Hello, all! Yes, I do realize that this blog has been short on “what I’ve been doing” posts, as the holidays I’m busy/distracted with things like “try to make some money off things I do.” Here’s an update to bring you up to speed with what’s up. I would have liked to write separate blog posts about all four of the things covered below. But I know that I won’t have the time to do so.
New Haven Trip, 20-25 November
Emee and I flew out to the East Coast to do some Yale stuff (she went to school there.) It was a fun few days. It’s nice to see how things have improved in New Haven in the 20 years since I left. Connecticut still feels somewhat familiar, since it is the place I spent most of my first quarter-century. But it feels more alien every time I go back, almost like I don’t “get” the East Coast anymore. When I moved to the West Coast in 2000, a lot of things felt weird. Now it feels like home, the East Coast is what feels weird.
Bike Craft, 30 November-1 December
I spent two days selling comics, buttons, stickers, postcards, and the like at the (mostly) annual Bike Craft Fair. I did pretty well overall, and saw a lot of familiar faces. But I feel like the “spark” of this event has diminished over the years. There haven’t been a lot of new vendors, or new shoppers for that matter. I’m thankful that I have people who come to buy my stuff at Bike Craft year after year. But tabling at events is hard. I stopped doing zine and comics shows for a reason. I don’t know if I can keep on doing it, but I always willing to give it another shot.
The Sprockettes Retirement Party, 6 December
Portland’s all-female mini-bike dance troupe, The Sprockettes, called it quits. After 15 years, they put on their final performance at The Watershed space in Sellwood(ish) on Friday December 6th. I’ve been following The Sprockettes since their creation in 2004. They were a mainstay at so many bike events over the years. They inspired a wave of other similar women’s bike dance troupes up and down the West Coast and into Canada.
It was definitely a night of nostalgia. Many of the former Sprockettes came from far and wide. I saw a lot of old faces that I hadn’t seen in awhile. I was reminded of great times, old times. I was reminded that I was getting older. I saw another once great thing end. At least they ended it on their own terms and willingly, vs. fade away until no one cares, or keep it going so someone will say “at least they’re still doing it”. (Which is how I’m feeling about Bike Craft.)
Someone made the wry comment that their 20’s were now officially over. The Sprockettes were formed by (mostly) twenty-somethings to an audience of a lot of twenty-somethings. (I squeak by on this one: I was on the waning end of 28 when they first performed.) But it’s also the reminder that a feeling, a way of doing things, was ending. As my friend Nickey, who was a Sprockette, put it:
I look back on those years and marvel at the life I got to live. To have rent so cheap that I could work just a few days a week and spend my copious free time making art and riding bikes with my friends. Do kids in their 20’s still get to do that? It feels like the combination of high cost of living and internet influencer culture has made everything, from art to human relationships, endlessly commodified. I feel so lucky we got to have those goofy, silly years together, and that now well into our thirties someone will still start riding around in a mop bucket at 2am, just because we are happy and we are free.Nickey robo
26 Inch Ride/Swap, 14 December
I was excited by the whole idea of this Saturday adventure! First, KDUP Cycles, a duo who finds vintage mountain bikes and refurbishes them, decided to put on a swap meet at the Rose City Food Park (a food cart pod.) But then a bonus: Mike, the guy behind 26 Inch Lifestyle, was going to roll into town from Southern Oregon* and lead a 26 inch themed bicycle ride before the swap! I’d had corresponded with Mike for a bit, so it would be an opportunity to finally meet him.
There was about a dozen folks at the start when I arrived on the Crested Butte that cool and damp Saturday morning. (Very classically Portland winter.) We rode five miles over to the Skidmore Bluffs to hang out a bit and make a li’l coffee, then rode back to the Swap meet. There were a lot of sweet vintage mountain bikes on the ride (see my flickr for more). I stuck around the swap for a little bit, got cold, and then went home.
*Yeah, he’s technically based in Philly, but has been in Southern Oregon this fall/winter.
Your piece on the Sprockets reminded me of the Portlandia – The dream of the 90s sketch. “Portland where young people go to retire” I was in that sunset of my 20s stage when I moved to Seattle from Portland oh so long ago and much that was the norm then is just gone now cheap diners, the viaduct, grunge, Redhook brewery in Freemont, the Sonics to name a few. The only constant is change as they say.