Monthly Archives: July 2007

Trouble in the peloton,

Published by:

and a bee in the belly. Although I haven’t been boring you lately with my fanatical love of the Tour de France and bike racing generally, be assured that I have been glued to my television night after night as the Tour progresses. In fact, we signed up for the DVR service just so we could get Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen from the morning broadcasts, and avoid the Trout in the evenings. And this seemed like the year when we might get through without a lot of drama and drug scandals once the Tour began, although perennial sprint threat Petacchi was kept out on some suspicions. But then things blew wide open this week. First, Alexandr Vinokourov, around whom the city of Astana had rallied and sponsored an entire team, and whom many thought had the best chances of winning the Tour, was bounced out after some yo-yoing performances, a massive crash (more than 60 stitches) and a failed drug test. This just the day after Astana had committed to sponsoring the team for 10 more years, and then the entire team was kicked out. All the people relying on him, and now all their futures are in jeopardy. Then Michael Rasmussen was leading the race with a performance that certainly seemed beyond his past abilities, leading people to open question him — and it turned out that he ducked two pre-race tests. Yesterday, his team fired him, leaving the race without a leader. The sponsor, Rabobank, actually addressed the issue right on their webpage — they don’t seem to have invented “spin” over in Denmark yet.

So now, are the leaders clean? I certainly hope so. I think so. If Levi were doping, he’d be riding better than he is. And Cadel Evans sure looks like he’s struggling. So let’s hope that’s a sign.

So, I guess the good news is that there is NO evidence that any bike racer has ever been involved in dog fighting. Dog fighting. I can’t believe someone would risk throwing away a massively lucrative career in order to watch dogs tear each other apart. Is cocaine that hard to find? Unbelievable.

Here in the land of the absolutely non-doping rider, I’ve gotten in a couple of short but good and hard rides this week. And I can now report that a bee sting in the belly hurts MUCH worse than a bee sting on the tongue. For much longer. And after it hurts much worse, it will itch much worse. I guess the good news is that I’m still not allergic to bee stings, but these little surprises during otherwise pleasant rides are not fun.

Call from the 20th century

Published by:

If you had asked me what kind of company would be extremely unlikely to have a website, what kind of company, selling products from another time, would in fact only be reachable by telegram and may even deliver its wares by a combination of steam rail and handcart, well, I would probably have put the company that makes barber poles up near the top of the list.

And yet, here they are, right on the web: The William Marvy Company, proud makers of barber poles, brushes and dusters, and of course Mar-V-Cide sanitizing systems (and don’t you dare call them the poor man’s Barbicide).

For the record, I couldn’t ever see the Barbicide logo without thinking of the genocide of my sister’s Mattel fashion dolls. Perhaps it was a Sweeney Todd thing.

I’m going to stop free associating now.

Summer jobs that would suck

Published by:

#143: Telling people they can’t take chairs out of the Bryant Park Reading Room and into the park. A reading room that isn’t really separated from the park, which is full of identical chairs. All day long. There’s no way to put out a tip jar for that.

Seminole bingo

Published by:

I really can’t relate the trauma that was a visit to the “racino” in Saratoga. I’m not a gambler anyway, and I think that stuffing money into video slot machines is about the most pathetic form of gambling known to man. So imagine a gambling palace with second-class harness racing and a giant hall of nothing but video slot machines. Add tacky carpet, tacky patrons and a strict minimum boob size for waitresses, and you’ve got a sense of that particular hell. I was really ready to get a head full of acid just to deal with the place. The purpose of our visit, however, was sound — our first chance ever to see the Gin Blossoms (from Tempe, Arizona, as they reminded us repeatedly). I have a personal theory that the Gin Blossoms were the Raspberries of the ’90s, and that their tiny output of two major label albums only hinted at their great songwriting ability. Now they’re back on the road and supporting a new album that sounds like a perfect continuation of where they left off. But even better than getting a night out to hear real rock ‘n’ roll was getting to see them in the only venue for rock, a small club. We were right up front; well, behind the drunken frat boys — and guys, here’s the thing: there’s no such thing as a “dancefloor bro.” Either be gay or stop pawing each other when you’re drunk. Make a choice. Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough to you youngsters, it is NOT amazing, surprising, worthy of high fives, or in any way a recognition of your influence when a band plays its best-known hit near the end of the show. They were going to do that. Trust me on this. Anyway, great show, good time bouncing up and down next to the girl I’m always bouncing up and down next to, and I really liked the club. I hadn’t been out to a small club in so long that I didn’t even realize you can now come away without being sick from the cigarette smoke (though it’s still not possible to avoid having drinks spilled on you — see “drunken frat boys,” above) and having a miserable headache the next day.

The only bit of odd excitement on the way home was a stop at a sobriety checkpoint, where I suddenly realized that I was sucking on a ginger Altoids which I suddenly conflated with trying to cover up liquor breath, and even though I took my last drink in the Reagan administration I quickly choked down that ginger and hoped it didn’t get caught in my throat. Then I misunderstood which trooper I was to stop at and couldn’t remember the name of the place I’d been. I’m no good at border crossings, either.

By the way, there are no Seminoles involved in the “racino.” I’m just in a Zevon mood these days.

Roadkill and other thoughts

Published by:

Roadkill of the day? Washcloths. If I saw one while on my ride this morning, I saw a dozen. Clearly, people are discarding washcloths on the roadside at an increasing rate, and government needs to do something about it. I recommend a washcloth deposit system.

Fireworks? Already saw them. Went over to Scotia on Friday night for the waterski show and the fireworks afterward. Surprisingly civilized — we had a picnic table at Jumpin’ Jack’s right by the river, best view around (other than standing on the bridge, which I just can’t get into). Got outta town the back way and even got home by a reasonable hour. For the actual Fourth, probably gonna hit the Valleycats game. You tell me what’s better than a summer night, baseball and fireworks.

Hey, how did Warren Zevon winterize his cabin? With splendid insulation!