Scandalicious photo!

November 9, 2018 § 2 Comments

So, I was trying to let the furor die down after King Trumpy MacBighands accidentally on purpose awarded himself the carbonalicious electronifed Artillerydale Orgasmatron Bicycle, but then I got a really angry letter from a cow dentist in Altoona and then a blog commenter suggested that perhaps the dentist and King Trumpy were one and the same and so I did a Google search to see if I could find any evidence to back up my claims: “cow dentist + trumpy macbighands + rafflegate + warbucks”.





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Letter from a non-reader

November 8, 2018 § 8 Comments

I was going about my business when this e-bomb dropped into my inbox:

Dear Sir:

My name is Dr. Jowls McPaunch, DVM, AVDC. I am a licensed cow veterinarian and a diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College, with a sub-specialty in butt pain. I, Dr. McPaunch, am not a reader of your pathetic, calumnious, and sophomoric blog, as it contains more worthless trash than any street side dumpster.

Nor have I, Dr. McPaunch, ever read your puerile, immature, insulting, debased, and juvenile blog. I, Dr. McPaunch, might add that I, Dr. McPaunch, will never deign to.

You, sir, are human garbage of the lowest sort and your writing is even lower.

I, Dr. McPaunch, will add that none of my friends reads your miserable scribblings, and indeed none of them even knows who you are. However, a friend of a friend told a friend that I, Dr. McPaunch, had recently been defamed by your nasty little excuse for verbal excrement. Rest assured that I, Dr. McPaunch, would never stoop to read it, nor have I, Dr. McPaunch, ever read anything you have ever written, nor do I, Dr. McPaunch, ever plan to.

The facts, sir, are these: I, Dr. McPaunch, am the recently elected president of the Altoona Figure Skating Club. This past Sunday I, Dr. McPaunch, was honored–a word with which you are wholly unfamiliar–to officiate at a drawing for a pair of Edea Carbon Piano Ice Skates with carbon MK Gold Star Revolution blades. Due to a silly mix-up that was not of my making, I, Dr. McPaunch, mistakenly awarded myself the skates, which fit perfectly.

You, sir, have taken this unfortunate event and written about it in your petty little blog under the guise of satire. Although I, Dr. McPaunch, haven’t read it, the friends of my friends assure me that it is indeed I, Dr. McPaunch, about whom you are writing. You are not nearly as clever as you think.

Therefore, sir, I, Dr. McPaunch, hereby request and demand the following:

  1. That you immediately respond to each of the 89 emails that I, Dr. McPaunch have sent you in the last 24 hours.
  2. That you immediately retract your false and defamatory statements about me, whether or not they are about me.
  3. In the event that you were not writing about me, I, Dr. McPaunch, demand that you immediately cease doing so.
  4. That you herewith cease and desist all further writings that I, Dr. McPaunch, refuse on principle to so much as glance at, let alone read.

Should you fail to comport with these demands, rest assured, good sir, that there will be consequences of the direst sort, not limited to letting the world know the type of scoundrel you truly are.

I, Dr. McPaunch, remain,

Your obedient servant,

Dr. Jowls McPaunch, DVM, AVDC

To which I replied:

Dear Dr. McPaunch,

Thank you for your letter. I am sorry you became butt-hurt at something that you didn’t read. It is fortunate that, thanks to your sub-specialty, you are professionally trained to treat this affliction. Extended butt-hurt happens to my non-readers more often than I would like to admit, as countless non-readers are repeatedly offended by the things I write. My most vociferous critics are, indeed, those who never, ever read my blog.

I’m afraid I will be unable to meet your demands. Carly Simon once wrote a song that you may have heard; if not I will link it here. On another note, I bet you think this blog is about you, don’t you? Don’t you? Don’t you?

Not quite so vain (but close),



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Free for all

November 6, 2018 § 16 Comments

They were dressed to the hilt, adorned with the gilt, spit polished, hair pouffed, teeth scoured and they poured into the fancy, schmantzy, ritzy, high-class, over-class, uber-class hotel and its marble floors, golden doorknobs, diamond-encrusted toilet levers, mashing each others’ feet, hurling themselves gape-mouthed and face first onto the draft beer spigots, sucking in the raw vodkatequilagingasolineagedonethousandyears, elbows sharpened like javelin tips and wallets split open wider than an eager pair of legs, dumping endless green increments of Alexander Hamilton into the coffers of the Most Fab Bicycle Club for a chance to win jerseys, bibs, helmets that would protect you though you hurtled down Beverly Glen at 45 in the pitch dark ignoring that the posted speed limit was 30, helmets that would lovingly restrain your brains from flying free of the braincase if, as you hurtled at 45 in the dark down Beverly Glen where it is posted 30, you chanced to smash against the bed of a pickup backing out into the street, helmets that would protect your mistress from pregnancy, your master from herpes, your heirs from changing your diapers, this and a thousand other gewgaws and baubles, all available at the Great Five Hundredth Anniversary Banquet of the Most Fab Bicycle Club where a one-dollar raffle ticket bought you a chance at a helmet but a ten-dollar raffle ticket, tickets that were open to all even board members, would buy you a chance at the dangling, dongling, shining Artillerydale Brand Super Bicycle With Electric Carbonic Shifting Gonads And Frisbee Disc Wheelstoppers, procured through Yvette’s Class A Whorehouse and Olde Bicycle Shoppe, a Grand Retail Value of Eight Hundred Million Dollars and you could win it for the purchase of a mere ten-dollar ticket, yes, you, all of you, including King Trumpy MacBighands because this manna from heaven, this carbonically electronically orgasmatron of a bicycle YES NO ONE ON THE MOST FAB BICYCLE CLUB HAD EVER SEEN A BICYCLE OR OWNED ONE BEFORE could be yours if heaven and chance were only to smile, and as the spread-eagled, lubed wallets dripped geetus into the coffers of The Club the tension rose as bicyclers, bicyclettes, crab fishermen, weight lifters, track sprunters, rocket launchers, male implant salesmen and the entire cast of billions imagined the glory of having it be their name called, their moment where, showered in admiration for receiving the grace of good fortune far sweeter than a podium amble or a $25 prime at CBR, no, their glory in winning by nothing more powerful and unarguably idiotic than dumb, cruel, random, merciless, ass-slapping Fate, she who looks blind and uncaring on the assembled sheep, the termites, the giants, the forcats de la route and the concubines de la FOREX, and says Thou! Thou art winner of the carbonical electronical orgasmatron, thou art the anointed, take thy prize and get thee to a Craigslistery and sell that shit asap before the S/O finds out, but before the grand drawing the assembled cats, horses, beetles, prawns, coelenterates and beasts of the field were momentarily distracted by the referee’s whistle blowing BUFFET OPEN and the stampede was on as fish, chicken, taters, noodles, spinaches, geese, slabs of raw dogmeat, lightly salted cans of hot lard, and every other delicacy under the sun was shoveled with dainty, grease-dripping fists as the assemblage assaulted the chafing dishes, engorging their mighty guts with all manner of cake, of pie, of sawdust, of hog entrails, of rusted bicycle spokes, of old spit and new filet mignon sauteed in barrels of ’73 Margaux, one foot on the table, an elbow in the spleen of the neighbor, plates tipped into ravenous maws like a garbage truck tossing a can filled with horse manure into its bottomless bed, and everywhere at once the gleam, the greed, the love, the passion, the fealty to lucre and possessions, the orgy of materialism casting a glistening sheen of wet ecstasy over the addled party as each saw himherself, herhimself, itself, riding off into the sunset on the carbonalicious electronalicous Artillerydale with twin Browning machine guns, and none more swollen, engorged, filled with ribald lust than Khan Trumpy MacBighands who had purchased not one hundred tickets not two hundred tickets but a billion of them, so many tickets that the dog of tickets rained ticketry down upon the venue, giant clumps of winning tickets thudding like bombs and bad news, crumping like the Starbucks toilet before NPR, as one by one Lord Trumpy drew the winning tickets from the silver vasehole and laughingly, crazily, insanely, normally, magnanimously dispensed trinkets of clothing, helmets that would protect all no matter what, in the bathroom, during sex, on the toilet, in the coal mines, driving a car, driving a straight and true shot from the tee onto the green twelve miles distant to land only one foot from the cup while clad in nothing but a propeller beanie and a jockstrap, dispensing helmets of radiating love and MIPS and safeness, safer even than Bunker No. 9, and he dispensed winning tickets for bib shorts and he dispensed champion jerseys for the old, the broken, the toothless, the inept, the incompetent, the incontinent, the lazy, the bold, the brave, everyone a winner, no one a winner and as the tension tensed and the mounting mounted and the climax climaxed and Kaiser Trumpy MacBighands reached his massive hands, his tiny hands, his baby hands, his itsy-bitsy precious fingers into the silver sweating dripping jar of glory and fingered out a slip of victory, a narrow wisp of paper upon which was printed a winning number coinciding with nothing but, nothing other than, nothing less improbable than the very ticket he had in his very own pocket and when Potentate Trumpy announced to the assembled cockroaches, toilet vermin, dogs of war, screaming cats, raw cats, cats that had been ridden hard and put away wet, cats of every color, stripe, persuasion and perversion, no, that nary a cat in the cathouse would receive the carboniferous electroniferous Artillerydale thingamajig, then Sultan Trumpy danced a jig, a jig of joy and victory and success and love and happiness and he giggled at the mute stares of the silent stupid silly funny unhappy dopey dupey poopy assembled flea-scratchers, asshats, real estate moguls and lawyer geniuses and medical experts, he danced a happy jig on their bones, their skulls, their balls, their sad droopy balls and crowed it is mine I won it is mine I won it is mine I won and NO MORE TO PEDAL ON THE 1897 BICYCLE WITH SQUARE WHEELS HEWN FROM IGNEOUS ROCK THAT HE HAD RIDDEN SINCE HE WAS A NEWT, no more to be relegated to the ranks of Those Who Ride Ugly Bikes, so it was written until at the very moment when the silence screeched loudest and the unhappy puppies, the sorry soupies, the sourfaced sallies trundled out, losers one and all, failures to a manwoman womanman, none to be blessed with the fortune of good fortune, Pharaoh Trumpy’s cell phone rang all the way from New York, from Old York, from the catacombs of Paris and the furying thunder of Daddy Warbucks, he who showered the undeserving of Most Fab Bicycle Club with gewgaws and bacteria and thick bundles of cash, Daddy Warbucks who farted silver dollars, who blew gold nugget boogers, who spit sputum of sapphires from his mouth, Daddy roared into the phone YOU FUCKING NEWT THE BIKE WASN’T FOR YOU and then Emperor Trumpy shriveled, abdicated, cringed, cringled, pringled, prangled, danced on the hot coals, hopped on the needles, groaned on the rack, twisted under the Chinese water torture, faceplanted on the land mines and dashed over to the nearest computer terminal where a flurry of emailed apologies and I’m sorries and mea culpas and mea dumbasses and Idintmeanitmommy and Imsorrydaddy and Itakeitallbackmommy and Iwontdoitagaindaddy issued forth in torrents of 0’s and 1’s such that inboxes groaned, message boards creaked, servers smoked and glorious giggles of uproarious hilarity arose from private messages on Facebag and text messages between friends and enemies as the collective gloating and observation of Rey Trumpy as he lowered his visage into a steaming pile of his own corn-studded carboniferously electronified poop and had his nose stuck into it as Daddy Warbucks whaled with the newspaper, beat with the belt, sawed with the switch, pounded with the paddle, and forced King Trumpy to promise to be a good boy and give the carbontium electrontium Artillerydale back to the maggots, heroes, members, professionals, beautiful people one and all in a fair and disinterested lottery drawing that would be overseen and conducted by PriceWaterhouse, and he did.

The king is dead.

Long live the king.



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Top of the morning to ya

November 4, 2018 § 1 Comment

There is no good substitute for cycling, and that’s because there are some things that don’t admit of cheap replacement. “Why don’t you take a walk? You’ll feel better!” is right up there with “No sex? Why don’t you watch some baseball?”

Still, millions of people watch baseball and the other balls and I began taking walks.

When you walk it doesn’t clear your head. Rather, walking happens so slowly that everything intensifies. Cycling on the other hand is an eraser. If you’re not constantly processing, noting every crack and pebble and a million other things, you wind up on your ass. Sometimes you wind up on it anyway.

Point is, if you’re doing it right, you finish the ride scrubbed pinky clean.

But walking has its advantages, especially early in the morning when you run into other people just like you, vainly trying to beat out the vestiges of yesterday while building another house of cards for today. When you pass them they generally stare down or at their dog. Everyone out walking early has a dog.

The rudest thing you can do when you see an oncoming dog-and-owner is get off the sidewalk, enter the street and give them a wide berth, which I always do, not because I hate dogs or are afraid of them or want to be rude, but because I feel sorry for the owner who is going to have to feel apologetic or ragingly defensive when their mutt barks, snaps, strains, or bites me.

I’ve been bitten by lots of little dogs on walks. The big ones never do. Like people, the ones who can really tear you apart don’t need to. Like Bruce Lee said, “The fights you win are the ones you never have.”

The thing that walking has over cycling is those brief exchanges with people, even if they are Republicans. Saying hello in the morning, you just don’t know. They can make you happy with a smile or make you think “fuck off” when they grunt or ignore you.

Yesterday I was coming up the path and an African was coming my way. We don’t know each other but he lives in one of the complexes. He was wearing black pants, sandals, and a black shirt with a large white front panel decorated with beautiful, multicolored needlework. In his one hand was a steaming cup of coffee and in the other a newspaper.

“Good morning!” I said.

“Good morning to you, young man!” he enthused in his lightly accented English. His teeth were perfect and white and his whole face crinkled in greeting. What’s not to be happy about? Coffee, newspaper, and a perch somewhere in the cool morning to enjoy the two? I shivered with pleasure at his greeting.

A minute later there was another person in my path. He had one of those 1,000-yard leashes, and at the end was a runty white dog sniffing in the grass. The man had a sour look and stared down, and a car against the curb prevented me from taking to the street.

“Good morning!” I said. “How are you guys?” I always say “guys” when someone has a dog, since I figure their dog is their family and why not include the canine in the hello?

“Good,” he said, glaring downwards. At that moment the leash tightened and we both looked at the runty dog, who had scrunched up his back and begin pushing out a long, brown doggy turd that even had a wisp of steam coming off it. Runty pup had that eyes-rolled-back expression of bliss that we can all relate to when the morning goes well in that way.

“Great way to start the day!” I said, grinning.

The stone-faced guy broke into a deep, genuine laugh, and the angry facade lifted. “Wish they all started like that!” he cracked.

We guffawed as we passed, and runty dog wagged his cute, stumpy tail.



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Service with a smile

November 2, 2018 § 10 Comments

I was waiting for my wife and daughter to finish the fondo, I hadn’t had anything to eat since that piece of toast at 4:30, and a cup of coffee sure sounded good. Instead of Starbucks I put on my holiest-than-thou hat and searched the Internet for a homegrown coffee shop in Ventura.

The perfect place popped up and it was only a few minutes away: family owned, home roasted, the perfect alternative to Corporate Coffee. I drove over and it was not only closed, but closed for good. It is hard to make a business run on the occasional do-gooder from out of town and his $1.95.

I parked along a strip called “Old Town Ventura” which ran along the 40-lane freeway, a giant fence separating the strip from the industrial death and mechanized ugliness of U.S. 101. Whoever wrote “Ventura Highway” wasn’t writing about this.

I walked for half a mile along the row of tiny businesses until I came to a cafe. It was packed. I was now wildly hungry but had decided to settle on what I’d come for, a cup of coffee. The cafe was really small and I decided to keep moving until I saw the signboard in front that said “Lattes, Cappuccinos, espresso drinks made to order!”

I went in and it was hopping. The lone, harried waiter looked over. “For one?” he asked.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I just want a cup of coffee. You are pretty slammed though so no big deal.”

“No problem! To go?” He was so cheerful. Happy. Eager to help.

“Yes, please,” I said. He dashed behind the counter and I pulled Douche Move One. “I’m sorry, could you make it a cappuccino?”

“Of course!”

Here he was in the middle of the crazy Saturday late morning rush, one of two times during the week when he was going to actually make money, and I was asking for a cup of coffee.

I went outside to wait. After a while I went back in and my coffee was on the counter. I reached into my pocket to pay and my heart sank, realizing I was about to pull Douche Move Two. As I had hurriedly left that morning I’d grabbed my driver license and a hundred dollar bill, jammed them into my jeans, and left.

Now I was going to pay for a $2 cup of coffee with a hundred dollar bill. I contemplated simply saying I had no money at all, but then I wouldn’t be able to leave a tip. I sucked it up. “Man I am so sorry,” I said, handing him the bill.

He looked at it for a second as I hoped he’d reach into his pocket and break it with tips. “No problem,” he said without missing a beat.

He opened the register and slowly emptied it; no one pays with cash anymore. He counted out the change, using his last five dollar bill, still smiling through my humiliated apologies. “Don’t worry about it, man. We appreciate the business.”

I shoved a five-dollar tip across the counter.

“You don’t have to do that,” he said.

“Actually,” I thought, “I do.”



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You say it’s your birthday

October 28, 2018 § 8 Comments

For the last two months the big thing around here has been the blue airplane cake. My eldest grandson, Rin-chan, had a birthday coming up, and age three is that moment when you realize that the birthday thing is ALL ABOUT YOU. This is a long time before you realize that the birthday thing is ALL ABOUT YOUR MORTALITY, which is different and not nearly as fun.

Every time I’d see Rin-chan, I’d ask him “What kind of birthday cake are you gonna have?”

“Blue airplane cake!” he’d yell. Adults don’t yell with that kind of joy, joy that is unhitched from worry, fear, implication, restraint of any kind.

“Can grandpa have a blue airplane cake?” I’d ask.

“Nooooooo! Grandpa has a pakowa cake!”

He is trying to say the Japanese word for “patrol car cake,” which is “patoka,” but he scrambles it up into “pakowa.” These little childhood word scrambles are the most beautiful and endearing things you will ever hear in your life, so precious and cute and redolent with emerging life that when you hear them they resonate in your head for hours, days, each repetition more beautiful than the last and each repetition varnished with a bit of sorrow because you realize that one day soon the word will be whole, proper, correctly spoken, conformed.

But for now I can revel in my pakowa cake, and it’s the best gift ever. So I’d continue, “But grandpa wants a blue airplane cake!”

“Nooooooooo! Grandpa has a pakowa cake!”

“No, a blue airplane cake!”

“Pakowa cake! Pakowa cake! Pakowa cake!”

I was pretty sure that I was gonna not be getting the blue airplane cake, but that was okay as long as he kept saying “pakowa.”

Gardeners in Gardena

Most people don’t know that the city of Gardena is a reverse transliteration of the Japanese word for gardener, which is “niwashi.” When the Japanese came to Los Angeles in big numbers, many of them worked as gardeners. Lots and lots of them, in fact. And in Japanese they have a handy way of taking any English word and Japanizing it. So the English word “gardener” became “gadena,” and because so many Japanese gardeners lived in the area, when it incorporated they Anglicized the word “gadena” back into English as “Gardena.” In other words, Gardener — Gadena — Gardena.

But we didn’t go there Saturday to fix up somebody’s lawn. We went because there is a nice cake shop that had made a big, blue airplane cake.

We picked it up and drove to the party, which was going full swing. There was a lady painting faces and making balloon art, and the kids couldn’t get enough of her. She had a very gentle and kind look, and spoke to each of the children as she fulfilled their requests.

“Make a flower!”

“Make a Mickey!”

“Make a airplane!”

“Make a pakowa!”

Only the pakowa request caused her to stumble.

A little girl came up. “Can you make me a poodle?”

“Of course, my dear.”

“How come you don’t have any hair?” the little girl asked.

“I cut it all off.”

“But it’s growing back.”

“Yes, in stubble.”

“What’s a stubble?”

“It’s this,” the lady smiled, pointing to the stubble.

“Can I touch it?”

“Of course.” She bent down and the little girl ran her hand over the lady’s head. A couple of other children gathered. They wanted to rub it too, and they did.

“Didn’t you like your hair?” the little girl asked.

“I love my hair.”

“Why’d you cut it off? Did your mommy make you?”


“Then how come you cut it off?”

“Well, I have a friend and she is very sick. And because she got sick, all her hair fell out and she had to walk around without any hair. How would you feel if you didn’t have any hair?” the lady asked.

“I love my hair! I’d hate it!”

“She hated it too. You know why?”


“Because everybody else had hair and they stared at her head and it made her feel ugly. So I cut off my hair too, that way when we’re together she has someone else who doesn’t have any hair and she doesn’t have to feel bad.”

The little girl stared at her head for a few seconds. “I don’t think you’re ugly. I think you’re pretty.”

“I think you’re pretty, too, my sweet angel,” the lady said, and handed her the balloon.

I stood there off to the side watching, enjoying my birthday gift.



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Just add bacon

October 25, 2018 § 10 Comments

Have you ever wondered where rest stops come from?

You’ll be out in the middle of nowhere, famished, both bottles empty, halfway between nowhere and purgatory, alone, miserable, regretting the last-minute decision to do the stupid ride, and then bam! You’ll see a rest stop on the side of the road.

It will have water and drink mix, bananas and pbj squares, cookies (if you’re at Phil’s Fondo), and all manner of heavenly delights. It seems so natural, but really, it’s kind of amazing. Let’s go over it again:

  • You are in the middle of nowhere.
  • On a bicycle.
  • Starving and thirsty.
  • Wishing you were dead.
  • Up pops a fully staffed aid station.

How does it get there? Does someone plant seeds the year before, water them, and then they magically grow, perfectly timed?

The birds and the bees and the bacon

Actually, aid stations occur because these mystery things called “volunteers” get up long before dawn, drive to the start/finish, load their car with tents, food, water, and pickle juice, drive way out into nowhere, and set it all up.

Take, for example, last Saturday on the Circle of Doom, where the first rest stop atop Crystal Lake wasn’t simply an assortment of bananas and energy drink, no, it was something way more awesome than that. It was fried taters and bacon.

Scientists have concluded that the very finest fondo food is bacon and taters, and at the Circle of Doom, this magic was created by the Flawless Diamonds, a group of women who donate their time, energy, and money to feeding children, feeding the homeless, and feeding the hungry in southeast L.A. In other words, they know how to fry up bacon.

And fry it they did, as Flawless Diamonds Toni Smith, Valerie Casborn, and Special Jones lugged their deep fry skillets, cooking oil, cooking utensils, and everything else up the mountain, setting it up, and cranking out the best bacon ever served anywhere, much less on a bike ride.

Even though they fried up what looked like a hundred pounds, the riders scarfed it so quickly that the stragglers almost didn’t get any. It was inhaled.

Of course no good deed goes unpunished, because as they were driving to the set-up, a CHP motorcycle cop cited them for DWB. No matter that the cop could have pulled over dozens of other cars for crossing the yellow line in order to safely pass the cyclists, DWB is apparently a very serious crime in the San Gabriel Valley.

They didn’t let it dent their day, though. They set up, fed the hungry, then broke camp and did it all over again at the start/finish party area. I guess it doesn’t really take a village. It just takes the Flawless Diamonds. And bacon.



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