Thursday, April 6, 2017

Brainfires, Puppet Comedians, and Thievary: Five Longform Questions with my Beta Unit.

Number One: 
Q: Let's just get to it, right? Where the fuck you been? I mean... seriously? Not that you've ever been any thing remotely close to consistent, but it's been a hot minute.

A: Yeah... I know. Honestly... I don't know that you'd believe me if I told you.

Q: Try me.

A: Alright... So... there's this video game in the trailer park I live in, right? And because there isn't that much to do, I've always played it. A lot. And I got really good at it, you know? High score and everything. But it turns out... it's not a video game. It's a recruiting tool. Yeah. And the next thing I know... this bounty hunter tries to kill me... a Beta-Unit replaces me... I'm whisked away to space... and I'm a fucking star-fighter pilot! With my own ship and everything! Fucking nuts, man.

Q: Ah. Yes, I see. Can we... try this again?

A: Fine. But that story's better. You're talking about the blog?

Q: Sure. The blog. Social media. Social life...

A:Yeah. I've been a little MIA. Regarding the blog... it's... just a blog. I appreciate that people read it. I very much do. But I don't have any hubris with regards to its content. It's one big emo fart joke. And it's a place for me to put things out there. Circle around ideas. Refine styles. Purge. It's one of the reasons I tend to be a bit... repetitive at times. I'll keep bumping up against some idea... trying to express it in the right way. What's funny is that some of my favorite "pieces" tend to be the least read. And vice-versa. The metrics confound me. Why some posts have SO MUCH traffic. And others, less. But whatever the reason, can I just say... that  I wish people would stop reading the really old stuff. I'll look at the stats occasionally and see that there's a whole bunch of traffic to some post from 2010 or something... and I'll be like, "Fuck... not that post... anything but that post. Who's reading that?... because now I have to hunt them down and kill them."
Like with this new Facebook memories shit... constantly reminding you of how fucking stupid you were on social media five years ago. As if you didn't already know. I guess that's the benefit of always churning out content. Bury that shit... quick!
Regarding social stuff? I guess I've just been... quiet. Dealing with some things in my own way.
This should come as no surprise to anyone... but I'm a man of high highs and low lows.

Q: What? Like... manic depression?

A: Does it matter? And it's "situational Depression," remember? My "manic" isn't really on that spectrum. Think of it less as a series of peaks and valleys.... And more as a flat to rolling plain punctuated with abyssal crevasses. Sure, I have my moments of manic artistic energy... followed often by depressive torpor. And yeah, I deal with my own level of... what would you even call them... hallucinations? But I'm not controlling the tides or anything. I'm just... maintaining or not maintaining.
Imagine... that your brain is on fire... all the time. And that sometimes... that fire just outburns all the other fires inside you. Hollows you out.
That's where I've been. Just... hollowed out for a bit.

Q: Huh. Sounds fun, psycho. Did anything in particular trigger it?

A: Yeah. Probably. Likely a few things. More than a few. Maybe let's not go there? Yet?

Q: Fair enough. So... you're back?

A: Back? Meh. Maybe? I mean... I've been posting stupid shit on Instagram again, so...

Q: Indeed you have. Like this, you mean?

A: That, I'll have you know... is a scathingly witty and incendiary indictment of the bike industry as it currently stands.

Q: Is it, now? How, pray tell?

A: Everything is so... flat. Tired. Vapid. It's all either some unfunny meme about "Road bikers be like... Meanwhile I'm over here like... Braaaaaap." Or it's some insipid faux-earnest acoustic praise song about how bikepacking will make us better fathers. Or some cloyingly shallow deification of gravel. Or a christian kid throwing the devil horns. Or some vacuous frat-party on bikes. Or some barely guised misogyny.
There's... no energy. And the energy that there is? Is just fucking boring.
Fucking puppet-comedians... Everyone.

Q: So what you're saying is that this shitty stick-figure drawing of yours is going to turn the industry on it's head?

A: Oh man... it's already got like... almost 30 likes. So, yeah...

Anything been going on?

A: That's your question? Because that's like... one million questions pretending to be one.

Q: Whatever. Traveling? Racing?

A: Well... back in January I went traveling down in Florida for a bit. Chasing some sunshine. Riding trails and dirt roads. Writing. Thinking. Getting my fucked up head straight. The usual.
I honestly think that's kind of a part of the depression. I haven't been able to travel much since then. And that kind of thing... It's pretty much what keeps me going. And... I kind of need to. I've talked about this before. Some people love rooting down. I... don't. I don't care if I'm waking up in someone's driveway... or a Walmart parking lot. As long as I'm on the move.  That shit is what sustains me.

Q: Nice scoliosis. So why Florida?

A: Well... I don't know if you know this about me or not... but I am a Disney fanatic. Like... cannot get enough. You know those adult couples who go down there without any children... and you wonder what the fuck is wrong with them? That's me. But by myself. I'm the 40 year old tattooed guy riding "It's a Small World" fifteen times. Then eating cotton candy and sitting alone on a bench. Then taking a selfie in front of the castle.

Q: Well... that last sentence checks out at least.

A:  Nah. I admit that I'm kind of digging Florida right now. Yeah, it can be a gross mess. But I avoid the shit shows and do my own thing. Stay off the freeway. Take little roads. There's some surprisingly good riding there. And funny little pockets. Some really beautiful places. Clearwater springs. Beaches. Swamps.
That, and it's what's near by. Yeah, I'd rather be exploring Utah and Arizona. But I live in the Southeast. So...

Q: Umm... the mountains?

A: Yeah... but I also have this thing with heat. I'm built for it. I'll explore the mountains in the summer. But in the winter? I'm not ashamed to admit that I want heat and sun.

Q: So where all did you go in Florida?

A: All over, really. I'll usually head straight to Fernandina Beach, right over the FL. GA border. Sometimes I'll stop in Charleston or Savannah, but Fernandina is an easy point of ingress and egress into exploring the region. I'm pretty sure that Chris and Shanna are the ones who told me about that place. There's this park... Peter's Point, that allows boondocking.

Q: Boondocking?

A: Parking your van. Freecamping. Dorrit and I discovered a while back that Florida can be an easy place to do that. If you're on it and flexible. And she's on it. And I'm flexible.
Anyway... I'll pull into Fernandina late, pull the curtains and go to sleep. Wake up next to the beach. I've woken up in that place a ton, actually. From there, I rode a fun little trail at Fort Clinch. Then started heading south. Went down to central Florida and rode all the popular stuff. Santos. Alafia. Balm Boyette. I hit Alafia twice. Same with Santos. Tons of fun. Found some gravel roads outside Ocala. Hung out with my friend Joe in Tampa. Met my spirit animal.  Rode Croom. Climbed Panty Hill. Drank trail beers. Went to The Castle, Florida's premier Goth nightclub. Saw "the Senator."

Fact: we almost died getting this picture

Q: Wow. You're fucking hilarious.
Also, I like the way you just managed to sneak your entire Florida blog into this one.
So, is the riding that good?

A: Probably not? But I still love that kind of thing. Finding good trails in other places. I like seeing what everyone else is riding. Not everything can be Sedona, you know? I mean... if I was traveling and stumbled upon our trail system in Greensboro? I'd be pretty stoked. No. It's not epic. But it's fun. I love finding that kind of thing.
I'll write about it soon enough

Q: HA! Yeah right. Ok. Did you eat bath salts while you were there?

A: Not this time. But I did eat someone's face off. So... samesies.

Q: Anything else?

A: Hmmm. I did Six Hours of Warrior Creek last weekend. Great race. But damn, it sucked. I felt like shit from the moment we were rolling. Some days you have it. Some days you don't. I'm sure it doesn't help that I've pretty much woken up with a hangover for the past two months.

Q: Self-medicating with booze. That sounds healthy. It was a stacked field anyway. And you're old and dumb. So...

A: True

Q: Did... I hear you bought a house, recently? What happened to all that feral shit?

A: Ha. Let's save that for another time? Lots of words on that one.

Q: Alright.

Tell us about the bike. The one that got stolen?

A: God, what a shitshow.
So...During my... hiatus... Rich had reached out. Noticed I'd been kind of quiet and was checking in. I appreciated that. People don't really do that, you know? Most people don't really know what the fuck to do with their falling apart friends. They'll usually take a giant step backward. Say things like "Dude's a mess. I don't even know what to say to him."
Then he started bugging me about going to Tour de Charlotte. I didn't really have a ton of mojo, but thought that maybe forcing myself to be social... riding bikes around Charlotte in a mild but perpetual state of drunk... would be a good kick in the dick. Jolt me out of this funk. So I did.
And it was fun. And I felt a little better. Still wasn't back. But, better.

Until my bike was gone. Then I was lowwwwwwwwww.
And it wasn't even about the bike. You know? It was just... "of fucking course this shit is happening to me right now."

Q: What kind of bike?

A: It's a Cysco. Years ago, I went to this short-lived thing called the Southeast Expo. Or...SEXPO. Anyway, I met this dude, Richie Moore, who used to weld for Litespeed and Lynskey. He was starting to do his own custom building under the name CYSCO. I borrowed Jamie Pilsbury's and had a shit ton of fun. Enough that I wanted to get my own. So I did. At the time, Richie was making a ton of his bikes with the integrated seat-mast. I liked it. I mean... I get the dropper thing. But that's not really how I ride.

Q: Looks schmancy. Is it your favorite bike? Being custom and all?

A: Honestly? It's fine? I mean... yeah... I do love it. But it has it's problems. The clearance in the chain-stays is pretty tight. I can't run anything bigger than a 2.2. And even that depends on the tire. The front fork is stiff as shit... even for a rigid.

A: Why not put a suspension fork on it, dumbass?

A: Singlespeeds don't have suspension forks. They just... don't. I honestly don't think that they have carbon forks either... but... meh.

Q: How'd you end up getting it back?

A: This is the cool part. And is kind of one of the reasons I'm really back on social media shit. Almost immediately, the call went out. Tons of people shared the shit out of my post. Stevil put the word out. Rich put the word out. Fuck. Rich even offered fucking money.

Q: Fucking-money?

A: Mebbe. I didn't ask. In any case, I was floored. (If you're out there, thanks, lil buggy.)
So a day and a half later, I'm at the shop and Rich texts me.

A friend of a friend of a friend was riding his bike around Charlotte and sees another dude ride by. On my bike. Recognizes it immediately because it was all over the inter webs. So he turns around and starts following the guy... trying to figure out how he's going to confront him about it. He loses him through some neighborhoods, then decides to check in at a pawn shop nearby. Walks in on the transaction. Says something like "You probably want to get the fuck out of here. That bike is stolen." Dude bails. Cops show up. Bike is turned over to friend of friend. Rich scrambles to get it. Then cleans it and teabags it. Naturally.

That... is what kind of broke the funk, I think. Not just getting the bike back... because it's just a bike. But the rally and response. That and fucking Spring.

Q: That... and the tea-bagging.

A: And that. Looks like Red Zinger™

Q: Jail time for the thief?

A: I don't know? Doubt it? No one's asked about pressing charges or anything? My kiddo, Milo was asking a lot of questions about that. "I bet you're pretty mad, huh Dad?" And we talked a lot about why someone might take someone else's stuff. About the kind of circumstances that might put someone in a place that they'd do that. Desperation. Poverty. Systematic oppression.
I was bummed. But I wasn't mad. If it had been one of the fuckers who'd done Tour de Charlotte with us? Yeah. I'd have been pissed. But it wasn't. Yeah... maybe duder is just a shitty person who doesn't have a sense of right and wrong. Or... maybe living on the edge and scrapping by every day blurred that line for him. It's all complicated, right?

Q: Yeah. Did you say "duder?"

A: Yeah. Whatever. And look... I'm obviously not condoning or excusing it. I was just trying to explain to Milo that not everyone who does bad shit is bad. Sometimes there's a lot more to it.

Q: Sure.
What's next?

A: Gawd. Fuck this. I'm tire of questions. Let me ask YOU something.

Q: Well... since you're me... Why not? It's all the same pretentious garbage.

Will the real Watts Dixon please step forward?

A: Exactly. So... What's ahead?

Q: Seriously? That's the question I just fucking asked YOU. God, you suck.
I have no idea. You mean life? Long term? Short term? Or just like... events?

A: Whatever you want, sunshine.

Q: Alright. So... event-wise... I'll do the Bootlegger 100 in a week or two. It's unsung and awesome. And hard as shit. Everyone jizzes all over themselves for the midwest. But that's such a nauseatingly incestuous scene. And I say that from deep, deep in the south.
Then the biggest events on my nearish horizon are PMBAR with Rich... Transylvania Epic... and Dirty Kanza. In fact, I literally leave TSE and drive straight to Kansas. Pretty smart.

A: Are you doing Dirty Kanza with Yonder Journal?

Q: Nah. I didn't make the cut. Though I appreciate them putting me front and center in their propaganda.
Speaking of which... THAT is an interesting study. Not what Yonder Journal was talking about with the whole Project Y thing. Not "why do we test push ourselves?" etc.
But who applied and how. And why.
And when I was waiting to hear if I was picked or not, I found a few of the submission videos to watch. They were sooooo painful to watch. And sooooo illuminating.

A: How so?

Q: So... One of the more fascinating aspects of social media is that it suddenly gave voice to the voiceless. And I don't mean... empowered the downtrodden. I mean... all of a sudden every dipshit with internet could be the star of their own show. Even if you shouldn't. While before, you were a nobody... now... you could cultivate this... thing. Present yourself however you want. Create your own narrative.

A: Like this blog, you mean?

Q: Probably almost exactly like this blog. I mean... come on... we all know I'm a fucking nobody. I'm some dipshit psychotic shop owner in Greensboro, North Carolina. Why the fuck are you even here, people?
Anyway... you know that line in Fight Club...

"We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off."

It's like that. But now social media let's us all be shitty movie gods and rock stars of the most boring shows ever.
So all of these people... send in some version of the video they wish someone had made about them. Like... when the Specialized Adventure Dispatch videos came out, they all watched them and in their minds played out some version with them in the lead roles.
And Yonder Journal gave them an excuse to make the actual fucking video. Like applying for some reality show. And they went for it. Slow montages of them riding bikes on gravel. Earnest voiceovers about how they love to test themselves.
Meanwhile, it was like they'd never even read Yonderjournal or had any clue how that crew presents themselves.

A: You too, right?

Q: Nah. I mean... my video was cringeworthy, to be sure... but for other reasons. If people really want to see it, I might put it out there. But... ugh.
Honestly... I think the simple fact that I MADE a video is what's cringeworthy, you know?
Like... why? What did I hope to achieve?...because I definitely didn't want a new Specialized bike or whatever. Did I want to be famous on youtube? Part of some cool-kid cabal? Why? I already know those guys.
And what the fuck am I supposed to do with this thing now?

A: Were you bummed that you weren't picked?

Q: Meh. Sure. Rejection never feels great. I think I was feeling a little stale, and figured being a part of something like that might be an easy jumpstart. And I think that was a part of why I went quiet on social media. When that veil was pulled aside and you saw how stupid everyone's "ME ME ME! SHOW" was... I realized how stupid my own version was. So I cancelled it.

A: But... you're back for another season, it would seem.

Q: Sigh... Yeah. Short memory.
I will say this... One cool thing is that in making that video was that I taught myself how to use editing software to make movies. That was fun. So... you never know... I might put out a ton of shitty cringeworthy videos soon.

A: What else?

Q: Well... I take off later today to go rambling with Milo for a week in the van. His Spring Break. We're going to... surprise!... Florida. Beach it up. Ride trails. I might take him to Universal or something. We'll see. We'll sleep in Walmart parking lots. Campgrounds when we can. Driveways. Eat Crunch Berries. Cheese sandwiches. Oranges. Twinkies. Maybe make it to the Keys and go snorkeling. Listen to Adam and the Ants.

As for what's next in life? I dunno. Can I get back to you?

Q: What's your biggest fear?

A: Damn. Go for gusto, huh? the moment, my biggest fear... aside from accidentally grinding up a roach that got into the coffee beans and drinking him... is dying in Greensboro. I'm not afraid of the dying part. But I don't want to die here.

Q: Come on. It can't be that bad.

A: No. It's not. It's like Old Gregg. It's got all things that are good. But it's not where I want to die. Like... when Dorrit and I bought this house... the whole thing was... we're only doing this because it makes sense... financially... kiddo-wise. But this isn't "home." It's a basecamp to come back to, clean our shit, take showers, take dumps... and get moving again. In whatever ways we want and need. We do what we have to to make it comfortable for our kids and ourselves. Paint the walls. Hang pictures. Make sure the toilet works. Plant some vegetables and herbs. But that garden is the only roots we grow here. We don't spend money or time remodeling the fucking bathroom or the kitchen.
We use that money to get the fuck out.

Q: So... where do you want to go?

A: Fucking Everywhere.

Q: Then get moving, you feral asshole.

A: On it.


  1. If you ever want to wander over to Northeast TN or Southwest VA and explore the mountains let me know. We have a good crew of bikers who would love to show you around. It was good riding with you this past weekend.

    1. Will do, Steven. Good job kicking my ass at Warrior Creek.

  2. Good to see you back at it and not huffing paint in an alley somewhere. I mean, not judging paint huffers... I'm sure they're very nice people an all but how can you take someone seriously when they are slurring through words with gold-flake covering their nose and mouth like a bad BJ cut scene from Goldmember.

    At any rate, I digress. Less talky, more ridey.

    1. Alleys to huff paint in are hard to come by these days. It's all done in carefully manicured yards. Or in 2 car garages. Or at wine bars.
      But at least the quality of the paint is top notch.

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