July 21st, 2011

A certain fondness for Portland

Ah memories, and Portland is such a nice place. Where else could a realestate agent cut a living selling homes to people who absolutely do not want off street car parking? Where else could you find high performance bicycles being made entirely of wood? Where else could a bike industry show room employ former LA gallery curators and move bikes, like this one, as though they were original Pollocks? I've heard people from Portland derided by other Americans, as too-cool-for-you, but gee, you don't get that impression at all when you're there. Perhaps they just give that impression, when they travel elsewhere in the US, and can't wipe that appalled look from their faces. All I encountered was misplaced humility, for example from photographers whose work we all follow, but who would let some blow-in like me do most of the talking. Cycling is diverse there as well. Very diverse, and thus pleasing to someone like me, who is easily bored. Anyway, here is clip with production values, and one without (meaning I made it on my iPhone). 

The McDonalds Cycle Centre, Chicago.

I must duly confess, I was underwhelmed by the McDonalds Cycle Centre in Chicago. All good points aside, it employs painted mild steel showing some rust spots, buries the program underground (that only defense!) and carries the taint of a fast food joint trying to bike-wash itself pure. As an entity, it also has an overly high opinion of itself, supposing to be showing the way, when in some regards, it's eons behind. Let me explain, pumpkins. 

Its users are jocks, and this is their gym locker. They ride to work as though their commute could not be conceived in other terms than those of  a workout, that just happens to finish up here, where they shower and go about all that homoerotic posturing designed to intimidate; guys acting like that leave me wondering what vital things I've forgotten from when we were apes. 

But folks, I pedal hard on my way to work too. Only I do it on an old heavy bike, not one that needs Fort Knox for protection. I would also rather keep my bike in, or right near, my office, than have to walk from such a central parking facility. By any other name, that's a mode change. Okay, so I'm blessed with a body that perspires with no discernible scent (that I can discern) so I don't need a shower. I also have my own office, in which I can cool down, then change into clothes I keep there, on hanger over the ironing board I also keep in my office. We don't all have that luxury.

So I'm not saying the McDonalds Cycle Centre is of no worth. It propagandizes for cycling, and fulfills the needs of a select few. Plus, with such gulfs between rich and poor as they have artfully achieved in America, I have no doubt my oldest bike would even be stolen, if I lived some place like Chicago. It would be sold spoke by spoke to buy crack. I accept Americans' special need for secure bicycle storage. I guess if the McDonalds Cycle Centre weren't made from rusting old steel, I would have more nice words to say.