Thursday, May 27, 2010

re: Live Oak father shot at while retrieving son's stolen bike

From this morning's Santa Cruz Sentinel...thoughts?

LIVE OAK -- A father trying to get back his son's stolen bicycle was shot at near the Live Oak Library on Tuesday night, the Sheriff's Office reported. He was not hurt and the single-speed bike was recovered, but no arrests were made, according to Sgt. Dan Campos.

The father, who lives in Live Oak, was driving home from the Capitola Mall with his wife and younger son around 9:15 p.m. when he saw a man riding what he believed was his older son's bike on Portola Drive. The father turned his vehicle around to chase the bike thief south on Portola toward 41st Avenue, Campos said.

When he confronted the bike thief, the man dropped the bike and ran away. The father started riding the bike home but a truck pulled up alongside him, words were exchanged and someone in the truck fired three shots from what the father believed was a small-caliber gun, Campos said.

The father wasn't hit. He rushed to a nearby house seeking help and, when the resident turned him down, he hid the bike in the bushes, ran home and called 911, Campos said.

Deputies recovered the bike, which apparently had been taken from the family's front porch, but did not find the pickup or the suspects in the theft and shooting, according to Campos.

Three men were in the pickup. Campos declined to release descriptions of them or say what the two sides yelled at one another. He said detectives are investigating the case.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Economic Downturns

A summary of how the slow economic collapse of the united states is affecting me and people around me, from the trivial and absurd to the profound and tragic:

Newly Homeless
Last Thursday, bought a homeless guy breakfast. It was a lot more money than I intended to spend (ten bucks!) but I figured it's karmically worth it. He's old, recently suffered a stroke (needs a walker to get around), and down on his luck. I realize he's also a former member of the middle class when he asks me to put the food I bring him into his car. Which car is it? I ask. He hands me his keys and points to the Volvo. I shake off the mild indignation I feel once I open the door and see he's been living in it for who knows how long.

Back to the Ghetto
Friend IM's me Friday asking if I still have that extra bike I'd lent him a few years back. It was a Cannondale mountain bike way past it's prime, a hand-me-down at that, and I'd given it away on Freecycle at least a year and a half ago. Well, mi amigo needs it now as he's moving to the flats with his girlfriend and has always had bad luck w/ cars. I apologize and tell him the Cannondale is no longer in my possession. He changes the subject and jokes how people are teasing him for moving into the flats as they're supposedly the "ghetto" of SC, but people here don't know what ghetto is (he's from Fresno). Anyone got an extra bike for a tall Mexicano?

No more rock n' roll
Coworker and I love the band MGMT. MGMT are playing the Santa Cruz Civic this weekend. Coworker and I can't afford the $30 + "convenience fee" tickets. Coworker and I used to go to concerts all the time back in the day. But now, we's broke. No more eating out. No more weekends at the movie theatre. College student friend has the audacity to ask me if I've gone to any good shows lately. Fuck you dude.

Laid off
Coworker, married with children, husband got laid off last week. She fights back tears while relating the story. She's a strong, positive person, but things are really stressful right now. Keeps saying "everything is gonna be alright" over and over, like a prayer and I think that's exactly what it is. She talks about how her family was ready to move in with another close friend but even that's not working out - all relationships are strained. The rose colored 3D glasses don't seem to be working anymore, cuz' everything is looking pretty bad.

Stocks take a dumpster dive
This morning, coworker mentions google and apple stocks are down. "You own a share in google?!" I say, he says no, he's a poor bastard. But a friend of his does. I say it's all good, cuz' you're in good company with the rest of us poor bastards. He replies yeh, but it's crowded here at the bottom. I respond with, "yeah, and getting more crowded every year."

Post-May Day Community Forum
I find myself attending one of these meetings sponsored by the Hub. It's held in a circle and in true touchy-feely Non-Violent Communication fashion, every person gets to talk about their feelings about the spike in violence in Santa Cruz, including the gang killings and the May Day riots. The May Day riots get the most attention - one dude says he can't possibly understand what would bring someone to break the windows of a jewelry store or any of the corporate chains that got hit and i think, uh-huh, what planet is this guy living on?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A hungry feelin', came o'er me stealin'

Riding around downtown an hour before sunset, leftovers in my backpack. It's heavy and I'm having no luck finding the right moment to offer it up to any of the homeless folks who stubbornly occupy the little niches that capital allows. They all seem too scared to talk to anyone like me or in their own little worlds. I ride on near Trader Joe's and see a rainbow in the distance - how beautiful this land remains, even after all the damage the pale faces have done to it. I hear drums. Refugees from the Farmer's Market drum circle no doubt. I ride on over. It's a motley crew of free spirits, down n' outs, unemployed, people with unapproved habits.

I pull out the small tupperware container with the turkey and beef tortilla wraps salvaged from my union meeting. "Take some with you," they said, so I did, feeling bad I couldn't carry more on my bike. But only a minute ago, it felt like I was gonna strike out and toss it all in the garbage. Too much hassle to carry home and there's no way I can eat all of it myself I was thinking. But I heard the drums. It's horribly off beat and soulless as always - I think to myself that in poorer countries, the outcasts still retain their rhythm and soul but here, they've been deprived of everything.

I lean my ride against a pole and walk up to one dude sitting down indian style. As I get closer, I see his eyes are closed and he's either meditating or high but either way doesn't want to be disturbed. I turn to another guy on drums and offer up the food, he shakes his head no. I don't blame him, would you take tupperware leftovers from a stranger?

Then a young woman approaches. She can't be more than 23, and is affable. She takes a piece and pops it in her mouth. I ask her to take more and she does, thanking me. I ask if there's anyone else here who might be interested, and she points to an older dude who could be her dad, laying down on a rolled up sleeping bag. I look around at the 20 or so oddballs and feel a strange weight lifting off my shoulders. The sun is setting like a symphony of colors and nobody here really has to be any place in particular, and they're surrounded by lots of people, all in the same boat. What freedom! Only, they pay a very high price for it, what with the politicians and police who hate them the way all petty tyrants hate those who refuse to submit.

The older dude takes a few pieces. At this point, folks are beginning to notice me and approach with caution. I'm able to feed only two before the food is all gone. I kick myself for not bringing more. I make my way back to my bike, realizing I didn't lock it up, and feeling ever thankful that it's still there. The girl waves goodbye to me, her boyfriend hugs her and they smile. A hungry feeling washes over me as I ride home.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Post Amgen, Post May Day

Riding past the remnants of the finish line yesterday afternoon, I noticed a humongous V8 engine powered SUV with the words "Amgen Tour Manager" written in bold letters on the side. I guess this says as much about all the hype over the Amgen Tour de California coming through our little town as anything.

Me not being a propertied downtown business owner or 3rd rate wonkish newspaper desperate for higher circulation, I got other things on my mind - Like chickens taking turds in my sandals while I'm at work, and once again, breaking into the garden and eating the kale.

It's like this week is simply a repeat of last week - Turd in sandal on Monday, garden raiding party Tuesday, and oil gushing somewhere far away round the clock. The Surly headset isn't tight enough, and I'm not sure if I have the right tools to fix it which means I'd need to go back to the Bike Church.

Then there's the especially nasty post-May Day backlash against anything DIY in Santa Cruz - The Farmer's Market Drum Circle squashed last Wednesday, the Guerilla Drive In raided on Friday - All because pissant politicians like Ryan Coonerty and the hopelessly naive proto-vigilante group Take Back Santa Cruz equate a couple of kids smashing windows with free movies under a bridge. In many ways, TBSC is a local version of the Tea Party, complete with their own strain of incoherent, unsophisticated "throw em' all in jail" political analysis, and willingness to cast a wider and wider net on anything they feel threatening by. I suppose it's fitting then, that yet another short-sighted prick politician named Rand Paul would be running his mouth off this morning about how Obama attending last year's Copenhagen conference puts him in bed with Hugo Chavez simply by virtue of being there. Nevermind the fact that the United States effectively sabotaged Copenhagen, Paul is using the most specious of reasoning to attack a political rival just as Ryan Coonerty is using the May Day Riots as an excuse to eliminate all things bohemian in Santa Cruz.

I'm sincerely hoping all this b.s. will blow over like the Amgen Tour - here one day, gone the next. The city can't afford to offer free movies under a bridge at night, and the Guerilla Drive In crew has effectively reclaimed the space and made it more safe by doing so. By demanding folks take out permits to offer something for free is absurd and borders on extortion, and it's a damn shame Coonerty, the cops, and TBSC would be so obtuse to think otherwise.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bike to Work Week 2010

At the beginning of this week I thought I'd do a day to day report on how this year's Bike to Work Week was shaping up. But I'm lazy. So here's a recap of the last 3 days, today, and prediction for tomorrow...

Monday: Looks like rain, find chicken shit on my sandals, bastards! Sprinkly sky = Ride townie w/ fenders, no hassle ese. Morning car carnage report - one dead cat, one dead squirrel, and no one's cleaned up the poor skunk who got killed on Saturday...

After work, take expensive new Surly Cross-Check to Bike Church in evening, cut off fork stem with hack saw. Attach stem to handle bars, still needs work/quality inspection. Never owned a new bike before - no dents, no rust, everything is so shiny! Don't know if I'll even feel comfortable riding it. Oh yeah, Pachamama (Mother Earth) is hemorrhaging oil from her veins deep down in the Gulf of Mexico...

Tuesday: Ride Bridgestone, intend to work on Surly headset as soon as I get home. Get home, chickens have broken into the garden and eaten' the kale. Bastards! Spend 45 minutes making makeshift barrier wall to protect what's left of plants, friends arrive, send chickens to bed early with no supper. Friends leave, spend another hour fixing a flat on Trek and adjusting rack, don't get around to Surly. Pachama still bleeding and BP and other oil corporate swinefucks are pointing fingers...

Wednesday: Ride Bridgestone, the number of bikes on the bike rack at work don't seem to have increased despite all the publicity. Reminds me that no matter how much we cajole, offer free breakfasts, massages, or eco-pretentiousness, the majority of people are never, ever, going to voluntarily give up driving. Pass a stack of wooden boards during ride home, don't realize at the time that this is foreshadowing. Get home, chickens have gotten past the "security wall" again and polished off the kale. Bastards! Hitch up trailer and go back and pick up wooden boards to beef up "security wall." Drink two beers and ponder cooking chickens. Surly sits in garage looking at me. Pachama is still bleeding.

Thursday: Official Bike to Work Day, woo hoo! Ride Bridgestone, get free massage, coffee is bad, bagels are gone, schmoozy white collar professional bicyclists are annoying. Hug n' kiss anarchist amigos instead. Will get home, chickens will have eaten trees and grass. Out of beer, must cook dinner, Surly will get neglected for some reason or another. Oil still gushing. Earth still warming.

Friday: Ride to work like I do everyday. Sun will be out, birds will be chirping. I will rot and smolder inside a box. Will get home, chickens will have eaten house, dogs and cats, and all the cars, and the entire neighborhood, and then run amuck downtown, pecking out the corporate logos and bourgeois boutiques, they'll eat the BP execs, and Monsanto and Goldman Sachs execs just for good measure. They'll eat all the debt and all the currency and all the logic that makes this silly industrial machine run, and finally, I'll have some time to get the Surly up and running, and by then, I won't even have to ride to work.