Ohh Atlanta

April 7, 2008

first day in Atlanta, GA. The down town was still showing hurricane damage, and the aggressive homeless population gave the city a real Atlas Shrugged feel. Also these signs where every where:

Greyhound bus pt. 2

January 21, 2008

To the old man of Winston-Salem;
You started talking to me about Machiavelli, and actually seemed sane for a few minutes, and I am sorry about your sons crack addiction, but you need to get some help with your Alzheimer’s, then you wont spend your time in bus stations telling people your life story, twice.

To the woman on her cell between Charlotte and Atlanta;
Its two am, you have been on your phone since midnight. Every one on the bus is trying to sleep, but you’re yelling down the phone at your friend. It is slightly interesting how horrible a person you are, and how good you think your life is now that you got a 75 year old ex army man “for security” and some one else to “take care of your needs”, yet you “can’t be bought”. There is nothing wrong with playing both sides against the middle, unless the middle is you. I’m just not as shocked as you that your children don’t want anything to do with you.

To the train hopping punk between Atlanta and St. Louis;
Keep riding the rails, it fits your temperament.

To the four loud rednecks from St Louis to Denver;
I am constantly asking the question why when peoples intelligence drop, their volume rises? Watching you talk I could see your brain cells tripping over each other. No one on the bus wants to know where your fist has been, and making fun of some one with 2 teeth when you have a total of three is just wrong.

To any one who feels the need to yell down a buss, or across a bus station;
I know it goes against your trailer park, daytime TV ethics, but instead of screaming you could walk the five feet up to the person you want to talk to, and then ask your question. If you do this enough you might even lose some of that country-fried bulk.

Frame Building Class Day 5

January 19, 2008

I over slept this morning, had to hurry to get dressed, and out the door, pulling a shirt on, with a coffee cup hanging out of my mouth. Its finally warm, and the snow is melting, this is what the south is supposed to feel like.

We take an early lunch because Steve’s son comes round, and we all head to the bar-be que place from day one. One of the best things about the class is Steve and Kim go out of their way to make us feel welcome in their town, showing us the good spots, and telling us a bunch of interesting stories about people and places around town, playing with their dogs, joking around and having a good time during class.

I hat my seat stays all ground in and tacked before lunch, so we take my frame out of the jig and throw it on the frame table to check the alignment. I’m a few millimeters off in front and back, but nothing serious. Steve and I get the frame welded, and after a little fiddling with the track ends its spot on. I grab the grinder, and go to town on my track ends to shape them up nicely, then its only about an hours worth of sanding, and I’m ready for the hardest part of the week: choosing a frame color.

I start out with about six choices, and slowly narrow it down to one. We clean out the powder coating equipment, chase the bottom bracket threads, and ream the seat tube. Kim and me wash the frame, and while it’s baking in the dryer I snap a ton of pictures. My classmate is catching up, and has his frame tacked by the time mine is out of the oven.

Powder coating works by using electricity to attract the color particles to the frame using positive and negative charge, this means that when you spray it, it makes an electric zapping sound like when you get got by static electricity. That is differently the second coolest thing about powder, but you have to wait until Monday to see the first.

Frame Building Class Day 4

January 19, 2008

I love the south because where other people see the useless result of making cornmeal; they see a delicious and notorious instant breakfast.good ol fud

When I woke up it was snowing, by the time we finished breakfast it had turned to freezing rain, the result is a wide field that looks like its covered in snow but is actually a skating rink, designed for doing hand break 360s in your classmates rental car.

At BREW we grab some morning coffee, and I tack my front triangle, and pick out my track ends and my chain stays, drill the vent holes in the bottom bracket, all before lunch. I’m getting pretty confidant that I might have the frame tacked by the end of the day.

For lunch we hit up another good local restaurant, Chinese today and I scarf down a massive spring roll and some tofu and mixed veggies.

Back at the workshop Steve helps me tack the track ends to the chain stays, and set the jig. I head over to the grinding wheel. Steve is looking at my classmates jig, “some thing is wrong” he says, “what’s your bottom Bracket height?” A consultation of the frame sheet, and some fiddling with the jig, and every thing is re-set right. They go to tack in his down tube, and it’s to short. They start cutting and grinding, and I finish off my chain stays, and tack them in.

I grab some seat stays and start grinding, after about fifteen minuets of grinding and not getting any thing close to a fit, I realize that I’ve done something wrong, and destroyed the seat stay. I trade it for a new one, and get them started. At this point exhaustion has set in, and its time to call it a night. I’m chain stays and a paint job away from a bike.

Frame Building Class Day 3

January 18, 2008

Last night we designed our frames on paper, this morning we set up jigs and selected tubing. I went with an externally butted seat tube, and started grinding away at it. It takes a while to get the seat tube fitted but by lunchtime we had our bottom brackets welded to our seat posts, and our jig angels all set.

We go out to lunch, and I get to see “down town” West Jefferson. The town is tiny, but it has some great restaurants, we had Japanese yesterday I had steamed veggies in a pretty good sauce, and a salad with a great ginger sauce. Today its Italian, the restaurant could have been a pretty good night club, or venue, its huge with a stage near the front, a second level that looks down on the first, and a totally isolated third floor. The food is really good and cheep. The vegan option is past with marina, salad and bread sticks.

After lunch we sort out our head tubes, get them cut and filled, and set in the jig, and choose our bottom and top tubes.

We close early for the day so me and the other student decide to see what nightlife this town has to offer. Ashe County is dry, but the town allows beer and wine to be sold in store, and by the drink. They just legalized liquor by the drink in 2007, and the sheriff still shouts down moonshine stills.

Main street is dead, so is the street on either side, we stop for gas and the station clerk tells us the only bar in town is the bowling ally. We figure booze and heavy objects go well together and heard over. We try to get a pitcher, but the bartender wont sever me because he doesn’t know what a passport looks like, and its not in his book of ids. We bowl a game, and grab a few beers and the supper market, and stay up late exchanging stories.

We swap stories about drunken wanton destruction, usualy involving fire, and that strange force that guides drunks away from the arms of the law.

A short trip to the gas station and they have every thing they need. The go down to the guys old house, light the rag, and toss a few cocktails onto the porch, which is immediately enveloped by flames. In a few second they hear sirens headed their way, so they deiced that the best way not to get caught is to hide in some bushes across the street and watch the firemen put it out. Through the cosmic forces that guides young men though the moments when alcohol and petrol bombs mix, they mange not to get caught, and not to kill anything.

There is one bus to Boone; it leaves the Winston-Salem Greyhound station at 6am and 8pm, seven days a week. I got the early bus, and got to Boone at around 8am. On the way in I saw a hotel, so I get off the bus and head there in hopes of getting a taxi the 30 miles to West Jefferson. They give me a taxi company’s number, but I can’t get any body, they break out the phone book and I try every cab in the town, no luck. The woman at the desk suggests walking or hitch hiking. The cleaner comes up to the desks and says that there are no taxis until 10 am; ask me where I’m going and why, when I mention frame building, we start chatting about bikes. He offers me use of his bike for the week; on the condition I return it. I had met this guy about ten minutes ago, maybe there is some truth abut small towns? Nope the guy is from upstate New York, he is just really nice, and wanted to help out a fellow cyclist in any way he could. There was no way I could accept his offer, but it is probably one of the nicest things any one has offered me. When I decline, he hooks me up with the hotel’s free breakfast, and talk about bikes. Turns out he wants to set up a fixed, and has a good idea of what he is going to go for.

I try all the cabs again after 10, but don’t get anything. I head out to walk or hitch hike, and the cleaner gives me the number of some shops that rent bikes, they are all closed. I head out, walking to the state highway that leads to West Jefferson. One of the taxi drivers returns my call, and says they can pick me up in an hour, I kill it by drinking coffee at a fish restaurant, and get charged the out of towners price.

The taxi picks me up, and the drive talks about her boss being the town drunk and driving taxis into ditches and, and about being a trucker, and all the brutal accidents she has seen.

San Fransisco might have the first critical mass, but Boone is where the solidarity is at.

Greyhound bus pt. 1

January 13, 2008

1700 miles, and a day and a half to get from Denver, to Winston-Salem North Carolina, I’m down. The ticket says the buss leaves at 10am and I have to be there an hour early to claim my ticket. I show up at 9am, bus is not secluded to leave until 11:30. No big deal, I break out the book I brought for these parts of the trip, and start to read. I kill about an hour, then security starts to hassle me “do you have a ticket?” “When does your bus leave?” “Will you kick that bum out for us?” They asked every one in the station these questions until they got an ex-military trucker who volunteers to chuck the bum, a 19 or 20 year old traveler kid, coughing up some blood. I gave the guy the address of a free clinic before ex-army boy shoved him out the door.

They call for us to line up at door 2, about half the station shuffles into line, where we stand about, and I chat to the girl and guy in front of me, trying to tell if they are related, or in love, or booth. The guy looks 30ish and is a mechanic with a house and kids, the girl looks 18 at the most, has an obsession with Japan, and new rock. She tries to talk to me about these for a while, then out of nowhere sniffs me, and pronounces that I smell good.

I decide its time to talk to the guy in the cowboy hat behind me. Now if you are going to wear a cowboy hat and matching denim vest, shirt, and pants, you have to have a voice like this guy, imagine Clint Eastwood towards the end of a western when the good guys never run out of ammo. Then imagine that he has been smoking Marblo Reds for twenty years, and swallowed some nails for good measure. With a voice that good it’s a shame that all he has to say is “fuckin’ bus is late”.

The Bus leaves Denver at about one pm, The flamboyant driver tries to hard to be funny, and the girl sitting next to me and I have nothing to talk about until I mention photography which was her minor. The Driver almost leaves four people at the first stop, but the make it by running after the bus. I try to shoot some double exposure shots of the sunset in Kansas, but I don’t think they will turn out. I sleep, and read until St. Louis.

The Saint Louis terminal is a throw back to the days when riding a greyhound was slightly glamorous, with carved plastered ceilings in green, gold and white, and fluted columns reaching up to them. It is also a throw back to when buses held about 20 people.

Getting on the next bus, I sit across the aisle from a family of six, three young kids, two women in there twenties, and one in her thirties. One of the little kids, the only boy, asks the girl next to him for his back pack, she refuses, and he starts a small scene, which prompts the oldest woman to walk back and stand over him “don’t hurt me he yells” and she slaps him, in public, in front of every one on the bus. At the next stop, I talk to the kid, and buy him a candy bar. I spend the rest of the ride trying to decide what I can, or should do about what I saw, in the end I don’t say or do anything. I’m pretty sure that it was the wrong course of action, but I didn’t think that the kid would be better off in the foster system.
In Indianapolis I meet a cool girl on her way from Chicago to Connecticut, I tell her about the rat patrol (make a link) and we start chatting about bikes and messengering. We chat some more at Columbus, where we both have a layover, and I find out that she’s vegan, and she shares her salad with me, the first vegetables I had had in a day.

We go our separate ways and I don’t sleep for a second on the last leg of my trip, mostly due to an old man who walks the aisles talking to him self, and kicking the other passengers. We get into Winston-Salem at 5:30 am, its freezing and the station is closed.

part two to come next week

Frame building

January 11, 2008

I’m about to set off into the world of frame building. In about six hours I will be hopping aboard a greyhound bus, which will in just over a day and a half, deposit me in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. From there it’s a local bus to Boone, and then its only 30 miles not served by public transit, and I arrive in West Jefferson where I will meet up the master frame maker of BREW Bikes. Who will spend the next 5 days with me as I take an idea, some bits of metal and a tool that shoots fire, and learn how to combine them into a solid bike frame. Then I take my newly formed frame and learn the art of powder coating.