Thursday, April 19, 2012

Camembert, Swiss or Roquefort

I Blame Xeno
It has now been a year since I began blathering on here and I want to say that I am very disappointed.  I thought that by now Trailer Park Cyclist the Movie would have come out and George Clooney would be accepting his Oscar and thanking me profusely for writing such wonderful tripe that all he had to do was say the lines and stand back.  Furthermore,  I am sorry to say that Disney has turned down the chance to option Pirates of the Carribbean:  The Return of the Trailer Park Cyclist.  Johnny called last night at 3 am weeping and apologizing and obviously drunk saying how “sorry he was” and “are we still friends?” and begging me not to expose his ties to Scientology.

Well,  I am a liberal and a live-and-let-live kind of guy but I gotta tell ya;  I only have so much patience with these Euro-dwelling dweebs and George and Johnny better tighten up their act or there will be no more Uncle Bill’s Legendary Backcountry Gator Sauce winging its way across the universe to their humble trailer park chateaux.

I Got You, Babe(s)
But meanwhile, I got you guys to bolster and encourage my efforts and correct my spelling, grammar and syntax.  (What is syntax, anyway?  Do I have to pay it?  The only syn I feel guilty of is resentment towards Disney and the Scientologists but how much can the IRS charge for that, I wonder?  Plenty, no doubt.)

All this nonsensical rambling has most likely caused those of you who are still awake to think to yourselves  “He obviously hasn’t been riding.”

They Call Me the Streak
Hah!  Wrong!  I got in fifty miles yesterday and it only took me four and a half hours to do it.  In my day I was a Builder of Eateries and one of those eateries was the Outback Steakhouse.  So I was reading in the newspaper that there was a new Outback going up at the Daytona Airport.  I got a little excited because it has been a long while since last I milked the Corporate Cow and I am ready, fit and able to dive into the creamery and once again squeeze out some cheese.  So I saddled up the Schwinn,  strapped on my Goodwill Messenger Bag and headed North.

Aeolus,  Aeolus, What Did I Ever Do To You?
The wind was wacky.  I live within a mile of the Atlantic Ocean and you would think that the trusty Trade Winds would give us some kind of steady breeze but they do not;  I think the Trade Winds got traded down to the minors and what we got now is this very professional and very powerful Wind that is also eccentric and insane.

While I pedaled North on Old US One I was getting a headwind, then a cross-wind, then a header again.  As I crossed the new Spruce Creek Bridge I noticed the tide was running really fast, running out through the bridge as though that creek water was as freaked out by the wind as I was and just wanted to get out to sea and catch its breath.

There is this Big Race Track in Daytona where they apparently have some kind of automobile events from time to time.  The Daytona Airport is there, also; and airports and race tracks were designed with the firm structural philosophy that bicycles do not exist. These places are laid out in such a fashion that vast quantities of cars and overweight, impatient people (who are not from around here) can screech around very rapidly and distractedly while they rush to a place where they will be treated rudely and forced to wait in long lines and pay way too much for beer.

TPC Gets Political
I know this because I was there and I saw it.  I am regionally embarrassed to say, however, that the high speed lanes at the Daytona Airport were vastly empty and I had them all to myself and even did some lazy sine wave sweep riding on the way to the terminal.  What the hell is going on?  Do I have to run for President and get this mess all straightened out?  My recent disappointment with Hollywood has me looking towards Washington…

So anyway, I rode all over the Daytona Airport and wherever that stoopid Outback is being installed, it must be underground.  This is the second time I have gone off in search of the Gig That Will Fix-It and found nothing.  But at least I got in some miles.

Airports Are Big
The whole time this was going on I was riding in big two and three mile loops.  That is how these airport roads are laid out.  And the wind may have been from the same direction the entire time for all I knew but I was getting these great little boosts and getting excited with my 21 mph speedo’meter readings then suddenly I would be slapped in the face and groaning along at 10 mph.

There’s No Road Like Home
Finally,  I said to hell with it and blasted my way back to trusty old US One and headed south.  The wind by this time was fairly clean, blowing mostly from the southwest and the southeast and sometimes from the north and then in from outer space,  with occasional hard 12 knot blasts head-on.  It did not matter;  there are beer stores on this ride home; it is only 15 miles or so and I know where those beer stores are and I can even tell you the varying temperatures of the coolers in those stores and it was going to be alright.  I was having fun. Disappointment is only a temporary thing for those who strive to endeavor and I am already planning my return trip.  I am going to find that Outback job and get me some Camembert, Swiss or Roquefort out of it or I’ll know why not.

And So…
Me and the Schwinn pushed, forced, struggled and shoved our way on home.  We drank (drunk/drinked/partook of) beer and we endeavored to persevere and when we got home Daisy and Toby were there at the gate with dog smiles and dog kisses and I was still strong. I still felt pretty damned strong and I like to think I could have done it all again.  But I am saving my strength for a trip to the South of France.  That’s right, George and Johnny,  I’m coming.  I’m going to get this mess straightened out and I don’t want to hear any lame-ass Disney/Euro/Hollywood excuses.  It ain’t American.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Political Headquarters

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Time and Space

Everything On the Other Side Of This Card Is A Lie
As many of you are aware, I am a Wizard of Time and Space.  Armed as I am with the abilities of Wizardness, I am able to go hither and yon on quests of unfathomable yearning and far reaching importance doing stuff that neither you nor I can fathom.  On just such a quest of which I was hitherto unaware of until just now when I thought it up:  I Rode Some Miles.

I’m In the Country.
Yeah, Baby.  Out where the breathin’ air is sweet.  I’m hittin’ a lick on this old abandoned orange grove road that has long been my dream trail and I once pedaled this route two or three times a week but for some reason or another having to do with the Wizard Union  and miles and regulations and Trailer Park Fix It and just damned old age and laziness,  it seems that these days I only ride it once or twice a month.

But I rode it today and unless the Lords of Blog deign to interfere you will now hear about it.

First:  There Were Eagles
Just a couple days ago I was spreading my wisdom over at this Aussie Blog about how Once There Were Eagles in Old Hawks Park but now there ain’t  but there are still Hawks but then,  in true Wizardly Fashion, I somehow and magically summoned up a mating pair of the real thing on the first leg of my long ride and there they were,  ignoring me in that haughty way that eagles have but doing Eagle Stuff nonetheless.  Whatever it was probably had more to do with procreation than patriotism but it is both sad and noble that the Symbol of our (Once?) proud nation is a rare sight.

And Then Came the Work
After that I mostly breathed hard a lot and wondered what the hell was wrong with my powerful legs and bottomless lungs.  This is Florida and while the winters can be harsh and the temperature can often drop as low as 55 degrees I still cannot get a grip on This My New Weariness.  But I was strong enough at this point and still enjoying the ride and I looked at my Schwinn Approved speedo’meter and was impressed to see that I was streaking along at sixteen miles per hour and that I had already covered eighteen miles and that was very reassuring;  I knew that at twenty miles there would be a beer store and besides, in the time it took to type this there it was.  I could see the Beer Store and there was just a moment’s doubt,  but then I knew: this would not be the day I chose Gatorade over Budweiser. [KA-CHING.  (Sound of Cash Register)]

Whatever...I Like Beer
I took my two 16 OZ cans of Busch [ka-ching] and stuffed them into my Goodwill messenger bag.  I shifted down into an easy gear that would have made me feel guilty back when I was cool but now that I am a fat lazy drunk-ass bastard who drinks cheap-ass beer what the hell?  If I wasn’t wearing charity bib shorts by Bontrager [ka-ching] the folks in their rusty pick-up trucks trying to run me off the side of Old US One would be getting a pretty gnarly shot of plumber’s crack right about now and I haven’t even drank  (drunk; dranken, partook of;) those beers yet.

And So...
 The cool thing about being a Wizard of Space and Time is that it always works out.  Within minutes I am sitting at an old  worn-out  park bench on the side of the vast and enigmatic Mosquito Lagoon.  This is an ancient place and it really is; there are ghosts here and I am a ghost and these warm beers are just right;  the cool thing about Space and Time is that they are Relative [ka-ching] and all of this and none of this is real but yeah, today I had this moment of Happy Mystery and Wonder and Riding My Bicycle and now you have too.  Raise a glass my friends for the sorta-long ride of dreams and eagles, manatees and mysteries.

Thirty miles is just right.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Dream Factory

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stuff Fron The Back Burner #one: After the War Began

  Hey, everyone! Earlier this year Keith Snyder sent out a call for short fiction stories for his book "Ride 2", the second volume of his series of short cycling fiction.  I'm not much of a fiction writer, but I made first drafts of a couple attempts before deciding the heck with it, I'll just stick to my Blog and stories of  the real world, which are fictional enough for me.  But here in the Dead Zone between Christmas and New Years, I thought I would clean off the stuff from the back burner and see what you think.

After the War Began
When the War started one of the first edicts of the New Bush administration was a National Emergency Act shutting down all the gas stations.  Giant Government tanker trucks came out to every city and outlying suburb and to every little town and sucked up every drop of petrol from every tank.  The Gasoline Riots started almost overnight and  until all the gasoline was removed President Jeb would not allow the reopening of the gasoline stores.  But it was fast,  almost as though it had been planned in advance.  Where did all those giant tankers come from, anyway?  Suddenly they were everywhere at once,  like a domestic alien invasion and then just as suddenly it was over and Jeb came on the television and let everyone know that they could go out and get cigarettes and beer and baby formula from their neighborhood market once more.

This was fine except for those people who had never walked three blocks or more in their entire lives;  the “neighborhood market”  might as well be on the Moon as far as they were concerned.  A delivery network  quickly sprung forth as the more able and quick of the neighborhood began taking money from their neighbors to pick up food and necessities for their suddenly stricken friends.  This of course led to further conflicts as theft and chicanery had its way with the New Reality until it also was resolved by typically intrepid American entrepreneurialism.  Vendors and salesmen started showing up with pushcarts and pedal driven contraptions bringing all manner of products and services to every gated community and worn out trailer park in every city everywhere.

Highly self-important business men found themselves stranded in variously damnable places.  The high rise apartments of their mistresses and the downtown banks and brokerages,  their far-removed mansions and yachts at marinas not their own,  these are the ones Good Ol’ Jeb blamed for the sudden crash of the cell phone system.  It was there one minute,  then it was gone.  But the televisions and the land lines were working (except for long distance), and the internet.  Jeb was there, in black and white on the TV and in some oddly altered internet presence that would soon enough fade back to DOS.  But no one cared.  Food and water was what folks were now concerned with.  The infrastructure was sound and all the country had electricity and the government trucks came daily with more beer and cigarettes and frozen pizza to restock the little locally owned neighborhood markets.  The toilets still worked and when the national chain supermarkets and department stores slowly dwindled and died almost no one noticed.  Those stores were far from the houses and no one went far from home in the first few weeks of the War.

Until the Messengers came.  First there were only trickles of one or two riders and they were welcomed and then robbed of their bicycles for parts for pedal carts or stolen by miserable wretches looking for a way to get whatever illegal substance their bodies craved.  Bicycles had become highly valuable but most were of very inferior quality and slow and soon died.  The craftsmen who knew how to repair bicycles and had spare parts to do so were crafty, (after they figured out which way the wind was blowing,) and soon enough went underground.  The Messengers were coming and these bicycle repair guys didn’t know it, but they knew that they had what was needed to get away.  But to where?  No one knew. 

Humans are the best.  While possessed of questionable character, they are, for the most part, one hell of a surviving group of a species.  President Jeb came on the radio warning everyone to watch out for large, fast groups of riders on bicycles.  He said not to listen to their lies and propaganda and went on to say that the televisions would be back on soon enough and he was sorry about the internet but the fat cats and stockbrokers had somehow screwed that up too, but don’t worry,  the War is going great and  he wanted to personally reassure every American that their sacrifice and strength was what made America Great.

But the Messengers were telling a different tale.  They were coming in from all points and telling of riots and death and rumors.  `The worst was that President Jeb was broadcasting from Saudi Arabia.

To be continued

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Trailer Park Sanctuary

Angels Come In All Forms
“Tim Joe!”  

I look up from my work.  I’ve got my Old Schwinn in the stand and I am carefully and diligently applying my personal secret chain lube formula to the chain.  It ain’t easy and I have to concentrate but who was that?

Wasn’t me, said the Voice.

“Tim Joe!”  

OK, there it was again.  It has a Brooklyn accent.  The only entity I know who has a Brooklyn accent is the Sun.  Looking out the open window,  I see him.  A scruffy guy standing at the wrong gate calling out my name.  He is standing at the Blonde’s trailer calling for me and “Now What?” I think.  

“Hey!”  I say, in my firm ( maybe friendly, maybe not) voice that I use around the Park.  These people are of a type who begin with an inch.

“Oh, there you are.”  Who is this fucking guy? “What are you doing over there?,”  he asks,  as though I were up to something, or trying to somehow pull a fast one.

“I live here.  Who are you?”

“It’s me, Tommy C.  You know, Jo’s friend. I was at your house a couple weeks ago for the ribs.”
 Oh.  OK.  This is what I get for trying to have a cookout without Uncle Bill.

My New Side Job
“Oh yeah, Tommy, come on over.”  He seems disoriented and I go out the door and stand at my own gate.  “Over here, dude”  He crosses over and I open the gate to let him in.  As he comes in the dogs start their dance of joy and gladness and jump on him and Toby the Trouble Puppy stands up and pushes him.  I’m working on Toby but he is half Pit and half Jack and all Trouble.

“Get off me, dog!”  says my new guest.  Strike one.  Plus he stinks.  Not body odor.  He smells like jail.  “Hey, Bro,  Jo had to work and she said I should just come hang out over here until she gets off.”  I look at the clock.  Miss Jo won’t be coming home for five hours.  Five hours.  I instinctively reach for a beer but there isn’t any.  I ran out of beer half an hour ago.  Toby starts trying to hump Mr. Tommy C’s leg.  “Get OFF!”  he says, giving Toby a little kick.  I don’t want a dog humping my leg either.  But this apparent baby-sitting session is not beginning well.  

There Will Be Beer
“So, Tommy,  what’s up?  I was just getting ready to go for a  bike ride.”  I glance over at me Little Darlin’ hanging there in the stand.  I look at my two darlin’ little dogs, sitting side by side and smiling and open to the conversation and happy and willing to take a bullet for either one of us.  I look out the window at this damned Trailer Park that could be a different  kind of thing;  it could be a secret enclave of artists and musicians.  It could be a quiet and serene final-days hideout for the elderly.  It could be a lot of things that would be cool and groovy but it is not.  It is a trashy, worn out and filthy haven for the two-legged refuse that has no where else to be.  This is their place.  It is where they belong.  Them and me.

“Ah, man, you know I had to check into court for sentencing on the 23rd but my Public Defender got fired or quit or something so my new PD got me a continuance.  But I already sold all my stuff and got into a fight with my old lady and she threw me out and now here I am with no place to go and no money and no gas and I’m hungry as hell.”  Of course you are, Tommy.  Of course you are.

“Well,”  I say, “First we need some beer.  Why don’t you hang out here while I pedal off to the beer store.  It will only take a minute.”

“Can I take a shower?”

“Good idea.  There’s a clean towel next to the sink.  I’ll be right back.”  

A Little Preparation Goes A Long Way
I take my bicycle off the stand and grab my Goodwill messenger bag.  Tommy C is a rough character, covered top to bottom with jailhouse tattoos and covered top to bottom with that general aura attained by those who have spent so much time in jail that they have become confused about what is the right place to be:  inside or outside.  Me,  I am not confused.  I take my bike and park her outside the gate.  I listen for the shower to start and I quietly go back in.  I take my laptop and place it inside the tool drawer on my workbench.  I lock the drawer and then I gather up the puppies and take them next door to the Blonde’s trailer.  I lock them inside.  I don’t know how the day is going to turn out; but any collateral damage will be limited if I can help it and no innocent little dogs will be hurt.  I can’t promise myself the same about any not-so-innocent two legged dogs but I have run with bad packs before and can pretty much predict the end of the story.

 I have friends who are followers of Christ and so am I,  after a fashion.  Every man I meet begins as my friend and anyone who comes to me frightened, hungry, friendless and with no where to go will not be summarily turned away.  But I am old.  I have lived a hundred lifetimes and I have learned the painful learning that these lost souls are usually lost for a reason and that reason sometimes ain’t pretty.

But What of That?  We Have Heaven!
Outside!  Man I love the outdoors!  I hit a lick on the pedals and for a moment I am free and there is nothing going on but me and my bike.  I have started riding a lot more with the advent of Spring and me and the bicycle have once again become a combined thing of wheels and steel and soul and flying.  I hit a lick on the pedals and Ol’ Tommy C and his confusion about freedom and what freedom means are at my back for the moment;  the dogs are safe in the Other Trailer and the only two things I own are my laptop and my bicycle and they too are safe;  I am coasting fast to the beer store here in Old Hawks Park.

Hail the Pioneers!
Hawks Park is a village named for its founder,  Florida Pioneer Dr. John Hawks.  But as though drawn here by some magical force of name-recognition this place is alive with birds.  And hawks.  As I fly to the store there is a beautiful red-wing hawk hovering nearby, then another.  This is their place.  The day is so bright that it hurts just to look at it and if only we could show this to everybody…but not today. Today, these hawks have a place to be and so do I and I am grateful for that.  Sometimes in my deep darkness and inner sickness God sends over a soul for my enlightenment and edification and for a chance to see how lucky I am.

Meanwhile, Back At the Trailer Park…
“Man,  Tim Joe.  Thank you so much.  I needed that shower.  The cops are after me, I think.”

“Have a beer, my brother.  Why are the cops after you?”

‘That’s just it.  I don’t know.”  (They never do.)  “Maybe it was the door frames.”

Tommy C is one of this growing breed of desperado metal junkies.  All the World is covered with scrap metal and it is becoming more valuable and guys like Tommy, once they figured out that any old piece of scrap steel or brass or copper or aluminum could be traded for the price of a pack of cigarettes or a pill or a six-pack or whatever the heart desires (in small portions); once this truth became apparent they started scrappin’.  When I see Tommy gazing in admiration at my old Schwinn I know he isn’t looking at a beautiful freedom machine.  He sees a crack rock or an Oxycontin or a couple gallons of gas.  

Mis Jo needs a stern talking-to about this baby-sitting stuff.

“You got that right, Voice.  Now shut up,  I’m busy being munificent and wary.”

Crooked Angels
So me and Tommy C spent a half-assedly pleasurable afternoon together drinking a case of cheap beer and me listening to him talk on his cell phone, making dastardly plans for his escape and his next scrap binge and cussing out the various people who may or may not have been involved with why the cops came to his girlfriend’s house this morning, looking for Tommy and rooting through the trash cans out back and asking a lot of questions.

Me,  I’m just waiting for Miss Jo to get done with her Day Job so I can hand over this tattooed and screwed waif-ape and go get my dogs out of the Other Trailer and maybe catch a Sundown Ride along the River and maybe catch a glimpse of a Hawk or a Sailboat or some other Winged Creature. I fed Tommy C some hot dogs and chili; I shared my beer and a moment’s sanctuary and if God sent him here for me to Do Something About It,  I hope I did.

Hawks Park Trailer Park and Orphan Recycling Center