In Which The Author Hits The Concrete And Does Not Quite Bounce Back

John had agreed to take three videos of me trying my new Chromag Monk through the rhythm section at Mike’s Bike Park, and this was the second of them. This is approximately what I was thinking at the time:

Okay… roll in, try to snag an extra pedal to get this big bitch over that step-up jump. Pump the roller… pull for the step… ah, that’s not quite perfect… BZZZT! that’s the back tire on my shorts… pump down the hill… one more roller… now for the wallride. God damn I hate wallrides, but unless you go eight or nine feet up on this one you don’t have enough momentum for the return section… is that high enough? Good, let’s get down without going over the bars… bike is on flat ground… the first jump is ahead… let’s get one strong crank in to make these jumps easy, 100% effort on the right foot please… whatwhatwhatFUCKFUCKFUCK… over the bars and tuck my head and BANG that’s the ground and roll over and John is yelling and running towards me…

…ugh. My arm is numb.

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Weekly Roundup: Thelonious Bike Edition

Consistency, the man said, is the hobgoblin of little minds. When I returned to BMX riding about sixteen months ago, I didn’t have a lot of respect for the so-called “dirtjumper” bikes, those odd and awkward hybrids of 26″ wheel, suspension fork, and BMX geometry. I thought of them as “easy buttons” for big jumps and difficult lines down a trail.

The more I saw of them, however, the more I liked the idea of having a little more stability. Breaking my ribs and my arm at an indoor bike park last year made me even more receptive to the idea of a bicycle that would dial back the penalties for small mistakes in the air. So here’s my brand-new Chromag Monk dirt-jumper. It’s basically a dead-stock Chromag complete with different colors on a few parts. It took Chromag a full six months to deliver it to me, because these things are only in slightly less demand than new Ferrari 488GTBs.

This loneliest Monk and I are getting along pretty well. One thing I don’t like about it: the frame was made in Taiwan. I offered to pay Chromag their standard frame rate to do a Canadian-made Monk, but they refused. So I’ll probably have Mike Laird duplicate this frame in titanium over the upcoming winter then rebuild the bike around Chris King wheels and the new frame.

To see what these bikes are really capable of, and to catch up on my writing from last week, click the jump.

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The Critics Respond, Part Fifty

Jeff, you have a point. Like a totally legitimate point. So while I originally planned to make this episode of “The Critics Respond” a stout-ish defense against your allegation, complete with various facts and figures concerning what percentage of my published output contains Accord-related content, I’d rather spend this time talking about the truly odd things that occur at the intersection of talent, opportunity, and motivation.

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1987 Cadillac Fleetwood d’Elegance – Best Of All, It’s A Cadillac

The car I can remember like it was yesterday was my grandmother’s 1987 Fleetwood d’Elegance. No, this was not the large and in charge Brougham d’Elegance, but the trimmer, front wheel drive Fleetwood. The year was 1989. My Grandma was a young 77 years old. She had just lost her second husband a few months prior, and driving was now her full responsibility. I kept hearing her say how she didn’t enjoy driving as much as she used to. I was confused because she had a beautiful 1979 Cadillac Sedan deVille that previously belonged to my Uncle Bob. In 1986 he bought a new Fleetwood Brougham to replace the ’79 Sedan deVille so he gave the old Caddy to my Grandmother. It was a rare one too – a beautiful color called Cedar Firemist, with a rare power Astroroof, CB radio, leather interior and nearly all the options Caddy offered for the year.

1979 Sedan de Ville

Oddly enough he didn’t order a tilt & telescopic steering wheel which I used to make sure I made a joke of with him all the time! When I asked why he didn’t get it he said he didn’t need it. Unfortunately it made it hard for my short Grandma to get comfortable in that huge Caddy! She really could have used that tilt wheel!

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1978 Chevrolet Caprice Classic – This B Was The Best!

B is for B-Body-in this case, the Caprice Classic. 1977 was a big deal. Downsizing came for all biggie GMs, and the results were most excellent! The downsized 1977 B-bodies took the U.S. market by storm. While all the various corporate variants were well-received, from Impala to LeSabre, there is no doubt the Chevrolet versions were the top sellers.

1976 Caprice Classic Landau. Owned by Jason Bagge.

The 1976 Caprice Classic was the last of the gunboats. It had been around since Autumn 1970, when the smooth, swoopy and gigantic 1971 B-Bodies debuted. All 1976 Caprice Classics sported an attractive new nose with rectangular headlights. But it was just a place holder, despite the great new look. There were some very different big Chevies just around the corner.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: The Midwestern Kids Are Alright Edition

“I can’t do it.” Earlier in the morning I’d seen this boy clear a ten-foot double jump, arrogantly hanging the back wheel out motorcross style, without breaking a sweat. He would go on to win his race that day by more than ten yards, bunnyhopping the finish line in a display of exuberance mixed with outstanding fitness even in the ninety-degree heat. But now he was trembling as he clutched the flagpole. “I’ll drop it. I can’t do it one-handed. The flag,” he whispered, “could touch the ground.

His mother, standing by the ground next to the tabletop jump on which her son was vibrating with fear and concern, pointed her finger up towards his face. Her tank top fell away from her shoulder and I could see the faded Technicolor of a half-dozen different philosophies in tattooing. One of them was a man’s name in cigarette-ink blue, followed by “USMC”.

“You,” she snapped, “can absolutely do it and I don’t wanna hear no excuses neither.”

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Soccer Saga Update

kevin commonwealth sc

I know you’re all dying to know how the soccer team situation with my son turned out. Or maybe you’re not, but it’s my blog and I’m going to tell you anyway.

After I sent my email, things did actually change a bit. The coach started the best seven kids for each of the two remaining games, and the team played pretty decently as a result—a team that beat our kids 11-0 in the first meeting eked out a 3-1 victory that was even closer than the score indicated, and the final game was another loss (2-1), but the game was marred by horrific officiating and should have gone the other way. If they had played that way all year, their final record would have been much more like 6-2 instead of 3-5.

In other words, I asked the coach for some hope, and I got some. So I figured that the best thing to do was to have my son tryout for both teams—his current squad and the one that we were considering switching to. Since the tryouts were a week apart, there would be plenty of time to decide which team was the better option. His current squad was holding their tryouts first, so worst case scenario was that it would be a good warmup for the team he wanted to be on.

As it turned out, we weren’t the only ones with that strategy.

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In Memory of David A. Wilson II, 1944-2018

David Wilson, assembling a WAMM loudspeaker, 1986. Courtesy of Wilson Audio.

In Chicago in 1972, Peter McGrath was holding down a part-time job in a stereo store, while he pursued his graduate studies in fine art.

For those who were not alive and aware at the time, the early 1970s witnessed the dawning of the second Golden Age of Hi-Fi. The first Golden Age encompassed the late 1940s through early 1960s. Pioneering companies included Fisher, McIntosh Laboratory, and Marantz (electronics); Klipsch (horn loudspeakers); QUAD (electrostatic loudspeakers, and electronics); and Acoustic Research (acoustic-suspension loudspeakers, and turntables). The great hi-fi companies of the 1950s established the component stereo system (consisting of a turntable and sometimes a tuner or reel-to-reel tape deck, vacuum-tube amplification, and loudspeakers) as a vital part of what was understood to be “the good life.”

I think it is tremendously important to point out that although hi-fi started out as a hands-on hobby for technically-inclined males, by the late 1950s, high-quality music playback in the home via stereo components was almost universally regarded as something to aspire to—even if in many cases, people had to settle for suitcase stereos or the massive pieces of furniture called console stereos. Going back and reading general-circulation magazines of the 1950s (as well as male-oriented magazines such as Esquire and Playboy), one is struck by the prevalence of advertisements for hi-fi components and loudspeakers, as well as for “culturally improving” book and record clubs.

More context, backstory, and appreciations of David A. Wilson, after the jump link. Continue Reading →