I’m a bicycle nut. So when I picked up a sweet old vintage bike at a yard sale this weekend for $40 I had the double-delight of finding a precious ol’ pedal for a pittance. I love classic old 3-speeds like this. And it didn’t take much to get it going. Pumped up the tires and made a few adjustments, added a bell and a front basket for my commute.
Today I found a site that dates it at 1953! This thing is in great shape for 60 years old, hardly any rust, the parts in good working order. I rode it home from work today feeling smooth and stylish.
Cool touches: The fenders are like pinstriped fins on a 50’s car with a silver hood-ornament at front. Arrows down the forks. The white on black motif with solid black chainring and guard with white stars punctuating the italicized bike name.
So I’ve got another great commuter… and I am supposed to be getting rid of bikes!
Jody (Maile’s lil brother) is getting married Aug. 9th and he planned a trip for all his groomsmen for us all to go to Estes Park, CO, where he was a YMCA councilor for two summers after college and has returned several times. There is a hike there that he takes everyone he can get up there to do with him.
So we were all in a cabin, me and five late-twenties athletes, Thurs – Mon. It was a great bachelor-party weekend that revolved around a killer hike we did Saturday. When I say killer, I mean it was stunning terrain, AND it nearly killed me. I’m exaggerating, but I was certainly at the edge of my ability for most of the hike and am amazed I completed it uninjured.
Our cabin was at 5K ft. We drove to 9K ft. to the foot of the mountain and ended up hiking to 12K ft and back over 8 hours. From the beginning I was just trying to keep up with these competitive athletes. There was snow and rivulets running across the trail almost immediately. We all carried about 20-30 lb. packs of food, water and clothes for the changes in conditions.
After about 3 hours, I could definitely tell the air was getting thin and by the time we stopped for lunch, not too far from the top, I had to breathe so deep and hard that it felt like hyperventilating. As long as I focussed on not getting dropped (reminded me of cycling days, sticking to the wheel – now the heel – of the guy in front) and breathing as deeply and rhythmically as possible, I could keep nausea and a headache at bay. If I exerted myself too much or even just stopped the huffing to talk I would feel one or both coming on.
By the time we were approaching the top the winds were 60+ mph and I was now literally drafting off the last guy, trying to not let a foot come between us. As everyone else on the trail turned around, we made it over the switchback top to a flatter area where the trail ended.
Now we were all making our own ways across rocky fields and I took a spill, pushed over by the wind and exhaustion. Though I hit my head mildly and was afraid I sprained my wrist catching myself, I was OK. When we made it across the plateau we arrived at a steep dropoff covered in snow. This was part of Jody’s plan that I had seen videos of: slide down the snowy embankments.
The slides (two of them) were fun, but also soaked our butts and socks and pant legs. Walking in the snow was harder than jogging down it, so I made it out of the snow first, elated that I’d made it past the top, the hard part. And then it got harder as we were really without a path now.
We crossed a boggy area filled with runoff streams and fallen trees, climbing through, trying to find the easiest way, in vain. It just kept getting harder! Then we had to make our way down rocky forested hills trying to find the trail again. Finally we found it, took a break to replace wet socks and pants, and it did finally start to get easier.
By this time I was TOTALLY spent but elated to have made it and not: got hurt, bonked, cramped up, blistered, quit, or got sunburned. The one thing that I seemed to get right was drinking and eating all day. My legs, back and energy held out.
Now I could literally breath easier and the scramble down the trails was a blur of exhaustion and pride. When we came to the .5 mi. marker till the end, we were all relived and then tortured one last time with one last .5 mi. climb. I was encouraged when everyone else was as pained by it as I was by the end.
We fell into the van, found a Mexican cantina and gobbled down cokes, beers, chips, queso and buffalo tacos and enchiladas. I was comforted that everyone else seemed to as ragged out and sore for the next two days.
I have become a compulsive WTF listener. WTF is Marc Maron’s podcast. He started it in his late forties, does it primarily from his L.A. garage twice a week, and just passed his 500th episode a few weeks ago at 50. The format is a 10-15 min intro of his obsessive schtick (with commercials that he does for his shows, partners and sponsors woven in), a 60-90 min interview, usually with a comedian, musician, or actor, and a few final closing minutes of wrap-up and plugs.
I talk about WTF with most of my close friends now – Doug, Maile, Earl, Sam, Gray – because we’re all big fans inspired by its insight. And I’ve started recommending it to people regularly now, so I thought I should document its influence with an explanation. Here are things I love about it:
he started it himself and still does it largely himself, without needing anyone in the industry’s approval, no middlemen, he is in complete creative and strategic control
he started it relatively late in life, as a way to make things happen when they weren’t, and now gets millions of downloads a month
having struggled 25 years in stand-up, he can talk shop and the history of the scene with the best comedians, but also with musicians and actors because of their commonalities and love for those cultures
he’s a refreshing antidote to uptight interviewers like Terri Gross and is so unpretentiously authentic that even my old favorites like Ira Glass and Jad Abumrad come off as snobby hipsters in comparison
his Woody-Alleneque obsessive insecurities combined with his David-Lettermanish self-deprecation and humility make him a genuinely interested and compelling interviewer who consistently gets people to open up and engage on a deep level
he uses his own resilience and slow rise to fame to get his guests to map out exactly how they made it, fucked up, and learned from it
he uses his own drug and alcohol experiences as well as his 14 years of sobriety to relate with his guests, talk addictions, recovery and both laugh at and address demons and self-destruction
he is a guitar player with a rich history of music love, favorites artists and opinions about music history which he frequently uses to connect with guests, especially the musicians with whom he is a true fan not just a critic
I did not like Marc Maron the first time I listened to WTF, and skipped over the intro segment several times till I grew to know him from the interviews. But I soon came to appreciate the seamlessness of his evolving personal stories and even how he weaves in into his plugs and ads.
This interview has a lot of the stuff that you will not find anywhere else.
A long shared history with the guest and the scene
The reconciliation of a friendship scarred with Marc’s bitter jealousy and the patient sense of humor with which he can discuss the past, admit his faults, and come to some resolution (or live with the ambiguity of the friendship). Many of his episodes end with his asking of the guest, “We good?”
His genuine expression of love and admiration and modeling of how two men can wade through a lot of pride and hurt by unpacking the past and seeing it from the other side
Ultimately WTF is a success story about how to make it as an artist, how Marc is making it, and how each of his guests made it. Instead of the usual emphasis on the breaks and the milestones, Marc maps out all the stuff artists like me need to hang in there, get out of our own way, and do our own thing.
No other interviewer brings or brings out so much of the mess that everyone else is trying to hide. And it’s exactly what we need to hear. Bless this what-the-fucker for hanging in there, getting clean, doing his own thing, putting it out there and connecting with so many other artists and fuck-ups, from his guests to fans like me. Boomer lives!
7/1/14: I’d like to add this incredible interview with Todd Hanson (Onion writer) as an example of the type of raw reality that Marc illicits and facilitates. This is therapy.
I had my appendix out a few months ago and when I got home from the hospital there was a card signed by a bunch of my coworkers. On top of that, they pooled $70 and pledged it toward my next song on Patreon. I was so touched. So I wrote a song for all the folks I work with fitting as many names and division acronyms in as I could.
Here is a map of sweet spots around Austin where I like to play outdoor shows. My favorite spots are natural amphitheaters, secluded stages, echoey places, like beneath bridges. I look forward to adding places I’d like to play and starting maps for other cities like D.C. and San Diego.