Archive for the ‘Bidness’ Category

No laughing matter

October 9, 2018

ABQ Studios. Just take a left turn at Albuquerque.

No joke: Netflix, which seems to have cornered the market on standup comedy, is investing in Marc Maron’s old hometown of Albuquerque.

The streaming service is acquiring ABQ Studios from Pacifica Ventures, with a $14 million economic-development assist from the state and city, and says it anticipates bringing a billion smackers and up to 1,000 production jobs per annum over 10 years to our little corner of the cinematic universe.

Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.

Netflix has produced in New Mexico before, of course — there’s “Longmire,” “Godless” and some Adam Sandler vehicle that I will watch just as soon as there’s nothing else on TV and I’m chained to a chair with my eyelids wired open.

And ABQ Studios, which opened for business in April 2007, has hosted everybody’s favorite Duke City drug drama, “Breaking Bad,” along with bits of Marvel’s “Avengers” franchise, according to Variety.

“Our experience producing shows and films in New Mexico inspired us to jump at the chance to establish a new production hub here,” said Ty Warren, Netflix veep for physical production.

“The people, the landscape and the facilities are all stellar and we can’t wait to get to work — and employ lots of New Mexicans — creating entertainment for the world to enjoy.”

This has to be considered good news, which we so rarely discuss here, and I’ll look forward to learning more of the deets once the cheerleaders drop their pompoms and the joyful noise abates somewhat.

In the meantime, if you don’t have a Netflix subscription please acquire same with all possible speed. We need to make that $14 mil’ back before all these Netflix execs get their cars stolen.

O, Canada

October 2, 2018

Houston, we have a problem: Robot brothels.

From our You Can’t Make This Shit Up Department comes this sordid tale of e-hoes (iHoes?) in a town that’s up to its tits in the old-school flesh-and-blood models.

At the root of the problem is Kinky S Dolls, a Canadian outfit that claims to be the first AI sex-doll outfit to offer test drives. Seems our horny neighbor to the north wants to bend Houston over for its initial thrust into the U.S. market.

Hold your whoreses, say local Christians, coppers and politicos.

“This is not the kind of business I would like to see in Houston, and certainly this is not the kind of business the city is seeking to attract,” says Mayor Sylvester Turner.

And the not-for-profit group Elijah Rising has begun a “Keep Robot Brothels Out of Houston” online petition “that as of Monday had more than 12,600 signatures.” according to The Guardian.

But this is Texas, goddamnit, and at least one columnist says the goldurned gummint has no bi’ness telling a fella what to do with his tallywhacker and his android love muffin (the pearl-necklace metaphor seems particularly apt in this instance).

Anyway, just think of the jobs! No, not that kind of job, the other sort, which come to think about it is not that different from the kind you’re thinking of, especially if you’re the one who has to clean up the rent-a-robot between clients. It’s enough to give a fella the blues.

Hit it, Steve:

And they say Texas weather’s always changin’
And one thing change’ll bring is somethin’ new
And Houston really ain’t that bad a town
So you hang around with the Fort Worth blues

Interbike 2018: Relax

September 21, 2018

Just a little pinprick.

The latest iteration of the Gathering of the Tribes is in the rear-view mirror.

Was it a success? I have no idea. We’ll have to wait for the numbers, which may prove elusive.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

One astute observer who is not me does not recall seeing any attendance figures from last year’s Interbike, the Last Roundup in Sin City, and thus who knows? Just as in real life, we may have to judge based on anecdotal evidence instead of cold, hard facts.

Speaking of anecdotal evidence, real life, and cold, hard facts, both Charlie Pierce and Kevin Drum are goggle-eyed at the latest plot twist in “The Adventures of Brett Kavanaugh, Boy Wonder.”

If this were real real life instead of a cheapjack “Justice League” porno knockoff, Kavanaugh’s nomination would be as dead as John Holmes. But the Senate is all Jokers and no Batmen.

Meanwhile, a tip of the Rivendell cycling cap to Darren Sherkat, who was the first and only commenter to publicly recognize the lyrics from Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” which I was using for headlines on this year’s Interbike posts. Hope you enjoyed ’em.

When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

Interbike 2018: Can you show me where it hurts?

September 19, 2018

There’s a new tariff in town.

Back to the present: My man Matt Wiebe of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News serves up a piece from Interbike about whether retailers should be stocking up on product with more tariffs on the horizon.

Among the folks Matt spoke to was Friend of the Blog Stephen Newhall of Rob and Charlie’s in Fanta Se, who is taking the dire pronouncements from some suppliers with “a grain of salt.”

“What will happen is that sales that would have otherwise happened in November and December will happen sooner,” he says.

One of the big issues is what constitutes a bike made in China, notes Bob Margevicius of Specialized.

“A bike’s point of origin is not necessarily clear because it is made from components from so many sources,” he says. “It is an extremely confusing time right now.”

The whole piece is worth a read, especially since Matt isn’t just another Fake News guy like Your Humble Narrator. He’s also a small-business owner*, a pro salmon fisherman with a boat, nets, and everything.

* Note the hyphenation there. That’s an Associated Press style deal intended to avoid confusion. Matt helms a small business, but as anyone who has ever seen him will attest, he is not a small businessman.

• Next: The dream is gone.

Interbike 2018: This is not how I am

September 17, 2018

The Mud Stud is a top-notch wrench, but his periodic forays into entrepreneurship have rarely dollared up on the hoof.

Neither Interbike nor Bicycle Retailer and Industry News is limited to serving as a delivery system for my bullshit. There are various jobs of work being done, products being shifted, and money being made.

Or so it is to be hoped, anyway.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

But the show is not a cheap date. And as a consequence some penny-pinchers have been known to try to cut a few corners — say, by setting up outside the show and hoping to lure a few rubes away from the big tent and into their little tipis.

The Mud Stud tried that in 1999, when the show was still at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, with predictable results. At top, you’ll find the setup, a “Shop Talk” strip that appeared in the pre-show edition of BRAIN. Below are the subsequent Show Daily strips. Click the images for bigger versions.

And where was I when The Stud and Bobbi were trying to move their respective products? I was on site like a good dog, hawking copies of my first and only book, a collection of VeloNews cartoons titled “The Season Starts When?”

• Next: There is no pain, you are receding.

 

Show Daily, Day 1

 

Show Daily, Day 2

 

Show Daily, Day 3: The finale.

Interbike 2018: The Biggest Little Show

September 14, 2018

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Interbike Marketweek Reno-Tahoe Powered by Northstar California Resort doesn’t seem to be getting much traction in the mainstream media.

A cursory search of The New York Times finds a story from the 2008 show (“LeMond Critical of Armstrong”). The Washington Post mentions Interbike in a 2017 piece discussing Outdoor Retailer’s contentious exit from Utah. And The Los Angeles Times gives it a nod in a 2013 story on BikeSpike, a Chicago startup hoping to deter bike thieves.

Gosh, if only we could make the bicycle more expansive, expensive, and indispensible, we might draw a few more hungry eyeballs. (A Google search for “new iPhones” yields about 2,670,000,000 results.)

Alas, the humble bicycle — so far as I know, anyway — will not download porn for you from the palm of one hand, leaving the other free for, well, you know, whatever. You can ride one to an adult bookstore, but it will get stolen by some other jagoff, because BikeSpike seems to have gone tits up.

What’s that in the obligatory rear-view-mirror shot? The garage door. I ain’t goin’ nowhere.

But we were talking about Interbike Marketweek Reno-Tahoe Powered by Northstar California Resort here, not porn, adult bookstores, and well, you know, whatever.

The Northstar Free-Ride Festival kicks off tonight and runs through Sunday. OutDoor Demo will be Sunday and Monday, also at the Northstar Resort. The Interbike Expo will run Tuesday through Thursday at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

The local business community is all atwitter at hosting the show, with attendance rumored to be in the low five digits.

“It’s very similar in size to Safari Club International … and close to the qualifying events for the Northern California Volleyball Association,” said Phil DeLone, CEO of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, in a chat with the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It’s certainly in the top three largest events that come to Reno.”

Elite company, to be sure, and proud we are of all of them. But among Those in the Know, the expectation is that Le Shew Bigge in the Year of Our Lord 2018 will be greatly diminished from the glory days.

“Gonna be a sleepy little show,” observed one observer.

As a consequence I will not be notching my 21st Interbike this year. Adventure Cyclist did a quick cost-benefits analysis and decided the office sofa infrastructure would yield just enough change to get staff from Missoula to Reno-Tahoe and back again, with nothing left over for bail. And Bicycle Retailer and Industry News quit underwriting my travels a dozen years ago because I kept writing columns about how the show had become a sad exercise in, well, you know, whatever. This had grown tiresome, even for me, and I was the one being paid to write it.

Since Interbike fled north from Las Vegas to Reno-Tahoe I have talked to some industry types who are going and not happy about it, and to some others who are not going and are delighted. Me? I’m mildly disappointed to miss a chance to catch up with the friends, colleagues and industry types I only get to see once a year.

But when I read a weather forecast like this one, I cheer up pretty quickly. Shucks, I have enough bikes in the garage to put on my own damn OutDoor Demo.

• Next: Hello, is there anybody in there?

Another bite of the Apple

September 13, 2018

The iPhone 5. Sure, it’s old. So am I.

It’s that time of year again. Another golden delicious has fallen from the tree in Cupertino. Several of them, actually.

There’s the latest iteration of the Apple Watch, of course. Apple is always Watching lately. I have a Timex Ironman that’s so old I don’t recall exactly how or when I acquired it, and we get along fine. It doesn’t inform on me to the State or the Medical-Industrial Complex, and I don’t reset it with a hammer.

The Timex Ironman takes a licking and … yeah, yeah, awright, OK, I toldja I was old.

And then there are the new iPhones. Once the size of a wallet, they’re now as big as a purse, and the rubes will empty both to buy even the cheapest of them.

That would be the iPhone Xr, which goes for the low low price of $749 for the 64GB model. I imagine the 128GB model will be more popular, so tack on another fiddy for the additional selfie storage.

OK, lessee now, what can I get for my 2012 iPhone 5?

Apple GiveBack chirps: “Based on what you’ve told us, you’ve got $25 in trade-in value. We’ll happily turn it into a refund once we verify the condition of your device.” This is mildly insulting — not just the low-ball offer, but the language, which implies I’m trying to screw Apple instead of the other way around. But as a trillion-dollar company Apple doesn’t really need me and this dry peck on the cheek is all the foreplay a mutt like me is gonna get.

Hmm. Based on what I’ve told them, I have an iPhone 5 that turns on, with an enclosure and screen in good shape, and buttons that work. So I think I’ll keep using it until a critical number of those things are no longer true. How d’ye like them apples, Apple?

Roll of the dice

August 20, 2018

Off with your head!

Here’s your helmet, there’s the door, what’s your hurry?

Megan Tompkins, the publisher of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, “has left to pursue other opportunities,” in the parlance of our times.

Marc Sani, the semi-retired co-founder of the trade magazine, has stepped in as interim publisher. Given the present economic climate, and with Interbike Reno just around the corner, this must feel like climbing out of a hot tub and into a piranha tank, wearing a pork-chop Speedo.

I’ve done bits of this, that and the other for Sani and the gang since 1992. Alas, the mag’ has dwindled, in tandem with the trade it covers, and so I do a good deal less of it now than I once did. In fact, I’m down to drawing the “Shop Talk” cartoon at the back of the book, period, end of story.

But that’s the carefree life of the independent contractor for you. Easy come, even easier go. Happily, I also contribute to Adventure Cyclist, and I married well, so we will not lack for kibble in the dish here at El Rancho Pendejo.

The remaining full-time BRAINiacs are not breathing so easily, especially after such a high-profile departure, with so much at stake.

So here’s hoping for better days. Maybe Marc will roll nothing but sevens in his old hometown next month.

 

‘Thank you very little’

June 13, 2018

What we have here is an unholy convergence of people who are too lazy to golf, people who are too smart to spend their own money fleecing them, and people who are desperate to bring the Duke City a few jobs, even if they cost nearly $5 million of the public’s money and suck.

C’mon. We got golf out the wazoo for the chumps who enjoy spoiling a good walk. And everyone who likes to eat, drink and play games already does that, with their phones, in their cars. Our streets are their driving range. “Duck, hon’, here comes a GMC Titlist.”

This thing will follow the Beach Waterpark and the ART debacle into the Malodorous Dumpster of Bad Ideas and all the wrong people will make money. Ask any economist:

“Politicians dangle incentives because voters want them to. And voters want them to in large part because politicians say that incentives make a real difference. ‘The dirty big secret,’ said Greg LeRoy, the executive director of the group Good Jobs First, ‘is that they don’t.’ ”

Office spaced

December 29, 2016
Hemingway sent cables; I just hook 'em up.

Hemingway sent cables; I just hook ’em up.

Now and again I am reminded that shit doesn’t just happen.

I was grumbling the other day that the iCrap-crazed Cloudniks at Apple no longer give a damn about modular, upgradeable desktop systems and the power users who love them, probably because I have spent far too much time staring at a desk that is topped by a veritable clusterfuck of computer hardware — a 15-inch mid-2014 MacBook Pro cabled to an OWC Thunderbolt 2 dock and thence to a Dell 27-inch monitor, a RAID array plus a couple other storage drives, an Apple SuperDrive and a cheap set of Logitech speakers that really need to go because they have all the sonic excellence of a 1965 GE P-1810A transistor radio.

Then I read this, and this, and I think I’m finally starting to get a feel for why Tim Cook is all like: “Fuck those bitches and their desktops. Whatsisname down in the basement is tasked with that project and if we have to we’ll trot him out and show the world what people who give a shit about desktop computers look like. Dude makes the stapler guy from ‘Office Space’ look like Michael Fassbender.”