Apr 20, 2010

We need Rails-to-Trails

I've been making an effort to take Ryder bike riding recently; only I've been running into some problems. First of all, he just recently learned how to ride on two wheels so he's not the most stable guy in the peloton. Since he doesn't ride in a straight line very well, I'm limited to where I can take him. The streets and sidewalks are not good yet because he's liable to veer off into traffic. And the parks in Redlands are less than desirable for kids to ride bikes in.

At Caroline Park you need a mountain bike with a granny gear to get from the bottom of the park to the top, or a 5-inch travel mountain bike to get from the top of the park to the bottom. It's less of a park and more of a wildlife preserve for people to walk their dogs and for local kids to go smoke a fatty. Only the sprinklers go on at the most odd times of the day so you're bound to leave there accompanied by the stench of a wet dog or with an extinguished and soggy spliff.

Ford Park won't work either because it mainly consists of an over-watered grassy hillside that runs down into the rest of the park and creates the Florida Everglades. And you all know how I feel about Florida. Plus, the entire park only has about 10 feet of sidewalk. I guess if I wanted Ryder to practice bicycle drag racing, then 10 feet of sidewalk would work out, but drag racing is for Nancy Boys.

Another problem with Ford Park is the Frisbee golfers or frolfers (which I've already covered on this blog in the fall of 2009). I can't decide whether I have less tolerance for frolfers or politicians. The irony is these two classes of people could not be more different. They're from complete different ends of the douche bag spectrum. It's been my experience that frolfers will play through on any kind of activity. A kid's birthday party - they play through. A couple of people lying on a blanket dry humping - they play through. A yoga class - they play through. I once saw them try to play thru on a dog training class, but that didn't work out so well. Anyway, frolfers are so out of touch with reality, I can just imagine them trying to play through on the mayor's ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of another 10 feet of sidewalk, but I of course won't get to see that confrontation because I'm boycotting Ford Park.

From the street, Prospect Park looks like a good option for taking a kid bike riding, but once you get into the park, the buck stops there. On any given day you have to dodge the high school cross country team, the drama club pipe dreamers, any number of cranky blue hairs who think bikes and walkers can't coexist (and when I say walkers, I mean this kind of walker), and the weirdos who lurk and hang out in the bamboo (actually, they're probably the same as the drama clubbers, but it's hard to tell these days). And then there's the wine, cheese, and blanket picnickers and the never ending maze of park bench memorials. If wanted to take my kid riding in such a freak-filled place, we'd just go riding down State Street during Market Night.

About the only park I'm left with is Brookside Park, but as soon as Ryder spots the playground, he's dropping his bike and making a B-line for the swings.

My options are so bad that I'm considering looking at parks on the north side.

Apr 7, 2010

Citizen Freeman

My mom bought Ryder and Destry each a pinwheel for their Easter baskets. I didn't think much of them at first, but then Ryder took his outside and as soon as the breeze took hold of its blades and the pinwheel began to spin, I was taken back to images of my childhood.

I don't actually ever remember having a pinwheel, but I remember them being around the neighborhood. I'm sure that at any given time, one of the dozen kids on Oakdale Street had a pinwheel. We also had an arsenal of toy guns on our street, but something tells me the site of a plastic M16 or Uzi is never going to provoke the same warm feeling as a pinwheel. When I was a kid, we probably used the pinwheels to slap each other around with, although today as I watch Ryder run through the yard with his spinning, I see innocence and I see a simpler time.

I realize I'm late to the party, but I've recently become a big fan of A Prairie Home Companion and (more specifically) listening to Garrison Keillor report news from Lake Wobegon. Make believe as it may be, listening to stories about Lake Wobegon, the little town that time forgot, gives me a feeling similar to that of seeing a pinwheel spin – a feeling of nostalgia. Obviously, that's what Keillor's radio show aims to do. I'm aware of that. I'm also aware that I yearn for yesteryear and reverie getting back to basics more than the average Joe.

In a way, Oakdale Street was its own little town like Lake Wobegon, although I regret to inform you that time most definitely did not forget the street I grew up on. The phrase, "You can never go home again," applies well. Yet as the pinwheel spins, and Keillor spins a yarn, I forget what time it is and for brief moments no matter where I am on earth, I'm home again.

Could my last dying word actually be pinwheel?

Apr 5, 2010

If I could be like Mike

When you spend 8 hours (or more) of your day reading and writing, the last thing you want to do is come home from work and read or write more. By the time I'm off the clock, all I want to do is hang out with the family, ride my bike, or watch Jeopardy. Writing a blog even seems laborious. My eyes are tired, my brain is fried, and my daily dosage of creativity was spent on a story lead about how Culver City uses GIS software to help its economic development program blah, blah, blah…

This type of thing happened to me when I worked in the motorcycle industry. I spent my entire adolescents through college age, obsessed with motorcycle racing. It was 24-7. But then I turned it into a career and it wasn't long before I was burned out on motorcycles. I think I'm burned out on writing now.

And then there's the fact that - and this is hard to admit - I'm growing out of my angry youth. Thus, I'm not as inspired and influenced as I once was to spew thoughts and ideas all over a page. I'm still pissed off. I'm just too tired to do anything about it now. In recent interviews, even the prophet Bob Dylan has admitted that with age, he's lost some inspiration and ambition to write like he used to. At least I'm in good company.

So, here's the deal. In an effort to keep this hack blog from completely flatlining, I'm just going to throw up random stuff of interest and quotes from music, movies, books, etc. Maybe I'll even put up an occasional photo or painting too. Something, anything, to keep things fresh.

Here's the first one. Anyone who knows me well knows I love the Minutemen, the Stooges, and of course, Mike Watt. Heard this on NPR yesterday. For me, Mike Watt defines punk rock: http://bit.ly/azcju6