Thieving thieves and their thieving thievery

February 18, 2013 § 27 Comments

I pedaled over to the CRB crit this morning and it was cold. I had a cup of coffee. I bought three cookies for fifty cents. I got my number and forty-seven safety pins and began pinning it on. Armin Rahm let me sit in one of his chairs, which warmed my back. Kristy Morrow and Haldane Morris were getting ready to race instead of toting the giant cameras with which they can normally be seen.

Along with Danny Munson, BJ Hale, Brian Hodes, Greg de Guzman, PinkShorts, Christy Nicholson, and a slew of other fine race photographers, Kristy and Haldane make up the photo corps that documents the local races with such amazing quality and detail.

After I got my number pinned on I was going to go over and chat with Kristy about the photos she’d taken at the UCLA road race yesterday. At that very moment, I felt a deep and powerful rumbling in my lower gut.

A very public performance

This was unusual; although I’m a bit of a dribbler before racing, I’m hardly ever a crumper, and this was a lowdown churning sending a message to my brain saying, “Find a deep hole quick or we’re gonna need a hazmat squad!”

I clattered over to the cages, and since my 50+ Elderly Prostate race was going off in fifteen minutes there was already a solid line. Pottymouth that he is, Chris Lotts understands the importance of potties, and there were four stalls to accommodate us. As I stood in the queue it lengthened behind me. My turn came, not a second too soon, either.

I dashed in, hung my jersey on the peg (careful not to drop anything on the floor, eccch), and quickly sat down. There was action in the cage to my right and to my left. Righty was dribbling, and Lefty sounded like he was in the mop-up stages of his pre-race crump.

What happened next was astonishing. I know that it couldn’t have had anything to do with dinner the night before, which consisted of two large servings of spicy pork bulgogi, four servings of spicy kimchi, three servings of spicy cucumbers in vinegar, lots of hot herbal tea, all topped off with a big bowl of yogurt and fruit. I also know that it couldn’t have had anything to do with the fibrous breakfast I’d just eaten, the pot of hot coffee I’d just drunk, the forty-five minutes of hard pedaling to get to the race course, the extra hot cup of coffee I’d just downed, the chocolate chip cookies I’d just eaten, or the handful of dates I’d just scarfed. Nope, it couldn’t have been any of those things.

But it might have been all of them combined, because I let out an enormous braaaaaack, then a whummmmmp, then a staccato tackatackatackatacka fusillade of small arms fire, then a massive flurlurlurlurlurrrrrrp discharge of the River Ganges that sounded like a waterfall filled with raisins and dates, then a high-pitched bibibibibibiiiiii whine like a bottle rocket, then another deep whummmmmp, and then an airy, balloon-emptying blaaaaaat, terminating with a pfssssssssst.

It all happened in the clench of a sphincter, and after the racket subsided and the sounds stopped bouncing off the inside of the plastic shell, I realized that all around me there was…nothing. Righty was silent. Lefty was silent. All chatter and banter outside the cage had gone mute.

Before I had time to get embarrassed, the second movement of my public symphony commenced. This time it began with the fusillade, went straight to whump, and finished with the blaaat, which sounded like a kid trying to blow a proper note on a trumpet for the first time, and failing.

More silence.

I pulled up my shorts and bravely opened the door. Thirty or so awed and very frightened bike racers stood there, all but a couple averting their gaze. No matter that they all had to go so badly that they were tap dancing in their cleats, not a single person moved towards my potty, which was now vacant.

I looked straight at Mr. Next In Line. “Might want to give that ‘un a second or two to air out,” I said.

He nodded, pale, and didn’t budge.

Oh, the race?

Since I’d already won Pro 1/2/3/4/5/Masters/Women’s/Juniors’ potty competition, the race was anticlimactic. I attacked a couple of time, chased a couple of breaks, and went for a no-hoper solo flyer on the last lap which ended the same way such boneheaded moves always do: Caught with half a lap to go, dropped by the supercharged field, and rolling across the finish DFL many seconds in arrears.

After the race I rode over to my office in Torrance to work for a few hours. “Work” of course involved checking out the photos taken by Kristy and Haldane the day before.

There were some great ones. Me quitting the race in ignominy. Mike Easter winning in his national champion’s kit. Jeff Konsmo sprinting for the win. The local Pearblossom tweeker driving around, flipping off cyclists, and telling them to “ride on the sidewalk.” [Author’s note: The nearest sidewalk is 47 miles away, in Los Angeles.]

After a few minutes, one thing became obvious. The same thing that’s obvious after every race: People were stealing the photos.

Can we call it what it is?

When a photographer takes a picture, and you take it without their permission, it’s stealing. It’s no different from taking someone’s money, or their spare wheelset, or their wallet.

It’s stealing.

Virtually all of the local race photographers have their photos in a gallery on Smugmug or some similar site. This means you can go to the gallery, PAY FOR THE PHOTO, and then download it. It often costs a whole two or three dollars.

But bike racers being bike racers, the trend is to steal the image, remove the watermark, and then use it as  a profile picture or main feature on a team web site. Why don’t the thieving thieves consider this thievery? Because they have figured it out in their own minds that it’s not stealing. Here’s how they rationalize the theft:

  1. “I gave the photographer credit for the photo.” Nice. So you not only stole it, you rubbed his nose in it. Photo thieves think there’s this giant Photo Credit Bank in the sky, where, as long as you “give the photographer credit,” the bank rains money down on them. Guess what? There is no Photo Credit Bank. Guess what else? Just because you admit you stole something doesn’t mean you didn’t steal it.
  2. “I’m helping promote their work. It gets their name out.” Right. Kind of like how you promote Michael Jackson by illegally downloading his music without paying for it and then play it to “get his name out?” Or the way you promote Steven Spielberg by ripping off his movies? That kind of “promotion” is called “stealing.”
  3. “They don’t care. They’re just glad we appreciate their work.” Yes, they do care. And you’re not appreciating it. You’re stealing it. If you appreciated it, you’d pay for it.
  4. “It’s part of their cost of doing business. They sell some of those photos, which makes up for the ones they don’t sell.” Exactly. In retail it’s called “shrinkage,” or, more technically, “shoplifting.” It’s a cost of doing business all right, the cost of crime.
  5. “So sue me.” Glad you brought that up. Check out these links to find out the kind of hot water that can be boiled up around your tender parts for stealing pictures: Blogger sued for infringement; Company sued for photo theft; Ways you can get hosed using images without permission.

So what’s a feller to do?

When one of our local photographers takes your picture as you battle it out for 37th place in the Masters 75+ race, tags you on Facebook, and it pops up as a notification, check it out and see if you like it. If you do, go the web site and buy a copy. But don’t take it, strip the watermark, and use it as your profile picture. After you’ve bought it, it’s good form to confirm with the photographer how you plan to use it and that they approve. It’s not only polite, it could keep you out of hot water, and most importantly it will keep them coming to the races and making us the beneficiaries of their superlative work.

If you’ve got hundreds of photos on your Facebook page, take a minute to scroll through them and make sure that if they’re race photos you haven’t copied and pasted without buying or getting permission. One or two falling through the cracks might be understandable, but more than that and it’s a pattern. A bad one.

None of this is supposed to be an explanation of your legal rights, or, Dog forbid, legal counsel. Rather, it’s a plea to quit ripping off your friends, and if you’ve ripped them off by mistake, or in error…correct the mistake. You’ll find that money, timely paid, covers a multitude of sins.

If you’re ever in doubt, ask first. You’ll be glad you did, and they’ll be even more so.

And if you need a quiet place to sit down and think all this over, just don’t go into Stall No. 3.

END

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Awesome [censored] party!

July 31, 2012 § 4 Comments

Huge props to BJ Hale and the whole SoCal cycling family for bringing everyone together last Thursday night to Surf City Cyclery in Costa Mesa, where CyclingIllustrated.com lifted off, officially, into outer space.

Like any good family party it had the usual cast of characters: Crazy Uncle Hank who sits out on the porch all day drinking warm beer and shooting BB’s at stray cats; Cousin Slinky whose clothes are two sizes too small and whose [censored] keep almost bursting to freedom; Grandpa Dinkums who’ll pull you over and talk for an hour about how in his day they raced on square bicycle wheels; Brother Slick who makes a mysterious living selling a mysterious product that always keeps him in Porsches and Armanis; Brother Goat who can’t do anything right and who could [censored] up a [censored]; and most of all Daddy Warbucks, the hard-driving head of the family who makes it all happen.

We had all come together to celebrate the launch of CyclingIllustrated.com, but before we celebrated we got to eat free Mexican food, drink free tequila, and scoop up awesome gift bags loaded with quality swag.

So what the [censored] IS CyclingIllustrated.com?

In a word, it’s “the passion of cycling.” Okay, make that four words. Unlike the antiseptic voices of CyclingNews and Velonews and Bicycling, deadly dull publications written by fatass wannabe fanboys with typewriters, CyclingIllustrated is a new, vibrant, exciting voice written by fatass wannabe fanboys with typewriters who actually race, along with the voices of men and women who make up the very top of the cycling elite.

CyclingIllustrated.com’s goal is to let top racers in all age groups and cycling disciplines share their insights with us, in their own words. In fact, after a quick analysis of the last 4,982 first-person accounts of elite cyclists, a recent study concluded that every successful cyclist has the same ten insights, which I’ve reproduced for you below.

  1. “Hard race.”
  2. “Attacked and got away.”
  3. “Sketchy sprint.”
  4. “No legs.”
  5. “Not my course.”
  6. “Good legs.”
  7. “Great teammates.”
  8. “That’s bike racing.”
  9. “Bah.” (Plus shrug.)
  10. “Mechanical.”

In fact, the video interviews and columns that CyclingIllustrated.com features on its web site offer a new and interesting take on the sport, because we get to hear the strategies, plans, successes, and failures from the very people we see every weekend. Their words help break down the intricacies of a race that might have seemed like one fluid blur. Their approach to a race shows the constantly shifting nature of fortune within each race, and how the slightest vagaries of wind, distance, speed, elevation, and composition of a break can completely alter the outcome of a race. Unless Richard Meeker’s in it, in which case there’s no [censored] way you have a [censored] chance in [censored] [censored] of winning.

The power of synergy

BJ Hale’s dream of a new cycling publication that draws on the very best writing and photography is an awesome one, not least of all because one of the key movers is Danny Munson. The cycling world is filled with photographers. It has a smaller but distinguished number of fine photographers. Danny is neither. He’s an artist, and he gives color, expression, depth, and resolution to the incredible moments in each race he shoots, whether it’s a CBR crit or the pandemonium of Tulsa Tough.

What was most incredible about the launch party, though, was that it showcased how many people and entities have come together to make this project a success. Success has many parents, but failure is an orphan. The success of CyclingIllustrated, though, is more like a group [censored] where everyone keeps diving in for more.

So, without more fanfare, here are the people and entities that made it happen. Props to you all, in no particular order. If I’ve left out a name, let me know. This ain’t my day job.

Shimano: Galaxy’s most awesome creator of bike chain shifter thingies so that we don’t have to shift on the down tube anymore or pedal our [censored] bikes up Alpe d’Huez on a fixed gear.

Spy Optic: Galaxy’s most awesome supporter of grass roots cycling and maker of the best eyewear anywhere. From highest quality performance wear to Rx glasses that will get you [censored] in any club on earth, SPY is the best.

IRT:  Googled “IRT” and came up with “Indiana Repertory Theatre,” “International Raquetball Tour,” and “IRT Deadliest Roads Video.” Nope, none of those. It’s Inertia Racing Technology, which is a fancy [censored] way of saying “badass cyclocross wheels that can take anything you got and more.”

Mercury Wheels: Look, I don’t know squat about wheels. I still ride 32-hole aluminum rim clinchers, for Dog’s sake. But these things look freaking awesome. Slap a couple of these onto your ride and you might finish in Jamie or Charon’s zip code. Slap them on Charon’s ride and his wheels will cross the line before he does.

SDG Saddles: Some people say the most important part of the bike is where the rubber meets the road. I say it’s where your [censored] meets the saddle. SDG saddles make sure you go your fastest without rubbing your parts into a gooey mess.

Now Energy Bars: You know how sometimes you’ll be out there hammering and suddenly you just crater? It’s usually because you’re weak and undertrained, and so you’re hosed. But occasionally you’re bonking, and the Now Energy bar, made from healthy stuff, will bring you right back to the razor’s edge.

PROLAB: This arsenal of products “delays muscle fatigue” for both weightlifters and endurance athletes. I sure could have used a case of that [censored] at the San Marcos circuit race yesterday.

H2O: Now someone’s gotta help me out with this one. Water is our sponsor? That’s rad, don’t get me wrong…

Cytomax: “Ctyo” comes from the Greek root for “wanker.” “Max” means “the most.” Cytomax will help you get the most out of your wankerish attempts on the bike, with a balanced blend of electrolytes and other stuff your body need when you feel like your [censored] lungs are about to explode out your ears.

Jenson USA: If you want to buy bike stuff and are too lazy to go to the bike shop, or you live in LA and you don’t have ten hours to spend in traffic, or you’re too pooped from your epic 5-hour training ride, you can pretty much buy it here. Online. From the comfort of your own Big Mac and large fries. It’s okay. We won’t tell.

GU Energy: This stuff isn’t, thankfully, anything like it sounds. Rather, it’s the choice of champions. Squirt a little goo down your craw and you’ll come pounding back like a jackhammer.

Axiss Sports: I Googled this baby to a fare thee well. Crickets.

CalBikeLaw.com: When you get mowed down by some [censored] idiot who’s too busy texting or drinking or snorting coke, who you gonna call? CalBikelaw.com, that’s who! Headed up by two of the best personal injury attorneys in California, Gerry Agnew and Bruce Brusavich have been representing seriously injured Californians for over 38 years.

Skull Candy: Sometimes you need the right sound to crank out that extra ten watts. Skull Candy can deliver the tunes right where you want ‘em, when you want ‘em.

Caliente Southwest Grill: These folks MADE the launch party a party, because without great food it’s just a bunch of people in a bad mood looking at each other and ready to brawl at the drop of a hat. Their food is delicious! Wankmeister certified guaranteed!

Kenda: Awesome bike tires. Slap a pair of these on and motor down the road! If you’re looking for something to go cheap on, don’t pinch pennies on your chamois or your tires. And please don’t whine to me about the high cost of race tires. If you were on a motorcycle you’d spend $600 per pair per race. Feel better, wanker?

Bahati Foundation: Supports inner city youth by providing educational, musical, and athletic equipment. Motivational outreach and giving back is the hallmark of the foundation. Oh, and it also happens to be run by one of the best road sprinters this country has ever seen!

Europa Sports Products: All kinds of rad supplements to help you bike faster, pedal longer, [censored] harder, and achieve the athletic results to which you’ve set your mind!

Surf City Cyclery: This is like the giant granddaddy of all Specialized bike stores anywhere. If you can’t find it here, you’re probably looking for goat cheese or for a rebuilt alternator. This shop is [censored] awesome, with helpful staff, bottomless inventory, and customers who include some of the best racers in SoCal.

In conclusion…

It was a wonderful evening of fun, food, bike tire changing contests, and trying to figure out why everyone acts so different in mufti from when they’re cloaked in their superman get-up, helmet, and black reflective glasses. Like, that dude who you’re scared to even say hi to on the bike is just meekly standing over in the corner looking like he’s gonna cry because no one’s talking to him. That bruiser sprinter dude who can crack your scapula with one shoulder bump is as quiet as a toad in a hole. Of course I did leave before they drained the tequila keg…

In keeping with CyclingIllustrated.com’s tradition, they did an interview of one of the greats: Kenny Fuller, world champion. And in keeping with the Crazy Uncle thing, one dude came up and started badgering BJ, “So what is this, anyway? And why are you doing it? And what makes you think anyone is interested?”

We dragged him out into the alley and poured [censored] down his throat, but not before we explained that we think people are interested because of the 200 guests, the outpouring of support for the project, and the forty billion web visits that BJ gets every ten seconds.

So there.

Next time there’s a party…hope to see you there!

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