Archive for the ‘Bidness’ Category

Reality show

September 28, 2020

No wonder this hand is empty. I pay my fucking taxes.

Raise your hand if you paid more than $750 in taxes in 2016 and 2017.

The whole hand, please. Not just the one finger.

Get OUT!

August 4, 2020

Getting away from it all in 2010, when the Adventure Cycling Association’s Southern Arizona Road Adventure spent a day in Bisbee.

It’s not just bikes that are as rare as hen’s teeth, rocking-horse shit, and integrity in the nation’s capital.

Now it’s everything outdoorsy, from camping equipment to boats and birding binoculars.

Pretty soon “getting away from it all” will mean “going home.”

Clubbed

July 17, 2020

Your Humble Narrator working a race for VeloNews Back in the Day®, when subscription fees and advertising revenue were enough to make the nut.

Steve-O raises an interesting question:

Your thoughts (and everyone else’s) on Bicycling’s new $40/year membership model?

This seems to be the flavor of the month. VeloNews is doing something similar for $99 a year, along with most of its cousins in the Pocket Outdoor Media group.

It’s tough to get readers to pay for “content.” Most people who read a daily newspaper Back in the Day® had no idea that their subscriptions didn’t cover the cost of the ink on the newsprint, much less the tab for all the technology and people it took to make the blat land on the stoop every morning. For a reader, the daily paper was a cheap date, with the real cost borne by advertisers.

Advertising is a tough sell these days, for newspapers, magazines, and websites. So what’s left? “Memberships.”

The New York Times has had some success with digital subscriptions. Likewise The Wall Street Journal. Two real powerhouses that can serve up the goodies you can’t get anywhere else.

I see value in the NYT and The Washington Post, so I subscribe to both. I also subscribe to The Atlantic, and Charlie Pierce’s blog at Esquire. All of these outfits provide things I want and need. I wish there were some Flyover Country version of The Atlantic so I could subscribe to that too.

But when you get down to the enthusiast-publication level, the pitch for memberships gets a little tougher. What do Bicycling or VeloNews have that I want/need badly enough to pay for it?

I like reading Joe Lindsey and Andrew Hood. And I like them as people, too. But with all due respect, I’m not sure that I want to spend $150 a year with their employers. There’s a bunch of stuff in both magazines/websites that I couldn’t care less about. It would feel like signing up for cable TV. I pulled that plug back in 2006 and now we buy our TV a la carte.

Perhaps the biggest issue with hawking memberships, subscriptions, and advertising is the one that started cropping up toward the end of my freelancing career. I was fortunate to be earning steady, predictable money as a regular contributor to both VN and Bicycle Retailer. But there were lots of other hired guns who were starting to get ambushed by what we called “fans with keyboards.” People who’d work for chump change, a T-shirt, or even just the byline.

Today there are so many talented amateurs and semipros out there who are willing to create wonderful stuff for free, or for pennies, that paying for the pros — who so often find themselves consigned to following the dictates of some uninspired editor or an advertising-driven calendar of theme issues — can seem extravagant.

“OK, guys, time for the annual stationary-trainer roundup, the ‘How LeMond won using aero bars’ retrospective, and who’s doing this week’s ‘fitter/faster in 10 seconds a day’ piece?”

Everybody thinks they’re working hard, and that you should buy what they’re selling. Not everybody is right.

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.