Archive for the ‘Bad news’ Category

Hell on earth

October 10, 2017

The peloton prepares for a training ride from Santa Rosa to Hopland back in 2006. The mayor-to-be is at left, and the retiree-to-be is in the middle. The unemployable at right you already know.

You never like to see your friends on the hot seat, and my old bro’ Chris Coursey is on a very warm squativoo indeed.

Chris is mayor of Santa Rosa, Calif., which abruptly went from a pretty close approximation of heaven on earth to something else entirely on Monday.

You can survey the damage courtesy of The Press Democrat, where Chris spent a couple decades as a reporter and columnist. He and I go way back, to the Seventies — roommates at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, we later worked for what then was called the Gazette Telegraph in Bibleburg before I left for Tucson and Chris split for Santa Rosa.

Chris spoke about the fire to his old paper, and to NPR, too; you can listen to that report here.

Another of our old Gazette pals, Merrill Oliver, recently retired from The New York Times and bought a place in (wait for it) Santa Rosa. He’s in transit — last I heard he was in Denver, which is too cold to burn at the moment — but clearly, this is not going to be the joyous change of venue he had been anticipating. I’m told Merrill’s new home was not among those destroyed, but it seems like early days yet, so keep your fingers crossed on his behalf.

We have other friends in the area — Gazette and Press Democrat alum Mike Geniella and his wife T, up Hopland way; Lo Esparza and Scot Nicol in Santa Rosa; Patrick Brady of Red Kite Prayer; and many, many more. Here’s hoping everyone comes out of this OK. Stuff you can always replace, but friends are always in short supply.

R.I.P., Tom Petty

October 3, 2017

Adios, TP.

Yesterday was a sad day in so many ways, not least because of the departure of Tom Petty. He was just 66.

The fake news was a wee bit early in declaring that he had left the stage; Tom managed one more short encore before taking his final bow. He always seemed like a regular dude to me, a craftsman devoted to doing his best in a culture that often settles for much, much less. And he just kept on doing it, right through a massive U.S. tour to celebrate his 40th anniversary as frontman for the Heartbreakers.

His music, so clearly influenced by The Byrds, has been part of my mental playlist for the better part of quite some time, starting with “Damn the Torpedoes.” And I expect that he’ll get a warm greeting from Roy Orbison, George Harrison and the rest of that ever-growing, ever-better Next World Orchestra.

Here’s one of my favorites — “Louisiana Rain.” Damn the torpedoes — full speed ahead.

The American nightmare

October 2, 2017

Mandalay Bay, pictured from the walkway into the neighboring Luxor.

If Charlie Manson checked into the Safari tomorrow morning, nobody would hassle him as long as he tipped big.Hunter S. Thompson, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream”

If we learned anything at all from the good doctor, it’s that anyone can bring anything at any time into a Vegas hotel room.

I’ve been doing it for years. Big black rolling suitcase with a big black messenger bag strapped to its handle, a camera bag, a 25-liter backpack, even a cooler. I always thought if anything drew a floorwalker’s eye, it would be the cooler.

“Sir, you’ll need to return that to your vehicle. We have beverages for sale in the resort.”

But nope. Not a peep. Not at the Luxor, anyway. And I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and speculate that Mandalay Bay doesn’t hassle Charlie either.

Regulars here know I own firearms, but nevertheless believe the Second Amendment was in dire need of a copy editor. And I’ll leave it to another Charlie, the invaluable Mr. Pierce, to bring the heat regarding our national acceptance of blood sacrifice on the constitutional altar.

But I will note that while eyes pop at massacres like the one in Vegas, their lids droop at the day-to-day body count in places like Albuquerque, where we are on pace to exceed last year’s 61 homicides, up from 56 the previous year and the highest number in two decades.

So I’ll encourage you to pester your legislators to consider both the cascade of blood and the steady drip, drip, drip. Urge them to do more than send thoughts and prayers, which have proven remarkably ineffective against the gun lobby. Remember that elections matter (we have one here tomorrow).

And cling to hope while remembering another quote from Thompson, a man with his own firearms fetish:

This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

On my uppers

August 30, 2017

Duke City as seen from the Sandia foothills.

I piddled away a bunch of daylight early yesterday doing bits of this and that, and come 10 a.m. I was in the mood for the great outdoors but not quite sure how to approach it.

Finally I loaded a Gregory day pack, pulled on my old Vasque Clarion boots and went for a short hike in the Sandia foothills. I have some marching to do next month, at Interbike, and it never hurts to refresh the old muscle memory, especially old muscles and old memory.

Shoes for industry.

Wise choice, as it turns out. On the way home my decrepit hiking boots performed what Herself, a former outdoor-equipment retailer, called “a de-lam’.” Both soles basically crumbled and peeled away at the heels.

“Sonofabitch,” I observed. “I’ve only had these boots since the elves made them for that down-on-his-luck cobbler, and what a steal they were, too. Or was it Elvis? Anyway, curses, etc.”

So home I flapped, like a nattily dressed hobo. And now I get to buy some new boots. I feel happier than Carrie Bradshaw with a Manolo Blahnik catalog.

Gimme a brake

August 27, 2017

Now I can hit the binders without innocent bystanders thinking they’re being attacked by a deranged eagle.

I got paid for a little extracurricular work I did a while back and decided to spread some of the love around, ordering up a new set of Avid BB7s for the Bianchi Zurigo Disc.

The fine folks at Two Wheel Drive handled acquisition and installation, and now I don’t have to listen to those gawd-awful BB5s gargling whenever I squeeze the levers. Sumbitches made more bad noise than a busted chainsaw.

There are worse things than shite brakes, though. Ask anyone in Hurricane Harvey’s vicinity. The Houston Chronicle is all over the story, with one of the most horrific moments (for me, anyway) being the residents of a senior center sitting in waist-deep water, awaiting rescue.

There are other tales nearly as grim, and I expect there will be more of them as the days drag on. And weird ones, too, about a guy catching fish in his living room and dogs carrying their own emergency rations.

We often crack wise about Texas around here, because hey — it’s Texas, y’all! But spare a thought if you will for the residents of the Lone Star State, and if you haven’t spent all your disposable income on new brakes, consider sending them a little sumpin’-sumpin’.

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.

Kinda busy right now

August 9, 2017

The Acme® DIY Bomb Shelter.

It’s over!

June 23, 2017

Go home, Fatso, you’re drunk.

Following in the tricksy footsteps of sneaky newsmakers everywhere, we hereby present your Friday Bad News Dump:

Live Update Guy will not be calling this year’s Tour de France.

LUG-in-Chief Charles Pelkey and I have mulled it over a time or two — should we stay or should we go? — and the simple truth of it is we’re both busy and tired and three weeks of following Le Tour would leave us only more so on both fronts.

There’s a chance we might pop up guerrilla-style to do an epic mountain stage, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.

It’s been fun, and p’raps some day it will be fun again. Maybe when the robots take over.

Pampers, stat!

June 1, 2017

At the Wet House, President Arthur Curry vowed to sign the 2032 Paris climate accord, calling the U.S. exit in 2020 “water over the bridge.”

Lakota: “Take courage, the earth is all that lasts.”

King Donald the Short-fingered:Hold my Coke and watch this.”

Jesus wept. I don’t want every single post on the blog to be about this pig-ignorant son of a bitch, but Lord, does he ever make it difficult to blog about anything else.

Which is probably exactly the way he likes it. “Lookit me,” squeals the giant toddler as he shits in the sandbox again, knowing he’ll be long gone before it starts to stink.

R.I.P., Gregg Allman

May 27, 2017

Jesus. You step away from the Mac for a minute and some fresh horror rears its ugly head.

I first heard the Allman Brothers Band in 1971, in Alamosa, and their music has been part of my mental soundtrack ever since.

The album “A Decade of Hits 1969-1979” may be the best stationary-trainer disc ever, though I expect Gregg wasn’t much for the sweaty solo spin to nowhere special. Come to think of it, neither am I. It just ain’t my cross to bear.

“Eat a Peach,” “Live At Fillmore East,” “Idlewild South” — man, that’s a lot of music. Ain’t but one way out, man. And it leads to the whipping post.