Who are we? We are our stories.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

WE WIN!!! (finally)

"The Supreme Court has made its decision and I will abide by the results," Coleman told reporters outside his St. Paul home.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sheldon Brown

The two pictures below were taken by Sheldon Brown, a picture of Giverny taken with a homemade filter and a '52 Desoto. Mostly to get your attention - "You can never have too many pictures or pie charts".

I first discovered Sheldon Brown a number of years ago. I had an obscure bicycle problem and someone suggested Sheldon, because, "He knows everything". I assumed that meant he knew a lot about bicycles. No, he knew "everything". Everything about a whole lot of subjects. He reviewed a movie every day, various books and plays, sang in musicals, repaired cameras, answered 200 emails a day, took photos, read voraciously and wrote. He was a funny man with a huge, quirky intellect that masqueraded as a bicycle mechanic. I bought a bicycle from him and over the years we discussed (argued) about everything from Mark Twain to the morality of the military draft (he was wrong). Even when he was defending a shakey position he was always rational, thoughtful and courteous. If you were going to argue with Sheldon, you had better have your shit together.

He fought MS for last years of his life. From his THE BRIGHT SIDE OF MS:
"There's nothing like not being dead to improve a fellow's outlook!"
He died early last year from a heart attack.

The Sheldon Brown Appreciation Society on Facebook now has 731 members. An extensive collection of his random thoughts are posted on the Sheldon Brown Homepage , and on Wikipedia where he is refered to as "(bicycle mechanic)". Somehow that doesn't seem like enough.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

1952 Vincent Black Lightning

While we've a motorcycle theme running here I thought a little Del McCoury might be in order. I opted for Del rather than the Richard Thompson version even though he wrote it, because McCoury simply OWNS it.

Says James, in my opinion, there's nothing in this world

Beats a 52 Vincent and a red headed girl

Now Nortons and Indians and Greeveses won't do

They don't have a soul like a Vincent 52

He reached for her hand and he slipped her the keys

He said I've got no further use for these

I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome

Swooping down from heaven to carry me home

And he gave her one last kiss and died

And he gave her his Vincent to ride

The McCoury band is one of the few bluegrass bands that still has a blues soul to it. Also, this clip includes GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES AND PRAY which has the McCoury family single mic dance, lean in, lean out volume control at it's best. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Oh, what the hell, here's Richard Thompson too.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Big Sid's Vincati

After a fury of emails back and forth between Matthew Biberman and myself regarding his book BIG SID'S VINCATI, I have ordered the book from him rather than the big boy, paying a $10 premium, because I'd put money in his pocket than Amazon's. Review upcoming. Stay tuned.

Shop Class as Soulcraft

Looking for some light summer reading, I went to the bookshelf and pulled out an old underlined copy of Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I was a third of the way way through when this showed up on the literary horizon. It looks like I may have a lighter pull for my follow up.

"Stumped by a starter motor that wouldn't work, he eventually met a mechanic named Fred Cousins, who ran a few tests before quickly diagnosing the problem. "Then Fred gave me a succinct dissertation on the peculiar metallurgy of these Honda starter-motor bushings of the mid-70s," Crawford writes in his newly published book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work (Penguin Press, 2009).

In his book Crawford argues for a fresh view of skilled labor, especially that of the traditional trades. Go ahead, he's saying: Get your hands dirty. Own your work.

His book mixes descriptions of the pleasures and challenges of diagnosing faulty oil seals and rebuilding engines with philosophical views of work — he draws upon Aristotle, Martin Heidegger, and Hannah Arendt, among others — and economic analyses for the decline of skilled labor. He laments in particular the recent demise of high-school shop classes, which gave many young men their first manual skills. (Crawford points out that his arguments apply equally to women and says he hopes one day to work on a 1960 Volkswagen bug with his two young daughters.)

Skilled manual labor is far more cognitive than people realize, Crawford argues, and deserves more respect. That is especially true during tough economic times, when an independent tradesperson can make a decent and dignified living, and — this is important — can't be outsourced. (You can't get your car fixed in China.) "The question of what a good job looks like — of what sort of work is both secure and worthy of being honored — is more open now than it has been for a long time," he writes.

Crawford believes that Americans, in their frenzy to send every kid to college in pursuit of information-age job skills, have lost something valuable. "My sense is that some kids are getting hustled off to college when they'd rather be learning to build things or fix things, and that includes kids who are very smart," he says in an interview.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Camp Creek

Crossing Camp Creek after heavy rains. Such a fine bridge to carry a narrow country lane over what is normally only a eight foot wide creek. The bridge is only one lane wide, unless you love living dangerously. During normal clear water it's worth a pause if only to count the trout staying cool in the shade below.

Add ImageView from bridge, downstream across the meadow.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pictures for Addy

This morning, June 18:
For Addy who is living in the heart of Bangkok, and misses the green parks of Minneapolis and the green gardens of Oakwood. The climbing roses are just starting the show.

Rev dick is a smartass.

Huh, Sucka?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Archdruid Report

"...economic factors have played a massive role in putting the industrial world in its current predicament, and an even more substantial role in blocking any constructive attempt to get out of the corner into which we’ve painted ourselves. There’s all too real a sense in which, if modern industrial civilization perishes, it will be because the steps necessary for its survival weren’t cost-effective enough."

I cannot recommend this too strongly. Every week it makes me think hard about what we are doing to ourselves.

The Ghost Gets Bagged

The Ghost is evolving into a fast day tourer. Because of the difficulties of installing front bags with sidepull brakes I have lived with a small seat bag for years. (No! Not Lorna!!!) The bag that I finally committed to is made by Inujirushi, which was a special order from Jitensha Studio. In hindsight I should have bought a smaller bag, particularly one that was shallower front to back. I think I was smitten by it's blue color and clean lines.

This is the chrome rack from Velo Orange. Because of all the issues involved with putting a bag on side pull brakes, it required a little modification. There was not enough clearance between the brake and the fender to insert the tange as intended. I bent the rear tange down and drilled a hole to mount it to the bolt of the Modolo brake. This may not work with all sidepulls, but the Modolo Pros have separate threading for the calipers and the fork mount. It took some bending round to get the tab angle perfect, but it works well, the caliper is snug and rotates freely. Yippee!

The V.O. provided clamps proved to be an advantage, as it allowed some flexibility in the mounting angles. After I got it loosely installed I played around with the angle and bent the rear bag loop until everything cleared the brakes and the bag sat square to the world. I still haven't drilled the front fender for the rack attachment, and this winter I'll have eyelets welded to the fork for the rack stays which should clean up the lines a little. And!...I have material set aside for white mudflaps... small white mudflaps! Oh yeah.

And for those of you who find that the angle of the bars or rack is "awkward", I submit this, a 1947 Daniel Rebour drawing of a Rene Herse. It is amazing how often the old boys had it right. Anyone want to step forward and challenge Monsieur Hearse, the frickin' le Parrain of touring bikes? Huh? Huh? I thought not.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Lighthouse Keeper's World

Pictures secreted from the Lighthouse Keeper's leather bound album, the Face Book:

The Lighthouse Keeper doesn't work in heaven, but on special hazy mornings you can see it, see heaven through the mist out on Superior to the East, just at the horizon where the silver turns to blue.

The picture to the right appears posed, as it makes it seem as if the Keeper is working. Ah, but I know him well - most of the years of his ill spent life. It is definitely posed.

In these days of radar and GPS, the big light is only fired up once a week or so, just for the tourists...and for the memory of the vigilant Keepers...who still work to keep us safe.

The shot to the left is more the way the young Keeper truly is - loose and free, comfortable in his own idleness. But still ready and able to guide a wayfaring stranger to safety or to the pie shop up the road.

And then there is the Keeper's Lady, the sweet Carolyn. As it is with most young women and men, she is more than he deserves, but nevertheless I wish her well on her chosen folly.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The 1949 Giro - Stage 23

Stage 23, the decisive day of the '49 Giro - a lesson in Greek Mythology and Cycling Mythology - riding with the Gods.

If they ever write music for Lance Armstrong I doubt it will be as classy as this. For pure romance, it's tough to beat a song sung in a language you don't really understand and pictures in black and white.

Coppi steals 12 minutes out of Bartali's life. Do you realize how much time 12 minutes is on a lone breakaway by the leader, in a sport measured in seconds? Dino Buzzati was wrong. He attributed the loss to Bartali's age. Wrong. Zeus himself could not have ridden with Fausto on that day. 12 minutes!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Gypsy Swing

Back in the 1930's Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli anchored the Hot Club of France, a quartet or quintet playing what became known as Gypsy Jazz. Finding this Gypsy Swing in Minneapolis is almost as weird as finding the Tango in Finland.

The following clips are for Chris, who is usually on top of the hip Twin Cities scene, but finds himself laid low by a long illness. Get well, son. And to Marie, who found the Midwest too slow and bucolic, so moved to the sophisticated world of L.A. But mostly to Lorna who stayed back here for the simple life.

At The Times, which Chris claims is too small for a band and dancing. Pouft! (French for, "You uncultured Americans know nothing.")

And with the beautiful Maud Hixon. Like a sweet porcelain doll.

The Clearwater Hot Club, with the Kid, Sam Miltich, who walked out of the woods north of Grand Rapids, a full grown musician. Accompanied by his father and a guy they pulled out of a polka band. God Bless Minnesota.

Parisota Hot club, with Raphaël Fraisse, a Gypsy with a fiddle who found a home in Minnesota, only to die of leukemia. He's jammin' with Django now.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Haunted Bus

Floyd Tillman, born 8 December 1914 – died 22 August 2003. Floyd was a writer of great classic country songs and a lover of Demon Rum. This one is going out to Our Boys in Harm's Way, and to Reverend Dick, a lover of fine music and cheap booze.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Béla Anton Leoš Fleck

Just strumming on the old banjo.

The Ghost of Elvis Rides Again

The Ghost has been languishing in storage with a framebuilder, who supposedly was going to build a front rack for it. Eventually I missed my old friend too much and ran out of patience.  As soon as my skin-tight, sequined cycling tights are back from the cleaners, we'll be back on the road again.  Truely a bike that makes brave men cry and pregnant women miscarry. 

This earlier post helps explain the creation of The Ghost.