Friday, July 15, 2016

Putting Out.

I was picking the kiddo up from camp. Sitting in the car for those few minutes before they were let loose. As far as I knew, Tyler had hit "publish" on the Bike Rumor thing. And I was about to be awash in commentary. Some good. Some bad.
I knew that. And I was ready for it.

But maybe...I wasn't? It had been that kind of week. Mixed with that kind of month. In the midst of that kind of year. The kind of year when even getting out of bed or taking care of basic hygiene can be hard.

Tyler had approached me a little while back and asked if I would be interested in going to a product launch for Specialized on behalf of Bikerumor. It seemed absurd. Not least of which because I own a shop that is NOT a Specialized dealer. But also because I really just don't give a shit about the company or their products. But yeah...sure. I'm pretty much game for anything. And the format of this one was compelling, because it would be for their "Adventure Dispatch" series; a thing I've made relentless fun of, but watched repeatedly. And as a shop that pushes that style of riding, seeing the bikes and meeting the people behind their recent push would be pretty interesting. Or not. But beyond that... two days of riding bikes in Pisgah with other members of the media, as well as the Yonder Journal crew and Ultraromance? Probably catered to the nines?
It sounded fun. Who wouldn't go to that? (Oh, you wouldn't? Bullshit.)

So yeah... I did it.

photo cred: Beth Welliver/Specialized

And then...I wrote about that way that I write about things. With a lot of alcohol in me. And with a lot of cursing, self-deprecation, piss-taking, and inside jokes that only I would understand.

The first comment was pretty tame. Negative, to be sure. But fairly pedestrian.
"Can someone that actually has what it takes to read this terrible feature tell me what it said? I feel like there's an angle here but I can't take this writer."
"Ha." I chuckled to myself... and walked in to get Milo. As we walked out and got back in the car... Milo asking if we could listen to the "African American band with the guy with the great voice" (Bad Brains) and singing a snippet of "I against I"... I read number two. It followed suit. "Ha. Well fuck" I said under my breath... "Whatever..."
Not that I hadn't been expecting a ton of negative feedback. Just that maybe right now wasn't the time for it?
I texted Tyler. "Man. I might not be feeling this today." ...Wondering if it was too late to just take it down. To duck out and be nobody for a little longer. Not because I cared what the pundits had to say... but because maybe I just didn't need a preponderance of them saying anything at the moment...good or bad. Not now.

This was the first thing I'd really written in this fashion since early May. I'd finished my Dirt Rag feature and column... but they wouldn't be out until mid July. And as for the blog? I just.. couldn't. Motivation and time seemed hard to come by. I needed to write about Kanza... but Kanza... was hard.

Number two! Like a giant turd.

I needed to write about the 111k and 55.5k... but they just reminded me of Barnabas.

Number three! Like a... giant...douche.

I needed to write about Barnabas. But that just reminded me... of everything. And just...maintaining became my mission.

BJ... I know, man. 

Sometimes...we're ok. And sometimes the demons are just atoms away from taking us out.
I could feel them... and every comment that rolled in was just one more wall between them and me shattering.
It had been that kind of year.

Writing is hard. If you do it, you know. I mean... it's easy, in that it's just words. And sometimes they come out all too easily. Like so much loose stool.
But sometimes they don't. Sometimes they're elusive. Sometimes they dig in their barbs and pull pieces of you with them.

And outside of any of that... there's the struggle of simply putting the words out there. Because to do so opens you up to being torn apart. Not only that, but it seemingly indicates that you have confidence in them. That you have confidence that what you're saying has merit enough that people should be exposed to it.

Do I have confidence in my words?
Yes? No. Not really? I don't know? It's... a strange thing. Do they entertain? Do they provoke? Then there's merit to them. Are they meaningful? Probably not? At least not to you. And the fact is... I don't write for you. (Though I do surely appreciate you taking the time to read it.)

Do I have the confidence to publicly take the piss out of my friends and the companies they work for?... And even the company I'm supposed to write about?
Yeah. Yeah I do. And it's always done with a smile and a wink...whether anyone gets it or not. Morons. (smile and wink) And my question to them is: Did I hurt your feelings? Or did I make a business decision that potentially compromises your future livelihood? Yeah. So shut up? (smile and wink)

Do I have the confidence to talk candidly and self-deprecatingly about what a train-wreck of a person I am?
Always. We don't talk enough about that kind of thing. Everyone is "fine" all the time. Bullshit.

Do I have the confidence to put myself out there?... In such a way that I could potentially be torn to shreds?
Hmmm. You misunderstand. It's not about confidence. It's just...about... not being scared. Less about thinking there's merit to what I do or say, and more about being unafraid to do or say it. Unafraid to be good or bad...right or wrong...liked or hated. Just being... me.

I think... that when you've tried to die... one of the biggest realizations you come to is that in the end, among a life of infinite regrets... the regret of not putting yourself out there far exceeds the regret of doing so. Taking certain risks and reaching for certain things, even if you don't quite know what they really are, is more meaningful than not. Most especially when you realize how meaningless most of what we do with our lives is. What's left to be afraid of?
Ridicule? Being alone? Pain? Shiiiit. That's called yesterday. Welcome to tomorrow.

Which brings us to the real question: Do I have the confidence to anonymously call someone I've never met and honestly don't know at all a "pathetic narcissist" in the comments section of some bike-tech cycling forum?
No. I admittedly do not. Because...Why?

And we all know that if I ever did, it would read: "This guy might even be more of a pathetic narcissist than me."

Incidentally, here's a compendium of the effusive commentary that was cast my way.

"Oh look... the children have discovered swearing. (Slow hand clap) Utter rubbish, Bikerumor. Expect much more of you folks."
- "carlos"

"Worst. Review. Ever. Please no more. Having actual factual information in the review is helpful."
- "GB"

"So many thumbs down"
- "b_p_t"

"Far too much time trying to sound "edgy" far too little actual information. And that head-punching thing doesn't exactly establish credibility.
- "steev"

And then, among the deleted comments (though not by me. I deleted nothing (save for a positive review because my fucking finger slipped. Doh)):

"Ten paragraphs into this crap and he's still going on about himself. I'm out."
- "the badavist"

"Just when you think bike bro culture couldn't get any more insufferable you stumble across this piece that is written/seemingly vomited onto a keyboard about a bike that's made for a bunch of tatted-up weenie-havers (presumably tbh I didn't read any more than the 1st paragraph."
- "judy butter"

"It's like the Radavist stumbled into the Bikerumor party and puked a bunch of half-digested word salad over everything.
- "hurf durf"

"Jesus H Christ this makes John Prolly seem like Seymour Hersh. 10 paragraphs in and this guy is the dude at the campfire who wants to tell you about how he got his tattoos even though you didn't ask. I'm out.
- "the badavist"

"Is this supposed to read like a "Diet Radavist" article?? @80... I agree. This writer actually typed out 'like' wayyyy too many times and I rage quit pretty quickly into this article.
- "Whaaaa?"

And then my all time favorites

"people who don't read shouldn't write, and from reading that guy's piece it's pretty clear he doesn't read very often.
- "the biz"

"It's like nonconformity meets conformity to pay the bills. Drink PBR, support corporate scum. Pick a  side man and be on it. Otherwise you're just fake. You're pop punk. You're hot topic. Plastic nonsense folks. This is the worst write up I've ever read. Pure crud."
- "Rick"

Did I reel a little? Sure. Did I require a lot of bourbon in my person that evening? Yeah. Did dorita need to pet my head and tell me that I'm good enough, smart enough, and that doggone it, people liked me? Maybe. Did my son have to ask me what I was sobbing about? No. But in this joke, totally.

Will I do it again?
Yeah. Of course. Maybe next time I can get even more people to unfriend me on facebook. One can certainly endeavor.

A portrait of the fartist as a pathetic, narcissistic, insufferable paragon of bro bike culture. (see "weenie-haver")


  1. *takes a hearty pull from his vape pen and gives a tip of the fedora toward the author

  2. Just read the article. It was hilarious, smartly written, and takes an angle on the industry that's far more interesting than going over expected MSRP. The commentators seriously sound like they need a beer.

    1. (Side note, not sure why it's listing me as BFF Chicago but I'm not associated with the shop, though it is a rad shop)

  3. Haters gonna hate. But you penned the best/first/only sex-toy-in-a-frame-bag reference Bike Rumor ever published, and no one can take that away from you. You are a pioneer, Watts. Thanks for paving the way.

  4. I really want to say stuff here. But I don't know what to say. Other than fuckm' if they don't get it. I enjoyed the article, not that you need to be pandered to... Let the internet schlooges feel like they're being witty and important. And you, keep on being the big, beautiful, insufferable paragon of bro culture, son-of-a-bitch that you are... So, I guess I did have something to say.

  5. I did read the article and enjoyed it for what it was. Did I expect an off the shelf, OEM review with the usual phrases and layout? Nope. If I did, would I have reacted by exercising my internet anonymity to write a cleverly phrased insult to the writer (you know, the sort of reply that after 7 edits, proves my superior intellect and solicits giggles from my audience). Nope. The comment section is one too many beers and a middle finger as you exit the freeway. Anonymity encourages bravery and bad manners. Tis a shame.


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  7. So, I'm somewhere from the start in between the end of this blog post, but from the Bike Rumor comments that I did read:

    Kernel Flickitov says:

    "There are a multitude of sites that maintain your myopic view of culture where everybody is a carbon copy of yourself. You are free to change the channel any damn time you please. That’s a beautiful thing, embrace it fully!"

    I agree. I work at a bike shop who sells Specialized, I know the people that come with the brand, and I love making them feel uncomfortable. A lot are also really cool, but those on Bike Rumor....

    They're all internet bullies, jelly that you get to ride a bike and get paid.

  8. I find that people who define themselves by who, or what, they don't like are rarely worth listening to. Great article man, I'd much rather read about why a bike is fun to ride and the thinking behind the design, than a technical manual comparing wattage and head angles. I've read your article twice now, and it holds up.

  9. Kudos for putting your spin out there. It's easy for assholes to sit behind IP address. It takes balls to publish. Just sorry I hadn't found your blog sooner