Friday, April 22, 2016

So Much Whine

When it finally peaked... the hangover was everything I knew it would be. And more.
I bolted from the bed, pulling every sheet with me. Tangled and ricocheting off walls and doors, falling onto my knees just in time to unleash hell into porcelain. 

My morning... had officially become an ordeal.

I knew the formula well enough. This was to be round one. There would be, at a minimum, two more... likely three...spaced about 15 to 20 minutes apart. I had at least one hour of this kind of bolting... as I slowly transitioned from the contents of my stomach... to coughing up bile... to ultimately just dry heaving the last toxic remnants of my soul into that white bowl. 

What. The. Fuck... is wrong with me?

Though... on some level...I know the answer to that. It's just...complex. Complicated.
Or... maybe not? Maybe it's simple.'s just me. I'm just that fucked up.
I fall apart to stay together. Self-destruct to maintain. Hurt myself to keep from hurting myself.
Blackout...rather than spend yet another night wrestling with ghosts. Whatever that means.

Anyway...there you have it.
(Fuckballs... you really are a mess, aren't you.)

You know...I almost didn't go to Frostbike this year.
Because reasons...
But I did.
Because reasons...

(Wait. This... This is about Frostbike?!!! That fucking months ago!!!)

Yeah. Whatever. Look...I've just been...hiding. Thinking. Where I go? I dunno. just need to curl up in a ball and suck your thumb. (For two months?) And anyway...I've said it before, but no one could ever accuse me of being prolific.
Profane? Yes. Problematic? Always. Provocative? meh. Productive? Gods, no. Prosaic? Probably. Profound? Wouldn't that be something. Promiscuous? Hmmm...
And difficult. If you know, you know. If you don't?...I don't know. You know? And the thing is, if I'm not feeling what I'm trying to push out of my brain...I just don't force it. There's nothing worse than sitting on that proverbial toilet for hours to produce little more than a "plink" of what is ultimately still just waste. I'd rather have literary diarrhea and literally shit the motherfucking shit out of my literary and literal pants than be verbally and emotionally constipated.

And then, sometimes... the muse...just...pushes me away. Hard.
I understand. I'd push me away too.

And it isn't about Frostbike, anyway. .
It just isn't NOT about Frostbike.
Like I said... I've been in hiding. I need to purge a few things before I get to current events... like Interbike 2008.
('re still a fucking idiot.)
Yeah... I know.

This time... I attended Frostbike in the capacity of "media." Via Dirt Rag Magazine. To talk with shops and vendors and peoples regarding print that will come out in the near future. A more coherent (or not?) extension of this... and this...  My own musings on the state of bicycle retail, coupled with past, present and future travels... rambling and ramblings to put it all into a perspective that I can live with. ("Live with?" What...does that even mean?) What? Does that seem... dire? Histrionic?
Aye...Perhaps it is. But...have you met me? I mean...
Also... I rarely write sober.

Now... how many of those conversations will ultimately be distilled into usable content remains to be seen. Suffice to say... I'll try.

Once again, I extend a tremendous amount of gratitude to QBP for their hospitality... flying me out, putting me up, feeding me...indulging me... much less simply deigning to allow me to sully their reputation and property with my ill-conceived presence. It means a lot. Because whatever very minute amount of internet fame I have...most of it in the form of unabashedly and relentlessly mocking everything meaningful to everyone... making the occasional spectacle of myself... "racing" bikes or whatever... being Rich's sometime paramour... and actively trying to save bicycle retail, tear theism apart, and very publicly (and embarrassingly) grapple with what it means to live and love in this day and age...
...I'm not one of the popular kids.

I'm just...not.

I'm awkward and sullen... Manic and inappropriate...
Foolish... Distracted... Melodramatic... Drunkety...

I don't whore product. In fact... I rarely talk about it, if ever.
I don't circlejerk with any particular cabal of inclusion or exclusion...and I don't try to. (I jerk alone.)
I don't define my life with inane and vacuous hashtags... (I mean... unless you count #liveferalordie and #everybodythroatpuncheverybody ... both of which are extremely serious business, I'll have you know.)
And...I don't take good pictures. Unless you count this one.

And you should. 
do have a widely read least according to the blog stats (I'm particularly huge in Germany, btw)...but let's be writing is personal and hypberbolic... emotive and hebrephenic at a level as to be nearly incomprehensible. And even when it is readable, it only means anything to me. Which to my mind, is as it should be.

I'm told... that at some point my name came up in casual conversation at Frostbike... and the observation was put forth that "he's like... super emotional and shit, huh?"
Ha. Hmmm... Yeah. Something like that. And I fear... that I'm only getting stranger with every passing day.
It's not that I don't give a fuck, because depending on the fuck...I give all the fucks.
It's more that...I just don't give a fuck.
(But... you just...)
Yeah. I know what I said. So what? You think I give a fuck? is what it is.
In another day and age, I died penniless and alone. Wracked with consumption. In the heath...on a moor... in a workhouse.
A prodigious, shitty body of unpublished work stuffed in the sack I use as a  mattress. Pining away for the unreciprocated and impossible. Wasting away to nothing as I pen a million repetitive and overwrought missives to thoughts and feelings and absence.

Or I'm killed in a duel.

Or more likely...burned as a witch.

Ahem.... look, what I'm ultimately trying to say is... super thanks, QBP....For taking even the slightest interest in what I'm doing...both as a bikeshop...and as a hyperbolic and raving mess of a human being.
It means a lot.
Because me? Come on...I'm fucking nobody.

Many a day has passed, but I distinctly remember having the conversation with Loose Nuts Chris a few hours after our arrival in Minneapolis, wherein we both earnestly stated that we had "no intention of getting the least bit sideways on the first night," and that, if anything, we would refrain from drinking to excess on any level for the majority of the weekend.

Greggers and Chris

12 hours later, regurgitated margarita still crusted to the corners of our mouths, we were both wondering how we could possibly fake our way through the vaguest semblance of conversation with other people without proving to the world, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we were both damaged in the kind of ways that may never be fixed. But then... that's just my standard operating procedure. (Or SOP, as we call it in the business. (I've never ONCE called it that, btw.))
It began with the hotel bar... meeting and greeting friends from afar over beers...transitioned to joining Greggers and Cori Peplndkdakdajak et al. at a nearby bar, where tequila became a part of our math...and as the night progressed, as did the math... and soon enough we were mired in solving complex and confounding equations. Equations like "what is a pants?"
At least I was.
And then....darkness.

Look... we fight ourselves how we can. And waking up "wanting to die" because of too much drink is probably better than just waking up "wanting to die." Right? Right. So just... Yeah...

Once I'd recovered enough that the smell of anything didn't create a volatile reaction with the very core of my being... I headed downstairs to take part in "learning." Meeting up with Chris, who I found to be in a similar state.
I only bolted from a seminar once... and while I might have been fighting the nausea, it wasn't to throw up. It was because the speaker and I weren't on the same planet. Looking over his theoretical budget for shop renovations and noting how close it was to my annual revenue, I exchanged a knowing look with Chris... got up... and walked out. Then went and had a bloody mary and talked with people who I could relate to.

I'm sure that you don't want to hear the mundane details of sitting in seminars...and honestly, I don't want to talk about it...but one of my big takeaways, and one of the things I've been thinking about for the past few years in particular, is that regardless of my feelings toward retail (fear and loathing)... in order to be viable as a bike shop (or any brick and mortar store) in the coming new world order... you have to offer something... unique. (Yes.) Singular. (Totally.) And possibly...peculiar. (Absolu...Wait. What?) Otherwise... what are you offering that can't be found online?
And if "selling things" isn't the focus of the shop... because fuck "selling things"... in what oblique way do you thrive as a retail store. And what does that even mean to me.
(Umm... wait. That was your takeaway, Watts? Because... I don't know, man...)
Yes. It was. After a fashion.
The things I want to do with retail don't lend themselves to metrics or data. "Turns" and "profit" aren't my world. I mean... they are in that I rely on both to make my modicum of a living. But they are ancillary to what I want to accomplish with the shop. If that makes sense.
(It doesn't)
Yeah... I know.

But more and more... I think that is the current paradigm of shoplife. And I came back from Frostbike thinking heavily about it all...
About all the elements that come together to make a successful and stable store in this day. About the shops I want to visit the next time I get in my van and drive. About the people I want to ride bikes with and share a drink with.

But I won't go into that now. Because that's not this post. This post is just me...pouring the first drink of the night.

Not Greggers. 

And not that I haven't been drinking... But this is the first drink I'm sharing with you.
Some of it is working on other things. I have a recurring column in DirtRag Magazine. Snippets of shop life as seen through my skewed vision.

The feature coming out later in the summer. Other pieces in other places. Some of it is getting to ride my bike. In the way I want. So long and hard that my hands shake when I'm done. Destroyed enough that I pass out the moment the sun goes down.
And some of it is a list of projects. Projects that build with potential energy until they finally can't be contained. And blast out of me... like the effluence of a hangover.

Yeah... It's been a while...So drink with me. We can see where the night goes.
Maybe it ends tangled up and close. William Least Heat Moon's "deep cleave and merge of thigh."
Maybe it ends with a black eye. In an empty bathtub with a bottle of wine.
Maybe it ends with a puddle of blood. Stitches and sutures.
Or never ends.

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