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An SU at the CU equals ewwwwwwww…

Posted by sdrury on December 28, 2009

This is the first in an ongoing series of missives that are meant to illuminate the deteriorating state of decorum and consideration towards our fellow man. The continuing disintegration of the interest in the common good, rather than the personal good, is further evidence that we are, in fact, doomed as a country, and eventually, as a race of humans.

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So. I’m at a coffee shop (not Starbucks, actually it’s The Coffee Underground) here in Greenville. I’m working on a freelance project on my laptop, listening to my iTunes library and generally minding my own business. The iced teas I’ve downed while tapping away on my keyboard have made their way to the section of my body that demanded immediate attention. Nature called.

The bathroom at the CU (the abbrevaition it ascribes for itself) is fairly standard as far as coffee shops go. A sink, a stall and a commode. As the latter two were occupado, I waited patiently by the sink. A gentleman emerged from the commode and he and I exchanged nods in the way that men unfamiliar with each other will do after they’ve just exposed they’re genitalia in close quarters. It’s a kind of half-smile, meant to make pleasant an unpleasant circumstance.

(not the commode in question)

As I arrived in the now vacant toilet, I instantly noticed that the previous tenant had abused the machine in such a way as to make it unusable for subsequent visitors. The detritus of his labors had been left untended. The dude peed all over the lid. I groaned, hoping for a sympathetic ear in the other person in the bathroom, but he was in mid-stream. So I uttered an expletive and left.

Emerging from the rest room, I was furious, not only at such an egregious lack of hygiene but by the false sense of fellowship created by the trade of glances when we passed shoulders. I was determined to confront the offender. I spotted him instantly, seated across from a member of the fairer sex. Perfect, I’ll humiliate him in front of his soon-to-be ex –girlfriend. But I paused. The coffee shop was crowded. The non-threatening music (Counting Crows?) and holiday season had forged a mood incompatible to confrontation. I thought about finking on him to one of the barristas. Or maybe just pull him inside and implore not to repeat such an indiscretion. I did none of these and instead returned to the rest room once it had emptied.

Once I returned to my seat—having washed my hands more thoroughly than I had in recent memory—I glowered at the SU (sloppy urinator). I am regular here and should our paths cross once again, in latrine or out, he shall be made fully aware of my umbrage and ordered to…make sure it never happens again. Or I’ll really get mad.

What should I have done? Vote in the poll below.

Posted in Humor, Life in Greenville, We're Doomed - Humanity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What should I have done in response to the sloppy urinator?

Posted by sdrury on December 28, 2009

Posted in Life in Greenville, We're Doomed - Humanity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I’m Not A Serious Cyclist Since I Don’t Shave My Legs

Posted by sdrury on December 26, 2009

I am an amateur cyclist. Very amateur. I am mostly a weekend cyclist. Weather permitting I can get out a couple of times a week. My bike is about eight years old but it’s sturdy. I keep the seat, the tires and the brakes in good working condition. My bike is not quite a road bike, but it’s not a mountain bike either. In other words it’s just right. Now that I’ve moved to Greenville I can ride year round and the more I ride the more I’m becoming aware of the habits and practices of other, more accomplished bikers. There’s one phenomena in particular that has caught my attention. Well, calling it a phenomena is inaccurate, since that implies it’s a passing trend and it most certainly is not. It’s the practice of male cyclists shaving their legs.  Surely, I thought, there must be an aerodynamic benefit but that must only be felt by elite riders. Then I saw plenty of guys who probably aren’t elite cyclists, but they shaved their legs too. I didn’t dare ask another cyclist why he shaved his legs for it might reveal an ignorance on my part.oo. So, like any person with a computer, I Googled it.

My source here is www.coachlevi.com. I don’t know who Coach Levi is or what his qualifications are on such matters but he seems to be pretty knowledgeable about all things cycling. Here’s what he has to say about the leg shaving business:

Shaving Your Legs for All The Wrong Reasons

First, we’ll start with a few reasons people give for shaving their legs that are actually myths or just dumb reasons.

To ride faster (due to better aerodynamics.)

The first thing most people think of with smooth legs is better aerodynamics. Surely a smooth leg slices through the wind much, much faster than a leg covered in thin little hairs!

But guess what – this lack of leg hair does not make you more aerodynamic. While there are a variety of wind tunnel tests for time trial positioning, along with big studies about air turbulence for golf ball dimple designs, drag from leg hair has not been studied. Why? Because it is way too minimal to even matter.

If you are a triathlete or swimmer, though, you’re dealing with water, and that’s a different story. (One which doesn’t even matter these days, thanks to super fast suits that even smooth skin can’t compare to.)

For sheer joy and excitement.

You might be thinking “hey, that might be neat to shave my legs once.” Trust me, it’s not. Ask any cyclist (or any female, for that matter) that shaves their legs how fun and exciting it is, and you’ll get blank stares and confused looks.

The first time is alright, and smooth legs do make for a good conversation piece, but then you have to shave again at least twice a week. It’s a hassle, and if you don’t do it, well, the stubble is not fun. So then you are forced to keep shaving or deal with stubble for a couple weeks.

Good Reasons to Shave Your Legs

Now here are the real reasons to shave your legs that actually justify the time, expense, and possible ridicule you’ll experience once you begin shaving your legs.

Reason 1 – To look good.

This is what it’s all about right here. You can have a fancy kit, sleek helmet, and top-of-the-line bike, but if you pair hairy legs with tight spandex, the cycling fashion police will be forced to haul you away.

Best of all, hairless legs emphasize your muscles. With hair, your legs will still be big, but once they’re shaved, every little ripple in your muscles stands out for the world to see. 

Reason 2 – To feel like a pro.

All the pros shave their legs. Not once have I seen a professional racer (on the road, at least) that foregos shaving, and even the majority of recreational roadies and amateur racers shave their legs. If you shave yours, too, it makes you feel like part of the group.

You’ll feel faster, too, just like the pros. Heck, you might even get motivated enough that your mind is driven to ride faster. This is a placebo effect, not aerodynamics, but it could very well result in faster times!

And not only do you feel like a pro, you just feel good. That’s probably because hairless legs keep you cooler (think of hairy legs like wearing a cotton t-shirt.) Plus, you actually “feel” the air moving around your legs, which is very neat.

Reason 3 – To treat road rash easily.

The less you race or do group rides, the less you’ll have to worry about road rash, but it’s always a concern. But if you do a lot of group rides and races, there’s a good chance you’ll experience road rash first-hand.

The previous two reasons (looking good and feeling good) will help you on each ride, but the (hopefully) rare cases when you get road rash will be the most memorable “I’m so glad I shaved my legs!” moments. That’s because cleaning your raw skin is much easier if you don’t have hair in the way. Not to mention, the hair will likely trap more dust, dirt, bugs, and gravel in your wounds.

If you end up in the hospital to get your hairy road rash cleaned out, chances are a tired, unsympathetic nurse will bust out the wire brush to scrub your wounds. Ouch! So in this case, leg shaving is kind of like wearing a helmet – you hope you don’t need it, but it’s there just in case.

Smooth legs also come in handy if you’re a mountain biker and get scratched up or cut; then you can put a band-aid on your wounds without it pulling out your hair (which can sometimes be more painful than the cut itself!)

Reason 4 – For better massages.

Again, this probably doesn’t matter on a day-to-day basis (unless you’re a pro,) but getting a massage feels so much better if your legs are smooth. Part of the reason is that the hair gets sticky and creates friction, which makes it harder for the masseuse, which translates into a sub-par experience for you.

Try it yourself: rub some massage oil on a hairy leg, and then do a little self-massage. Then try the same thing on a smooth leg, and you’ll see a big difference. Your hands will glide easily, and it will feel oh so good!

Reason 5 – To deter ticks.

If you ride in the woods (or even on back roads,) ticks can jump off weeds and grab your leg hair, then make their way around your body until they decide to bite. Smooth legs don’t leave them much to grab onto, so it’s less likely that a tick will stay on your body.

It will also be easier to spot a tick if there isn’t a mass of hair obscuring your vision.

I’ve found five ticks on me so far this year, but with my smooth legs, most have been stuck hiding on my clothes. With hairy legs, I probably would have had at least twice as many ticks, some of which may have crawled through my leg hair and made a nice home somewhere on my upper thigh!

(One did stick itself into my hamstring, but that bugger got there one evening when I was sitting around in the grass. I don’t think he would have made it there had I been wearing lycra!)

So there you have it. Five solid reasons to shave your legs that have nothing to do with aerodynamics.

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Alrighty.  So the best reason is to look good? I’m not pageant walking here, I’m riding a bike. None of the other reasons are particularly compelling either, as I think I’ve gotten two ticks in the entirety of my cycling experience. And I’ve never had road rash. And wouldn’t shaving just draw attention to the rash? And who wants to look at a rash? Massages? Please. I confess that I not only do I find the practice extremely time consuming (once you start shaving it never stops; remember that Seinfeld episode where Jerry shaves his chest?) it’s steeped in vanity. Basically, it’s for show, like a basketball player getting a tattoo. It just seems like an awful lot of trouble to through in order to make your commitment to a rather amorphous group. By comparison, the tattoo requires much less maintenance. You don’t have to re-colorize it every week or so. I’d much rather than have my commitment measured by my mileage rather than follicles. I don’t want to alienate myself and tell other weekend cyclists to get over themselves but…

 

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Jay Farrar Doesn’t Give a $h!t What I Want

Posted by sdrury on December 12, 2009

In the rather insular world of independent music the break-up of Uncle Tupelo in 1994 was biblical in its importance. Few musical divorces were so public and filled with acrimony. The real tragedy of course, was musical, because the leaders of Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy went their separate ways with Tweedy forming Wilco and Farrar forming Son Volt.

I’m embarrassed to say I learned about this piece of history well after the fact, as a fan of Wilco. As all the members of Uncle Tupelo—except for Farrar and drummer Mike Heidorn—ended up in the original lineup of Wilco, the dramatic back story of the band’s formation accompanied every early write-up of them. So, everything I knew about the so-called fathers of alternative country was through the prism of one of the aggrieved parties. And as everyone knows, story of every relationship has two sides—at the very least.

Since purchasing Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in 2002 my admiration and respect for Tweedy and Wilco has only grown. I’ve seen them in concert numerous and I can identify their songs in an instant, even those from side projects. Tweedy has made little secret of his wish to achieve mainstream success with Wilco, and the evolution of their music reflects that aim. They’ve won two Grammys and are among the top-selling independent bands in the country (Foxtrot has sold nearly 700,000 copies).

And up until recently, when it came to choosing between Wilco and Son Volt I felt like a child caught in the middle of a custody battle. Despite all they had in common they were mutually exclusive. Liking one band meant loathing the other.

So, when I took in The Son Volt show a few weeks back at The Handlebar  in my new hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, I felt like a party-crasher. I half-expected a loyalty test before being admitted—“Quick, what are the first five tracks from Okemah and the Melody of Riot?” I undoubtedly would have failed any such questioning since my knowledge of Son Volt’s records is slim, especially in comparison to…another band…whose name rhymes with Bilko (I have since remedied this imbalance.)

Now, I can’t help but believe that the mere mention of Uncle Tupelo or Jeff Tweedy in the context of a Son Volt discussion has become immensely tiring and more than a little irritating to Jay Farrar at this point. I’ve heard interviews where the operatics from days gone by is brought up to Farrar in a very casual way, where the interviewer is giving the listener a frame of reference and Farrar’s answers, after a deep sigh or two, are perfunctory at best and occasionally caustic. He could easily say, “Really? We still are talking about this?” Then again, it’s quite possible he’s just annoyed about having to deal with the music press.

And that’s the thing about Farrar. It’s a tired cliché to say a musician is all about the music, but with Jay Farrar it really is true. He apparently doesn’t have much interest in playing stadiums or winning a Grammy. Or having his music used to sell cars. Son Volt’s sound is extremely uncompromising and it’s very much a progression of what Farrar began with Uncle Tupelo, the fusion of twang, punk and classic rock that was famously dubbed Alt-Country.

The first half of Son Volt’s set was dedicated to the twangy portion of their catalogue. Farrar played an acoustic guitar that was seconded most prominently by a steel guitar and bass. The drummer and lead guitarist seemed to be apparitions. The crowd nodded approvingly and applauded politely at the end of each number. For a moment, I thought the audience might be taking the measure of Son Volt, but upon seeing them whisper along to Farrar’s pleasant baritone, I knew I was among diehards.

About five songs into the set I talked my companion into walking up close to the stage and in a matter of moments we were within a few yards of Farrar. Next to me, was a brave soul sporting a Wilco t-shirt, which, in this setting, was tantamount to wearing a Yankees jersey in Fenway Park. In between songs, I sarcastically advised him that he should not expect me to come to his aid if he found himself on the business end of someone’s boot. He laughed knowingly and said, “Ahhh, who says you can’t like both of ’em? It’s cool man…” I was relieved to hear this and it got me thinking about the last concert I attended. Such a discussion about band loyalty would be considered a triviality when the artists playing before 80,000 strangers at a football stadium invoked poverty in Africa and solidarity for Burma. But here, among several hundred fans (a review the next day said the venue was “packed” when in fact it was about two-thirds full) in a converted warehouse, it was the music that mattered. Farrar slipped from one song to the next with such fluidity that it was hard to tell where one song ended and the next one began. The mood was casual and comforting, even though, Farrar might have spoken ten sentences to the attendees, and that’s a generous estimation.

And it was at that point, with the room filled with knowing fellowship, that somebody opened a door and let the rock and roll in. If earlier Farrar was aloof or disinterested, when the opening chords to Afterglow 61 rippled from his guitar his expression turned to a gleeful sneer,

Goodnight Irene inside the prison walls, Killed a man and lived to sing about it all, Stella 12 on Highway 61..” (here’s an earlier rendition on Letterman)

For the next 45 minutes Son Volt pumped through one pulsating song after another, songs that often invoked Farrar’s musical ancestors, the type of songs that, not too long ago could be heard on AOR radio, but now seemed precious and vital, made that way because the guy at the microphone, leading this blistering rock band, pouring this music over an appreciative throng, was doing exactly what he wanted in the way he wanted to do it. And in this day and age, where what we used to call the music business is whimpering into decline because of market pressures, there’s something reassuring about a guy who bows to no one.

Of course I hoped I would hear No Depression, Uncle Tupelo’s signature song, but I didn’t. It left me wanting more, but Jay Farrar probably doesn’t give a shit what I want.

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Living in Greenville

Posted by sdrury on November 21, 2009

It’s always nice to have your judgement confirmed. I recently moved to Greenville, South Carolina from Northeastern Pennsylvania. I grew up in the Scranton area and it will always hold a special place in my heart, but the area is dying a slow, painful death. Rather than bash it, I’ll extol the virtues of my new home. I had been to Greenville before as a visitor and when the chance came to move here I jumped at it.

I’ve only been here for a short time but I’m continually surprised by it. Despite being smaller than Scranton it has more cultural opportunities than my old home ever had or ever will have. The first inclination for many will be that in a town this size (roughly 60,000) in the South God and guns must rule the roost. The importance of church-going is an undeniable fact of life here and it’s impossible to ignore. Yet the prevalence of the arts (galleries, concerts, literature, college life) is equally, if not more omnipotent, at least in downtown Greenville. Now, I know I sound like a mouthpiece for the convention and visitors bureau here (ok, the Carolina Foothills are just to the north, the beach three hours away and Charlotte and Atlanta are popular day trips).

As if that’s not enough there are some truly wonderful ethnic restaurants also. I’m no gastronome, but I know good eats when I have them. Yes, that’s right ethnic restaurants in Greenville, South Carolina. And by ethnic I don’t mean pizza joints, diners and Taco Bell. I’m talking Colombian, Belgian, Brazilian, Cuban, French, Middle Eastern. And there’s a burgeoning slow and organic food movement. Although all the precincts have not been tallied, I’m pretty confident I made a good decision. I have the pictures to prove it.

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