1982 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham – Where Were You in ’82?

Some people love Corvettes. Others are really into Civics. And in certain parts of the country, there are fine folks who will accept nothing less than a diesel F250 King Ranch. But for me, it’s Broughams. Fine, wire wheel-covered, opera-lamped Broughams. With soft Corinthian leather, d’Elegance button tufted seating, St. Regis landau tops, and chrome. Chrome everywhere! Why? Well, my grandparents had Lincoln Continentals, LTDs and Thunderbirds, and they made an impression on me. I was also unduly influenced by my dad’s root beer brown 1979 Pontiac Bonneville during my pre-kindergarten years. Fleetwood Brougham, Cougar Villager and Mark IV toy cars I received as a kid also were a factor. But despite also loving Volvos (I drove them for nearly twenty years) and Porsches (Dad had them before I was born), it always comes back to the Broughams.

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A Less-Than-Proud Moment And A Very Proud Moment, Courtesy of Youth Soccer

Soccer Saturday is, by far, my favorite day of the week. It’s not really even close.

My work schedule is such that I’m normally traveling out on Monday morning, working 16 hour days Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then flying home, dead tired, on Friday afternoon. Sunday is the day that I steel myself to do it all again. But Saturday? Saturday is the day where I either freeze in the cold, stand in the pouring rain, or endure third-degree sunburns to watch my son play soccer. Despite the always awful conditions, and the assault on my seasonal allergies, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than watching him play.

I’m a Soccer Dad, no doubt. I cheer loudly. I coach way too much from the sidelines. I pace and pace up and down the sideline during the games—I stopped bringing a chair years ago. I live and die with each play. My FitBit tells me that my heart rate more than doubles during the games. I know that my son cares immensely about winning and losing, and I know his day—no, his week is ruined if he doesn’t win.

This past weekend was almost like getting two-for-one, because we had a tournament! Over 150 top teams from Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, and Tennessee all came together in Georgetown, Kentucky, for the Stride tournament on Saturday and Sunday, and my son’s FC Kentucky Boys U9 squad was among them.

U9 is a little bit of a mix between kids who have been playing since they were 3 or 4 years old and live and breathe soccer (ex., my son, Kevin), and some kids who are still figuring out if this is something they want to do. Each kid is required to play a certain amount in each game, regardless if he’s a top player or not. U10 is where it gets super-duper serious, with more kids getting cut than making the squad, more intense travel, and no rules about the amount of playing time required.

But that doesn’t mean that U9 isn’t serious.

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Weekly Roundup: Pull From Flat Edition

This was a big riding weekend for me and my son — we started off Saturday afternoon by visiting the Mega Cavern trails on in Louisville, KY. It was John’s first time doing actual “dirt jumping” and I think he acquitted himself pretty well. After dinner and an overnight stay with Uncle Bark, we returned home today via Ollie’s Skatepark, just south of Cincinnati. John had a pretty bad crash before I even got my helmet on; his front tire slid out and he tumbled off a box jump to the concrete floor. But he picked himself up and returned to riding.

As for his dad… well, I did okay enough at the Mega Cavern. At Ollie’s, I tried airing-out the six-foot halfpipe and hung up my back wheel on re-entry, which was ugly and painful. It’s alright. Click the jump to see a quick video from the Mega Cavern, which is a four million square foot limestone mine turned into a multi-purpose facility. If you are claustrophobic, you won’t like the idea of being a half-mile away from the nearest exit. John would occasionally ride back to the entrance “so I have it memorized in case the lights go out.” Smart boy.

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All The Money We Didn’t Save By Going To China

Things to do in Denver when you’re dead… tired, and have just three hours before your flight leaves: go to a bike shop and look around. Google Maps said there was a shop just eight miles from the airport, so I went to check it out. Turns out that the “shop” in question was actually the factory outlet for Tomasso Bikes.

As far as I could tell, Tomasso operates the same way that Bike Nashbar used to: they have frames built overseas and then they load ’em up with slightly better components than you would get on a “name-brand” bike like Trek or Cannondale. Aluminum Tomassos are made in Taiwan, carbon Tomassos in mainland China. To some degree, quick-bake companies like this have been rendered obsolete by Giant, which owns both the means of Chinese proudction and the means of American distribution. (This is why a Giant is almost always the best deal on a new bike, if you are purely concerned with specs.) Compared to those old Nashbar bikes, however, Tommasos are very handsome. They make a rather striking “hybrid” bike in military green, which was the first thing I saw when I walked in the door.

The fellow who came out to talk to me and show me a few bikes was on crutches, having been hit by a car during a road ride seven weeks ago. He’d gotten a femur nail, so we had a long conversation about that particular surgery and its consequences. I was an experimental recipient of a Grosse-Kempf titanium nail back in March of 1988. Luckily for my new friend, his break was much less severe than mine had been. He’d gone for a short bike ride just six weeks after the nail went in. At that point in my recovery I was still confined to bed 24/7.

Hanging on the wall across from that army-green hybrid bike was a drop-bar roadie, something about halfway between a tourer and a full-bore racer: the Corvo. It has the full Shimano 105 “gruppo”, which is to say that most of the parts on it are supplied by Shimano and that they are all “105” level. When I was a kid, Shimano had just three road-bike gruppos: Dura-Ace on top, 600 Ultegra in the middle, and 105 at the low end. Now there’s Tiagra below 105, and a few cheap-bike-specific gruppos like Sora and Claris. (A full explanation can be found here, if you care.)

“The Corvo is $1,699, which is a ripping deal for a full 105 bike,” my salesman said. By modern standards he’s right. And yet… if $1,699 is what you’d pay for a generic Chinese bike with Shimano 105, how much would you pay for an American-made bike with full 105? Would you be okay with… $1,282?

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Automobilia Familia: Or, I Was A Brougham-Era Lot Boy

Today’s post is by none other than my uncle, Dave Klockau. This was previously published over at the old site I used to write for. TK

My uncle, in his natural environment.

In the late 1800s a sailor in the German Navy by the name of Wilhelm Johann Klockau, decided to jump ship in New York harbor and made his way to Rock Island, IL where he got a job as a blacksmith. His family trade in Germany was coach building. He later bought the carriage shop he worked at which eventually became the Klockau Garage. He was my Great Grand Daddy gear head, so we have him to thank for our family affliction.

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Weekly Roundup: There But For The Grace Of BART Go I

Nine days ago, at 9:30 on a Friday night, the contributor and spouse known as “Danger Girl” stepped onto a BART train at the Oakland Coliseum station. She was on the way to San Luis Obispo to visit a family member who was terminally ill. I don’t like it when DG takes public transit; I’ve seen too much stupidity happen on various subways and elevated trains to ever feel totally comfortable with the idea of my wife in that situation.

But not even in the most racist, classist, bigoted productions of my fevered imagination did I ever predict what actually happened the very next night at that station: forty to sixty “teens” mounted a coordinated attack on occupants of the BART train stopped there. In under five minutes they robbed every single occupant of the train, beating five of them severely enough to send them to the hospital. Some reports indicate that the “teens” singled out a particular family for a vicious attack.

About two out of three BART trains do not have a functioning security camera; this was one of the exceptions. One arrest has already been made. All that this means is that the “teens” will have masks on next time. Don’t expect the police to arrest a majority of the perpetrators. The beauty of participating in a robbery like this is that you have a measure of what biologists call “predator satiation”; the cops will grab a few of you for the proverbial slap on the wrist and the rest will go free.

Danger Girl’s days as a BART rider are officially over starting now, but surely San Francisco and Oakland locals are starting to consider the best way to counter the next one of these attacks. What’s ironic here is that California is the home of the argument that you don’t need a high-capacity semiautomatic weapon for self-defense. That’s normally very true; I’ve always said that a five-shot small-frame revolver is sufficient to settle most social situations. Imagine, however, that you are on that train with your children when you see sixty “teens” running towards your train with robbery and assault on their minds. Wouldn’t you like to have seventeen in the magazine with a spare mag on the belt? Yes you would.

Speaking of assaults on decency, let’s see what I got published this past week.

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No, You Shouldn’t Be Okay With A Mediocre Life

If one more, well, mediocre person I know shares the January blog post, “What If All I Want Is A Mediocre Life?” I’m gonna choke the mediocre life right out of him/her. As with most Facebook shares, I’m guessing that at least fifty people didn’t even read the post, but simply saw the title as an excuse for their own lamentable mediocrity and clicked “Share” without a moment’s hesitation. “Yes! I’m a MOM and a TEACHER and I’m PROUD OF IT!” Well, okay, then. Your biggest accomplishments are a biological act and having a career that is typically chosen by the stupidest college students. Congrats, you’re even less than mediocre!

The first thing that you should know about this blog post was that it was written by Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Dagui (I can’t begin to understand how that name was generated), who is a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant™ & Joyful Living Educator. This is Not a Real Fucking Job. And the trademark is the author’s, not mine.

But let’s get past the ad hominem attacks and get to the meat of the post, shall we? Yeah, let’s.

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The Plastics Are Alive And Well In The PTA

“You got your Freshmen, ROTC guys, Preps, J.V. jocks, Unfriendly black hotties, Girls who eat their feelings, Girls who don’t eat anything, Desperate Wannabes, Burnouts, Sexually Active Band Geeks, the greatest people you will ever meet and the worst: Beware of Plastics.”

Mean Girls. Don’t lie, you know you’ve seen it. It’s a fantastic movie about the odd social hierarchy that has ruled the hallways of American high schools for years. And while it’s mostly tongue in cheek, it’s fascinatingly accurate. Guys, you might not know this, but girls are mean. Like, really mean. And holy cow, as they get older and approach middle age, they get meaner, and sometimes they even get smarter.

That, my friends, is a really bad combination. And when they ship their spawn off to school for the first time, they realize that THEY CAN GET THE GANG BACK TOGETHER. And they’re no longer Plastics. They have a new name: The PTA.

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The Critics Respond, Part Forty-Two

Near the end of Joni Mitchell’s Miles of Aisles live album, she becomes tired of the crowd calling out requests for her greatest hits and responds, somewhat passive-aggressively, with “Nobody ever said to Van Gogh, ‘Paint a Starry Night again, man!’ You know? He painted it and that was it.” (More on that comment, and its ramifications, here.) I was just two years old at the time, and on the wrong coast besides, but if I could get in a time machine and travel back to that night I would yell back, “YEAH, AND HE ALSO JUST GOT PAID ONCE FOR PAINTING IT, SO QUIT YOUR BITCHING!”

When my son is old enough to truly comprehend the fine distinctions involved, I think that I’m going to spend a lot of time stressing to him that different jobs don’t just pay different amounts of money — they also pay in different ways. Consider, if you will, the vast majority of pop songs. The writer gets paid as long as people buy the song. The rights holders to the song also get paid as long as it’s selling. That’s really the best way to get paid. The original headliner can probably get paid to perform the song as long as it’s popular; that’s not quite as good as getting paid for doing nothing but it still offers the prospect of continued employment. Last and least are the studio musicians who took a one-time payment for performing on the studio track and signed over the rest of their rights.

Studio musicians tend to stay poor and die broke, no matter how good they are, because they don’t own the rights to what they do. As fate would have it, I’m kind of a studio musician when it comes to autowriting. I don’t own a magazine, I don’t own a website, and I don’t retain rights to much of what I write. Like Van Gogh, I deliver the product, I take the money, I walk away, and I never have to — or get to, depending on your perspective — do it again. I write 350,000 words a year— that’s a new War and Peace every nineteen months — and I only get paid once for each one of those words.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you. It’s a privilege and an honor to have the editors, and the audience, that I have. Joni Mitchell might have considered her fans to be a distraction or even a hassle, but I cannot bring myself to feel that way. I spend a lot of time thinking about the best way to serve that audience. Which brings me to the comment by dal20402 above.

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Sandberg Comes Alive, Disc 2

Do you know who Sheryl Sandberg is or why she might possibly be of importance? If not, you can read TLP on the subject. (Short version: she is permitted to exist because her existence sells middle-class women on the idea of working harder for the same amount of money.) You can also read my thoughts on her Surprising! Survival! of a plane crash that occurred while she was somewhere else.

Two year ago, Mrs. Sandberg’s (second) husband died. Dave Goldberg was a VP at Yahoo Music when he met Sandberg, who was a VP at Google. The most fervent Jew-haters at the Chateau Heartiste couldn’t come up with a more stereotypical story than this bloodless partnership of two oddly wealthy, work-obsessed people whose last name contains “berg” and whose entire reason for notability revolves around yet a third “berg” — Mark Zuckberg of Facebook fame.

But then Sheryl (Maiden Name) Sandberg became SHERYL SANDBERG, and her husband became a nonentity. Maybe a better way to say it would be that Dave was always a nonentity. He was always one of these people who bumbles around NorCal and repeats the right buzzwords and earns a mid-six-figure salary because of it. Much of the American economy as it currently exists revolves around people like this. They drive a non-F-model Lexus and they are house-poor and they clog up the line at Whole Foods because they are asking unnecessary questions. They support “Black Lives Matter” from the security of their gated communities. They drive a Prius for the environment but breathlessly boast about brief rides on the company jet. They are interchangeable. They have mastered duckspeak. Their primary value is in never having said or done anything that prevents further mild advancement in the hierarchy.

But then Sheryl became a billionaire, earning more in a week than her husband does in a year. So Dave faded into potbellied, underdressed obscurity. Having become completely unnecessary to the Sandberg Five-Year plan, he then had the decency to die, so Sheryl could write a book about how she survived this tragedy.

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