Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Broke in Tacoma, Night 2...

1) PBR
2) PBR
3) Tawdry fling with wife
4) Widmer
5) Pre-fab dinner from Omaha Steaks
6) Widmer
7) Fast Friday
8) Widmer
9) Once Upon a Wheel
10) Busch Light
11) Cut up something old and make something new...

Monday, December 28, 2009

What to do on a broke winter's night?

1) Kiss wife
2) Busch Light
3) Pre-fab dinner from Omaha Steaks
4) Busch Light
5) Play with idiot dogs
4) Busch Light
5) Busch Light
6) Kiss wife
7) Busch Light
8) Break into old art supplies and make something...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gear of the Year 2009

'Tis the season of lists. Top 10 albums, best movie, car of the year, least intellectually offensive reality tv series. And the outdoors publications will have their say, too. The year's must-haves will be comprised of predictable stuff: Shock-resistant plastic, microchips, carbon fiber, and Goretex... all of it packaged with sex and slick marketing. In short, it will be the stuff after which you and I will lust, but probably never hang in our garages.

So, I propose that the "little guys" of outdoors blogging make our own lists. What is the stuff you use every day that puts a smile on your face? The stuff you can count on. The stuff that has taken on meaning over the miles.

Here's mine...

Mid-90s Bianchi Reparto Corse Cyclocross
When I saw this bicycle on ebay a couple years ago, I knew it would be mine. As a frequent craigslister, I appreciate a well-crafted listing, and this guy had nailed it. New old-stock steel frame (handbuilt in Italy by Bianchi's racing department), lots of shiny bits by Shimano, Sugino, Nitto, and other "o" companies. It was not an informed purchase, and it could have gone horribly wrong. But this bike has carried me through 3,000+ miles and a season of cyclocross without falter. I swing my leg over at least twice a day and promptly forget about the bike. That's how you know you've got a good one, by the way.

My dad's old-ass Timex Marathon
It's been about a year since I rediscovered the run, a full eight months of which was done without solid-state electronics: Heart rate monitors, gps devices, or sharks with lasers on their heads. Regular readers of this blog (hi, Mom) know that I don't tend to pin my happiness on (or trust my well-being to) things that require batteries. But shortly after my first marathon last summer, I asked my dad how I could improve. "You need to run with a watch." Pssshaw. As if. "Here," he said, pulling the tired Timex from his dresser-top box. The old man was right. I wore it on my second marathon, paid attention to my splits, and ran a 17-minute PR. Now I wear it on every run (except when I know I'll be slow). It feels just right.

NEW(!) Pearl Izumi Shine Wind Mitt
Are you picking up on the vibe here? I don't buy much new gear. And when I do, it will be thread-bare and used-up before it's retired. Trust that you will have to pry these babies off my warm, dead hands. They're mittens when you need 'em, gloves when you don't. Genius! I totally couldn't afford this purchase, so I compensate by wearing them even when it's completely unnecessary. "Seems kind of cold in here.Be right back." C'mon... you do it, too.

My shoes.
Over a thousand miles of pavement will have passed underneath these shoes when I retire them after the holidays. That's a lot of mud, sweat, and beers. I always hear about people who toss their kicks every few months or few hundred miles. To them I say, you might be missing out on the best part. The part when the shoes slip on and lace up just right... quick, without fuss, like a NASCAR pit stop. The part where your foot becomes the shoe becomes the asphalt... becomes a joyful run. Yes, they're done. Completely cooked. Coming apart at the seams and soles. And yes, I think I'll have them bronzed.

My shoes.
I was pretty sure I'd hit the big time when Brooks Running sent me a new pair of Cascadia 4 trail shoes to test. Million-dollar endorsement deals would surely not be far behind. I promptly set out to try 'em on the proving grounds of the Puyallup River dirt... and then proceeded to not run trails again all year. But I have worn these beauties as my everyday shoe, well... every day. Call me an old man, but the Cascadia's have shown me the way of the practical, comfortable shoe. Maybe next year I'll buy the 5's and see if they can actually hold a corner on loose gravel.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Beautiful Angle...

Digging the work of this Tacoma poster collective, most of it done with traditional printing processes and tools. Also feeling very tiny in the knowledge that, while I'm busybusybusy manufacturing desire with emails and websites, art is being made all around me.

Beautiful Angle

Stopping... to consider Tacoma.

Tacoma native Murray Morgan wrote much of the famous Seattle history narrative "Skid Road" while serving as a bridge tender here, high atop the span that would later bear his name. It's remarkable, especially if you're into objects that exude pure mechanicalness from every square inch.

Amid safety concerns, the bridge was closed to vehicle traffic in 2004... and its fate is now unclear. Much like Tacoma itself, the span seems to teeter on some unseen precipice — praise and permanence on one side, disregard and decay on the other.

There is a new Eleventh Street Bridge now, just a little farther down the waterway, and it's a real beauty... modern, artful, metropolitan. Seems the questions will soon come again: Can we move Tacoma forward without allowing its past to be erased? Is it possible to craft a new urban environment that embraces the grit and industry that built this town? Or are we already down a path that will whitewash history with short-sighted planning and "me too" construction?