A couple weeks back I posted a big tutorial on installing new bike pedals (See How He Uses a Spanner.., Gravy Bread, Aug. 5)—those pedals being Bell Universal Fit Comp Bicycle Pedals, purchased at good ole Walmart. I didn’t honestly expect these pedals to last as long as the previous ones they replaced, which made it very nearly to the three-year mark, three very grueling years. I did, however, expect the new ones to make it for at least one year. Ha! How about 18 big days? That’s right. Catastrophic failure of the right pedal—installed on Aug. 3—occurred the night of Aug.20, on my way home, and this in fairly dangerous traffic. Luckily my foot was able to grip the remaining metal shaft enough to get me over some railroad tracks and out of the way of several cars behind me as we went through a busy intersection. After traffic cleared, I rode back to the spot near the tracks where the pedal had fallen off. Examination later, as shown in these pictures, reveals a complete separation of the middle part from the rest of the pedal. How can something meant for such a serious, grueling endeavor as bike pedaling be so shoddily made? I will be taking this back with the receipt, but without the original packaging (I threw it out) I’m not sure what to expect. I’m more baffled than pissed off. A company is mass manufacturing a product so unsuited and inadequate for its purpose – on the shelves of every Walmart, and that’s a lot of stores with a lot of shitty Bell bike pedals, if indeed, they were made with the same bad plastic or design. Guess I’ll be heading for the bike shop for pedals after all. -EG
Dereliction of Duty By the Louisville Metro Police as Epidemic of Red Light Running Hits University of Louisville Belknap Campus areaJuly 24, 2008
(The image at left is not my own, but grabbed off Flicker. It is similar enough to what I am about to convey and will suffice to illustrate).
A colleague of mine just yesterday noted to me that he’d read a report that traffic accident incidents were way down due to people driving less because of high gas prices. To this I expressed surprise, because my darker side assumed that drivers would compensate for the price trends by ignoring red lights and stop signs, thus raising the odds of accidents. Nothing in my everyday biking experience, though, had provided real evidence of this; people seemed to driving just as well or as badly as always.
This morning, though, my more cynical assumption received validation.
Within the span of a minute, just two blocks apart from one another, I witnessed two blatant runnings of red lights. And I’m not talking about drivers who made it just under the wire as the light changed from yellow to red—I’m talking about lights that had been red for a good several seconds. In the worst case, the second incident, the light had been red for almost 10 seconds. This was the sort of incident where pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers and car passengers who happen to have the right of way, aka. a green light, get killed.
The cyclist in this case was very nearly me.
The first incident happened at Third and Lee where I, safely passing under the yellow at Lee heading south on Third Street noticed in the lane to the far left behind me a large produce type truck barreling down Third with no intention of stopping. Mind you, cars on Lee heading east or west for the light at Third cannot be seen by anyone heading down Third, so someone trying to run the light on Third takes an insanely stupid risk. But this jerkoff, sitting high in his mega-truck would not have been the one killed, and his fucking ass probably knows that. I looked over at him and shook my head vigorously in disgust, but regretted my lack of quick-thinking in failing to look for a brand name or license number or truck code number as he passed. Things like this happen so fast that they stun you in your disbelief.
The second incident was even worse than this. As I was passing east on the green light at Cardinal Boulevard, a white SUV traveling north on Second Street at high rate of speed blatantly ran the red light after it had been red for at least five seconds and maybe as long as ten seconds. I had barely passed under the green when this fucktard whooshes by right behind my back tire; I could feel the wind and the rumble of the asphalt from his vehicle weight right behind me.
The guy was practically out of state by the time I could react in any way, which was to look back at him and mouth out loud, “Oh my fucking God! Another one!”
So was this a case of some SUV driver—angry at the world for his own stupid choice of buying a gas guzzling penis-extender-mobile now getting back at a $4-a-gallon-gas world by thinking he now had the right to obey or disobey whichever traffic laws he chooses?
Or was he just on a cell phone? Or asleep? Or just a fucking jerkoff. I would not be surprised if all four of these applied.
So how is it that I’ve got the traffic situation north of the UofL better covered than our vaunted law enforcement?
(Postscript: One day after I posted this, two innocent little girls with the right of way crossing the street at Floyd and Warnock on the eastern side of the UofL campus were killed by a maniac hit-and-run driver eluding police; just a few blocks from the area referred to in my posting. Fortunately, they caught the motherfucker. I volunteer my services to drive over him…)
Biking to the Hurstbourne Green Office Park in eastern Jefferson County, Louisville, Kentucky, is a common ritual for me at dusk. There are lots of empty parking spaces and fun obstacles to swerve around relatively safely, not to mention the weird Omega Man feeling of being alone among all those abandoned glass box buildings. On the way out of my neighborhood toward the park I heard something grind into my tire. Stopping to rotate and look at the back tire I didn’t see anything, so proceeded on to my destination. Arriving at one of the highest elevations in the office park I was greeting by a spectacular sunset and then, after the sun had set, the subsequent light show of rays lending a pink hue to the clouds’ underbellies. After taking these snaps I found that my back tire was completely flat. Mind you, I had just changed this tire about a month ago. This is about the eighth time in two years that I’ve managed to get a hole in the back inner tube. The culprit this time was a one-inch nail similar to a paneling nail. Trying to take a short cut home through the neighbor’s yard after carrying the bike for about a mile I managed to step into a pile of dog shit, thus necessitating the cleaning of said dog shit off my shoe after changing the tire. On the whole, given the sights I saw and the shots I managed to get, the trouble was worth it. The final shot in this sequence is of the sky this morning at about 7:20 a.m. -EG
I’m sure all of you saw this motley crew of oil execs assembled before Congress a few weeks ago, mainly so legislatewhores could posture and put on an impotent display of righteous indignation in lieu of actually doing anything to push real alternative energy solutions. While most of you out there have been grumbling but continuing to line the pockets of these oilmen (and their multi-wifed brethren in the Middle East) I have been taking the bus to work, in tandem with my bicycle (and yes, winter doesn’t stop me).
It was two years ago this month (April) that I began this daily ritual, and in the process lost 30 pounds, increased my muscle tone and improved lung capacity, heart health, metabolism, blood pressure, circulation, digestion and so on—not to mention notching piles of unread books on the 20-mile journey each way.
Oh yes, there’s much to be recommended about the complete lack of stress resulting from letting someone else do the driving, not having to swerve and avoid maniacs and playing stop and go with my feet on a gas-guzzling pedal. I can sleep, read, dream, whatever. And I’m inside a vehicle bigger than a tank, so it’s pretty safe.
And it costs $29 a month. See how much gas that gets you–and how far you can get on it.
AS for me, I ride for free because one of my perks of employment is free unlimited TARC rides with an employee ID.
But the most satisfying thing of all is that the oil industry and the profit-gluttonous CEOs who are sucking up all that cash from you got no more than $6 from me over the last two years. (Had to fill up my lawn mower a few times; otherwise most weeks I use a gasless Scott’s reel-mower, just like my grandparents did.)
So adding that up, that’s about $5,000 or so that Big Oil didn’t get from me in the past two years.
And although I know this is an overused picture on the Internet, there is just no better F-YOU! photo ever taken than this one of Johnny Cash. So Big Oil, let Johnny Cash send my message to you loud and clear.
Having been almost fully dependent on my bike for more than a year now, I’ve more clearly noticed the surroundings and all the good things I used to ignore as I tooled around in an auto in this here hometown metropolis of mine, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.
At some point during the process yesterday of adding lots of new links to my “Louisville, Ky. Stuff” blogroll over there at page right, it occurred to me that this is a damn fine city.
I’ve been to a few other places: Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and so on, and been impressed by what some of those cities have done. San Francisco is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen; Chicago is the most exciting (I’m probably the only person I know who still has never been to New York City, but I’m sure that would be even more exciting).
By contrast, Louisville to me seemed a backwater, a surrogate target of my own scorn, maybe even a reflection of self-loathing and an inferiority complex.
Part of that notion might also be due to the influence of various well-meaning but misguided local businessmen and “leaders” who think we need things like professional sports teams and giant new stadiums so that we can be like Indianapolis or Atlanta. There’s a certain unseemly penis envy about this kind of manly inferiority between cities. Who the hell wants to be bigger, more congested and more polluted, anyway?
Louisville isn’t going to have a better quality of life or be better loved by locals or more admired by outsiders just because it has a pro basketball team. That’s dime-a-dozen shit, and pea-brained thinking to boot.
By getting out and about more, I’m discovering what makes Louisville unique and different. And none if it has to do with, nor will it ever have to do with, having some tax-sucking sports franchise that costs the average family $200 a game.
But, getting out of the car and getting around on my own power has opened my eyes. I breathe the open air and feel the atmosphere around me better perhaps. I’m more curious to explore, and more fascinated by what I see.
Part of that has to do with aging, and part of that maturation has to do with seeing the positive in my own back yard.
I’ve come to realize that we’ve got it pretty damned good in good ole Louisville.
Consequently, an almost embarrassingly maudlin sense of pride about my hometown has overtaken me of late. I might even be perfectly happy to spend the rest of my days here.
Why that is would take a lot of pages to explain, and would sound too much like I was a shill for the convention and visitor’s bureau. Anyway, this organization has named our River City/DerbyTown USA/Lou-a-vuhl one of America’s 30 Most Livable Communities.
As far as culture and recreation go, we are really wanting for nothing in this town. We have nationally respected theatre (stuff has premiered here at Actors Theatre before becoming hits on Broadway), opera, ballet, a fine orchestra, dance groups, literary groups, chamber ensembles and a Bach Society, a bohemian strip along Bardstown Road where edgy indie bands play and great restaurants abound and every hot young thing wants to be seen, classy gentrified and beautifully restored and preserved 19th-century neighborhoods and downtown iron-cast storefronts, a good library and universities, a super art museum with a real Rembrandt, a recently developed recreational waterfront on the Ohio River, triple-A minor league baseball in a spiffy new riverfront park, and unique museums and other attractions all over the place, including a planetarium and an old steamboat.
The Louisville Place has to be one of the most stunning venues for live and film entertainment in the country.
Not only do we have the Kentucky Derby, but we have a Derby kickoff event that has far surpassed it in scope and attendance, Thunder Over Louisville, the largest annual fireworks display on the continent.
And there are lots of funky nooks and crannies that make a city a real city, not just a collection of big suburbs surrounded by a tiny core of pathetic buildings that lack cultural cohesion and breadth (I’m thinking, of course, of Kentucky’s second-largest “city,” Lexington).
You’d be hard-pressed to find a hipper music store than Ear-X-Tacy anywhere else in the United States, or a better video store than the amazing Wild & Woolly Video, or a funkier bookstore than the rambling All Booked Up—all of them on Bardstown Road.
In Louisville we can go to a jazz nightclub, or turn on our radio 24 hours a day and hear Beethoven or Mahler or Duke Ellington or Tom Waits or Stereolab. That’s because we have three topnotch public radio stations. Very few cities this size can boast that.
And if we want to get our rocks off we can go to Louisville’s vast, evil network of adult businesses, and there are lots of them all over town, from the Lion’s Den to Priscilla’s to Deja Vu to Frederick’s of Hollywood to message parlors and escort services and gay bars. You see, a lot of us ’round these parts figured out that sex is natural and necessary and a basic human need. In fact, Louisville just oozes and reeks with dirty, filthy sinful SEX. Ewwww, gross.
But if you want to go to church here, there are even far more of those around—for all denominations and faiths. And there’s country line dancing too at Coyote’s nightclub.
So, we are weird, in a good way. We are diverse and eclectic and eccentric and stark raving mad in a joie de vivre sort of manner. In other words we are not bland or banal or predictable or stuck in a go-nowhere dusty vacuous stark and repressed past or satisfied with everyone’s else’s low-bar expectations.
For these things, of course, the rest of the state of Kentucky hates us. And that just makes me fall in line in loyalty to my city all the more. Louisville pays the bulk of taxes for this Commonwealth and gets far less back in investment in return. And the gratitude we get for this is concealed jealously and scorn and stupid laws aimed against our progressive, cosmopolitan ways by the legislators who prefer to answer to the retrograde Rev. Billy Bob Chickenplucker types from Hogshit, Ky.
Hate and ignorance aren’t good enough for Louisville.
A similar vibe struck me a few years back when some fundamentalist-type southern Kentucky relatives of my wife—nice and polite folks, I’ll grant you—visited us at our suburban Louisville home and we took them out to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom amusement part next to the fairgrounds. That’s all well and good, but that’s all they wanted to do. They didn’t want to go downtown and see other attractions with a true local flavor because they were “afraid” of crime. Never mind that Louisville’s crime rate is low—or that they’d be more likely to be struck by lightning on their rural spread than mugged on our city streets. Expanding their cultural horizons was really what they feared.
Through political fashions, including the 30-year trend toward electing conservative Republicans in practically every office in this state, the mayoralty of Louisville has remained staunchly and solidly Democratic, as has our aldermanic board. That’s because people here like solid, competent, dependable leadership, and prefer not to trade good basic governance for irrelevant, divisive ideology. God doesn’t make government work, thinking and working people do.
Although he has enemies as all politicos do, long-time Mayor Jerry Abramson (or as one local radio DJ calls him, “mayor for life”) is probably the most liked politician in the country.
Meanwhile, our Republican governor, Ernie Fletcher, can’t even get our downtown I-65 bridge painted properly without corruption and in a reasonable time…
As in the past, I intend to post more stuff about Louisville in and among my other various ramblings. My intention is to keep the blog split about 50-50 between Louisville stuff and other various non-Louisville related topics.
As I tool around on my bike with my digital camera, I’m snapping pix like a fool. What I hope to cover are people and things that the local media and others ignore or miss. Some of it will be ugly and some beautiful.
To me, even some of the ugliness is beautiful. Industrial ruins for instance; the despised and forgotten corners of Louisville’s past.
I hope to talk to poets and street people and people who ride the buses, and report what I find.
I recently interviewed Louisville’s number one atheist. I have some good snaps of this unique individual and his mission and hope to have an article on him soon.
I want to photograph the interiors of funky musty bookstores and other unique venues.
I will wax nostalgic about past people and places in this here town
I might even complain about some of the bad things that plague us here: the unpredictable weather and heinous summer humidity, smog and pollen and the shitty Keystone Kops way our police do traffic control during special events and so on.
Whatever the case, I hope you can take the journey with me.
And in case I haven’t made it clear yet, Louisville is fuckin’ cool.
—photo credits/ All images were borrowed from publicly displayed and openly accessible websites/ if anyone has a problem with their images being displayed here, please tell me and we can either take it down or re-do the photo credit to suit your needs:
Louisville Skyline at night found at Louisville Metro Guide.
Thunder Over Louisville by Gene Burch found at Gene Burch Photography
What you’re looking at here is a foot-and-a-half deep hole on Langdon Drive next to Rolling Hills Plaza (a few steps away from the Dollar Tree) just off Westport Road in eastern Jefferson County (Louisville), Ky. This thing has been inviting car tires and unwary night walkers and bikers to fall into it for months now. It’s been there at least two months without anything being done about it, although I noticed this past weekend that somebody had finally at least put a caution horse with a reflector around it.
Somehow our society has money to waste in Iraq but not enough to fix minor yet potentially dangerous infrastructure problems like these. It’s about priorities, folks.