Bad news yesterday — both of the classes I’ve been teaching this year failed to fill for summer term, so I’m not exactly out of work, but my patchwork quilt of income sources just developed a large hole. My income stream lost a tributary, making it more of an income rill. (Rill: a small stream; a shallow channel cut in the ground by running water.) It’s not all that much money, but teaching was one of those things that tended to push other income-earning activities out of the way. In the spinning plates of my career, my freelance-writing plates are wobbling badly; now I have to run back there and give them another push. Just as I get them back up to speed, it’ll be time to teach again, assuming the courses fill in the fall.
Position wanted: Writer who knows what a rill is, plus facility with antique metaphors like plate-spinning and patchwork quilts, seeks paid employment. New and old-media expertise with portfolio that covers journalism to marketing, books to explainer copy in museum displays. Jane of all trades involving a pen.
Better get started on that Critical Mass piece.
Do you have Critical Mass in your city? Doing a little research on it the last few days, I’m amazed at the diversity of its impact. I first heard of it via Jon Carroll’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle some years back, and I gather the Bay area is where it was born. Much of cycling culture has its roots there, and Critical Mass rises out of a certain obnoxiousness born out of unpleasant encounters with cars. We can go back and forth on this and probably will, but it’s fair to say that in cities like San Francisco, or Chicago, New York and a handful of others, motorists and cyclists are the Israelis and Palestinians of transportation, and Critical Mass is a monthly intifada, a deliberate traffic jam of hundreds of cyclists moving through them on a rush-hour Friday, blowing lights, in yo face, saying, essentially, Fuck you.
My school of thought says obnoxiousness is no attitude for diplomacy, but I went on the Critical Mass ride anyway. I can
explain rationalize: The Detroit ride is at 7 p.m., not 4:30, an hour when Friday-night Detroit is largely deserted. Our knot of 100 or so made for a pretty small peloton, and I’d be shocked if anyone in a car was delayed for more than one extra cycle of a traffic light.
And man, it was fun. Illegal fun, perhaps, but on the grand continuum of all the illegal fun being had in Detroit on the last Friday of any month, blowing through lights on a bicycle doesn’t even rate.
Breakin’ the law: It’s all relative.
I’m continuing to go through the bin Laden mop-up stories, and find nearly all of them fascinating. A sub-sub-ancillary story was the fake Martin Luther King Jr. quote, and this Q-and-A with the woman whose innocent Facebook status update started it all might be worth your time, if that sort of thing interests you. It only interests me in terms of my career as a tester of internet-related bullshit. I guess I’d be suspicious if anyone quoted MLK to me outside of the “content of our character” chestnut, but most of my Facebook friends know better.
I know one of our loyal commenters — I’m looking at you, 4dbirds — is a poker player. Getta loada this. We are all laid low by our vices, one way or another. (And may I just say? Why do lamestream media sites waste FTEs on internet-culture reporters, i.e., the person whose job it is to stay online all day long and report on the Shiba Inu puppies? They will never beat Adrian Chen at Gawker at this game. He is the Dexter Filkins of the internet.)
Eric Z. remembers another daring raid approved by a president — which didn’t go so well.
Ha ha. I promise, no Rickroll or Linda Blair devil-face at the end.
Finally, I keep forgetting to post this, which I shot with my now-obsolete HD Flip camera last weekend, at the Dorais Velodrome in Detroit, reclaimed from nature last summer by the Mower Gang. I could be wrong, but I suspect this was another renegade event, held in a city where doing these sorts of things is so, so easy. Which is one reason I love it. This was the “tiny triathlon,” three laps on the bike, one lap on foot, and finish through the flooded infield.
Off to earn a living. More or less.