No. 5? Early April. Mugs, mailboxes, fish-birds-boars, bad black-and-white photos, Black and white stuff, high quality links. A mix of frivolous stuff and neat stuff and serious stuff, so just take your pick. If you hate mailboxes, skip over them.


 

4/10

The mug here is a traditional stoneware mug made by Deneen Pottery in Minnesota (since 1972), and when I brang one home and proudly showed it to my wife, she said, "... it's kind of brutalist, isn't it?" She associates the shape with drunken Vikings yelling at the bartender for another, and brutalist architecture, which I hadn't heard of until just then. I don't see the brutalism in it.  

BRF on the mug now stands for Bicycles R Fun, and 89 percent of the selling price ($24 of the $27) goes to a charity that makes sense.

It holds a pint and is dishwasher and microwave safe.

Reconstruction ended in 1877, the year Red Wing Pottery was founded in Red Wing, Minnesota. Our former mugs were made by Red Wing. I've always had a soft spot for anything "Red Wing," my pheasant-hunting childhood boots included. When I was 16 or 17, I started deep-diving into Bob Dylan, buying bootlegs in Berkeley, and one of the songs was The Walls of Red Wing. It's about a reform school in Red Wing, Minnesota.  He wrote it when he was 22. Have I posted this before? It is National Poetry Month.

WALLS OF RED WING

Oh, the age of the inmates
I remember quite freely:
No younger than twelve
No older ’n seventeen
Thrown in like bandits
And cast off like criminals
Inside the walls
The walls of Red Wing

From the dirty old mess hall
You march to the brick wall
Too weary to talk
And too tired to sing
Oh, it’s all afternoon
You remember your hometown
Inside the walls
The walls of Red Wing

Oh, the gates are cast iron
And the walls are barbed wire
Stay far from the fence
With the ’lectricity sting
And it’s keep down your head
And stay in your number
Inside the walls
The walls of Red Wing

Oh, it’s fare thee well
To the deep hollow dungeon
Farewell to the boardwalk
That takes you to the screen
And farewell to the minutes
They threaten you with it
Inside the walls
The walls of Red Wing

It’s many a guard
That stands around smilin’
Holdin’ his club
Like he was a king
Hopin’ to get you
Behind a wood pilin’
Inside the walls
The walls of Red Wing

The night aimed shadows
Through the crossbar windows
And the wind punched hard
To make the wall-siding sing
It’s many a night
I pretended to be a-sleepin’
Inside the walls
The walls of Red Wing

As the rain rattled heavy
On the bunkhouse shingles
And the sounds in the night
They made my ears ring
’Til the keys of the guards
Clicked the tune of the morning
Inside the walls
The walls of Red Wing

Oh, some of us’ll end up
In St. Cloud Prison
And some of us’ll wind up
To be lawyers and things
And some of us’ll stand up
To meet you on your crossroads
From inside the walls
The walls of Red Wing.

 ----

4/10

As topics go, bicycle advocacy can be boring. But the EBIKE BILL is interesting. I'll summarize: You get tons of money for buying an eBike or an eAutomobile, but not a pBike (pedal bike) or rBike (regular bike). This came to my attention while reading BSNYC a couple of weeks ago. 

But WHY NOT include real bicycles? Because they're not used as car-substitutes?  I've driven six miles  in 2.5 years. My work-home-shopping center-weather situation allows that.  I shop by bike twice a week and commute now by bike (shorter) every day. I own a bicycle company, I don't NEED a break on a bicycle, but on principle, no break for bikes in this bill seems wrong, even though I see the greater good in it and I'd vote for it if it were up to me. I just think that the regular bicycle is the best thing ever made, and this is just another way of kid-ifying it. 

I think BSNYC said in his blog, I might have this wrong, that there should be restrictions on the KINDS of eVehicles allowed. I'd say the same for bicycles. Disallow Rivendells, that's fine. Limit it to bicycles that cost less than a thousand dollars, that's not a horrible idea. Allow people to reject their personal get-a-deal card to help somebody else get a bike.  Also, when the Tesla ePickuptruck  becomes available, I don't think it's necessary to give any kind of rebate for it. 

The 1.9 trillion-dollar infrastructure bill Biden's pushing through, I'm all for it, although I don't think we need more pavement. Pavement is permanent.

I'd like to see HWYs 90 and 80 made over to include high-speed rail and bike lanes. By 2040 limit miles driven by gCars. Make allowances for granny and her Studebaker, and certain commercial vehicles if necessary.

---

3/10

 Fancy Fish stuff

I think we've all seen images like this before, and I'm not asking "who among us can ever get enough?", but these are pretty special, and the names of the fish are far out there. Flip thru it fast—thirty seconds will do. 

------

 4/10

WHEN you go to electronic shifting, you'll defo-nately want this.

 For fifty years I've under-appreciated the simple, obvious, mechanical beauty and understandability of pivots activated by cables attached to levers. It was just the way bikes worked. People are willing to pay more for, things that they don't understand, and that's one reason for the popularity of certain kinds of technology. Certain kinds of technology, like this laptop, can do things a feather-quill pen and a typewriter can't, and I'm thrilled to be able to shell out for it. I know my writing would be better and shorter if I wrote with a pen, but that ship sailed a while back. I am tempted by late-night infomercials, especially for that can  opener that takes the top off cans and creates a smooth-edged top to it that comes on and off with the satisfying sound of a suction plop. But then I'd miss the extreme satisfaction of the circular blade turned by gears that move with a lever, just like a bicycle. It is GENIUS and I know it, and yet I'm still drawn to the thing that would turn me into a can horder, because why through away a scrubbed-clean, non-smelly tin-coated steel can with a smooth, tight-fitting lid? I know this is inconsistent with my tastes in bicycles.

-----

8/10

BY POPULAR DEMAND: MAILBOXES DEL MUNDO. Skim thru fast if at all. I've always liked mailboxes, so I had to do this.

This is how I see a CLEM-L in 300 years.   By Doug P, Santa Barbara, CA

Also by Doug P. whose last name is PetersOn, but who is not related to these PetersOns, other than in the way we're all related (and from Africa, originally.)

How to know when you're dealing with two stubborn holdouts. Walnut Creek, CA.

How to know when you're dealing with somebody who has sworn off rusty mailboxes. Walnut Creek.

 

How to know when you're dealing with somebody who prefers not to buy off the shelf. Walnut Creek.

How to know when you're dealing with an aesthete. Walnut Creek.

 

 

How to tell when you're dealing with somebody who isn't afraid of being sued by Warner Bros, and who likes strong mailboxes. Submitted by Zac T. of San Carlos, CA. I know what you're thinking: FRONT VIEW, PLEASE. OK:

I think it's technically illegal to put anything into a mailbox that isn't technically mail. But in absence of a Sharpie, I appreciated the bottle o' booze for scale.  

The same stout mailbox. It may be the stoutest mailbox of all time. The heaviest by volume, at least.

 

 

 

Steve C. Sausalito, CA: Classic, nice aging, interesting rust patterns. A classic quartet.

\

How to tell when you're dealing with someone who overestimates the amount of horse meat consumed at the dinner table.

 

 

 A good-looking, magnum-sized classic with, forgive me if I'm wrong, some kind of sheen on the sides, like maybe somebody was weather proofing it. Jeffrey N., Maple Plain, MN

 

 Classy mailbox, but it must not be on its final perch. From (being made by?) Eric "Copper Mailbox" Marth.

 

 Side view of Marth's mailbox. I think we'd all like to have one of these. He just sent a picture of it hung up and ready for action:

I can just hear the letter person saying, "Yeah, whatever, am I supposed to care or be impressed?"  I would be. You know, I think there's a coffee table book out there needing to be written, or a calendar or something. A letter carrier could do it. Get the top five from each of ye olde 50 states. It won't happen, but it'd be fine. I have a similar book on manhole covers. I bought it in Japan, where they like Americana more than Americans do.

 

How to tell when you're dealing with somebody who doesn't like surprises. We're all thinking the same thing. Why the gap? Submitted by Robin D. of Burnsville, SC

I'm a sucker for rust--oxygen's way of saying hello. I suspect my wife would toss this one out, if it were ours, but I know I'd retrieve it and launch into a paean to rust that would include THE FACT THAT rust was the earth's first response to being oxygenated. It happened in the oceans, first--precipitated by blue-green algae and photosynthesis. Then when the oceans were saturated and as layers of rust-mud were being formed, the excess bubbled up out of the oceans and made the air more breatheable. Something along those lines.

Submitted by Carl S. of Asheville, NC.

 

If you can pull your eye away from the doggie bag you'll see what seems to be Elon Musk's mailbox. Really. It's in Raleigh, NC. Submitted by Brenton L.  This would not be allowed for a condo by a Home Owners Association, but I'd love to have it. Here's another from the fertile smartphone of Brenton:

I cropped for this close-up, and noticed thw owner's name and address. In a poifect world I'd be able to leave it, but I have it on good authority that some people out there can't move past the pencil stuff, and if that's the case, they probably shouldn't be trusted to leave a lacy mailbox alone, so I blocked it out. What I want to know is: Where did he get it? Are they still made? How old is it? Brenton, if you FEEEEL like it, you could send him a letter with assorted questions (you're report the answers), and offer to spiff him a BRF mug for his cooperation...or something bigger. We leave it up to you, and we've got you covered, but he doesn't get anything close to a free bike, OK. Let's be reasonable, Brenton.

Brenton must think there really is a prize for "best mailbox," because four days later he sent this:

And here's the front-ish view:

HAD he snipped away the shrubbery, it could have been the prize winner.

 

How to tell when you're dealing with somebody who has had local brats in cars and baseball bats smash his (or her) mailbox one too many times. If this person uses a car to check the mail, that is a sad, missed opportunity for a short bicycle ride. Submitted by John Crofts, Martinsville, IN.

 

How to tell when you're dealing w ith somebody from the land of the Kangaroo and Platypus and Emu. A typical Australian mailbox.

 

Some sneaky product placement in this 'box-shot. Allowed because Mark Nobilette is a dear friend and the guy who makes out customs. It took me a while, but ... did you notice the address?  4130 is the international metallurgical designation for the aircraft steel alloy used for high quality steel bicycle tubing. I don't know whether Al was testing me or even noticed, but it's something.  

 

I of course don't condone, I can't condone, either the riding position or the lack of tire clearance, and the message those things send out to the world...but all the rest, full condonement.

From Mark J. of Ann Arbor. This is a wonder line-up, great posts, pleasing black-and-white. I like the wild ones, too, but these are soothing. The others, glad they're out there, I'd like to see them in real life, but there's always, at least to me, the notion that the person behind them is somewhat insane, and that can be scary.

How to tell when you're dealing with a person or persons who don't give a $h*t about the state of their "mailbox block." I know one of the guys, I met him on a dog-walk. He was staring at a bunch of wild willows that had been stripped of leaves, small branches, and even bark. It was a phenomenon I'd looked at before, it had all happened overnight, and I said to him, "Yeah, I can't figure it out, either!"  He said just one word: "Goats!"   I have always liked goats, everything about them--the way they eat tin cans, can thrive in deserts, feed the world, make their own cheese, milk, and yogurt and I'm a fan of them all. So I asked him about it and he told me his brother, also Syrian, has 500 goats. He is not a big fan of his brother, but he likes his goats.

---

This is my "business on the outside, party on the inside" box.

-----

4/10

Friend and ex-RIv employee Jay, now of Bags by Bird, hopping onto a Rivendell with one of the first-run Sackville bags, when they came with sequentially numbered metal nameplates, like hot water heaters did in ye olde 1950s. We stopped that when somebody figured out how to cut himself on the edge of one of those plates. It seemed impossible, but I'll never forget the hi-rez image he sent of his bloody finger right next to the name plate. There was no lawsuit. This was one of my early Hasselblad photos, and is the best "leaping onto a saddlebagged bike" photo ever. You can see the ends of the front hub, and the rear wheel splits the seat stays. That doesn't happen by skill or planning.

---

 9/10 if you like telephone poles and hawks and grainy black-and-white film photos as much as I do, you're in for a treat:

This Red-Tailed hawk came by right outside our door, and I happened to have a 300mm lens handy. I bought it used cheap a few years ago and had never used it. There are two more pix of the same bird below.

One...

Two. I this hawk slightly cross-eyed, or is that just ye olde optical illusion?

I really do like telephone poles. They haven't changed much. All they do, in 2021, and they're still all wood. You'd think they'd have gone plastic twenty years ago. Long live the wooden telephone pole, sessame.

 

-----

3/10

I bought cheap ($100 or so) off eBay an ancient Olympus "Chrome Six" medium format camera. I'm an Olympus fan, and I like medium format, so I thought I'd see the Olympus state of the art in the ... early 1950s, I think. It's older than I am by a year or two. The seller described the lens as having "no haze, perfect optics" but it was hazy as all get-out. Japanese eBay camera sellers, ALL OF THEM, are "overly generous" with their ratings. They never give anything less than "EX+++++" rating. Their "Near MINT" would be more like "FAIR, some obvious flaws." That's how mine was described. On a letter-grade scale, it was / is a D+.

Sometimes they rate a camera "MINT for its age," which is the bafflingest description I've ever heard. Anyway, here are some photos from a great ride, and I wish they were better:

I'm against riding through fishy waters, but this was a seasonal puddle, so no problem. 

Related to that photo before I go on to other bad photos:

In an old Bstone catalog I advocated using castor bean oil and olive oil for chains. Both work, but they attract dirt. Did you know that CASTROL brand motor oil came from castor beans? 

It's been a couple of decades since I last added oil to a car, but next time, I'll ask for this. <--warning: just a link to Castrol motor oil site. I called CastorUSA or whatever, and the lady was really helpful and said there's still one Castor product with castor bean oil.

Is this boring? I've always had a thing for castor beans, ever since I knew the history. I'd rather buy pure castor bean oil, though, and use it for whatever else it's good for. I'd try it on chains. I'm going to. 

 -------

I'd have liked to shoot this with a fresher lens.

A big seasonal puddle, Mt. Tamalpais.

This has good composition but it's still hazy. Pine Mountain Truck Road on Mt. Tam.

 

------

5/10

To enable the trend toward hyperhydration, but just a little...

We're now stocking NOT the 32oz Nalgene bottle, which you can get anywhere, but this Japanese-made cage for it. It fits on standard braze-ons, because it would be insane for it not to. It's a light (didn't weigh it), hollow stainless steel cage, and the bottle it fits is 3.65 inches in diameter and about 8 1/4 inches bottom to top of cap. It's a standard Nalgener, and since we don't sell plastic bikey bottles anymore (the plastic thing), we thought it would be good to offer this. It weighs 3.2 ounces. The King normal-sized cage we sell weighs 2.4. No difference.

-----

¿Quien es?*—

 A few weeks ago somebody sent me a shot of a guy wearing the same hat. It might be the same guy, it might be our own Lone Wolf. I would like to know. If it is YOU, drop a note to info@rivbike.com. There really is something remarkable about this.

*  I have a boring confession to make. I am less than super lousy at Spanish for somebody with zero opportunities to speak it. Meaning, I can get by. For some reason I thought "¿Quien es esso? meant "who is this?" But it didn't make total sense, since "¿Quien es?" does also, and after you have the es, who needs the esso ? So I check it on the internet and typed in the esso way and found this, which I found mildly amusing, but I completely understand that you may not:

--------

But, now on the topic of Esso, it's a little-known fact among most of us:

By far the most Black-motorist friendly gas stations in the '40s thru '60s were Esso.   So, the answer to ¿Quien es esso? would be:

la gasolinera amiga de los negros en las décadas de 1940 y 1950

-----speaking of race, as ...you can expect here:

Fascinating story, and check out the labels on the cans. It's a between-the-pencils feel-good (in the end) story. 

------

Last night I watched I Am Not Your Negro, and naturally I wish everybody would. If you've heard of James Baldwin but have managed to not read any of his books so far but still want to know what he was all about, check it out. It's in my top five, but then, it would be, wouldn't it? Everything about it is good.

That's Bob Dylan with him, and from the look of Bob, I know it's 1963. The movie is modern, came out a couple of years ago.

Speaking of Bob Dylan and race-ish stuff and keeping in mind that it IS National Poetry Month, I think I can tie it all together. In 1963, shortly after Medgar Evers, the secretary of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP was shot, Bob wrote this song, which has been an earworm ever since. It is really good. I addresses how politicians incite people to violence, and the victims are pawns, too. 

ONLY A PAWN IN THEIR GAME. (written by Bob Dylan)

A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers’ blood
A finger fired the trigger to his name
A handle hid out in the dark
A hand set the spark
Two eyes took the aim
Behind a man’s brain
But he can’t be blamed
He’s only a pawn in their game

A South politician preaches to the poor white man
“You got more than the blacks, don’t complain
You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,” they explain.
And the Negro’s name
Is used it is plain
For the politician’s gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool
He’s taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
’Bout the shape that he’s in
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks
And the hoofbeats pound in his brain
And he’s taught how to walk in a pack
Shoot in the back
With his fist in a clinch
To hang and to lynch
To hide ’neath the hood
To kill with no pain
Like a dog on a chain
He ain’t got no name
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.

Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He’ll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain:
Only a pawn in their game

 

 ----

Watch this brief world history, done up short-attention style. It's 11:00, which...considering its scope, is a bargain.

----

Many of you know we are in deep amore con Blue Lug, in Tokyo. The best, most impressive, fantastically fun, innovative, joyful, tidy, meticulous, unserious bike shop I've been to. I'd say this even if they didn't sell our bikes, but if that were the case I would try hard not to think about them, not out of meanness, but out of misery avoidance. But they do, and here's a link to proof that they ride them, too.  The first image is a Clem, then you arrow-through them. This is not the Tokyo I know, for sure.

And here's a video.

When I worked for Bstone I went to Tokyo frequently. I've spent four months there  in all. I'd been to Tokyo maybe fifteen times before I squawked, "How come I never get to go outside except on streets?", and the next day we went hiking in the snow on Mt. Fuji. Not a fascinating story, but when I see these images of our bikes in what I assume is some playland near Tokyo, I wonder how come I never got to go there?

-------

This is a "feels good from a distance" story, the kind we all like to read. About pigs.

-----

People like food pictures, I hear. Well, see how this one sits with you. It's my lunch today: