Friday, July 31, 2009

Aaron Love Dies on Bike

I made this image of an unnamed rider on Saturday afternoon at the 24hrs of Booty, this picture is not directly related to the death of Aaron Love. Yesterday morning the on line Charlotte Observer reported the following story:

Bicyclist hits car, dies
By Ely
Posted: Thursday, Jul. 30, 2009
Rush Ave & Brice St Charlotte, NC 28208
A bicyclist died Wednesday afternoon in west Charlotte after hitting a car, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said.
The accident happened at about 12:45 p.m. at the intersection of Brice Street and Rush Avenue, in a residential neighborhood near Martin Luther King Park.
Police said Aaron Love, 46, ran a stop sign and hit the side of a Cadillac that was already in the intersection. Paramedics rushed Love to Carolinas Medical Center, but he died of his injuries.
The driver of the Cadillac, 20-year-old Latarsha Cooper, had not been charged with a crime Wednesday. Police are investigating the accident.

Shortly after the tragic story went up a witty fellow named UncleGeorge posted this comment on the story's on line public forum:

unclegeorge wrote on 07/30/2009 07:34:45 AM:
It is a wonder that one of those downtown bike delivery idiots hasn't gotten squashed yet. The police ought to write them tickets every time they run lights, cross over double yellow lines, etc...

After connecting with the Observer and reading this story I decided to openly respond with my thoughts to UncleGeorge and anyone else who is listening.
Adding to the flame as the fuel accelerates the dance over head high in a mushroom cloud of hot expanding gas outward in all directions. The burning sensation you feel as it rips across your face through your eyes is real and it reminds you that someone who often sat on high mountain summits sent you a written message a few years ago: I'm Burning in Water and Drowning in Flame.

The point noticed here from the view of one of those delivery idiots goes beyond the normal blah, blah, blah response which often clutters up space and time with tit for tat garbage anger. Here whether or not UncleGeorge knows that there are only a dedicated few Messengers actually doing the job in Charlotte will not change his mind, his ignorance will flow eternal like the River Ganges. He obviously may be confused by his own personal interlude with the post Millennium anomaly in town known as the Posenger aka Fauxzenger who draws attention to the role of messenger by simply looking like one on the main stage as if they were on the A Team. Thanks a lot yahoos. UncleGeorge's little mind prolly would not change either if he knew that over my 11 year career wearing the bag that I have been pulled over total of 4 times for blowing lights uptoon, 3 times selectively by the same CMPD officer and once by high brass in a white and blue sedan. In 2 of the three encounters by the same shield I was issued a citation/summons that had me appear in court only to have the DA dismiss the charge through the judicial process. The DA may have more significant criminal acts to prioritize the prosecution of which would explain those really long lines at the Courthouse and the overflowing jail pods across the street. The High Brass incident was interesting because after he ran me for warrants we actually had a discussion based on the truth. His view would not change even if UncleGeorge gave consideration to Travis Hugh Culley's document that the auto viper is bad joke on the planet where the muddy not pedal friendly streets were paved in towns across this fine nation long before the invention of the motor car. There really is too much to think about.

What might change his mind would be a long inward look at himself in full light, up close, his own eyes staring back at himself in a crystal clear mirror. Would what he saw then do it? A reflection into the soul of the one who reads a story about someone dying and feels the need to comment by rationalizing in his mind. Go Deep with a knee jerk and very predictable reaction. Throw something out there, label it so you understand it, put it up there on the shelf and have expectations about its outcome that way your own misunderstanding of world around you can be justified. Do your own eyes see inward past your core light pulse towards the base of your feet?

I am truly sorry about the death of Aaron Love whom I never met but may have crossed paths with at some point during this two wheeled transfer that has become my livity. His passing has however brought significant meaning to me as well my continued understanding of the world that I am surrounded by and the emotional capacity of the human culture in the now, this one magical instant before us. Progress up to this point in an about to Pop culture, keep thinking America.

Big thanks to Team Dicky for telling me yesterday about the Charlotte Observer forum that Uncle George's comment about the death of Aaron love was posted on. Without his infamous ubiquity I would have never known that such compassion existed so close and yet so far.

Side Note:
Asheville Firefighter Charles Alexander Diez(like deez nuez) shoots man on bike.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Promise Kept

Driving Home from the Mountains after a 6hr Mountain Bike Ride from Billy Fehr on Vimeo.

I promised last week after posting my pre-NORAMM, NORAMM minus one Kitsuma that I would share a bit of the return drive to Charlotte. Turn it up loud if you like Mountain Music.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Recent Courier Observations

On Saturday afternoon after the 24hrs of Booty I had the chance to ride with former ex Messenger Toe-Mas(Thomas) on our individual commutes home. He had just finished riding the event with honor for Team Gita. These observations are mine and are in no particular order of importance.

1. Inbound morning commute car traffic is down to almost nothing from this time last year. The Stay Alive has become strangely quiet at the time of day that it should be loud.

2. A mini van cab pulled in front of the BOA Corporate Center less than 3 meters from where I sat. The immigrant driver(whom I did not recognize as familiar) quickly got out, slammed the door shut and ran across Tryon disappearing into the building on the other side of the street. I stood up in disbelief that no one else seemed to notice. I approached the abandoned cab and saw a mid sized red, black and silver Euro back pack sitting up right in the passenger seat which was the Corp Center side. I notified the cops and put the corner of the building in between the van and myself. The Cops approached and the driver watching from a window came running back across the street and professed his apologies based on his own ignorance. He then jumped in the van and drove north. The police did not stop and ask him any questions.

3. The Uptoon tooneries have less of a lunch crowd.

4. Building construction on North College is Manhattan style big.

5. New Civil Filings in Mecklenburg County thus far this year have reached nearly 17,000. That is 3 months ahead of last year's number.

6. 3 cases of Domestic Violence have come close to me in the past few months and in my entire life I cannot remember knowing 1. My association is knowing the victims in 2 of the cases and being a friend of the victim's friend in the other. In each of these cases hands were laid on the neck of the victim before the accused realized that the actions were a bad idea.

7. If you have a Masters degree you can buy your Canadian citizenship for around 3,000$

8. The amount of homeless in Charlotte is increasing not decreasing and some of the new are telling amazing stories of their slip from the 'middle class'.

9. There are more airplane con trails in the sky than I ever remember seeing.

10. The o3 has been away most of this summer thus far and is now starting to show itself over the past few days.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Farm Minutes

Early morning Friday July 17, 2009 I took Ms. Arcen to Frank Hodges' farm out on Rocky River Church Road. The kid has been taking horse riding lessons there for over a year and so far this summer she has spent quite a bit of time on the farm learning, working and riding more. At 0730hrs I made this image of her peering into the main barn while holding Coconut as the lucky black cat moves around her feet. A closer look at Coconut.
Later that afternoon at around 1600hrs I arrived back at the farm to pick up the kid when I noticed the unobstructed view to the North from Frank's back field was showing some dramatic clouds billowing and stacking up. This is the first of 5 images that I made of this very powerful cloud.
Clouds are constantly changing, only holding their present pose for seconds.
This one was extraordinarily big at the base. The main part of the cloud rose like an 8,000meter peak into the heavens while a thin wispy cloud veiled its upper summit. Big clouds like this remind me of landscapes in the sky that I have seen and been close to.
The veil around the top of this gigantic cloud only held for a few fleeting seconds but it was enough time to get an exposure. In this frame I purposely left the tree top in the bottom left to help give a perspective of scale to you my lovely audience.
I sent these images to a local photo critic who observed that they were interesting however they seemed a bit surreal. Surreal is defined as: having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic. Let me assure you that these clouds were very much real but only for a few seconds exactly as I present them to you. After I made my last exposure the veil completely lifted from the top and the cloud slipped slowly away to the east as the lower clouds from underneath blocked the view of the taller main cloud.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Once a Marine

While out at the 24hrs of Booty I had the fortunate chance to ride with 3 Hoffenchard team members including, Kelly, Joshie and I think Jim. When I saw them roll by they appeared a little scared as I started yelling from the side of the course, "Hoffenchard, Hoffenchard, I am going to catch up and ride with you!!" Honorable Mention goes to Kevin Thompson for winning the fixed gear class at the 24hrs of Booty with 150 aching miles down. Great effort Kevin, I know that hurt just a bit.
not technically always a Marine. After the 190 mile round trip car drive on Saturday to pick up Rocky I grabbed a 4 hour window and rode over to the 24hrs of Booty in search of the Lady whom I thought was going for 225miles on her fixy. Some Internet misunderstanding had me looking for something that did not exist however I did run into someone that I had not seen in a over year when I had shared a very long physical one day bike ride transfer with this fellow. Interestingly enough this man's present job is classified with the USMC and I cannot elaborate other than saying that his excellent marksmanship and years of experience thus far has elevated his status to well beyond the average infantryman. [Note to the reader: In my first and only enlistment between 1987 and 1991 I was a proficient machine gunner with the average infantry Battalion of 2nd Bn 4th Marines which since Vietnam had been attached to the end of the 8th Marine Regiment. My Unit's sister Battalion was 3/8 ]

Back to running into this powerful human that I was not expecting to see at the Booty. As I was looking for the apparition of a fixed girl going big an extended hand came around with his wife and an open dialogue, "Hey, how are you doing?" My hand went out and my eyes looked for contact with the Marine as we shook and he looked down. I responded firmly, "I'm doing okay, what about you?" In a sense people here always say that to each other but seldom truly mean it. I'm not sure if he meant his question to me but I know he knew I did mine. The altitude and severity of the mountains he had been dealing with has leaned his body out since I last saw him and he was already above average fitness at that time. His eyes were showing an education that most of us will never get. The answer to my question came in the form of his eyes lifting and giving me the verbal response that he is recently back from Afghanistan. "In Helmand Province with the 8th Marines?", I responded. His face lightened a bit realizing that I may have been paying attention while he was in the place so far away and yet closer than we could ever imagine. "Yup, I was there with 3/8", he said with a stern grin. By now I was trying to make sure that his eyes would not look down or away as I asked about what happened there. Up until that minute all my information about what has happened in the last few months in Helmand Province Afghanistan has come from either the New York Times or NPR and the BBC, now I was getting a first hand account from someone who had lived it. He looked right into my heart and said, "It's bad." The affect his voice tone had on me will be with me forever. Without going into details he let me know that 3/8 as a unit did not really want to be there, lets face it, do any of us really want to be there or would we rather stay here filling ourselves with the spoils of the outcome. I asked about the Afghan civilians. I was told that they are a tribal people that have very little 'education' and that the literacy rate was around about 4%. I was looking for the emotional response through the statistics and plunged deeper, "Are they okay?" They are not in a position to negotiate with the alien appearing Marines stepping out of the heavily armored modern vehicles who had never really been seen by the inhabitants of the Helmand. The minute they do receive the American niceties in the form of Corporate Greed they are marked by the Taliban which we created in the 80's when we needed, wanted and had to have them beat the Soviet Union. He was talking while I filled in the gaps. So, the civilians who may have had nothing to do with trying to take anything from our American Freedoms are faced with a challenge that none of us could presently imagine but one day may have to. Opium and fighting, that is what that place is all about, the place that no one has ever controlled from Genghis Khan, through the Britons, the Soviet Union and now us. Why us, it is not a question.

I said, "Good Bye" and was given another firm handshake that this time got the better of mine. I told him to be careful and to keep his head up. As I rolled away I felt a strange powerful feeling set in that could only come from something that we call emotional transfer. Say it with me, "Transfer". As short as our conversation was I received it as real and understood every inflection in his voice while I felt the energy from his eyes. I will continue to follow what is happening in Afghanistan because it is not easy for me to forget that our nation, the one that we are representing and paying for is at perpetual War of which there are serious consequences. Today is not the past nor will tomorrow be.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Cameo Role in Local Booty Film

The Booty Loop from James Willamor on Vimeo.

The other day James Willamor from the CLTBlog caught up with me in an elevator and asked me about the local charity ride for The Lance Armstrong Foundation which starts tonight called the 24hrs of Booty. I had no idea that the little box in his hand was filming me so I was surprised when I saw myself in the short vignette above. I rode this ride the first 3 years that it opened and remember some severe inner body transfer trying to hold it together for 300miles in that 24 hour time period. The first 2 times I single speed'd it on my SS Road/Work bike and came up just short of that goal. The third time I attempted it I decided to use my geared road bike and sometime after hitting 100miles around 0130hrs I hit a girl who was riding in honor of her mum who had died of cancer. My rear wheel crossed her cruiser's front as I passed a foot too soon oblivious already feeling that funny pang of a long ride in the middle of the night. The contact knocked her off of her bike and onto the grass in between the curb and the sidewalk. Some how I held on and did not touch the floor. I quickly came around on the verge of an apologetic melt down and saw her honor through her eyes. She was unhurt but from that minute on my opinion of my involvement in the ride changed for ever. Needless to say I missed the 300mile mark again even with the aid/not aid of gears. My mind was not in it after hitting the innocent girl who was just pulling her lap for her team in honor of her mom's passing due to cancer. I came up short on the number by just a few but learning that the number truly did not matter was worth more to me because just like Ilan said, "Bill, it's not about you anymore."


I have to drive down to Greenville South Carolina tomorrow to pick up the 5th dog that will be living in our home. This 1 year old male better than Great Dane is a physically abused orphan who has been under the care of some good people in Greenville. Yes, that makes 2 better than Great Danes and I do not think any laws are being broken.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Garden Report II

Earlier this month I gave the first report in a series on the status of our summer vegetable gardens. Shortly after that post the tomatoes started turning red, the cucumbers ripened and the various types of peppers were ready to be used for dinner fixings. All the herbs are flourishing but unfortunately the lettuce is done. Seems as if a seasonal garden has always been close by me since being a small kid growing up straight through adulthood(if that is what you want to call this). The 3 gardens that I have been part of farming this year have been the most productive in memory. All of the Tomatoes: Harlequin, Early Girl, Big Boy, Park Whopper, Brandy Wine, Grape and Cherry are vibrant full of that real acid tomato taste that reminds me of summer. No less than a half dozen of the bigger varieties are coming off daily and the cherry/grape produce enough to keep Ms. Arcen and the neighbor kids busy picking and eating, eating and picking. The little ones make a nice addition to pasta and little bean/pepper salads. Every day for the past few weeks I have been eating the bigger ones in between bread, wrapped in a wrap or just by the thick slice. What these plants are yielding is more than we can consume so I have been able to share with friends and my neighbor Monte who has asked for dibs before I put them in a box labeled Free Produce(Matt Smoke's Street Side Samaritan Idea) along the street in the front yard. Seeing Monte is acting Mayor of Dooleyville I have left him a basket full of red three times in the past 2 weeks.

Lunch from the yard.
Red Big Boy
A nice lot indeed.
This wide angle makes an interesting image of the Cherry Tomatoes.
When they ripen they are bursting with flavor.
Green Peppers
and the Yellow variety.
For whatever reason the Canna Lilly flowers are going off this year as well. As you can see on the center Pistil this tall flower draws in the bees looking to help the pollination process.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Meet my Kid

This past Saturday Karsen, Mary, Zoo and I headed out 40 miles east of here to my friend Jeff Botz's farm house in the country near Marshville NC. We had a plan to deliver a few pounds of ripe tomatoes and then go down to Richardson Creek for an exploration. After passing off the reds we walked around the old white house a bit which included some time searching for wild life on the shore of the front yard moss covered pond. Out in the back under his house Ms. Arcen used the head lamp to try and see the new kittens. No luck. Then we went down to the Richardson Creek Bridge on Sugar & Wine Rd and followed the descending trail to the creek's edge. Jeff, the dogs and I started our walk up stream while Ms. Arcen chose to swim her way. It was a fun time full of discovery for the kid who was seeing fish and crayfish up close and personal with the aid of her goggles.

Here is Karsen and her foreshortened chinny chin chin. As we moved against the light current the dogs followed and played. Zoo the naive husky has been to the water before but this was her first creek hike. At one point she uncovered what I assume was a crayfish that must have bit her on the nose or foot because she shot out of the water with a yelp that made me laugh so hard that I accidentally scared her to the creek bank.

Mary all smiles and enjoying the cool water. Karsen leads Himalayan Photographer Jeff Botz on up the creek without a paddle. Karsen gave specific instruction before her long against current swim that Jeff and I were not to get ahead of her and mess up the water's clarity. In this image if you look closely you can see some little fish and tadpoles surrounding the kid's legs. Not sure what Zoo is looking at but I do know that she was having a splendid time of it. I made a few portraits of Karsen on the rock while Jeff told me about light and shadow on the subject's face. After some more swimming at this spot we decided to turn around and head on down stream back to the bridge. This swimming hole was so deep that I decided to go in the cool water

After the final swim and almost 2 hours on the creek we climbed back out to the car and drove to the first country produce stand we came to on HWY218. We country lunched on peanuts, bananas, peaches and a Granny Smith Apple.
If you are a new/old friend that just recently started looking at my B-log and are interested in Ms. Arcen specific stories I have posted a list of some of her adventures on the right hand side at the bottom. The list goes back to November 2007 when I started blogging.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sunday Mountain Ride/Black Bear Contact

The Route: Kitsuma parking lot at Ridgecrest, up Kitsuma, down Kitsuma to Graphite Rd past the erroneously marked Geyser(it should be identified as an man made Aqueduct) right up Star Gap to lower Heartbreak to the Never Ending Grassy Road of Death then left up Curtis Creek Rd to the Blue Ridge Parkway to Heartbreak Ridge then down all the way to Star Gap out to Graphite Rd then right up Mills Creek Rd back to the Car. Mileage: 43.5 Time: 6hrs 10mins.

I have done this ride more than once before, read one account here.

My Mountain Bike high on Kitsuma. This Machine operated without malfunction. The Story: Sunday morning's early mundane drive(122miles) was over soon enough and then I found myself in the Kitsuma parking lot fiddling with my Awesome Strap. When it was too short to fit 1 of my spare tubes around my stem I tried reefing it around my seat post just below the small saddle bag which had the other tube. Unfortunately my stacked thighs rubbed the Velcro on the strap in a test spin around the lot so I threw the tube in the bottom of my camera bag. I either need a more narrow stem or a longer Awesome Strap or to totally rethink the placement not right before a ride. Completely my ignorance not the Awesome Strap's. I should have messed with it as soon as I got it but my sherkiness hampered that effort. Think Awesome, be Awesome this strap is Awesome.

Up the Switchbacks at 32 x 18(I got the memo 2 weeks ago). The lower ones were somewhat easy but up towards the top I fell over and pushed more than once. Over and down Kitsuma across Graphite Rd by the Aqueduct then right up Star Gap across the tracks and into the woods. Once again the specific gear had me pushing some of the turns up to the intersection with Heartbreak Ridge. Then right down the lower Heartbreak was fun, dry and brilliantly lit by filtered morning sun light.
One of the switch backs that I fell over on.
I started the Never Ending Grassy Road of Death left at the base of HB. Within a few minutes it occurred to me that the grass has changed since the last time I rode this part of the forest giving it the appearance of dry, vibrant green, vertically growing shoulder high seaweed stalks without the ocean. The beat down 10' wide single track carved a meandering path up and down a long traverse of the left hand rising mountain which sloped down and away to the right.
About half way across the NEGRoD in one of the left turning bends about 20 meters in front of me I looked up and saw movement bounding off the right hand edge of the trail. As I approached that spot I stopped to peer down the V shaped ravine and immediately heard multiple extraordinary noises. Branches snapping like small lumber, trees breaking with a thud, snorts and the sound of a heavy footed animal running down the mountain's earthen slope. Just below where I stood was the ass end of a Black Bear running at a full powerful gallop down the 60 degree incline away from me as fast as he could. I never saw his face but I watched in shock as he ambled down and over towards this little tree covered ridge maybe 60 meters below me. It was obvious that he wanted nothing to do with being near me. I was in awe. As I recognized this situation for what it was I realized that what I was seeing was my first encounter with bear in years of mountain biking and hiking experience. Plenty of my little friends have told me the stories that they witnessed on trails that I have ridden but this was my first and I was alone. The air left my lungs for a minute, my heart picked up, I was safe and I knew it but overwhelmed by the wild raw power that this creature shared with me as I watched it make its way for the little ridge down below.
Eyes up across the rest of NEGRoD to Curtis Creek Rd and the realization sets in that 2.5hrs into this ride I am about to start a 9mile fire road climb up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Eat. I pulled out a 2 day old slice, I mean lump of cheese pizza from my jersey pocket that was wrapped in a reused plastic bag that held a loaf of bread not too long ago. Pedaling and eating the warm gooey former slice I was content. Drink, I finished 1 bottle and over the first few miles took in half each of the other 2. Up past the Pisgah official little camp ground on the right I found the fresh cold mountain spring that I was counting on. I drank 2 bottles standing there and then topped off all 3 before I put my head under the spout letting the icy cold water rush over my skull for more than one minute. Upwards into the troposphere. What a bitch smack this climb is. Relentless to the amateur like me who was thinking 32 x 18 would be fine, why waste the few minutes needed back in the barn to put on the 20 or even the 23 for that matter. Peter is right, Single Speed life is good. The climb kept going and after the last switch back 180 degrees straightened out on the rhododendron covered mountain I was now on the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 348.
Look Closely just blow center on right hand side of the image and see the thin line of the Blue Ridge Parkway wrapping around the mountain.
5 miles south on the parkway, the first 3 or so up then a short fast descent into a saddle.
Up on the last section of the Parkway to MM353 and the Heartbreak trail head.
The ride down Heartbreak was fantastic. The conditions were perfect and I was very aware of where I was and that I was alone now headed towards the Montero for the first time since leaving it around 4.5hrs ago. The ridge smelled clean, various floral smells pounded my senses as I watched the vibration of the trail through my eyes and body. I felt the left downward pull as I passed the place that I took stitches a few years back.
Flowy fun, the gear seemed a good choice on the ridge. I stopped twice for a minute or two each to let the blood return to my hands. I looked around and could feel the density of this mountain and the ones that I could see in the panorama all around me.
A fine portion of the HB trail.
Off of HB to a hard right on the final descent of Star Gap. Through the downward switches I missed two. The first because I would have died had I kept going and the second one because I chickened out. Through the burnt forested woods again, oh that is what the sign at the top of HB was referring to. Over the train tracks that Dude is famous for gapping with a slight rear tire case on a previous ride.
Then past the juvenile wards of the state dressed in blue jump suites working the ropes course, was that a 5.5 hour hallucination or did I really just see that. Finally, the last few miles up again on Mills Creek Rd but feeling happy and able to turn the whole length back to the car. Half way up this final climb on the roll I took my helmet off as if I were riding in a pre-2004 stage of the Tour de France that ended with a climb. Then I looked at myself not only on the mud splattered and dusty outside physical but as well I saw my inner self. It was a view of my inner body structure without the skin to block the view of myself in daylight sitting on the saddle, my hands holding the bars while my feet are mechanically clipped to the bike pushing around and around around and around the revolution of time up the dirt road. What a strange thought of myself I had at that moment as I came into the parking lot 6hrs and 10mins after leaving it. Then I started the return drive(visual on that later in the week) back to Dooleyville where I arrived at 1800hrs in time for tomatoes, peppers, onions and rice.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Breaking New Ez

The sun appears to be rising in the North and setting in the North/North West as of Today. This morning I left early, just at sunrise for a 2.2hr U.N. Montero drive to my mountainous destination which was the Kitsuma parking lot at Ridgecrest off of I-40 just before Asheville NC. I think this image that I took out of the window from the immediate north of the Jar is photographic proof that the sun rose in the North this morning. Look at the way the light is hitting the clouds which are nothing less than moving and changing representational landscapes of the emotions that humans have the capacity to feel. More on the Heart Break ride in trace of Dicky, Bill Nye and Skiddaladophy's tracks to follow. Perhaps Leyonce was the Ignitor. I may have one of their plastic Shit, I mean Shot Blocks wrappers that I picked up on Kitsuma.

Test 2

Posted by Picasa

Cloud Test Emotions

Shot by me on Friday afternoon at Hodges' Farm on Rocky River Road.
Posted by Picasa