I’ve been shopping for a new toy of late — a tandem bicycle. I’m gonna offset me some carbon with a vengeance, once I get my hands on one. Kate and I will pedal all over the Pointes on it this summer, but first I have to find just the right candidate. My price range is “reasonable,” which means “below $500.” Mitch Harper had a drool-worthy one on his site earlier this week, but it’s way too rich for my blood, and I don’t think they’re going to drop the price by 50 percent. (It does, however, match my current bike perfectly; they’re both Cannondales from the same year.)
So the answer is, more likely, an old Schwinn Twinn or something similar. Poking around has led me deep into the world of vintage-bicycle nerds and their odd ideas of what things are worth. To give you a sense, I’ve seen Twinns in various states of repair at prices ranging from $80 to $1,500, and the condition of the bikes didn’t range nearly that wide. I’m convinced some people just don’t really want to sell, and so set outrageous price tags to make sure the bike stays in their garage.
Anyway, I have my eye on a couple. I love you, eBay. I cover you with kisses.
Boy, Madonna and I really are nearly the same age, aren’t we? I kinda like some of these items from her H&M collection. They strike me as understated and classy. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with her?
Laura Lippman makes the NYT best-seller list this week: I’m #11, separated by an asterisk from Mitch Albom at #10, which means our sales are virtually the same for the week. That’s gotta be a good feeling. Congratulations. Buy the book. Let’s get her above Mitch next week. SHAMEFUL UPDATE: The book is “What the Dead Know.” (Blush.)
I shouldn’t spend so much time blowing love to Ken Levine, but I’d pay money to hear him tell Hollywood stories. Fortunately, he tells them free of charge:
Our line producer informed me that the studio refused to pay our secretary’s parking. The budget for each episode was over a million dollars. Weekly parking was $13. Above-the-line people (writers, directors, producers, actors) got to park on the lot for free. Below-the-line peons had to park in a structure across the street.
And don’t let the Hollywood address fool you. This was not a great neighborhood. I used to call the lot “Fort Paramount.” While working at WINGS on rewrite night we often watched drug deals go down across the street at the parking structure. An ice cream truck would arrive every night about 11 and we would say, “Cracky the clown is here. Looks like he’s got some great shit tonight for the kiddies!”
I’ve probably heard more inside-Hollywood stories than most Midwesterners, but far fewer than the average Californian. Nevertheless, I’m always amazed at how often parking plays a major role in showbiz power struggles. It’s a place where everyone works out all the time, and yet having to walk from a too-distant parking space is considered an appalling insult. (The safety factor Levine mentions is a wild card.) My screenwriting-rewrite teacher was working on a project with Katie Holmes the semester our class was meeting; this was before she became Scientology’s zombie bride. He was going out to Los Angeles most weeks and “taking” meetings with his writing partner and Katie, who was “attached” to this project. (I just love slinging that lingo, but my outsider status requires me to put it in quotes.) One day they arrived at a movie lot in two cars. My teacher and his partner were directed to an inside-the-gate spot, while Katie was told to park at a remote lot two blocks away. That she did this cheerfully and without complaint — even keeping a pair of sneakers in her car for just these occasions — was offered to us as proof of what a wonderful, sweet, not-Hollywood-at-all, down-to-earth girl she was. “She’s really from Toledo,” he’d say.
The project later dissolved before it bore fruit, as I gather 99 percent of them do. You know the rest of Katie’s story.
Mindy said on March 23, 2007 at 10:36 am
I’ve got lots of fond memories as a kid on a tandem bike darting around town with friends. Summers were a blast because of that bike, which wasn’t even mine. You’ll love it after you’ve had one for a while.
ashley said on March 23, 2007 at 10:52 am
We’re getting one of these, which we’re adapting to work like one of these. Throw all 3 kiddies in there, and mom-in-law, who has never driven a car, will be happy.
Of course, ideally we’d like one of these. Used, of course, for about 1/10 of MSRP. Since my wife is taller by 2 inches, she’s supposed to ride in the front, but ain’t no way I’m letting that happen.
Seriously, I knew a guy who bought a tandem solely for the reason that he thought it would help him meet women. Did it work? Not so much.
My Hollyweird “brush with greatness” was getting dumped by a girl so she could go back with her old boyfriend, Judd Nelson. And one time, a co-worker asked what I was doing over the weekend. I told her I had no plans. She suggested I attend this “actors comedy workshop”.
Sure, I said.
I followed the directions, parked in the underground parking, and came upstairs to note what? A 20 foot high picture of L. Ron Hubbard. Yep, I was at the “Celebrity Centre”. Jeez, was that surreal. When they realized that I had no money, and wasn’t interested (“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it”), they pretty much left me alone.
Emma said on March 23, 2007 at 10:57 am
Nance: I think Electra sells tandem bikes. (Jeff and I are about to buy a couple of their 3-speeds.)
Connie said on March 23, 2007 at 11:11 am
Shame on you for promoting Laura’s book without telling us the title, “What the Dead Know.” OK, I can’t help it, I’m a librarian.
I started it last night and am already trapped at about 40 pages in. Sorry Laura, I checked it out, but my library did buy 5 copies, all checked out with a hold list.
I have friends with a tandem bike and they travel all over to do organized riding trips with a tandem organization. They did a week riding in Leelanau and Grand Traverse County a couple of summers ago.
My only memories of riding tandems all take place on Mackinac Island, complete with parents complaining that the kid on the rear seat wasn’t pedalling his/her share.
LA mary said on March 23, 2007 at 11:18 am
I know which studio Ken Levine speaks of, and yes, it’s in a crummy neighborhood. A lot of Hollywood is pretty terrible. The kids and I always enjoy hearing promotions for contests that have trips to Hollywood as the grand prize.
Connie said on March 23, 2007 at 11:19 am
OK Ashley, if you don’t want your wife to have the front seat on a tandem with you then your are not really a dirty old man. I take it back.
nancy said on March 23, 2007 at 11:46 am
I recall reading a Paul Theroux piece about China some years back — before the current boom. Bikes were, at the time, the only transportation most people had. He said it wasn’t unusual to see a bike go by with a full-size couch — yes, a sofa — mounted on the back, with granny and the kids sitting on it.
You could try that, Ash.
Danny said on March 23, 2007 at 12:26 pm
Regarding tandems, I briefly entertained the idea of getting one. I was intrigued by idea that I could get my wife out with me more often. Also I had recently seen an add in our local sport-geek magazine (Competitor) where a blind man was a stoker in need of a captain. Kinda cool.
Anyway, two things disuaded me. First, a friend who has been biking for years remarked, “Yeah, get a tandem if you want a divorce.” Apparently a lot of couple’s comunication problems are excaerbated by the tandem experience. Second. Where do you store it and how do you transport it. So, I decided against it, for now.
But I like messing with tandemites on my solo rides. It’s always fun to get up beside them and let the captain (typically male) know that the stoker (typically female) is not pedalling. Always gets a rise and a chuckle.
MichaelG said on March 23, 2007 at 4:55 pm
When I hear people speak of tandems the first term that comes to mind is “parasitic drag”. Hollywood? My wife, from whom I recently became separated, used to live with Ian McShane. In the south of France back in the early ’70’s. She says he was a very nice man. Oh, and I finally have TV.
nancy said on March 23, 2007 at 6:06 pm
Ian McShane? Al Swerengen? Well, shut my c*cks*ckin’ mouth.
LA mary said on March 23, 2007 at 6:34 pm
oooh, competition in the brush with fame department…
ashley said on March 24, 2007 at 12:20 am
Tell Laura that in 32nd place on the NYT bestseller list, hot on her heels, is a biography of Ron Jeremy.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t really like the idea of Ron Jeremy coming up behind me.
Peter said on March 24, 2007 at 11:34 am
Ashley: ba-doom-boom! Don’t forget to tip your waitress!
nancy said on March 24, 2007 at 1:17 pm
Alan brought me that very book yesterday. You know, a “just because you’re you” present.
He’s SO romantic.
mtk said on March 24, 2007 at 4:22 pm
Hey, that parking-as-status thing stands up loud and clear at an awful lot of newspapers. I can think of two within 60 miles of Grosse Pointe that give the few (perhaps a dozen) spots adjacent to the news building to only the top managers, and all the other people who actually work to produce the paper have to find on-street parking or walk two or three blocks from some distant parking garage.
Think about the wonderful situation they have:
The people who come in the latest, work the 8ish-to-5ish jobs and do the least amount of work-related coming and going get the cushy spots right up close. The reporters and photogs who are hitting the streets and returning several times a day have to walk back and forth to their vehicles in the hinterlands, as do the schlub copy editors and designers who work nights, 6pm-3am. And these newsrooms are in urban downtowns, where walking down the street or an alley at 3am isn’t considered a particularly wise move.
I at least thought the Fort Wayne Newspapers parking lot situation was relatively equitable to managers and hourlies alike.
MichaelG said on March 24, 2007 at 6:36 pm
I’m no competition, Mary. I never met the guy. I can’t think of anybody famous whom I have ever met. Best I can drop is places. Like I’ll be in Sothren Calif for three days next week on bidness. One great thing I discovered is that most hotels and motels will charge gov’t rates to gov’t employees. That means I get to stay in lots of nice joints I couldn’t otherwise afford. Like that lovely suite in Palm Desert.
Marcia said on March 24, 2007 at 7:51 pm
Um, I thought Mary meant competition with other folks boasting of brushes with fame, not competition with the famous person himself. But I could be wrong.
In my sad pathetic fame-less life, I was in Chicago yesterday, and I got all excited when I picked up a Tribune only to find my name in it, along with a snarky comment I posted on the religion blog a few days ago.
Marcia said on March 24, 2007 at 7:53 pm
And I apparently left my tiny little brain in the hotel room, as I completely misread Michael’s comment. Never mind about the first part of my comment above.
But hey, my name was in the Tribune!
Danny said on March 25, 2007 at 11:46 am
Hey, is mtk, Alan?
Parking. Reminds me of my co-worker who is a contract employee. He’s been in and out of our company for years and is basically a stud design engineer, but prefers not to go direct because then he doesn;t have to put up with a lot of crap like “sensitivity training.”
Anyway, many years back, he was supposed to be taking a business trip to Mexico. He couldn’t find any parking in our lot for the unwashed masses, so he parked in the presidential staff parking. Of course, this was the week that the big wigs from the mother company were coming to visit. So the engineering VP is so pissed that he calls him at 1 AM to find out where an extra set of car keys is so that he can move the “g*d*mned car.” Hilarious.
Danny said on March 25, 2007 at 11:48 am
But hey, my name was in the Tribune!
marcia, Marcia, MARCIA!
(said in best exasperated Jan Brady voice)
czucky Dimes said on March 26, 2007 at 12:00 am
Danny–Who’s Jan Brady? I thought it was Chris Berman who said that all the time.
Marcia said on March 26, 2007 at 7:11 am
I can be dense sometimes, so I’m not even going to ask if czucky Dimes is serious.
Danny–gee, I never hear that.
Apparently printing my comment got the religion blogger in trouble with a Catholic reader. Scroll down to the last two comments.
Dorothy said on March 26, 2007 at 9:56 am
Marcia you are such a hoot!
brian stouder said on March 26, 2007 at 10:47 am
Marcia – I agree with your take, regarding Catholic events buttressed by lots of beer.
But if I wwas in that discussion thread, the tack I’d take is that high school signs referring to beer (or other illegal intoxicants) are inappropriate in the first place – leaving religion aside – and should be banned.
If a kiddo wears a shirt with the Budweiser logo on it, my bet is that most schools will (rightly) send him home
Marcia said on March 26, 2007 at 2:01 pm
Brian, you’re right, of course, but I have a whole laundry list of complaints about how Christianity is defined in this here America, and I hate it when someone tries to put Christians in a box, which is pretty much all the time, and so when I see someone stepping out of said box I feel the need to endorse that in my own irreverant way.
Dorothy, you know, I try, but I can’t take full credit for the drink beer for Jesus phrase; it actually came from some of my Catholic friends in high school.
ashley said on March 26, 2007 at 2:18 pm
I recall the reply of McNulty, when asked for Jameson’s but being offered Bushmill’s:
“That’s Protestant whiskey”.
czucky Dimes said on March 27, 2007 at 1:52 pm
Marcia–Mr. Dimes is almost never serious.
Marcia said on March 28, 2007 at 9:59 am
Thanks for the clarification.
Retro said on August 28, 2007 at 10:02 am
I love anything vintage, especially old toys and cars.