Not Particularly Little

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Your donation goes to the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundations, two groups that help people living with HIV/AIDS. Do good! Donate!

Secret Road!

Okay, it’s not exactly a secret, but Little Tujunga is a rare thing in Los Angeles: A long scenic road through Angeles National Forest with very little traffic, but not so isolated that you’d never get help if you had an accident. I spent 99 percent of the time on the road with no one around, and I could hear cars coming from a mile away. That’s not just a cliché; it was so quiet that a distant engine was totally audible. Well worth the ride!

Dancing Hams

I like stupid puns and wordplay. A few years ago I realized “Hansen Dam” sounds a lot like “Dancin’ Ham,” and I decided that there should be a store that sells them. And when I was looking for a spokesperson, Danson/Dancin’ was the obvious choice. The fact that people who overact are called hams didn’t even occur to me until I was in the middle of making the ad.

A man, a ham, a dam: Panama

Forest, Fire

Angeles National Forest is the first National Forest in California. It’s about 700,000 acres. It’s so famous for burning that its Wikipedia page has wildfires listed ahead of the local flora and fauna. The Station Fire in 2009 burned for over a month!

A typical day in the forest.

Wildlife, gone away station

If you look behind me when I talk about laughing like Seth Rogen you’ll see some containers and a dumpster across the street. That’s the back of what’s left of the Wildlife Waystation. It used to be a home for wild and exotic animals.

Sort of like a less murdery Tiger King

They ran out of money a couple of years ago and the animals were transferred to other locations.

Happy Trails

I wasn’t actually thinking of John Denver and Miss Piggy when I sang “Happy Trails,” but I knew the Van Halen version would get me a copyright strike.

Bom ba dee da, bom ba dee da, bom ba dee da dee da dee da

Roy Rogers, the guy best known for the song, used to live in Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley.

This is the version of the song I usually think of.

Then he moved to Apple Valley in San Bernardino.

I’m sure he never sang this song.

Sponsor Me!

I’m just over $500 in donations. I’d like that to crack $1000 in the next two weeks. You can make that happen! Donate today!

The Importance of Ice Cream

Sponsor my ride!

Setting goals, and then ignoring them

I have a bit of serial monomania I’ll find something I like and really focus on it until I get tired of it, then come up with some sort of grand project, then drop it almost completely. Web design from scratch? I used to make new pages every day; now I haven’t made one in years (this page is different because WordPress is doing all of the heavy lifting). Photography? I took thousands of pictures and always had my camera bag with me; now the bag usually just sits on the floor and only comes out when I need to get pictures for the yearbook.

My current focus: the bike. It’s held on a good long time, but I can feel some burnout sneaking in. I don’t like it. My bike is a fun thing, and I’ve been turning it into a chore. That’s not good. So instead of pushing my love of riding to the breaking point I’m going to do a crazy thing: ride my bike for pleasure. I’m still going to set goals (and I’m definitely doing the AIDS ride in June), but I’m going to spend more time away from the bibs & jerseys and goals. More t-shirts, heavy bikes, and slow rides casually exploring. More ice cream is always good!

My Monster Trucker

My heavy and awesome bike is a 2004 Surly Long Haul Trucker. It’s a really popular touring bike. Tough, comfortable, and with lots of places to hang bags and stuff. I saw it hanging on a fence by the freeway one morning and thought “if it’s still there this afternoon I’m going to check it out.” Eight hours later it was still there.

Imagine this, but beat to hell

The frame had a big dent in the top tube but was straight. Someone had added random blue “highlights” with spray paint. My guess was that someone stole it, took it for a joyride for a while, then abandoned it. I decided to take it home.

I didn’t want to just take someone’s bike, so I tried to find the owner. I posted the bike online, checked bike registries, and even contacted Surly to see if they could figure out the original owner based on the serial number. (Side note: find your bike’s serial number and register it on bike sites like Bike Index and Bike Register). After a couple months of holding it, I realized I’d never find the original owner. I took it apart, repainted it, and ended up spending hundreds of dollars on my “free” bike.

Free except for the new wheels and tires, saddle, cables, bottle cages, bar tape, saddle bag, cassette, brakes, and paint. Totally worth it.

CONSUME. OBEY.

They Live is a weird movie. Some of it is great. Some of it is awful. Some of it is only great because it’s willing to be awful. My video has about one second of a fight where Roddy Piper tries to get his friend to put on sunglasses. In most movies it would have been a thirty second struggle- a minute, tops. They Live devotes SIX MINUTES to two guys lumbering through a brawl in an alley. No music, no quick cuts. Just six minutes of two guys rolling around in a garbage.

It didn’t hurt that Roddy Piper was a pro wrestler.

Bike Shop Guy

Bike Shop Guy gushed over my bike. Specifically, he loved that it has rim brakes and quick release wheels. Newer bikes are like newer cars: they’re better performers than their ancestors, but they’re really hard for consumers to work on. New bikes have custom parts that require special tools that ordinary mortal can’t afford and don’t usually need. Bike parts are a lot less interchangeable. Most of the repairs on old bikes could be done with tools in a standard tool box.

That’s actually one of the reasons my Long Haul Trucker was such a popular touring bike. You could bring that thing into any little town and there would be someone around with the tools and parts to fix it. Good luck doing that with your top end Cervélo.

It’s pretty, but is it nine thousand dollar pretty?

Colossal

War of The Colossal Beast is the sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man. It’s the story of a sixty foot tall man with one eye who somehow manages to sneak out of an airport and walk to Griffith Park without being noticed. If you’d like to watch it, it’s available in lovely upscaled 4K on Youtube:

There is no scene like this in the movie.

…but I recommend the MST3K version.

Now I’m off the bike until tomorrow. In the meantime, you should sponsor me! And share the sponsor link: http://tofighthiv.org/goto/gattuso. Thanks!

Meeting other riders and the magic of clockwise

Circling the Bowl

I said that riding clockwise around the Rose Bowl was “prettier” than going counter-clockwise (or anticlockwise if that’s your style), but that’s not exactly right. The real reason it’s better: there’s a consistent dedicated bike path if you go clockwise. If you go the other way you sometimes have to either go against the traffic flow or ride in the street.

Greek, Observatory, Lather, Rinse, Repeat

A great thing about living in the southeast corner of the San Fernando Valley is having a lovely and challenging ride through Griffith Park. A bad thing about it is that it’s really tempting to repeat that ride instead of exploring. Goal: find new places to go!

Group(ish) ride!

Some good things I learned on yesterdays ride:

  • I can keep up with most riders
  • It’s much easier to keep a steady pace when you ride with a group
  • talking to strangers probably won’t kill me

I’m almost always a solo rider, so I was really surprised to discover how much I enjoyed being part of a group. I guess I need to start tagging along on group rides.

Darkness is coming

I’m a teacher. My workday often ends early enough that I can get in a long ride after work and still have sunlight. Thanks to shorter days and the coming end of Daylight Saving Time, that’s not going to last.

Options:

  1. Ride in the dark after work
  2. Ride in the dark before work
  3. Shorter rides
  4. Riding more on weekends
  5. Go pro, quit my job, and ride full time

It’s going to be a mix of the first four (though riding before work is going to be very rare). I move at turtle speed so number five is right out, unless some team wants me to make all their other riders look phenomenal by in comparison.

“Yeah, just lapped Gattuso. AGAIN.”

Sponsor me!

You should donate to sponsor my ride!

Your donation goes to The Los Angeles LGBT Center and The San Francisco AIDS Project, two organizations that do great work supporting people living with HIV/AIDS. Any donation helps! My current goal is $3000, and I’d be thrilled if I could cross the $100 mark in November.

And please share the donation link with friends: http://tofighthiv.org/goto/gattuso

Thank you for being awesome!

The Californian who rode up a hill (and several more hills) and came down a mountain

Good Eggs

The Los Angeles Breakfast Club has been doing it’s thing for almost a century. I’ve never been- business casual clothing at seven in the morning on a Wednesday is a surprisingly heavy lift for me- but if a bunch of folks being silly and talking Los Angeles history without getting wrapped up in politics sounds pretty great.

…and if old eggs sound good to you but you don’t want to make the trip to the Friendship Auditorium, you could always have a century egg.

It turns out there’s a movie about the band The Breakfast Club when Madonna was in it. OH LOOK A TRAILER:

That is an impressive Madonna lookalike.

The reviews are… not great.

Flattened

That damn flat tire.

It actually was easy to fix, but it sure was annoying. And I don’t know why I didn’t check the map for a bike shop nearby. Roost Cyclery was right up the street and they have great reviews. And I really should get one of those CO2 pumps.

Tropico

KCET’s article about Tropico talks about the arguments the city had over merging with Glendale or Los Angeles. I’m surprised no one’s tried to bring back Tropico Beauty strawberries. I guess that since the whole area is now homes and businesses it would be hard to find a parcel of land to farm. Maybe they convince Forest Lawn to give them some plots.

“Good People, Good Food.”

Now go donate!

Two more rides

It’s hot.

It’s way too hot to suddenly ramp up my hill climbing. So, little rides it is!

I thing I learned today: even though I remember it differently, Felix the Cat almost never says “magic bag.” It’s almost always his bag of tricks, just like they say in the theme song. I also learned that Felix the Cat cartoons are WEIRD. I could describe one, or you could watch.

The gibbering kangaroo freaks me out. And why does The Professor have a self-spanking machine?

Now go sponsor my ride and help save some lives!

IT IS HAPPENING!

This video is kind of a hot mess. Sorry about that.

545 miles in 7 days? Never done that.

23,037 feet of climb in 7 days? Never done that.

Raising thousands of dollars to support health justice for people living with HIV/AIDS? Done it. Doing it again!

DONATE HERE!

Here’s the deal: I do the training and riding and sweating. You do the donating. Together we save lives!

Your donation goes to The Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. They do great work getting health and legal care for people who need it. Donate today!

THREE DAYS LEFT, GANG!

Any resemblance between the opening of this video and the credits from a seventies TV show about an Amazon superhero are purely coincidental.

I don’t have an online collection of the exact set of pictures from the art exhibition I participated in, but some of them are in this set. The theme of the show was “Heartbreak,” and it was tied to a poetry collection. There was a ton of cool art and a live poetry reading. The worst poem of the night: My terrible haiku. A total “no honey, yours is beautiful in its own special way” moment.

Galco was one of the places we bought the drinks for our wedding. We had dozens of different crazy drinks, including Radar O’Reilly’s favorite: Grape Nehi.

As seen here with Lenin Soda.

Handy Market is an old-school grocery store with a big meat counter in the back. On weekends they fire up a big smoker in the parking lot and people line up for hunks of meat.

Okay, folks: you should go donate now. The Los Angeles LGBT Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation will be very grateful. http://tofighthiv.org/goto/ga2so

Ride-a-Roni – A San Francisco Geek

If you live in San Francisco (or as the locals call it, “Sani DiFranco”) you know the signs for the 49 Mile Scenic Drive, but you’ve probably never done it.

Everyone enjoys a paraphrased Wikipedia page

The first scenic drive didn’t have an official name. It was a car tour of the city set up for FDR. After that the San Francisco Down Town Association came up with a 50 mile drive, but that quickly switched to the current 49 Mile Scenic Drive name. Why 49? To link it to the Forty-Niners.

The miners, not the football team.

Just make it more confusing, the 49-instead-of-50 Mile Scenic Drive is 46.9 miles long, because that’s the approximate square mileage of the city, and everyone enjoys a casual link between measurements of distance and area.

The original 49 mile route looked like this:

Map not to scale (or legible).

It started at City Hall, but ended at Treasure Island for the Golden Gate International Exhibition. When the exhibition closed in 1940 and the navy took over Treasure Island, the drive was rerouted to end where it started. It’s been modified a few times since then.

The original signs marking the route were pretty plain. The seagull design showed up in the fifties. If you’re planning to navigate the path purely by following the signs, good luck- they get stolen a lot.

City Hall

City Hall was completed in 1899, after nearly thirty years of planning and construction. Eight years later, it was destroyed by the 1906 Earthquake. That’s not a great ratio of construction to function. They should have waited to build it until after they decided to have the quake. Poor planning, really. The current City Hall was designed and built by 1915 so it could be ready for the 1915 Pan Pacific International Exposition.

If you’d been there in January 1954, you might have seen Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio stopping by to get married.

And if you were there in fictional 1936, you might have seen Indiana Jones hanging around with Marion Ravenwood.

Don’t look too closely into their ages unless you want to get creeped out.

Forget it, Jake. This is a different Chinatown.

When Grant Avenue was still Dupont Street, it was not exactly a fun tourist location, unless you were really into opium dens, brothels, and Tong Wars. After the 1906 earthquake it was rebuilt and renamed after Ulysses S. Grant.

Chinatown is the setting of the 1986 Kurt Russell action-fantasy movie Big Trouble in Little China. The biggest fantasy of the film? Someone driving a big rig through Chinatown.

Not buying it, Jack Burton.

Fisherman Worf

Yeah, I know this is dumb.

The most important thing about Fisherman’s Wharf is that it was where James Bond met CIA agent Chuck Lee in the 1985 smash hit film A VIEW TO A KILL!

This guy’s undercover gig: work all day at a fish shop. Spies have boring jobs.

Okay, this post is getting long, and I’d like to get it posted before I die, so I’m going to stop for now. Maybe I’ll do a Part II later. Don’t bet the ranch on that.

…but if you’d like to read about how Katherine & I got back together, you can read this ancient block of stuff I wrote for a creative writing class a couple of decades ago. It’s how I remembered it then, though I remember some of it differently now. Brains are weird.

Ten days left! Go donate!

Failure and donuts

First, the failure

Every semester I tell my students the same thing: “I want you to fail.” Then I explain that I don’t mean that I want them to always fail. What I hope is that they will try things they don’t know how to do, things they might not have any idea how to accomplish. If they do that, they are pretty much guaranteed to not always succeed. But they will learn how to accept and deal with things going wrong. This is an important skill. Things always go wrong, and failure is normal. And they’ll learn some things that don’t work, so the next time they try to do a similar project they’ll already have made progress toward the solution.

Another thing: my students often get frustrated when things don’t work and abandon projects without turning in their attempts. I always tell them to turn in their challenging projects, even if they are incomplete. The failures are important. Something that a student labored over and could not get to work is much more impressive than something a student knocked out without a struggle.

Now I’m staring at a personal failure. Even worse: because the challenge goes until June 30th, t won’t officially be a failure for three weeks. I technically could still do the final 1400 or so miles, if I rode around 65 miles a day, every day until the end of the month.

That’s not going to happen.

So: failure is coming. What am I learning? What benefits were there? What skills did I get for other projects?

I learned that I can raise money for a good cause, a valuable skill. I learned that if I set a goal for a project I should build in more time to work on it than I think I’ll need to complete it. I definitely got better at riding, particularly hills. And I reconfirmed my knowledge that people are awesome. My failure is the foundation of my next success.

Man, I’m deep.

Now, the donuts…

Donut Time was the location of Tangerine, a film by Sean Baker. It was shot completely on iPhones. It received a ton of awards and nominations. I’ve never watched it, and I’m not sure why. Baker’s follow-up, The Florida Project, was probably my favorite film of 2017.

I never had a donut from Donut Time, and I’ve never had one from Magee’s. I’ve had Trejo’s, but it was near closing time when I went and the donuts weren’t fresh, so I can’t accurately judge them.

…and the ice cream

I’m not surprised that I couldn’t get ice cream at the drive through. Most places won’t serve a bike, even though they’ll serve a motorcycle. However, I was a bit surprised that I could bring my bike into the store, even though it’s no dirtier than walking. I’m guessing if it had been crowded I would have had more resistance, but there were only two other people in the giant store.

That particular store is the one closest to Baskin-Robbin’s corporate office, so it’s bigger and fancier than most shops. It also gets fun promotions. A couple of years ago, it was turned into Scoops Ahoy as a Stranger Things promotion.

Great. Now I want MORE ice cream.

Ol’ 55

I know how to party

I didn’t realize until I got home that my fun birthday ride featured two different cemeteries. I know how to party.

But technically, Forest Lawn doesn’t call itself a cemetery; it’s a memorial park. A traditional cemetery only has things directly related to dead body stuff. Graves, markers, maybe a chapel or a mortuary. A memorial park actually downplays a lot of the “dead people” aspect of death. It features things like lush lawns and pieces of art (both originals and copies). The memorial park style of graveyard has been mocked since it was created. In 1965, The Loved One was a popular movie based on a book about a barely disguised Forest Lawn.

Evergreen Cemetery, on the other hand, is a cemetery. I promised I’d talk about Biddy Mason and name some important people buried there, so:

  • Biddy Mason has a story that’s way too interesting to cram into a sentence or two in a silly blog post. The National Park Service has a biography that gives an outline of the most significant parts of her life. It’s well worth reading.
  • Mary Foy was the first female head of the Los Angeles Public Library
  • Eddie Anderson, who played Rochester on the Jack Benny Show
  • Matthew Beard, AKA Stymie from the Little Rascals

Also: A Chinese potter’s field that was found on First Street was moved there when the city was expanding, and THOUSANDS of unclaimed bodies have been cremated and interred there.

A Bridge Once Too Far

Alex Baum, who the Baum Bicycle Bridge is named after, was a concentration camp survivor who became the head of LA’s Bicycling Advisory Committee.

1019 Foot Queenie

The LA Times posted about The Queen Mary’s struggles on June 1st. On my birthday the city of Long Beach announced that they have taken control of the ship and will fully restore it.

I’ve been on the Queen Mary exactly once. I officiated a wedding there for two friends on Halloween. Yes, I can officiate your wedding. My price: you have to feed me.

Tubey, or Not Tubey

I probably could have patched that tube and made it home, but my brain was too fried to think of that. Today’s plan: An exciting trip to buy more tubes! I KNOW HOW TO PARTY (as stated above).