Monday, June 30, 2008

I Never Thought I'd See The Day - USNews and World Report is Trying to Sell Bikes

Hell must have frozen over because this article from one of the bigger news magazines around looks like it belongs in Bicycling Magazine. The laundry list of evidence in the article about the increased use of bicycles almost feels like a critical mass of bicycling is occurring.


In a country where most grown-ups regard bicycles as kid stuff, there are plenty of signs that attitudes are beginning to shift. Bike stores and manufacturers across the nation are reporting significant upticks lately in sales. "They're selling out of all the commuting bikes—all bikes, by the way—that they can get their hands on," says Bill Fields, a consultant who has followed the bicycle industry for decades and anticipates a 20 percent bump in the "comfort bike" category, which includes commuting bikes, by year's end. Meantime, a bill that will allow employers to offer financial incentives to bicycle commuters is winding its way through the House and Senate. A recently unveiled bike-sharing program in Washington, D.C., which allows members to use bikes from 10 rental locations with the swipe of a card, has spurred interest in other cities. And, in Austin, Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong recently opened a cycling shop that caters not to racing enthusiasts but to commuters. Barack Obama recently met with bicycle advocates and promised that he would increase funding for bicycling projects, while potential Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has taken to biking around Little Rock, Ark.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - New Order

I was reading a list of "classic music videos" as compiled by director Michel Gondry this past week. See the list here. A lot of interesting picks. Some obvious like Peter Gabriel's, Sledgehammer, and some not so obvious...(Téléphone, ''Un Autre Monde'' ?). However I was most struck by this video for Perfect Kiss being on the list. It's a good song but I had forgotten what an odd yet hypnotic video this was, especially back in the heyday of Michael Jackson and Madonna on MTV in 1985.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bike Photo of the Day - Mountains!?

Yesterday I went for a ride to check out the handling on my new Gunnar and lo and behold I noticed that Reno seems to be surrounded by Mountains! With so many days of haze from the CA fires I had almost forgotten.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bicycling Does Not Make You Nuts!

Indeed, I'd say it makes you sane. I love that this article [Thanks to the BOB list for the pointer] presents cycling as the smart choice without getting rabidly anti-car, enviro-crazy, etc.


Riding a bike makes logical sense. A car, truck or bike is nothing but a tool to get you from point A to point B. Let's say an average man weighs 200 pounds. The average car weighs 4,000 pounds. If you are using a 4,000 pound car as your tool to move a 200-pound object, to get from point A to point B, that�s a bit capricious, isn't it?

It takes a lot less energy to move a 20-pound bike than a vehicle that's 20 times your weight.
It does make sense to use a motorized vehicle to haul more bodies, especially if you're talking mass transit.

Ironically, Williams lives a stone's throw from a gas station. He watches motorists each day pull up to the pump and fill their car. He has a word for those who believe they have no choice but to fill up: gas addicts. John keeps odometers on his bikes, and said he regularly logs at least 100 miles each week just running around town, which is equivalent to about $30 worth of gas.

[Image courtesy of Copenhagen Cycle Chic.]

Thursday, June 26, 2008

No Bicycling Makes Me Crazy!

If, like me, you are hesitant to ride in the crappy air quality we are now enjoying, here is a little something to keep you amused: Bicycling TV. It's an online sitcom of sorts centering around bicycle culture in Portland. Yes, it's a bit amateurish but that's part of its charm. It doesn't have a laugh track which is always a good thing. Each of the 20+ episodes are only around 5 minutes long. Here is episode #1:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Paris and Biking

My favorite Paris blog has had a couple of recent entries on cycling worth checking out. That is, if you can handle pics of people biking nude. You've gotta love the French for using any excuse they can come up with for biking or for getting naked! And, if you can do them both at once...well, all the better!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Another Tom Waits Review - El Paso

My fellow crazy Tom Waits friend, "J", that met me in Phoenix last week for the opening night of the tour sent me these comments on the El Paso show that he attended last Friday. Interesting that the sets were so different! Sorry I missed out on the Key to the City presentation as well and I would have loved to have seen him perform the song, Dirt in the Ground. I've used the lyrics to that song in my classes during my poetry unit.


Tom did only about half of the same songs in El Paso that he did in Phoenix. The band had tightened up a little and Omar shined a bit more. One important thing I noticed was that the sound mix was better in El Paso. You could really distinguish each musician's contribution. That was nice.

At the beginning of the piano/bass set of the show a police officer came out onto the stage and faced Tom. Tom was asking what was going on and then started rattling off a bunch of great quips like: "I paid all those tickets earlier in the week," and "She was dead when I got there." Then some woman who the locals seemed to recognize came out and presented Tom with the Key to the City of El Paso. He made of few good jokes about that too, like "You know this key actually opens any lock in this city. I'm just saying that if you come home some night and I'm sitting in your living room in my underwear . . . we have an understanding."

He also told a joke. I think he was more comfortable after cutting his teeth in Phoenix. The joke was "You know why shrimps [sic] don't give money to charity? . . . They're shellfish." Then, by way of apology, he added, "My wife told me not to tell that joke . . . but she's not here."

All in all there were two more songs played in Phoenix than in El Paso and the Phoenix show lasted about 10 minutes longer. I was really suprised tht he droped "eyeball Kid", which struck me as kind of a highlight/centerpiece of the Phoenix show. Can't say that there was a number in El Paso that served as the same.

Below is a comparison of the song listss between the two cities:

New Songs at El Paso
Falling Down
Fannon Street
Metropolitan Glide
The Other Sideof the World (from the Night on Earth Soundtrack!)

Piano/Bass Set
Lucky Day
presentation of (Keys to the City of El Paso)
House Where Nobody Lives
Lost in the Harbor (Tom played the chamberlain)

Make it Rain
Dirt in the Ground

Murder in the Red Barn
Black Market Baby
Anywhere I Lay My Head
Cemetery Polka
Eyeball Kid
Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis
Picture in a Frame
Invitation to the Blues
Innocent When You Dream

George Carlin - "Stuff" Happens - R.I.P.

Carlin will always be remembered for his 7 words routine but I was always partial to his bit on our obsession with STUFF.

Things More Muslim than Obama

I can't help but laugh at this site from a local blogger friend. So witty and smart. So far, Kool and the Gang, John McCain, George W. Bush, Adam Sandler, and Alec Baldwin are all more Muslim than Obama! And who knew that Shriners were so menacing?

Who knows how many more people will be more Muslim than Obama before the November election?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Aimee Mann

Aimee Mann's new album is getting rave reviews and I have no doubt it's a good record. She's been making amazing music for a long time now. I just heard she's over 50! Now there is something to make me feel old. Below is a track off her new disk and one of my personal favorites from an earlier solo record performed live.

Friday, June 20, 2008

My New Gunnar Cross Bike

A few photos of my new Gunnar Crosshairs. I wanted a workhorse non-boutiquey (sp?) frame that had room for bigger tires. I switched the parts from my new/old bike and voila! I can't wait to take it on some multi surface rides. And it will be a great commute ride come fall when I head back to school. CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO PULL UP MUCH LARGER VERSIONS or check them out on my flickr site.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tour de Nez 2008 Day 1 Photos

Here's a sampling of a few images I took last night at the Grand Sierra Resort. Click on my flickr account for more. It's a shame the Reno portion of the event is at a location that isn't the easiest, or safest, to get to by bike. But the racing was good.

Went to Hell, Found Jesus... a Tom Waits Concert Review

Or more accurately, I went to Phoenix (freakin’ 112 degrees!) and found Tom Waits. But as the Waits’ song goes, “Jesus Gonna Be Here,” so I was forewarned.

After too many years to count I finally got to see Tom in concert and it did not disappoint. Part carnival barker, part preacher, he rumbled through a 24 song set that included songs from all periods of his career but featured the junkyard blues of the last few albums more prominently. There was no way to expect that he would perform every song that I would have like to hear him perform from his 3+ decade career but the song selection did not disappoint. Highlights included some of his well-known songs like Hoist that Rag, and Goin’ Out West but also featured the Faulkneresque, Murder in the Red Barn (a favorite of mine) and a reinterpretation of the Eyeball Kid where Tom turned himself into a human disco ball courtesy of a mirrored hat.

Waits also included four piano ballads accompanied by only his upright bass player. He turned “Innocent When You Dream” into a sing-along inviting the crowd provide backup.

The opening night of any tour generally has a few hiccups and this was certainly the case in Phoenix. While each of the supporting musicians were individually strong there were a few times where the band struggled a bit to find the groove of a song. The beauty of this was that we got to see Tom step in as a conductor perched center stage on a box and coax and prod the band to exactly where he wanted them before launching into another howling vocal. If there is one thing that I learned after seeing him in concert it was how much control he has over his voice. For the uninitiated Tom’s voice can elicit perplexed looks. But it was clear he knows exactly what he is doing with his voice whether he is howling, whispering, growling, or moaning.

Another artist I can check off of my list of people to see before I die. Here is the setlist:

Lucinda w/ Ain't goin Down to the Well for chorus
Hoist That Rag
Come On Up To The House
Jesus Gonna Be Here
Black Market Baby
Raindogs w/ Russian Dance as chorus
Trampled Rose
Goin Out West
Murder in the Red Barn
Anywhere I Lay My Head
Cemetery Polka
Get Behind the Mule
Eyeball Kid
Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis
Picture in a Frame
Invitation to the Blues
Innocent When You Dream
Lie to Me
Chocolate Jesus
Make it Rain

Down in the Hole
God's Away on Business

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tom Waits In Concert

Ok, not really for you. But as this post is published on my blog I will be watching Tom Waits in concert in Phoenix. Rather than post a poor video of some concert footage I thought I'd put this great clip from Jim Jarmusch's, Coffee and Cigarettes. Iggy Pop and Tom Waits having a conversation...I can't help but wonder if any of this was adlibbed? I'll post a mini review of the concert Wednesday or Thursday.

A Bike Video That Should Not Be Missed

This is a lecture about public policy and bicycle culture. I know, I know...a lecture that should not be missed? YES! I wish I could strap all city planners and politicians down and make them watch this.

One of the most interesting points is that despite the common belief that places in Europe like Amsterdam and Copenhagen have such a strong bicycle culture because Europe has always had a strong bike culture. Untrue! These cities made a conscientious effort in the 1970s to change the way they were designing cities to cater to the use of bicycles for transportation. And not just in the city centers but throughout their citywide transportation plans.

This recent article on U.S. cities that have a history of promoting cycling underscores the importance of VISION from our public servants and citizens in regards to transportation planning.

U.S. cities that have long promoted bicycle use by commuters are now seeing a steady rise in the popularity of pedal power as gasoline prices soar.

Campaigns originally designed to cut down on traffic and pollution are now paying off for people looking for an option to driving with national gas prices averaging a record $4 per gallon.

People in cities such as Chicago, Washington and Portland, Oregon, can take advantage of bicycle lanes, bike-friendly transit systems and bike-parking locations built in recent years.

"Twelve years ago, I would bike down to City Hall and often it was a lonely ride," said Ben Gomberg, Chicago's bicycle program coordinator. "Today, there are often 17 or 18 riders stopped at the intersections."

Unlike Europeans, Americans use bikes for transport sparingly, even though 40 percent of personal trips in the United States are two miles or less, according to bicycle advocates.

In a country famous for its love of cars and driving, less than 1 percent of personal trips are by bike compared with up to 30 percent in some parts of Europe, campaigners say.

But rates of bike use in some U.S. cities are significantly higher thanks to recognition by urban planners of the environmental, economic and health benefits.

In Portland, widely regarded as America's most bike-friendly city, 5.4 percent of people said in a 2006 survey that the bicycle was their primary means of getting to work.

Photo from Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

Monday, June 16, 2008

2008 Nevada Bicycle Classic Photos

Had a great time up at NV City yesterday. Here are a few photos from the day. More exist on my flickr site so pop over there if you want to see more. Just like last year the women's race was a highlight. Note also that Spencer Ericksen (did I spell his last name correctly?) of the Reno Wheelmen won the Cat. 3 race. Bonus points to the fellow wearing the knee length pink and green argyle socks.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Artown Feature - Andrew Bird and Mandy Patinkin

Two highlights of this year's Artown for me are definitely the Andrew Bird and Mandy Patinkin performances. Here's the video for Bird's"Imitosis"

And, I was torn about what to show for Mandy Patinkin. One of his odd performances from the Letterman show, his cameo in Run Ronnie Run, or a clip of his most well-known role from the Princess Bride. In the end I have to go with his extraordinary performance of, "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" What a great political song, and man, can Patinkin sing!

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Barack Obama Bike Watch

[pic from the Chicago Tribune]

Despite the rash of articles criticizing Obama's bike, fit, helmet, etc. from the past weekend it appears that he is ready and willing to work towards increasing cycling in this country, not just as a recreational activity but as transportation. Hopefully his meeting with bike industry leaders will start getting more play than some pictures of him riding his bike with his daughter.


Obama Pledges Funding for Cycling

CHICAGO, IL (BRAIN)—Barack Obama, in a private 20-minute meeting with members of the Bikes Belong board of directors, told them if he were elected president he would increase funding for cycling and pedestrian projects. And the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also said he would support Safe Routes to Schools programs.

He also told them he seldom makes promises on what he would do if elected president, but that this was a promise he would keep. Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, laid out the industry’s position on boosting funding for cycling-related projects and for Safe Routes to Schools at the meeting.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) called the opportunity for industry leaders—both suppliers and retailers—to meet privately with a presidential candidate so early in a campaign for the White House was historic. “It’s important for this industry to understand that it is a force,” said Blumenauer, shortly after Obama left the event.

Stan Day, SRAM’s president, said that Obama “gets it.” He pointed out that Obama understands that bicycles can be part of a solution to issues as diverse as health care, obesity, energy and environmental policy. “He does his homework and he can connect the dots,” he said.

Of the estimated 160 guests who turned out for the event, Day estimated close to 60 represented the bicycle industry ranging from suppliers, retailers and advocates. Among the guests were Greg LeMond and his wife, Kathryn. Obama, in his remarks to the guests, thanked the LeMonds for attending.

Chris Kegel, owner of Wheel & Sprocket, a six-store chain of stores in the greater Milwaukee area, drove to Chicago early Thursday evening to attend the fundraiser at the home of F.K. Day and his wife, Leah. Day is vice-president of SRAM.

“I think it’s very important that we (the bicycle industry) were involved with this type of event,” Kegel said. Kegel added that he personally supports Obama and believes that Obama can help end the partisanship that divides the country.

The Slow Movement

I was rather shocked to see this article as the lead story on the other day. Is taking it easy and slowing your life down good for your health and the health of our democracy? The article seems to suggest this conclusion. Check out the interactive calculator to figure out how much of your time is spent on work, sleep, leisure, commuting, meals, etc.

Yet Another "High Prices of Gas Lead People to Bike" Story

It's pretty much the same story I keep seeing popping up all over the country. It's like a corporate memo went out. This one does have a video link worth watching.

I love the justification for not riding from one interviewee in the story [sarcasm]:

"I take the freeway pretty much everywhere, so I can't really ride a bike on the freeway," said driver Grant Theophilus.

Gosh, when I drive to work I use 395 for part of my route. When I bike, I don't. Gasp, I take an alternate, and more bike friendly route. Shocking.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Nevada City Bicycle Classic

The race is this Sunday and is always a good time. Last year I was there and saw some great racing, particularly in the women's field. Shelley Olds is a power house. Worth the trip. I'll post photos of the event on Monday.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Wilco

I've never fully understood what this song is about. But it is so beautiful in a melancholic way. I love the lines:

"You were right about the stars.
Each one is a setting sun."

There also seems to be a nod to 9/11 with a few of the lines. The video itself is from the documentary, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. It's one of the best music docs I've seen.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Apparently Barack Obama DOES Bike

I originally mentioned Obama's biking in a previous post but since I now have video documentation of him biking with his family I thought I should follow it up. Quote:

"We've been going at a pretty fast clip, I intend to take the weekend off, and I'm going to take my wife out on a date. I hope to go on a bike ride with my kids."

- Barack Obama, New York Times, June 6, 2008 (courtesy the San Francisco Bike Coalition)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Radiohead

My brother-in-law warned me that if I didn't post this I would...well, something bad would happen. Indeed this recreation of the Radiohead song, Nude, from their last album is amazing. I'd recommend fast forwarding to the one minute mark to get to the song itself. It's interesting that the one criticism I've heard over the years of Radiohead is that their sound can be a bit cold and mechanical. I'm not saying I agree with this but this particular song in its original form has Thom Yorke delivering one of his most soulful and emotional vocal performances ever. The fact that the artist who put this version together using electronic noises and chose this song to recreate ends up being quite ironic. In effect, if you believe Radiohead are cold and mechanical then this version "outradioheads" Radiohead. For good measure I'm including a live performance of the same song below. See if you agree if it isn't one of Yorke's most affecting performances.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Car Meets Bikes - And a final bike to work challenge update

I've been debating whether or not to post this photo the last few days and finally decided to go ahead and put it up. It is a gruesome story but if you want to read what happened go here.

In other happier news this week I achieved my goal of 1000 miles of bike commuting over the last 2.5 months or so. Tuesday I crossed the line with 1016 commute miles although technically since I went in yesterday to finish up some last minute paperwork, classroom cleaning, and boxing up, I could probably tack on an extra 25 miles. I'm going to take it as a good sign that this milestone quietly passed. Over the last few years of bike commuting bicycling has become so integrated into my life that it hardly needs to be mentioned. Just like others just grab their keys and drive I suppose. Maybe my bike commute experiences will someday be the norm and the autocentric attitudes that pervade society will seem like the insanity they are...someday.

Addendum: In a weird convergence of the two topics above..."Vegas teacher struck by van, killed bicycling to school" - My condolences to the family.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Perfect Coffee Shop Bike

I had been trying to sell my Milwaukee Bicycle Co. bike (made by Waterford). But since that never quite worked out I made the decision to change it from my dropbar gofast fixed gear to a coffee house cruiser with swept back handlebar, speedblend tires, and a beautiful bike bell that I picked up in Paris the last time I was there. This will be my perfect summer cruise to the coffee shop, store, or downtown to a movie, bike. I expect it to get a lot of use once I get done grading finals.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Perfect Cure for Finals Week Funk

Unlike the last couple of semesters this finals week has put me in something of a funk. Maybe because I know I'm going to miss some of my great students from this past year. The other night I was looking around for a movie in my collection to cheer me up and I came across the woefully ignored film, Dick, starring Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst. I don't know what Hollywood executive greenlit a "teen comedy" that's laughs come from extensive knowledge of Watergate, the Vietnam War, Nixon, All the President's Men, and funkalicious 70s music. I guess I know a few teenagers that would get the references thankfully. Unfortunately the film never found its audience. But that shouldn't stop people from renting it. I was never much of a fan of Williams or Dunst until I saw this film. And Dan Hedaya is a trip as the title character, "Dick" Nixon. I now consider it a gem of a film that could realistically be called a little masterpiece. It hits every mark it means to. Something few films can claim.

Unfortunately Youtube is rather barren of good clips from the film. I did find this one but it doesn't really capture the magic. I guess this just means that people who love this film are that much cooler than everybody else...or maybe not. If you want to see something really funny check out the Grand Funk Railroad song below. "Locomotion" is featured in the film.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Amanda Blake Art - Walter Arrives

I previously posted about how much I like Amanda Blake's art here. So I thought I would mention the latest acquisition to the art collection: Walter.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Reno officially has the highest gas prices?

Ever since someone commented on my blog about this sign I'd been meaning to swing by and take a photo. This morning I finally had the chance to check it out. Now, I'm no math teacher, but something about the decimal point placement, or lack of decimal points, strikes me as being a bit off. Either the owners of this gas station didn't make it past sixth grade math or they are the smartest business people around. That is, assuming people are buying $4000 gas. I'm just glad I got rid of my old car that needed Premium unleaded. That and I've been racking up the miles for my bike to work challenge.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - David Bowie and Lou Reed

Ever since a colleague burned me a documentary on the making of Transformer I've been revisiting my favorite early 70s music. What luck to find two of my favorite artists performing a favorite song off of one of my favorite albums. Unfortunately, it's also a reminder that when I saw Bowie many years ago he failed to perform one song off of Hunky Dory (or Ziggy Stardust). What the hell?! Sigh...I'm almost over it.