I’ll have some Eddy with my cappuccino, please

April 5, 2016 § 37 Comments

It’s really hard to get away from bicycling, but I was determined.

My youngest son is in the midst of college admissions season, or as I fondly call it, college rejection season, and I am so glad that he will be the last kid of mine to go through this perverse circus of manipulation, extortion, debasement, and fraud.

My oldest kid got rejected from her first choice school, the Tokyo University of Fine Arts, and ended up going to her “back-up” college, Tokyo University. That’s the university that successful Japanese applicants begin studying for in earnest when they enter kindergarten. It’s the university that receives half of the entire national budget for higher education, and from which most leading Japanese politicians and heads of major corporations have graduated from.

It turned out to be a shit school, though. Lots of prestige and a big empty bag of wind with regard to content, education, development, or learning. And since she ended up back in the US where no one had ever heard of it anyway, it was actually a negative. “University of Tokyo?” they’d say. “That’s … interesting.”

My next kid went to an Ivy League school. “Here in the good old USA,” we thought, “he’ll get a fantastic education at the elite academy that is the University of Pennsylvania.”

He may have got that, but what we got was crushing debt. And when push came to shove, he was wholly uninterested in the real benefit that Penn offered, which was first choice of cubicles at Goldman Sachs. Instead, he failed utterly to LEARN THE LESSON OF THE EAST COAST ELITE WHICH IS MONEY, FUCKER and wound up immersed in philosophy, literature, German, teaching, and other things that are good for the soul and make you happy and a better person and an informed citizen but never get a crowd of angry protesters outside your house cursing you and your corporation for buying their home at a foreclosure sale and evicting them onto the street.

I hate to say it, but he could have gotten all of those things right around the corner at CSU Long Beach and the missus and I would now occasionally be able to splurge at The Habit instead of taking all our meals from instant ramen packages.

But now that we as parents had accumulated our Merit Badges of Offspring Higher Education which allowed us to wear sweatshirts that said “Penn” and to use little leather key rings that said “University of Tokyo” as a substitute for a fat 401k, we were ready to ram our third child through the meaningless and humiliating process of college applications, which we unhesitatingly did.

“Just because it sucks and is awful and stupid doesn’t mean it’s bad,” I consoled him.

Only he didn’t want to be rammed and refused to apply to more than a handful of schools. And when he found out that he’d been wait-listed at UCLA and admitted at UCSB, he shrugged. “I don’t want to go to UCSB, so I’ll wait to see if I get into UCLA and if I don’t I’ll go to community college for two years and transfer. You’ll save money and I won’t have to go somewhere I hate.”

“Whoa,” I said. “Hate? How can you hate UCSB? You’ve never even been there.”

“I’ve heard it’s a massive party school.”

“But what’s the down side?”

“I’m going to UCLA.”

“Son,” I said, “UCSB is reportedly overflowing with beautiful women. You are a young man. Do I need to diagram this?”

He looked at me with pity. “Thanks, Dad. But I’m still not interested.”

“Why not? You’ve never even been there! All my friends who’ve graduated from UCSB swear by its, uh, academics. Destroyer went there for dog’s sake.” As soon as I said it I realized that this was not perhaps my strongest card. “Look,” I said. “UCSB is a fine school. Beautiful, uh, location. Beautiful, ah, weather. Really hot, uh, summer days. And gorgeous, er, beaches.”

“I want an education.”

“Damn it, son!” I was so frustrated thinking about all the trips I wouldn’t be getting to take to visit him  at UCSB and sit on the benches that I temporarily lost my cool. “Before you make up your mind about whether you’re going to a school that hasn’t even accepted you, we’re going to take a trip to Santa Barbara, which has. You’ll see. It’s awesome.”

“Have you ever been there?”

“No.”

He rolled his eyes. “Okay, Dad.”

We got up and drove to Santa Barbara. On the way up I told him to check his phone and find out if there were any good places to birdwatch. We had brought our binoculars. He started rattling off places. “Damn,” I said. “That lagoon place sounds good. Where is it?”

“It’s on campus,” he said.

We got to the school and the weather was spectacular. We did a self-guided tour and noticed that the campus was bustling and lively, but kind of quiet. “What is it?” I asked.

We stood and looked around. “No cars,” he said. “There are no cars allowed on campus.”

He was right. There were bike lanes, a bike roundabout, and skateboard lanes, but no cars. After lunch we wandered down to the lagoon, which was brimming with birds. As we thoroughly misidentified most of what we saw, trying to turn ordinary things into birds-that-haven’t-ever-been-recorded-in-the-Western-Hemisphere, a student strolled by.

He glanced at our binoculars. “Are you birders?”

“Yes,” we said.

“Me, too! What have you seen?”

“We can’t figure out that hummingbird,” I said, pointing to a tiny hummer atop a tree branch. I offered him my binoculars to take a look.

“It’s okay,” he said, declining to take them. Then he unzipped his backpack and took out his own. He gazed for a minute. “Looks like an Anna’s to me. Is your son going to go here? If he does, give him my contact info. We have lots of birders here on campus.”

ucsb1

As we got ready to drive back to LA, Mrs. WM wanted to get coffee. “Can you find a good coffee shop in town on your phone?” she asked my son.

He fiddled with his phone. “How about Handlebar Coffee Roasters? It’s got a bike theme of some kind.”

We drove into town and found the place. A tall, tan, very fit looking dude was shoveling beans into the roaster. “Hi,” he said. “Welcome!” He looked at my Giant-Liv gimme cap. “You ride?”

“Yes, when I can. You?”

“Not so much anymore. But I used to ride a lot.”

“Did you race?”

“Yes, professionally for a couple of years.”

“Wow. Who for?”

“Have you ever heard of Telekom or Saunier Duval?”

“No,” I said. “Are they local Santa Barbara clubs?”

He paused, realizing I was a complete idiot. “No.”

“East Coast?”

“They were actually European teams.”

“Oh, so you weren’t good enough to make the big time here in the U.S.?”

He paused again, kindly. “Well, I did my best. I finished a couple of tours in Italy in 2006 and 2007 but I was never really contending for the win. Rode with a guy named Simoni one year. He was really good and actually won a couple of them.”

“Tours? Yeah, they have those here a lot, kind of for people who aren’t ready for Cat 5 racing yet. Solvang Century and the Central Coast Century are the biggies, I guess. It’s okay for beginners. Did your pal Simoni ever get out of the touring stuff and do actual racing?”

Aaron smiled again. “I think he stuck mostly with the tours.”

“Cool,” I said.

The coffee shop had a mint Eddy Merckx Molteni bike hanging from the ceiling, but more important than the awesome vibe and the bike decor was, you know, the actual coffee. I had a cappuccino that was easily the best cup of coffee I’d ever had, which made sense because Aaron looked like he was checking each individual bean as it roasted, and unlike the bulk beans I buy that look like ragged ball bearings run through a wood chipper, his beans were highest quality, beautiful, and perfectly shaped.

As I got ready to go he forced a t-shirt into my hand. “Thanks for coming by,” he said.

“I really hope,” I said, looking at Woodrow, “that I’ll be back. Because college isn’t just for kids anymore.”

And just like pretty much every other day in my life, this one ended with bicycles, too.

END

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§ 37 Responses to I’ll have some Eddy with my cappuccino, please

  • SrGeezerJohan says:

    “if I don’t I’ll go to community college for two years and transfer.”

    Smart kid.

    Did the same when I was a California Kid. Best decision(and education) of my academic endeavors. Actually made money since I had a $1000 scholarship and my total tuition and books was like $534.73.

    UCSB? If he’s going waste your money then he might as well go all in and get his money’s worth at UC Santa Cruz. 🙂

  • LesB says:

    My grand-nephew went to UCLA and as he tells it, there is minimal bicycling there because of the Bruin Walk, the main path that connects the dorms with the classrooms. The BW has a section that is steep, maybe 10% or so. Yeah, because of this no one rides.

    So that’s the deal, as I understand it, young kidders in their prime wuss out because of a short grade that old wankers and geezers do on a regular basis, in their underwear no less.

  • JEFF says:

    Today, my funny bone was here: “Are you birders?”

  • Tom Paterson says:

    You just really can’t help it, can you?
    I hope you came clean with that nice young man Aaron and if he Ex-Lax’s your next cup from there, Wanky, you’ll only have yerself to blame.

  • David Wehrly says:

    Seth, you have been a good friend. I am not sure why you would attack me, albeit without naming me directly, regarding the eviction of the Caamal family, without first reaching out to me for my side of the story. I do not believe that the protests were published so I would imagine there is some talk about the situation going on in the peloton and I would have thought you would have defended me as a thoughtful, good person. You know partially how supportive behind the scenes I have been to the cycling community. The indirect tie-in comment in your blog of “THE MONEY FUCKER” and an issue that I am involved in is ugly and an unwarranted attack on my character.

    Yes our business is buying distressed property usually at foreclosure sale. The properties are going to auction because the owners have failed to follow through on their commitment and pay their mortgage. Greg and I are fully aware and sensitive to the human component of this sad and unfortunately very difficult situation for the families involved. It should be noted that we have nothing to do with a bank or in the case of HUD, with the decision to take the property to foreclosure sale. We have no information prior to the purchase of the why around the property going to foreclosure and have never met the families involved. If we are the successful bidder we interact with the families involved in a decent and respectful manner in every case.

    I was raised in Lakewood attended a Catholic school. My father hung drywall for a living and my mother was a secretary. Your kids are more advantaged that I was at their age as my parents had no money and having not attended college they were unable to provide any support to me on the process, let alone with much financial support. I was not smart enough to get into a four year school, let alone an Ivy League school and I attended Cerritos Junior College. By luck, I crossed paths with Pat Cook, a counselor at the school, who guided and urged me to go to UCLA. Without parental support I worked three jobs while at UCLA ti get through school.

    I met Greg shortly after graduation. Greg’s parent’s had no money either and he worked his way through Oklahoma State, and UCLA’s Anderson School. My first meeting was arranged by a Dean at UCLA who I had become aquainted with and who was Greg’s running friend. Greg was starting a company and did not have a clear plan, but after the first meeting I had a strong belief that his was an incredibly good human being with fantastic character.

    Starting out of his bedroom, we have built a company that employs 482 people who in turn support their families. It is obvious to most that a company must make money, however money is not what drives the company, it is the challenge of finding opportunity and working to make it a reality. The values of our company are to create a place where people like to come to work and to be respected for the way we conduct business. Last Thursday, we had 150 employees renovating a school in South Central Los Angeles. Greg has developed a program where Wedgewood pays for the college education of two underprivileged people every year. Those are just a sample of an incredibly long list of what we do for others. You do not hear about it in the news, because we are not doing it for the purpose of elevating ourselves, we do it because we care.

    If you are interested I could talk to you for a long time about how we regularly go out of our way to help those families whose homes we buy. Understanding the difficulties of foreclosure, us buying their home is the best result for them. We have paid the price for not being harsh and trying to help people, yet we continue to do so. Banks, understanding the difficulties in trying to be nice, will not talk to the occupants and simply start the eviction process without discussion or offer of financial relocation assistance for the occupants. We do. We buy 250 houses a month and we knock on every door and make personal contact with the occupants, express our understanding of the difficulty of the situation and explain the process and offer relocation assistance in a respectable manner.

    We are not perfect Seth, but we try to be good and honorable people in everything we do.

    Working incredibly hard for thirty years and benefiting from some good luck along the way has made us well off and given us the blessing of very nice houses. If after understanding all the good we do, you want to vilify us for being successful I suppose you can.

    Here are the facts around the Caamal family story:

    The initial article published by Professor Peter Dreier of Occidental College was an absolutely unfair hit piece with the partial facts being fed to him by a “community activist” Peter Kuhn. Peter Kuhn approaches and takes money from desperate families promising them unrealistic results. If you read the “Rate my Professor” results on-line for Prof. Peter Dreier you will see that he is a bully with an unbendable left wing vie of the world. He never reached out to us for the facts and the article is for any thoughtful reader, unbelievable. The statement: “The Caamals never missed a mortgage payment and the property was taken to foreclosure” is laughable. That he never reached out to us is derelict and publishing our personal residential addresses and the value of our homes is disgusting and puts our families at risk.

    Seth, you have a lot of influence through your writing and your visibility in the peloton. I have worked my entire life to be and to be viewed by others, as a decent and thoughtful human being. You rail against injustice which is honorable, but I think here you have committed one.

    Below is the short and long version of the facts of the Caamal case:

    High level overview: The Caamal family had lived in the house for 4 years, a good portion of that time not paying their mortgage. They had purchased the house with zero down and were $140,000 in arrears in payments and fees. They have lived virtually “rent free” for four years.

    We purchased the property at a public auction and tried to offer the family relocation assistance. They refused. They were represented by counsel throughout the unlawful detainer process. They requested a jury trial and lost 12-0. Still we delayed the eviction in their favor to allow them the opportunity to buy it back. We had a meeting with the Caamals and agreed to sell them the property back for $75,000 less then what they had paid for the property. They were unable to perform.

    Full Summary:
    On March 27, 2016, the Huffington Post, in its Featured Blog Posts section of Politics, published a blog by Peter Dreier. In the post, Peter Dreier describes an eviction of a family from their former home on Willow Avenue in Rialto, California (the “Property”). Because no attempt was made to gather the facts from all sides of this complex issue, Wedgewood would like an opportunity to provide additional facts that were missing from the article.

    Wedgewood’s involvement with the Property began on September 23, 2015, when its affiliated entity purchased the Property at a public foreclosure sale. Neither Wedgewood, its principals, nor any Wedgewood-affiliated entity had any involvement with the mortgage on the Property, the foreclosure process prior to the foreclosure sale, or any attempted loan modification on the Property. Any communications on this subject were between the prior owner and her mortgage lender, and unknown to Wedgewood.

    Wedgewood’s only information regarding the Property prior to its purchase on September 23, 2015 is from documents recorded in the Official Records of the County of San Bernardino, which are publically available.

    Public records show the following events to have occurred:
    • On May 26, 2006, Mercedes Caamal purchased the three-unit Property for $450,000. Based on the public records, this purchase appears to have been 100% financed through a first and second deed of trust, with no cash down payment.
    • On March 9, 2012, a Notice of Default was recorded on the first deed of trust, indicating a default in the amount of $46,007.
    • On May 17, 2013, a second Notice of Default was recorded on the first deed of trust, indicating a default in the amount of $69,263.
    • On August 27, 2014 a Notice of Trustee’s Sale was recorded.
    • On August 28, 2015, a second Notice of Trustee’s Sale was recorded. Having made no payments on the property since 2012, Mercedes Caamal had missed in excess of $140,000 in mortgage payments.
    • On October 7, 2015, a Trustee’s Deed Upon Sale was recorded, indicating that the Property had sold at a public foreclosure auction on September 23, 2015.

    After purchasing the Property, and because the prior owner was unresponsive to attempts to offer relocation assistance or voluntarily vacate the property, Wedgewood filed unlawful detainer cases on each of the three units at the Property. The court-administered eviction process assures the occupant of the right to a court hearing if the occupant believes that the owner has no right to evict. Noah Grynberg of the Los Angeles Center for Community Law and Action represented Mercedes Caamalthroughout the entire process.

    On November 9, 2015, a Demand for Jury Trial was filed by Noah Grynberg on behalf of Mercedes Caamal and on November 24, 2015 the unlawful detainer case on the main unit at the Property was presented before a San Bernardino Superior Court judge and jury. The jury awarded judgment in favor of Wedgewood in a 12-0 unanimous decision, giving Wedgewood the legal right to possession of the main unit.
    In December 2015, the Caamal family indicated that they wished to re-purchase the home from Wedgewood. Although Wedgewood had the legal right to perform a lockout based on the November jury decision, executives from Wedgewood spent several hours with the Caamal family to try to figure out a possible solution so that they could re-purchase the home. Ultimately it was agreed upon by all parties to give the Caamalfamily until the third week of March to secure financing and submit a valid offer to re-purchase or to vacate the property if they were unable to get financing.

    On January 21, 2016, unlawful detainer hearings on the additional two units at the Property were held in San Bernardino Superior Court. At that time, Mercedes Caamal, still represented by her attorney Noah Grynberg, agreed to vacate all units by March 20, 2016.
    At no time during Wedgewood’s ownership of the Property has the company received a valid written offer to purchase the Property from the Caamal family or an agent representing them.
    Mercedes Caamal lost her property because she failed to make her mortgage payments. The Caamal family has had legal representation throughout the entire process and has pursued all of their legal rights as evidenced by the actions taken by their legal counsel, Noah Grynberg.

    • fsethd says:

      Whoa … I wasn’t attacking you and I apologize if it came off that way. I’ve been pretty evenhanded in making fun of myself, my friends, my family, cycling, and the world in general. No person’s life is so perfect that it can’t be improved with a little humor at their expense, including mine, including yours.

      Dave, I sincerely apologize to you if the inside joke made you angry, but of all people I hope you’ll understand that it was pretty funny to have my phone blow up with videos of people protesting at your partner’s house. I know it wasn’t funny to you or to him, but come on–you guys are big hitters many, many, many times over. Surely you can take a little rock-tossing and jokes from your friends.

      The money fucker line was dedicated to my son’s classmates at Penn and to the environment he encountered on the East Coast.

      Apology accepted? Think of all the times we’ve laughed at other people. Surely we can do it at each other?

  • Spinner says:

    Wow….I’m having trouble telling fact-from-fiction here…..Why else would I read this site?????

  • David Wehrly says:

    Seth, every relationship has misunderstandings, so of course I accept your apology. Thank you.

    I have thick skin and yes, it is a good thing to laugh at ourselves. My perception was that this was a lot bigger than a laugh at our personal shortcomings, which I agree we all have. Sharing the original article and protest photos, without understanding the other side of the story is a attack on the most personal thing that I would hope that we all want to protect, our good character.

    I would hope that people who know us would reach out on an issue this explosive and ask; “Dude this does not seem like you, what is the story?” And then, knowing the facts, work to defend as opposed to making us look worse.

    You write an incredible amount of good stuff and I know we all make mistakes when talking and writing. Thanks again for the apology. Hugs as usual when I see you next.

    It would be helpful in getting the other side of the story out if you would keep the “comments” open.

    Thanks Seth, maybe it is a blessing that through you I have had the opportunity to get the full story out to everyone.

  • Naftali says:

    Wonder about the value/reason for University these days. Is the key goal to further one’s education? Is it to get the required credentials for a specific career? Is it to discover oneself and hopefully mature before taking on adult responsibilities?

    I did not finish High School and have run several companies. I am a Career Coach for the past 6 years, and I see many who attended “Higher Education” who work dead-end jobs, or are nowhere ahead of those who passed on that privilege. I have hired hundreds of people, and would rather hire someone from a Technical 2-year College than a University graduate.

    As you well know Seth, the keys to success in any endeavour, are drive, determination, perseverance, personal commitment, innovation and soft skills. Of course, education is critical, but does it have to in a formal setting with the same content for all participants? I have been a voracious reader my whole life, and learn according to what I choose. I even edited a Masters Thesis for a friend a few years ago and write resumes for CEOs.

    • fsethd says:

      Universities today exist, much more than they ever did, to make money. They are businesses. What are they selling? Connections, brand status?

  • channel_zero says:

    Dave’s got a whole lotta time????

    Next trip to Santa Barbara you should eat at Los Agaves.

    And then walk a block up and wait in line at La Super Rica. By the time you get your food at La Super Rica you’ll be hungry-enough.

    I’m not a huge fan of La Super Rica, but it’s worth saying you went once.

    Lilly’s Tacqueria around SB is also good. Good cheek (“cabeza” on the menu) and lengua. I recall they do chicharones too.

    • fsethd says:

      Problem is when I’m traveling I can’t eat because masters racers diet plan.

      • channel_zero says:

        ??? Eat pretty much anything at Los Agaves and you’ll declare it health food.

        You are an Angeleno. Tacos is health food.

      • fsethd says:

        Worse. I’m a Texan from NJ who lives in CA. Runs afoul of the three strikes law …

  • Waldo says:

    So is your kid still not going to UCSB?

    It’s ok, you can always apply to get another BA there, and you’ll pay in-state tuition. If they admit you, that is.

  • dj slow says:

    Aaron’s wife Kim Anderson ain’t no slouch on the bike either….she’s got enough “palm”ares to cast some serious shade.

  • dangerstu says:

    My wife and daughter just got back from a 4 University tour of Germany, one was free the others were private so cost not much more the community college all of them have a good reputation. She basically needs a good but not over the top act score to get in, so non of the jumping through hoops bs that she would have to do here. Even though she is bilingual the courses are taught in English. There is not a year of general ed to add to the cost, so she will have a degree in 3 years, masters 1-2 after that. This is what you get from a country that understands the real value of good education, they are prosperous enough to be able to offer it to none citizens.

  • schincat says:

    Gauchos! I am a UCSB graduate. Of course I am from the time of stone tablets and chisels but living in SB is a great experience and I encourage your son to give UCSB a chance. College is about education but it is also about finding yourself and growing up and I think being away from home makes one more independent and will give him a great sense of freedom.

  • GT says:

    Did you buy a bag of beans to take home?

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