Archive for the ‘Milestones’ Category

‘Story!’ cried the Editor

June 3, 2021

My last piece for Adventure Cyclist.

It’s hard to retire when you don’t have a job.

It’s even harder when you have a couple-three-four of them.

Still, I keep trying to find that hole in the fence, because I am a persistent mutt.

I successfully “retired” from my last real job in 1991, when I bid adios to The New Mexican and took up the uncertain life of a freelance cycling scribe. I like to think I beat the rush to the door. The writing was already popping up on newspaper walls from coast to coast, and I wasn’t one of the lucky few who would be offered a buyout. Mine would be more like a “Get out!”

So, rather than wait for the shove, I jumped.

Other separations have followed in the 30 years since I hit that door running, or maybe cycling. Either the magazines have gone away or I have.

This month brings my departure from Adventure Cyclist. It was an amicable separation. Deputy editor Dan Meyer asked if I wanted to review a bike; I thought about it for a bit, then replied, “No, thanks.”

It may sound impulsive, but it really wasn’t. I have outlived Mike Deme, the editor who brought me aboard. His successor, Alex Strickland, has moved on to another job, as have colleagues John Schubert, Nick Legan, and others.

It’s been 10 years. The bike biz is moving in directions that mostly don’t interest me. I’m an old white guy who doesn’t need the work or the money and should really just get the hell out of the way.

Also, my last two pieces, about the New Albion Privateer and the march of technology, practically wrote themselves. This could not continue. Call it a premonition: By the pricking of my thumbs, something banjaxed this way comes.

So I jumped.

Mike and Adventure Cyclist came around at exactly the right time. I was in something of a rut, basically just going through the motions, and reviewing touring bikes forced me into new ways of thinking. Alex and Dan continued Mike’s generosity. I had big fun and made good money, and now it’s time someone else had a taste.

A thousand thank-yous to everyone who enjoyed my reviews. And if any of yis bought a bike on my say-so, may the road rise up to meet you. With the rubber side down, of course.

Masks and margaritas

May 17, 2021

I didn’t have a mask to keep bugs out of my teefers
on the descent of Tramway Road.

Firsts:

Hey, Spike, you missed a few flowers.

• Riding the bike without a mask. That was fun. I’ve been half-stepping it, draping a Buff around my neck, but yesterday I left it at home. I’m still all buffed up; I’m just not Buffed up. Ho, ho.

• Having people over for drinks. Yup. Couple friends from the ’hood who are likewise all shot up came by for strawberry margaritas and a bit of guacamole. We hung out on the patio, shooting the breeze and enjoying what little foliage Spike the Terrorist Deer found unpalatable.

Two little things, to be sure. But satisfying nonetheless after a very long year indeed. Next up: Dancing on Sundays!

Viejo pendejo

March 27, 2021

Not dead yet, but not fooling anyone, either.

Happy birthday to me

I am old, as you see

Bald, wrinkled, and smelly

Plus it hurts when I pee.

 

Ho hum. Another year, another decidedly muted celebration.

Last year I rode 66 minutes on the stationary trainer, being slightly stove up. This year … to be honest, I’m not feeling it. The whole birthday-ride thing.

Sixty-seven miles? Not gonna happen. Sixty-seven kilometers? Nuh uh. Sixty-seven minutes? Maybe, but not on a trainer. That much I know for certain.

It’s not a “Duane’s Depressed” kind of situation. I don’t have a pickup to park, or a shack to walk to. Anyway, I’m waiting on our yard guy to come around and tell me how much money he needs for his next trip to Vegas.

But afterward maybe I’ll take a page from ol’ Duane’s story and go for a 6.7-mile walk. I do have these feet at the ends of my legs, and I don’t have to air ’em up or grease ’em or nothin’.

Happy birthday to Herself

March 12, 2021

Dig those crazy puffballs.

The gods served up a cotton-ball sky for Herself’s mumble-mumble-th birthday this morning.

I immediately felt a kinship with this piece because she’s still cute
and he looks like shit.

They won’t be there for long — the forecast calls for gusty winds out of the SSW as Thor breaks out the old hammer for a little light touch-up work on Colorado.

As The Bug® still holds sway over the land, and we have not yet had our shots, the birthday festivities will be muted, as they were last year.

Herself and a colleague did manage to enjoy a socially distant cocktail and appetizers on some uptown bistro’s patio yesterday afternoon while I stayed home and cooked dinner (turkey tacos and arroz verde).

The other day we went shopping for a birdbath to keep the juncos hydrated and stumbled across the Dia de los Muertos talavera pictured above, a bride and groom sitting on a bench looking slightly stupified, probably from strong drink and/or unbridled lust.

Vato’s got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

As we both have March birthdays, it was a no-brainer — boom, two birthdays, one present, no waiting.

The couple matches the cyclist we have by the front door, so, bonus. You may remember El Señor from our Interbike coverage in days gone by.

Meanwhile, the phone rings off the hook it no longer has with calls from well-wishers. Later we will nosh on some delicious snacks and watch something silly on TV.

Par-tee, baybee. Not even The Bug® can stop us.

Can’t buy me brains

February 7, 2021

The Fab Four arrive in New York.

On this day in 1964 The Beatles came to America.

Two days later they appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and I was watching, like 74 million of my fellow Americans.

My parents were appalled. My sister was entranced. And me? I remember thinking something along the lines of: “Hmph. These guys will never be as big as Elvis. And look at those silly haircuts.”

Goin’ down

December 31, 2020

In the loo and adieu for you.

Hoo-boy. Pee-yew. That’n looks like a double-flusher to me. Might have to break out the plunger. Or a stick of DuPont Extra.

But it’s gotta go, come hell or high water, and I won’t miss it once it’s gone.

Twenty-fuckin’-20.

We put an old woman in a home. My foot in a splint. My cat in an urn. And our lives on hold.

We’re alive to bitch about it, which has to count for something. [Insert thunderous sound of knocking on wood here.] Plenty of other people aren’t.

Also, I finally made it to Social Security, so, yay for me. Plus Herself remains on the clock in a real big way, so, bonus. We want for nothing. Call it a lamp so that we need not curse the darkness from beneath our designer masks.

It feels greedy of me to miss my cat. Running. Road trips. Hot springs. Random acts of shopping. Long bicycle rides. Stand-up comedy. My favorite non-alcoholic beer. Bookstores. Mexican restaurants. Living in a country that helped defeat fascism, not resurrect it.

You know. The little things.

Still, I miss them. I do. And I don’t expect to get a lot of them back just like that, with a simple change of calendars, or administrations.

Especially my cat. Not unless Stephen King gets involved, and that’s a bridge too far for me. Turkish v1.0 could be scary enough.

We already have plenty to be scared of, thanks all the same.

Nevertheless, here we are, on the threshold of a new year. That I am not optimistic is not helpful. Time to show the affirming flame. We must love one another or die.

R.I.P., Chuck Yeager

December 8, 2020

Chuck Yeager and Arthur Murray with the Bell X-1A.

Chuck Yeager has finally flown west. He was 97.

An airplane mechanic from West VirginIa who went on to become a fighter ace in World War II and retired as a brigadier general after 127 missions in Vietnam, he flew almost anything with wings, including the Bell X-1 that broke the speed of sound on Oct. 14, 1947.

Dad, whose Air Force nickname was O’Toole, was something of an autograph hound, and this was his biggest score. It reads: “To ‘Hank’ O’Grady (O’Toole). Best Regards and Good Luck, ‘Chuck’ Yeager.”

You may know him from “The Right Stuff,” first a book by Tom Wolfe and then a movie directed by Philip Kaufman.

We first heard about him from Dad, who likewise was a pilot at Muroc Army Air Base, later renamed Edwards AFB.

The family legend was that Dad was invited to join that famous test-pilots program at the Air Force Flight Test Center but that Mom forbade it, telling him something on the order of, “You can be a test pilot or you can marry me, but you can’t do both.”

The old man thought the world of Yeager, and we have a few pix of him, two of which you can see here. They’re both undated, but depict Yeager with the X-1A, the plane he flew to more than double the speed of sound in December 1953, just a few months before Harold Joseph O’Grady and his wife, Mary Jane, were to have a son name of Patrick Declan on the other side of the country.

Godspeed, General.

Birthday card from a Mad Dog in Albuquerque*

December 7, 2020

The last leaf on the tree. Well, not really;
we had to make life imitate art a little bit here.

A happy 71st birthday to Tom Waits. This particular autumn is taking a whole lot of leaves; I hope it won’t take him.

* For anyone who isn’t a Tom Waits fan — could such a person exist? — the headline riffs on the title to his song “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis,” from the album “Blue Valentine.”

From The Failing New York Times

November 7, 2020

ByeDon wins. Time for a Cold 45!

Meanwhile, at a golf course somewhere in Virginia, a 3-iron spirals into a water hazard.

• Extra-Credit Bonus Snark: Most Jersey reporter ever tells Trump supporter to “Fuck off.”

Dog duty

March 27, 2020

Of course, every minute felt like an hour, so I’m saying I did 66 hours on the sonofabitch.

Made it. Sixty-six minutes and change on the Cateye CS-1000. Winning!

So. Much. Winning.

The playlist included selections from “Powerglide” (New Riders of the Purple Sage”) and “Waiting for Columbus” (Little Feat).

No one who hangs around here should be surprised that the set included “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and “Old Folks’ Boogie.”

And thanks once again to everyone who lit a candle on my virtual cake.