This is the photographic difference, one-of-'em, anyway, of chemical film photography and electronic digital. It's technically bad, but has a look that can't be imitated,
I can't believe how right up my alley this is. Sent to me by Eric Marth.
I eat at least 160 cans of sardines a year. I save the tins to put bike photos and bike related golden gems of universal truth into 'em. I'm way behind--don't send me your sardine cans, please--I've bot at least 180 cleaned and ready, but they're all bland now. Sardine can art, the decline thereof, mirrors a lot of stuff happening. There are much bigger things to cry about, but still.
PENCIL, only incidentally
Matthew Grimes, 13, left, and brother David, 11, started participating in e-sports as an alternative to in-person athletics during the pandemic. Photo by Jake Dockins for The New York Times. Look at their sox.
THE E-SPORTS GENERATION
Step Aside, LeBron and Dak, and Make Room for Banjo and Kazooie
Kids were already drifting away from traditional sports before the pandemic, with ramifications for the entire sports industry. The trend has accelerated in the pandemic.
FRISCO, Texas — A miniature basketball hoop hangs from the bedroom door. Soccer trophies are prominent on the dresser. Each sport competes for the time and attention of David and Matthew Grimes. But both are losing ground to another staple of adolescence: the video game console.
David, 13, and Matthew, 11, are fledgling e-sports athletes.
David thumbs his controllers and listens to strategy talk from a YMCA coach on Monday nights. On Wednesday, he takes on all comers. Matthew has league play on Thursday. At least one weekend a month, they compete in a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament.
David and Matthew are part of a surging migration among members of Generation Z — as those born from 1997 to 2012 are often labeled — away from the basketball courts and soccer fields built for previous generations and toward the PlayStations and Xboxes of theirs.
E-sports got a boost, especially at the grass-roots level, during the pandemic. Between at-home learning and the shutdown of youth sports, a high-tech generation found even more escape and engagement on its smartphones and consoles.
Participation in youth sports was declining even before Covid-19: In 2018, only 38 percent of children ages 6 to 12 played team sports on a regular basis, down from 45 percent in 2008, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
In June 2020, the pandemic’s early days, 19 percent of parents with kids in youth sports said their child was not interested in playing sports, according to a survey conducted by The Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program. By September 2021, that figure was 28 percent.
On average, children play less than three years in a sport and quit by age 11, according to the survey. Why? Mostly, because it is not fun anymore.
The implications are global. There are currently more than 2.4 billion gamers — about one-third of the world’s population, according to Statista, an international marketing and consumer data firm based in Germany. There are professional teams around the world that compete in tournaments for prize pools up to $34 million as well as tens of thousands of other competitions with prize money or contested in school and recreational leagues, accounting for more than a $1 billion in global e-sports revenues.
The effect on traditional sports is just one of the concerns often expressed about this phenomenon. The proliferation of e-sports conjures images of children eating sugary snacks late into the night as they stare at their screens. Research, however, doesn’t fully support this, with a 2019 German study finding only “a slight positive correlation” between gaming and body mass in adults, but not children.
Some youth sports coaches seem to understand the spell video games cast over their players. In 2018, a lacrosse coach in New Jersey decided if he could not beat them, he’d join them. He gave a pregame talk that demonstrated his deep knowledge of Fortnite, and it ricocheted through social media.
“This is just like Fortnite, just like Battle Royale,” he said. “Twenty-four teams, there’s four left. You know what? There’s four left, we’ve got Chug Jugs, we’ve got the golden SCAR. Let’s go! This is no different than a Fortnite battle. Let’s go win this, baby!”
The waning interest in sports is hardly surprising when 87 percent of teenagers in the United States have iPhones, according to a survey of 10,000 young people by investment bank Piper Sandler, or when 26 percent of Gen Z youths named video games as their favorite entertainment activity, compared to 10 percent who chose watching television.
“There is a lot more stuff competing for the attention of young people — e-sports is a big one,” said Dr. Travis E. Dorsch, associate professor and founding director of the Families in Sport Lab at Utah State University. “As kids get older, there is more tug at them academically and socially. We’re seeing a lot of dropouts. This creates a reckoning for youth sports.”
The more than $19 billion youth sports industrial complex, with its private coaching, interstate travel and $350 baseball bats, shoulders some of the blame. Ten-month seasons in pursuit of a college scholarship in a single sport can mean that kids get yelled at by overzealous coaches and parents spend thousands of dollars on team fees and travel expenses.
“We’re at an inflection moment of sports in America,” said Tom Cove, president and chief executive of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, which compiles an annual report on participation in sports. “While families were at home during the pandemic, they did not have to drive their kids to practices four nights a week.
“They liked it. They decided that there must be a better way.”
For Tony and Dawnita Grimes, that way led them to the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas and a greater appreciation for e-sports.
Let the games begin
Frisco, a city of 200,000 about 28 miles north of Dallas, is football country. It is home to The Star, the world headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys.
David Grimes wears a Cowboys T-shirt and can tell you about the team’s quarterback, Dak Prescott. When The Star opened, David was chosen to carry the helmet of linebacker Leighton Vander Esch before a preseason training camp session.
Tony Grimes is a sales executive with PepsiCo. He played high school football growing up in South Los Angeles. Dawnita Grimes, a lawyer, was on dance and tennis teams growing up in Kentucky.
Tony and Dawnita Grimes steer their sons away football because of the risk of injury, but encourage soccer, swimming, basketball and golf. They want the boys to be well rounded, so David plays trumpet and Matthew piano. Sometimes the scramble of school, sports and other activities led to quick dinners or late starts on homework. The Grimeses were busy but adept at conducting the rhythms of family life.
Then came the pandemic. The cancellation of games left the boys with time on their hands.
“Because of Covid, I started to play video games,” David Grimes said.
Little brother Matthew was right behind him.
Their mother and father were immersed in their screens, too, and in a surrender familiar to many parents, were not as disciplined as usual about clocking the amount of time their boys were on their devices.
“Oh yeah, it was a lifeline,” said Dawnita Grimes. “They were cut off from their friends. Most hadn’t exchanged numbers, or they don’t know each other’s last names. Unless you knew their parents, it was hard to connect, and I hate to say it, except through these games.”
Tony Grimes admits that he likes picking up his boys’ controllers and trying to master another universe. Beyond the peace and quiet David and Matthew’s screen time afforded him, he had a new appreciation for the skills necessary to be competitive.
“You have to be focused, understand strategy and have good hand-eye coordination,” he said.
On a recent evening, David carried the game console downstairs so he could tell Matthew, his parents and a visitor what he had learned the previous night from the Y’s online tutorial. Both boys held their controllers gently, as if they were holding a bird.
“It’s not enough to watch the games, you have to actually play them,” David said. “So you have to find a character that you’re good with.”
“Get Hero or Cloud,” Matthew said as his brother clicked through characters.
E-sports let kids have fun with their friends even when they’re not together. Audio headsets allow players to talk — or often scream — at one another as if they were sitting side by side. Anyone who has listened to their sons or daughters competing online has heard at least one side of conversation carried out as effortlessly as the cross talk between two basketball players on the playground during a game of HORSE.
“The hierarchy you usually find in traditional sports is gone — everyone is just there,” said Dorsch, who was one of the lead investigators on the Aspen Institute research. “It’s more of a meritocracy.”
He believes that e-sports have evolved that way because of the absence of adult influence at its introductory stage.
“You go to a soccer or basketball program and you can tell immediately the 6-year-olds who are athletic and have talent,” Dorsch said. “Their parents see it and think, ‘Well, he or she could be really good with better coaching.’ ”
For kids, that can turn a passion into a pursuit. A costly one, for parents.
In a 2016 study, Dorsch and his colleagues found many households that spent as much as 10.5 percent of their gross income annually — sometimes $20,000 or more — on personal trainers, travel costs and private teams for their children.
“Then it becomes about the adults in the room,” he said. “And they want a return on their investment.”
In the Grimes family, the love of sports was handed down the traditional way. During one-on-one games on the miniature hoop hanging from the bedroom door, Tony Grimes was always Michael Jordan and David was LeBron James. It offered Tony an opportunity to tell the boys about a hero of his youth and how he compared to a hero of theirs.
Now, those conversations are often reversed. Tony listens to David talk about why he prefers Banjo and Kazooie, Super Smash Bros. characters, over other game avatars. Instead of shooting percentages and scoring averages, the conversation is about B-button moves or side special ones that can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
“So this is my favorite character, but I’m not great at playing him,” David said, conjuring a character named Hero onto the screen. “There are some characters that you really want to get good with. I’m not. Yet.”
So, Banjo and Kazooie are more important to you than LeBron & Dak?
“Pretty much, yeah,” David said, “because those are the characters I have to play with if I want to win a match or a tournament.”
A new playing field
He has plenty of chances to compete. In April, the YMCA of America launched a national e-sports pilot in 120 of its U.S. branches. It was an immediate hit in the Dallas area, where more than 500 middle to high school age children have participated in its programs.
“We knew how popular the games were and the fact that tournaments could be held remotely gave us a way to engage with kids during the pandemic,” said Rodney Black, program director for the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. “The interest was immediate and continues to grow. The plan is to have an on-site gaming lounge in 2022.”
It was just the kind of mainstream recognition that persuaded Dawnita Grimes to open the online world a little wider for her boys.
“You hear the stories about predators, and you worry about how addictive these games are,” she said. “Here, it is organized and supervised, and you don’t have to worry about bad language and poor sportsmanship.”
David has won one tournament and Matthew beat his big brother in another. Still, neither has abandoned soccer and both are looking forward to tennis, golf and swimming in the spring and summer.
David, however, knows there are professionals who have sponsors and can make millions in tournament play. You can almost hear the youth league football coaches pulling their hair out when he talks about it.
“It’s safer than other sports. You don’t get hurt,” he said. “Well, you still have to worry about hands because if your hands get messed up, that’s a problem because you got to be able to play the game.”
He pauses, then smiles.
“It would be awesome to get paid to play video games.”
End of incidental PENCIL
I meant to put this in the last Blahg, but ...didn't do that. It's from around Dec 3 NYT. I always like this guy's columns.
Another film photo that only the guy who took it could like,
This is Will's phone. He got it used and used it harder, but it's still going.
He told me, "sometimes I think I can feel little bits of glass in my skin," but don't just harp on the glass part--look at the edge, too—follow the edge around the whole perimiter. This should be in an Apple ad. There should be a campaign to collect the most beat-up fully functional ones out there. Will's would at least make the top three, and among General Managers of an international bicycle company (technically, we are that), he'd win for sure. Let's see what the phones of the GMs of Trek and Specialized and Giant. Heck, through Felt in there, just for fun.
Will spends money on bikes and cameras, and squeezes a lot out of both. Slick new phones aren't on his list.
WE received three ROSCOPLATZ, Rosco Bubbe (our catch-all brand), one each 50, 55, 60. Up to and including now, but maybe not in the future, Rosco Bubbe has been a catch-all model name for a variet of low-volume (as low as twelve) frames that for one reason or another, we have materials and time to make. And in this case, the current Rosco Bubbe frames, well, the fork maker made a tiny cosmetic error that I swear to dog 95 percent of the custom builders in America wouldn't consider a goof, but they did. The rack-mount holes in the fork crown are sometimes UP TO 3/16th-inch off spec. They work 100 percent as well.
Rather than waste them and make our fork maker sad, we did ye olde lemons-to-lemonade thing and designed these ultra-super frames around them. They're 98 percent Platypus geometry, 100 percent Platypus fit and ride, but we got a deal on the forks and we made plainer (no lugs) frames, and added a bit MORE tie clearance (they fit 55mm tires with fenders), and holy toledo, everybody who's ridden them says a version of the same two things:
(1) "Oh my god, this is what a bike should ride like"; and
(2) "Nobody could ask for any more than this."
They are NOT hillibikes. They look CLEMish. but they're more like Platypuses.
For the prototype colors, James picked a Coca-Cola red that came out a bright red-orange ("James Red," from now on); somebody else picked a Mermaid; and then we got a purple, for wild fun.
James and Vince picked parts for the 50; Sergio for the 55, Antonio, the 60.
Here's something I got in my stocking:
Little known FACT about me, although it's not little-known to my family: I'm a hack, low-level numismatologist. I specialize in 1943 pennies and buffalo/Indian head nickels, with minor forays into Indian-head pennies and with plans to add Walking Liberty dimes and quarters. I don't care about condition or rare dates. I just likem clean, so I boil and then dry them before carefully pouring them into clear cream bottles.
I think I've mentioned these before here. The dates were raised too much and wore off. They were a rare coin that wasn't renewed for a second 25-year term. Only 1913-1938. A one-termer, like the Donald.
Cycling Baggies (formerly “knickers”)
Forgive the lengthy details that follow, but it's our way of preventing returns...also addressed below. These are based on our old classique knickers, but with a few changes, mostly improvements:
- MUSA military fabric, slight stretch, Berry-compliant (google it). Instead of the all-nylon, they’re like 96-4 nylon and spandex. I know this veers off our tweed-and-orgo cotton vibe-theme, but these are better for riding.
- The belt-elastic is also Berry/Military spec. The best in the world, or at least the country. It doesn’t have to be, but it really is. It’s not stitched in, so it’s what we here call “theoretically replaceable.” You can get your own ¾-inch elastic and buckle. They won’t wear out, anyway.
- Orange mesh pockets with blue trim. Good water drainage and heap mucho fun, if that’s allowed. They’re inside pockets, not orange outside.
- No buttons on the rear pockets. I never used mine, so I made this unilateral call. I doubt there’s a person in the world who’d put a wallet back there and take the time and develop the dexterity to button it, so we have button-free pockets.
- No adjustable bottom-of-leg straps. I always felt my floppy straps as I pedaled, so out the window they unilaterally went.
WAIST: The CUT is the same as before, but there’s less gathering of elastic, so it feels looser. Basically, they’re more vanity-waisted now. If you have our old ones you can get the same size or one size down.
BUTT-‘n-THIGHS: Big & baggy. They're not Hammer-pants, but you won't feel restricted in them, so they're good for riding, hiking, all-purpose wear. From knee to hip, I think of them as sized and shaped like segments of baby telephone poles. I rarely wear anything else, and these new ones are my favorite yet.
LEG LENGTH: They’re either short long-pants or long knickers. At full length, they’re closer to your ankle than your calf.
The lower opening is too wide to hike up over most calves and have them stay put. Easily fixed with a needle and thread, but most people can’t handle that, and were sorry. If you’re between sizes, you can comfortable size down, and that’ll help. If you want to modify yours, pinch the outer seam about an inch, lay a few stitches in there with beeswaxed threat, and finish it off like this or some other way. I've used another way for decades, but this works, and watch the one after it, too:
These are more covering than classically flattering. They’re like two long wide tubes. You won’t fill them out. But they’re perfectly good even on-the-town if you’re already got your girlfriend or boyfriend, and on a bicycle, they’re the best bottoms in the land. They’re not waterproof, and we opted out of a DWR (durable water repellent) surface treatment, because they’re already fast-dryin’ nylon, and the DWR treatment isn’t green or durable enough to last even 1/8 the life of these pants, which I estimate (your mileage may vary) is about five and a half years if you wear and ride in them a few hundred days a year.
Color is a dark tan—a medium brown, two notches darker than the color that’s sometimes known in the garment industry as “British tan,” which is much darker than, but on the same scale as "Pallid American Khaki."
SIZING: See ye olde belowe:
Sizes there are as I measured them laying the, across my lap or on a table. Here are the spec dimensions:
And here are some images of genuine people wearing them:
That's Sergio. He says the smalls are fine in leg width and the waist is fine (but no need to cinch the belt) but he likes the length of the meds.
She had the hardest bike ride to high school in America from about 2007 to 2011: more than 1,100 feet of climbing, round-trip. A car would have taken LONGER, tho, and she had the option of two schools, and that's the one she picked, even knowing the commute. I rode with her for a few years. Actually, most of that time. Always on the way, usually on the way back...but I wasn't allowed to go right up to the school. She often wore flip-flops, even in the winter.
She rides a Glorious every day to work/school. She, too, would never wear these pants, but I mentioned that hey, this is the family business, it's paid for a lot of your stuff and school, so come on, man. And she did.
The thing is, we aren’t a clothing company with a staff of pros pattern people. We hire out for help with the patterns and markers, but the shape and details evolved over about 15 years...and they STILL might not be right for you, they might look funky or something, or not sexy, but they work really well.
They’re sewn 17 miles from us by a sewing shop we’ve seen and it seems like a pleasant, light, open, clean space.
We’re going to sell out of these, and the middle sizes might not last a week. If you return them, fine, but we’ll probably be out of the next size up or down, so we’ll give you credit. Cash returns on expensive stuff that we barely break even on hurts too much.
We’ll get more in as we can. The next color will be kind of a sage-y green and they may be 7 to 8 months (July, August) out.