Archive for the ‘Bad news’ Category

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.

Memorial Day v2.0

June 1, 2021

“Joey, have you ever been in an autonomous Turkish drone’s crosshairs?”

Oh, good. … Paging James Cameron … James Cameron, please come to the white courtesy target zone … er, the white courtesy phone.

The dirt on Earth Day

April 22, 2021

“This site is undergoing maintenance.”
How about getting to work on the state legislature next?

It’s Earth Day, and I plan to celebrate by staying on top of it, where I can keep an eye on things.

This ain’t always easy.

There is, of course, The Bug®. And I’ve had a couple close calls while riding trails this past week. No harm, no foul, but still, I think I might give that pasatiempo a rest for a while. A skinny trail can only handle so many remote “workers” before something gives. Our dirt arteries are dangerously clogged. That’s my diagnosis, anyway.

Speaking of keeping an eye on things, and dirt, here’s some bad news: My man Brook Watts has stepped down as organizer of the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Nor will he have any involvement in the UCI World Cup race there.

Says Brook:

“The situation in Arkansas remains problematic and unfortunately, I don’t see any satisfactory resolution. I have sincerely, but unsuccessfully, attempted to work out my concerns and differences with constituents. However, regrettably, we were not successful. I remain dedicated to continuing to use my position of influence in the cyclo-cross community to fight for equity in racing, and to ensure that the sport is accepting and welcoming to all.”

This is a goddamn shame, frankly. Brook is a righteous dude, a fine racer, and a top-shelf organizer. This can’t have been an easy call for him to make.

I haven’t tugged on his sleeve for more details because he asked for privacy after making his announcement. He deserves that and much, much more.

Some people build things. Other people, eh, not so much.

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., Steve Milligan

December 22, 2020

Our friend Steve went west last night.

We were on the trail past the high side of Comanche, waiting on the Great Conjunction, when I saw the owl.

It was just before sunset as he flew in from the south, spread his wings wide, and coasted to a landing atop a utility pole down the hill from our own perch.

“I bet that’s Steve come to say adios,” I thought.

We had spoken with his wife, Christina, earlier in the day. She told us Steve was near the end of his struggle against an aggressive cancer. And when I saw the owl, well. …

This morning I awakened with Tom Waits in my head, rasping, “Come On Up to the House.”

Come on up to the house

Come on up to the house

The world is not my home

I’m just a-passin’ through

You gotta come on up to the house.

And sure enough, as I creaked out of bed and began dressing to greet the day, Herself gave me the news: “Steve died.”

Steve and Christina were librarians, like Herself, who met Steve sometime in 2005 when they both worked for Pikes Peak Community College in Bibleburg. Christina did her bit at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Funny thing was, they lived just a couple blocks around the corner from our place in the Greater Patty Jewett Yacht & Gun Club Neighborhood. So we could’ve met them pretty much any old time. Small world.

Steve and Herself at PPCC.

Herself developed this notion that we might all get along, be “couples friends,” a social wall she has been banging her head against for more than 30 years. I’m a surly old dog wary of strangers at the gate.

In this instance, however, she was correct. Steve picked right up on my suspicions about any plan I had not personally devised and his nickname for me became “Mr. Three Words.” If there was something Christina wanted to do and Steve didn’t, he’d say, “I have three words for you: Patrick O’Grady.”

These are of course two words, and constitute a koan of sorts, I suppose. And no surprise, because Steve was a Zen Buddhist, a member of the Springs Mountain Sangha. We had something in common there; some years earlier I had met Joan Sutherland Roshi, who would go on to become the founding teacher of The Open Source network that includes the SMS.

Joan had worked with John Tarrant Roshi, director of the Pacific Zen Institute and Robert Aitken Roshi’s first dharma heir. And Steve and I both appreciated Tarrant’s book, “Bring Me the Rhinoceros,” a sampler of classic Zen koans and a Western approach to them.

All this is not intended to say that Steve and I were Han Shan and Shih Te. Steve and Christina and Herself and I were not itinerant locos who did a little casual day labor to keep rice in the bowl (well, Steve, Christina and Herself weren’t, anyway). We were simply friends, people of like mind who enjoyed books and movies, food and wine, chin music and a few yuks.

One of many dinners at the Blue Star.

They would cook for us, and we would cook for them. If we weren’t cooking, we were eating, at Blue Star, Springs Orleans, Tapateria, Pizza Rustica, or Vallejos. Taking in movies at Kimball’s Peak Three. Hanging out and shooting the shit.

After we moved down here in 2014 we saw them less often, but both Steve and Christina have relatives in New Mexico, so they’d pop down from time to time and we’d catch up. And whenever we were back in Bibleburg they were at the top of our list of people to see.

Steve was a big fella, like me a bearded baldo, but while I am prone to rant and rave like some stewbum on a sidewalk he was inclined to uncork a dry wit and serve it in a confidential tone, as though the State might be listening in. Whenever he had a bon mot to deliver he would take a step closer, right into your personal space, drop his volume to a conspiratorial level, and let fly.

Christina? More of a Buddha, less entranced by her own sermons, occasionally raising a flower. She speaks in measured tones with quiet amusement and nothing I do or say surprises her because she spent decades with her own bull-goose loony and knew all that honking and flapping was strictly ornamental.

There was less of that sort of thing as Steve’s disease progressed, Christina told me today as we three, once four, shared a long-distance cry. But at least Steve was in the nest, at home, in the care of his wife and son. And that was where he left them, and us, at age 73. Gasshō, bodhisattva.

We can’t say that human lives have a purpose, since a purpose would be smaller than we are. It’s true, though, that the impulse to give freely to the world seems to be at the bottom of the well of human intentions where the purest and cleanest water arises. To be able to offer back what the world has given you, but shaped a little by your touch — that makes a true life. Eventually we find our song and remember it and sing it. And we can never know who else will sing the song, or how the story will turn out in the end; its ripples widen beyond us and there is no end in sight. — John Tarrant, “Bring me the Rhinoceros”

R.I.P., John le Carré (and George Smiley)

December 13, 2020

Two of the many John Le Carré books I’ve read over the years.

We keep losing George Smileys while the Karlas of the world dig in like ticks.

John le Carré, a.k.a. David Cornwell, wrote a couple dozen books before he finally set down his pen forever, and I read most of them. I especially loved the Smiley stories; in another life his rumpled little man with an eye for detail, plodding doggedly along in the shadows, could’ve been a newspaper copy editor, so no doubt I felt some kinship there.

And le Carré was none too keen on Adolf Twitler, who reminded him of the other fella, the original fascist gangster. Probably compromised by the Russians, too, he thought.

Speaking with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” back in 2018 he said he thought it possible that Il Douche “was taken into what I call a honey trap — that he had ladies found for him, and he misbehaved in Russia.” But the real trap, he thought, may have been laid by the orange nitwit himself.

“I think the kompromat, if it’s taken place, has taken place very largely through Trump’s own endeavors to raise money in all sorts of dark places,” le Carré said. “And together, all those efforts amount to a self-compromising activity, which the Russians have embraced. I think they have him by the short hairs.”

Le Carré raised his money the old-fashioned way, by working for it. His final book, “Agent Running in the Field,” was published in October 2019, when he was 88.

R.I.P., Msgr. Richard ‘Mons’ Soseman

December 9, 2020

Msgr. Richard “Mons” Soseman.

Msgr. Richard Soseman, better known to the Live Update Guy crowd as “Mons,” has been taken from us by the pandemic. He was 57.

LUG’s Charles Pelkey gave me the word just now. The Catholic Post has more.

A Mass at the tomb of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen on the 41st anniversary of his death on Dec. 9 also was a first opportunity for the Diocese of Peoria to mourn the death from COVID-19 two hours earlier of the vice postulator of the famed media pioneer and author’s cause for canonization.

“We gather with sad news for our diocese as Msgr. Richard Soseman has gone home to God this morning,” said Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka of Peoria at the start of the 8:30 a.m. Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

Msgr. Soseman, 57, had been the episcopal delegate assigned by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, to assemble Archbishop Sheen’s sainthood cause and later became vice postulator. Acknowledging “our hearts are heavy” with the news of his death, Bishop Tylka said “in some ways it is providential and fitting that on the same day that Sheen went home to God, so does Msgr. Soseman.”

We knew Mons as a cycling fan, a witty, energetic correspondent, and a generous spirit who gave far more to our silly little sideshow than it deserved. Neither Charles nor I ever met the padre face to face, but we both miss him as though we had spent years in his presence. Which, in a small and remote way, we did, a blessing for which I am grateful.

The Catholic Post will publish a full obituary at some point. I expect Charles will have more to say as well. In the meantime, those of you on Facebook might visit the monsignor’s Facebook page.

Be well, take care, and give a thought to absent friends.

A rare prayer for a friend

December 5, 2020

“Mons” spreading the good news at WLPO FM.
Photo provided to (and liberated from) The Catholic Post.

• Editor’s note: This is a guest post from my old comrade Charles Pelkey, first published on Facebook. One of the people who helped make his Live Update Guy operation so much fun has fallen victim to The Bug® and is in a bad way. Msgr. Richard Soseman’s essays were a highlight of our coverage of the grand tours, which often leaned more toward low comedy than high art. “Mons,” as he came to be known, put a high gloss on our rattly old jalopy. I wish him a speedy return to health and his ministry, and I hope you will too.

By Charles Pelkey

My friend, Richard “Mons” Soseman, is currently under sedation and on a ventilator because of a COVID-19 infection. We first met while his ministry brought him to the Holy City in Rome.  The Monsignor (hence the moniker “Mons”) has since returned to the U.S., now serving as pastor at Saint Joseph’s in Peru, Illinois.

Mons is an avid cycling fan, which is how we got to know each other. He often wrote beautiful and detailed essays to be included in daily coverage on LiveUpdateGuy.com. He twice hosted my son at the Vatican in Rome over the course of several years.

The monsignor on the job in Rome, hosting visitor Philip Pelkey.

Mons would light candles in Saint Peter’s Basilica for me when I was taking finals in law school, during the bar exam, and when I developed breast cancer. I finally told him, “You know, Padre, I have a confession: I am not a man of faith.”

Not missing a beat, he quickly said: “Oh, Charles, I already knew that. It’s okay. I am,” and he went on lighting candles just as before.

Now it’s our turn. Please keep this sweet, sweet man in your thoughts — or prayers — as he fights the biggest challenge of his life. Pray, light candles, send good vibes, but above all, keep Mons in your thoughts.

Mons took the risks of COVID seriously and took as many precautions as possible. Nonetheless, he caught the virus and is now quite ill. Please be careful out there.

Godspeed, Padre. A lot of us out here love you.

Unplugged

November 22, 2020

Rockin’ out with the Art & Lutherie Roadhouse,
bought from Guitar Center Albuquerque.

Though guitar sales are rocking out, Guitar Center is not.

The nation’s largest retailer of musical instruments has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to The New York Times.

It’s a sad tune. Bain Capital got its Mitthooks into the company back in 2007, and surprise surprise! The company wound up larded with debt. Throw in a late entry into e-commerce, some tough online competition, and a bout of The Bug®, and what you wind up with is “The Last Waltz” scored for private equity and hedge fund.

My Seagull Entourage Mini Jumbo, bought used from Guitar Center Albuquerque.

The company hopes to emerge from bankruptcy by year’s end, according to The Times. But for anyone who has enjoyed working there, or shopping there, a press release contains a caveat:

While Guitar Center is pleased with its overall store footprint, the Company has engaged A&G Realty Partners to explore opportunities to optimize its real estate portfolio and other agreements to focus on investments that best position the Company to return to its growth trajectory prior to COVID-19.

Speaking of caveats, the lyrics to “Forward Looking Statements,” one of the press release’s greatest hits, will sound familiar to any lawyers in the audience:

This press release includes “forward looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward looking statements express our current expectations, opinion, belief or forecasts of future events and performance. A statement identified by the use of forward-looking words including “may,” “expects,” “projects,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimate,” “will,” “should,” and certain of the other foregoing statements may be deemed forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, these statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause actual future activities and results to be materially different from those suggested or described in this press release. By issuing forward looking statements based on current expectations, opinions, views or beliefs, the Company has no obligation and, except as required by law, is not undertaking any obligation, to update or revise these statements or provide any other information relating to such statements.

Wall Street should give that an 85. It’s got a good beat, and a Suit can dance to it.