Monday, April 23, 2007


I interviewed Keri Latimer and Shelley Marshall of Nathan today--sipping cappuccinos at Cafe Fanny in Berkeley, seated outside next to the parking lot as the trucks and Volvos roared by (I hope my little tape recorder captured everything).

This is one band that absolutely needs to be better known, and it may be time to do some proselytizing. They played Sunday night at the Freight and Salvage (I missed it due to a gig in Felton with Bill Evans) and seemed pretty happy with the gig, although they said there were only 20 people there. What? How can that be? Why isn't this band famous (or at least able to draw a couple hundred people in a supposedly hip, tuned-in place like the SF Bay Area). They've got two cute gals leading the band, one of whom plays the accordion and banjo and electric guitar; Keri is the best lyricist in pop music; they're funny; their songs are stuffed full of hooks and cool guitar lines.

OK, you're wondering about that "best lyricist in pop music" line. Examples:

I feel a podium under my feet / empty crates, encyclopedia
I feel a podium under my feet / sound alarms, invite the media


Refrigerator hums a song it claims the TV taught it
Just before it flickered out, left us fending for ourselves


Who needs pictures when there's music,talking walls and next-door neighbors,ceiling creaks and radiators


I’m going down the highway with a suitcase full of all my bad ideas
Going to check them out, See what I have been missing all these years


And as sure as a sharp corner comes a jack-knife kind of creepiness / Sweeps up and over me


there’s a sparkle in me wanting some catastrophe to drop whatever it is doing and come rushing

So maybe it's that part about them being funny. I mean all serious pop stars are of course . . . serious. Whatever, this is a band that needs to be on everyone's iPod, now. I'm ashamed to say I still haven't actually seen them perform. We can just be thankful that in Winnipeg, as Keri says, "if you can sign your name, you can get a grant" which is what's keeping them going to some degree. I assume they're bigger in their hometown and other hip spots in Canada.

Here's an MP3 of "Discarded Debris."

Wente Road Race

Well, I could write a report from Joey's race on Saturday, but I'll let him this time:

Josef Nygaard
Wente Vineyards Road Race
April 21, 2007
Jr 15-16

The race was at twelve o’clock in the afternoon. We got to the race around ten so we had a good two hours before the start. It was my first big points series race since Cherry Pie, so it was nice to see a few familiar faces. I was racing the 15-16 race because they didn’t have a 13-14 category, but there were a few other 13-14s racing too, including my teammate Brentley.

When the race stated it was very slow until we got to the first hill. Then the 15-16s started to notch up the pace a little and Brentley and I got dropped. Brentley and I rode together for a few miles then Brentley blew me away on the descent and I pretty much rode by myself for the rest of the race. So I kind of ended up doing a 25-mile time trial, since the rest of the 13-14s were either behind or in front of me and I wasn’t supposed to ride with the other adult categories.

I’d been training really hard lately, but I hadn’t raced any big races for awhile, so I wasn’t sure how I would do. My goal before the race was to stay with Marcus Smith, who had podiumed twice at Nationals last summer and who I had only beaten once before (by one second in the time trial at Nationals). Brentley and I dropped him on the first climb and at the end of the race I had beaten him by more than 5 minutes. I felt terrific about my race.

It was a great day for Team Swift all around. Ryan got 5th in the 15-16 race and Tyler won the 17-18s! And if they had separated the 13-14s, Brentley would have gotten second and I would have gotten third.
Josef Nygaard
Team Swift
Age 12

Friday, April 6, 2007

More on CM Ride

One rider's account of the incident:

This was towards the end of the ride (after splitting off and dissipating). We had about 30 people by the time we were leaving Japantown when I heard a noise, which I could even hear over the music, and I turned my head to see a minivan on my left just having run over a bike and saw the rider on the ground. Riders nearby yelled at the driver to stop and the minivan just sped away. Many people in the ride chased after the van and surrounded it after catching up with it at the red light. The driver had her hand pressed on the horn the entire time. The cops got there pretty much right away as they were following right behind us. I rode away with the rest of the ride but some people stayed behind to deal with the cops. I didn't see the rear window get smashed but I can say that I only saw the couple sitting in the front of the minivan as the rest of the windows were heavily tinted and we could not see that there was anyone else in the vehicle.

The driver's response to the idea that she had hit a rider was "that's ridiculous."

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Cars Rule the World

If there was ever any doubt that cars and their drivers rule the world, the front page article in the Chronicle about the woman whose rear car window was broken and whose daughters were “terrorized” by Critical Mass cyclists confirms it. How about kids who are actually hit by cars while riding their bikes? Unfortunately, you’ll never see any reports about this, though it happens all the time. If the Chronicle were to run a story every time a cyclist was “attacked” or “terrorized,” it would have to become a daily column.

I don’t think Critical Mass’s approach--creating as much of a nuisance with bicycles once a month as cars create every day--is an effective way of promoting bicycle rights (those “terrorized” girls are certainly unlikely to become bike activists), but it has been relatively harmless. Complaints that Critical Mass riders break the law by rolling through red lights and stop signs seems odd in a city where double parking (illegal in the state of California) is a way of life.

What’s amazing is that in Matier and Ross’s original report there is obviously no concern that the woman may have actually hit one of the cyclists. Clearly this is so common it’s not worth their concern. And the fact that the cyclist rode off without confronting the woman is not evidence that it didn’t happen. He’s probably just had the usual cyclist’s experience with reporting collisions with automobiles, bike vandalism, or stolen bikes to the police.

As for the woman’s broken window (which will supposedly cost $5,300 to fix?), well, welcome to the big city, whiny suburban mom. My little Toyota Corolla has suffered four broken windows on the streets of SF since I bought it nine years ago, and though I’ve duly reported them, nothing has ever come of it (no surprise to me). I’ve had two stolen bikes (reported to police with, of course, no results) and one serious accident in which the driver drove off after threatening to make me pay for the scratches to his bumper--though he had pulled into the street right in front of me. With only a totalled front wheel (and a thoroughly bruised body) the police, when contacted later, would only give me the driver’s phone number, but suggested that since I had no real injuries (OK, you slam into a car going 25 mph, flip up and over the hood, land first on your helmet and then on your butt and tell me you have “no real injuries”) and minimal replacement cost for a new wheel, there wasn’t much point in pursuing it. But I consider that I’ve had a relatively benign expericence as a cyclist in San Francisco. I just don’t rely on the police for help (I assume they have better things to do). Whiny suburban mom, on the other hand, seems to have higher expectations.

Of course, I don’t condone the act of violence that created the broken window, but it’s amazing how many people are criticizing cyclists. Here we are in this progressive part of the state where we pat ourselves on the back because we’re supposedly helping to end climate change by remembering to toss our newspapers and plastic containers in a recycling bin or turn off appliances that aren’t in use, but few people are willing to take real action and give up their carbon-spewing WMDD’s (wheeled, motorized destructive devices), an act that may increasingly be seen as heroic.

Maybe it’s time for Critical Mass to change its tactics. I mean it’s nice to go for a bike ride around the city once a month, but nobody is going to be convinced that cars are a nuisance by watching bikes create the same nuisance. Here’s an idea. Everyone who has ever done a Critical Mass ride go out and buy a $100, $500 car, anything you think that will get you as far as the Golden Gate Bridge, then toss the pink slip (don’t register it, of course) so it can’t be traced to you, and at 7 am on May 1, drive to the toll plaza of the Golden Gate Bridge (either side) park your car in the road, get out, lock the door, and walk away. You think a bunch of cyclists cruising through the streets causes chaos, you ain’t seen nothin’.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Idle Americans

As a confirmed anti-TV snob, I have not seen an entire episode of the current water-cooler fave--American Idol. Until last night. With Anne and Joey in the jungles of Guatemala and me slightly bleary from trying to record a solo album in my bedroom while they're gone (more on that later), I sat down for a bit of mindless diversion and actually watched an entire episode of "Karaoke Without Irony."

I think what surprised me most was how lame the "judges" were. I mean, these three are presumably paid quite a lot to do what? Almost nothing, it seems. You'd think they could find an unemployed sitcom writer who could punch up a few clever lines for them to resort to when their brains failed (which appears to be often). Pitchy? How many times did Randy Jackson use that? And what does singing in tune have to do with being a pop star? I certainly prefer it when people sing in tune but that has never had anything to do with popularity (or creativity or style for that matter).

I was actually quite affected by the contestants, most of whom have some talent and are clearly earnest in their desire to find a venue for it. But why was their no mention of the fact that they were all incredibly wooden? I mean Paula Abdul is a dancer, right? I don't know, maybe this has come up before, but one of the contestants (names escape me) who was singing her ass off, looked like she was walking on stilts. Doesn't an ability to move in time really have more to do with being a pop star than how "pitchy" you are? Oh well, probably my first and last experience with AI, although I do see how people can get hooked on it--kind of like being addicted to Krispy Kremes.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Ronde Van Brisbeen

Joey did another Cat 4 race this weekend. The Ronde Van Brisbeen circuit race, which takes place about 5 miles from our house. They do 1.7-mile laps for 50 minutes, and it's all up and down--long downhill and long climb, but not too steep--about 100 feet per lap. He had the most trouble staying in the group on the downhills. He's just so little that guys were flying by him while he was spun out in his biggest gear. He stayed with them for about one and a half laps, but they did the first lap in 3:30, for an average speed, I think, of 31 mph!! He was pulled after 20 minutes and five laps, but he'd gone 8.5 miles, for an average speed of 25.5 mph--on a course in which he climbed 500 feet!! He had fun, though, the little monster. "That was a heck of an interval," he said with a big smile on his face.