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 telling people you love them after one date, 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... (So... 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.... Awesome pic! Soooo good!"
#meonabike #mewithamoustache #mewithabeer #mewithafoods #payattentiontomepleasegodpleaseiamcooltooisweariam #iseriouslycaremoreaboutwhatyouthinkofmethanmygirlfriend #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 seriously 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.)
And I'm not saying I've transcended narcissism. (Because maintaining a blog actually might be the penultimate form of it... tempered with self-loathing or not. #ihaveimportantthingstosay)
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.
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 as little as 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.... leaving Colorado and heading toward Kansas.... but I hear amazing things about NE.
(don't be lying to me, Grindcore!)

Where AM I, even?

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 front stoop... "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 admittedly 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.)

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