How to Ride a Bike

Cyclists can sometimes be their own worst enemies. I had to yell a month ago at four riders, taking up a whole lane on their expensive Felt cycles, to get over in a single-file line. They were chatting away, oblivious to the world. And three months ago, a family friend visited from New York. She made a turn into a hotel in Carlsbad and two cyclists hit her rental car from behind. They came around a turn too fast. Of course, I don’t condone what Emma Way did. She hit a cyclist and then tweeted about it. Bad form.

Will Smith, Jim Beam, and the Navy

So during Fleet Week in New York City (back in May), Will Smith visited Navy and Coast Guard Sailors down at the local pier. He was doing publicity for Men in Black III and thought meeting the troops would make for a good photo-shoot. My biggest concern is the Chief on the right. He either tied one on the previous night or was getting sea-sick pierside:

"Men In Black 3" New York City Photo Call
Men In Black 3’s Will Smith meets Navy-Coast Guard Sailors in New York City. Is the Chief on the right housed on Devil’s Cut?

Go easy on that Jim Beam Devil’s Cut, Chief. It’ll schneak up on you. . .

Art and the Opposite

Over the last fifty years, the art world has seen an influx of nonsense. There is genuine talent in the field and there is the opposite. An example of the latter, Andreas Slominski’s work below, titled Sperm of Two Pilots, which is nothing more than bales of hay*:

Sperm of Two Pilots, Andreas Slominski, 2012 Installation View at Metro Pictures, New York

*Or bales of straw. Being from the city and the burbs, I know it is one or the other. Sorry for the NSFW link. (The NS rating is for utter weirdness and the usual New York debauchery. Although, I did not investigate it enough to really find out what it was all about.)

Update: I read part of the article and it is worse than I thought. That anyone would pay any money to see this bs is beyond me. As usual, ridicule is the best disinfectant.

How in the H-E-Double-L Did Cooperstown Let This Happen?

I am utterly stupefied. To illustrate my degree of stupefaction, pick your favorite athlete. Let’s go with Tim Tebow. Now slip his last game into your VCR. (I know you still have one, some place, maybe your garage.) Wait until Tim winds up to throw. . . There. . . Pause it. That goofy look on his face, that is me. That arm half-back, half-all-over-the-place (this is Tim, I mean me, after all) is how I feel.

The why: An Occupy Wall Street jersey is being displayed in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. (COOPERSTOWN for Christakes! Oops, sorry Tim. Cooperstown, for goodness sakes.)

The evidence:

Tax Dodgers, Occupy Wall Street protest jersey is featured at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. With the 1% hat.

Tom Shieber (senior curator) asked Gan Golan, a member of a theatrical group Tax Dodgers if they would send the jersey to Cooperstown. And the rest is terrible history.

The Ugly Americans: the Post I Did Not Want to Write

If you are new here, please understand that I am unabashedly pro-American. I’m adamant that we serve a great cause worldwide. That a world without United States would be terrible. Yet, I had an experience in Japan that rattled these convictions.

Our plane landed at Narita Airport in the late afternoon. It was me and two contractors, both former Navy. One a retired Master Chief and the other, a seasoned tech.

Narita Express (N’EX) Train

We caught the train from Narita to Yokosuka. It took us hopping onto a couple of lines. Which ones, I could not say. And we rode each train for a dozen stops or more.

As we got closer to base, we switched to a crowded commuter line. Two things I noticed immediately about Japan: the locals were deathly quiet and it was clean. Very much so.

Having spent a good chunk of time in New York, I knew the rush of warm air, the squeal of the subway, and the voices. Kids yelling. Businessmen on cellphones. Rappers and guitarists on dirty benches at the subway stops. Sitting and playing. Standing and rapping. You won’t find any of that in Japan.

Four stops from Yokosuka, the doors opened and three American Sailors stumbled in. Flip-flops and tank-tops. One immediately started cussing. I glared at him. He looked away. The train was quiet for a second, just as it was the two hours before they came on.

Then another kid piped up. Man, I hate Japanese women. Why do they gotta do me like that? I have been here for f***in’ three weeks. And I hate it. Japanese girls. . .

You telling me, the other one, the cusser, mumbled.

I stared around the train. The Japanese men held their gaze at the floor. Maybe shamed. The locals seemed so quiet, I couldn’t tell if I understood their embarrassment. Or maybe they just do not understand English?

I do not like this culture, the complainer continued. With a couple more cuss words.

I cut in. Guys, please.

The one closest gawked at me with a rummy face. We can’t help ourselves, he said, slurring his words.

Everyone can help themselves, I replied. The retired Master Chief looked over at him and then me. He rolled his eyes and shook his head.

Look at me, I am covered in tats. I am screwed, he continued.

You can cover them up. And tats mean nothing.

Crew members aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)

They were quiet. Relatively so. Then they talked among themselves. About work. Deck Sailors. Catching jets during the day. And during night ops.

I knew their story: fifteen hour days in brown shirts. Purple shirts. White. Green. Yellow shirts. Blue. Red. Which flavor they were, I did not hear. One of them.

And the doors opened and the warm, humid night whisked them away.

We waved at a taxi and squeezed in. The driver was wearing white gloves. His taxi was older. As in ten years old. Lace doilies lined the headrests.

We rolled down the main drag. The edge of the Honch stared at us from beyond the taxi window. My Japan deployment was just beginning. . .

The Butler Who Lives Like a King

Architectural Digest is featuring celebrity kitchens in its latest issue.
And I am pleased to announce that butlers are no longer relegated to the broom closet.
It is 2012, and they proudly feature one Butler who lives like a king.
(Which is not surprising, considering his past.)

Gerard Butler’s Kitchen, New York City; neither King Leonidas, nor Spartan-like

That man-cave looks like the perfect place to cook up some mean hot-pockets!

Gerard Butler was the actor who portrayed the Spartan King Leonidas, in the movie 300. But his kitchen is anything but Spartan. . .

300, Gerard Butler, King Leonidas, Then we will fight in the shade, Persian cowards!

King Leonidas: Children, gather round!
No retreat, no surrender; that is Spartan law.
And by Spartan law we will stand and fight… and die.
A new age has begun.
An age of freedom, and all will know, that 300 Spartans gave their last breath to defend it!

And we will cook our hot-pockets in luxury. . .

Anne Hathaway Versus Deployed Army Soldiers

Ah, the babied class are getting into the act. The Princess Diaries’ Anne Hathaway, a talented actress to be sure, was sighted down at the Occupy Wall Street protest waving around two different signs. The first read Blackboards Not Bullets. And then she switched it out for one that read Blackboards Not Banks. What do you think:

Anne Hathaway, OWS, Blackboards Not Bullets

Okay, so I understand dissent. Somewhat. And participation in a peaceful protest, sure. It’s not me, but should you feel passionate, exercise (and exorcise) your First Amendment rights.

Per the article, Anne is worth $58,000,000 or 58KK. She earned more money in five days (during the filming of Bride Wars) than I have in my entire ten-year military career.

If she is not part of the 1%, I don’t know who is. Our pals over at wacky-pedia, inform us that her father was a lawyer and her mother an actress. Just your typical working-class upbringing.

Is this penance for bombing at the Oscars? Perhaps she is feeling guilty for the fact that she dated a con-man for years:

Anne Hathaway, Clueless

Earlier this year, Raffaello Follieri settled a lawsuit filed by Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle, who accused him and the Follieri Group of “systematically misappropriating” at least $1.3 million of more than $55 million that Burkle’s company had contributed to a joint venture. . .

Burkle’s suit said Follieri used the money to fund an extravagant lifestyle that included private jet travel for himself and Hathaway, as well as for loans of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the foundation.

Or that her ex-boyfriend Raffaello boldly claimed he spoke on behalf of the Vatican:

Raffaello Follieri and Anne Hathaway, the Grifter and the Protester

Follieri was arrested in June 2008 on fraud charges for allegedly fleecing investors out of millions of dollars in a scheme in which Follieri posed as the Vatican’s point man on real estate investing.

It was reported that the FBI confiscated Hathaway’s private journals from Follieri’s New York City apartment as part of their ongoing investigation into Follieri’s activities

Princess Diaries indeed. What Anne should really be protesting is her atrocious taste in boyfriends! Her ex-beau actually collected money for “charities” which he claimed helped third-world development.

Guess where the money went?

Anne Hathaway, Catwoman, The Dark Night Rises

Does she not realize she has a potential blockbuster coming up, The Dark Knight Rises? How do you think director Christopher Nolan or Warner Brothers view her extracurricular protesting hobby?

Undoubtably, the movie will gross several hundred millions of dollars. And a lot of the money will wash through the very hands Ms. Hathaway is demonstrating against. 

Or am I totally off-base? And Anne is not the naive little princess she appears to be and this act is a charade designed to get publicity. I think I would respect her more if this were the case. After all, Kanye West and Russell Brand already stopped by. And Jay-Z’s Occupy All Streets T-shirts attempted to ring up some bills. Of course:

She covered her face with a red checked pattern scarf to hide her identity and the people with her became more agitated.

Anne Hathaway and Adam Shulman, “undercover”

Her boyfriend, Adam Shulman, became annoyed when people started taking pictures of the The Devil Wears Prada actress.

Adam, who is also an actor, repeatedly stuck his hand out in front of his girlfriend’s face as a passersby attempted to get a picture of her.

Seriously? You are famous and you go to public event. What do you expect if not publicity?

Let’s change climes and move a little east, shall we? Take a look at our Army brethren over in Bagram:

Occupy Bagram, the Army in Afghanistan, Quit your bitchin’ and get back to work

I love it. Quit your bitchin’ and get back to work!

The funny thing about military bases is that many of them have the same little rocks, identical benches, and boxy structures. I thought I had perhaps visited that base, so familiar did it look. But no. Not Paper or Plastic Bagram for me. . .

Hand Salute: Theo Spark

OWS T-Shirts and Frank Miller’s Holy Terror

Smug 99%er Protests Capitalism by Selling T-shirts. 8 Bucks a Pop. Pre-shrunk

Occupy Wall Street, New York City.

The misnamed 99% crowd are working to promote their brand. By patenting their various names, they hope to capitalize on the movement.

T-shirt sales are being looked at as one possible revenue stream. Kinda ironic, no? The scoop:

In recent weeks, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has received a spate of applications from enterprising merchandisers, lawyer and others seeking to win exclusive commercial rights to such phrases as “We are the 99 percent,” ”Occupy” and “Occupy DC 2012.”

Organizers of the protest centered in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park went so far as to file for a trademark of “Occupy Wall Street” after several other applications connected to the demonstrations were filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Jay-Z and Rocawear. No OWS, 22 dolla (holla) t-shirt

Nothing like having your cake and eating it too. Protest it and practice it.

And just yesterday Mr. Z (first name: Jay, Mr. Put-a-Ring-On-It-I-Did, Mistah Beyonce) backed out of his shady plan to make money off the protesting hippies. Oh no, Jay-Z got owned:

After a perceived attempt to cash in on the Occupy Wall Street movement by hawking T-shirts with the slogan “Occupy All Streets,” the $22 shirts were suddenly removed from the “Otis” rapper’s Rocawear website Saturday with no explanation (not yet, anyway.)

So, what went down?

Jay-Z reportedly came under fire after word got out that Rocawear didn’t plan to donate any of the proceeds from the sale of the shirts to the Occupy Wall Street movement (which was later confirmed by a rep for the clothing company.)

Frank Miller’s Dark Night

My guess: 95% of us fall into the 1%, the group the Occupy folks are protesting. I do not know a single protester. Actually, I don’t chat up any bankers or stock traders on a daily basis either. To me, this whole affair simply reeks of charade.

Guess who else is onto the game and fed up with the Occupy crowd? Mr. Frank Miller, the brilliant artist behind Sin City, 300, and The Dark Knight Returns. He had this to say on his personal blog:

Everybody’s been too damn polite about this nonsense:

The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness.

These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

Frank Miller, Comic-Con

“Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH!

Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached – is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.

This is no popular uprising. This is garbage.

Please read the rest. I have increased respect for Mr. Miller. I always thought his Dark Knight work was too dark, and not enough knight, for my tastes. But him standing up and writing what he did, he gets the MVB (B = blogger) trophy. Spoiled brats indeed.

Holy Terror, Frank Miller’s New Counter-Terrorism Comic

Out of curiosity, I searched for Frank’s latest project. Guess what? He is drawing a counter-terrorism comic titled:

Holy Terror, which launched the comic and publishing imprint of Legendary Pictures, was originally conceived as a Batman story and was a response by Miller to the terrorist attacks of 9-11. (The hero is now called the Fixer and features a female cat burglar who is not named Catwoman.)

The early reviews from the usual elitists are brutal. All the right tools are outraged. It just may be good. . .

Confessions of a New York City Bike Messenger

I am standing on the pedals of my 18-speed, riding towards Rockafella’ Centah, to go somewhere, to see someone, to pick something up. I pop a curb. Something caught. I catch. And I tumble forward and my bike stumbles with me. And I go from upright to the ground with no memory of the travel. I am lying on the sidewalk, dazed. For five seconds or five minutes and a guy passes me and looks.

Hey buddy, you need a hand, he asks, hardly stopping, because it is New York. But he talks to me and I think he is perhaps from out of town. Or maybe I can’t think straight, ‘cuz New Yorkers wear their heart on their sleeve. Underneath that watcha-want usually is a lemme-help.

No, I am fine. And he passes by without another word. Just fine, I say to his back, to no one.

I pull myself up and limp over to my bike. I fish for a quarter, because this is the 90s. I call dispatch from a payphone within mute earshot of my biff. I got dinged up. I wiped, I say to her, the hoarse girl I speak to all day long. Not too bad.  

Go home, my dispatcher says. She’s a former bike messenger. Rest. She knows the job. Fun and fast. Sweaty, windy. You had a good day. 18 packages.

I leave her and the phone and stand back up on my pedals. Not as tough as the last time I rode tall. But still I’m moving. And I pedal uptown. Slowly.

Because to get home, I gotta ride there. I can’t hop a cab. I gotta get get over the 59th Bridge through Long Island City to Astoria, Queens. But I don’t ride home. Not today all banged up. I roll my bike to the 7th Ave subway station. The one near Carnegie Hall.

Down the stairs and to the Queens N track: I don’t even wait. A subway screeches toward me, the air running before it anxiously clearing the way. The doors open, I let people in. And then I swing my bike inside. People give me space. Maybe because I am sweaty. Or that I got my right pants leg all hiked up. Not ‘cuz I’m a homeboy, but to keep the lube off my Adidas sweats. Black grease streaks my right calf. I look like a b-boy, whatever they are.

And the subway doors close and we enter a tunnel and I feel a stream of air whistling through the crack in the door. I’m tired and I can’t tell whether it’s hot or cold air, only that it’s different. The car shrieks and metal scrapes. And we clatta clatta clatta as we wind down along a long straightway before turning left and coming up into the dying light of a New York December.

I am tired and I don’t think about college six months behind me. Or the Navy, still in my future. Or 9/11, which has not painted my city, my adopted city. Yet.

I stand up. Out into the real air, I bump my bike down the stairs and ride it slowly towards my house. I rent in the Greek part of town, mostly because my brain lives in my stomach and gyros and souvlaki are my oxygen and water. And because I want the rest of my body to stick close to my brain and gut, those ruffians.

My bike lock falls off my handlebars (dammit) and I have to circle around to pick it up. If you need a good chain, get you the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Bike Chain Lock. Yeah, Fahgettaboudit is right. That lock is one tough motha.

Some of the other messengers ride around with the Fahgettaboudit draped ’round their necks, like they was LL Cool J. I tried it once and I discovered I was not LL. It felt ridiculous, I felt ridiculous. Like an oxen or how an oxen should feel if he hadda larger brain.

I pick up the lock and wrap it across my handlebars. I pass Uncle George’s on the corner and even though I am trying to save money, I sloop up the sidewalk and lock my bike down with my Fahgettaboudit. Souvlaki, time to get some.

Part II here.