Archive for the ‘Comrades’ Category

A Charles Pelkey live update

January 16, 2023

The GoFundMe that David Stanley set up to help our old pal Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey is ticking along nicely, which is more than I can say for the “classic” LUG video up above.

As of 2 p.m. Dog time the fund was at $24,410 — a tip jar that we never could’ve imagined when we were begging for nickels to run Live Update Guy. A thousand thank-yous to everyone who has contributed and/or spread the word about the fundraiser.

Now, give a listen to another old pal, Diane “The Outspoken Cyclist” Jenks, who interviewed David for the most recent episode of her long-running podcast.* You’ll get a better idea of how all this good fellowship came about.

If you haven’t joined the party, here’s a link to CP’s GoFundMe page.

* One minor correction: The cartoon of Charles that accompanies the GoFundMe news Diane and I spread around is not by Your Humble Narrator. It’s by David Brinton, a.k.a. Brintoni, who did such great work illustrating “At the Back” in VeloNews while I was up front pissing on people’s shoes.®

Son of a beach

January 15, 2023

“We are not amused.”

Miss Mia Sopaipilla is doing her Queen Victoria impression again, so you know it’s not going to be sunny and fiddy-sumpin’ today in The Duck! City.

Happily, it was sunny and fiddy-sumpin’ the past couple of days, so I was able to get out and about on a two-wheeler, in this case the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff.

My man Chris Coursey, a beach bum and journo who rose from his humble origins to become Santa Rosa’s mayor and then a Sonoma County supervisor, probably longs for the days when he had to drive to the California coast to see a few gajillion tons of water in motion.

Friday and Saturday marked my first off-road rides of 2023, and they were a nice change from running, which I will probably return to today, if I can pull myself together in time to beat the rain to the punch.

Yes, the wizards are predicting rain, and even a small chance of snow, so I guess we’re getting a little spillover from the atmospheric rivers that have been drenching the West Coast.

I’ve never had to contend with weather like that, and I hope to keep that lucky streak unbroken. It makes the occasional four-foot Colorado snowstorm look like a day at the beach with a cold sixer and a hot girl.

It never rains, but it pours

January 11, 2023

We got a drive-by from that cloud over by the Sandias.

Thanks to everyone who has dropped a dime in Charles Pelkey’s GoFundMe tip jar.

As of 8:30 a.m. Dog time the fund was approaching $18,000, which as organizer David Stanley notes represents “a phenomenal level of love, affection, and admiration” for our old Live Update Guy pal.

I’ve added a widget to the sidebar for anyone who missed the memo. And it was delightful to see so many former VeloNews types in the list of donors.

Meanwhile, here in The Duck! City this morning we got a wet little kiss on the cheek from the gods; just enough rain to rinse some dust off the cacti. Thank you, sir or madam, may I have another?

I expect Herself and her pal Leslie are glad they canceled their trip to Southern California, where the rain is washing away the dust, the cacti, the hillsides the cacti are rooted to, and damn nearly everything else. Especially since the FAA developed a hitch in its gitalong, an IT failure of some sort that buggered about 4,600 flights.

That’s a surfin’ safari you can keep, is what. Nobody likes this drought, but who wants to hang ten on their front door while rocketing down a diversion channel to the Rio Grande?

LUG nuttery from days gone by

January 10, 2023

Editor’s note: While we’re waiting to hear from the man himself, I’ve unearthed a couple moldy oldies — a short video I did for Live Update Guy, and a piece I wrote about Charles “The Big LUG” Pelkey back in 2017, when I still had a column at Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Meanwhile, you can offload your spare change into Mr. P’s Tip Jar at GoFundMe.

• • •

“He shook his head, and as he shook his head, I heard someone ask him, ‘Please, Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles … dance.”—Jerry Jeff Walker, “Mr. Bojangles”

By Patrick O’Grady

This July marked the first time in years that I haven’t been required to follow the Tour de France.

So I didn’t. And it was swell.

Well, mostly.

I’ve spent nearly three decades paddling my little canoe along the bright yellow revenue stream of the Tour without ever having to visit its source in France, which I hear is quite a drive from Albuquerque, even in a Subaru.

The Tour got me into bicycle racing in the Eighties, and bicycle racing got me out of the newspaper business in the Nineties, before The Suits declared open season on copy editors.

Fight or flight? Flight, I thought as I hit the door running, and when does the beverage cart come around? Make mine a double. Anybody who thinks a pan-flat, 200km sprinters’ stage in the Tour is dull never edited a school-board story at 10:30 p.m., when sensible people are already half in the bag.

But even the Tour loses its kick after a while. And so, after Charles Pelkey and I agreed to leave his Live Update Guy project parked for 2017, I celebrated by stuffing part of a bike and all of my left hand into a trailside cholla.

Funny money. Of all the things I’ve done for money, Live Update Guy scores way up there on the fun meter.

This odd little enterprise came about in “Let’s put on a show!” fashion, a la Busby Berkeley’s “Babes in Arms.” Or maybe Monty Python’s “The Crimson Permanent Assurance” would be closer to the mark.

Charles had been handling live updates and other chores for a Boulder-based cycling enterprise until he got a pink slip and a black diagnosis more or less simultaneously in 2011, two days after the Tour wrapped.

The one-two punch of unemployment and breast cancer couldn’t keep him down, though. He put his University of Wyoming law degree to work full time, eventually becoming a co-founder of the Laramie firm Neubauer, Pelkey and Goldfinger, LLP.

But Charles still enjoyed following pro cycling, and while undergoing chemotherapy he hung out another shingle, LiveUpdateGuy.com, and called the 2011 Vuelta a España—supported not by advertising, or vulture capitalists, but by his readership.

Like Mr. Bojangles, Charles was dancing for tips.

Hey-o! I joined the show in 2012, but Charles was the star, and rightly so.

For starters, he had actually been to all three grand tours, performing feats of journalism. In this new role, he arose at stupid-thirty for the start of nearly every stage of nearly every GT, and generally carried on till the bitter end, then popped back in later to add results for the data-obsessed.

I generally clocked in late to make fart noises, get things wrong, and make people crazy. In other words, same as I do here.

This has its limits, as you know. If Charles had lawyering to do and left the keys to the joint with me, eyeballs and donations dropped off accordingly. Nobody turned on the “The Tonight Show” to watch Ed McMahon. They wanted Johnny.

Spare change? We said LUG operated on the NPR model—light on commercials, heavy on beggary—but it was more like busking next to an upturned hat on a downtown sidewalk.

When the act was good, we got paid. Not so good, not so paid. It was an astoundingly libertarian business model for two old commies, though there was a Marxist overlay; we didn’t bounce anyone who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

We got a big assist from the audience, which included an actual monsignor at the actual Vatican who proved a prodigious daily essayist; a generous East Coast equestrian with a crush on Peter Sagan; and a poet laureate who affected the guise of a herring-mad penguin.

“I’d say that some of my favorite memories involve the family that we created out of that site,” said Charles. “They are a wonderful group of people. It’s been a privilege to get to know a lot of them.”

It’s … Monty Liggett. When action was slow on the road, LUG served up running gags (Monty Python and various Liggettisms were in heavy rotation).

So, too, were clubby and impenetrable acronyms like HWSNBN (“He Who Shall Not Be Named,” for a certain Texan), and NRRBBB (“Non-Race-Related Blah-Blah-Blah”), in which some critics argued we indulged too freely.

But when you have the effrontery to provide live commentary on a grand tour from start to finish, and from the wrong side of the pond, with few resources beyond unreliable video feeds and your equally dubious wits, it’s hard not to tumble into the ditch of digression now and then.

Some days trying to keep it between the ditches felt an awful lot like work. So, with Charles now a legislator as well as a lawyer—he won election to the state legislature in 2015—and me wanting to ride a bike in the early morning before the Duke City desert starts to smoke, it seemed wise to take a break this time around.

Maybe not, though. Because if we had been calling the Tour, safe in the ever-lovin’ arms of the LUG Nuts, I might not have stuck my hand into that damn’ cactus.

• Editor’s note v2.0: This column appeared in the Aug. 1, 2017, issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

‘Are you employed, sir?’

August 26, 2022

The late, great David Huddleston as The Big Lebowski.

Employed, sir? No, I was not, despite my prestigious cowtown B.A. in journalism with a minor in political science.

And had my parents been foolish enough to borrow money to put me through college(s) — funds that were largely pounded down a noisome rathole of booze, drugs, rock ’n’ roll, cartooning, and Communism — they would’ve rejoiced to see any amount of the hellish debt forgiven and immediately invested a portion of the windfall on having me quietly killed.

Especially after they saw the homemade “colors” my bro’ Mike “Mombo” Brangoccio and I were sporting on the back of our graduation gowns:

“Mombo Club: Born To Pump Gas.”

Ay, Chihuahua. These kids today. Yesterday. Whatevs.

Your Humble Narrator, circa 1977.

Our mob flew two banners. The Mombo Club mostly free-ranged around Greeley, where we infested the University of Northern Colorado like hairy roaches. El Rancho Delux was rooted in a ramshackle house with an overloaded septic system on what must’ve been the last surviving chunk of rural land in Glendale, a stoner’s throw from the Bull & Bush, Shotgun Willie’s, and the Riviera Lounge, whose “credit manager,” Adolf Scarf, was a piranha sulking in a tank behind the bar.

But the less said about our fraternal organizations the better. I don’t know how (or if) my co-conspirators paid for their educations, but several of our Little Urban Achievers have become respectable members of their communities, and certain statutes of limitations may have yet to run their course.

A tad unfocused, not unlike the graduates.

As for me, my long-suffering parents paid for my schooling, such as it was. When I transferred to UNC they even bought me a used singlewide trailer to live in, no doubt thinking I’d need to get used to such accommodations.

I did have to raise funds for incidentals. Thus I sold drugs, drew cartoons for my college papers, delivered appliances with “Star Trek” addict Ed the Beard in a Step van dubbed “The Hawkwind,” and (with Mombo) did odd jobs for a posh trouser stain who motored around town in a right-hand-drive Bentley.

All I invested in my degree was time and a few jillion brain cells. Not even the president can get those back for me.

Look for the union label

January 5, 2022

One big … union?

Hee, and also haw. This just in: Outside‘s editorial staff wants to unionize.

“Since the start of @outsidemagazine almost 45 years ago, we’ve been providing intrepid coverage of those who dare to push the limits of what we think is possible. So today, we are proud to announce that the Outside magazine editorial staff is forming a union,” 15 of 17 eligible Outside workers wrote in a tweet, according to the NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America.

You won't find this item in the Outside+ catalog.

You won’t find this item in the Outside+ catalog.

They will become part of the Denver News Guild Local 37074.

The Outside crew is asking Outside Inc. to voluntarily recognize their unit, according to NewsGuild-CWA. Yeah, good luck with that. You fuckin’ aroun’ in Robin’s ’hood, son.

Frankly, I can’t see that the Guild has had much luck over the years when it comes to saving the scribblers at the Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post, or The Pueblo Chieftain from a vicious diddling at the plump, manicured hands of the robber barons.

Personally, I would’ve signed with the International Workers of the World. At least the Wobblies get to sing.

Still, up the rebels and all that. Damn the Man, full speed ahead!

LUG rides again!

May 14, 2020

Remember this guy? He’s gonna be on Zoom and ESPN.
And here I always thought he had a radio face, too.

This time around, the acronym stands for “Legislative Update Guy,” and the live updates will include a video component.

No, not old “Monty Python” clips. Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person.

My old Live Update Guy comrade Charles Pelkey and his fellow Wyoming state legislators will be participating in a special session via Zoom beginning Friday. And yes, we can watch. And without having to drop any of our DonnyDollars® into the Tip Jar!

Bonus! Winning! So. Much. Winning.

Charles rang me up last night to wish us a belated happy wedding anniversary and we spent a few minutes catching up. In addition to attending virtual special sessions of the leg’, he’s continuing to practice law, and while he’s not exactly burning up Wyoming’s roads on the old two-wheeler these days, he is finding time to do a bit of walking.

He’s also appearing in the latest HWSNBN documentary, “Lance,” as you can see from the screen grab above, which I liberated from the trailer.

Filmmaker Marina Zenovich has directed works on Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, and Roman Polanski. I don’t believe I’ve seen any of them, and I don’t believe I’ll be seeing this one either, having exactly zero interest in the latest version of Ol’ Whatsisface’s “truth.”

But it was cool to get a live update from an old pal.

Masque of the Red … Revolution?

May 7, 2020

¡Viva la huelga!

I’ve been wondering when someone in the mainstream media would write something about the potential for increasing union membership and labor strength in the Year(s) of the Plague.

Here’s a start. It’s short, focused largely on the so-called “gig economy,” and written before a Washington Post-Ipsos poll that indicates some laid-off and furloughed workers may be overly optimistic about whether they will be able to return to their old jobs.

How does an activist pitch a union to a worker with no job? Is a patchwork of small, decentralized, tightly focused labor organizations preferable to One Big Union? Are people ready to rethink their notions of who is an “essential” worker? Will stock clerks trump stockholders?

Nick French at Jacobin gives us a look at the protests that arose shortly after the Great Depression took hold. He argues that radical groups, among them the Thirties-vintage Communist Party, forged a bond of solidarity between the jobless and those still working that helped make FDR’s New Deal possible.

The conditions are different today, he concedes. But the public-health issue may give workers more leverage this time around. Writes French:

By forcing sick people to come to work, or by unnecessarily exposing people to coworkers or customers who might be infected, employers are hastening the spread of the coronavirus and putting everyone at risk. This means that all workers, employed or unemployed, have a common interest in these workers winning their demands.

Boy howdy. Dead broke is bad enough. I hear dead is worse.

• Addendum: As white-collar types join workers from the restaurant, travel, hospitality, and retail industries on the sidelines, experts say there’s no way to calculate how many jobs might come back as states consider lifting shelter-in-place rules. according to The New York Times.

Many businesses, particularly small ones, may not survive, while others are likely to operate with reduced hours and staff. The job search site Indeed reports that postings are down nearly 40 percent from a year ago.

“We don’t know what normal is going to look like,” said Martha Gimbel, an economist and a labor market expert at Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative.

• Addendum the Second: How should unions organize? From The Nation.

• Addendum the Third: Comrades, identities, and attachments. Also from The Nation.

Comrades, come rally. …

May 1, 2020

… whilst observing the proper socialist distancing, of course.

• Labor Day demonstrations reimagined worldwide.

• Virtual May Day rally, live on Vimeo.

• Amazon, Instacart, Shipt workers plan walkouts.

• Thousands of Americans expected to join rent strike.

Tour de Fence

July 7, 2019

The Sandias as seen from the bottom of Elena, near the casino.

My invitation to Le Tour having gone missing in the mail, I’ve been compelled to ride my own damn bikes around and about in the Duke City.

The high side of the circuit, before dropping down to casino country and then climbing back up.

Between outings I’ve checked in with my old Live Update Guy comrade Charles Pelkey, who is sending his daughter Annika off to Iowa today. She’ll be working for Mayor Pete. No word yet on which horse Chazbo is backing.

In other news, my man Casey B. Gibson did a little surprise gallery for that Boulder-based journal of competitive whatever whose name eludes me. Seems they needed pix from road nats in Tennessee, Casey had them, and that, as they say, was that. Money even changed hands, which is always nice when one is on the job.

Another member of the tribe, Andrew Hood, is the only one of us actually on the scene in France. It being a slow day (team time trial) I joggled his elbow for old times’ sake to see what’s what. No reply yet, because The Hoodlum is a total pro — on the clock, doing the beez-a-neez, and probably not even into the rosé yet.

Meanwhile, The Guardian is doing a live update this year, and it’s not half bad. They’re kicking the shit out of Cyclingnews. I may have to pass them a few of the millions I’ve banked from my stints at Live Update Guy.