Friday, March 27, 2015

Frostbukake Part One: Baiting the Public

Prelude: baiting the public (an epistle to the tyrants... noncanonical)
Sometimes... the veil slips...
...and you get a glimpse of what's behind it.
And you see that beneath the veneer of all that smiling positive benevolence and seemingly amicable humility... there's something toxic.
And maybe... that toxicity is just born of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of losing something. And it just manifests itself as anger... Latent and fierce. But seething...all the time.
A scared, stunted child.... lashing out at things you can't control and don't understand.
Or maybe... it's just who you are inside. A malignant bully. A fascist of the private life. Emboldened by a sense of entitlement, faith and fallacy.
But wherever it ultimately comes from... it doesn't change the fact that when you do lose those things....and when you do fail... it will be on you.
And.when you show strangers more love and kindness than the people close to you....when your anger, wherever it comes from, wafts with the fetor of abuse...
...the fact is... you really just don't fucking deserve them... as much as you'd like to pretend you do.
And all of the piety you can project... magnanimity you can fake... and embraces you can give...will never mask who you are on the inside. Not to the people paying attention.
And maybe....instead of petitioning an empty sky for strength that you don't have yourself... or blaming anything and everything and everyone else for causing your alleged pain... and instead of ignoring the pain you cause daily.... you need to take a hard look in a fucking mirror... see the virulent little shit staring back at you....and realize that you're the root of it, and no one else.
There is no god to bind.... no devil to blame.... and no wedge to cleave. There's just you. Fucking everything up... All by yourself.
And one day... when you lose it all... I hope you have the perspective enough to see that clearly.
Go and make your own apologies... instead of demanding them from a world that owes you nothing.

Or... just go fuck yourself...real hard like.

Thus begins Frosbukake '15.
I told you this shit would be epic.

(...the fuck was that?) 

Act 1: Summer Holiday Vs Punk Routine 
What do the tyrants have to do with Frostbike? Everything. Nothing. It's what's on my mind, for whatever reason. And where my mind goes always directs the narratives I use to process the world. So indulge my self-indulgence.

Listen to it.
(Come on... listen. I're here, reading this.... for some insane reason. So just listen to it... even if it's not your thing. Because at least that way, the things I say make a little bit of sense. (Possibly.))

Maybe it's absurd... to have the ethos that drives you forward each day defined best by the pithy aphorisms in a song.
But nonetheless... there you have it. And honestly, it's no more absurd than most of the words we use as anchors in this life. Punk and hardcore was the sound of Nietzsche and Sartre compressed into an accessible scream, set to the tempo of our quickening pulses. It was the scripture of a whole generation of us disillusioned with the tenor of a mainstream that never spoke to anything we were feeling. And scripture, in whatever form, has always been best boiled down to something terse and incisive. A mantra we can chant through pain... or a refrain we can howl along with when we're struggling most to make sense of the void.
The Hold Steady know this.

The scriptures that inform and resonate in my own life have always been, and always will be, purely secular... as I can think of nothing more fallacious or pernicious than attributing divinity to human ideals. And while truths can undoubtedly lie buried in sprawling myths and abstractions...the rubble that inearths it is, to my own mind,  ultimately malignant. And for my own part... I will never warm to a god of any kind.
And I refuse to abide one.

"Rather be forgotten... than remembered for giving in."

But of course.... I'd rather slip away into obscurity and nothingness... than be remembered for my compromises. (Though as it stands, we all know that I'll more than likely be remembered most as a modern day King Midas... turning everything to shit with a simple touch.)
And while I'm sure there are many a more poetic renderings... the verse and words that resonate most with me currently:

"I only get this fucking chance once... and I just can't let it be."

Because I can't. And more importantly....I won't. And that trite little sentence informs so much of my direction and choices these days...
.....In business... In life... And in love...

And that (over)simple ethos....while it doesn't plot a course... it sets a tone.
While it doesn't read the map... it acts as a compass. It gives me bearings.
I made a promise to myself a number of years ago... in the aftermath of a lot of failure... and in the aftermath of a growing fault line finally slipping catastrophically... and all the fracture and chaos that followed.... that from that point on, I would try to live the life I wanted to. Go where I want. Talk with the people I want. Be with the people I want. And that the compromises I made in it would not be based on paralysis or fear... or on what other people wanted or thought was best for me... or even what I felt I deserved....
But they would stay rooted in an ever-reaching idealism, and always push the boundaries of an ever-binding realism. And those compromises, where made... would be deliberate and thoughtful... empathetic and directed...impactful and important.
And that outside of them... I would go all the places I want to. And take the risks I feel compelled to.
...In business... In life... And in love...

Act 2: Action.Time.Vision.
In past years, though it pains me to admit....I ran this shop much like a rudderless boat. Staying afloat as the wind and currents took me where they would. Too busy bailing out water or bracing myself against waves to find the time or direction to install a keel, much less plot a course. And when I did try to move forward, I paddled in confounding circles.

I wonder why?

Over the years, the ship gained some reputation, (for better or worse?), some momentum (slowly?), some direction (backwards?) and even a following (total. fucking. nutters).
Looking back though, I kind of can't help but think that I've maybe just became a jabbering, insane, sun-scorched conch of a man... talking to himself and the fish... doggedly chasing a white whale at the expense of everything and everyone else.
The past 2 years have been illuminating. In so many ways. The weather changed. The clouds parted and the wind subsided...a spell of clear skies and calm seas letting me see how far I'd drifted. And giving me a moment to build a worthy vessel.
As for perspective? Well....I don't know.
Because this ship I've built still only has one purpose:

To find and kill that fucking whale.

Maybe I'm naive and easily impressed.... but once again, it meant a great deal to be flown out and hosted as a "VIP" at Frostbike. This year was even more remarkable, as, regardless of whatever bluster got me there, I was invited to be a part of something called "The Indie Sessions."  Essentially it was a round table discussion among a small, handpicked cross section of shops that are allegedly setting the course and tone of the Independent Bike Dealer (IBD). Some of these have long since established successful models... and some are pushing the envelope and forging some new directions. I fall into the latter, obviously, as "long since established successful models" is not verbage that could ever be attributed to me.
But regardless of what facet I loosely and ineptly represent.. it meant a lot to be invited to join such august company for discussions of the current industry climate.

Act 3: Capitalism Stole My Virginity.
I arrived in Minneapolis late Tuesday evening... joined a distant, dear friend for some beers at the hotel bar... and went to bed.
The next morning, after getting laughably lost on the skyways traversing downtown, found some breakfast and made my way to my first session. I'd been flown in early so that I could take part in a shit-curdling exercise that the powers that be had playfully named Financial Deep Dive. It involved exploring my Profit and Loss statements, along with my Balance Sheet with the financial people... a thing that seriously made my ass pucker and my bowels loosen at the same time. But as they gracefully dove in and I belly-flopped behind them, I eventually emerged from the water with a bit more confidence in this vessel I've built... as instead of baffled as to how I was even still in business....they were cautiously pleased.
"So... you mean that barring the perfect storm... my mast isn't about to burst into flame, fall off, impale me and sink the ship?" I asked.
"Yep. You're in surprisingly good shape."
"Oh thank fuck!"
And in celebration... I proceeded to get blindingly drunk at QBP president Steve Flagg's house that night with all of the other Indie Session goons. Tobie of North Central Cyclery and I talked long and hard about many things... Frank Herbert's DUNE being among them. Many years ago, I gave myself the title of Kwizats Haderach at Revolution. A messianic title, I meant it not at all as any kind of reference to myself and what I do with the shop...and more as a nod (airborn high-five, really) to DUNE...and as a snarky, literary middle finger to any sort of title for myself at the shop. The Kwizats Haderach is a Chakobsa term that literally means "the shortening of the way," and refers to the namesake's ability to bend space/time and be many places at once. If you're being farcically charitable, you could certainly say that I am often many places at once. But if you're being candid, you could just say that I'm just a total fucking space-cadet with ADD.

Or visionary prophet... or whatever.

Tons of free food, free beer, good conversation and broom-ball. Which I was severely underdressed for... intentionally. Talk of going out on the town afterward, but ultimately beers at the hotel bar... and sleep.

The next morning was rough, which I hadn't anticipated. But my body was not handling all the things well. And while the hangover eventually subsided... my head and chest hurt for the remainder of the day. Remainder of the week, really...
Truth be told... they still hurt.
But we're not there yet.
The majority of the day was spent in discussions of Profitability, Branding and Operations. I tried to be a part of the discussions, and chimed in a few times on the branding workshops. But I was coming apart a little... for my own many simple and complicated reasons... And I didn't contribute to operations and profitability in the ways I'd like to have. That and the fact that operations and profitability are the absolute weakest points of my "Golden Triangle." Branding? I certainly don't have that nailed on any level... but I approach it in such a way that it's kind of the least of my concerns.
Near the end of the day, we broke into teams of "Accountability Partners." (Accountabilibuddies, I call them.) Geno of One on One was mine.
Considering how badly we managed to botch the initial worksheet provided to us... we might be fucked.
Although... I don't really think that. I mean... maybe I should have partnered with someone who's type A and who runs their shop like a well oiled machine. But I think that Geno and I are alike enough in how we approach our shops... and get along well enough... that we can call each other out for the things we see going on one another's shops... even if we can't do it for ourselves.

(Fast forward to this moment much later in the night, before every single wheel came off the train in the most spectacular of ways.)

Possibly the most important meeting of the minds in a restroom ever.
(Imagine four people completely unable to construct even a fragment of coherent sentence insisting on trying to construct coherent sentences about incoherent things.
Kierkegaard shit his pants many times over this night.)
That night, all the other VIPs arrived, and QBP plied us all with food and drink. We got to high-five all the people we wanted... barely avoid the ones we didn't... compare mullets... get tackled by Cheever... consume edibles... come unhinged... punch ourselves in the face... and watch mental daggers fly our way.
At least I did.
Me and Brian Worthy are like peas and carrots.

Me and these guys are like peas and carrots.

Pee on carrots...

Pee and mullets

Oh shit.

When they closed up the open bar, Geno, Brock of Orange Peel, Jeremy, Kat, Aaron of Kindred...and a bunch more made our way to One on One to grab some bikes and begin a mini bar crawl.
We never made it to the bar.
Not even close.

This is the face of a man struggling with the faculties of speech and communication.

And almost the exact moment that things fell apart.
.....But even if it spelled the end of the wheels... it's only the beginning of the night. And stories.
You like stories, don't you?
Next time: Giving yourself a concussion with your own fist...and the new medical data that suggests that it might be hurting you.

Oh shit.


  1. You know the term 'bukake' but not 'fap'? Liar.

    1. Ha! Eric, I was actually going to write about that very thing in the next chapter! Suffice to say... I had to google that too.

    2. I typed some shit about the Kwistaz Haderach that I thought was deep and then this format wanted my identity and my thoughts deleted into the blankness. That was ironic or something. Everything is anything and that's nothing...or something like that ... in other words...PUNK!
      Good writing.

  2. Is this going to be like last time where Frostbukake part 2 ends up becoming Frostbukake part 1 next year? I couldn't possibly blame you if it does, any time spent with both Geno and Cheever can easily take at least a year to recover from. Even if it's only a matter of minutes.

    1. I can't promise anything, Ben. But the plan is to finish part two by the end of the week. Especially now that vision has returned to the eye that Stan Beaver tried his best to put out.