Archive for the ‘Bidness’ Category

View, with alarm

June 27, 2020

Herself enjoys the view from the topside
of the Sandia Peak Tramway in 2016.

It’s a pretty view, a’ight.

Pretty enough to get me into a Sandia Peak Tram car with 19 other dummies in plague season?

Nope.

I wanna get up there, I’ll ride the ol’ bikey bike up the other side. It’ll hurt like hell, and it’ll take a lot longer than 15 minutes.

But at least I’ll know where I’ve been, and how I got there.

Fulfill your destiny, Burqueños

May 27, 2020

“I’ll need $6.5 mil’ for improvements to your feeble industrial park.
I trust that won’t be a problem?”

The bad thing about being a former copy-desk guy is the questions you don’t get to ask assistant city editors and reporters.

Here are a couple of examples:

Raytheon shuts its operation near the Sandia National Labs-Kirtland AFB complex in Albuquerque, where it employs 200 people as an arm of Raytheon Missile Systems, based in Tucson. In the service of consolidation their work is going elsewhere, along with the paychecks for same, and Raytheon has returned $850,000 in state economic-development funding, the company announces.

Meanwhile, Amazon proclaims that it is building a “fulfillment center” on the west side. In a press release, Bernalillo County says it will kick in $6.5 million for “a regional public infrastructure improvement project” to encourage “future development” in the Upper Petroglyphs Industrial Park.

Bad news, good news, yeah? The basic ingredients for any publication. Add some filler to hold it all together — cute kitten videos, celebrity breakups, the latest dispatches from the phone of Adolf Twitler — and you’re good to go. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Well, maybe. Me, I’d kind of like to know, without having to Google it, what sort of work the Raytheon people did (it involved microwave and laser weaponry, apparently); what the average salary was; how they feel about the loss of their jobs; and what their next steps might be.

I’d also be interested in learning how many people the Amazon warehouse will employ, what they will do, and what they will earn; what the county can expect to get for its $6.5 million investment; and whether someone has calculated that Albuquerque’s economic future involves herding boxes, not making zap guns.

I’m guessing that some of the newly idled Raytheon employees will not be a good fit for an Amazon fulfillment center. Unless Darth Bezos is planning a little Death Star project on the side.

Pelotonnage

May 6, 2020

The actual outdoors. No instructors shouting at you. Free of charge.

I’m having trouble fitting into The New Weird Order.

The idea of spending $2,245 for a Peloton bike plus $39 per month for online classes*, so I can stay fit for … for. …

For what, exactly?

“Enjoying” a long and healthy life spent indoors, never more than a few steps from a screen?

I guess if the auto industry gets another bailout, as seems likely, these folks — the ones with all the money, anyway — will be able to have their “outside” and their screens at the same time.

* Incidentally, if you already own a bike, and you must do your cycling indoors, you can spend a few hundy on a stationary trainer or a set of rollers and join the free community of voices in your head.

‘your new biz partner’s name is spike’

April 20, 2020

Sometimes the spikes point up; sometimes they point down.

Gregg Bagni, a smarty-smart and one of the legendary characters in the old velocipede-propagation game, has channeled himself a bit of alien archy over at Medium, and if you are operating a business of any sort in these dark days — and even if you aren’t — you might like to give it a squint.

Quoth the Bag-man:

sorry there will be no illustrative graphs or bad power point presentations today

instead the simple observation that this 5 min of our lives everything seems to be “spikey”

The piece reminded me a bit of an old joke, one that became part of a folklore project during my college days at the University of Northern Colorado:

• • •

Guy walks into a bar (as they often do in these tales). He is accompanied by a drop-dead gorgeous woman of the female persuasion and a surly-looking little fella ’bout a foot tall.

Guy sits down, woman sits down, little fella sits down. Guy sez to the barkeep he sez, “A round for the house, please,” and pulls a hundred-dollar bill out of his wallet.

Barkeep sez to the guy he sez, “I can’t break that, got anything smaller?”

Guy sez, “Keep the change.” Well, all righty then.

Barkeep sets ’em up for the house, but before anyone can take a sip the little fella jumps off his stool and onto the bar, and runs up and down kicking all the drinks over.

“Sorry about that,” sez the guy he sez. “Set ’em up again.” And he pulls out another hundy.

Barkeep sez, “Pally, I told you I can’t break a C.”

Guy sez, “Keep the change.” Well, all righty then.

Barkeep sets ’em up, but before anyone can wet his whistle the little fella plays footy with all the beverages again.

This goes on for a while, as these hoary old gags will, until the barkeep finally slams his rag on the bar, gets up in the guy’s grille, and sez, “Lissen, y’mutt, I’ll set ’em up at a hundy a crack all day long and nighttime too, but I gotta know what the hell is it the story here?”

“Glad you asked,” sez the guy. “Long ago I was a lost and lonely soul, alone in the world, down to my last few drachmas, rummaging through the detritus at this second-rate thrift store looking for items I might buy cheap and sell dear, when I found this old lamp. It spoke to me for some reason, so I spent my last sou on it and fetched it back to my shack.

“Well sir, I started in rubbing the dust and whatnot off of it and lo and behold! A genie appeared! And as is the custom, he granted me three wishes.”

“And these were?” grunted the barkeep.

“Well, first, I wished for the most beautiful woman in the world to be my constant companion,” our man replied, pointing at the knockout parked on the stool to his left. “And here she is.”

“So she is,” admitted the barkeep. “And?”

“Second, I wished that every time I opened my wallet, there would be a fresh crisp hundred-dollar bill inside. And as you see?” He opened the wallet and therein resided a lone Benjamin, seemingly fresh from the Mint.

“Blimey,” expostulated the barkeep. “Curiouser and curiouser. But where does the little guy come in?”

“Ah,” says the guy, gesturing to his right. “Well, my third wish was for a 12-inch prick. And there he is.”

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 11

December 30, 2019

They’re, like, all cargo bikes, dude, sir.
From the November 2019 issue of BRAIN.

The Mud Stud is, like, totally not into, like, your categories, an’ stuff, dude, sir.

He works for a bike shop, so he can only afford one bike. And he makes it do everything, from the daily commute to hucking off cliffs at Deadman’s Dropoff to fetching his SpaghettiOs and PBR from the Grab-N-Git.

He will be happy to sell you whatever it is you have been told that you want, and then fix it when it goes sideways from neglect. But for his own purposes he prefers a spartan two-wheeler that can be field-repaired with a minitool, some duct tape, and a trailside rock.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 10

December 29, 2019

A colleague thought this one might get taped up on a few shop walls.
From the October 2019 issue of BRAIN.

As noted on Day 9, e-bikes have their ups and downs. Like any other bicycle, only more so.

They ask more of their owners — check out this article from an REI master tech in Portland — and of their friendly neighborhood mechanic.

Sometimes, a fella just longs to see one of the old bikes. V1.0. The kind that doesn’t give you much help, but doesn’t give you many headaches, either.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 8

December 27, 2019

I saw it on the Innertubes so it must be true.
From the August 2019 issue of BRAIN.

One way to minimize your exposure to retail ridicule is to order your goodies online and pick them up at your leisure.

I’ve done this with coffeemakers, computer monitors, and even a guitar. And in these strange days of modern times, you can do it with bicycles, too.

Just surf merrily around the Innertubes from the comfort of your own castle, wherein none dare call you Tubby, Fred, or not at all. Locate the steed of your dreams. Then it’s “click and collect.” Easy peasy.

Or maybe not.

Things always look better on the Innertubes. A Big Mac looks like a hamburger. A generic plastic bike looks like winged Pegasus. And Il Fattini looks like Brad Pitt.

Until you see him in the all-too-abundant flesh and realize he looks more like Brad’s second cousin Grease. And smells like his Uncle Arm.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 5

December 24, 2019

I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn the price of an e-bike.
From the May 2019 issue of BRAIN.

If this one feels a bit like the last one, well, I was trying to match the ’toon with its issue’s theme, which happened to be (wait for it) e-bikes.

Plenty of people who should know better (some adventurous cyclists among them) think $1,500 is a lot to pay for a bike you don’t have to plug into a wall socket at night. And I’ve talked to more than one velo-curious person who thinks a third of that sounds about right.

So I was speculating how that sort of customer might react upon learning the price of a decent e-bike from the corner IBD.

And you know me — ever-ready with a cheap gag (rimshot).

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 4

December 23, 2019

Stoned again: From the April 2019 edition of BRAIN.

The bike business sometimes reminds me of Henri the painter in John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row.”

Regularly he revolted against outworn techniques and materials. One season he threw out perspective. Another year he abandoned red, even as the mother of purple. Finally he gave up paint entirely. It is not known whether Henri was a good painter or not for he threw himself so violently into movements that he had very little time left for painting of any kind.

Think about it. Movements, and violently. The road bike. The mountain bike. The suspension fork. Full suspension. Steel, aluminum, carbon, bamboo. The cyclocross bike. The cruiser. The fixie. The townie. The fat bike. 1x drivetrains. 8-, 9-, 10-, 11- and 12-cog cassettes. STI, ErgoPower and DoubleTap. Internally geared hubs. Belt drive. Disc brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes. Electronic shifting. Tubeless tires. The e-bike. The cargo bike. The gravel bike.

We can argue about whether all (or any) of these movements improve upon the basic bicycle. But I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I just want to ride the damn things. And if I have to be a quantum mechanic to work on it, I don’t need it.

Told I could have just one bicycle, I would choose a chromoly frame and fork with rack and fender mounts plus clearance for 42mm tires, a nine-speed, 11-34T cassette with a 46/30T crank, a short-reach, shallow-drop handlebar, bar-end shifters, aero levers, rim brakes, external cable routing, and 32-spoke clincher wheels (pre-tubeless “standards”).

Of course, that’s just me. One old white guy does not an industry make. But still.

In the meantime, I make fun of fads. Keep making those superhero movies, fellas. I’ll be over here, reading a fucking book.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 3

December 22, 2019

Moles don’t get that big, even if they drink beer.
From the March 2019 issue of BRAIN.

Felix Magowan, one of the original Trio that acquired what had been called Velo-news from founders Barbara and Robert George, had long wanted to add Bicycle Retailer and Industry News to the Inside Communications portfolio.

He never got it done. Eventually Inside Communications sold VeloNews to a passing crew of brigands, and Felix wandered off to do other things.

Episode 19 of Radio Free Dogpatch, “Can’t Find My Way Home,” from February 11, 2019.

Imagine giving Dave Stohler’s Masi Gran Criterium to your meth-addict nephew as a present for graduating from reform school. A bleak period ensued, thick with the sort of belligerent dumbassery once found only in high-school locker rooms, family trees shaped like flagpoles, and the lower houses of state legislatures in the Deep South.

I finally sat up and slipped off the back because VeloNews seemed to be careening into the sort of future in which plague-carrying aliens burst out of people’s chests while they’re battling killer robots. The Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter went with me, to do the occasional walk-on in Bicycle Retailer’s “Shop Talk” comic strip.

And then, shazam! Felix reappeared as part of Pocket Outdoor Media, and not only reacquired VeloNews, but snapped up BRAIN and a couple other properties as well.

The Fat Guy and I didn’t go back to the old home place. I didn’t care about bicycle racing anymore, and anyway, we weren’t invited. But it seemed like a good time to make a meta joke about how Fatso was a spy for his old bosses.

Unlike the vulture capitalists who nearly burned VeloNews down to its foundation, the “Shop Talk” dudes seem to know they’re cartoon characters.

Also, unlike vulture capitalists, they’re funny.

• Editor’s note: Today’s blast from the past includes a bonus audio component — episode 19 of Radio Free Dogpatch from February 2019.