How good should a bike look, and what in the first place is “good?” It’s anybody’s call, it’s “up to the individual” and there’s no harm done and what’s it to anyone if, in these times of earthquakes and tsunamis and wars and enviro-zasters and language extinctions happening once a week as I type this, if somebody’s interpretation of la ultima creme de la creme is beyond the line where I draw if for myself (or my company, whatever)?
A good case can’t be made for line drawing, period, but a good case can’t be made for free will, and lots of people still believe in that; or for acai berries, and people are eating those up the wazoo, and they do no harm. It doesn’t matter what a good case can be made for, anyway. On top of that, nobody is the arbiter of good taste, and who can say what’s bad taste?
This may or may not relate to anything. It might be a fire lit by a spark that took off in the wrong direction, after an extreme gust hit it from the side, and rather than blowing it out, just blew it off course and increased its emberness so when it landed it burned down town Inverness, or a forest, or a pile of old car tires.. It’s not worth losing sleep over (it is 3 a.m., but I blame that on jet lag). It’s not worth anything, but Blogland is where things not worth anything in the real world can come to mean something, in the sense that they can get you thinking or stir debate, or reveal a truth or make you chuckle, or inspire a revolution, or be cathartic or just kill time. It’s where and when beating around the bush is in mortal combat with not getting to the point, and both are allowed, and sometimes applauded.
Chunky leather seat-mounted mini tool bags with Buffalo Bill Cody style fringe on them are available in any color you want. They’ve popped up on the other side of the planet, and like mushrooms that weren’t there last week, they’re covering the ground today. The fringe, you may argue, makes a lot of sense for a leather bag. Fringe on the reddish brown suede jackets so popular in the late ’60s and early ’70s among young stoners originated on —- I’m no Indianologist —- but I do know that the native Americans (OK?) and wild-westerners wore the fringe to keep the rain off. It soaked up the rain and protected the amount of solid leather underneath it. Then, being fringey and not solid, when better weather came around again, air circulated around each strand and dried it faster than a solid slab-o-leather could dry. This is something you may not have known without reading this, and at worst you can say “I didn’t need to know that,” but at best it’s a fact that is worth knowing anyway, and it will give you a different twist on things the next time you see a fringe jacket in hot weather; or even more, when it’s wet.
So, relating this to bikestuff, a case can be made for fringed mini chunky seat bags. You could saturate the whole bag, fringe and all, with Obenauf’s or Neatsfoot Oil, or Sno Seal, or Pecard’s, or Pure Lanolin, or you could just let the leather do its trick. But my guess is that the fringed seat bag buyers would remove the fringed seat bag during Thunder Cloud times.
A bag that weighs more empty than the contents it carries is quite a bag. A rack that shows off its beauty and never covers itself with a bag or basket is quite a rack. A bike and every part on it should (“shoulds” are OK now and then, no matter what they told you in the late ’70s) serve a function. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it nicely, or artifully, or even beautifully. I would say the best (value judgement time!) do that, and ‘m not the arbiter of taste, but I’m all for it beaunction. I want to coin b-words.
The bikes that we do—-from the lugs to the tube diameters to the fork crowns and forks, to the dropouts and badges —-are not down-and-dirty. There is a concern for appearances behind the whole package, and somebody’s taste is in there, too. They’re not entirely compromise-free, all the time, all the models. Price dictates some of the calls; it has to. Overall, though, there’s a look shot for within the price limits, and we generally hit that look. It may not be the look you’d shoot for, but if you’re reading this, it’s a solid bet (we all know) that you either love to hate what you read or we have some bike tastes in common. It’s not all-or-nothing. I hate it when I hear somebody say, “I drank the Kool-Aid” or say to somebody else, “Boyoyboy, you sure drank the Kool-Aid.” It’s not Kool-Aid. It’s not anything to drink or spit up.
Everybody should (love those shoulds) work here for a month and see what it’s like. That’s not an invitation. We’re accepting no free offers for unpaid internships. You can’t come by for a day and shoot a school project film about what goes on here; you won’t get it, but you’ll think you did, and your teacher may give you an A, but everybody here would give you a Z-minus. It’s not magic here, and it may not be more unique than any other place of business, but there’s a tone inside the bubble that (it is now 3:33 a.m.—old SunTour time! Sheldon would have gotten the reference) — that is easy to live with here. It may come from working here —- if it did, I am super proud —- but more likely it was there all along and maybe just got developed here some, and because of the environment, is allowed to show. Nobody here is a bike fetishist. Jay is an artist when he assembles your bike, and a cowboy on his own. He has a history that seems like it could have or should have or if only something were minorly different would have made him a super fetishist, but he’s too much of a natural for any of that. Or maybe “too much of a natural” is attributing things to too much unseen and unverifiable things, in which case it’s better to just say, “for whatever reason, he didn’t go that way.” Robert, who never reads these posts (I am sure) destroys perfectly good bike parts intended for Function A and turns them in to super fantastic one-of-a-kind solutions for problems that nobody else can solve. He teaches Vaughn, though, so in 30 years Vaughn will take over as the master of That.
I don’t need to run down the list. When you are around bikes enough, you get slack around them, and you find out that nothing bad happens. About 33 years ago some winter I was at Tom Ritchey’s cabin in the hills, and to my horror there were three rusty Ritchey frames hanging in the drizzle outside the barn. I was horrified and expressed it somehow, and he said, “I’ll get them in here sometime. I was just trying something out; they have no home, it’s not big deal.” That’s one way to get slack that’s one extreme degree of slackness, but there was a lesson in there, too.
I’ll tell you another Tom Ritchey (not “Ritchie”) story. No—- I may have told it before. I know I’ve told the crew here, and maybe I’m just confused. I don’t want to repeat myself in the blogworld, though. It has to do with a hammer, that’s all I’ll say. He is good with a hammer, he doesn’t fear steel; he understands it quite well and can maniupulate it magicianlike.
A bike should look only so fancy. There’s a line. It’s easy to cross it. Bikes that win awards at bike shows often cross my personal line, but not the lines of the judges. It’s kind of a Normal Jean or Marilyn Monroe? thing. I meant Norma, but normal works. I believe more in muscle memory than in the subconscious. The one that’s easier to prove gets my vote. Sorry about this; will be replaced in a few days. It’s 3:54 and this is going nowhere. On the long plane ride, I read a bunch of short stories (10,000 to 12,000 words) that ended too abruptly. This post has a worse ending, but at least the stories were good along the way. Best American Short Stories of 2010. I got it at the airport. I’d like to read the ones that almost, but didn’t quite, make the book.
I just checked my email and this came in. It’s a column worth reading, and is intended to make up for what you’ve been reading. It’s a Nicholas Kristoff NY Times column about the Libya thing. I was too uninformed to have an opinion about Libya, but I am following it. I know that I don’t know much. I know what I think, or at least thought, or hoped, or had a hunch about, but this column changes things a little for me. It may not do that for you, but it’s still worth reading.