Once again, I am pleased to have received in the mail another book. This one came from How To Avoid the Bummer Life Proprietor, accomplished artist, and bacon apologist Stevil Kinevil. Unlike the books I received last week, this book is pre-owned and pre-read, and I can only hope that Stevil does not absent-mindedly clean his ears while he reads like I do. (It leaves an unsightly residue, but it does help with page-turning.) To make up for the pre-readedness, though, Stevil also included some novelty items with the book:
Ah yes, treats for the mind and the tastebuds. As for the book itself, at first I wondered why Stevil was sending me a copy of Floyd Landis's "Positively False":
But then I looked closer and realized the person on the cover was actually a different guy partially in shadow and with a furrowed brow. Moreover, it was someone I had seen before, so I hastened to my "Pit of Embarrassment" and found this:
I also found this:
The flying penis (which is autographed to boot!) wasn't much help, but the Cro-Mags record was, and the book is indeed the memoir of former Cro-Mags "singer" John Joseph. I look forward to reading it--that is, as soon as I finish reading "Neil Diamond Is Forever: The Illustrated Story of the Man and His Music". You may scoff, but reading about Neil Diamond at least spares you from having to actually hear him.
Speaking of stuff from the "streets" (I'm talking about the Cro-Mags, not flying penises or Neil Diamond), I was checking out Streetsblog recently. (Sometimes I experience a sharp, inexplicable craving for smug self-righteousness and Streetsblog satisfies those pangs quite nicely.) Among the various civic-minded post was this one, which discussed "schluffing".
"Schluffing" may sound like something you'd do with a loofah, or else like the last name of a Serotta-owning dentist, but it's apparently a form of half-assed riding advocated by the guy who wrote this article in the New York Times--though whether he's advocating it sincerely or ironically was unclear. So I went over to his blog to learn more:
Biking is the best way to go in the city if you are not walking. We at the Thoreau You Don't Know believe strongly in this proposition. Meanwhile, as far as bike etiquette goes, it's tough to stay off the sidewalk even thought the law and courtesy says we ought to. (A friend of the staff recently went to court for a sidewalk bike riding ticket and served some community service time.) Sidewalk bike riding is like jaywalking--who among us cannot resist, once in a while or more. Bikes, like people, are vehicles of compromise. Thus, we draw attention to the schluff, for when you absolutely have to move on the sidewalk and absolutely won't actually "ride."
First of all, I object to the term "biking." Riding your bike is called "riding," or "cycling." Do you call walking "shoeing?" Do you call driving "carring?" Do you call riding the subway "training?" (Actually, I'm not sure what you call riding the subway, but I do know that "training" is what roadies call cycling.) "Biking" is something you do in white sneakers, and it looks like this.
Secondly, what's so hard about staying off the sidewalk? It's only a few yards wide at most, and the street's always right there next to you. It's not like it's so far away that you need to ride to it. Plus, while the streets may be full of cars, the sidewalks are full of people and animals. Does weaving through slow-moving pedestrians present an irresistible temptation to some cyclists--so much so that they go to court over it and are forced to do community service? And what kind of community service must the sidewalk cyclist serve? I think being forced to pick up after people's dogs for them would be a fitting punishment.
Thirdly, why is a bicycle in particular a "vehicle of compromise?" All vehicles require compromise--except Tesco's Sky Penis. That really is the best of everything, especially when you add the Floyd Landis model testosterone patch hop-up kit.
Anyway, since this guy and his friends apparently can't keep their hybrids off the sidewalk, he's come up with this "schluffing" thing, which involves pushing the bike along like a scooter. The post also features a short instructional video. Here are some women standing around discussing where they bought their coats and how awesome it is to live in Brownstone Brooklyn:
Here's some guy on a bike who was unable to resist the sidewalk's siren call. He is "schluffing" by standing on his pedal and pushing his bike along as if this is somehow better than moving ten feet to the left and actually riding the thing:
As he approaches the women, he dismounts and stops "schluffing," as though he has any dignity left to preserve:
Here he is walking past the women, who are now now discussing how elegantly appointed the insides of their brownstones are. Note the "schluff" has apparently been successful, as they are not angry at him for riding on the sidewalk. In fact they don't even notice him:
The video points out the importance of the dismount, or "transition." In this sense, I suppose "schluffing" is similar to cyclocross. Perhaps a better name for it would be "dorklocross":
Incidentally, while the "schluff" may have succeeded in not angering the women, it turns out they did notice him. After he passes, they clearly look at him and temporarily change the subject from how nice their brownstones are to how dorky that guy was:
By the way, the video is accompanied by Irish folk music, as though "schluffing" has some sort of old-world charm about it. Frankly, if he's going to sell this whole idea, he really should try the fixed-gear video approach and go with more aggressive music. I actually muted the sound, opened a new window, played this, and watched the "schluffing" instructional with the new soundtrack. I'm sure you'll agree it works much better than the fiddles.
But even a punishing new soundtrack can't disguise the problems inherent in "schluffing":
--You can't "schluff" on a fixed gear;
--"Schluffing" would be extremely difficult with road shoes;
--"Schluffing" would be extremely difficult with toe clips;
--"Schluffing" is stupid.
And probably the worst thing about "schluffing" is that you're selling out your bike. Reducing your bicycle to the status of a scooter is like declawing a lion or de-venomizing a snake. Perhaps some of these people might actually be more comfortable on scooters than on bicycles. Actually, they'd probably be a lot happier on Mogos--then they could "schluff" all the time. Not to mention the fact that it opens the door for other vehicles to ride on the sidewalk as well. Before you know it people will be driving their cars on the sidewalk with one foot sticking out the door. I mean, people are already driving on the sidewalks as it is--not too long ago I was standing (not "schluffing") on the sidewalk with my bicycle when a car almost hit me. I even have photographic evidence. Here's the car just after it passed me, left the sidewalk, and entered the interesection diagonally:
Hey, I'll admit I've hopped onto the sidewalk to skirt a traffic jam. But if something forces me onto the sidewalk, instead of "schluffing," I just throw one of these. Nobody even knows I was there.