It’s kind of like Disney on Ice, except with more Hipster Douchemonkeys and less ice.
For several years, mostly during the mid-late 80′s and very early 90′s, I was a bicycle messenger. A real, working bicycle messenger in DC and NYC who supported myself (and a few bands) by avoiding buses, cops, cabs, and women drivers from New Jersey for 10 hours each day.
It wasn’t easy, but it paid fairly well and it gave me the autonomy that was necessary for a personality like mine. Sure, I’ve had office and “service” jobs like normal people from time-to-time, but most of those jobs unceremoniously ended with me telling someone to go f**k themselves, so eventually I just stopped trying to do the ordinary American shtick. It wasn’t easy. Multiple hospitalizations, no health insurance, and shyster bosses taxing my commissions to buy methadone were par for the course.
There were high points to the job, however, and one of the highest points was the day I got my first 21-speed mountain bike.
Oh dear god, it made life so much easier. Suddenly, the Chinese Embassy on Connecticut Ave. wasn’t so far away anymore. I could throw the chain on the little ring going up the hill, then throw it on the big ring and come back down like a raped ape on crack. It was life-altering.
Soon, most messengers had one of these bikes, and really … why wouldn’t they?
If you make a living with a tool, then you naturally get the best tool that you can afford. Anything less would be nonsensical.
Flash forward to today. 2010 Seattle.
I’ve yet to see a derailer on Capitol Hill, First Hill, Downtown, Belltown, or damn near anywhere in this city.
I don’t know.
Seattle is one of the hilliest cities in the USA. Denny Way, Olive, and Pine are brutal. Yet, everywhere you look, you see kids with pierced tongues (and probably trust funds) riding rat bikes that the real messengers of the 70′s and 80′s would have killed to unload on some poor, unsuspecting, suburban dillweed.
It just goes to prove that people will endure anything, including abject physical pain to maintain some kind of fake “alt” image. You might say that fixed gear bikes are the Apple Computers of bicycles. Just a huge fucking cry for help.
It’s not all bad, though. These guys have become my circus clowns. My comic relief. Every time, and I mean EVERY time I see one of these vinegar receptacles pass me by, I laugh.
You see, I know what they are experiencing. I’ve been there. I know what it feels like to pedal all over a city with one gear.
Trust me, if your income depended on it, and I mean really and truly depended on it (ie. no loving mother and father with corporate jobs to fall back on if you need them for dough) … you wouldn’t do it. You wouldn’t ride these goddamn things. You’d get a geared bike, and you would thank Jesus, Hey Zeus, Buddha, and Mohammed that you lived in a day and age where human ingenuity was applied to such a useful and efficient machine as the bicycle.
If your income didn’t depend on it, however, and you didn’t want to get the most out of your rides … you would continue to ride lame relics because your commitment to hipster poser-worship and some misguided “retro” fantasy was stronger than your desire to actually, you know, RIDE your bike. And while you were doing so, you would be providing me with copious amounts of free entertainment.
Dance monkey, Dance.