Friday, October 29, 2010

Step Out, Feel not Think

I saw this lad carrying water up the hill towards Petion Ville.

The CMA Awards Honorary International Commuter of the Month to Haitian Middle School Coed Duo-Angels Within

    On one of my day trips last week I rode visual shotgun in Pastor Lyonel's truck out to a small town(Babancourt) of about 4,500 in the vibrant green country side an hour and fifteen minutes north and west of the capital city.  In an effort to keep me on my toes, Pastor Lyonel drove us right through De Cite Soleil, one of the U.S. State Department tagged RED Zones(U.S. Citizens STAY OUT) in the PAP area.  The road into and out of De Cite Soleil, or The City of Sun is a variously surfaced narrow road that has a moderate amount of all types of vehicle traffic traveling way too fast to give the road any chance of being considered pedestrian friendly.

     As we approached the center of town we were stopped by three large white UN Armored Personnel Carriers that had formed a wedge in the middle of the road.  There was a squad of combat strapped Brazilian soldiers manning the checkpoint.  When the soldier nearest my window made eye contact, he held out his hand and demanded to see our 'cards'.   I extended my open passport out of the window and as he took it for examination I noticed two things.  There was a loaded M60 machine gun mounted on top of the APC behind him and he had four hand grenades strapped to his flak jacket. The Brazilian hard charger in full combat gear cleared us through the check point and thanked us for our patience with a nervous smile.  When we slowly pulled away Pastor Lyonel told me that on January 12 most of the 5,800 maximum security prisoners in the main jail escaped.  Murders, rapists and such.  Since then, the police and UN have only been able to round up about 1,500 of those lifers.  The UN has rolling checkpoints regularly in Haiti in an effort to find the rest of the serious convicts roaming the country. 

    Within a hundred meters down the road I looked up and saw two children in public school uniforms riding their bikes directly towards us on what most westerners would consider the wrong side of the road.  The children were on their daily inbound Stay Alive to school from a small enclave at the end of the road just out of sight behind them under the mountain in the picture below.   Pastor Lyonel slowed the truck a bit realizing that the kids were going to be on the bridge at the same time we were. I was first scared for these two young ones until as we passed, I caught their eyes.  Focused, crystal clear and alive not afraid of what could kill them but embracing it as their living moments.  CONGRATULATIONS LITTLE ONES!  Your gorilla bike commute tactics and true survival skills did not go unnoticed nor will they be easily forgotten.   Keep your heads up and always remember that you have the power to see the Demons coming before they do which will give you time to project a different outcome that keeps you safe.  You are stronger and more alive than most of the culture that I am surrounded by every day. As that smart fellow once said, "What is real can never be taken away." 
Some Haitians told me that the UN on the front of the white armed Armored Personnel Carriers and Trucks stood for United Nothing. 
M60-American Made in the hands of Brazilian Troops. 
RED Zone City of Sun
This fellow rider was awarded International Commuter of the Month Runner Up. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Haiti Report II: The Center of PAP Tour

I exited the immigrations/customs building through the double doors onto a small portico crowded with dozens of Haitian taxi cab drivers and their agents.  To the immediate front of the covered little porch was a long waist high cement wall that ran parallel to the airport property in both directions as far as I could see.  The intense light shined gray from a completely cloud covered sky onto the faces and bodies of the people behind the long fifteen foot tall metal fence directly on the other side of the wall.  There were several hundred citizens up against the fence, some holding on to the wires with their hands exclaiming phrases in Creole that I did not understand, while others just stood silently staring amidst the chaos.  A few in the front actually seemed pushed from behind towards the wire barrier. Heads were turned to the side and their contorted faces pressed up against the steel braids. Lips, cheeks and hats askew. Pain. Directly behind that human condition ran left to right the Airport exit road and on the other side of the road was a row of buildings showing me the first sign that a major earth shift had happened just nine months ago.  Some stronger structures stood seemingly unaffected, while huge cracks, fallen in roofs, and missing walls were apparent in others.  A few were simply piles of rubble.  The desperate verbal messages coming from just on the other side of the fence seemed to intensify as I made eye contact with them.  Heat, I wasn't sure where to go or what to do at that point so I found a seat on a cement wall next to some men waiting, for what I wasn't sure.  Bonsoir, Bonsoir.

I pulled out my bottle and took a drink, the water was still cold, much colder than the air around me and it felt good going down my dry throat.  Just as I put the bottle back in my bag a giant bald fellow wearing a maillot jaune bent down to my face and somewhat whispered, "My name is Charles, can I help you, what do you need?"  "No, I'm okay, thank you.  Wait, yes, I could use your help please", I replied.  At that point a very intent Charles listened while I explained that I would like to take a tour of the downtown Port Au Prince area. Perhaps starting with the Plaza at the National Palace, then moving on to the PAP version of Time Square(which is now completely taken over in the center and on the fringes by a tent camp where thousands dwell) and then I am open to suggestions.  I also added that when our tour was over I would like his help in finding safe lodging for the week.  We negotiated a fair trade for both of us and with a smile and a handshake we stepped off along that fence line to the calls and cries of despair from the other side.  Pink palms holding the wire, eyes completely wide open.  At the end of the fence there was a lot surrounded by a taller fence and armed security.  A large white UN Amtrac with mounted soldiers was parked at the entrance/exit, they were from Brazil. 

Charles took me left along the fence line into the big lot and introduced me to our driver Bob, who was wearing a maillot jaune as well.  Bob spoke no English so Charles translated my words to Creole for him so we could communicate.  Charles' English was slow but way better than my non-existent Creole and weak French.  As we talked about the chances that the day would bring, I could feel mutual trust developing.  Charles had me take the center back seat in the little red 4 x 4 and out the airport road we went.

 Here are Bob(left) and Charles as we exited the lot onto the airport road.  
Just as the airport road ends and merges into a large crowded avenue I saw the first densely populated UN 'controlled' tent camp of the trip.  In just a few days I would enter two camps, one under the protection of the UN and one not.  This one we just sped passed while I asked my questions to Charles. 
Here is the Nation Palace of Haiti.  On the drive here the destruction of civilian infrastructure was apparent and there seemed to be no efforts made for the past nine months to clear or fix any of the damage.  When we arrived at this Plaza and I saw the Palace, I realized that it too has been left untouched since the quake.  It looks exactly like I remember seeing it on the Cover of the New York Times back in January. 
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption.  I took this picture from Wikipedia, photographer not identified.  The image was made around 1924, roughly 40 years after the Cathedral was built. 
Here is the Cathedral's side wall now. 
The corrugated metal wall around the Cathedral Property has been providing shelter to some of those whose homes were destroyed in the quake. Charles told me that many of the people living along the wall and just on the inside of it are faithful Catholics who spent their entire lives attending mass at Our Lady of the Assumption.
A major crack in the front wall seems to separate the face from the body. 
The once beautiful front wall of this piece of architecture stands without its towers and roof against the sky. 
Directly behind my back was what used to be a public park.  Now, thousands more former Cathedral Parishioners fill the space with their flimsy tents and tarps.  They too lost their homes when the ground shook from below and are living without much direct support from any agency.  This area was completely destroyed and to live there must feel like living on an apocalyptic stage.  We did not stay long at the Cathedral before moving on. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Photo: Petion Ville

click twice for a closer look
Street Side scene in Petion Ville, Haiti.
Tuesday October 19, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Haiti Report I: Nayson Zanj yo. Demons yo ak Mirak yo.

*Note from the Author:  My originally planned 8.7 day travel to Haiti was turned into a 6.3 day trip when Cholera arrived in the country four days after I did.  It was not the threat of disease contamination that had me changing my return flight plans, it was the fact that the international medical response left me with no 'safe' lodging after Thursday.  More on those details later.  In the meantime know that I feel more alive than when I left, more alive actually than I have felt in years.  Haitians are truly living in a pure conscious state which was completely obvious when I stepped out into it.  The following report will be the first(a day early) of many supported by pictures and my pages of notes.  These thoughts are mine and have been influenced by what I saw, and just as important what I felt while experiencing the conditions in the poorest country in the west. 
Nayson Zanj yo. Demons yo ak Mirak yo.  Is the Creole translation(made by my new friend Guerisma Holgen) of my one sentence impression of the country of Haiti.  Remember your French nasal sounds and say it out loud, the phrase sounds real. My notes came together by the end of the week concluding that what I was seeing, feeling, hearing and experiencing was that  Haiti is the nation of angles, demons and miracles.  As the world goes on towards tomorrow I realize that in other nations, poor or rich with different customs, language and culture that there are people who are actually alive and living in complete reality which creates the magical essence of beauty no matter the standards that have become my daily existence.  I had a thought, better yet a true realization a long time ago that even though I am human and can make choices, I never chose to be born in to this great life in America.  Just as an Iraqi never chose to be born in Iraq or a Haitian in Haiti.  It is by grace and chance that each of us come to the world where we do, by no fault or decision that is ours to make or claim to own.  For 250 years the beautiful Haitian people have been dealing with multitudinous problems on a scale that is as unimaginable as the size of the Himalayan landscape.  Until you actually see it.  Tragedy struck tragedy on January 12, 2010 when a 7.0 earthquake shook the entire Capital region.  Everyone who I talked to that was on the ground there that Tuesday afternoon described different perceptions of what it felt like.  However, there was one common denominator.  Thirty to forty seconds before the ground trembled and rolled violently there was a sound that came from nowhere and filled the air all around.  Basically I interpret what people heard as a sonic loud plucking of an earth sized guitar string.  The vibration from heaven came from all directions causing people to silently stop what they were doing, and look around in an effort to locate the source of such an energetic invisible explosion of noise.  A sound warning of notice that the landscape and everything attached to it was about to shift.  Then, in about half of one minute of time slowed down to each individual's own awareness, it did. 

In PAP I stepped off the airplane early in the morning on to the actual tarmac which was connected to the single runway my plane had just landed on.  The humid heat and a solid airborne layer of diesel smoke hugging the ground stacked a few hundred feet above my head hit me in the face like a frontal punch.  There were less than 50 people on the MD80 Series plane and as we disembarked we were instructed to get on one of the two waiting short buses for transport to Haitian Immigrations and Customs, only 50 meters, or half of a football field distance to drive.  Useless and completely unnatural adding to the release of carbon, rather than not.  We passed along side a row of clear plastic shrink wrapped pallets that contained several dozen large white boxes each marked USAID.  The humanitarian supplies looked like they had been out in the elements for weeks, some boxes were torn into and falling over out off the wrap dangling above the asphalt.  I wondered why this aid was just sitting there in the sun, pretty soon I would find out. 

At the end of the row of pallets was the entrance for the immigrations into Haiti. There was plenty of confusion happening inside the warehouse looking building.  Other flights had apparently just landed as well, coming from far and near.  Creole and French language filled the air echoing in little pockets from around the metal walled room.  I looked for a declaration form and when the wide eyed woman handed one to me from behind a dark wood counter I mustered an honest, "Merci."  There was a shelf along one of the walls that I gravitated towards to fill out my entry/exit form.  Thankfully the instructions were in Creole and French which reminded me of how much I actually learned in Madame Stuart's French class that I took for a few years in High School.  Even before that in the 6th grade I remember Mr. Berthiaume playing a French lesson vinyl record that instructed us to, écouter et Répétez phrases in both English and French.  Memories flooded back to my mind as I filled out the paperwork only leaving one box blank at the bottom thinking that whatever was supposed to go in that space surely was not important enough to keep me from entering Haiti.  The immigration official behind the half glass and wood that I stepped in front of did not seem amused when he saw my empty line.  He blurted out something in Creole, then French.  My eyes were locked with his and I calmly said, "I do not understand."  At this point he rolled his eyes and demanded in perfect English, "Where are you staying in Haiti?"  I couldn't tell him that I wasn't sure and did not have a plan at that point, that I was looking for an adventure without being confined to standard parameters for international travel so I smiled, took my form and said, "Merci" for the second time since arriving.  In my bag were various printed emails from a benefactor back in Charlotte with multiple contacts in PAP and the surrounding area that I was to try to coordinate with while in country.  I picked out one that seemed apropos and wrote the name and location of the school in the box.  Back at the counter, the same man grabbed my passport and declaration document and without further scrutiny stamped my arrival in the form of an entry visa.  Then he welcomed me to Haiti with a wide grin showing off his large ultra-white teeth.  I was in and completely clueless as well as a bit scared, but I knew that I was supposed to be there at that moment and that something amazing was about to happen.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Journey to Haiti Starts in a Few Hours

A Note to you, my tolerant and curious reader:  This will be my last post until no earlier than Wednesday October 27.  In a few hours I will leave Charlotte for Miami and after a bit of waiting there, I will board one more plan for Port Au Prince.  For just under 9 days I will be collecting data only while living out of the my messenger bag which is packed and seems lighter than the way it feels loaded for the daily work routine.  In it contains:  Camera, 18-55mm lens, 55-200mm lens, 50mm fixed lens, 105mm fixed lens, skylight uv filter, polarized filter, a roll of black electrical tape, 1 small spiral notebook, 2 pencils, Nelles Map of Haiti(folded), small map compass, a dozen printed emails from some fine brave folks trying to make progress in Haiti, half of a toothbrush, 1pair of poly shorts, 1 short sleeve poly shirt, 1 long sleeve poly shirt, 1 thin wool sweater, 1 pair poly boxer briefs, 1 pair short wool socks, a black wool Disney Mickey Mouse beanie(that I found in the gutter on 7th Street eons ago), my Petzl headlamp, a small amount of pre-packaged fooding like nuts and power'ish bars, an empty STANLEY Bottle, a half of a tooth brush, 1 pair of gloves, my eye phone/charger, sunglasses, passport and visa card, never leave home without it. 

A few days ago former CMA Commuter of the Month and very fast rolling Townie inside leg dismount capable Pam Murray invited me to join her and three of her colleagues for a Friday morning ride from the Plaza Midwood area to the new Bank of America Building labeled, 1BAC.  A section of the 1BAC has been built in design to encourage Bank employees to commute to work by bike.  There is a proxy card access secured cage and racks for plenty of bicycles in an easy to get to from the street corner of the garage and just a few feet from the cage there are both men and women locker room facilities with showers and gear storage.  Perfect, a ride with three Corporate chicks just after sunrise on a chilly Friday morning.

So, I rode out of the estate in total darkness and arrived at the rally point a few minutes early to meet these brave souls willing to dive in with the auto traffic racing towards The Jar from the immediate east corridor.  From left to right please meet Gwen, Pam, Jenny and Elizabeth. 
Here we were just about to roll out when I suggested a route change that would take us across Central Ave, over to Commonwealth, then Pecan to Bay Street, Bay to Lamar(oops), Lamar to 8th, 8th to Louise Ave then a quick right on 7th up to the big buildings for the light rail path to the new 1BAC.

Jenny reaches deep into her hand bag of courage and attacks at the start of the climb out of the low up towards Veterans Park on the hill.  The trees are catching those early morning rays, a splendid sight.

Undismayed, Pam goes to chase, bridges the gap and although she could have broke Jenny's back over her knee at any second does the honorable thing and just sits on Jenny's wheel allowing her to take the climb win. I tell you folks that Pam is a true sportswoman indeed, I witnessed her leadership first hand. 

Just past the hill climb, the polka dot jersey leader decided to pull over allowing the rest of the peloton to catch up.  Nothing but smiles seen here.  Good Work ladies!

This dude showed up behind us without warning.  In this image I made over the top of my head, I catch Elizabeth explaining to the unidentified male rider how Jenny crushed the climb on the Col du McClintock.

The final approach up to Oz on 7th Street.  Pam fools around no longer and takes off on the second attack of the ride putting us all to task stringing out the group as if she were hanging us on a wire.  With authority Pam hammered on the pedals which put all of us into a spot of bother.  Not used to such a pace I hung off the back with Jenny and we gave each other the moral support we needed to straggle in and finish the stage.  At the awards ceremony I claimed the highly coveted, Lanterne Rouge

A sneak peek at the proxy access cage inside the parking garage of 1BAC.  I was told by Corp Communications that they were not wiling to give me full access because the 'powers that be' do not want any outside marketing for the Bank's attempt to encourage employees to ride their bikes to work supporting sustainability.   I won't mention that you were telling me this while sipping coffee from a large styro-foam cup with a plastic lid, one of many that were being offered then thrown away in an effort to be sustainable.  I might add that the environment cannot handle that type of sustainability much longer, I promise. 

Thank you ladies for allowing me to tag along on your Friday morning commute to work.  Please be safe and Ride on!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Accident Truth dot com

The latest statistics gathered by the Traffic Stop's gathering department show that 99.832% of Charlotte's cycling community(and 57.283% of the world's) is aware that on October 1, 2010 at 1541hrs ArsBars was riding on one of her multitudinous cycling efforts when she was involved in an incident with a car.  I have talked to her only via email since the significant emotional event took place and for those of you who keep asking me on the street and in the elevators, she is doing well.

In the days following said incident I noticed in the analytics of my stat counter that over a dozen folks from around the country had Google or Bing searched, "Arleigh's Wreck", "Arleigh gets hit by car", "Is Arleigh okay?", Is Arleigh alive or dead?", or one of several other variations of e-concern about her accident and were led to one of my old posts with her name mentioned.  The inquiries came from as far away as Traverse City MI and Austin TX(it may have been Lance himself trying to find out if Arleigh was okay).

After being stymied by the police at the beginning, my resolve was persistent and I was finally able to obtain a good true copy of the incident report filed by the CMPD.  Be advised that this is the second version of the report.  Mystery and intrigue surrounds the unexplained vanishing of the original one that I have never been able to locate.  When I examined the first page of the report I was shocked to learn that ArsBars' middle name is Frances.

For all of you cycling peeps out there, check out all of the blocks in page two of the report.  There is plenty to learn when you read all of the data carefully, especially if you have the encryption decoder for all of the official lingo.  But seriously, check it out.  This page clearly states that the schematic is not to scale, however it does not mention that the North arrow appears to be pointing in an easterly direction. Upon further investigation at the scene of the event, my undercover CSI partner noticed that the drawing shows the car in the left of two lanes on Caldwell when there are actually three.  According to this picture the car was in the left turn only lane.  Perhaps this report should go back for correction like the first one did and be replaced with a third version. 
I took some snaps on location.  Here is the slight downhill approach on 3rd Street headed to Caldwell at the next block. 
Maybe this food distributor needs to read the manual on how not to take over the pedestrian cross walk with the diesel burner. 
Hmmm, at the very entrance to the crosswalk where this bicycle v. car altercation went down there is a stark warning posted on the inside light pole.  This could be a crucial piece of evidence in the case, or maybe not. 
According to the report this was the lane that the car was in when the hit went down.  Yikes, all I see one block ahead on the right is the bankrupt NASCAR Hall of Fame. 
The last piece of the puzzle may come from a homeless fellow named Marques who lives on the top floor of this foreclosed and abandoned high rise that sits on the inside corner at 3rd and Caldwell.  When he saw me hanging out taking pictures on the scene, Marques came down out of the building and asked me for some money and inquired as to what I was doing under his de facto home.  I explained how I was working on an investigation of an accident involving a bike and a car that happened a week and a half ago.  Marques looked shocked, smiled and said, "I witnessed everything that afternoon but I was too afraid to come down when I saw all of the cops and firemen.  Give me a dollar and I will tell you what I saw."  So, I gave him my last dollar and was blown away with the interesting details he recalled. 
*Scanning of Police Report Done at the PDC by TE.  Blotting out of addresses and photo shop, the works of Jimmy

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Contributing Work of Nathan Sprinkle Reporting from Belgrade Serbia

On Sunday afternoon I was piddling in the barn when I heard a National Public Radio report crackle over the old General Electric Transistor about a violent clash between the police and a group of anti-gay protesters in Belgrade Serbia.  My first thought as I listened to the story was that my friend Nathan Sprinkle was presently in Belgrade, via a short stint in Spain earlier in the year.  I met Nathan in 98 when I started my non-career as a bike messenger here in Charlotte where he was already following the two wheeled path.  As I listened to the brief description of disorder in Belgrade on FM Radio, I wondered what Nathan had seen and if he was close to the confrontation.  

I swiped this portrait of Nathan from his FB Account then changed the composition to Black and White. Photographer Unidentified.  Perhaps this is a self portrait making him subject and photographer.
Via Email, I contacted Nate and solicited him for his own account of the events in Belgrade that the BBC Documented here.  He kindly obliged and filed the report below yesterday.  Thanks Nate, I appreciate the effort you put into this chronicle.

On Saturday afternoon I was taking the bus home from the language school where I
work. Just a few blocks from Slavia Square the bus inched by a small group of
peaceful demonstrators who were holding large crosses and listening to one man
make a speech. As I don't speak Serbian I couldn't tell what it was about, but
it was so sedate that I didn't give it much thought. It turns out that it was
a sort of pre-protest by older, conservative Orthodox Christians. They had heard
about the Gay Pride march planned for the following day and wanted to make
known their opposition to the march.

On Sunday my girlfriend, Nela, and I were lazily preparing lunch when she got an

excited call from her brother. He was here in Novi Beograd, a few kilometers
from the old part of town, and he had seen a pillar of smoke rising from the
city center. We turned on the TV to find out what it was about and were shocked
by the sight of row upon row of police in riot gear.  Live and recorded
images were being broadcast in no particular order, but the footage seemed to
fall into two main categories: early shots of a few hundred worried-looking men
and women holding rainbow flags, and later shots of a phalanx of police with
helmets and shields fending off a barrage of stones.

I have never been to a Gay Pride march but from the media images I have seen of

those in The US and western Europe they tend to be rather raucous, lively,
colorful occasions. In contrast, the march here Sunday was a calm, sober affair.

Faces were serious, clothing was modest, even the soundbites were dull. In the

past few years, marches have been canceled due to threats of violence. Previous
marches have been the sites of beatings. That's why the police force was
prepared. The small parade was protected as it went around the block, and when
it was over they had a meeting where a few short speeches were given. Police
vans were used to take the peaceful marchers to their homes in safety. By that
time the area had already been overtaken by the riot.

Cameras were positioned behind the lines of police so it was hard to get a sense
of how many people were involved, but it became obvious who was involved. The

rioters were young, white and male. Angry and brazen, they would approach the
phalanx and shout, then retreat and throw stones. Not just any stones, either,
they were plucking cobblestones out of the street. The thick cubes of granite
sent at least 80 police officers to the hospital. I haven't been able to find
out how many rioters were injured or arrested. In one scene the camera zoomed in
on a bloody, hooded teenager splayed out on the street, cops standing over him.

Nela translated the dialogue: "Protect this guy, he's going to be arrested."
"Fuck him"

The fire, it turned out, was coming from the headquarters of the Democratic
Party of Serbia. There wasn't much fire but the smoke was thick and black. I
suspect a burning tire had been heaved into the courtyard. The garage was a bit
singed but the main building was okay. A few cars were set alight, and a city
bus was overtaken and pushed around. In the scheme of things there wasn't a huge
amount of destruction. I walked around for a while today and didn't see much

damage. If I hadn't watched the news I might not have known something
had happened. I would say that the city was roughed-up.

That, of course, does not excuse the behavior of the rioters.
"Hooligans" is too nice a word for these guys. "Thugs" gets closer. Several
people I spoke with expressed the opinion that the rioters used the Pride march
as an excuse to riot, that they were looking for a reason to smash up the city
anyway. In fact the mayor of Belgrade said this as well. A couple of radical
right-wing nationalist groups have been active in the city, putting up anti-gay
posters, anti-European Union stickers and nationalist graffiti. I don't know
enough about what is going on to give a full interpretation. There are a lot of
factors and factions at work. Suffice to say that the dynamics are very
different from those in the USA and its going to take a while to figure out.

Your humble correspondent,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bound for Haiti

Haiti appears to be small in total landscape with a large population of almost 10 million people.
Sometimes life changing decisions for me  feel as if they take years to make, but occasionally, every once in a while my choice to act happens almost immediately.  Since the spring I had been actively, however sporadically working on the logistics to get to New Zealand for the upcoming SSWC10 in Rotorua.  Everything seemed to be pointing in that direction.  Back in July and August I did a 60 day contract job for STANLEY Brand writing as the company's voice on their social media network.  The funds I earned during that little gig came at the perfect time to offset the expenses needed for a ten day travel to the land of Zeal in the name of Single Speed mountain biking.  Plus, an old Golf Company Marine buddy of mine lives in Raglan on the west coast below Auckland about 80 miles from the event.  Roscoe told me I could drop in and that he would teach me to surf and take me on a boar hunt with K-Bars as our hunting tools.  Surfing good, killing anything with a K-Bar bad.  

I was working the ticket brokering for NZ as recently as two weeks ago when all of a sudden I started second guessing the trip.  Not sure why, maybe a tinge of intuitive bite sort of speak, but within a few days of wavering on putting myself in the airborne tube for an entire two day transfer forward in time I heard the word Haiti in my head.  Tragedy struck tragedy in the form of a 7.0 earth quake, 8 miles deep on January 12 in Port Au Prince(PAP according to my ticket) that killed over a quarter of a million fellow humans.  In the hours following my internal revelation about not wanting to go far away to ride my bike all over again I started thinking about creating a document both written and photographic. During the past few days the more I thought about the potential gains of going to Haiti v. New Zealand the more I became positive that this is what I am supposed to be doing.

This past Saturday I talked to a helpful Travel Broker in Plaza Midwood and then on Sunday morning I booked my flight from CLT to PAP through MIA.  My plane leaves this Saturday and returns to the Jar the following Sunday.  As far as an itinerary, I really do not have one because I could not bring myself to double click or street view the answers that I am looking for.  Doors are already opening though. Yesterday a German named Mueller whom I have been randomly chatting with at the Cool & Cool told me about some Jesuit Priests he does business with that may be helpful.  And, I am hoping at some point to run into Robert Rose whom I met here in Charlotte in early August while he was on his first break since the quake.  This white South African had dedicated the previous seven months of his life to helping the people of PAP by keeping the Doctors, Nurses and property of a clinic on the hill safe. 

Due to this trip I will be incommunicado with you my lovely audience from after this Friday's post until around October 27th when the daily B-Log will start all over again.   For the rest of this week I may be updating with some last minute thoughts and ideas.  As well I plan to post some contributing work from my friend Nathan who has been in Serbia since the late spring.  There was an uprising and clash the other day in Belgrade and he was there for it, his perceptions in writing are interesting to say the least.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Charlotte Bicycle Courier and Commuter News Update

The CMA is happy to announce that Little Mikey has broke free from the bonds of the Jar and is headed out as a guitar tuner supporting a band that is now on a WORLD TOUR.  It sounds like Mikey will be tearing it up in various pacific rim countries living the life of adventure that could only be found traveling the globe with a Rock & Roll Band.  From the Human Resources Department here at the CMA we would like to extend warm wishes of success and good fortune for Mikey's future international endeavours.  Please let us know when you feel your first earthquake or experience a Tsunami.

*Note:  This morning before 0800hrs when I rolled up on the square, I saw Mikey's former mustachioed boss chilling on a bench with a blue bag.  I never saw a bicycle but I did hear the whisper of the Blue Moon Blues.

I made the present header and this spinning shutter image of Mikey on the Square early last month.
A week ago today recognized Charlotte Cyclist ArsBars was hit at an intersection in the South End is Near while on one of  her many cycling commutes home.  Apparently she is okay and at this time the Traffic Stop knows little about the condition of her fly bicycle or the car that ran into her for that matter.  I took the initiative earlier this week to go down to the police station where I have become as familiar as Team Dicky on the Internet to request a copy of the police report so I could try to piece together the events that led to Charlotte's latest bike v. car collision.  Interestingly enough when I asked the mustached officer for the complaint number attached to the bicycle/car incident in the South End last Friday without mentioning her name, he immediately questioned me, "You mean the one involving Ms. Jenkins?"  How quizzical, he knew her name instantly and then started being evasive about giving me the numbers that I not only needed, but that are public record.  At any rate, I finally convinced him to give me the numbers so he wrote them down on a sticky and handed them to me after disappearing into the bowels of the uptoon satellite police station for twelve long minutes.  The plot thickens when I roll down to the main office only to find out the reports do not exist, even with a name search.  Maybe soon when this conspiracy is unveiled, we who ride in this town will  benefit from the knowledge gained in understanding the facts of the incident.  The CMA has been advised that the statement above is not slanderous, only curious and by no means have the disclosures within the document broken any laws. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

SS Zion v. Auto

In daylight an automobile passed my friend then turned right across his front onto West Carson Blvd.  He slammed a stack into the side of the dark speed turning car and held on as long as he could.  Happy to report that this tough SS rider received no injuries lack the diagnose of a broken frame in two places.  Interestingly enough the Boots built front wheel held perfectly true and stronger than the rest of the parts in between the hit and the double tube failure.  Good job Boots, keep up the strong build work ethic out there at the Denver Spoke!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rapture of a Messenger...PLUS

Exploitation of injuries awarded in past crash.  Purpose. Dedication and ability to deal with things that come up in the day that require extra thought, invention and physical tolerance.

Yes, this is now three days after the Death on Raspberry and we are still talking about swollen ankles and the perpetual aftermath of pain, suffering, sympathy, intrigue from the Internet surfing masses and a large box crammed full of hats headed down to Panther Stadium on one of the scariest streets in Charlotte that a courier could be assigned to roll on, Morehead. 

I made this image on Monday(Manday), the day after the famous crash that caused thousands of Team Dicky Fans to pause with concern over the condition of his ankle and emotional well being.  Motivation is written all over his face as he considers the gravitational differences and practical labor applications of freewheel v. fixie.
The box is awkwardly big, however it is not super heavy because it is filled with airy corporate headpieces. 
Balancing on the tender swollen injured astragalus is uncomfortable but this guy is known for possessing a super high tolerance for pain. 
Looks like the suffering is bringing a smile as he prepares to take off for the Stadium. 
The garden variety public looks on in disbelief as the messenger rides by with the enormous box level on his cockpit. 
As he rides away in the direction of his landing-place, the messenger creates a legend by dealing with abnormal circumstances in a normal way.  Perseverance, the hallmark of character...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Treespect & Lunar Toonification

Eric made this picture(and the one below) of me walking away from my bike which I had just propped up against the chain tired tree chomper.
Shackles encompassing the powered front tires of the chain tired tree chomper allows for access to chomp trees high up steep slopes. 
It started with a dream the night before the ride.  My dreams have gone over the top at this point to where I am now identifying smells, tastes, feelings, sounds and touches while in deep sleep.  These perceptions are occurring in the dream while I'm aware that I am actually safely tucked in under the covers and not awake even though I am starting to feel like I am.   During these dreams the senses are not just imagined, they are actually perceived and triggering a physical response within me.

For example, a few weeks ago I walked into my Noni's kitchen on route 205 near Wauregan Connecticut backwards in time to when I was just eight years old.  I saw her standing there working on the stove top, the dress was the same as was her voice. She stepped away from the pot and I stepped towards it lifting the lid. Not only did I see the delicious soup bubbling within, but I felt the warmth of the burner and in real dream time I immediately smell identified basil mixed with various vegetables and other spices like oregano. 

Back to the dream the night before the ride.  I was walking through an amazing evergreen forest, it was dark but there was enough light filtering down to realize that what I was walking into was the most beautiful thing on earth at that moment in time.  The trees went on forever and the further I walked towards them, the more that I became surrounded by their power.  Of course I was smelling the pine and feeling the soft needles under foot when I stopped walking, opened my arms and spoke one word loudly into the majestic boughs covered with needles and cones, "Treespect."  That is a Fehrese word if I have ever heard one.  The strange thing is that it came to me in a dream while I was sleeping and with the techniques I am using to retain the occurrences of my dreams when I return to the eyes open conscious state I was easily able to remember my new made up word, Treespect.

So, I head to the mountains for a ride with friends with my new word tucked away ready for the implications realizing that the last time I rode in this area was the day that Goelzer died.  I felt something more like awareness of respect and power not grief as we took off down Raspberry.  Flowing speed stopping once to let a bit of air out of the front in an effort to find that magic rigid pressure that makes things tolerable and fast for that machine.  Passed a crash and a funny camera shot and on down the hill.

As time goes on and the overland bike travel gets us around the mountain, the skill and force of these folks I am riding with becomes more apparent.  Down in the low near the river a few of us stopped at the well to top off our hydration gear.  When I turned the spigot earthen particulate came shooting out and within ten seconds went crystal clear.  A short break was had by all and then up the final climb we went for the saddle below Sink Hole.

On the traverse across the meandering grassy double track ridge just as I was wondering about why the word Treespect came to me the night before, there it was plainly in front of me getting larger as I continued pedaling straight for it.  The large pieces of equipment sat quietly next to the even quieter piles of long straight hard wood on the left hand side of the path.  Behind and above the winners and losers, the sloping hillside was evidence of modern thought. I realized that logging in the now at this spot could not be profitable by the board foot.  However, after more thought I also realized that with these huge diesel burners and all the smaller ones that transport the operators in and out of here as well as any other vehicles associated with the business end of crushing the trees down that there must be a subsidy.  And there is, it is large.  The more your company, I mean country burns in fuel the more the Fed repays you for that waste which is the only way that this big patch of the Lorax's woods in front of me could possibly be in the condition it now is.  Foolish, like a repetitive loop of unoriginal thought, but it is not mine.

What is though, is the idea that the subsidies are pushing us further away from what is real.  Especially in the right now with more humans on the face of it requiring what is theirs and wanting it immediately.  Even the fake empire powers know that soon there will be nothing left here on the planet(sounds like plan it, eh?) which is why they are headed to the moon as we speak in a multiple pronged approach to advance man kind's progress by adding robotic and manned fuel productivity based solutions to the lunar surface.  Interestingly enough, the moon is only 1/50th the size of earth which in my world makes it extremely vulnerable.  That means the moon's surface is about is big as four lower 48s wrapped into an orb.  Yes, it is really happening, although unfortunately there is not really a double click full scope scenario for you to get the Christmas wrapped package to put on the shelf making it easy to understand.  I may suggest getting a hold of the works of Chalmers Johnson, specifically to begin with is Nemesis, from his blow back trilogy.  As a scholar this gentleman knows that the moon is the global high ground that a multinational force in the name of earth is ready to lay claim of land and military stake on.  I would also suggest to keep an eye on the NY Times' Science page where occasionally there is some information regarding the by 2030 plans for our moon, the only one we have.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday Mountain Bike Minutes in Wilson Creek-Half Ride Report

My ride started early yesterday when I rolled away from the house in total darkness at around about 0600hrs for Dicky's Train Station, a 6.5 mile urban traverse to the west and south.  We left at the scheduled departure time and scooped Ben over in Gaston County just as we made our turn north for the I-40 corridor.  The other two cars from the Asheville area containing Jut, Matt, Eric and Scott arrived shortly after we did.  Then the shuttle logistics were solved with good negotiating priorities as outlined in the matrix and before I knew it we were up high on Ginger Cake Acres and Raspberry Ridge.  From that point the ride was 27miles back to the car with something like 4,500ft of climb and over 6,000ft of descent.    There are some things I would like to mention about the ride but unfortunately I do not have that kind of time to let a ramble roll right now.  Later today I will theoretically attempt a logical ride report and if all goes well with that I will post tomorrow, so if you are interested please check back then.

I left may camera and photo equipment at the house this time.  It was a strange thought not to bring my real camera but that decision kept my back free of a pack and allowed me to experiment with the eye phone camera which does not allow me wide parameters for making a shot but at the same time provides a unique perspective.

Here is the drop from yesterday's little flat camera in jersey pocket experiment.

My post ride self portrait, contemplating the pastoral setting that I am familiar with and comfortable spending time in.
This is one of the things I will discuss later.  Logging has been going on for awhile now on the traverse to Sink Hole from the saddle as well as other places in the area.  This was the first time I saw the mechanical evidence and destructive force that it possesses so close to the track. When I rolled into this encampment my first thought was the story of the Lorax by Dr. Seuss.  The Seussian landscape scene was as real as it gets and smelled of Federally subsidized diesel guaranteeing the profitability of the company, I mean Country. My bike looks small against this machine. 
Clint and Ben.
Dark image in sky and raped land. 
The blur over Matt's head is Jut airing the creek gap on lower Raspberry in style...
Another look at that gap facing you.
A little trail side gear adjustment.