Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

A Letter to a Fellow Street Cyclist

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To the black dude in the pink bike shorts and the lime green road bike:

Sorry I had to cut off our reverie bombing up Broadway, but the cop two blocks behind us with the flashing lights heading up the wrong way is a known entity who has likely had a hard-on for me ever since I beat four of his tickets two years ago. By splitting up I at least kept his attention away from you, and by keeping my nose clean as he followed me zig zagging through the neighborhood I frustrated his efforts. The hoods on my block found much merriment watching the squad car prowl by, and were quick to remind me that it’s approaching the end of the month.

To your question as to whether you’ve seen me before, you have. We once shared a commute up Riverside Drive where you got into some altercation with some lady in a car with Jersey plates for not giving you enough room on the shoulder – though, to be fair, on Riverside Drive, despite being an official “bike route,” there is no shoulder – and you had asked me the same question you asked me this time: How can I act so “zen” riding a bicycle on the streets of New York?

As to that question, when you find much to complain about people’s driving habits in this city, it’s not so much about taking it personally as it is about never expecting people to do right (and thus never being disappointed by their behavior), and as such reducing everything and everybody to base equations of velocity and direction. I’d liken it to video gaming, but I often find video games frustrating because the computer cheats. You can’t cheat physics.

I hope you made it to Riverdale alright, and I’m kinda surprised at the serendipity of seeing you (I think) along with a dozen other dudes bombing up Sixth Ave right as I got out of work, swarming the yellow cabs and express buses in our trek to the far north, occupying the space between the pragmatic application of the law and the reasonable acceptance of the public – that grey area where everybody actually lives. As I continue to play the corporate whore, and as gentrification threatens to swallow us whole, it’s heartening to have a little slice of the city which I can call my domain; to leave my mark.

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