Friday, January 23, 2015

The Mutual Immolation Society

I want those who get to know me... become admirers or my enemies..
-Adam Ant

Last night...apart from the usual dream wherein Claire Danes floats through my window like an angel and asks (nay, begs) for permission to ravage me (no, not ravish)... I had an anxiety dream...
....wherein I posted something on the Facebook that I regretted.

During my storied tenure with the internet vanity game, I am fairly sure (absolutely positive) that I've posted many, many, many regrettable things...but this was one of those. You know the ones. (Oh you know...) The kind of cryptic, histrionic, cringe-inducing floundering that makes even me uncomfortable. And since "cryptic, histrionic and cringe-inducing floundering" is a pretty succinct summation of what I do with this blog... if I'm getting uncomfortable, you should probably all start running. Fast.
Incidentally, here's a brief list, in no particular order, of some of the things that make me uncomfortable. Like... really and truly uncomfortable.

#1) sober dancing
#2) people loudly and unabashedly rapping to themselves on the street.
#3) when someone starts to play an acoustic guitar in a social setting that is decidedly not a music show
#4) when that person then starts to sing...
#5) the admittedly unlikely, but nonetheless often unshakable thought that a roach could have possibly climbed into my coffee beans, died, and I inadvertently ground it up and am currently drinking it as we speak (excuse me while I go throw up)
#6) The melodramatic and maudlin way in which "real men" tend to "love jesus."
#7) remembering the time I was elected "class poet" and had to read what is undoubtedly the worst poem in the history of the world at graduation (written by yours truly)
#8) remembering pretty much anything I've ever done... ever.

Outside of that, I'm pretty ok with whatever it is you've got going on.... from crying in public, to impure thoughts about other peoples' girls, to farting during oral sex. (not me, fool... you)

My anxiety-dream-facebook-post was something along the lines of, if not verbatim:

"... having a really hard time accepting the fact that the sun has risen and set on a friendship that meant a lot to me..."

Which, regardless of any truth behind most things on facebook, comes across as less honest, heartfelt sentiment... ...and more plaintive, pathetic yelp.
The kind of thing Rick ta Life would make into incomprehensible vocal noise.

Or the kind of thing John would tweet.

I woke up feeling stupid... that I'd stooped to Facebook emoting.
Then relieved... that it was just a dream.
Then stupid... that I dreamed about Facebook.

Because dreaming about social-media is decidedly not ok.

So....In case you were wondering... (We weren't)... It's not that I haven't been writing. I write almost every night. It's just that I haven't been writing for you.
And not that any of it is really for you... because it's not.
The real problem is that when I sit down to write, what comes out isn't necessarily what I set out to say. A light-hearted, aimless story about the time Rich and Ryan came to visit morphs into a unsettling discourse on self-harm and the time my name was spray-painted on the street next to a broken heart and the word "liar." (good stuff)
And just because it might have happened doesn't necessarily mean the song must be sung. Because then I start to feel like I'M that guy at the party pulling out an acoustic guitar and singing with my eyes closed while everyone exchanges head-shakes and eye-rolls.
So I sit on it. (For a little while, at least.)
Thing is...
Maybe everyone isn't keen on missives to suicidal depression. (so weird)
Maybe everyone can't really relate to a near bipolar vacillation between brooding drunken nihilism and... frenzied drunken nihilism (umm... those things)
Maybe everyone doesn't have demons (dishes) that need purging (washing) and are absolutely clueless about what I'm even referring to. (I know I am.)
Or maybe they just have more refined sensibilities about the kinds of things we talk about publicly. (They're not wrong.)

But most of all... maybe... just maybe... I don't have to post a picture of every mental shit I take to the internet.
Or "the Instagram."

Cyclocross is gross.

If Facebook is a circlejerk, Instagram is an orgy. The kind where everyone is "invited," but only a select few are really let in the mix. So you end up with all of these unwitting wallflowers on the periphery, manically beating off and desperately trying to make eye-contact with the "A-list" in hopes that they're given a wink or nod and get to come in and firmly bury their face in someone's ass.

@fixiemcchinstrap "Hey @beernbikesxveganxpugcuddles.... great pic! Soooo good."
#payattentiontomepleasegodpleaseiamcooltooisweariam #meonabike #mewithamoustache #icaremoreaboutyouthanmygirlfriend #momstopcommentingonallmypostsyouareruiningthisforme

Somehow it all seems even more pernicious than Facebook. At least as a projection of vanity. Maybe that's because Facebook just became the "second internet." That place you go to find whatever you didn't need in the first place ...and then those few things you might actually need. (Info about a business.... a link to an article....the name of that friend of a friend you totally can't remember... a picture of the girl you're currently stalking.) If you're "browsing the net" (does anyone say that?)... chances are you're on Facebook. Yeah... on some level it's still all about vanity. But the vanity isn't working, because the names all blend together, and I don't even know who most of these fucking people are or why they even added me as a friend. All I know is that they shared a video about a baby goat that gives zero fucks and it is awesome!!! (...Incidentally, what happens next will shock you...or restore your faith in humanity... plus, doctors hate him.)

Instagram, meanwhile, seems to exist for the sole purpose of magnifying our already out of control narcissism. An entire cult of personality... based on a fucking phone app. (Complete with the awesome codenames we never got to have. (As a kid, I always wanted to be called "Pony-Boy"... because I thought it sounded so "cool." In much the same way my friend Laurie always wanted her last name to be "Latrine" because it sounded so beautiful and sophisticated. (you think I can make this shit up?))
And one day....if that app vanished, I honestly think some people's entire world would topple. And they'd have to go back to looking the people around them in the eye.

And come on...I'm not saying I haven't done all this and more...or that I won't do it again. Because I totally will. (I just did it a minute ago.) And I'm not saying that I don't love it... or love all of the goofy, secret jokes and winks and nods and tugs that so many posts are. Or that I don't love the people I follow in earnest. (One of you, at least.)
I'm just saying that sometimes you snap out of it and realize you're standing in line at the supermarket looking at your fucking phone... and for what? To see if someone "hearted" the picture you took of your fucking foot or responded to the super witty comment you left them.
And when they don't... you swallow sadness that just shouldn't even exist.

And maybe it does help to promote your business.
And maybe it does provide some level of connectivity.
But sometimes it just seems like highschool again. Fractured and dumb. Cliquey and lame.
...One of the more apparent conduits of exclusion/inclusion for an entire cabal of internet disingenuity purporting to be sincerity. Are you followed by @fuckitridebikeswithmonkeys or @toiletostensibly or @ultradepression? No? Well then there's no way I'M following your ass.... I only follow the cool kids.
#wishiwaspartoftheorgy #icantakeapictureofasunsettoo #maturepornismetal
#letsallpretendwearenotcompletelyhollowinside #imbetterthanthisisweariam #ashamedofmycum

But maybe.... that's just because I don't have 5k followers plying me with vapid, sycophantic commentary. If I did, I'd be basking in my A-list status, wanking with the Mutual Admiration Society and diddling myself over how cool I am.
So.... hey....quick... go follow me! #illsuckyourdick

So what's been happening? (Well...If you followed me you'd probably know.)
Not much... And a lot.
The usual bursts of manic creativity followed by a depressive torpor.

Last Saturday, I quite impulsively signed up for the Dirty Kanza 200. (You probably saw my hilarious Instagram post though, right?)

I say "impulsively"....but it'd honestly been on my mind for a while... for whatever reason... (mumbles to self and looks wistfully toward a distant horizon... a single tear drop reflecting the orange and pink hues of the setting sun.)
("Gawd, You are so fucking weird!!!")
(...I know...)
It's the call of the mid-west, man. Wall of Voodoo knows.

200 miles on gravel roads. In Kansas.

Am I into gravel?
I'll jabber about that as we get closer to D(K)-Day... but I kind of take Tom Ritchey's perspective. (via Road Bike Review)

On Gravel Road Bikes:
I thought all road bikes were gravel road bikes? I’ve been riding my bikes on gravel and more accurately—unpaved dirt roads and trails—for decades. It’s good to see 25c tires and wider rims coming back, and more importantly the clearance on bikes to run these bigger rims and tires. For some reason the bike industry ‘innovated’ away from this many years ago, and for a while many top-end carbon bikes haven’t even had room for 25c tires, much less a broken spoke. Now we’re ‘innovating’ back to where we started. I’m glad to see it, as this style of riding is what I like to do most and it’s what my products are designed for.

Chances are, if you've been riding bikes for even a decade... and have done just a modicum of exploring... a good percentage of the roads you found yourself on turned to gravel at some point.
So am I into gravel?

Care of Rich.

I'm not not into gravel. I'm just into bikes. And riding them. All the places.

Am I into Kansas?

I don't know.
I remember riding my loaded down Univega Alpina across Kansas. It was frustrating as hell. And possibly one of the best states I went through. Yes, I missed the mountains. And I missed the rivers and trees. And yes... the wind almost kilt me dead. Many times. And yes... the horizon went on forever... Until I felt like I was riding rollers in the middle of an endless field of corn. But the people I met were some of the best. And the endless horizon really was kind of special. And the god, the stars.

It was a blip when I rode through it, leaving Colorado and heading into Kansas.... but I hear amazing things about NE.
(don't be lying to me, Grindcore!)

I hid from a Tornado in this picnic shelter. Slept on a table. Woke up to these kids poking me with a stick.
"I think he's dead."

So many people welcomed my bedraggled and less than savory looking self into their homes and lives. Amazing peeps. 

Rolling into Manhattan, KS one afternoon with no clue where I was going to stay, this drunk dude yells at me from his Frat House... "Hey biker guy! Come drink a beer with me... It's my birthday!"
So I did.

I spent the good part of a day at a bike shop in Manhattan, changing tires and giving my bike just a little bit of respite and TLC. I don't remember what shop this was, but these goons were super helpful.

That's a lot of horizon.

Watching just a few of the videos about DK200 has me salivating just a little for some big sky. I have no doubts that it will leave me a broken shell of a man. But I'm already pretty broken... just ask anyone. How much worse can it get? As for the jaunt out there...I intend to wander a little. I'll be driving Glenn Vanzig. Stopping and riding along the way. Visiting some distant friends. Seeing some shops. I'll probably retrace a few steps of the great crossing of '98.
And without a doubt, I'll find some new places and people.
I'm looking forward to it.
Even if Kansas isn't.

#dk200 #gravel #wattssucks #selfie #lumbersexual #ricktalifeonahorse #iranoutofwatertwohoursagoandhadtodrinkmyownurine #nothingnew

(And now.... I leave you with the image of me in my unders... lip-syncing to this in front of both a mirror and a terrified dog.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

If You Have Ghosts....

"And sometimes I flap my arms like a hummingbird.
Just to remind myself I'll never fly.
And sometimes I burn my arms with cigarettes..
Just to pretend I won't scream when I die."
                                         -The Handsome Family.

Spoiler alert: The kid grows up and tries to kill himself.

Like most of you, outside of time spent cursing everything and everyone involved with a holiday that seems to become increasingly more complicated and vexing each year...
...I spent at least a fraction of time reflecting on exactly what it was that I was thankful for.
And while there are many many things that I am truly thankful for... family, friends, lovers, kiddos... what honestly kept occurring to me is that at this moment in time I am most sincerely (and ironically (and unironically)) thankful for being a failure. The irony of this, of course, being that I am perpetually locked in PSYWAR with the not just the concept of "failing" but with the reality of it. Ignoring the larger war for a moment, in this one case feelings of failure win a battle, and I embrace it as a win for my side....
Because being a failure at killing yourself...well, it's kind of a-ok.

So....Do you remember your first ghost? Your first real ghost. Not some story about the Gray Man or Rene Rondolier that kept you up at night. Not the imaginary, giant, one-eyed frog who was always staring at your back when you lay in bed at night... (the... what?) Not the disembodied pair of pants that was standing on the other side of the closet door waiting for you to get up to pee (...pants?...)
Oh come on... you know you had your own equally bizarre bogie...the one that made you jump as far off your bed as possible to avoid whatever grasping hand you knew was under there.

I'm not talking about shadows on the wall... (maybe I am?)
I'm talking about that first time you really met someone who shouldn't exist...who couldn't exist.
And yet... there they were.
I do.
He came to my house...out of the blue. A faraway friend knocking on my door. He was from SanFran, and while it seemed bizarre that he should suddenly be on the other side of the country, standing on my front steps, I didn't think much of it. Stranger things had happened in my life.
He wouldn't come in the house, so instead we hung out in my front yard, talking about all of the things that budding teenagers talk about... angst and bands and girls and angst.
Sitting in the grass, absentmindedly pulling clovers as we talked, he suddenly looked up and said, "Hey. You want to catch a train with me?"
I didn't know what he meant... but catching a train sounded... right, somehow.
So we got up and ran for the train... at which point the reality sloughed off to reveal a landscape that was no longer my home... because there were no tracks near my house... no trains. Nonetheless, there they were. And it all made sense. And the place resonated with familiarity.
Trampling dandelion and clover, we chased the train.
Giules jumped on without missing a beat.
I faltered. Stumbled.
And it seemed like as fast as I ran, I still couldn't catch up.
I looked up to see the train pulling away from me. And instead of jumping off, or motioning me to come on... Giules just waved good bye.
I woke up... wondering why he was in my dream. And why it had all felt so... weird... so real. One of those dreams that sticks to you like web and follows you into the waking world.

The thing is... Giuliano Bourbon died that day.

I didn't know it at the time. Wouldn't know it for weeks to come, in fact, when I arrived back at school and some worthless fat fuck of a sociopath kid (they were all sociopaths, truth be told. All of them..) got in my face and excitedly asked if I'd heard about Giuliano.

I typed Giuliano's name into the google a moment ago to see if I could find an obit... or an old picture... or even a trace...
...and instead I found THIS.

Giuliano is the smiling imp on the right.

Read it.
It made me laugh out loud, tear up, and break out in chills all at the same time.
Fuck, man... that kid. A fucking legend.
He'd talked about the Scabs, and while I'd kind of believed him.... I still thought that he was making a bunch of it up... weaving the same bullshit that every kid does. Even the stories I'd heard about how he died seemed somehow larger than life... no pun intended.
Shows how much I knew.

Giules was my first ghost.
I don't know why he came to see me that night. Or how to correlate it with my worldview that doesn't believe in that kind of ghost story. But there it is.

These days, I see ghosts everywhere. Not in a "sixth sense" kind of way, mind you. At least I don't think so. Fuck, I hope not. It's just in a... way.
My ghosts are shades... shadows of all the other directions we go. Other paths we take. Other places we end up. Other people we are. And for the first time, I guess I'll admit that when I zone out... those times that you talk to me and you can tell that I'm just not there... chances are I'm watching the ghosts.
(Or thinking about Claire Danes. It's one of those.)

A number of years ago, I saw a movie called The Hanging Garden. It's not a happy movie, and in that way, I can't recommend it. I doubt it would ever be branded as a "ghost story." But to me, that's exactly what it was. And even if it's not a great movie... it stuck with me. Which I guess makes it great, in it's own ways. Either affected me powerfully.
Because sometimes... I think I'm the ghost.
I'm that splinter of alternate universe branching out from the reality where a car didn't swerve to avoid the man who walked in front of it...a reality where a cut was deeper and the bleeding didn't stop.
I see the ghost of me that never kissed the girl... never breathed her in.... never spun her in circles.
I see the ghost that did... and is laying next to her right now....away from here....on a a bathtub. (...what?)

When I hold my son's hand crossing the street, walking next to us I see his ghost... a grown man holding his own son's hand.
I see the happy ghosts of unhappy people....And ghosts paralyzed by anxiety, meekly falling in line behind their swaggering counterparts.

There's a ghost of me that didn't try to die one night.
And there's a ghost that did. And succeeded. (He's a double ghost. #amiright?)
And there's a ghost of Giules that didn't go elevator surfing that day, and is currently wreaking creative havok on the Bay Area and world.

I see them everyday. And once you start seeing them... you kind of can't stop. At least I can't. And most times I don't care. It's just the way my mind works... a particle collision of a million splintering possibilities and paths radiating from one single atom of a thought.

It's amazing I can function at all.

This summer, after years of misses, I finally got to see the Handsome Family play live. As I was ordering drinks at the bar, one half of the family proper and the vocal conduit for his wife Renny's amazing pictures, Brett Sparks, pulled up next to me and ordered a beer. As the first act finished up, we talked for a long while. I told him that the Handsome Family had gotten me through some very hard times in my life. He laughed and said that he hears that a lot... and that he wonders what it is about their music that does that. And that he doesn't trust "any of these fuckers that got into us through True Detective." (FYI, fuckers.) Granted.. it's a good song, but it's atmospheric nonsense. And that's not why I like the Handsome Family. I like them because they resonate, and because Renny and Brett can tell a story in one verse.
One of the most powerful, for me, is a song titled.. you'll never guess... "My Ghost."
Because I know a thing or two about that ghost. He might not drive around with a bag of dead fish (not literally, at least) or clog up the toilet with bottles of pills (once... maybe)... but he's always there, banging on my own roof. And he's wreaked a fair amount of havok in my life... and other's. Kissed people he shouldn't. Punched out windows. Kicked in doors. Stepped in front of traffic. Cut the fuck out of himself.
And unlike the other ghosts, who slide past on their own trajectories... lost in the gravity of their own suns... this ghost is always there, staring out at me out from every reflective surface, whether I'm looking in it or not.
 You can't reason with him... so you either pretend you don't see him or get straight to the fisticuffs.
And I mean... Yeah... I look pretty rough these days. But as they say... you should see the other guy.

Remember when you were a kid and you'd look in the mirror and wonder if THAT was the reality... and you were just the reflection?
Or when you'd hold another mirror up and try to see as far into infinity as possible?
I don't know if I ever grew out of that.
I mean, that's what this stupid blog is, right? A cracked mirror of it's own?

Maybe it's a little like this. Maybe.

What I'm really trying to that... painful and confounding as they can be....I'm thankful for ghosts. For constantly reminding me of what could have been... and what could still be.
High-five them. Or throat-punch them. But try and get some learning... because they've got something to tell you.

Um... bikes. And riding them. (Boom. It's officially still a cycling blog.)

Friday, October 31, 2014


Things were actually going pretty well. Yeah... I was rolling out of town hours later than I wanted to. And yeah... my chest was heavy with the weight of all the things I needed to do and all those places my brain tends to go. But I mean... what else is new?
At least I was on the road... and even if I rolled into Louisville late that night, I still had a place to park and pass out. And I'd have tons of time to mess about and see some folks I wanted to before "getting to it," as they say. (They say that, right? Hmm. I'm pretty sure that somebody says that. Somewhere.)
And...goddamn, this was a beautiful drive.  In fact, for the past two hours I'd been jizzing in my pants over how goddamned overwhelmingly beautiful everything was. Ok, yeah... mayyybe I was a little turned up emotionally...A metric fuckton of stress, raw feelings, mountains, autumn leaves and the joie de vivre of getting the fuck out of the 'Boro culminating in a bit of teary euphoria.
Look....just because you're an unfeeling sociopath, and the pain and beauty and absurdity of this life doesn't make you occasionally just break down crying for no goddamned reason... be it in the middle of a crowded store, or halfway up a mountain on your bike, or alone in a bathtub with a bottle of wine, or mid-coitus, or driving to Kentucky...Don't judge me. (Dick)

I'm not going to say that my sky came crashing down when the van wouldn't start after refueling somewhere in West Virgina...But some spacejunk definitely fell on my head and knocked my ass out for a little while.

It's something to do with the starter. The Bostig conversion on the van shunts a good bit of heat right onto that fucker, and if it's a bit clapped out anyway, sometimes it needs some (fucking) time to cool off before it can (fucking) start. In my case, this has taken anywhere from an hour to a few days. I was hoping this was the hour scenario... but four hours later... the sun was going down and I was still at Sheetz. Pissy calls to my mechanic, coupled with wiggled wires, hammers to starters, pleas, curses and threats having failed to make the van magically start, I climbed in, pulled the curtains and started drinking.

A little pep talk by my brother (for the second weekend in a row) and I rallied. Fuck it... I was going to make something of this bullshit... when and if I managed to get the van back on the road, I was damn sure still hauling my ass to Kentucky for the weekend.
A few calls later, and I had a new starter waiting for me in a nearby town. I considered getting towed there that night, but I'd been told by the auto-shop that sleeping in the van in said town was probably ill advised, and that the hotel selection left much to be desired. (The word "unsafe" being bandied about) I opted for the Sheetz parking lot in Princeton. I'd get towed first thing in the morning.
After two NODA Brewing Hop Drop and Rolls, I walked 50 ft to the prestigious "Club Lounge," (speaking of "unsafe") ready to pull a George Washington Hayduke: swagger in.. size up the clientelle...brazenly announce that "coal is for assholes"... and see where things went from there. Sadly, (or luckily) it was dead, and forgetting entirely that there was a place up the street called "Southern X-posure" (the first of many regrets over the weekend) I made my way to Chili's for dinner (the second of many regrets over the weekend.) Turns out that's where "the party" was. Who knew? (The denizens of Princeton, WV, that's who.) It was packed.
I marveled at the mix of people crowding the bar and ordered a beer. I was served two. "Happy hour," the waitress smiled at me. Um...thanks. That works. A few beers (times two) later, and I made my way back to the van. It didn't take long to hit the wall... too much light and noise and bad gas-station music finally forcing me to flee on bike to the Hampton Inn up the street.
I woke up and made my way back to the van to call the tow truck.

As I was telling the dispatcher my location, I randomly decided to turn the key. She rumbled to life.
You. Are. Fucking. Shitting. Me!

So... I drove down to Bluefield, WV to get a new starter installed... figuring better safe than sorry. As they worked on it, I rode my bike all over town, bizarrely entranced by how picturesque it all was and completely confounded by the stark contrast of affluence and poverty. Climbing a neighborhood road that snaked up a mountain, gigantic houses and groomed yards gave way to trailers and squalor... (and a long train of dogs trotting behind me for miles)...
It fanned the flame of curiosity that I'd had about West Virginia since college...having fallen in love my freshmen year with a beautiful, punky Katie Haddox, who hailed from Charleston. Sadly, Katie and I were star-crossed lovers... kept apart by the tragic and vexing circumstance of her total lack of interest in me. Sigh... This life.
That... and the INBRED are from WV.

New starter installed. And I rolled out mid-morning. Five and a half hours to go.

I pulled into Louisville at 4:39pm, a mere three and a half hours later than my posted qualifier ride. (Because you're supposed to "qualify" in order to race the main event. Pfffft. As far as I was concerned, I'd long since I'm totally "bonafide?") Luckily, I gave absolutely zero fucks at that point, happy as I was to have simply made it to KY. I'd just hop in with the last group. Or not.
I had just enough time to grab a beer, get fondled by Sally Fornes, and throw a leg over the bike before rolling out with friends for the final ride of the day. Yeah... we probably had the best group.

Thanks, Sally.

Dave Pryor is from the city of brotherly love, remember? 

Matt Falwell.... in a van down by the river. I'm with you, buddy.

We rode around the city, drinking and whooping it up and doing all sorts of random, fun feats before heading back to Against the Grain for one more beer...Then on to Molly Malone's for the official opening party.
Where I saw...

Sad Butt Drew and Little Lady Rachel.

And a bunch of people...

And more people (Hodoola!, right Cush?)

And more people.

Hey.... Does anyone know if Corey the Courier is still MIA?

Ashley's life is crazy. Srsly. Ask him about it sometime.

Endless Shanna.



Mo Bruno Roy, Craig Etheridge, some dick, and Matt "Jacobs Ladder" Roy.

Mustache off between Adam and Drew.

Dave Pokela! From the 'Boro?! 

Dirty Randy.


My god... it's full of stars.

As we departed, I was invited to just crash at the Hodala house instead of some random driveway. Why not? 
You know... I really like the Hodala fuckers. It's always rowdy and loving and inappropriate... and fun as hell... like a night with the Spits. And that's a-ok.
I woke up next to Craig on a deflated air mattress, my shoulder and hips digging into the hard wood floor. We roused Ashley, who made a baller breakfast....

"Ashley!... Bacon!!!!"

"Bacon!... Ashley.... "Bacon!!!"

"Don't be a hipster and take pictures of your food, Watts."

...and Craig and I pulled on our bikecycling clothes to go meet Stik, Charlie and others from the PA contingent for a jaunt around the city. Some more, beer and pretty tattooed servers at the Silver Dollar... and we headed out....
... on what Craig dubbed the "best ride of the year."
That's a lofty statement, I know. And I was hesitant to concur, my head still swimming with my time in Utah during Saddledrive, and with that place my head kept going as I turned the pedals up those mountains. But... I think he might be right. 
And the thing is... my head was very much still going to that same place here in KY... over a thousand miles away. 
It's a problem. And part of the overarching problem is that it's super problematic when you really kind of like a problem? 
Like really. 

"Yeah, Watts.. that is quite a problem. What are you going to do?"

Grindcore and Marcy

Because most of us bring various cured meats with us on rides. And if we don't, we should.

We rode back to the Hodala house, came up with a rough plan for the night and headed over to El Mundo for some awesome food and margaritas.

This is less a picture of margaritas and more a picture of Craig's watch and knuckles. Just so you know.
We headed home, put on our costumes and rode to Eva Bandman park. Craig as a pumpkin... me in a suit that I snagged from my father back in highschool. It's pretty remarkable. We arrived in time to see the EVERYONE'S A WINNER race. Oh man... the course looked AMAZEBALLS! Just seeing it, I felt a lightness in my chest... so fucking pleased to be exactly where I was. We grabbed beers, walked around, checked out the course and highfived all of the rad people. All of them. 
This is where things get problematic...
... because at some point I may or may not have ingested all of a baked good that may or may not have turned out to be quite potent. 
Which brings me to the topic of self-control. 
There is, admittedly, a point at which I have very little.
And...maybe I struggle a little to understand this Jekyll/Hyde aspect of my personality. Much of it is the result of my past life...which was a case study of control.. something I bucked against in a myriad of dramatic and self-destructive ways. And much of it is a reflection of my current life and single fatherhood. When my son is with me, I feel... complete. Sure, there are the struggles of parenthood, but we have a very easy relationship. And he's a ridiculously sweet and good natured kid. 
But when he's not with me... there's some pretty big void. And to stay sane (ok...sane-ish)... I kind of have to switch a part of my brain off. And try to fill the void in other ways. Drunken nihilism being the current outlet. (Uhhh....) And no... regardless of what those fuckers who insist on the continual and repugnant violation of the word "truth" tell you, all of the imaginary friend you can invent will never fill that void. 
Only massive quantities of prescription drugs, Target, Netflix, sportsball and internet porn will. 
(I swear, no one even knows when I'm joking and when I'm not anymore, do they?)
And if they don't, you can always try getting outside... on a bike... in a costume... with flames.
Essentially, only you can fill that void.
(oh...And Higgs bosons. But those very same fuckers even try to violate that particle by latching on to its other very misbegotten name. Essentially... those wanks will violate anything and everything they can...all in some twisted guise of self-control.) 
And no... I'm not saying that my lack of self-control fills the void either. I'm just saying that I take my moments where I can. Resting my head against this rock I'm pushing up the hill... the small pleasure of it's cool, textured surface against my cheek somehow making it all bearable. I don't know...maybe I've read too much Sartre and Camus. 

So has this guy...

And this guy...

And this guy...

And this... gal.

And this....g. g.. guh... g...g...guh...g..ghh...guh...

"Kids...Don't do...stuff."

She actually does. 

Here's a small glimpse at how good the weekend was, via Dirtwire. (Look for me jumping the fire at 1:53, hopping the barrier with a little more height than necessary to avoid my polyester suit bursting into flame)
Right when the sun went down, it was our turn. Shoes off and we screamed down a slip and slide to our bikes, Lemans style. Then all hell broke loose. At one point, cutting off more than half of the course... I was totally leading the race. And as rules don't apply... I had a momentary "holy shit!" moment. Before I crashed in a turn right before the bourbon shortcut. Then I just... whatever.
One of my favorite moments during the entire night was watching Mo Bruno Roy scream into the turn, swig down her ticket to the substantial bourbon short-cut, and then run the other way and take the long cut. Because she gave zero fucks about some shortcut... all she knew was "bourbon."
I don't know how many beers I'd had at that point, but it was many... all of them tall.. and none of them shitty (thank singlespeed-hating-god!). And there was a good bit more consumed during the race, in addition to whatever bourbon and moonshine appeared in a cup in my face each lap. 

And this... is where the problem begins in earnest, as at some point during that final lap, the baked good I had ingested earlier hit my blood stream...hard...
... and began a 3 hour blackout period of which I can recall nothing. I have no memory at all of leaving the race and making it to the party. None. 
There are fragments... a phone call wherein all the nonsense I could possibly summon came streaming out of my mouth and into the other persons worried ear. Lying against a cement wall in a parking lot, trying to get my bearings. 
But outside of that... 
What finally rallied me was dancing. I vaguely remember walking onto the dance floor and joining the fray. And I distinctly remember coming-to. Another.."holy shit!" moment where I was back in control. I looked around, took stock and tried to figure out how I'd gotten here and what had transpired before that. 
Where was my bag? My jacket? My bike? My stuff?

So...You know who is one of the most solid of all the solid-fucking-dudes? 
Craig T. Fucking Etheridge. 
I can't even tell you how much that guy rules as a human being. 
By this point I was back in the game. I found my bag in a corner but didn't see my jacket, and having no memory of grabbing ANY of my things, I was sure that I left it at the race. I knew where it was though, having thrown it next to a tree during one of the last laps. 
So Craig rode with my sorry, dumb, confounded ass back to the race venue, but we were unable to locate it. I was bummed, but hopeful that I'd get it back. We went back to the party, which was shutting down, and we hopped on our bikes and rolled to ANOTHER dance party, this one being DJ'd by former 'Boro-an, the lovely, talented and formidable Sara Soltau. If our dance-party had been a shitshow of drunk cyclists, this one was a meatmarket for the hipster millenial illuminati of Louisville. I felt a bit out of place in my 70's disco suit amid all the pomade and buddy holly glasses... but the beer was good and the dancing was fun. Sara danced with me for a bit, but had to do her thing.. and as it was very, very  late... Craig and I rolled home. 

The next morning, as I was lamenting the loss of my jacket and wondering who at the park might have picked it up, Jim walked in and said "Brooks... (that's my new name, btw.)... Did you get your coat? It was on the floor at the party, so I hung it up on a chair."
My relief at now having a physical location for the jacket was dampened by the even clearer picture of how completely out of it I had been last night. Fuck.
After breakfast and goodbyes, I headed back to Greensboro... once again jizzing in the same pants about the same leaves and mountains and fighting the sadness of those places my head likes to go. 

I rolled into town in time to pick up a little boy... read him some books, tuck him in and feel the void close that tiny bit.