Friday, June 17, 2011

Heavy Duti

About 90% finished, for the time being anyhow, this is my 1967 Schwinn Heavy Duti cruiser bike. I bought the frame (and some tires,) at a garage sale and have restored it to what is called "Period Appropriate" for the genre. Besides an extensive clean up, lube, and tune-up, there are new pedals, a new Schwinn seat and seat post, sparkle grips, "dice" tire valve covers, a mini-license plate, and a rear hub-shiner with red reflector.

It rides incredible smoothly. But it weighs a ton, and frankly with those fat tires, it ought to be smooth

These Heavy Duti cruisers, built by Schwinn in the 60s and 70s (as near as I can tell,) were used mostly in factories and oil fields to haul parts around, say from one end of a factory to another. Some paperboys rode them, but there were so many other choices of fancier and lighter bikes at the time, that it was a rarer occurrence.

I've thought about fenders, but kind of like the stripped down, rat-rod look. Plus the fenders would only add weight. Looking for a Schwinn head-badge that is age appropriate, and I'm done. I think.

I like the cruiser mentality about bikes. I like old things and this fits in with my interests. There is a culture around these bikes that is based on the idea that we're saving elements of our history. I have a road bike, but i don't ride it very often. I don't particularly care for the road bike culture. It's based on athleticism and speed, which is more than kind of antithetical to the cruiser bike culture. Which is about going slow. And making use of the cup holder on your bike. Preferably for beer. Not that drinking and driving is encouraged.

In Colorado where I live, the cyclists, those road bicyclists in their logo-covered, lime green Spandex, with their $5000 carbon fiber whatevers, seem to feel a sense of entitlement about the right of way. I've had packs of them literally force my bike off the road without so much as a "How do you do?" They are in some part, large or small depending on your point of view and mine tends toward the large, douchebags. They swarm here. And are a growing lobbying force, recently having forced the passing of laws favorable to their cause, e.g., that cars must stay three-feet away from them, and that they can ride two abreast. They demand more and more space on the roads, yet pay no share of the taxes. Sadly, they won't be going away any time soon. The fact that their heroes, the pro riders, are being proven to be craven, doped up cheaters, doesn't surprise me in the least.

And so I ride my $700 road bike to post office. And ride my cruiser on the bike paths, happy to have pulled a piece of American history out of the dust bin. And to have gotten its shiny chrome rims spinning again.

Here's an earlier pic, just when i got it running.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Style Icon

My daughter and I started to blog, for one reason among many I'm sure, so that we could kind of track each other while she lived in Florida, while I was still here in Colorado, some years ago. She started writing about thrifting clothes (the apple not falling far from the tree there,) and taking pictures of the outfits she put together and wore everyday.

She's since been picked up by style aggregators like and and her photo has been even lifted by The She gets god-knows-how-many hits everyday. I'm not surprised. Her style is completely her own and her writing is top-notch.

And now (or last month anyway,) she was voted Style of the Year by 303 Magazine, Denver's style, fashion and clothing magazine for the modern hipster.

Yeah, you could say I'm pretty proud. Mostly because she just did something she wanted to do, something that came from her heart and was about who she is as a person. She wasn't trying to monetize it or count the hits or link here and there, though that came later. She just wanted to show the world what she did and let it hear what she had to say. So I'm proud that she's Style of the Year. But mostly I'm proud that she's smart, and beautiful, and witty, and thoughtful, and that she's my kid.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Till There Was You

I played at the Beatles Tribute Night tonight at Oskar Blues in Lyons. My partner Nancy who is in my uke band Gadzukes!, and I performed "Till There Was You" from the first Beatles album, "with the beatles" on ukes. That album came out in late 1962, and of course everything in the world changed. But what really changed the most for me was I learned, from that album, what a good song was.

My parents and sisters loved musicals and played them endlessly around the house. I hated them, mostly because I loved rock and roll and they were not rock and roll. But mostly, I hated the sound track from "The Music Man," a huge Broadway hit that was currently a hit movie. I liked the Kingston Trio. The Beach Boys. Wilson Pickett. The local Minneapolis cover bands that specialized in rhythm and blues. Bob Dylan was a year away.

Then the Beatles (insert cliche here) exploded into the world. The singles started coming. "I Want to Hold Your Hand." "I Saw Her Standing There." "Please Please Me." I waited impatiently for the album. And when "meet the beatles" came out with its now classic noir cover, the half-shadowed pictures of the haircuts I studied for every detail, there was the ecstatic moment, the pleasure of ripping the plastic covering off and laying the needle down on the first groove. And what a record it was. But to my amazement, there on side two, cut nine, was "Till There Was You." From the dreaded musical, "The Music Man." What the fuck?

So what I learned from that track, with it's gorgeous classic guitar solo, claves and cha-cha beat was that it isn't about the haircut. Or the electricity. Or the beat. Or the culture. Or me versus my parents. It's about good songs. "Till There Was You" is a good song. A great song, maybe. And John, Paul, George and Ringo knew it. And once I listened to it, without the wall of the times and the culture, and my teenage anger, I guess I knew it too. And I'm proud that I recorded it on my CD. And that I copied George's guitar solo, note-for-note. And that i play it at every Gadzukes! gig. And that I played it tonight. Because it's a good song. And that's what counts.

I'll Tell You What's Stupid

What's stupid is to have a recipe that works, that you've done a bunch of times, but reading a different recipe for the same thing and saying, "Hey, I think I'll try that," and then failing miserably. Waste of time, waste of food, waste of money. Jeez.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Jeez, I've wanted one of these for a long time. Maybe since I saw James Burton backing up Ricky Nelson on the Ozzie and Harriet Show. The show ran every week on television from 1952 until 1966. And at the end of each episode, Ricky would come out with his band and do a song. And in the band behind him, on the Fender Telecaster, was James Burton.

There were great guitar players back then like Chet Atkins, and Les Paul, but they were for the older folks. There was Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley's guitar player and a giant, but he played more Merle Travis-style swing-style guitar. And Chuck Berry, who wrote so much of the elementary guitar book, but he played a horn-based kind of rhythm and blues. James Burton, on the other hand, rocked. And he introduced me, and the rest of the world, to the Telecaster. Over time, the Telecaster evolved to be the sound of country music, that high mid-range, snappy kind of sound that everyone calls "twang".

And now, some fifty years later, I got me one. A Fender American Special Telecaster. Made in the USA. Gloss sunburst finish with a maple neck and Texas-style pickups.

Do I need one? No. I guess I feel that if you've wanted something for 50 years, and you can give it to yourself, you might just as well go ahead.

Now I gotta get busy and start a country band.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stranglehold of death

Someone told me once that the word "mortgage" is from the French and means "stranglehold of death". Well, yesterday afternoon I went to my bank and withdrew money from my savings (that was paying me .5 percent) and drove over the local branch of US Bank and paid off my (5.5 percent) mortgage. In full.

So now, my little strangleholders...I own my house. Free and clear. There are now no bankers, stock brokers, debt traders, mortgage companies, real estate agents, lien holders or other low-life bloodsuckers involved in my personal business.

I also own my car. I also have no credit card debt.

So, to so-called financial wizards who brought this country to its bloody knees, you who heartlessly drove people from the homes you cheated them into buying and then put them and their children out on the who traded and sold our hard-earned gains like baseball who created an unprecedented toxic environment of unemployment and deep, ink-black all of you pencil-dicks in your bad-fitting suits, tasseled cordovan loafers and stupid all of you I would like to just say, not in a nice way...

..."Go fuck yourselves."

Monday, October 25, 2010


Yesterday was my birthday. Sixty-four years old. Which inevitably brings to mind the song, and consequently curiosity regarding the answer to The Beatles in-light-of-the-current-situation-really-not-all-that-rhetorical question..."Will you still need me?/Will you still feed me?/When I'm 64?"

Well, I received sixty-plus birthday greetings from friends from all around the world via Facebook and in my e-mail box. Which really was quite special. And I was treated to a truly incredible Japanese dinner dinner and sake by Hollie, in the company of my daughter Zoe and bf Ryan, at Amu, an izakaya in Boulder. Note the mysterious, and wildly appropriate, writing that appeared magically in a bowl of soy dipping sauce. A deus ex machina comment on the day.

And then I was taken back to Hollie's house, fed champagne, the tasty ice cream roll-cake that Hollie made at my request, and showered by very cool gifts...books, folk art, cooking machinery, and more.

So, will I be needed and will I be fed when I'm 64? The answer apparently is...yes.

And favorite birthday song, "Have a Good Time" by Paul Simon.

Yesterday it was my birthday,
I hung one more year on the line.
I should be depressed
'Cuz my life's a mess,
But I'm having a good time.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A wild and crazy guy

Yes. My close personal friend, Steve Martin. We chat frequently, mostly via Twitter.

He posted something the other day and I erroneously schooled him on his punctuation. I mistakenly believed that "correctly punctuated" should be hyphenated. I was then myself schooled by Hollie and some other person who's name I can't remember, and was directed to the Chicago Manual of Style for verification. I was wrong, and stand corrected.

What follows is a verbatim exchange between my close personal friend Steve Martin and myself from Twitter, the afternoon of October 21, 2010.

Steve: Today is get it right Friday! In an earlier tweet, someone pointed out that “correctly punctuated,” should have read “correctly-punctuated.”

Me: That was me. I was proven wrong, according to Chicago Manual of Style

Evidently, that someone was wrong. So "get it right Thursday!" starts off with a bang!

SM: Get it right Friday to become regular feature every Thursday.

SM: So it's correct to say, "Chicago Manually of Style?"

Me: If correctly punctuated, yes.

Am checking Tri-County Area Manual of Style. Very adamant about capitals beginning sentences, or at least being second letter.

Tri-County Area Manual of Style also suggests, for clarity, inserting Arabic numerals when spelling them: Fo4ur. Fi5ve. Six6ty-Sev7en.

Thanks, Steve. Talk to you soon.