Bikes. Parts. Chaos.
Skip was right in that last post: you people are wrong for being right about being wronged. You love us. We thank you. You come back for more. We back off and laugh uncomfortably. You get in close trying to prove you're not weird. And that makes daddy drink. Still, the confusion lies in our unsettling silence. It's not you, it's us. You should know we think of you often even though we can't be where you are. And yet still you are there, waiting patiently. But we are not free yet. So now you will have to close your eyes and pretend this is real bikesmartfotainment. To wit: a thick slab of that what has drifted through our nets recently. Eat it slow. We have miles to go before we sleep. John O, a proud Pugsley owner, was sent this photo by his brother Paul in Virginia, MN, which is way up nort', up by Hibbing and Embarrass, north and west of Lac Superior on the famed Iron Range, framed by several national forests. The area is as beautiful as it is cold. The subject header on the email containing only the photo was Now I've Seen It All. Oh yeah? Brother you ain't seen nothing yet. Sweet. Who is that guy? He looks tough as shit. In other news, the physical space occupied by Surly Bikes Intergalactic HQ is connected to an automated lighting system named -and I am not making this up- HAL, named so by the facilities staff presumably for its occasionally schizo behavior. SuperFlatFloor Nelson's email about HAL's antics outlined what they believe to have been the source of the problem, the parts ordered to fix, it, why those parts didn't work, and why they believe that with now newer parts they have finally secured the perimeter, as it were. Incredulous to the desert dry humor of sentences like "Thanks for making it through this ordeal with us and being very, very patient with HAL's antics.", and "...causing the lights throughout the new DC to turn on and off at all different times of the day. Hence, HAL was getting the upper hand.", I wrote and asked our man Aaron if he was picking up the frequency kenneth or if my mind was playing tricks on me. He responded, "Totally. I didn't think much of it until I left last night and the parking lot lights were off." Yeah, plus the alarm system acts up around this Facility too and so do the vending machines. Best keep your powder dry. Because, as Aaron points out (about something entirely unrelated --or is it?), "As the phenomenal piece of Subgenius propaganda famously says, 'The crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe.' Turns out it's a Zappa reference. Who knew?" There's a lot of truth stuffed gasping into the trunk of that biscuit. That apostrophe thing goes way back. One book I recently read traces it back to a time before existed even the most rudimentary single celled organisms, when Life on Earth was just an unordered, unowned soup of inspired chemical interactions. And then the apostrophe came like a flash of binary lightning, and some compounds began to keep previously random useful chemical subsections for themselves, actively. Agressively. Getting the upper hand. That was the crux of it anyway. To my mind parentheses are almost as bad. Secretive interruptions. Commas are one step from that. It isn't paranoia if they really are out to get you. But isn't it really the fault of the binary flash, the idea itself? Blinding light and blinding shadow insisting on your immediate submission or anhililation. Easy, sailor. Where's the romance, the adventure, the nuance that makes all this fragility so achingly beautiful and thus worth something in this great big empty? On to other things. Frostbike is coming. What is Frostbike? Well it ain't nothing unless you work in a bike shop, or are an attache' to the so-called Bicycle Industry, are almost certainly in the U.S., and most likely within 500 miles of Bloomington, MN (which is most decidedly NOT as beautiful as Virginia, MN, nor as beautiful as HAL for that matter). Frostbike is a tradeshow of sorts, put on by QBP, our overlords, on/at the aforementioned HAL-occupied compound facility. It occurs near the end of February, which around here means about as cold and windy as it gets. So yeah, it's a pretty big deal. I bring it up for two reasons: 1) If you're coming to Frostbike this year be advised Surly is doing the Pug race out back again. If that doesn't show you how much we love you I don't know what could. Just know that we will have fat tire bikes for you to ride and a fire (fire good) and some semblance of an 'event,' whatever that means. And at some point we will shout at you through a megaphone to leave promptly and shortly thereafter we'll release the hounds. And the bees. And the hounds with bees in their mouths so when they bark they shoot bees at you. So show up. Have fun. Go to bed late. Feel like shit in the morning. It's fun. Like we say up north. Hold my beer and watch this. And 2) Frostbike made me think of Tobie The Paw, owner of North Central Cyclery in DeKalb, IL, who first approached me lo these many years ago at Frostbike asking how to sell Surlies in his shop. Like I know. But sell them they did, and Tobie wrote recently and said, in part, "I remember laughing at the idea of selling 10 Surly bikes. We've got big plans for 2009er. Or the world will collapse and we'll all start farming to feed our families; that would be cool, too." And that in turn made me think about the topic on everybody's fear-makers, the economy. People have asked me How's Surly going to weather this? Again: Like I know. But I will say this: we're not only at the crossroad of a darkening national and global economy, and as well national governmental leadership change, and natural and man-made disasters aplenty, but also we're at a point of greater than ever before environmental and social awareness and action on the part of nearly every person reading this. We at Surly are sticking with our plan to design good stuff that's built to last and not cost you a ton of cash. People need a decent value on quality stuff that makes their lives easier. Our goods fit that bill pretty well I think. Aren't you worried people say. You make bikes. Bikes are luxury items. No they aren't. Cars are luxury items. And I don't mean trucks, not working vehicles, but cars. Not for everyone, but for a lot of people. Enough to matter. Enough that convenience is killing us. Single use plastics are luxury items. Try going a week without using any plastic that you can't use more than one time. Go on, I dare you. Our world is awash in plastic at all levels. Plastics cause physical and, we're understanding more now, chemical changes in an already stressed food chain. And it doesn't go away. All cheap disposable crap is a luxury item, and there's a lot of that around. But Surly doesn't do that, never has. And you people know it. So let's all take a deep breath and start in. I look to the future with optimism. Or at least optimism as much as a person like me has squirreled away. Will the coming days be easy? Well, they won't all be great. It might be messy going or it might be fine. Just like always. But it'll be change, and lord knows we all need some of that. If a small, independent business like North Central Cyclery (or One On One, or Speedgoat, or Free Range, or a hundred others) can become a destination shop for a brand of bicycles that make so much sense they don't look good to hipsters, I think things will be o.k. They did it through hard work and observation and being human beings. That's how we try to do it too. Some people get scared -for good reason- and this causes them to hoard and own lots of things and demand their freedom and in the same breath defend their right to convenience as if it were worth fighting for. Which I suppose it is. George Bernard Shaw said something like 'The reasonable man adapts to the world. The unreasonable man expects the world to adapt to him. Therefore all progress is made by unreasonable men.' And those people and other people and all people say things like You're lucky to have a job. Which is true actually. But if that were all it came to there wouldn't be a sane one among us. Insanity isn't the absence of reason, it's the absence of everything but reason. Who said that? Doesn't much matter. We're all in this together. If you need proof of that, the back cover of the December 2008 MetLife insurance newsletter Life Advice features a story -complete with photo- of a woman and her Surly Big Dummy, which the article explains she bought after careful consideration when she needed to replace her car. I want stress that I, as Surly's liason to this sort of PR, had nothing to do with this even though I sort of wish I had. In fact I wrote to the author to thank her and ask her questions about how she decided to do this article. She responded: "I'm trying to retrain the MetLife clients to think more 'green.' So, including the Surly was an interesting way of presenting a person--Sarah Sweedler--who cares about the environment, the world, and her children. And she's helping her children have social/environmental consciousness. This is my version of subtle propaganda." See? HAL. The crux of the biscuit. Keep the powder dry. We're all in this together. Sarah Sweedler brings us to this last bit, a subject worth talking about today as long as we're talking about serious things: passengering people on your longbike, such as an Xtracycle Freerad or a Surly Big Dummy. Xtracycle are the people who designed one of those Things That Make Sense in their FreeRad cargo half-frame/bike add on, which led directly to the Surly Big Dummy, as I'm sure you must know by now. They wrote a piece about it on their blog which is worth a read, and I sure can't say it any better than that. And me? I pulled into Nazareth feeling about half past dead. Lately I've been locked away in the Fortress of Solitude looking like Celine Dion's corpse in my homemade ivory (with baby blue thread) raw silk acoutremont with knotted shoulder piece, a cancer of a corsaged ball gown remnant fitted to a haggard stack of 5 o'clock shadow, my zombied eyes following slowly the movements of all the things running away from me in their terror. Even humor. I am a caged cat endlessly pacing. Don't take your eyes off me or I might disappear and then you won't know where I am. Photos speak a thousand words and some things are better left unsaid so I will not explain further. In short, I know why Frankenstein's monster threw that girl down the well. It was love. So, to recap: senseless drivel? Or foofangled fubnarb? I assure you it makes as much sense as you let it. Go to sleep you weary hobos. -----