Posts Tagged ‘Greatest Hits 2016’

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.

Greatest Hits of 2016, Part 4: Bum hand

December 30, 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. This one was published in the Nov. 1 edition.

Welcome to the Island of Dr. Mandalay.

Welcome to the Island of Dr. Mandalay.

Hold or fold?
This hand looks
more like a paw

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” — a quote often attributed to H.G. Wells

By Patrick O’Grady

Well, now we know which island was Dr. Moreau’s.

Manhattan.

H.G. Wells called “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” published in 1896 when he was just 30 years old, “an exercise in youthful blasphemy.” Perhaps, but the tale has aged well.

Indeed, a descendant of Wells’ Hyena-swine stalks the earth today, shambling from its gilded tower in New York onto stages from coast to coast, snuffling like a greedy hog rooting for someone else’s truffles.

Like its English ancestor, it is “not afraid and not ashamed,” and regardless of its claims to the contrary it does not have America’s best interests at heart.

I suppose it’s too late to build that wall.

The original Hyena-swine got voted off the island near the end of Wells’ novel, after croaking Edward Prendick’s sidekick, the Dog-man. When the beast next came for Prendick, he cast the deciding ballot — bullet, actually — and that was that.

Fast-forward to October 2016 and it seemed that America’s Hyena-swine had likewise sustained a mortal wound. Still, reports celebrating its impending demise felt premature as the Thing thrashed madly about, snapping at friend and foe alike, driving all the other ill-made creatures into slobbering fits of rage.

And as we thumbed through the final pages in the tale of the 2016 presidential election, some doubt remained about which creature would be running the island — the Hyena-swine or the Hilldebeast — at the end of it all.

>> Click here to read the entire column.

Greatest Hits of 2016, Part 3: A wrenching feeling

December 29, 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. This one was published in the June 15 edition.

A mechanic: The nut behind the wrench that cannot be replaced.

A mechanic: The nut behind the wrench that cannot be replaced.

That wrenching feeling,
when the customer tries
doing his own assembly

“Men, you’ve been there. You build something like that and you’re done and you got a real little bag of important-looking shit left over.” — Tim Allen, “Men Are Pigs”

By Patrick O’Grady

The times they are a-changing, according to Bob Dylan, who should know. He turned 75 in May.

So how many roads must a man walk down? Well, for starters, there’s this one: The German consumer-direct outfit Canyon plans to bring its some-assembly-required bikes to America. Specifically, to Americans. The ones who don’t work in bike shops.

Some companies — Trek, Giant, Raleigh — have been loitering along the shoulders of this high-speed thoroughfare, allowing their customers to buy online and then pick up their bikes, fully assembled, at their local shops.

But not Canyon. They’re going Furthur, hoping to fill a big ol’ bus with customers that some companies’ lawyers don’t trust to operate the humble quick-release skewer, much less assemble a complete bicycle.

A colleague and I were joking about this the other day, as journalists are prone to do, because the only thing funnier than human suffering is profiting from it.

“Imagine all the late-night drunk internet shopping,” says my colleague. “Then a box of bike parts shows up at the door a week later. ‘Honey, did you order a hang glider?’”

Says I: “Yeah, right about the time the wife scores some goodies from IKEA. Before you know it you’re turning up at the Sunday club ride on something that’s half bicycle, half bookshelf.”

I quoted Tim Allen to him, the bit about assembling a gas grill, a small bag of important-looking items left over, and a wife with her hair on fire. Says he: “You could build a new Great Barrier Reef with all the extra parts and Allen wrenches in every kitchen junk drawer in America.”

But not a new wife. Not yet, anyway, though I’m sure somebody’s working on it.

>> Click here to read the entire column.

Greatest Hits of 2016, Part 2: Brown Dog sleeps

December 28, 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. This one was published in the April 15 edition.

Jim Harrison laid his Jim Hancock on my copy of "Warlock," though it was not among his favorite works.

Jim Harrison laid his Jim Hancock on my copy of “Warlock,” though it was not among his favorite works.

Brown Dog sleeps,
and a Mad Dog
tries to wake him

Just start at page one and write like a son of a bitch.—Jim Harrison, asked if he had any advice for younger writers, in a 1986 interview with Jim Fergus for the Paris Review

By Patrick O’Grady

You won’t find many bicycles in the works of Jim Harrison. He had bigger fish to fry.

In his essay “Log of the Earthtoy Drifthumper” Harrison recalled riding “a balloon-tire Schwinn 128 miles in one day in reaction to horses and cars.”

And in his first “Brown Dog” novella he wrote briefly and sardonically of a cyclist named Brad who pulled a bicycle from his van “and dressed up a bit goofy in black, shiny stretch shorts, a helmet, goggles and special shoes.”

Brown Dog observed: “He was a real ox and I asked him what the bike set him back and he said a thousand dollars. I was not inclined to believe the figure and I said for that amount they should throw in a motor. He said, ‘Ha-ha,’ asked directions and rode off at top speed on the dirt road, farting like a bucking horse.”

Brad comes to a bad end, breaking a leg in a collision with some elderly ATV riders. And I suspect both Brown Dog and his creator enjoyed a soupçon of schadenfreude at his undoing.

Harrison was a walker, an outdoorsman, and a bear for paying close attention, often quoting Zen teacher Taisen Deshimaru: “You must concentrate upon and consecrate yourself wholly to each day, as though a fire were raging in your hair.”

This tight focus is particularly useful when you’re thundering along at full tilt, as Brad reminds us.

>> Click here to read the entire column.

Greatest Hits of 2016: A Nobel cause

December 27, 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. This one was published in the Jan. 1 edition.

Chez Dog, now under new management.

Chez Dog, now under new management.

Nobel? No way! Prizing
bicycle people and that
peaceful, easy feeling

“And I know you won’t let me down.” — Jack Tempchin, “Peaceful Easy Feeling”

By Patrick O’Grady

The bedside clock showed 4:20 when I woke, and I thought groggily, “Yes, please.”

It was in the realm of possibility, after all. I was in Colorado, where 420 is not just a time of day, but a state of mind.

Unfortunately, instead of stoned, I was merely rocky, awake far too early in an undistinguished hotel after a backbreaking week spent emptying and cleaning our old house for its new owners.

A little of the old whacky-tobacky might have been just what the doctor ordered for this extended hump down memory lane, which had caused me to set aside my lucrative professional career (making stuff up) for the low-rent amateur gigs of my youth (cleaning other people’s real estate and lugging their possessions around in a van).

I had brought a bike along with me from New Mexico, but this was a bit of wishful thinking on a scale that abandoned simpleminded optimism for the rarified heights of blithering idiocy.

We’re talking December here, in Colorado Springs, with leaden skies, a bitter wind and icy roads. And with the wife minding the store back in the Duke City, there was simply too much work for one person to do before our real-estate deal went down.

So the only cycling I did during the entire trip was in Albuquerque — first, to the rental outfit to pick up a big white Chevy Express van, and then home again when I dropped it off. Seven miles total. Half of it downhill.

>> Click here to read the entire column.