Weekly Roundup: Zen And The Art Of Bicycle Maintenance Edition

My son and I are driving across the country right now, hitting every skate park, pump track, and downhill MTB facility we can find along the way. There have been some really neat times — watching him hit big jumps at Frisco despite the 9,100-foot elevation and lack of familiarity with the terrain, a couple of warp-speed runs at Winter Park where the adults ahead of him were like terrified deer in the headlights of a Freightliner — and there have been some bad times, like the flat tire I got two miles away from the nearest lift and the crash he had today that initially looked like a broken wrist but is probably just a seriously bruised forearm muscle.

When I think how close I came to never being a father, I get this nauseated chill all the way through my body, the same way I did back in 1993 when I finished a 135-mph freeway blast on my 600 Ninja, came to a stop to get a drink, and realized there was a trail of oil from the head gasket to the middle of the rear tire. Some of it is admittedly the narcissistic high of seeing someone who is very nearly a perfect duplicate of my eleven-year-old self demonstrate mastery of so many different things, from fencing left-handed with an epee to driving a 206cc kart one-handed through a fast corner. The rest of it, however, is just the joy that comes from following (some of) God’s plan in this life and having a family, albeit an ad hoc one. I know that many of my readers are young men who are struggling with a modern society that wants them to be “dog dads” in miserable childless marriages, a society that venerates the empty joys of overpriced food and aimless travel over the true happiness of providing for a real family and continuing the traditions handed down to them by their parents or grandparents.

If I could return to my twenty-first birthday and start again, I’d focus on having the largest family I could support and on showing that family all the love and affection I could possibly express. I believe my brother feels the same way. Between the two of us, we’ve sampled most of the pleasure the prince of this world has to offer, from bespoke tailoring and sub-eight-minute laps of the ‘Ring to playing sold-out shows across Europe and indulging in the kind of antics that are normally prefaced by “Dear Penthouse Letters, I never thought it could happen to me but…” None of that stuff truly lasts.

I know the temptation for my young readers is to “sit poolside”, to disconnect from their responsibilities and just enjoy these final days of the American experiment. I’m asking you to repudiate that temptation. You won’t be a perfect father. God knows I’m not — today I found myself yelling at my son because he was slow to get up after falling six feet onto rocky ground face-first. The job does not require perfection. It requires effort, and involvement. You can do it. Even if your own father didn’t measure up. That doesn’t have to define who you are, or what you accomplish. I believe you can transcend all of that. You won’t make the same mistakes your father made. You can make entirely different ones. Trust me on this.

Here’s something I’ve never written before, but it’s true: Click the jump to find out how you can win a prize.

For Hagerty, I wrote what amounts to a warning label.

I’m also giving away about three G’s worth of guitar and amplifier in a “Hot Rod” contest. Find out more by clicking the link or by suffering through this video with me and the infamous “SANJEEV”:

94 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Zen And The Art Of Bicycle Maintenance Edition”

  1. AvatarJoe

    While I really like the new Bronco, and not yet seeing it in person, it looks a little extreme to me, it probably has a watered down version that would be perfectly acceptable for day to day, but I look at the Bronco Sport and that has my attention, not so radical, but still has a rugged look, though based on the new escape, it looks like that will be What ford moves.

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      I like what I see about the new Bronco, but the interesting question is why the new Bronco seems to resonate so much with the market. After all, its styling cues originate from the first generation Bronco that went out of production 43 years ago, and wasn’t all that popular during its 11-12 year production run. Is this going to be a Boomer vehicle that fizzles out quickly after all the 65+ year olds who want to relive their youth buy one? I hope it proves successful and Ford makes a nice profit from it, because we could use a little more diversity and creativity in the CUV/SUV market.

      Reply
  2. AvatarPanzer

    Sounds awesome, but the thought of failing my child and not being able to provide puts the fear of god into me. At least if I fail as a single man, the only life i’m fucking up is my own..

    Reply
    • AvatarEconomist

      The fact that you are worried about failing as a parent is a pretty good indicator that you would be a good parent.
      The worst parents I have met are the ones who don’t give a crap about what they are doing and are unconcerned about anything other than themselves.

      Reply
      • AvatarPanzer

        Thanks 👍
        Often when i’m spending time with the young children of friends and colleagues I get the whole “omg, you’re so good with him/her..” and I think to myself, “you only believe that because i’m spending a limited time with them..” I don’t know how i’d fare in the everyday.

        Reply
        • Avatar-Nate

          What Panzer said ! .

          I was scared shitless I’d muck up being a father worse than my poor father did to all six of his children .

          As it turned out I must have been OK.as my son is doing far better than I ever did .

          Thanx for the musical links .

          It’s nice that Jack and John are getting some serious bonding time in .

          -Nate

          Reply
    • Avatarbenjohnson

      If it helps – I’ve struggled to put food on the table for my family, and now we’re stinking rich.

      The kids don’t care. Mainly because an American at their poorest has a better life than a Tutor king does.

      You won’t fail your children – their presence will force you (slowly) to become the man you know you should be.

      Reply
      • Avatarbenjohnson

        Oh Lord, please give Riverside Green an edit function, ere I prove myself illiterate based on my atrocious spelling. I ask this in the name of your Son.

        Reply
      • AvatarPanzer

        Well, i’m a New Zealander, but the point still stands 😅
        I think i’d do well as a father, but that duty plus making a mortgage payment every week rain hail or shine.. I dunno. Doesn’t help that the city where I live has seen the house prices go up 2000% in the last 25 years. My parents bought our house in 1992 for 100,000 NZD (bout the same in American dollars when adjusted for inflation) and one of our neighbours got a 2,000,000 NZD valuation recently..

        Reply
  3. Avatarstingray65

    Do young men not want to have families and the responsibilities, difficulties, and joys that come from it, or is the problem with young women and today’s feminized society? About 60% of university students are female, and most aren’t interested in dating/mating down with a male with no degree or who works in some low status profession (i.e. the ones that actually allow society to function). Thus unless you are some good combination of wealthy, successful in a high status field, and good looking it seems men these days run a fairly high risk of not only being rejected, but also being accused of sexual harassment or worse if they show interest in dating many young women. Unfortunately even those men lucky enough to have the right combination to get dates are not necessarily safe, because many recent examples suggest there is a fairly high risk of being accused of sexual harassment or rape if you don’t show the girl her desired level of attention and sensitivity, and we are living in an era of “believe all women” unless the woman accuses Joe Biden.

    And does any young man want to marry a woman who is some bad combination of fat, filled with grievance over climate change, patriarchy, pay gaps and systemic racism, and with $100,000 in student debt from her BA and MA in interpretive lesbian dance studies degree? About 25 to 40% of young women today suffer from mental health issues (about double the male level), and are increasingly high in neuroticism and unhappiness, but should the young man get “lucky” and meet a woman who seems to have her head on straight, is she going to want to have kids and interrupt her “career” and desire to see the world, at least not until her clock starts ticking very loudly and she goes into a panic and dragging you around to fertility clinics? Since about 50% of marriages fail, and 70% of divorces are initiated by women, and family courts almost always favor women in child custody and support issues, there is a very high probability you will lose you wife and child because she is “unhappy” or “needs to find herself” or has decided to upgrade to a more alpha male.

    And if your marriage survives and you manage to have a kid or three, they will end up in schools where Leftist indoctrinated administrators and teachers will provide them with a curriculum that demonstrates that Western culture was built on the back of slaves on land stolen from natives, white males heterosexuals are responsible for all the world’s problems, and that we have 10 years to live before climate change drowns us all unless we abandon Capitalism and Democracy and put Biden/Pelosi/AOC in charge. Your children will therefore become woke and probably hate you, but will unfortunately be largely illiterate because English, Math, and Science are racist and sexist subjects, and hence they will be unlikely to find a decent paying job and will be living in your basement after getting their degree in grievance studies.

    Now that I think about it, it is amazing that so many young men would rather play video games.

    Reply
    • Avatararbuckle

      While I don’t agree with all of that, I do think the “no kids” mentality of today is driven largely by the female side of the equation.

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        On the macro level, we are programming women (and men) to die alone with every tool at our disposal. On the personal level, every decent church in America has plenty of women who want to have a family and who are quite sane.

        Reply
        • Avatararbuckle

          “every decent church in America has plenty of women”

          Perhaps. The last two churches (Christian Reformed) I attended regularly were basically been senior centers and I know of three Baptists that met their wives on mission trips to Asia or South America. I guess that is where the “decent church” part comes in though.

          However, I do think just expecting a family to fall from the sky is losing strategy and it is something worth working for versus giving up and just playing Xbox forever.

          Reply
        • AvatarTrucky McTruckface

          “Every decent church in America…”

          Is this satire?

          The number of American churches that are willing to uphold their values against the unruly mob, let alone encourage their congregations to create stable families, is increasingly few.

          The Catholics and most of the mainline Protestant churches cause more harm than good at this point.

          Reply
          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            You’re not wrong, of course, but there are more churches in this country than fast food restaurants so it shouldn’t be impossible to find a good one.

          • Avatarsilentsod

            Try your local Orthodox Church (Greek, Antiochian, Russian, etc).

            The only thing is they will 100% try to convert you.

        • AvatarCJinSD

          “On the personal level, every decent church in America has plenty of women who want to have a family and who are quite sane.”

          I used to go to a big Catholic church in Pacific Beach that had a mixture of excellent priests and jesuits. My ex-girlfriend that I wouldn’t marry because she is a california teachers’ union marxist baby killer attended too, as did two slutty pharmaceutical reps I used to know. Other women who were looking for marriage and attending churches were also california public indoctrination center babysitters. One of them joined a Unitarian ‘church,’ because she, “didn’t believe in God but read in Cosmo that people who attend church regularly have better career prospects.” I’d already bailed on her because I met her father right after he had a heart attack, so I couldn’t tell him what I think of anyone impaired enough to post a photograph of himself with Barrack Obama on the loading stairs to a private jet on a website he was using to sell comic books. He wore red sneakers to her formal wedding, because a lifetime of being a boomer clown still hasn’t given him all the attention he craves. Another nice ‘teacher’ who threatened a relationship I actually cared about became a member of the ‘Rock’ megachurch. We recently agreed to disagree about her love of Burn Loot Murder. I would appreciate any help you can provide in telling me what the good churches are. Incidentally, I was living near Charlottesville, Virginia when they staged the racist commie v. woke commie clash. The ‘spiritual’ leaders of all the protestant churches revealed themselves to believe in marx rather than Christ.

          Reply
          • AvatarJMcG

            My personal recommendation would be to find a Catholic Church that has a large subset of SÉ Asian or Latino members. Very much more in tune with motherhood.

        • AvatarJustPassinThru

          “On the macro level, we are programming women (and men) to die alone with every tool at our disposal. On the personal level, every decent church in America has plenty of women who want to have a family and who are quite sane.”

          This is probably true, but it’s too late, for most. The re-emergence of some normal women was inevitable. They’re still too hidden, and for many of us, it’s too late.

          I am one who didn’t get lucky, in Jack’s phrase. As a young man, with something of a “failure to launch,” I eschewed having children. Which meant my woman also did’t stick around.

          Now, in this, the seventh decade of my life…it’s too late. It’s a mixed bag – not being responsible for a young life, or having no relations, means No-Farks-Given with the current craziness. My lifestyle is minimalist; my retirement, early; I know we’re headed for serious, serious problems…and I just hope they hold off for ten years until I get into the dirt nap.

          Balance that against the LACK of involvement of which Jack writes about, so often here. No, I’d say…candidly…my way is not one I’d recommend, now. Nor will I even try to fill it with silliness of “dog-daddy” stuff. It is what it is; and sometimes we choose wrongly, and pay the cost for all our lives.

          The wimminz in church, will just have to be as frustrated as me. I am too set in my ways, and too old, to change – or do a Trump and try becoming a daddy at 63. Moreover, many-to-most churches have become political organs – and always pushing the sort of political dogma I despise.

          I try to be right with the Almighty, but I find little of that in modern churches, now controlled by socialists like the Pope, or social engineers as are the Episcopalians. Or, driven by the Almighty Dollar, as these mega-churches are.

          Reply
      • Avatarstingray65

        If used to be that having kids and being a caring father and spouse was a sign of manhood, but masculinity is now strongly discouraged by schools, media, and most politicians and churches – all that toxicity and rape culture has to go. It used to be that getting married, pregnant and being a caring mother and spouse was the ultimate sign of femininity, because if you weren’t you were an “old maid” or “slut”, but motherhood is now considered a “sacrifice” or “burden” and being a caring wife is showing subservience to the patriarchy and all that toxic masculinity.

        Is it a coincidence that the mainstream media, schools, and the Democrats give the greatest status and a awards for “bravery” to the openly gay and transgenders – and it is the one area where biological males are currently sanctioned by society to beat biological women on the playing field. locker rooms, and board rooms?

        Reply
    • AvatarEverybodyhatesscott

      And after all that risk, it’s all worth it. Nothing is better than having kids. Banging randoms really only goes so far.

      Reply
    • AvatarTrucky McTruckface

      Pretty much this, assuming guys even get that far. I don’t think it can be overstated how difficult it’s become for young men to find even a short-term relationship with a woman they actually want to be with.

      Nevermind the raging SJW women, or the blatantly trashy women…go try to find a “normal” woman aged 25-35. They absolutely do exist. Every online dating platform is full of these women. They might talk to you, or possibly even agree to go out with you, provided you have something going for you and can be engaging. You might even hit it off and go out for a few weeks or months. But it’s probably not going to go anywhere. Why? Because for their entire lives they’ve been told they don’t need you. They’ve got their career, they’re a “dog mom,” a “cool aunt,” and they make enough money on their own to take vacations they can post about on Instagram. You’re just not that interesting compared to that. Or maybe you’re too interesting, and the thought of upending their comfortable life for you is too intimidating. Either way, they ghost you after awhile. Probably after you started to get emotionally invested.

      Stay single long enough and you’ll see the same women, on every dating app, over and over again. For years. Honestly, I suspect most of these women don’t actually go on many dates. Get to know some of these women and some’ll tell you with a straight face about their “season of singleness” or how they’re “serially monogamous.” But I certainly don’t blame these women, it’s the world they were raised in. They’re no different the guys who were raised to want to spend all their free time playing video games and never learned how to talk to girls. Our society has failed both sexes of this generation, probably by design.

      What I do think is overstated is this whole “sit poolside” or “MGTOW” thing. That’s the sort of thing that’s spouted either by older guys who took their shot and got burned, or young guys who want an excuse to never actually put themselves out there and be vulnerable. Those guys are usually totally full of crap and change their tune the second a woman gives them the time of day.

      I’m in my mid 30s and still single, and not for a lack of trying. Dated plenty of women and almost got engaged once, but nothing ever took. This is not where I ever envisioned myself, as I always wanted a family. Perhaps it’s not in the cards, and I’m okay with that. In some ways, I think it may actually be for the best, as this is becoming an increasingly horrific environment to subject children to. That said, I could never resign myself to single life. That’s a closed-off and defeatist mindset.

      Reply
      • Avatarstingray65

        Feminist Nazis have made it a very difficult environment to find a sane woman and start a family these days, but that is also precisely why it is important that men such as yourself not give up, because the future of Western Civilization is dependent on sane men and women having and raising sane children.

        Reply
  4. AvatarM-M-M-M-M-M-M-Myeee Corona

    It is really exciting the talent that you have brought to Hagerty. Although he isn’t one of your ex-TTAC crew, I think that Rob Siegel is a major coup, and his subject matter is extremely relevant to Hagerty’s core business.

    Reply
  5. AvatarJohn C.

    On the Bronco, it is interesting that the recent retirees on their splurge car imagine the Bronco might help them still yet live the turn on, tune in and drop out mentality of their youth. You might hope that they would instead remember the older folks of their times desire after a lifetime of intact families and hard work be recognized by the comfort and dignity that lied in wait for them at the top of the big three’s model ladder. Even in the 80s a lifetime of hard work often lead to a Fifth Avenue, a Town Car, or a Fleetwood Brougham to go with their retirement Rolex.

    Look at old George with his new Bronco. He is probably getting his hydrocodone prescription renewed and then go out into the woods alone, shoot a few squirrels to watch them die, eat cold beans right from the can and smoke a wacky weed. What a hero.

    Reply
    • AvatarTrucky McTruckface

      Right on cue, another diatribe about people not buying what you think they should. God forbid. You’re like a liberal in your disdainful intolerance of people who don’t share your worldview.

      Have you ever owned ANY American car? Because I’ve got a sneaking suspicion you haven’t, at least not in the last 30 or 40 years.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        Truckface do you just see one of my comments and have to heckle? Oh never mind…

        Do you think the 65 year old putting his money down for that Bronco today is a person that has lead a more meaningful life than his father buying the Fifth Avenue in 85?

        Counting the one my parents helped with at 17 I have bought new a Plymouth made in Illinois, two new Chevies from Delaware, a new Mercury from Atlanta and a new Buick from Lake Orion. Those 5 are more than the 3 cars from Sweden, the two cars from England, the one car from Germany, and the one used car I had from hold on to your hat Japan. The Mazda and the Mercury were the most troublesome. The first Chevy and the Buick the least.

        Reply
        • AvatarTrucky McTruckface

          A Horizon, two N-bodies, a Sable, and probably a Verano. LOL.

          So, as expected, no experience with the sort of cars you constantly lecture people that they should own. I’m sure you constantly bored everyone with how superior that Chinese-spec Buick was to the ILX or whatever other faux-lux shitboxes it was supposed to compete with, though.

          If actually you think the choice of a 4×4 over a gilded Diplomat is an indicator of the quality of life one has led, and can’t see what a ridiculous jackass you look like for making such comments, you deserve to be endlessly heckled.

          Reply
          • AvatarJohn C.

            I was 17, it was the 3 door Turismo Duster 2.2. Yes, with the exception of the recent Verano all modest priced UAW made cars also designed in the USA to get the young people on the ladder of American cars. Exactly the cars that should have been supported because they enabled three full line manufactures with American engineers, managers, and suppliers. All of this existing allows the smart youth to dream of being a part of it and when the big three hires they had many applications from America’s best. Now all gone so Japan can have bullet trains.

            The Verano was an Opel. In Europe they even had a wagon. What they did not have in Europe or China was the big block four with the extra insulation, Lacrosse seats, and chrome to try to at least emulate a Buick experience. Before I bought it, I drove the last of the TSXs. While I liked the shape and the Milano red paint, the hard seats, poor bump absorption, and short gearing chased me off.

            Notice when asked to chose between the Fifth Avenue guy and the Bronco man, you punted and lazily insulted me. I assume that means you agree with me. Really how could anyone not?

          • Avatarstingray65

            Your Duster was built on Simca bones, and your Verano was primarily designed by Daewoo with some assistance from Opel. The Fifth Avenue was Detroit at their worst – take the crappy Volare, tart it up with a “Brougham” vinyl roof, pillowed velour seat cushions, and fake wire wheel covers and call it a luxury car. The greatest generation were truly great in many ways, but their taste in cars left something to be desired.

        • AvatarJMcG

          Yes, it was too good to pass up. I’m on board with you 95% of the time Mr. C.
          I will say that the hours I’ve spent with my son in a deer stand, or in a duck blind on Pamlico sound have been among the best of my life. I’ve stood atop mountains that nearly killed me, flown aerobatics, road raced motorcycles, courted beautiful women, sipped champagne on the Grand Canal, etc. etc. ad nauseum. It all pales in comparison to the companionable silence between tired men in the cab of a pickup truck on the way home from exhausting labor or fun.

          Reply
    • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

      Before this devolved into a list of what American Cars everyone owned – this was an interesting comment.

      I think that as we age, and gain wealth, we aspire to the things that we could not afford. In the past that may have been the chevy-pontiac-buick-cadillac progression from utility to luxury; but now I think it is more tailored to individual desires.

      For one grandfather, it was waterside property; for my father, it was the house he had always wanted (and a sports car that he gave up to have kids); for his father, it was all the gunsmithing toys he would ever need…

      So a “too cute” SUV to get one close to nature seems like a pretty reasonable goal.

      (I want one, because I have been driving a Pathfinder for 20 years, and this looks like it would be a suitable replacement.)

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        The magical thing about the Fifth Avenue et all was that they were not just available to Grandpas who could afford waterfront properties. It was available to those that worked hard, had reverses and made it through. Price wise you could probably say the same thing about the at least low end Broncos but it still comes back to breaking off to get away from society rather than accepting the victory lap from it.

        Reply
  6. AvatarShrug

    As young millennial, the Bronco is almost certainly to be my next ride. It looks good, the other sex will like it a lot more than my current rides (dumb, loud muscle car and dumb, slow, absurdly rare Cadillac CTS 3.0 6MT that amuses no one but myself). I want a car where doors are optional, and the “go anywhere” capability seems neat in times of crumbling empires.

    I’m also deeply excited to see where you are taking Hagerty. The roster there is incredible, so giving them what seems to be free reign should be righteous.

    Reply
  7. AvatarScott

    Amen Jack. I disagree with everything you write (which is why I read) but this one I 100% agree with. Kids are by far the most fulfilling part of my life. We are literally programmed for this to be our purpose in life and — surprise — it gives our life purpose. It baffles me that this is kept such a secret.

    Reply
  8. Avatarrambo furum

    Finally, the otherwise admirable author has stopped his childish defensiveness of lecherous debauchery as something worth all that he squandered on it, resistantly insisting he’d do it all again. This was always a fly in the ointment. Hallelujah.

    Reply
  9. Avatarsilentsod

    The Bronco has my curiosity piqued if it’s a little larger than the Wrangler and a lot cheaper than a full cab F-150.

    I think it’s ugly and too retro (I grew up in a ’94 Explorer so those very square shapes are permanently imprinted on my) but the 5 seater closed roof BOF SUV part appeals to me.

    Reply
  10. AvatarHank chinaski

    As I spend a week dealing with a stream of alternating teen sarcasm and complaints , four shades of sunburn, and consternation on a hefty mpg loss of the roof carrier, I cannot agree more.
    Regret all those untidy choices all you like.. Getting stabbed in the heart by that Nausicaan is still the best outcome. (Best TNG episode evar).

    Reply
  11. AvatarNewbie Jeff

    “I know the temptation for my young readers is to ‘sit poolside’, to disconnect from their responsibilities and just enjoy these final days of the American experiment”

    At 40, I’m not sure I qualify as a “young reader”, but I’ll admit that everything else in the quote is me. These are the last days of the American experiment, I think most people realize it even if they can’t quite reconcile the how/why. The US gave me a lot of opportunities. I didn’t squander them. I’ve moved up from solidly lower middle-class to more or less upper middle-class… I believed in it once, I considered myself a patriot. But the truth I’ve finally accepted is that it’s not the same country anymore, it’s certainly not my country anymore, and it sure as hell doesn’t deserve my devotion. I get that that sounds “whiny” but I find myself thoroughly incapable of convincing myself – or anyone else – of optimism. I don’t think this is because I’m not looking hard enough or just in the wrong places… I’ve decided I’ll enjoy what I can “sitting poolside” and figure out what comes next…

    In that vein, I’m glad I never got married. I’ve had wonderful girlfriends and fun strange… but in the end marriage wasn’t for me. I’m fully self-actualized, my independence is a lifestyle, and I don’t think it’s petty gloating when I say a lot of my married buddies are envious. At best, they’re in a rut… at worst, they feel trapped and miserable.

    I love kids, they’re wonderful and loving and fun… but it never happened for me and I’m DEFINITELY glad I don’t have them now that our society is an utter disgrace. I couldn’t imagine trying to raise young children with the looming “future” we threw in the trash… at any rate, they’ll eventually go to school and learn to hate you and your values and your generation, which I would imagine is a pretty tough pill for a parent to swallow…

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      Jeff – you are precisely the kind of guy who should have no problem attracting women, find a sane one (not easy) and start having some sane kids that are brought up with traditional (i.e. those that actually work) values. Your pessimism about the future is not unjustified, but hardly unprecedented as my grandparents had my parents and their siblings during the Great Depression and WWII, and my parents had me and my siblings during the Cold War with Cuban Missile Crisis and constant threat of nuclear war, and if we didn’t nuke each other the schools were teaching us we would all starve to death from over-population, running out of oil, and global cooling. If smart successful people such as yourself don’t bring in the next generation we are truly doomed.

      Reply
      • AvatarNewbie Jeff

        “Jeff – you are precisely the kind of guy who should have no problem attracting women”

        I went back and read my comment, and I think I see where what I said was confusing… I’m not an A-lister, but I’ve never had a problem attracting women. I’m single because I never proposed, not because I proposed and was rejected.

        There is now this unfortunate trail of truly great women who I dated, waited for me to “come around”, realized I never would, then started the painful process of extricating themselves from a man they really loved. As I have been accurately called out for, this is the awful result of my narcissism, even if I try to be a good guy at the same time (which, in my experience, actually only made it worse… it would much easier if I was actually a raging asshole and misogynist, but I’m not)

        Reply
    • AvatarJDN

      With all due respect – Ok, Doomer.

      To take your points in reverse order:
      The world is never going to be perfect for raising kids. There are many things to be concerned about in the present and what the future will hold, but thinking that somehow lessens the joy and meaning you get from attempting to bring a strong and independent human into the world is deeply shortsighted. Especially as someone that claims to love kids this reads as a weak justification for where you find yourself.

      “I’m fully self-actualized, my independence is a lifestyle” – I’m not sure how to read this other than “I’m a selfish narcissist”. Independence as lifestyle is by definition inimical to family life. Celebrating that while mourning the lack of a wife/kids seems pretty dishonest. It’s also hard to reconcile the claim of being ‘fully self-actualized” with being unwilling to take on the challenge of parenthood.

      Finally – the world viewpoint is likely a consequence of the previous two issues. I’m extremely concerned about many aspects of the current culture, and am obviously worried about what the future will hold for my kids. The difference that having a family makes is that regardless of what the future holds – you have a vested interest and responsibility for both making it as good as possible, and preparing your children to succeed whatever happens. This doesn’t mean I’m optimistic about the future, I’m just bought in to the future whatever happens.

      I’m a few years younger than you, and more than few younger than Jack – but I feel the pull of ‘I should have started a family sooner’ as well. Saying you’ll never understand the joys of a being a parent until you are one is a cliche, but cliches exist for a reason.

      It’s possible that the 1984 of our future will come to fruition and my own children will be the ones to turn me in to the thought police, but at least I’ll be doing more than sitting by the pool in the meantime.

      Reply
      • AvatarNewbie Jeff

        “I’m not sure how to read this other than “I’m a selfish narcissist”.”

        Fair criticism, I can take it. I’m self-absorbed but try to remain conscious of it, I try to counter it by being there for my aging parents and a “fun uncle” to my buddies’ kids, whom I really do adore…

        “Celebrating that while mourning the lack of a wife/kids seems pretty dishonest”

        In absolutely no way am I sorry for myself for being single. I’m not mourning anything other than the collapse of our society and maybe the fact that I fell out of love with my country. Certainly we can agree that some people are better off not having children, and as years go by, I feel more and more vindicated by my choice. Again, I’ve had great girlfriends (including one now), but it seems I’m just not the marrying type and I try to remain conscious of that, too.

        With all due respect, I’ve noticed many parents are consumed with their kids’ lives and miss other perspectives about the state of our society. Not everyone can be like Jack Baruth and ponder the various mechanisms of modern American society while also being a dad. Most of the parents I know simply don’t have the time, because between careers and the modern “conveniences” of life it’s all they can do to just keep their kids off Tik-Tok for eight hours a day. In that sense, having kids can blind you from fully understanding societal decline and comprehending the existential threats circling our boat. Sometimes I do feel a little silly having come so far yet turning into such a dreary pessimist… Stingray is right, previous generations had to fight WW2 and face the real possibility of nuclear annihilation… in that sense, I would gladly go back into the military to fight foreign enemies that threaten our way of life. But our enemies are domestic. As Jack has previously said, “we’ve declared war on our own people”… we can P-51 Mustang/Sherman tank/USS Missouri our way out of this one… our society really is rotten and everyone I know knows it to some degree.

        Reply
        • AvatarJDn

          Fair point – I certainly agree not everyone should have kids, but I do see that trotted out pretty regularly by other members of my cohort that I feel really haven’t thought it through. As a rule I never disagree with someone who claims that – but I do think they are underestimating the value of a good marriage/kids.

          On the second point having kids won’t make you aware of or inclined to counter the march of Progress(tm). Aside from the apathetic parents there’s no small number of them that are actively involving their kids in the march. If you are aware/opposed to it though – I think it’d be extremely hard to be anything other than full black pill without a forced vested interested in the long term. I realize there’s a bit of circular logic there, but also an element of truth.

          Reply
          • AvatarMike

            As the co-raiser of two kids, we are actively NOT involving them in the March of Progress, as you say. It’s difficult, and takes extra work, and sadly these days almost requires limiting friendships to those parents who share similar values. But it can be done, and is worth doing.

          • AvatarComfortablyNumb

            On the topic of actively involving your kids in the march, it’s an interesting thing to manage. My son is at the age that he’s starting to recognize that the emperor is naked, and he’s asking intelligent questions. I think the trick is small, well-timed doses of reality. Too much too soon, and he’ll develop an unhealthy attitude towards authority. The overall strategy is to firmly ground him in patriotism, family, and God, then start to pull back the veil a little at a time and show him how tenuous those things are. In a few years it’ll be my daughters’ turn, so I’ll have to figure out that path too. There wasn’t anything about it in the Human Manual they give you at the hospital, so I’m hoping it works.

            For the guys who are anxious about raising kids: yeah, it’s scary as hell. But it’s hands-down the most fulfilling thing I can imagine this side of the other side.

          • AvatarComfortablyNumb

            Check that, I misread what the “march” was. I meant to describe how I’m actively involving my kids in the…counter-march, I guess. Pick up your t-shirt over at the registration table, 50/50 drawing is at noon.

          • AvatarNewbie Jeff

            “…but I do see that trotted out pretty regularly by other members of my cohort that I feel really haven’t thought it through”

            I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t completely thought it through, if mostly for the awareness that you have to have kids to know what it’s like. I know I’m missing out on something, but like I said I’m pretty happy with my decision so far…

            On the other point, and to address other comments on this… My best friend is Jewish, and as he’s gotten older he’s become more connected with his heritage… he’s told me that his kids are a big part of this, that he wants to instill in them the values that the culture teaches. But this is 2020 and such efforts are opposed at every turn. Between the crap in public education, the garbage on the internet, and the trash in pop culture, every step in his parenting is a struggle. He realizes he can’t fight all of it and his kids have to be their own person eventually, but he’s overwhelmed and he’s constantly frustrated… especially when he sees how much “easier” it would be to just teach his kids the standard fare of the “March of Progressivism” like a lot of the other families. He’s not going to give up, I know that much, but he is swimming against a tsunami of leftist indoctrination that now occupies almost every inch of our society, including his own Jewish community. It just seems hopelessly futile, especially if his kids end up getting swept away, anyway…

        • AvatarJMcG

          I certainly agree with you that the USA is over. I actually believe that we need to start divesting ourselves of nukes, just as South Africa so wisely did before handing power to the ANC.
          I have a bunch of kids, and they’re all getting second passports.

          Reply
    • AvatarDaniel J

      I can agree with some of this.

      I’m married, 39, but no kids. I’ve never had the strong desire or need to want kids. If we had kids, I’d be the best father I could be. My wife never fully committed to having kids. I told her if she wanted them, we’d have them. As time moved on though we realized that we noticed the people around us who had kids had a ton of help from their parents. My parents were miles away and her parents could barely take care of themselves. Not that we couldn’t do it. It just was never a high priority. We also found out a half so dozen of years ago that pregnancy might be difficult or it might even be hard to conceive. After a surgery last year the doctor actually said she might be in a better position now than 5 years ago to have a child. Who knows what the cards hold I suppose, but I would dread bringing up a child in a fairly left city or state.

      Reply
  12. AvatarSajivW

    As someone on the verge of settling down and starting a family of my own, this piece could not have come at a better time! Thanks Jack.

    Reply
  13. AvatarJMcG

    The ad I’m currently getting is from something called “Sheshow”. There’s a hot blonde wearing a sweatshirt that says, “Underestimate me, that’ll be fun.”
    I know the ads are random, but I thought that was pretty funny.

    Reply
  14. AvatarMike

    I had a bit of a moment similar to Jack’s this weekend. I was outside watching the kids playing, and figured I’d get something accomplished as they seemed to be pretty well occupied. So what did I pick for my project? I found this rusty old wagon that had been sitting around and decided to restore it, so my kids could play with it. After a few minutes of unbolting the parts and cleaning them off for paint, my 6 year old daughter and 3 year old son wandered over to see what Dad was doing. And help.

    Saturday morning my daughter wheeled her bike over to my garage and said, “Daddy, can you take my training wheels off?” We’d just gotten her this bike, her first 2 wheeler, for her 6th birthday barely a month ago, and she’d been kindof struggling with it. I honestly didn’t think she was ready, and asked her “Are you sure?”. She nodded and smiled, so I grabbed a wrench and pulled them off. He first few attempts ended with falls and scrapes, but she persevered and by mid-day was doing laps around the yard as fast as she could pedal. I was amazed. And my 3 year old was on his recumbent trike racing after her as fast as he could go.

    We’re none of us perfect. I yell sometimes, wife cusses like a pirate. But we love them, and wouldn’t trade them for all the puppies or fancy restaurants. Our Friday night standing date has been to pile the 4 of us into our ’64 Corvair drop-top and head off to the local brewery, sit outside and have a couple of beers and get dinner from whatever food truck happens to be there.

    Reply
  15. AvatarOne Leg at a Time

    I love this piece.

    I did get married and have kids (too) young; and I definitely was not a perfect parent.

    But where I remember every time I raised my voice, or was unfair to my girls, they remember the good things. Both are mostly happy, both are successful, and both say I was a pretty good dad. I can live with that.

    There is something amazing and terrifying about being responsible for a new life; everything they need, everything they learn. I think it is part of what defines us as humans.

    Reply
  16. AvatarCliffG

    If you never have kids, you never have the possibility of grand kids. And they are fantastic. Having the joy of watching them grow up without the frustration of living with them for 24 hours a day is simply wondrous. Wish i had more.

    Reply
    • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

      “Like”

      It is amazing, the career choices that I have made to ensure that I am close to my grandkids.

      And what is fun is that it has given me and my wife another dimension to connect with our daughter.

      Reply
  17. AvatarEric L.

    On a lighter note, I’m now experiencing mental whiplash. First, you have me feeling all gloomy and bittersweet as I reflect on fatherhood and, especially, the time a few weeks ago when I snapped at my 7-year-old for laying down in the middle of the street after a bike crash.

    Then I watched that video.

    Sajeez’s Texas drawl was completely unexpected and hilarious. It makes his “Sanjeez” alter ego on TTAC suddenly extremely funny. And you sound like a UNIX programmer from the 90s. Your writing is so good and your vocabulary is ludicrously strong, but you’re shackled to a voice made for… writing. Nuts. That joke’s already been made.

    You seem an awful lot more human when you’re in front of that unforgiving video camera and requisite terrible audio. I’m likewise cursed with a “oh, you must be a programmer! how nice,” voice, but I’m fortunate in that I only have to hear my own voice when it echoes back through someone’s poor Zoom laptop speaker -> mic arrangement. Ha, man, JB. I have more respect for you now. 🤘

    Reply
    • Avatarsgeffe

      ^ This!

      I’ve been told that I should have gone into radio, but I can only do that voice for so long!

      The video is also the first time I’ve heard either speak..and to me, they are now more human than they ever seemed before!! 👍

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        Sometimes I think that if I read my columns aloud via a podcast or something I would catch less flak for being mean-spirited.

        Reply
        • AvatarEric L.

          Words don’t have eyebrows, it’s difficult to convey inflection in plaintext. You do a better job than most, as you have immersed yourself in the writings of those who mastered English’s syntax (Cormac McCarthy) and vocabulary (Neal Stephenson) to precisely convey their thoughts, but there’s still an utter absence of body language.

          I just remembered there exists a public video of me sweating in front of some peers who actually know what they’re doing. …I hope video recordings of podcasts and radio shows quickly turn unfashionable.

          Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I grew up in a household where ultraprecise diction was demanded and any hint of regionalism in speech was punished, so there you go.

      One of my female friends was complaining to me about something via Instagram and I said, “Just call me and tell me.” She responded,

      “I don’t understand your weird voice and you always swindle me somehow when we talk.”

      Reply
      • AvatarJustPassinThru

        I can relate.

        My father was a dual-national German-American. Born in Cleveland but grew up in Germany, under the tutelage of the Hitler Youth.

        (No lie. Born in 1923, Cleveland, of German-immigrant parents who went back)

        He faced a LOT of discrimination…first, his claim of American citizenship got him out just before hostilities, but could have cost him his life (as it did his father’s). Then, back here, the U.S. Army wasted no time grabbing him (draft) and sending him right back. Because he spoke the language and knew the land.

        Once back again, after helping to translate Auschwitz documents…he arrived in an Ivy League college (GI Bill) determined to shed all that stigma. He spent time and money learning to speak a TOTALLY neutral English – no Midwest accent, no German accent, not even the Central New York accent spoken at Cornell.

        He was always a stickler for proper grammar and English. Our little corner of Suburban Cleveland had become popular with nouveau riche former Lakewood-Birdtown people who made good (roots in West-By-Gawd Virginia) and their grammar was what I heard on the playground. But I was made to not forget to not say “Ain’t” and “He got no…”

        It taught me proper writing, but sadly, I wasn’t able to take it further.

        Reply
        • AvatarGeorge Denzinger

          Wow, your father was someone who went back? I can’t remember the proper term for them, but for a while they were highly prized by that regime.

          My circumstances are a bit different. My folks came here after the War, sponsored by my father’s uncle and settled in to a good life among the Donauschwaben who settled in Northeast Ohio a generation or two earlier, more specifically between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

          I am the fourth of four children, but with my entire family speaking Low German in the house, I had the hardest time learning English. Finally, in second or third grade, my father, after learning of my horrible grades in grammar, declared our house English-speaking only. It lasted a week or so. Between the nuns at our school and my sister, who (amusingly) was an English teacher, I was eventually tutored in proper English.

          But, living in the shadow of a steel mill, we heard lots of dialects. Like Just Passing Through says, “ain’t” wasn’t a word along with y’all, (but the Yinzer “youns” was OK, strangely) and the nuns would punish us for any mistakes.

          My wife being a native Yinzer, with her mother coming from Mississippi, could have had horrible language, but never devolved into that level of speech. Both my wife and I taught our kids when they were young to speak well. Refrain from colloquial words unless they were absolutely necessary. Both of my kids speak well and concisely and I’m proud of them for that.

          Reply
  18. Avatartrollson

    You guys need two turntables and a microphone. Or just two microphones.

    Still waiting on that megatrail review. There’s no way that a headset torqued down with some allen-key bolts doesn’t begin creaking eventually.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Short version: after six days of lift service I’ve cut three tires but haven’t loosened anything up. This is after a lot of 20mph rock garden stuff and one Strava KOM (by weight; #6 by age and #87 of 2200 overall).

      Reply
  19. Avatar-Nate

    A friend commented on “?how did we get here ?’ :

    Eric S | Vancouver WA
    The sadist aspect to me is that many Americans have asked for all of this . Rejecting single payer health care, voting for a pro industry tyrant, refusing to wear face masks in an epidemic, and turning against collective bargaining, they are essentially getting what they asked for. When people complain that their parents were better off than they are, they should be looking in the mirror for an explanation..

    Reply
    • AvatarDaniel J

      Statistically, most people are doing better under Trump pre-pandemic.

      Many unions and “collective bargaining” has been just as or more corrupt than the corporations they intend to negotiate with.

      The more interesting thing to note is that the most violence and the biggest voice coming out of cities and media exists were these cities are too expensive to live and ran by democratic mayors. California has a 13 percent income tax. Where the hell is all that money going? Yet they are burning down L.A. Trump in office has nothing to do with the cost of living or issues facing California or most states for that matter.

      On average local and state elections have a 25 percent voter turnout. Yet everyone complains when their state and local officials aren’t handling something well. We have a 50-60 percent turnout for most Presidential election when who’s president has zero to do with paving the roads, improving the local education system, or getting new businesses in town to hire people.

      So I say we got here by 1) A failure of most people understanding how our government works and 2) the low voter turnout for local and state elections, which is predicated on item number 1.

      Reply
  20. AvatarCrancastq

    Building Bronco’s was a fun read, and edgier pieces are the next step as the commenting has not picked up with the content. But …

    https://www.hagerty.com/media/author/john-baruth/

    I have a game I play when visiting Hagerty – I click on the author names, click on the article groupings, and see where I land. Got the above with your post today. If the crack-IT team still cannot get that one fixed, commenting will be cracked up too. Beyond your screwed up author pages JB, the others are getting better but also not right.

    On the topic here,

    “If I could return to my twenty-first birthday and start again, I’d focus on having the largest family I could support …”

    I might be guilty of reading too much into the quote above, but 21-22, being married with kid(s) is going to be a loser more times than not especially with the current generation and social landscape. Get some roots, find the right partner, plan a little, and then enjoy the roller coaster ride. That plan will be blown up for sure, but having one to start will help reduce the stress that kids inevitably bring to a marriage.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I can’t offer any defense for the way the page looks and works. We have certain admirable corporate values which prevent me forcing the issue.

      Reply
  21. AvatarMike O

    Another good one Jack. Just got back from the Wisconsin North-woods with 4 of my kids after a great weekend of fun so it really hit home. They are a little older now but luckily still like to hang out with their Dad.

    You can build a business, you can build a house, you can build a car, but children are your real legacy.

    Reply
  22. AvatarAoletsGo

    Your piece reminds me of the time 10 years ago when my son and I took the GMC Canyon and drove west to ride in Utah, Colorado and doing the Yeti Tribe Fest in Durango (but now we can’t say Tribe).
    Good times.
    So far, I am blessed with having the best of all worlds. Lots of play time in my 20’s.
    Married with two kids in 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, who are fantastic, and now married and have great careers.
    Now starting over again at 60 as a single man again – long story, don’t ask.

    I have been all over the world and all the states and done a lot of cool shit but…
    All I can say is that finding a good woman, getting married and raising children was very tough but has been best thing in my life.

    I like your analogue of the Bronco and the changes you want to make at Hagerty. Good luck and as they say go big or go home. The Blazer is easy to make fun of next to the Bronco but as a former Edge owner I understand the appeal of a mid-sized 5-seater. I am amazed at the success of the Bronco launch and the strong desire for people I know from 16 to 66, both male and female. I attribute it to the last 20 years of movies and commercials where the ultra cool/rich have been driving restored, original Broncos.

    Personally, I think that next year is the time to pick up a clean, low mileage 2 door Jeep since they will be the red headed stepchild.

    Reply
  23. AvatarWoozuki

    Hey Jack,

    Long time reader/lurker, fellow bike rider, first time poster. Can you disambiguate what you mean by “society that venerates … aimless travel”? I’m a young male who is struggling to find someone to be with in this age of “dog dads” (yuck! I love how the concept formalized this way, though). However, I have found some of the most beneficial parts of my life to be those where I have traveled and had life altering learning experiences by so doing.

    Are you alluding to the “white savior complex” where affluent folks go to destitute places to get pics with the starving children for “likes”?

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      0. Thank you for saying “disambiguate”.

      1. I’m mostly referring to the currently fashionable trend of consuming travel as a Veblen good, usually accompanied by expensive food. It’s my experience that the vast majority of America’s upper- and upper-middle-class can effectively discuss very few topics besides

      a) where they’ve traveled
      b) what they ate during that travel

      If you’re out in the world learning about your fellow humans, more power to you. If you’re checking restaurants off an Urbanspoon list…

      Reply
      • Avatar-Nate

        Hm…..

        I’m just another Blue Collar schlub and I like diners and road trips….

        I always have an eye out for tradesmens trucks and police / city cars, they typically know the best local places to eat and on a budget too .

        I’m always interested by the word play here, many of the words are beyond my vocabulary but I get them by inference .

        Although I do usually have a destination in mind, I find the trip is the main thing, I love sightseeing and meeting new people, plus of course all those remote junkyards and abandoned vehicles I always find .

        America is a really big and interesting place as is Canada, the Eastern provinces therein are very nice indeed .

        Mexico used to be fun, I don’t think I’ll be returning there any time soon though .

        Prolly not Guatemala either and I mostly enjoyed my year there in the mid 1970’s . (TIP : avoid hot spots in military dictatorships)

        The Caribbean is neat too ~ mostly friendly people .

        -Nate

        ‘Travel is fatal to hatred and bigotry’ .

        Reply

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