Saturday, May 27, 2006
Friday, May 26, 2006
The clambake call turned out to be easy as hell. I thought it would be a day of unloadiing lots of heavy stuff from truck after truck, but it turned out to be a few loads of very light boxes full of set models. It was a lot of walking the room asking people if they wanted a ladder. There was supposed to be a storm to end all storms this afternoon so when Sam offered to end the call after 4 hours because we weren't needed, I leapt at it. I raced home as fast as I could, thinking that I was going to get royally pissed on and possibly electricuted on the 59th street bridge. When I got home, I found that Laura was sick as heck with the cold I gave her. I'm still a bit under as well. We've been watching movies all day since. I think I'm going to go for a little yoga before debauching myself thoroughly tomorrow for my post wedding bachelor party.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Sam landed me a job this week helping set up a national MFA theatre designer showcase called "The Clambake". It was a hell of a lot of fun. Most of the people went to NYU tech track and had been doing this gig every year since 2001 or so. It was mostly lugging several carts of stuff out of several storage places inside of Lincoln Center and down the block to Fordham University. When we got there we spent the better part of the day fitting together a somewhat confounding assortment of iron tubes and rubber connectors. Lots of sassing and quipping and Sam sarcasiming everyone back to work. He had probably the best management comeback I've ever heard.
"Hey Sam, how did you get to be in charge of this?"
"Do you want my job?" (silence)
I did a lighting hang last Friday which was hilarious because I didn't remember how to do half the shit I was supposed to. Quick BFA readers, what is a two-fer? Yeah, I thought so.
Mike Green at Bike Blog did a freaking excellent job putting a video of the Bridge Battle II race I did the other day. He was smart enough to put a helmet cam on the 2nd and 3rd place finishers. Check it out here It's free to register and definitly worth it.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
So Laura and I were the last people in the world to see "Brokeback Mountain." I thought that it was stunningly beautiful. It was one of those truly American stories that can only be told by people from Taiwon and Austrailia. I live by a bus stop and a busy avenue, so there's always background noise, but I have to say it was difficult to make out anything that anyone said. Not that it made any difference. I could have probably gotten everything that I needed to if this was an unsubtitled movie in another language. I Have barely a thing to add to the dialogue surrounding this movie that's new save for the fact that Dick Cheney, also from Wyoming, is only three or so years younger than these characters and, like Heath Ledger, talks out of the side of his mouth.
On a separate note, I would like to spend a sec recognizing the excellent posting that Ms. Ndgyoyen recently cooked up. The bit about smoking a pussy cigar with Desmond Tutu is too much.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
I was totally ready for it to be rainy and shitty yesterday for my Monday Morning Job. It was. This was, after all, remnants of the storm that ate Peabody Mass. I had rain gear, so it wasn't so bad, but it was bad. The biggest problem with delivering stuff on a rainy day is that when you get into buildings you feel like some kind of wetness leper. All of my magazines were bone dry before I took them out with my wet, wrinkly hands and gave them to people. At one buiding, I had to sign in and I grabbed the pen at the very top so that I wouldn't drip all over the guys pad. At the New York Observer, this one lady remarked that "It sure is wet today" I let her off the hook and told her that I was only an hour away from being done.
At my last stop, in the Trinity Building at 111 Broadway a buiding that requres that messengers hang around in the lobby, another messenger stepped out for a quick coffee while his person took her sweet time. She came down after a spell and was mightily pissed.
"Oh, it's great that he has the time to grab coffee, this was supposed to be picked up two hours ago." She then looked around and realized that the people in earshot were two messengers, a doorman, and me, wet as a sponge singing a Rufus Wainwright cover. Eventually, her guy came in and she was a little bit nicer.
"I know this isn't your fault, but can you make this a priority, it has to be there by noon." It was 11:45.
"Oh yeah, no problem" and he was off, presumably to take care of the 5 other jobs that were backed up because of the shit weather. All the time, I was aware of this tall, thin, white guy with a messenger bag checking out my bike. When I got out I found out that he was a German bike messenger in town for the week and he wanted to find out if there was a good bike shop to buy t-shirts. I directed him to Track Star and got onto the nearest subway home.
Home was good. I took off my chlothes, petted the dog and passed the fuck out.
In better News, I went and saw Julia's performance with Laura tonight. It was a new piece about the crappy apartments and sub-par hook-ups. I love her work; I laughed my ass off. Afterwards drinks at what was once The Cellar, where I used to work.
Monday, May 15, 2006
This Saturday was both Laura's bridal shower and the "Bridge Battle II" race. Friday night Laura and I had seen an assortment of films at the Bicycle Film Forum. There were a lot of short films including a film called "MASH San Francisco" that showed lots of guys bombing down city streets and crashing their track bikes into the pavement. It put the fear into me.
Saturday morning I was really starting to dread the race. I had that awful feeling in my gut and I was kinda sluggish and weak as I rode to the start on 23rd and the FDR. I had hoped that I could have done the race with Josh, but his bike was recently put to final rest after he was doored on Christopher street.
After a lot of poking around the FDR Park and the surrounding area, me and this guy who wanted me to call him Chino found the race organizers and we got our spoke cards. As a rule, Alleycats start about 45 minutes after they're supposed to, in this case it took about an hour and a half. As more people gathered, I got bored and passed the time looking at the course map, reading the New York Times and calling my brother to shoot the shit. This didn't do anything to calm my nerves and I resolved to myself that my only goal was to not get hurt and that I would drop out of the race at the first sign of trouble: a flat, a small tumble over a curb, the second I got lost etc.
The organizers had us move our bikes to three different spots before deciding on a place to lay our bikes down for a short Le Mans start. I was scared as hell that I would get a shot of adrenaline and do something stupid once the race started so I stood at the starting line and concentrated on my breath and heart rate. When it was time to go, everyone ran like crazy and roughly 70 people ran for their bikes and started pouring out onto the FDR and up to the 59th street bridge. There were at least 4 minor crashes that I saw out of the corner of my eye, including one guy from Boston clipping into a GMC Jimmy in the 30's. I was squarely in the middle of the pack and noticed that I was going at roughly commuter speed up 1st avenue. I resolved for the rest of the race to keep my straghtaway speed at at least 20 mph.
The pack thinned out considerably on the Queens side of the 59th street bridge as people went different ways and in different orders. People were further thinned into packs ass groups of people got stuck at lights. I dropped about four people at a light when I muscled my way across four lanes of traffic and hooked up with a group of 5 fast guys and one really fast girl on a road bike.
Here she is at the finish line with 2nd place finisher Ken:
I was able to hook up with different groups of people and drop others in traffic on my home turf in Greenpoint, but that girl on the road bike I just couldn't shake. For a while she had me on Grand Avenue, but then I caught her when a bus cut us off on Lorimer, then I thought I had her licked on Flushing near the Navy Yards until I started to run out of juice and she passed me, shot me a shit eating grin and said something that sounded like "ha haaa" (a la Nelson from The Simpsons).
Near the end I was starting to feel like a whipped dog. I hadn't drank any water since starting the race and I was worried about how in the hell I would get up the Manhattan Bridge and over to the finish line without dropping 10 places behind. I started up the bridge at 15 mph, dropping the pack of people that I had been riding with, including the girl and I drafted up the rest off the way behind this one Japanese messenger who I'd once spoken to a year ago. He was a lot smaller than me, so to successfully draft him I had to crouch really low. I had my manifest out before the checkpoint in the middle of the bridge, and I managed to shoot past him afterwards. As I was going down the brigde, I saw all of these other people from the race going the opposite way. I thought that they were all ahead of me and that when I got to the finish line at the Anthology Film Archive, that the organizers would send me back to the Manhattan bridge to get a second signature. That didn't seem like a lot of fun, but I bombed through Chinatown anyway, screaming unintelligable shit at crowds of people who were walking through my green lights and then finally going the wrong way up 2nd avenue to the finish line.
I gave my manifest to the guy at the table and found out that, no, I didn't have to go back and that I had come in in 16th place. Sixteen baby! For the next 5 minutes I was shell shocked, my body was floppy, I shouted when I meant to talk and I drank water like a camel. The girl came in a few minutes later and I she was the first place girl finisher. I beat the first girl, made me feel like a big man.
I stayed for another couple of hours, drank a lot of free red bull, ate a chocolate bar, read the rest of my NY Times and watched the various track events. At six, I went over to Brooklyn to the end of Laura's bridal shower and had an excellent time.
Monday, May 08, 2006
This morning started pretty bad and got worse and worse. I woke up tired, which hardly ever happens to me, even at 5:00 in the morning. I was pretty pokey on the bridge and in a complete fluke, I ended up getting thwacked from behind by this guy that I always seen on the bridge and talk to at 5:20 every Monday morning. I thought that I had missed him until I paused before going through a red 1 block from the bridge and got thwacked from behind by a very solid left arm. He went down, I helped him get back up and it was no big deal. It was 99% his fault, but I felt pretty bad about it and ended up going up first avenue because I was embarrassed.
At 7:30, I started my delivery run and was still tired even though I had had another coffee. As I was going towards 8th avenue on 39th street (the wrong way), one of those three-wheeled traffic vehicles swirved towards me and the guy inside waved at me. Like a freaking idiot, I chose to ignore it and pedaled away. He caught me a block away after I decided not to go the wrong way on 41st because I thoght he had given up right as I got away.
"You're in a heap of trouble now! Gimme your ID...Now stand over there!
I stood where he told me and watched as he spent the next ten minutes writing, double checking and writing some more. I had roughly 45 pounds of envelopes in my bag going to everyone from Bob Herbert to Howard Stern and I was wondering just how fucked I was. If the bike got confiscated, I would be able to continue doing my deliveries, I would just have to lie to my boss and say that my frame had broken or something like that. I pictured myself trying to do the next weeks deliveries on Laura's 50cm bike with the seat all the way up. I thought about getting arrested. Each time I thought he was done, he would check his code book and start writing another ticket. My thoughts started wander after a bit as I took a closer look at this guys three-wheeled traffic car. The whole thing was just stamped sheet metal and shatter proof glass. This guy's bulletproof vest was the only thing keeping the steering column from going through his chest in an impact. A car of any size could kill this guy in a side impact and he had just chased me across four lanes of uptown traffic in the space of two blocks. I felt like a piece of shit.
In the end, I got four separate tickets, for going the wrong way, for disobeying a direct order, for not merging right (this I didn't actually do) and for not having a bell on my bike. I got a further verbal reprimand from him telling me that he was originally going to just give me a warning and that I had done a very stupid thing and had endangered both my life and his.
Then he left and I walked my bike to 40th street and then spent the rest of the morning following every...single...traffic...rule. If you subtract the 13 minutes I lost getting the ticket and another 10 doing a one time extra delivery for my boss, it tacked on roughly 35 minutes to my otherwise 3 hour route.
I've been pretty wary of the NYPD after some bad run-ins and after their behavior during the RNC. The NYPD had fire engines go through civic minded crowds of yielding Critical Mass riders only to swing them across the avenue and have the police arrest the people that had let them through. The people who got arrested were detained for more than the alotted time in holding pens that had chemical waste in them. Most people had to wait months to get their bikes back. I stillI depend very much on the cops though. If I get doored, I need them to process an accident report, if Laura had gotten the license number of that awful man in a minivan that hit her with his mirror I would have demanded that they arrest the guy for doing a hit and run.
The cop that got me this morning did everything by the book, he was pissed but not irrational and I have to say gave me exactly what I deserved. I got caught this time but I've eluded the cops on four other occasions that I will not go into for obvious reasons. It looks like I will be paying a total of $150 for these four tickets, which is pretty paltry considering the thousands and thousands of times I broke the law while working or commuting.
This has become a long an rambling post. To make up for it, I've searched Google Images to find you this picture of Captain Kangaroo as a reward for struggling with me. Thank you.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Every year around this time, when the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, more and more people get on their bikes and ride around New York. Of them, there is a special subset who try to race me, they are the cross-trainters. The cross-trainers are the guys who have spent the winter in gyms lifting weights, running in place and sweating their asses off racing one another in spinning classes. When the weather gets warm enough, they get on their bikes and try to prove their mettle racing me through traffic, up bridges and through congested park drives.
They usually have enourmous arms, great tans and expensive bikes. One of these guys will see me in traffic, they'll chase me with a huge burst of energy sprint and will whizz past me. Then I'll follow them for about a block just to see if they have any technique whatsoever then I'll pass them. They'll get a little bit peeved, try to catch up, but then find out that maneuvering through New York City traffic and blowing red lights requires something greater than a 40 bpm resting heart rate and great deltoids.
Yes, I realize that this is silly, peurile, elitist behavior. Yes, I know that it cheapens me and denigrates my charachter to mention it in a forum as public as this, but god damn it's just so...much...fun!
Yesterday on the bridge I had a particularly good time. I was going from Manhattan to Brooklyn on the Williamsburg Bridge, passing people on the way up. This is not so much machismo as smart practice, since I have only one gear and if I lose momentum I'm screwed. I passed this big huge brute of a guy who could clearly bench my and his bodyweight combined. He had these ridiculously large calves that looked like ham hocks. After I passed him I heard him start breathing harder and out of the corner of my eye I saw his shadow lurking behind me. I sprinted the rest of the way up the bridge and started on the gradual descent near the middle of the bridge. As I got into the final ramp of the bridge, going 23mph, I again saw his shadow getting bigger, he had a lot more gravity on his side and he wanted to pass me bad before the bridge was over. I cranked it up to 32mph and made it off the bridge, he turned a different way and I never saw him again. Good times.