Wednesday, February 15, 2017

no one is being fooled: portland sunday parkways will skip outer SE in 2017

The new Sunday Parkways routes have been announced for 2017.

The one big change is that there will be NO route in outer SE Portland (where the Lents neighborhood intersects with the Springwater Corridor, a MUP that has been filled with homeless encampments and which was the scene of some friction between Parkways participants and homeless people last summer).
Instead, PBOT has decided to create an outer NE route through Parkrose and the Gateway District, thanks in part to a grant from People for Bikes. PfB will give development funding to Portland to build new bike/ped infrastructure through the Gateway District.

We all know what happens shortly before or after such improvements come to a previously down-at-heel part of Portland: Rents go up; some rental properties are converted into condos or single-family houses for sale; and new businesses that cater to the new, leaner middle/creative class open. Soon, people of color move out and white people move in.  Gentrification happens. And it will happen in outer NE.

People who are paying attention to this change in Parkways are crying foul. We are not being fooled.
We are not being distracted from the fact that the city could do NOTHING about the homeless encampments along the Springwater -- once a shining jewel of a Multi-Use Path but today a place so scary I won't ride there anymore, even in broad daylight. Because the city has no plan and no place to house all these people -- nearly four thousand, by some estimates. And the longer those who want to come inside cannot, the more volatile the situation will become. What was merely tension last year would become real conflict if Parkways returned to the Springwater, and that is part of why they're not including it this year.

You can read the rest of the story here:

...and here (be sure to read the comments):

No one who is paying attention is being fooled here.
Just sayin'.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The soul of the country

This is a tough one for me.

Some of you know that, after my nearly two decades in the bicycle business, I've developed what can be called a troubled relationship with retail.

Disclaimer: my politics around capitalism are not pure, and cannot be, because as a human being I take up space in the world and therefore must consume certain things in order to live -- like food, clothing, shelter and medication.
Secondary needs these days include air travel, too much time staring at computer screens, and upgrading to a slightly more "professional" look --  all of which ties my stomach in knots as I veer between joy in my work and horror at the mushrooming size of my carbon footprint.

That said, I could not help but observe the ongoing discussions about the recent crop of Super Bowl commercials -- many, it seemed touched upon themes of gender equality, immigration and other progressive ideals.
And I guess that's noteworthy in a world where so much is communicated through mass media and values are actually molded and shaped through the power of effective advertising.

But I continue to see beyond the world that is to the world that might yet be -- a world in which people reclaim the knowledge and power to repair and repurpose things, to grow their own food (even a little bit), and carve out lives (rather than lifestyles) that do not require half of one's paycheck to pay for a work wardrobe and the other half for rent,  a false dichotomy if ever there was one.
I imagine a world in which people may not live quite as long as the national average today, where medicine is used to find cures for disease rather than to prop up a life lived too long and in too much fruitless pain and suffering, a world where we stop being so afraid of death and begin embracing it as part of the natural arc of life.

I imagine a world where the cost of living does not outpace a living wage, and where people doing entry-level jobs are respected, encouraged and supported in their efforts to work for something better, rather than treated like throwaway components in a mercilessly impersonal machine designed to serve only those whose excessive wealth comes on the backs of the working poor. 

Finally, I imagine a world where strong, connected communities are only one small step outwards from strong, supported families, a world where no one has more than they truly need so that everyone can have their needs met reliably, so that no one need fall through the cracks anymore.

So, while these advertisers may be applauded for taking on such powerful topics, the fact remains that each of them spent a fortune in production costs -- sometimes in the millions of dollars -- to create a one- to-three-minute spot whose ultimate objective remains

Getting People To Buy More Stuff.

Much was made of the heartwarming Hyundai ad, which selected a few American soldiers serving in the Middle East to sit in a room and, through amazing technology, "attend" the Super Bowl game remotely, in real time, as their families sat in seats in a stadium halfway around the globe and video-chatted with them on electronic tablets.
Except that the advertiser was an automobile manufacturer whose product depends upon the petroleum deposits lying beneath the ground in the very countries we've sent our troops to, or with whom our government cuts strategically questionable deals.

Sorry to be such a Debby Downer about all this. But for me, the Super Bowl's excesses -- its theatrical bloodlust, its simplified, steroidal brand of patriotism, and its objectification of women (sorry, I did NOT get a strong feminist vibe from Lady Gaga's um, performance) are compelling me to reconsider my ongoing difficulty with capitalism as it plays out in this country.
Because I cannot help but think that the whole messy affair -- the Bowl game, the marketing, the glorified violence and worst of all, the simplistic groupthink being pushed on all of us -- amounts to modern day bread and circuses. 

That makes me really nervous,  for the soul of my country and for my own soul.

Like I said, my relationship with capitalism, including my struggle with it, is far from pure. It is deeply messy, complicated and difficult and the are times when I have to cross back and forth over my own lines, every day, just to survive. 
And yet, part of that struggle means owning the things which I depend on for my life and livelihood, alongside the things that give me grave pause about the world we live in today.
I do not expect to come up with a satisfactory answer, for myself or anyone else. Coming up with that answer will require me to look hard at my own tastes and habits, my own choices about where I choose to wear the blinders and how willing I am to remove them. 

(Even something as simple as my love for professional baseball -- a far more civilized game but with just as much historic scandal and corruption -- must come into question if I am going to be real about this internal struggle. How much of my willful innocence am I willing to let go of?)

So I guess I am still on the hook with the struggle, for my own soul and for the soul of my country.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

off-season coffeeneuring: venice, florida

I was down in Venice, Florida for a Shabbaton gig this last weekend. On Saturday, my hosts took me on a beautiful scenic ride along inter-coastal waterways and out to Casperson park to see the Gulf of Mexico. Wearing shorts in January anywhere, but especially in such a beautiful place, is a real treat.
At Sunset, they took me to Siesta Beach for a natural lightshow. Awesome. Go bicycling here if you can.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

off-season coffeeneuring: cup & saucer killingsworth

After being cooped up in the house for most of the past two weeks because of rain and freezing temperatures, I was going stir-crazy. I really needed a bike ride. So when I learned that today there would be a break in the weather, I decided to capitalize on it with a little ride.
I suited up in wool layers and rain gear and headed out. It was still very cold, in the mid-30s. And it was raining. Still, I had my sights set on one thing: the scones at Cup & Saucer, which closed at 3pm. If I could get there by 2, I'd have enough time to enjoy them with some hot coffee.

I got there in time.
And I was not only cold, I was surprisingly hungry.
So I ordered breakfast.

It was delicious.
Eggs and potatoes and a fresh scone woith butter and jam, and a bottomless cup of hot, fresh coffee (yes, they were still brewing at 2 pm).

It was delightful. So I ordered another three scones to go.

Because early tomorrow morning, I'm heading out of town for a gig and I know that I will want some scones to go with the coffee I'll get at the airport. And I know that nothing I find there will be as good as the scones from Cup & Saucer.

I hope to get in a little bike ride during my working weekend. If I do I'll share about it here. But I won't be wearing wool.
I'm headed to Florida, where the high temperatures will be in the mid 70s. In January.
Yeah. I'm ready.

After I finished my meal, I continued my ride, stopping in at TradeUp Music and then at the CCC. When I was ready to go home, I came out to unlock my bike and discovered that a light snow had begun to fall. And as I rode home in air that was getting colder by the minute, I pondered the reality that one day, I might not want to ride in weather this cold anymore. I already feel differently about the cold than I did just three or four years ago. I'm not as excited about riding when the temperature falls below freezing and stays there for days on end. Even with enough layers, it's just not as fun as it used to be. It's hard to get motivated to ride when the effort of doing so in this kind of cold leaves me more tired than it used to.
I am really looking forward to working for a few days in Florida.
My bones are cold.
Happy riding.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

How to have more fun on January 20: An UNauguration guide

Okay, I'm gonna go out on a limb here. With all the excitement about the protests coming up on Unauguration Day, I'm going to say right now that I think they will mostly be meaningless. Protests, by and large, have become meaningless and ineffective in an age where information travels at the speed of light and can be easily manipulated and obscured.

You want to make a difference on January 20? Here are some ideas: 

1. Don't watch.
I mean don't watch ANY of it -- the ceremony, the buildup or the post-event analysis. It's all fake, rigged and meant for show.
Turn off the damned television and don't give this guy -- or his advertisers -- one moment of viewer market-share.

2. Go outside.
Arrange to meet with your neighbors and friends in real time, whether it's at someone's house or at a community event (hey Jewish friends: Shabbat services are still happening in synagogues everywhere. Just sayin'.)
Go for a walk. Bring the dogs to the off-leash park. Toss a frisbee around. Go birdwatching. Spend the day with your kids (yes, I'm saying pull them out of school that day, or else they may be compelled/pressured to watch the unholy event on a TV screen at school).

3. GENERAL STRIKE. DO NO GO TO WORK OR SCHOOL THAT DAY. Especially if your work helps the wheel of commerce turn (retailers and wholesalers, that's especially true for you). Obviously, if your work is public safety or public service (police, fire, medical, clergy), then feel free to listen to your conscience here and do what you think makes sense.
But all non-essential workers, and teachers and their students, should consider NOT WORKING on Friday the 20th, AND Saturday the 21st. And, if you're feeling especially ballsy, Thursday the 19th as well. May as well make it a long weekend.
By not working, you slow down the wheel of commerce and tell our unfairly-elected officials that there are other ways to inhabit this country that do not depend upon their lousy money-riddled structures.

4. Ideally, #3 ought to be combined with a GENERAL BOYCOTT. DO NOT GO SHOPPING. FOR ANYTHING. Seriously. If you're homeless, you're not doing much shopping anyway because you';re broke and don't have a house to fill with stuff. And if yu DO have a warm-dry place to live then you probably have enough stuff and food and everything else to stay home from every single store you can think of. 

5. Alternative activities:
--meet with some friends at a home with a kitchen. Start cooking early in the day (just bring what you have and figure out how to cook it all up, it needn't be rocket science. Keep it simple. IF you feel ambitious then go ahead and share recipes, but don't stress about it.) Talk, sing, discuss and joke while you cook; all the best gatherings happen in the kitchen. Make sure the kids have something to do, even if it's just chopping vegetables or setting a big table (or floor, with pillows and a picnic blanket).
--make extra food and share it with your neighbors and with folks you don't yet know, housed or homeless or in-between.
--pack a picnic lunch and go for a bike ride or neighborhood walk (weather permitting). Avoid stores, Avoid streets with lots of stores. You ideally don't even want to window shop.
--turn off your electronica for the day. Really, you can do this. If you need to leave your phone on for emergencies or to coordinate a meetup, fine; but when you all get together, shut down the smartphone and hang out together.
--Musical? Theatrical? Literate? Have a performing arts jam session where anyone can contribute something beautiful, funky, or cool to share. If you choose to record it, resolve that you won't sell the recording for profit, but share it FREELY on social media. Be choosy about where you share it; rather than on an ad-dependent site, put it on your own web site or ad-free blog instead, and invite people to get in touch to brainstorm future free arts events.
--Hold a Skill-share Fair and teach each other how to do cool things that don't depend on a lot of shopping. Sewing/mending; quilt-making; knitting; cooking; bicycle repair; re-wiring simple outlets or lamps; building a simple home generator; how to make a musical instrument from ordinary household objects, or how to play a music instrument. (All of this should be free, obviously.)
--Discuss ways to build community that do not depend upon commerce. Make sure you discuss livelihood, spirituality, healthcare, education and whatever else seems like a component of community. Remember that community is, at its heart, about PEOPLE, and that will guide your thinking.

The results:
--by the end of the GENERAL STRIKE/BOYCOTT, you should have compiled a list of folks (names, contact info and list of skills) that you can call on for future communal events, people whom you can check on when the weather gets cold and heating might go out (or who could use a spare fan during the heat-wave), with whom you can close local streets to create celebrations when the weather warms, who can fix things and teach skills to each other for free or for barter.
We cannot completely disentangle from capitalism, and there may be times when we may not want to; but we can certainly reduce its importance in our lives by remembering that PEOPLE come before capital.

Please share this with everyone you know. And start planning your own Unauguration Day where you live.  If you're in Portland, Oregon and want to create an alternative to protest, contact me and let me know. I wanna get in on the fun if I can.

Yes, the country and the world will change on January 20. But we are still the people we are, and we can still do good things together.  That truth is where my hope lies.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

happy new year

A very happy new year to my readers!
Rubber side down
Flat-free rides
and Miles of Smiles
See you in 2017!

Monday, December 26, 2016

spring 2017 tune-up schedule

For my Portland-based bike pals and their friends:

In late February I will begin taking tune-up appointments.  
 Here's what you need to know:

-- One-day turnaround; You bring the bike in the morning on Day one, stick around while we go over what is needed,  and pick it up in the evening on Day two.
-- No full overhauls, tune-ups only, please.  I can true wheels, clean the bike and drive train, replace broken/worn components and adjust brakes and gears. Straightening bent frames and opening up and overhauling all bearing surfaces (including internally-geared rear hubs) is beyond the purview of my tiny workshop and very limited spare parts supply.
-- Appointments IN ADVANCE are the only way I can work on your bike. I have a day job.

I have two decades of professional bike shop experience as a mechanic and purchaser.
I'm a USAC-certified Category Four race mechanic and have several seasons doing neutral wheel and pit support at races and charity rides in the PNW.
I retired from the bicycle industry in 2012.
Because this is more of a hobby for me now, I take in far fewer bikes than a shop would, and I charge considerably less than a full-service shop does.
I am taking appointments for spring tune-ups from late February through mid-May 2017.
Then I will close it down for the summer to work on other projects.
I may re-open for a few weeks in early August if there is interest in help with getting ready for Cyclocross season. (Tune-ups, component upgrades, single-speed conversions.)

If you're interested, email me at:


Meanwhile,  Thanks to all my readers for your support and interest in what I write about here.
All the best for many happy miles in 2017!

(below: working at Community Cycling Center, 2002. Photo by Tim Fricker.)