Monday, May 15, 2017

Come Monday

Who Knows? Soylent Green Might Be the Answer
Here we go now. Once again, a couple weeks ago I quit my job and dragged my ass back home. Even though I live in the crappiest trailer park in Florida, it is MY trailer park and the squirrels really missed me. Not due to my charming personality, but because of the raw peanuts in the shell that I get from the Winn Dixie. Even as I type here at a sublime sundown, they gather outside the door screaming out their demand for more peanuts, but I ran out of peanuts at the noon feeding and I really don't feel good about this. I'm too drunk to drive and that means I am WAY too drunk to ride my bicycle. But these are some scary squirrels. M. Night Shyamalan (an obviously made up name) could really do something with this scene.

Saurians
But on a groovier, more better Audubon note, there are two birds who have joined the fray. I think they are Steller's Jays but one looks like what we would call a red cardinal and the other one is the same thing but blue. Just beautiful birds but also pretty pissed about the lack of sundown peanuts. Birds are, after all, the last living relatives of the dinosaurs. I honestly don't know how I get into these jams.

Gathering of the Gloom
Listen: I spend a whole lot of time on the road, chewing on rolaids and and battling motel maids, as some poet once said. Plus there are prostitutes (the friendliest appellation I can apply to what they really are) and I have a disturbing habit of, when in my cups, as we say, engaging them and getting into grandfatherly conversations. Thirty years ago I wasn't a Grandpa but now I am and so I often find myself giving them money just to go away. I got a better deal thirty years ago.

And Yet...
All of my bicycles are done. Built and ready. And the money I give those lost girls ain't peanuts, but, having known the freedom and pain of having nothing, I like to hand out a little surprise once in awhile. The other day, just before I realized I was losing my mind and it was time to head out fast for the home fires, I went to the ATM and got out five twenty dollar bills. I roamed the neighborhood of the motel I was at in Sarasota, handing them out. You would think I had cured cancer, or brought back a dead relative when you saw the expressions that rewarded my gift of a lousy twenty dollar bill. I can't recommend it enough. I know my readers and I know that every one of you can afford to take out a hundred dollars every other month and hand out five random twenty dollar bills.

I don't make a ceremony of it. I just hand them the twenty and get away as fast as possible. But I almost always hear “God Bless You Sir!” as I pedal or stride or drive away. I hope that Fucker is listening. He better be, if he wants to get a twenty when we finally bump into each other.

It Helps If You Are Crazy
Feel the darkness dwelling in my soul? I am sorry for that. I have been home almost three weeks and the treasury is seriously depleted. I gotta go back out there. All three bicycles are built and I have not, in three weeks, pedaled a dozen miles. OK, maybe fifty. This bodes not well for the Trailer Park Cyclist.

But what of that? All three bicycles are built and ready. Little Miss Dangerous is ready to go. So whatever else happens, I at least have my righteous steed, hand built by me my ownself and with that knowledge I know it will all work out.


Plus, there is still enough daylight to pedal to the Winn Dixie for another pound of peanuts, and maybe a little rum. Hell Yeah.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Animal House
Mid May 2017

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Good Idea

Finding myself inexplicably awake at sunrise, vaguely hungover and wondering what to do about it, I reached for my bicycle and rolled it out onto the porch.  I wasn’t going to ride, necessarily, but I thought I would put her out on the porch for old time’s sake, just to watch the golden-red glow wash over her as the sun got up and began to do its thing.  But it was quite overcast this morning and misty and foggy and looking like some kind of Precursor-of-Winter Sunrise, even though it was, after all, still August.


As I pushed her out the door I realized the front tire was flat.  


“What the hell?” I thought.  “That’s odd.”  It WAS odd.  This is the New Bike.  I have had her for a year now (she may be a him) and never came close to a flat.  Then again, I have yet to put any significant miles on the New Bike.  


“Well, there goes my morning ride,”  I thought.  “Dang flat.”  I started to shuffle towards the fridge.


“Yeah, you can’t ride a bike with a flat tire.  Too bad we don’t know what to do about flat bicycle tires.”


I spun around.  Nobody there.  Toby the Trouble Puppy was sitting there, startled by my sudden spinning about, wagging his tail warily.


“Toby?  Did you hear anything?”  He wagged his tail and stuck out his tongue and yawned a cautious  yawn.  I wasn’t cussing, so he started to relax, meanwhile keeping  his eye on me at the same time. But I HAD heard a voice, clear as a bell.  I looked at the bike on the porch.  I turned and looked at my work bench three feet away.  There was my bicycle tool box, stuffed with all manner of esoteric bicycle tools and also not one but TWO inner tube patch kits, both the glueless and the glue type.  


There was, I could see in the morning light, considerable dust on the toolbox.


“Hey!”  I said to Toby.  “I  know how to fix a flat bicycle tire. “  Daisy the Yellow Dog (getting on in years) stuck her head out from under my bunk to see what was going on.  Seeing me standing in my boxer shorts in the middle of the room talking to myself she stretched and crept back into  her personal  spot in front of the dog fan.  She heaved her best “here we go again” sigh and went back to sleep. Daisy sleeps a lot these days.


“We’ll see about this,”  I said, sounding confident.  I strode over to the refrigerator and reached for the handle.


“Wrong box.”  I whipped around again, going into my best imitation Elvis karate stance.


“Who’s there, dammit!?  Show yourself!”  Toby jumped up from his bed, (the backseat pulled from my Chevy van) and ran under the bunk to hide behind Miss Daisy.  I went to the front door and stuck my head out, looking back and forth with what I hoped was a fierce expression on my face.  “I ain’t playin!”  I shouted, stepping out to where I had parked the bike.


Christy, the redheaded widow from  across the way, was doing a little early morning work in her tiny trailer-park garden.  She turned to see what this sunrise hollering was about.  Seeing me standing there in my underwear, she stood up and came over to my gate.


“Going for a bike ride this morning?  I never see you out on your bike anymore.  You used to live on that thing.  What happened?”


“I have a flat tire.”  She looked down at the big trash can sitting next to the gate. The birds were starting up with their morning racket.  There are a lot of birds around the Park.


“Well, if you recycle all those cans, you should be able to afford a new tire.  Maybe even a whole new bike.”  


“I gotta go inside and put my pants on,” I said.


“Good idea,”  She said.


“Good idea,”  the Voice said.  This time I didn’t even flinch.  I went inside the trailer.  I looked at the pile of empty bottles in a box behind the trailer door.  


“No wonder I’m hearing voices,”  I said to no one in particular.  I reached up into the cupboard over the refrigerator and grabbed a dust rag and a can of WD-40.


I headed over to the work bench.


Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Halfway House
August 14, 2016

Monday, July 18, 2016

Nothing Good Can Come of This

Note from the TPC:  This post originated as a comment over at my friend Brian’s booger,
Mid Life In the Fast Lane  He was ruminating about the coming election, mentioning that in times of uncertainty we can always fall back on the comfort of the number 42 and also how it seems that Hillary Clinton seems to feel herself to be immune to the laws of the land.  


Did I Say That Out Loud?
Well, Brian, apparently Ms. Clinton actually IS above the rules.  After all, her husband was President 42...and didn't she murder somebody back in Arkansas?  I never did quite understand that Vince Foster story.  Never cared much, either.  I kind of like the idea of a president who is capable of murder, though.  Don't forget, when I was twelve I campaigned for Nixon.



"You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore"


Somehow, to my jaded old-man vision, the inevitability of Clintonus Secundus seems further insured by the inability of the Republican Party to overcome the Trump Machine.  A big part of me (the conspiracy kook part) cannot help but wonder if the whole thing isn’t some huge set-up.


peek-a-boo!
(Who's eye is that, anyway?")

But to what end?  One has to wonder where the third-party candidate is...the independent who marches triumphantly back from Tennessee into D.C. to claim his rightful crown, I mean throne, no, dangit, his Presidency stolen from him all those too many years ago, victimized by dangling chads and a questionable Supreme Court decision.


"Man, it's getting hot in here."


I have always thought the country (and the world) would today be a far better place if Mr. Gore had instead decided to settle things Tennessee-style, say a duel at ten paces with flintlock pistols.  That’s what Hillary would have done, I like to think.  But it didn’t happen and instead of the Environmentalist President, we got the Howdy Doody Mission Accomplished President.


I...never mind


Sadly, in hindsight, I think we got what we deserved.  And I think Ol’ Man Trump will get what he deserves if he thinks he can beat the Establishment.  He made it this far, sure, but don’t expect to see him at the finish line.  He started out doing his rich buffoon routine, then, to our (and to his, I believe) astonishment, it kept going. It got out of control.  The pundits started taking him seriously (a little)  He’s getting the nomination in Cleveland.  (By the way: Cleveland?)  But he’s a crafty old weasel and he knows he will be in one hell of a bad position were he to win the Game of Thrones.  There is no way he can accomplish a tenth of the things he has promised;  in fact his whole campaign has been a Tea-Party danse macabre that cannot end well for the prima donna.  He’ll find a way out that makes him look like a winner and victim at the same time.
"I'll sue every man, woman and child in this country.  It's going to be huge!"


Many years ago, while I was ruling the roost of high-rise condominium carpenters in Tampa Bay, the Big Man came to town to build a 50 story tower.  We were all agog at the chance to be a part of the magnificent proceedings.  He bought an entire city block with a wave of his hand and within days had the existing buildings demolished and hauled away.  He put out bids for model centers.  We all wanted in but at the point of bidding, it was discovered that condition #1 was that the models had to be installed at the bidder’s expense.  That was a sizeable amount of money, far more than I could ever afford.  I called my mentor, a millionaire many times over.




“I can’t hack it, boss, but if you will cover the materials and permitting, I can provide the labor at my expense.”  Looking back, I probably sounded like a crack-head desperate for a fix.

“Don’t be stupid, Tim Joe.  We don’t want anything to do with that project.”

“But boss!  It’s Trump!”

“That’s right, T.J.  And try to find one person who has ever been glad they did business with him.  That guy screws every single person and institution he gets in bed with.  I have no reason to stand in line to be screwed, and neither do you.  Besides, we have other business to consider.”
Standing in line for you-know-what

He was right.  The only payment the owners of that Downtown Tampa city block ever saw by way of payment was that initial wave of the hand.  The model centers never quite got finished.  Nobody involved saw any profit, in fact the whole mess ended badly and if you look, there is no 50 story Trump Tower in Tampa.  And The Donald sued everybody involved.

So:  an Evil Jester who would be King, or the Dark Sorceress, stepping forth from the shadow of the Throne to claim the Crown?



Either way, it looks to me that what we have to look forward to at the polls this time around is an opportunity to stand in line to get screwed.  And we really do have other business to consider.

The answer?  An American Hero.  A true independent who comes out of nowhere, captures the popular vote and slays these monsters.  A hero who marches up the steps of Congress and kicks some old fart ass.  Where is this superstar?  I don’t know.  But look into your hearts, my friends.  This is the Age of Social Media.  This is the Time of You Tube.  Where Is Our Hero?

Where have all the cowboys gone?



Sigh.  I’m getting too old for this nonsense.
Yr buddy,
tj






Monday, April 11, 2016

Desperado

Where Am I?
Don't ask how it happened.  You don't have to ask; as usual, I will explain everything in exhausting detail but in the meantime just try to bear with me.  My typing fingers have atrophied and seem to be semi-frozen in a half grip around a phantom hammer (but on deeper pondering I suddenly realize that a hammer grip is not much different than that of a handlebar grip) and this of course could easily start me down a trail of a different pondering, but no:  this story is about a trail named Flatwoods.  It is directly behind my hotel room and here, out my fourth floor window, I am stunned to see a deep new old Florida swamp.  It's out there, just feet away.

Cypress and fern and palmetto and water, this is the real deal and I am amazed they let it live...this is a young swamp, the cypress trees are small and unsure of themselves but they are here all the same and this wacky place called New Tampa or North Tampa (they can't seem to decide) is one of those god-awful Florida places where the invasive ruination is so strenuous that one certainly never expects to see anything primitive anywhere nearby but here it is:  Flatwoods Nature Preserve.

Tired Superman
Having driven about six hours across the state (a normal person could make it in three hours but I stop alot to pee and I have a habit of turning down side streets because of a big tree I saw or because I just forgot where I was going) but ultimately arriving more or less where I was headed,  I checked into the hotel and then went out to the van and pulled out my new bicycle.  I lept gracefully into the saddle and fell into a small grassy knoll next to where I was parked.  I lay there a minute, pretending I did it on purpose.  Then I looked around, found no witnesses watching and, righting myself and my bike, did a proper old-man left side pedal mount and headed off.

"I'll just pedal to the trailhead and look around,"  I said to myself.  I have to talk to myself because I am alone. The Voice has been gone for a long time.  "I haven't ridden (rided? rode?) over two blocks in the last six months and my butt can't take too many miles."

Yeah, Right 
Problem is, this hotel is situated (ironically) off the beaten path and by Trailer Park Luck I entered from a back way.  There was a sign, of sorts, and my previous research had told me that the trail was a seven mile loop so what could go wrong?  Well, my research, for starters.

Almost immediately I was immersed deep in the middle of a fathomless maze of trails both paved, gravel, and dirt.  Now, in the interest of honest reporting, the truth probably is (as near as I can ascertain) that if I had stuck to the paved portion, I wouldn't have found myself two hours later pedaling REALLY hard in traffic as the sun started becoming more of a glow than a shine.  My legs most likely (if I had stayed on the paved part) would not right now be soaking in a hot tub of epsom salts to ease the slings and arrows of inadvertedly blundering through a hedge of stinging nettles.

And that was the easy part.

Lost and Lonely Child
Somehow I got turned around.  I kept having opportunities to blast down some kind of clean white gravel road, only to find it taper off  to a pine needle trail going into an abrupt turn.  When these turns erupted I was usually looking at a hawk or a gopher tortoise or, truth be told, just pedaling hard and paying no attention.

And my research (questionable, at best) says they have singletrack!

                                      Goodnight, Irene
This place is several square miles and I managed, in my tentative foray to "check out the trailhead" rode pretty hard for a couple hours.  I exited the park ten miles from my hotel, pretty much lost and now, after two hours in the wilderness, pedaling with all I had left in me in commuter traffic, the sun below the horizon and my water bottle empty.  No lights, of course.

What's it all about?  Man, you tell me.  I really did this.  I really did drive over here in my usual Family Circus fashion of getting around, then go for my first ride in a long time.  It really was an epic three hour ride involving a new bicycle, three wetland crashes and a one hour blast through dangerous traffic.

Fourth Floor, Please
I'm in the elevator.  I've been awake for 24 hours and my legs are bleeding a little, the blood isn't much but it's draining into my socks. I still have on my construction clodhoppers.  The door is about to close but then a pretty old couple approaches and I hit the "Hold" button.  They hesitate.  

"Come on in," I say.  "Are you going up?"

"Yes," says the gentleman.  "I've never seen a bicycle on an elevator," he says.  He and his wife get on.

"My brother Peter rode a bicycle all over the place," says the lady. "He had epilepsy and couldn't get a license to drive a car."

"He was a lucky guy,"  I say.  The elevator doors close.  We're headed up.  


La Quinta Inn, North Tampa
4/11/16





Friday, May 1, 2015

At Least I Didn't Just Sneak Out the Back Door


Lurker At the Threshold

I keep coming here and typing an opening sentence then deleting it and going back to looking at pictures of Surly bicycles that maybe I can afford but am too cheap to purchase. Plus Little Miss Dangerous is just sitting here in the stand, painted, ready; last week I got the new Shimano bar-end shifters and the crazy NOS Sachs front derailleur that I hope will Solve Everything but I'm afraid to find out.

Still Half Homeless
Today I spent a lot of time using free library internet (and air-conditioning) and converted every single post of the Trailer Park Cyclist Blog into PDF's. As I was doing it, I realized what I was up to...That's it, guys, I know my own subconscious self and I'm pretty sure that's all she wrote for the News From the Whispering Pines. But there is some pretty good stuff in those hundred-plus pieces and I made myself laugh (alot) and I dunno...maybe I thought I would break the news here, if indeed such a belated announcement can even qualify as news...I haven't typed up a post in almost a year and I noticed just recently that a most of my friends have quietly removed me from their Blog Rolls.

To Be Or Whatever
So what's it all about? Well, working long days out of town and being away from the bike for so long at a time has a whole bunch to do with it, I suppose. Most of my writing (the good stuff, anyway) takes place late at night after I have crossed a magic threshold (Okay, when I'm drunk). Nowadays out there on the road I am sleeping in the wee hours, resting...

Plus, let's face it: every story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. It all has to end, sooner or later. There has to be an ending. A good story always does, anyway. End, I mean. Otherwise, what are we to think? Did everything work out? Did the hero triumph? Did Good win out over Evil?

Not that I ever tackled much in the way of Big Thoughts. I tried, but what can I say? I have always been more of the Jester than the Sage, which is fine with me. I once said that there is nothing that happens in our lives that sooner or later we can't laugh about. I'm not sure if I was right about that, but while Sooner is always here Later has yet to come, so who knows? God, I guess, and...wait for it...the Storyteller. He knows how it ends. He ends it. All the good storytellers do, anyway. End it, I mean.

But Sequels Are Never As Good
But hey! There are sequels (and prequels) and god knows how many other ways to only pretend to quit. Me, I'm just glad I finally got off my ass and PDF'd those posts. Now I have to scrounge up the money for some printer ink and I'll print them all out. I will sort and red-line and make notes and then pull it all together as best I can with maybe a dramatic and touching backstory or who knows, maybe I'll just tell the simple truth (which is never simple) and I don't know...

But this is it...this is true and about a year ago something changed for me and the Trailer Park Cyclist wasn't who I was anymore. Trust me, nothing changed but my mind. I still live in the trailer park and I still ride my bicycle (sometimes) and I still suffer through budget (and heart) breaking repairs and Little Miss has been in the stand for a year now...

I just ain't the ol' TPC anymore. I jumped back into the workaday world and it was a kind of suicide. There are reasons and family (of a sort) obligations and there are people who count on me, again. I had to go back to being a grown up and I don't like it. But I was always doomed to be a Do the Right Thing kind of guy and here I am, doing it. I hope.

So Just Go Already
I don't know how to pull the plug, exactly. While I was figuring out the PDF thing today at the Library I saw a Delete Your Blog button. That certainly sent a shiver down my spine and it would take a whole lot of beer and rum for that button to get pushed. And they frown on weeping drunks fooling with the computers at our local branch and even have a cop there (not too sober-looking himself) to make sure it doesn't happen. But I owe it to all my thousands and thousands of loyal readers (tee hee) to at least say goodbye.

But this isn't goodbye. I will still get all boozed up and come by your Blogs and leave long rambling comments that are related to your post by the merest thread...I'll still go to Drunk Cyclist about once every three months and start trouble and then disappear. I have ridden (rode, rided?) a bicycle since I was about three years old and that will never change. I just am going to set aside my Trailer Park Cyclist gig, (for what it's worth) for now and see what happens.

As endings and farewells go this one ain't so hot but I had to try. I can't explain what I don't understand myself so, well, this is what you get.

Yer old buddy,

TJC

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Trails End

May 1, 2015

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Chameleon



You Can't Always Get What You Want
Enigmatic lyrics from a different century echo through my mind as I stand here typing at five in the morning. I am home now, home for the first time in twenty five days. August is upon us and that means lots of heavy rain and even heavier heat but what of that? This is Florida. This is what happens here in the last half of summer and if ya don't like it, move to France or Mars or one of those places where everybody else lives. Me, I'm a Trailer Park Cyclist and bad weather and sultry realities are part of what makes up the wild ride I am on and bicycles, too.

What About the Bicycles?
Miss Daisy the Yellow Dog (ever a steadfast companion) is fixated on a chameleon that is driving her mad, changing colors and dashing about the trailer in an effort to escape her stern doggy gaze. This lizard is big and lithe and overfed, an obvious recipient of my open-hearted generosity. There are holes in the screens, you see, and when you abandon a crappy trailer for weeks at a time in the heart of a Florida summer, There Will Be Bugs. I only mention the chameleon in context with the bicycles. Here is what happened. Daisy, banging through the bike shop/living room in pursuit of this slithering lizard ghost, knocked over the recently painted frame of Little Miss Dangerous, my 1981 Schwinn Super LeTour dream machine. Immediately recalcitrant, she bows her head in apology but then thrusts forward yet again, ever in pursuit of this rascally reptile who I know; I know this lizard, it has been hanging out around my writing table for quite awhile now and he is welcome here, in my home. I really don't seem to have a choice in the matter, chameleons come and go at their own discretion and if only I could get my Yellow Dog to grasp that all things not-canine are not necessarily adversaries I think her world and mine would be a far more peaceful place.

Hang In There
But dogs and lizards have their own agendas, as do I: sitting here on the table next to the antique (XP!) Dell 6000 computer that I utilize for my ramblings and ravings, sitting here in spectacular black leather glory is a Brooks B-17 Imperial bicycle saddle. I have the wrench and the kooks at Brooks also included some red white and blue lacing tied to the rails. I don't know what these lacings are for or if Brooks does this for every customer but for now I will imagine that it was done just for me.

Home Again
It all ties together, this bicycle seat and the knocked-over frame, the chameleon and the dog...it all ties together. Stripped of parts, Little Miss has spent the last three weeks baking in an un-air conditioned trailer. Her new paint, a silver and black metal-flake rattle-can job applied by a pro (me) is really cool and a a diametric opposite of the flat black of two years ago. The flat black was sweet and murdered-hip, but it was also soft and easily scratched and this will be, probably, the last rebuild for Little Miss. So she gets a snappy-shiny paint job and about ten coats of clear gloss spray and she gets all-new drive parts; here on my bench is a new crankset and chain and derailleur and tires and everything. Everything. This bicycle has changed my life. I owe her a lot, really. The first post of this Booger, Coyote Brings Me A Bicycle (Project), tells all about the way I found a new path and new friends and in many ways a new reality.


And Again
Meanwhile, the fat chameleon has sneaked around and sits here now, inches away, glaring at me. I am his friend, but he doesn't know that yet. The Yellow Dog is outside on the porch, greeting the new day. Me? I'm out of rum and beer at sunrise; a new day is dawning and I am without beer and rum but I am ready. I am ready and Little Miss will soon enough be decked out in her new array and it will be a good last half of this year, this future-time, this 2014.

Of this I am certain.

Yer pal, tj
Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Reptile Refuge

August 1, 2014

Friday, July 4, 2014

Owner of a Lonely Heart


From the Desk of the Trailer Park Cyclist
Hey, guys.  Are all of you reading Cycling In the South Bay?  Authored by Seth Davidson, Esq. it is almost the anti-Trailer Park Cyclist blog.  He's a decent human who pretends not to be, a successful attorney and a racing-type cyclist.  Like I said, kind of a Bizarro World TPC.  Plus he's skinny.

Whatever the case, I DO read it and last night, while in me cups, as they say, I read this comment by Erik and it threw me into a tailspin of sorts, which ain't hard to do.  Go read the original post.  But this comment by our brother Erik stands alone and says more about cycling than everything I have ever written.  

ERIK Comments at Cycling In the South Bay
I always enjoy your tales of childhood, because they remind me so much of my own. Though I’m about 10-15 years younger than you, so the wussification of Suburbia was well underway by the ’80′s. Either way, I spent my summer days in the woods. Learned to curse during the summer after first grade in a long string of nonsense profanity that involved tits and balls, but not cunts and cocks. We had a neighbor with a pump track in his yard that we’d poach (you never asked ANYONE if you were allowed to do something, you just did it), and my steel-frame Huffy with plastic mag wheels was my steed from about 3rd grade until well into high school before I got my first road bike, which was actually my mom’s. It was a white chromoly Puch, about 4 cm too small for me, with a squeaky rear brake – so I only ever used the front. One evening I was riding without a light, head down, when I looked up at the last second to see a parked car where there never was one. I grabbed the front brake in a death grip and went right over the handlebars with the bike still between my legs onto the trunk of the car. I rung the doorbell across the street and apologized for the few tiny dents and scratches to the trunk, and offered to pay for them. She never called me back. I rode all over town on that thing when i was 15-16, and the only reason I ever started learning to drive was because it got stolen when i dropped it in the grass behind the bank one evening while I ran int to get 10 bucks. I was in there 5 minutes and the bike was gone that fast. I’ll never forget the dread of my first stolen bike. It was like the first time you loose sight of your child in a big crowd, only you know it’s never coming back. That bike was my escape from a shitty new life in a new town with an alcoholic step-father and his sociopath sons, that began abruptly the day after my last day of 10th grade after 10 years of my father’s long and destructive descent into untreated schizophrenia. I miss that bike.