May 28, 2003

Kickball Counterculture

In a town where counterculture is the popular culture, even the alternative happenings are subverted by a younger, hipper, more 'real' manifestation of the same event.

Between anarchist messengers, Zoobombers, Chunkers and bike jousters, pubcrawlers, and Midnight Mystery Riders, there is little room on the streets for unaffiliated cyclists. First Thursday art openings have been countered by Last Thursdays on the Eastside. And now it seems that the Portland branch of WAKA(world adult kickball association) has its own counterpart coming to fruition in the parks of Northeast Portland.

Maybe it's a class thing. Perhaps for the working singles aged 25-35, paying the $60 WAKA membership to play kickball and drink microbrews is not a major expense, and maybe a significant investment into their dating lives. But for the minimum wagers and the dumpster divers, it's $60 too much. They'd much rather pool pocket change for PBR and pick teams playground style than submit to the schedules and rules of an organized body (I should note that drinking is at the heart of most Portland subcultures, be they DIY crafters, bikers, or kickballers. The essential difference is in the beer-12pks. and 40's of PBR and OE versus pint glasses and pitchers of porters and amber ales).

The Memorial Day theme was Jug Band Kickball, tho' most opted for the jugs only( a few hillbilly accessories were spotted). I dropped the first pop-fly kicked my way, which put one runner on base for the succeeding grand slam. My defensive game picked up, not letting a single ball hit the ground after that. I even made the play of the game, running backwards into another outfielder to catch a pop fly, both of us fumbling the ball, then diving to recover it to make the out.

The game wore on until dark, ending with a three run comeback in the final inning, a line-up for high fives(remember those? where you'd say 'good game' to everybody and slap hands, except to your friends or enemies who might get a 'shithead' mumbled their way or a secret handshake), and a everybody stumbling onto their bikes with backpacks full of empty beer cans.

Kickball for the People, baby.

Posted by DV at 03:24 PM

May 21, 2003

Glucklicher Geburtstag, kt

To my big sis:

thanks for letting me steal your big day in May. I hope you aren't still bitter about me robbing the spotlight when you were turning two.

and thanks for interpreting my silence on those summer days in Kristen's backyard as really meaning 'salami sandwich', and for getting arrested as part of a pirate parade.

i hope the german beer is good.
happy birthday.

Posted by DV at 11:49 PM

May 13, 2003

"Mucho" Maas

I just finished re-reading the Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon. Besides a brevity(and implied lack of self-indulgent digression) that his other novels do not possess, I love his character names, middle-school-caliber Spanish jokes, and his decidedly Northern California point of view:

"Somewhere beyond the battening, urged sweep of three-bedroom houses rushing by their thousands across all the dark beige hills, somehow implicit in an arrogance or bite to the smog the more inland somnolence of San Narciso did lack, lurked the sea, the unimaginable Pacific, the one to which all surfers, beach pads, sewage disposal schemes, tourist incursions, sunned homosexuality, chartered fishing are irrelevant, the hole left by the moon's tearing-free and monument to her exile...

Oedipa had believed, long before leaving Kinneret, in some principle of the sea as redemption for Southern California(not, of course, for her own section of the state, which seemed to need none), some unvoiced idea that no matter what you did to its edges the true Pacific stayed inviolate and integrated or assumed the ugliness at any edge into some more general truth."

Posted by DV at 12:45 PM

May 03, 2003


[Disclaimer: Contains no celebrity encounters, car accidents, or current unfortunate events. Just a boy and his bicycle(s).]

To say that my bicycle relationship with this town had a rocky start would be a bit of an understatement. Nonetheless, I have persisted on two wheels(because, well, who wants to take the bus?), and I think I might finally be in the clear, my karmic debts for my previous life as an SUV driver paid off.

A bit of history, to begin. I think I finally understand the cliche "add insult to injury." Looking at the events of March 20-28th:

1. Bicycle run over by truck.
2. On a beer run 2 hours after above experience, my U-lock falls into the front wheel of my other bike and breaks a spoke.
3. Arrested for getting my bike run over. 8 hours in jail, two criminal charges.
4. Making a left turn on a rainy day, the car in front of me suddenly stops. Loose brakes(because of above-mentioned broken spoke/wobbly wheel) and wet rims do not allow me to stop fast enough, and I crash into the car's rear bumper, flying over my handlebars onto the trunk.
5. While getting the wheel repaired, I borrow my roommate's bike to get to the hospital where I volunteer. Bike is stolen.
6. Ticketed by an over-zealous motorcycle cop during a Critical Mass ride for entering an intersection on a yellow light ("Son, in Oregon yellow means stop."). $175 ticket(being contested).
7. $771 removed from my bank account for the vehicle registration fees of another David J. Vigil (bike related only because I don't even have a car). Still fighting that one.

I was afraid to leave the house for a while, unsure what fate might befall me next. Things were bad enough such that I didn't dare contemplate what worse might be.

With time I restored my relationship with my trusty red Bianchi, acquired a mini-bike, and started getting out for more Masses, Zoobombs, and other extra-legal cycling activities(like riding through yellow lights).

Tuesday night I came home from the Community Cycling Center with a circa 1970 bicycle frame and a banana seat strapped to my back and a new one-speed cruiser rolling alongside in my right hand, all while trying to pilot my road bike the sixteen blocks back to my house. My bicycle appetite unsatiated, Ani and I returned to the CCC dumpster, netting two mini-bikes and a tricycle.

On our way we were met with calls of "This is what a Big Wheel looks like!"
A couple of Zoobombers were out with the newest creation, an adult version of the Big Wheel, complete with front-wheel drive and plastic seat. Suddenly, the two big bikes, one mini-bike(re-christened 'La Chiquita' for her new banana seat), and two frames crowding my basement seemed like not quite enough for all of the spring fun that is already underway. Two days into the month, with no rain and two Critical Masses under our belts. May should be alright.

Posted by DV at 02:02 AM