Saturday, December 30, 2006

You're Wrong
An Irregular Column
by Mykel Board (for MRR 286)

"Never give advice! Let them stew in their own juice and rot!...the more the better!... one little piece of advice and people never forgive you!” -- Celine

Before I start in on my Celine violation-- handing out advice like it was candy to a pre-pubescent. First, I've got to bring you into my bedroom. Here, have a seat in the desk chair.

It's late. I lay in bed. My fall-asleep jerk off, already jerked. My nightly chapter of NIGHTMARE ALLEY already read. It's time to hit the hay, crash, catch some Z's. Visions of Orientals dance behind my closed eyelids. It must be midnight. I've got to get up at 7, make coffee, check eBay, drink coffee, shit, brush my teeth, roughly in that order. Then the subway to work where, at 9:00, I begin the task of teaching Japanese housewives how to talk good English.

A faint whirring comes in through the closed window behind my head.

The whirring gets louder. Ah, a police siren... and voices. Lots of voices, and whistles, and more sirens. I'm up now, madder than a Jew at a bacon breakfast.

Jesus fuck! It's another demonstration. This one later than any rational person would be on the street. I bet it's bikes. Sounds like the storm troopers of Critical Mass.

I look out my window. I see first one then a dozen guys on bikes. The first to enter my field of vision wears a yellow shirt, black spandex shorts, and a helmet with a big circled A on it. Then, there are dozens of 'em. Bikes, riders in spandex, with helmets or not, shorts or not, leg muscles out to here, skimpy clothes in the fall on Broadway. Average age? I guess 25. Not a chubby one in the group. Fit as fiddles, the lot of 'em. Kids out for a good loud time. Causing chaos down below. As a fan of chaos, you'd think I like this kind of thing. You'd think wrong.

Is it anarchist? No! It's fascist. It's goose pedaling to the beat of the master race. It's macho, saying if you aren't tough... if you don't have the leg power to ride a bike, stay at home, you faggot! You wimp! WE own the streets.

Are you an 80 year old woman? Tough, ride or die! Paraplegic? Fuck you cripple. Pedal with your hands!

The Critical Mass website says, “We aren't blocking traffic. We ARE traffic.”

Yeah, tell it to the guy who dies of a heart-attack or is felled by a stroke because the ambulance couldn't get through your bells and whistles.

It's not only in Critical Mass demos that this spandexed machismo runs rampant in the city. I dodge it every night, when common bike riders don't have the decency to put a light on their bikes. When they say to pedestrians and drivers: death? Hah! I'm tough. I don't fear death. My death is your fault. If you can't see me, that's tough for you. Come on, hit me. I dare you.

I see it in riding the wrong way down one way streets. I see it in bike riders terrorizing pedestrians going through red lights and shouting at people to get out of the way.

“It's my world,” they say, “and if you want to survive in it, get out of the way.”

Listen, buckaroos, if you want to ride a bike, it's up to you. I'm pro-choice. But if you want ME to ride a bike. If you tell me and my wheelchair-bound parents, and the old lady who lives next door, and the heart attack patient, and the UPS driver, to ride bikes, I'm gonna fight back. I'm not gonna take the bullying. I will defy you.

Sudden flat tire? Guess who. Chain slipped? Hmmm, I wonder. I'd like to take that chain and shove it up your critical mass. If I don't, someone else will. My advice is: watch your back.

Am I saying that militant bicyclers are the cause of all the world's problems? Ah, were it only true. We could just open our car doors into traffic. BLAU! Downhill splat. Like spraying mosquitoes. It would be easy.

But there is another group... just as totalitarian, just as macho, just as dangerous. Before I discuss them, I want you to join me in some time and space travel.

The year is 2004. The place: the highlands of Mongolia. It's the winter. Mongolia faces its worst zuud in fifty years.

[Aside: A zuud is a series of winter blizzards accompanied by extreme cold. It kills millions of livestock and hundreds of people. A zuud means physical and economic devastation.]

A herder on the steppes walks over to one of his goats, frozen solid in the extreme weather. Hungry, newly impoverished (in Mongolia, your animals are your wealth), he thinks about lying down in the cold. Letting it devour him. It's easier than living through this.

Instead, the man cradles the dead animal and carries it into his ger (those big round tents that Americans like to call yurts). There is a dung-fueled fire in the central stove. On the stove, a pot of water boils. The man's wife, a moon-faced woman with high cheekbones and a square body that belies her extreme hunger, sits and waits. Their 3 month old son sucks hungrily at her almost dry nipple. Next to them sit his three daughters, eagerly awaiting his return.

The man has decided he wants to live. His family needs him. He will be poor, but they will live.

Inside the ger, it's toasty warm. Mongolians are experts at insulation. In a few hours, the goat thaws enough for the man to skin it, cut it apart and put it into the boiling water. The plunging meat cools the water a bit. The boiling stops. Then a few bubbles rise to the surface. In an hour, it's time to save some lives.

As the family begins to divide the fresh meat, the sound of a helicopter comes from overhead. The ger shakes as the whirlybird comes closer. In the front of the ger, the man hears a sharp THUMP. Then, the sound of running and a bang on the door.

Stunned, it's a few seconds before he goes to the door to see a young American wrapped in plastic, dragging a parachute.

“Stop!” shouts the American. “You can't do that. Don't you know MEAT IS MURDER?”

Yes! I'm talking about vegetarians!
Like people who ride bikes for pleasure, I have no complaints about casual vegetarians. I eat pizza with friends who go for a half-sausage half-mushroom. I'm yelling at those swaggering, victual hitmen. Food fascists who demand the world pay homage to their preferences.

They would have Kwashiorkor (disease caused by sever lack of protein) sufferers die to save the life of a lamb. They would scoff at complaining when a JAWS shark has a water-skier for lunch. But let the skier be on the other side of the table. Whoa! Save the sharks.

Okay, let's look at the whole picture. Half a million people die in Iraq. Are a few loud bikers that serious? The U.S. government is building a database on every American, every email, every phonecall. Are a few hundred (thousand?) jackass vegetarians that important in the scheme of things?

Answer: They're not important like the E-Coli virus. They're important like a rotted liver. They are not the disease, but symptoms of something very serious. Bike riders and vegetarians are part of the same totalitarian thinking that gives us George W. Bush and Southern Baptists. They are symptoms of the idea that we know right from wrong and you have to follow our right-- or we will hurt you. They are symptoms of all fascism.

Just as there's no space in the world of the bike riders for the weak or handicapped, there's no space in the world of the Baptists for homosexuals or prostitutes.

Just as there is no place for meat-eating self-determination in the world of vegetarians, there is no place for Iraqi self-determination in the world of G. W. Bush. It's no accident that Hitler was a vegetarian. The most basic foundation of vegetarianism-- and bike-riding-- is fascism.

Want my advice? Tough, you're gonna get it anyway. That is: STOP IT. STOP IT! STOP IT!!! Your way is not the only way. If you want to ride a bike, do it. But realize there's no moral high ground in it. Recognize it for what it can be: a macho exercise in self-glorification.

If you want to eat vegetables, do it. But realize there's no moral high ground in it. Recognize that one gal's broccoli is another man's chicken a la king.

My advice is the same for bike-riders, vegetarians, war supporters and racists. Learn a little tolerance. Not everyone is like you. Not everyone should be like you. Relax. Give the rest of us a little slack. That's my advice. Sorry Celine, I'm not keeping it to myself.

ENDNOTES: [email subscribers ( or website viewers ( will get live links and a chance to email comment on the column]

-->Global Warming? What global
warming dept: the Competitive Enterprise Institute released two TV commercials just before Al Gore published his book on the horrors of global warming.
CEI is an industry apology group funded by Exxon, Amoco and the American Petroleum Institute. Their commercials feature children blowing dandelions, animals skipping around in their natural habitats, and people getting into their cars.
Say the ads: "They call it pollution. We call it life."
So first they say there is no global warming. Then, they say humans didn't cause it. Now they say, there is global warming, humans caused it... and it's good for you.

-->Further on the global warming front dept: The Utne Reader reports that researchers from Duke and Harvard Universities piped carbon dioxide into a controlled forest environment at levels expected by 2050. The result? Poison ivy grew 150% faster and produced a stronger concentration of urushiol. The “poison” in Poison Ivy. If global warming continues, things are gonna get mighty itchy around here.

-->I'm king of the Bushmen dept: Leo De Caprio being called on by the Kalahari Bushmen to help save their land from evil diamond miners? Sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster - except it's true.
Cute-boy De Caprio, star of Blood Diamond, a new movie about this sinister diamond trade. Meanwhile, real miners have just started digging in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
The Kalahari bushmen have lived in the area for thousands of years but are only now succumbing to First World diseases. AIDS is spreading rapidly as they get screwed in more ways than one by corporate investors. Their way of life is under the threat of extinction as they are evicted and forced into reserves. They have called on the Titanic heartthrob to highlight their plight to the world. See for more details.

--> I'm number 885,550,364 dept: Are you feeling loaded? No? Well how about some help to put it into perspective? At you can enter your yearly income and it will calculate exactly how rich you are. So, I am the 885,550,364th richest person in the world! Top 14.75%. No you cannot borrow $10. Ask number 885,550,363.

--> Carrying the torch dept: For many years I had an organization called The World for Free, where folks could stay with each other free, all over the world. The idea was to screw hotels, meet fine folks, and maybe end up screwing each other (in a good way).
Post office incompetence put an end to THE WORLD FOR FREE. In the meantime, I've discovered two similar organizations, internet based. I joined them both: and hospitality club. I have no idea if they work... yet. I'll let you know when I get back from your couch.

-->Yowsah dept: I wanna thank Maria and Rys from ROCK YER SOCKS in Connecticut. They put on a great show, had me read between bands, and I sold a ton of books. Yeah! If you're looking to play somewhere between New York City and Boston, check out They're great people and really easy to work with.

-->And also dept: Part of that CT show was a band called BOVACHEVO. You can check them out at their MySpace spot. They are jaw-droppingly great. No vocals, just a hugely powerful trio with a drummer who gives Dickie Peterson a run for his money! If you don't see these guys, your life will be worth a little less.

-->Seems like every month there's another story about Norway. We had one about traffic tickets, one about how Oslo is the world's most expensive city. Now a United Nations survey ranks Norway as the world's best nation to live in. Number two is Iceland. The U.S. ranks number 8. Hard to believe we're so high on the list.
Oh yeah, in case you're thinking of traveling, Sierra Leone is smack dab at the bottom.

-->Higher numbers dept: If the U.S. manages to rank a high number 8 on the livability index. It ranks a low number 53 in Worldwide Press Freedom. After a mediocre 17 in 2002, we've plummeted to a new low.
Reporters without Borders, who does the ranking, rated Finland as number 1. They dropped DENMARK, the former number one to number 19. The country dropped because of serious threats against the authors of the Mohamed cartoons published there in autumn 2005. For the first time in recent years in a country that is very observant of civil liberties, journalists had to have police protection due to threats against them because of their work.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Was Hitler really a vegetarian? It doesn't seem like he was-- at least not in the strict fascist way you imply.