Category Archives: Schenectady

Bicycles and 45s

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So, where have I been, you ask? Busy. Extremely busy. Busy-ness of the one-armed paperhanger variety. One-armed paperhanger working New Orleans in the dead of summer, using a particularly cheap variety of paste. Perhaps “Stickzit” brand. Or perhaps “Mono-Arm and Hammer”.

Busy, in other words. Work has been insane. Too much to do, 300 fewer people to do it. Plus, a whole political thing going on that is the ugliest thing I’ve seen, and I’ve been doing this for a bunch of years now. They’re giving backbiting, spiteful politics a bad name. And then yesterday it looked like a momentary lull in the workload, a day when hardly anyone would need me, and so after a meeting in the morning up north, I jumped on my bike. I can now report that the entire length of the bike path from the Ft. Edward feeder canal to Lake George has excellent cell phone reception. Of course it’s inconceivable that I could take a ride without the cell phone, I’ve given up on that idea — I’m lucky I get to take a shower after I come back from a run without getting called. But I’m not going to be such a dork, such a complete asshole as to take a headset with me on a bike ride. Which meant, yesterday, that I was such a complete asshole as to have to stop and answer the phone on a regular basis. 2-1/2 hours of riding, 45 minutes on the phone. But I made it to Lake George, and did a stretch of the trail along the old Feeder Canal that I’d never been able to do because it’s a soft surface unsuitable for skates. So, in all, 32 miles in 2.5 hours of actual riding time, average speed of 13 mph (LOTS of grade crossings). My thighs both weighed a hundred pounds last night, but all in all I’m faring very well and my recent thoughts of entering a 25 or 50 mile race may not be as stupid as they may have appeared. Well, we’ll see.

On my own with the kids this weekend, except that one is away for an overnight, so I’ve just got one. The house feels weird, but she stepped up her jabbering to fill any potential voids. Never sure what to do with time at home all by myself. Could work on the house, could write the Great Northeastern Novel (not trying to overreach by going for the Great American Novel, mind you), could take up the hash pipe.

Rebekah needed a new bike. The girl won’t stop growing. The hand-me-down from last year looks like a clown bike under her. So, off we went to the Steiner’s tonight. The best thing they had was a Specialized Hot Rock, exactly the same bike as I bought Hannah last spring, but this one is a 21-speed, Hannah’s was a 7. They didn’t have one with only 7. Can’t buy younger daughter better bike. I’m not insane. I know how the seniority thing works. So, solution is that this new 21-speed is for Hannah, and Bek will get her barely used 7-speed. If Hannah buys the solution. We’ll see. Saw a nice bike for The Mommy too, will have to see if she’s up for it. Got myself some new gloves (really could have used them yesterday) and a bike shirt, too.

Well, mere weeks after I splurged on my iPod, Apple came out with newer, smaller, bigger iPod, of course. And they upgraded iTunes and added their much-heralded music service, which DOES rock. I will pay $1 for a song. In fact, that’s what I paid for a song back in the ’70s, in the day of singles, so I think that’s fair. When I was first deemed old enough to bike into the wilds of Schenectady for purposes of visiting the Apex Music Corner, I believe the magical 45 was 79 cents. Ah, the time lost to Apex . . . also known as Armpit or Apeshit, since it’s not possible for a 12-year-old boy to eschew satiric renaming. Somewhere recently I read among all the laments about the downfall of the music business that there’s simply no real connection to the product anymore, and a number of people laid it squarely at the feet of the death of the single. Certainly it’s true that no one cares any more what label something is on (perhaps that’s different in the hip hop world), whereas back then, the label was part of the whole package, and people who bought records from dorky labels like Bell (think Tony Orlando & Dawn) were deserving of certain levels of ridicule. And, a la Diner, you HAD to know the names of the flip sides, even if they were rarely worth playing. Granted, albums then tended to suck; there was rarely anything beyond the singles worth hearing, so singles were the dominant form. To this day, I remember the names of flip sides to records that I hated, to records that I never even owned, to records that I haven’t seen in 20 years. It’s a curse, but it’s also a culture. Browsing a record store was, for many many years, just the best thing I could ever think of doing. And it started at Armpit, where the top singles of the week were available for listening through a single, monaural speaker you pressed to your ear (taking care to keep its wires aligned just so. They had albums, too, and I bought a number there. The first single I ever bought was “Daniel” by Elton John, and the first album was “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player.” My taste got progressively worse from there, for a while, and then in college I constantly scoured the dusty used record stores to fill my collection with ’60s British Invasion stuff and horrible pop vaguely remembered from the years before I had a radio of my own. Some of the stuff stands up. I still own it all.

Oh yeah, the iPod. Well, anyway, the new iTunes and the music service use AAC, superior to MP3 but not previously available as an encoding regime, and so I am, as we speak, re-ripping many of the CDs I had already ripped just a few weeks ago, now into the superior format. Suffering for my music once again.

Flip side of “Daniel?” “Skyline Pigeon.” It sucked so bad. On MCA records, with the rainbow label.

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