Monday, March 23, 2009

Lightening Up: Past Weekend Bicycling Blogging

(Author's note: My efforts to write the definitive post on the financial crisis and its criminality on a grand scale have frustrated me for so long that I just sat back and typed, and typed this. So there. It's a different side of Nosmo King, and obviously even I am uncomfortable with it somehow. Hey, I'm whimsical sometimes, so sue me. Or at least claw back my bonuses.)

So on a recent Saturday my wife was away, doing something mysterious and female, to which I was not invited because I am not female, nor mysterious (it's okay, it's fine-- I have long since come to terms with my chronic masculinity). So I take the high road-- literally, and go out on a bike ride. I just make it into the guttering light of a thick mist Angelenic evening, the kind that in the valleys turns into such blanket as might disgorge Sherlock Holmes. But it is too early for that, but I still wear my sparkly jacket and turn my lights to announce me, at least, if not mesmerize the motoroids with my dazzle. I am on my three-speed, a contraption that I built up myself from a mountain crank and a road frame, one that must be ridden hard or not at all, and was in fact not being ridden at all, because it needed fixing, because I made it, and it broke. Broke like Citigroup, broke like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Indy Mac and all the other Macs and Maes and owners of those buildings with signs in the sky . The difference being that those august institutions were supposedly built by experts, while, as I hope I've made clear, me (occasional) writer, not expert bike so much builder very. But this evening, while my spouse is having a girls' night out, my oneliest bike creation is fixed, and I am pedaling it to beat hell or at least traffic, up and down ,some big hills till I don't notice the slight grade that runs for a mile or more on the home stretch. I am breathing deep and rhythmic and I am deeply happy, the kind that you wonder if you should tell anybody about because inside you it feels like really big news, sensational, almost pornographic. And I wonder why I find that on a bike, moreso than other places, and why that feeling is important or desirable in modern Upper Losangeleswood. So, herewith, the answer to these and other pressing questions.
I labor in the picture business by day, making other people's movies more like themselves. And to do this, you live here, in America's second largest city, a place that people say nobody comes from even though one in thirty US citizens is either me or a fellow county dweller. This mega-city (literally one million cities, which I believe is an accurate description of Upper Losangeleswood) is built upon the promise of rapid motion-- jumbles of expressways replacing the largest electric rail system that ever was in the world-- and that promise is broken. The freeways are jammed eight hours a day, their feeder streets stopped cold, we weary drivers forced to try ever more obscure side streets and byways to keep our cars moving at all, because cars are like sharks-- once they stop they start to stink in a very short time. And our tempers fray, our minds frazzle as we move more of our lives into the cars, eating breakfast, applying makeup, frantically calling friends if we have them, therapists if we don't (yes, I know many people have both-- we need all the help we can get in this town). Into this school I swim, sans armor, on a delicate device powered by whim. I am a minnow among sharks taking my life in my own hands. I am vulnerable and I know it. And I am happy.
Happy because, while the promise of motion for cars in ULAwood is a cruel, sad joke, if you're on a bike it is alive and well. All the streets, even the tiny byways, are spacious, so much more than those in Pdxville, one state to the north, for instance. In a car here, I feel like my progress is suffocated by all of these other cars, all so manifestly on some frivolous errand , making my unbelievably important, life or death journey nearly impossible. But on a bicycle, I am always going as fast as I want. I have my sense of control back, and thus I feel free. Thus the happiness sensational, almost pornographic.
I think the cars sense this, which is why they hate us. But most of them don't hate us enough to want to kill us, or at least not so much as to raise their insurance. People have asked me if I'm scared to ride in traffic. No, I say, traffic means witnesses. Besides, it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk here, and at the speeds I go, downright unneighborly. So into the mix I go, happily.
Because the other reason I love to cycle is that it gives me a chance to do only one thing. I step out of my mobile breakfast nook/ phonebooth/ panic room and just ride. I have no Ipod, no radio, and I'm working really hard at not answering my cell phone. I have the freedom to do only one thing-- keep myself alive. It's better than any video game, the graphics are un-freaking believable, and the multiplayer engine is ssssweet. I'm still searching for the reset button, and knowing that there are no extra lives makes it-- well it makes it something, lemmetellya. You can't program something like this, nor would you want to. It's life at the speed of life.
I'm trying to get better about not doing this for exercise. The best thing I can do for myself is to bicycle, and the best thing I could do for the planet is to bicycle. If you're a typical resident of this city of the mind called Upper Losangeleswood, one of the only things that matter to the environment is reducing the amount that you drive. I've got a ready-made solution here on two wheels, but I do have commitment issues. I just need to commit fully to the notion of my bike as transportation, not just therapy. I need to stop making excuses for not doing it. Which, I realize –META ALERT! WRITING ABOUT WRITING COMING UP! LOOK AWAY IF YOU MUST!-- applies equally well to this blog. I need to stop making excuses for not doing it. I need to realize that the only thing that matters is increasing the amount of time I spend on it. I need to start using it to get where I need to go. So, some cycling blogging will probably become a semiregular feature her, in this small world of irregular features. I encourage you all to get out there on your bike, and go somewhere you were going to go anyway, or go someplace new. Everybody already has a screenplay; most people have a blog, but not everybody has a bike. Oh, and get a road bike, for crying out loud. You live on a road, you probably don't live on a mountain. To those of you on mountain roads, or mountain bikes, my sincerest apology.

No comments: