If one more, well, mediocre person I know shares the January blog post, “What If All I Want Is A Mediocre Life?” I’m gonna choke the mediocre life right out of him/her. As with most Facebook shares, I’m guessing that at least fifty people didn’t even read the post, but simply saw the title as an excuse for their own lamentable mediocrity and clicked “Share” without a moment’s hesitation. “Yes! I’m a MOM and a TEACHER and I’m PROUD OF IT!” Well, okay, then. Your biggest accomplishments are a biological act and having a career that is typically chosen by the stupidest college students. Congrats, you’re even less than mediocre!
The first thing that you should know about this blog post was that it was written by Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Dagui (I can’t begin to understand how that name was generated), who is a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant™ & Joyful Living Educator. This is Not a Real Fucking Job. And the trademark is the author’s, not mine.
But let’s get past the ad hominem attacks and get to the meat of the post, shall we? Yeah, let’s.
“You got your Freshmen, ROTC guys, Preps, J.V. jocks, Unfriendly black hotties, Girls who eat their feelings, Girls who don’t eat anything, Desperate Wannabes, Burnouts, Sexually Active Band Geeks, the greatest people you will ever meet and the worst: Beware of Plastics.”
Mean Girls. Don’t lie, you know you’ve seen it. It’s a fantastic movie about the odd social hierarchy that has ruled the hallways of American high schools for years. And while it’s mostly tongue in cheek, it’s fascinatingly accurate. Guys, you might not know this, but girls are mean. Like, really mean. And holy cow, as they get older and approach middle age, they get meaner, and sometimes they even get smarter.
That, my friends, is a really bad combination. And when they ship their spawn off to school for the first time, they realize that THEY CAN GET THE GANG BACK TOGETHER. And they’re no longer Plastics. They have a new name: The PTA.
Near the end of Joni Mitchell’s Miles of Aisles live album, she becomes tired of the crowd calling out requests for her greatest hits and responds, somewhat passive-aggressively, with “Nobody ever said to Van Gogh, ‘Paint a Starry Night again, man!’ You know? He painted it and that was it.” (More on that comment, and its ramifications, here.) I was just two years old at the time, and on the wrong coast besides, but if I could get in a time machine and travel back to that night I would yell back, “YEAH, AND HE ALSO JUST GOT PAID ONCE FOR PAINTING IT, SO QUIT YOUR BITCHING!”
When my son is old enough to truly comprehend the fine distinctions involved, I think that I’m going to spend a lot of time stressing to him that different jobs don’t just pay different amounts of money — they also pay in different ways. Consider, if you will, the vast majority of pop songs. The writer gets paid as long as people buy the song. The rights holders to the song also get paid as long as it’s selling. That’s really the best way to get paid. The original headliner can probably get paid to perform the song as long as it’s popular; that’s not quite as good as getting paid for doing nothing but it still offers the prospect of continued employment. Last and least are the studio musicians who took a one-time payment for performing on the studio track and signed over the rest of their rights.
Studio musicians tend to stay poor and die broke, no matter how good they are, because they don’t own the rights to what they do. As fate would have it, I’m kind of a studio musician when it comes to autowriting. I don’t own a magazine, I don’t own a website, and I don’t retain rights to much of what I write. Like Van Gogh, I deliver the product, I take the money, I walk away, and I never have to — or get to, depending on your perspective — do it again. I write 350,000 words a year— that’s a new War and Peace every nineteen months — and I only get paid once for each one of those words.
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. It’s a privilege and an honor to have the editors, and the audience, that I have. Joni Mitchell might have considered her fans to be a distraction or even a hassle, but I cannot bring myself to feel that way. I spend a lot of time thinking about the best way to serve that audience. Which brings me to the comment by dal20402 above.
Do you know who Sheryl Sandberg is or why she might possibly be of importance? If not, you can read TLP on the subject. (Short version: she is permitted to exist because her existence sells middle-class women on the idea of working harder for the same amount of money.) You can also read my thoughts on her Surprising! Survival! of a plane crash that occurred while she was somewhere else.
Two year ago, Mrs. Sandberg’s (second) husband died. Dave Goldberg was a VP at Yahoo Music when he met Sandberg, who was a VP at Google. The most fervent Jew-haters at the Chateau Heartiste couldn’t come up with a more stereotypical story than this bloodless partnership of two oddly wealthy, work-obsessed people whose last name contains “berg” and whose entire reason for notability revolves around yet a third “berg” — Mark Zuckberg of Facebook fame.
But then Sheryl (Maiden Name) Sandberg became SHERYL SANDBERG, and her husband became a nonentity. Maybe a better way to say it would be that Dave was always a nonentity. He was always one of these people who bumbles around NorCal and repeats the right buzzwords and earns a mid-six-figure salary because of it. Much of the American economy as it currently exists revolves around people like this. They drive a non-F-model Lexus and they are house-poor and they clog up the line at Whole Foods because they are asking unnecessary questions. They support “Black Lives Matter” from the security of their gated communities. They drive a Prius for the environment but breathlessly boast about brief rides on the company jet. They are interchangeable. They have mastered duckspeak. Their primary value is in never having said or done anything that prevents further mild advancement in the hierarchy.
But then Sheryl became a billionaire, earning more in a week than her husband does in a year. So Dave faded into potbellied, underdressed obscurity. Having become completely unnecessary to the Sandberg Five-Year plan, he then had the decency to die, so Sheryl could write a book about how she survived this tragedy.
One benefit of being a member of many, many Lincoln, Brougham and myriad other automotive groups on FB, is I now know a lot more ‘car guys’ than I used to. One such person is Phil Schaefer, who has tons and tons of awesome old cars. Case in point: He recently bought a 1936 DeSoto Airflow. The addition of another pre-war car means that some of the less-desireable members of the fleet need to go to make room for the new stuff. So here’s your big chance to own a first-year 1984 Continental Mark VII Bill Blass Designer Edition-with a factory-installed BMW turbodiesel!
I walked out of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial not giving much of a shit about the stupid rubber alien with the glowing finger. That was just the plot. Even at the age of ten I could tell that the plot of that movie was entirely irrelevant to the film’s true message, which had sweet F.A. to do with aliens. In this case, the medium was the message, that medium being perfectly captured by E.T.’s working title of A Boy’s Life.
The world of A Boy’s Life was alien to me in ways that had nothing to do with waddling creatures or spaceships. I had grown up in tree-thick communities, hoary with snow then hot with decomposing leaves, short sightlines and old houses. Though I’d left Brooklyn a full thirty-five years before the wannabes and the jerkoff Gawkerites arrived, I’d seen early in life that New Yorkers never looked up. There is no vista to see. Your vision is blocked on all sides. This was as true in the dignified decay of Upper Arlington, Ohio as it had been in Columbia, MD and everywhere else.
The world of E.T. was something else entirely. It was barren, bare, the open California sky above and the naked dirt to all sides. The homes squatted close to the ground. Until I saw that movie and really looked at it, I’d never considered that perhaps the sun of the East Coast was fettered by humidity and the omnipresent deciduous canopy above. When Danger Girl came here from New Mexico three years ago, she confessed that the rolling, absurdly fertile Ohio landsdcape made her paranoid, claustrophobic. Surrounded by living things.
And, of course, you had the BMX bikes, Ceppie Maes and Bob Haro making Kuwahara famous. There was so much freedom to be had out there. In Ohio my peers and I were relentlessly tracked and oppressed by intact family units and a neighborhood that considered discipline to be a distributed service, like the French Resistance always three steps too slow or stupid to outwit the Wehrmacht, but out in the amorphous amalgamation of Spielberg’s ur-Cali, the kids ran free, their divorced mothers out pursuing their own pleasure every night and abandoning their progeny to a sort of benign anarchy full of D&D games and unsupervised insanity. The very fact that these kids could hide a being from another planet in their house for days at a time… my mother would have discovered E.T. three hours after he touched down. Max.
I longed for that California the way Huck Finn yearned for the Territory. My BMX friends went without me, moved to Westminster and other places to live the dream. I put my head down and went to school instead. There are people I could blame for that decision but it would be weak of me to do so. The choice was mine. I didn’t acquire a genuine working knowledge of California until I was in my late thirties. Nowadays I know most of the state’s racetracks and backroads pretty well. I’ve probably spent a hundred days of my life in the Golden State, from San Diego to Eureka and points north.
No matter what I do as an adult, however, when it comes to that idealized California childhood I will forever be an outside, a cargo-cult native of a backwards island worshiping a Coke bottle. Which brings me to the story I’d like to share with you: the life of a modern Californian boy, told by someone who understands the San Fernando Valley the way I understand the side streets and forested paths of central Ohio.
It’s been a three-month process, but my custom Lairdframe is finally assembled and running. Compared to the Freed 21 that I built in February while I was waiting for this project to come together, it’s lighter, roomier, and vastly more expensive. I didn’t spare too much cost here; it has nearly a full pound’s worth of titanium components as well as the infamous six-pawl Profile Elite hubs.
To my immense annoyance, I’m not riding it nearly as well as I rode my slapped-together bargain-basement Freed. I had free reign to choose my geometry, tubing length, tubing diameter, and various other specs. Maybe I just chose poorly. We’ll see how it all comes together.
The third-best thing about the frame, after the custom “Kraken” seat stay brace and bottle-opener chain stay brace, is something that I did not expect, because I didn’t order it that way. I’d specified a Lamborghini lime green candy coat. Somehow the signals got crossed and I received “Emerald City”. As you’ll see in the photo below the jump, it’s really handsome. Click to see the bike and to catch up on last week’s contributions.
Our youngest contributor, teenager Bryce Himelrick, returns with a recap of his September 2016 trip to the Petersen Museum. Check it out! — jb
I amble out of the Uber onto the sidewalk. I look up at the building with wild eyes. The stainless steel glistering in the warm Los Angeles sun on this halcyonic September day. The building loomed overhead with red accents complimenting the futuristic looking stainless steel flanks. Rather imposing. It looks like a building straight out of an architecture student’s dream. Pictures don’t do it justice, it has more of a presence once you are there, a futuristic stainless steel building shining from the sun on museum-lined Wilshire Boulevard. The building is new and contemporary from first glance, but its roots stem from an old department-store-turned-museum that was completely renovated just recently. Maybe “renovated” is an understatement. The exterior most definitely reflects the inside. You walk into the lobby, a shiny concrete floor gradually trailing down with cars visible ahead. A Toyota 2000GT is the first thing that greets you, lone, the only car before the ticket desk. It truly is a sculpture on wheels, I never imagined that I would lay eyes on this car, and here I am, jaws to the floor, looking at it. I haven’t even bought my tickets yet. I walk to buy my tickets, and immediately I realize that this surreal feeling will be present all day.
Alright, let’s get this party started again. And what better way to light the flame once more than to feature one of my all-time favorite bikes: the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird. Frequent readers of this site know that I have long harbored a weakness for the Yamato class of sportbikes; as a teenager I wanted an FJ1200 so badly that I put FJ1200 stickers on my BMX bike, and in my twenties I lusted for a Kawasaki ZX-11. I am now the owner of the final-boss cruise missile, the Kawasaki ZX-14R, but as recently as last October I was trying to purchase a decent example of the Super Blackbird.
Jeff has a “Dos Equis” Honda that’s been in his fleet for seven years. But as you’ll see below, it’s no longer his favorite way in which to pay tribute to The Gorilla Who Knew Too Much.
(If you have a bike that you’d like to see featured here, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
My good friend and racing teammate, W. Christian “Mental” Ward, sent this to me back when we were running “Sunday Stories” for a bit at the beginning of the year at TTAC. Sadly, the plug was pulled on fiction before I got a chance to run this. So, here it is at Riverside Green. Enjoy!
Billy was a lot to take. Borderline ADHD, beyond hi-strung and often considered simple. Over the years he had earned the nickname “11,” A reference to the Spinal Tap movie. Billy never underdid anything.
It’s not that he was rude, or mean or even unpleasant. It’s just that he was loud, fast and always in motion.