Saturday, August 22, 2009

Brooklyn, now

A storm moved in
this afternoon
as I napped
And brought with it
the most pleasant
I've felt in a while
And the evening
Became cool
And stayed cool
These summer nights

Friday, August 21, 2009


Are changing color and falling on the ground. Already.

Dog days

The days are getting heavy. These dog days of summer, man. Early a.m. and late evening are really the only pleasant times to do anything - and the a.m. doesn't exist. Today I poached some space in a roommates air conditioned room. It's a completely different world. The brain swelling goes down slightly and functions better with the use of a few more synapses. Granted, synapses that are a little further apart than they should be but still useful if they're given room to amass.

Delivered more wine tonight than any other time this summer. Always multiple bottles and without the task of decision attached. Just tell me what's good and I'll agree.

Playing around this cement maze of one way streets between the handrails. I know all the cracks, the dips. I can read the height of curb on the most dimly lit streets. Streets where the black cats roam and cross your path.

Crickets exist here.

A Fox followed me all evening.

The only cure is midnight Seltzer.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Summer Rounds

I'm back in Brooklyn after a reconnaissance/road/camp trip to my old stomping grounds in Harrisonburg, VA and Davis, WV. Mimi had a date with Bluegrass week at the Augusta Festival at D&E college in Elkins, WV so the trip had a lot of different destinations before heading back up through Pittsburgh and back into the concrete jungle of New York City.

Miss Tess was in Brooklyn for a show and since she was also headed down to Augusta, she jumped in the Subie and tipped the boy, beast (Riot the dog), girl ratio to boy, beast, girl, girl. A good ratio to say the least. Aiming for an early departure, we managed to pry our eyes open to the fresh blue sky and potent sunlight that is only around during the crisp morning hours. Wearily, we soldiered on, secretly impressed with ourselves after pulling a late one at Tess's show the night before. We managed our way through the treacherous NYPD war zone of Manhattan. It's not the danger that makes me nervous driving through the city at any given hour because there is nothing really that dangerous about it, it's the intricately woven and strategically placed road rules that seem to only be tripped if you're actually focusing on not tripping them! We made it through fine with Mimi piloting and steering us toward a place outside the city walls with fewer stop lights and even fewer law enforcement. We went through the Lincoln tunnel and hit Jersey, grabbed a ticket and tried our best not to miss the exit on to 78. I was alert and anticipating the 78 exit since it's eluded me in the past falling victim to my own personal auto pilot mode and getting funneled onto 95.

The trip was long with the added leg to drop the beast off at Oak Forest Kennels (AKA Fred 'n Jinny's Dog World Center of the Universe). Come one, come all! Or, rather, bring one, bring all... your pets! Riot's week at the center of dog universe was kindly "on the house" courtesy of my grandparents. The beast came away with fond memories, I'm sure, even though it stung at first. And how could he not with so many other beasts to yap with, the view of galloping miniature horses and swarms of min-pins circling and heckling the penned guests.

We dropped Tess off in Harrisonburg at the Clementine Cafe, an awesome newish music venue, on South Main st. to spare her the out and back of the beast drop. When we made it to Harrisonburg for the second time that day, the trip-time meter was rolling into the ten hour mark. We rolled into the shared SBC/Clementine parking lot and found our friend exploring the alley with an herbal intent and the flash of an aluminum Altoids container. I managed to roll through town undiscovered twice that day. It was actually pretty frightening to me coming from Brooklyn where the bustle never ends to a pre-college being in session Sunday afternoon in Harrisonburg, VA. It was the anti-bustle and I had to remind myself that there are actually people and people I know there. So, we gathered Tess and neatly pack her into the Subie and cruised quickly over the small but sharp foothills before climbing over Shenandoah Mtn. into WV. With enough speed, our stomachs were in our throats over the top of the bumps. When I closed my eyes I pretended I was on the Cyclone back in Coney Island. Tess had some moonshine that Chip Chase had given her during her last visit to the Purple Fiddle and gave me a swig as we crawled over the mountain towards several more mountains that would eventually take us to the other sleepiest college town I've ever been to. My stomach was pretty empty so the shine took effect immediately. Over the mountain and passed Fat Boys Pork Palace, where my uncle Luke once got me a yellow FBPP shirt that stunk of stale Cigarette smoke, we made one last stop in Brandywine. The little service station we stopped at has a long history of epic bike ride pit-stops, complete with the hot food deli and heat lamps to keep the golden fried assortment glistening until late into the day. I remember stopping there once and noticing that a couple fried eggs were floating in a tub of water under a heat lamp. Outside there was a years old loitering contingent of old men that stared wonderingly as Mimi and Tess walked by.

We made it to Elkins around ten p.m. that night, dropped Tess off and went in search of the late Augusta check in. There were little jams going on as we walked into the were the daytime check in center past a building with little pyramid looking things anchoring it. We ended up getting pointed to the late check in by a woman that I later while reading the Augusta Program was the director of the entire thing. Mimi checked herself in at the same building I remember checking into when the Chase brothers and I all did a dance week. Afterwards we drove across town and set up camp for the evening at my friend Andy Fitzgibon's place.

The next morning I drove up to Davis early to visit everyone. The morning was the classic WV summery-cool and misty morning with the sun just behind burning it's way through and making way for a blue sky. I stopped by east-west first to say hi to mom and Ruthie then hit the bike shop. The routine is the same each time I go there with Roger doing his Roger thing that seems to work so well for that place. I could write an entire blog about the details of what goes on anytime I step in that place and how time speeds up and all. I gave both my bikes some much needed attention so I could ride while I was there and when I went back to the Burg. I've got plans for round four of my cycling story so I tried to share what I knew as much as possible.
I went for an evening ride into the valley on my mountain bike via the old trial road and an assortment of newer CVI singletrack out to the swinging bridge. My body is so funny about the fit of certain bikes. Sometimes after riding the road bike for months on end my mtb feels like a completely foreign and awkward extension. Other times it feels completely part of me and I feel snappy and ready to dive into steep singletrack with a flow that feels completely ingrained. That night it felt great. The 24 hours of Big Bear fitness! It was just laying dormant until I touched the mountain bike again. I crossed the swinging bridge and thought of the 2002 tour de Lilly. I felt every part of my peddle stroke conforming the soft treads of my tire into the trail and propelling me up the steep, root strewn face to the fire road. I started the climb to Canaan heights and found a comfortable rhythm. The late day sun was beginning to turn orange as I crested the top of the climb and into an obvious developmental carnage. I still got a good view of the Valley, though. On the way back towards 32 I decided to pile on another steep climb and ended up, by chance, running into Karl on one of his job sites. He was painting and his dog was in the truck. Boy, dog, truck. Paint brush. Dinner plans. He's on it. He reminded me to come to the Monday night potluck at the east-west kitchen. I bombed back into town and met Mackie Marcus for some beers on Gary Berti's deck above the bike shop. We soaked in the remainder of the evening sun then went to the shop for fresh fish, salad, shrimp, chanterelle mushrooms and blueberry cobbler with Karl and Tyler. Holy fucking shit is all I can really say. And that it was a really good time.

I ended going out for a two pronged ride the follow day. I was feeling solitary so I took off, again late in the day, into the Blackwater Falls the back way past the STP Pond and over the creek. I took another random turn and ended up riding strait up the pipeline to plantation trail. The ride was soggy and I thought of all the times I've raced down it over the years. The semi-service road was completely overgrown. It's basically a wetland and I can't remember it ever being dry. My tire would sink into the spongy moss and I'd lose my momentum, only then relying on the power of my well developed leg speed to keep the cadence high and my bike crawling forward. I remember once, like ten years ago, riding up the pipeline and running into a guy with what I thought was a giant knife. I sprinted back to the bike shop to warn Matt and Sue who getting ready to ride, "there's a guy out on the pipeline with a giant knife!". "What?!" said Matt. They saw the guy, too, and told me later that the object he was carrying was a camera for photographing birds.

When I neared the plantation trail I could hear voices and out of the woods came Cory Chase and Tony from Hypno Coffee. They were on a 16 mile run. I said hey and Karl called my cell phone wondering why I left him and that he wanted to do a ride. I dove into the single track and sprinted my way back out to Rt. 32 and into town. Karl was fixing his flat tire when I got there. We ended up riding the State championship course backward up to HooDoo Rocks. Karl absolutely rocked and further confirmed his single track prowess. On top of the rocks there is a panoramic view of Davis. We hung out and discussed all the current happening of each others life, the trivialities of every day. We didn't leave until found the exact Billy Bragg song to sum up our exact feelings at that moment up on those rocks. We let song after song blare over my iphone and we found that almost all of them hit the feeling on the head! I burned "Back to Basics" for Karl when we got back to town. I stole a shower from Gary Berti's house then ate a Burrito at Hellbender with Karl. He talked me into staying in town that night and we both crashed on the east-west deck over front street.

I was out early the next morning feeling completely refreshed after a morning coffee session in the kitchen with Karl and Tyler. Afterward, I drove down the mountain to get the ailing subaru tail pipe welded back on. Got a deal from one of Karl's friends.

With a quieter car, I drove to Elkins to catch a concert at Augusta with the Meems and we had El Grand Sabor. Andy Mckeegan was expecting me for some mid-season motivation so I B-lined it to the Burg and had a great impromptu gathering with everyone at the Blue Nile basement bar. Suzy Q was there as well as the other mainstays. Colin was behind the bar and a band played. Mckeegan drank too much and I'm getting bogged down here.... My mind is going numb with detail. Anyway, it was a classic evening and was actually the same way departure from the Burg 10 months ago was. Except that time it was with Jonny Sundt giving me a boost and supporting my decision to unplug from racing for awhile. He kept telling the bartender how fucking awesome it was that I was going to NYC to be a bike messenger. And it was. It is.

Sue and I met for a ride the next morning out in Singer's Glen for the "no more than an hour" special. I couldn't help but to prod her with questions about what she was up to and what her "plans" were for the future. Asking people those questions is like rubbing a cat's fur backwards. A sure way to feel better about your own indecision while sifting through someone else's. It was awesome to ride with her and she's looking fit and back to fighting strength on the bike. In the same ride I made a visit to the Bishop's and got to hold little Conrad, visit the folks at 222 Campbell st and check out the house I'm going live in starting in September.

Kyle and I hit up The Little Grill for Breakfast Night which is also open mic night. That place feeds my soul and destroys Jeff Schalk's. Go figure! I hope he reads this. My shout out to him will be one of my favorite direct quotes from a couple years ago. And yes, I wrote that shit down. "I like eating things I know I've dominated and destroyed" -Jeff Schalk
Kyle and I had this great beer with our breakfast that night. It was an Amber of sorts.

The following day Andy and I hit the mountains on our skinny tire bikes. 3.5 hours with an 8 mile dirt road climb that at one point had us off our bikes to scurry down into a ravine from an un-finished bridge. After that we knew the road was ours. I cried a few times and got mad that Andy kept wanting to extend the ride. I'm going to be so much fun to ride with this fall.

I hit Ciro's pizza on the way out of town and went back to Oak Forest to pick up the Beast. He walk outa that kennel with a swagger that seemed give all the dogs behind him a big " fuck ya'll, I'm out".

I'm out. And out and... out.

Oak Forest - Harrisonburg - Elkins - Davis - Aurora - Pittsburgh - Queens - Brooklyn.