Archive for the ‘Things that suck’ Category

R.I.P., Mike Deme

March 30, 2017

I always snickered at the mugshot Mike Deme used when he was still in the editor’s chair at Adventure Cyclist. He always looks like, “Goddamnit, are we gonna have some fun here or what?”

My friend and colleague Mike Deme has gone west. He was 51.

Mike devoted nearly a quarter-century to the Adventure Cycling Association, winding up his tour of duty as director of design and media.

We may have first connected when he was editor of The Cyclists’ Yellow Pages — Lord, that would have been a very long time ago — but we had our first real professional how-d’ye-dos in 2009, when he emailed in his capacity as editor of Adventure Cyclist to ask:

“Ever do any touring? It’d be great to get an O’Grady story in Adventure Cyclist. Any interest?”

I confessed that I had never toured, so Mike wangled me a slot in the ACA’s 2010 Southern Arizona Road Adventure as something of a test drive. I wrote that up, and nobody threatened legal action, so next Mike shanghaied me into writing reviews of touring bikes despite another protestation of blithering and disqualifying ignorance. The rest you mostly know, because I’m still at it.

Listen you, enjoy your time,

you really don’t have very long.

You were born just a moment ago,

in another moment you’ll be gone.

—Wang Fan-chih, the Buddhist Layman, in “Cold Mountain Poems: Zen Poems of Han Shan, Shih Te, and Wang Fan-chih,” edited and translated by J.P. Seaton

Working with Mike and the rest of the Adventure Cyclist crew proved a welcome change from pretending to care about bicycle racing for VeloNews and pretending to write about the industry for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Basically, Mike yanked my cycling head out of my racing ass, reminded me that it’s not all about counting grams, going fast and cutting corners.

We tackled a bunch of Interbikes together, along with a couple of North American Handmade Bicycle Shows, and keeping pace with Mike was always a tough hustle. Short and stout, he never meandered, but always marched, to the beat of his own running commentary. There was work to be done, and a booth to staff, and liquor to drink come quitting time.

And the man was funny. On our separate ways home from NAHBS in North Carolina we texted briefly about the joys of airport travel. When I noted that I’d dodged a cavity search at the Charlotte airport Mike replied: “That place was easy. I’m in Detroit drinking a Miller Fortune. All I can say is we really needed High Life in another package with a bit of Malt Liquor Bull added to it.”

This was his professional opinion, mind you. When Mike wasn’t overseeing the magazine, golfing, or touring, he tended bar in Missoula.

He was gruff and abrupt, liked all the right music and disliked all the right people, and I never had to pester him about money. Ask any freelancer how rare a bird that is. Practically extinct, is what.

I’m sad that he’s gone, and that I never got to ride with him. All the wrong people are shoving off lately.

• Late addendum: The ACA bids farewell to Mike.

Something wicked this way comes

January 19, 2017

• Editor’s note: What follows was intended to be a rambling kickoff to a Counter-Inaugural Podcast at Radio Free Dogpatch, but my sidekick Hal Walter developed a bad case of previous commitments, so I’m laying it on you old-school instead. Tomorrow it will be radio silence from yours truly here and on Twitter. But there will be an open-mic post suitable for commentary, so feel free to chime in with your thoughts on what this particular changing of the guard means for you, and for the rest of us. Finally, a tip of the carny’s boater to Ray Bradbury for the headline. It’s a pity — or is it? — that he didn’t live to see Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show come to life.

We're all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

We’re all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

IT’S BEEN A STRUGGLE, TRYING TO FIND WORDS to describe how I feel about what’s going to be happening on Friday — and afterward — in Washington, D.C.

I’ve watched this changing of the guard since before I was eligible to vote, and it rarely goes well for progressives.

In 1969, when Richard Nixon was preparing to take an oath of office he had already violated by undermining the Paris peace talks, the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam staged a three-day counter-inaugural that proved quite the bash, both literally and figuratively.

Yippies Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman brought a revolutionary-theater sideshow to the circus, proposing to inaugurate their own president, a 145-pound hog named Pigasus, with predictable results. The Left immediately set about eating itself alive — Splitters! — rocks, bottles, horseshit and punches were thrown, cops and protesters alike took a beating, 119 people got a tour of the hoosegow, and as is traditional in such matters, both sides claimed victory.

Nixon, of course, claimed the White House. Twice. You may recall how that turned out.

I found it all fascinating, from a safe distance, and when I became eligible to vote in time for the 1972 elections, I tried to register as a member of the Youth International Party, the proper name for the improper Yippies. Never happen, said the county clerk in Bibleburg, and I had to settle for signing up as an “independent.” But Hunter S. Thompson was actually in attendance at the ’69 inaugural, and he didn’t exactly come away with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart.

Recounting the experience for The Boston Globe in February 1969, Thompson wrote: “My first idea was to load up on LSD and cover the Inauguration that way, but the possibilities were ominous: a scene that bad could only be compounded to the realm of mega-horrors by something as powerful as acid.”

As Thompson watched the deal go down during what he called “a king-hell bummer” and “that wretched weekend,” he saw “a new meanness on both sides … and no more humor.”

“Suddenly I felt cold, and vaguely defeated,” he wrote. “More than eight years ago, in San Francisco, I had stayed up all night to watch the election returns … and when Nixon went down I felt like a winner.

“Now, on this Monday night in 1969, President Nixon was being honored with no less than six Inaugural Balls. I brooded on this for a while, then decided I would go over to the Hilton, later on, and punch somebody. Almost anybody would do … but hopefully I could find a police chief from Nashville or some other mean geek. In the meantime, there was nothing to do but go back to the hotel and watch the news on TV … maybe something funny, like film clips of the bastinado.”

• • •

Neither Hunter S. Thompson nor Dick Nixon are with us this time around, but another pair of Sixties relics you may have thought were likewise long gone — LSD and psilocybin — are making something of a comeback as potential treatments for whatever bad scene may be unfolding on the backside of your forehead (or in front of it).

In December, The New York Times reported on a couple of studies that showed “clinically significant reductions” in both anxiety and depression in cancer patients who took synthetic psilocybin.

The studies, which the Times called “the largest and most meticulous among a handful of trials to explore the possible therapeutic benefit of psilocybin,” found the beneficial effects persisted for months.

One patient, who had just completed treatment for stage-3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, described what he called “an epiphany.”

“I’m not anxious about cancer anymore,” he said. “I’m not anxious about dying.”

Another, whose treatment for acute myeloid leukemia left him with graft-versus-host disease, said the experience left him with “a greater sense of peace with what might come.”

“I’m very grateful, beyond words, for this trial,” he added.

And on January 14, The Atlantic ran a Q&A with Ayelet Waldman, whose new book “A Really Good Day” describes her microdosing with LSD to self-correct what she described as “a pretty significant depression.”

She had tried the traditional remedies served up by the medical-industrial complex — antidepressants, ADHD drugs, SSRIs, you name it — but a couple drops of diluted and highly illegal L-S-Dizzy is what did the trick for her.

Said Waldman: “I felt happier or at least not as profoundly depressed almost immediately the very first day I took it.”

Funniest thing, hey? About 10 years after the good Doctor Thompson was mulling over that Nixon inaugural, a friend and I offered an acid-soaked homage to his fear-and-loathing tour of Las Vegas. But we didn’t have his stamina, and when a jai-alai match at the old MGM Grand started to look like a “Star Wars” shootout we got the fuck out of there at a very high speed indeed, driving all the way back to Alamosa — the Brain Damage Express, via Kaibab and Page, the Four Corners and the terrifying Wolf Creek Pass, with the usual horrible weather and without the enhancements that were still a few years down the road.

But we sure as shit weren’t depressed. We were simply seeing a whole lot of things we’d rather not have and thought a case of beer, a long night’s drive and a plate of his mom’s enchiladas might mellow us out.

Forty years later I can make my own enchiladas but I’m not so sure about the acid. I still have my copy of “The Anarchist Cookbook,” but I was never much at chemistry.

• • •

All trips, both good and bad, come to an end, sooner or later. And in May, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will break down the big top in May for the final time after 146 years.

According to The New York Times, Feld Entertainment, the producer of the circus, cited rising operating costs and falling ticket sales, a condition that worsened after Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey dropped elephants from its show last year.

CEO Kenneth Feld told The Associated Press that moving the show by rail, providing a traveling school for performers’ children and other expenses from a bygone era made carrying on a losing proposition.

“It’s a different model … we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price,” he said.

And let’s not forget that old devil competition. There’s another, bigger circus coming to town, with a permanent base of operations in Washington, D.C., the financial support of the State, and free worldwide access via social media. Plus elephants, too!

The Greatest Show On Earth is now an angry orange clown with a Twitter account. Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry. …

Greatest Hits of 2016, Part 5: From balls to nuts

December 31, 2016

• Editor’s note: As the year winds down, I’m taking a page from the mainstream-media playbook and reprinting a handful of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Today’s final finger was published in December, the last issue of 2016.

The gang views with alarm in cinematic fashion.

The gang views with alarm in cinematic fashion.

Tour de Trump, v2.0:
Does this president
make our heads look fat?

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

“Stuck In the Middle,” by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan

By Patrick O’Grady

The day after the election a young reader emailed to say he hoped I would have a safe trip to New Zealand, adding, “With any luck we will not hear from you or the Clinton’s ever again.”

I feel confident calling him “young” because we olds know the difference between the plural and the possessive. Public school vs. home school, don’t you know.

As to whether he’s a “reader,” that’s an educated guess. I suppose his mom could have read him my column down in the basement, if he had one. A mom, I mean. Trailers don’t have basements.

But I digress.

Anyway, I’m not moving to New Zealand. Who wants a job herding hobbits? (Apologies to Hurben.) I’ll stay here, brush the fur on my own toes, and wait for the next wizard to pop round.

Mars is out, too. I’ve seen “The Martian” since that last column and I am definitely not into farming with my own poo. Better to sell it to some publisher and spend the proceeds at the Whole Paycheck, where everything is grown in unicorn milk and honey.

>> Click here to read the entire column.

Oh

November 9, 2016

shit-11092016

A brisk spin

March 29, 2016

 

Snot funny (2016 edition)

March 15, 2016
When the nose becomes a hose.

When the nose becomes a hose.

Snerk. Hyeenk. Björk. Honnnnk. Fwwaaaaahhhh.

Why, yes, it is allergy season. Thanks for asking.

Thhhhhfffffbbbbllllph.

Black Friday indeed

November 27, 2015
A screen grab from video at the scene of a shooting rampage in Bibleburg.

A screen grab from video at the scene of a shooting rampage in Bibleburg.

“Black Friday” got a whole new meaning in Bibleburg today.

It’s certainly too early to speculate about motive, and probably too late to do anything about the shite job the Founders did on that Second Amendment, though we do have options in that regard.

But I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that for sure a whole bunch of folks got shot, again, and taking off our shoes at the airport, letting the NSA peek in our digital windows, and keeping Syrian refugees on the other side of the Big Water don’t seem to be keeping Americans safe from terrorism.

I bet a few people within rifle range of that Planned Parenthood center felt terrorized today. That’s one product we don’t need to import from overseas. Not even for Black Friday. We make it right here at home.

• Late update: The Dumbass is strong in this one. From The Gazette: “There was a moment this afternoon when a man walked up to the scene with a handgun strapped to his waist and ammunition vest around his chest. He appeared to be asking police if he could help. Officers told him to leave immediately because appearing at the scene while wearing firearms and that equipment was a bad idea.”

Site gag

October 2, 2015
The Embudo Trail parking lot at the top of Indian School Road.

The Embudo Trail parking lot at the top of Indian School Road.

OK, so last night I actually slept through the night without coughing myself awake a couple dozen times. Our long national nightmare is over, I thought.

And then the Samsung clothes washer croaked in the middle of a load for the fourth time in a year. Naturally, the Samsung warranty expired last week, after one drain pump and two circuit boards. Now we’re at the mercy of the Best Buy Geek Squad, which may be able to see us (wait for it) Tuesday.

So what I wanna know is: Which one of you wisenheimers has a Patrick O’Grady voodoo doll stuck full of pins?*

* Yes, I know, at least it’s not stuck full of bullets, as are many of the residents of Roseburg, Oregon. Don’t expect to see any action on gun control until some sicko shoots a brand new baby iPhone, much less by Tuesday. Until then, if anyone offers to sell you a Samsung clothes washer, you have my permission to shoot them.

It’s morning in America

August 7, 2015
Well, it's morning in Albuquerque, anyway.

Well, it’s morning in Albuquerque, anyway.

“Morning in America?” Maybe not.

Ed Kilgore at Political Animal sure wasn’t impressed by last night’s GOP beauty pageant (examine his six-part LiveBlog series).

Charles P. Pierce opines that the “debates” were a further demonstration that the field has gone full hotpants-and-pushup-bra and now they’re just haggling over the price. The GOP “should be torn down and replaced by a good, honest brothel,” notes Brother Pierce.

The New York Times has a “How the Candidates Fared” lowlights piece, adding that Trump stole the show with “an antic performance.”

Steve Benen at The MaddowBlog calls Hillary the big winner.

And me? In the end, I decided not to try to watch the thing. It would have required some shenanigans, since we don’t have cable, and I didn’t want to give Fox the eyeballs.

But I’m considering ringing up Queen Elizabeth and asking whether it’s too late for us to say we’re sorry and can we come home please? If it weren’t for the whole potato-famine thing I’d have been on the phone first thing this morning.

Full Cleveland

August 6, 2015

Jeebus. I bet you’d get a bigger crowd for a pig roast at a PETA rally.