leon’s walk along the high wire is over.

We interrupt our discussion of the decline and fall in order to tip the Mad Dog top hat to Leon Russell, who like Leonard Cohen has gone west.

I heard him first as half of Asylum Choir, with guitarist Marc Benno. Then there was the Mad Dogs & Englishmen Tour with Joe Cocker, the Concert for Bangladesh with George Harrison, et al. Saw him perform once at Folsom Field in Boulder, and wow, what a show. Dude never really stopped playing — he would chat to the audience between songs, tinkling the ivories.

Here’s one of his most popular tunes, and one of my personal favorites. Damn, that Next World Orchestra just keeps getting bigger and better.

 

 

Leonard Cohen goes west

November 10, 2016
I'm not saying alive, I'm not saying dead.

I’m not saying alive, I’m not saying dead.

Gassho, bhikkhu. 

• A final interview with The New Yorker.

• From Lion’s Roar: “Leonard Cohen burns, and we burn with him.”

• His obit in The New York Times.