Monday, March 29, 2010

To Live and Train in L.A. #11

High on my list of complaints these days, as you well know, is a whiny version of boo-hoo, I always have to ride alone; nobody talks to me when I’m riding my bike; everybody’s such an asshole. The correct response to whining of this nature, as you also well know, is this: “Shut the fuck up, Magnuson.” Whining is bullshit. No denying it. But here I am, in full knowledge of this essential human fact, and I’m whining! There will be no goddam profit in this, folks.

So this weekend I classically underperformed on my bicycle and overperformed on my quest to eat lots cheese and watch basketball and become the most relaxed person in Los Angeles. (I was damned successful with the stay-mellow part, I’ll have you know). Still, because daily cycling is a religious obligation of sorts, I rolled a couple of times down the hill to make an appearance on the L.A. bike path. Saturday’s plan was mellow spinner, wave at other cyclists and also at the families and at the homeless people and the gangbangers and even at the L.A. Bicycle Police, who were for some reason rolling along the bikeway with air support. Couldn’t have asked for better weather, either. Perfectly sunny. Eighty degrees. No wind. And it turned out that during last week a miracle has occurred on the bikeway between the Fletcher Avenue Bridge and Figueroa. The City has laid new asphalt the whole way: three miles of new buttery black asphalt. Can a person whine about that? And will a person speculate where the City acquired the money for such a project? Fuck no. The new surface is fantastic, the kind of surface that when you’re spinning in your 34-tooth weenie ring (that’s a bike term, for those of you who aren’t bike-term savvy; not a naughty term) you can literally feel your nether eye winking at the joyously smooth texture of the pavement down below. I was so happy I was singing. My nether eye was singing. Small birds followed me along the path and I felt myself realizing my lifelong dream of transforming one Saturday afternoon into Snow White, the fairest maiden ever to pedal a bicycle through paradise….

Yep. It was that good. I mean, why ride bikes if you can’t feel like that? And why feel like that if you can’t share your experience with somebody else?

The following is not the answer but may be a part of it. I did talk to a cyclist on Sunday, in front of Rick’s Diner on the corner of Fletcher and Riverside. He was an old man riding a mountain bike and wearing a highway-worker yellow vest and he was shouting, “Stop, stop.” So I stopped and asked if everything was okay. He said, “Have you been on the new asphalt all the way down to Figueroa?” I told him that I had and that I was rolling there directly. He seemed to tear up with joy at the thought. I started to tear up, too. Why not? Twenty-five minutes later, when I was still standing in front of Rick’s Diner talking with this old man, I wasn’t just tearing up, I was weeping: This guy has been riding in L.A. for the last forty years: he’s been doored, hit by cars, beaten, robbed, spit at, shot at, chased by crazy people, his blood has become literally enmeshed the bituminous elements of the asphalt over which we roll. When I took my leave of this guy, he said, “Nice to meet you, Mike. You’re going to love it here.”

Wow. For the rest of Lent, I’m giving up whining.

See you out there this afternoon.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekender: Laurie Anderson

I've always thought Ms. Anderson was on her game when she was making public service announcements like these. And considering all the happy times we've been having in politics lately, this one seems alarmingly true.

I'll be back tomorrow with more weirdness. - mag

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Weekender: Jeff Beck Live

Probably most of you already have this DVD. Mr. Beck is 56 years old. And who else can bring it like this? - mag

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Navarone Becomes Magnuson

My fellow suffers (and sympathizers),

This graffiti is what my body feels like this morning. I made a stupid, stupid mistake last night, and no, I didn’t buy a goddam bottle of George Dickel and a pack of Marlboro Mediums and hang out on the back porch listening to Merle Haggard and trying to get back to my roots as a real man with real feelings and a real desire to turn all this shit into beautiful music, nor did I return inside the house with Merle in my heart and write elaborate romantic emails to all my old girlfriends, emphasizing points like “I’ve just always been fucked up in the head space, baby. I mean, when you and me sang ‘La Marseillaise’ that night in Cincinnati? Don’t you want to do that again? ”

Didn’t fucking happen. And I didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn Express, either.

Instead, at about seven o’clock in the evening, I was so hungry that my dog was maintaining a safe distance from me. She is a smart girl and knows when a fellow is eyeing her up like a piece of meat. She was saying, “Don’t even think about it, asshole.” I was like, “Girl, after all we’ve been through together?” She wasn’t taking to my line of crap. So I had to get my ass out of there.

So I strolled down the hill from my house and wandered over to the local Vietnamese restaurant and ordered a bigass bowl of cheap beef pho. Review: As Paulie Walnuts once said of his chocolate mousse, “It was fucking great!” I poured all the sauces into it and inhaled the bowl, slobbered it over my chin, and broke into a full bike-race-style sweat. Seriously good stuff, people.

But here’s the problem. The noodles in pho are rice noodles, so my weak Celiac system can handle that, but in the broth, in all the cool sauces: soy sauce. And obviously I’m a dumbshit because when I read the words soy sauce I’m thinking that shit’s made out of soy! Wrong, wrong, wrong. Soy sauce is mostly wheat, and wheat is gluten, and gluten turns the Magnuson digestive system into misfiring, turbulent, gas-spewing form of the Guns of Navarone. Oh my heavenly Lord, You who can heal all the bullshit in the world, remove this fucking gas from my body! And Lord, You know I’m trying my best to let it go. I’m in my underwear and my legs are propped up and my dog’s wearing a SARS mask. But oh, it hurts –

Sadly, I’m not exaggerating. So there’s a Celiac rule for you: don’t eat at a restaurant that uses soy sauce.



p.s. If you’re planning on hanging around with me in person today, I suggest postponing till tomorrow or maybe till I can call in a HAZMAT crew to bring my place back up to code.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Public Restrooms?

Since Mike Magnuson has become aware of our ongoing investigation into him, it has become increasingly difficult to track his movements through the City of Los Angeles. Yesterday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., he appeared in his driveway on a bicycle, ran the bike into the street and did a sort of strange, legs-splayed leap onto his bike and then bombed at a rather terrifying speed toward the stop sign at the bottom of the hill. He skidded to a stop and turned to face us and flipped us the bird and said, “Come and get me, assholes!”

We tried. We dispatched our operative on a Silver Lake Hipster singlespeed Masi to chase after him. Apparently, on the mile downhill to the Los Angeles River, Mike Magnuson did his best to prove that in fact the regular readers of Mag’s Sentence who think Mike is losing his mind are correct: Mike rides his bike through city traffic like a crazy person, out of the saddle, weaving in and out of traffic, bunny-hopping potholes. He will not live much longer if he keeps riding like this.

He slowed for a second when he reached the L.A. River Bikeway and our operative got within 100 yards of him, but at that moment, a cyclist with a Mellow Johnny’s jersey and a helmet mirror passed Mike. Our operative saw Mike raise his hand, strike himself on the helmet, then charge of in pursuit of the Mellow Johnny’s rider. Before long, our operative reports, Mike was long gone into the distance, and our operative caught up to the Mellow Johnny’s rider, who said, “Did you see that guy? What a jerk!”

A hour later, after our operative assumed that Mike was somewhere in Griffith Park – probably climbing Bryce Canyon because he reportedly loves the crappy road surface and the larger numbers of coyotes along the road – our operative stopped for a nature break at some public bathrooms near the soccer fields along the 5. Lo, Mike Magnuson rolled into the parking lot, bunny-hopped the curb on to the grass and jumped off his bike and took his helmet off and saw our operative.

Full transcript of the exchange:

Operative: What are you doing here?

Mike Magnuson: I’m gonna hang out in one of the stalls and see if I can pick up guys, what do you think?

Operative: Really?

Mike Magnuson: (winks) You never know.

Operative: You’re awfully sweaty. Were you riding hard?

Mike Magnuson: Nah. I just sweat a lot.

Operative: Do you know who I am?

Mike Magnuson: Listen, if I go in there and take a piss, you’re not gonna steal my bike, are you?

Operative: Maybe.

At this point, Mike grabbed our operative by the collar (the picture above was snapped at the very instant the violence began).

Mike Magnuson: If you wanna ride with me, that’s excellent. If you want to keep following me around and asking me stupid questions, well, fuck you.

Mike shook his head then and sprayed our operative with sweat and then released our operative from his grasp. Our operative, understandably, got the hell out of there but reports turning back to see Mike taking his bicycle into the bathroom stall with him. We hope no harm has come to that bicycle.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

To Live and Train in L.A. #10 ASSHOLE EDITION

Mine is fine, thanks to a combination of these products applied to my bibshort chamois before each ride – and no, I’m not putting either sun block or Visine on my ass. I’ve been eating properly of late, too, which always adds an extra little zing to the happy feeling between the chamois and the eye that can’t see. So while I may still be an asshole, you can’t deny that at least I’m taking care of myself.

On the low cycling roads of the City of Angels, however, I’m meeting up with nothing but assholes who seem like they could use something to prevent the chafing, so to speak. Let me clarify myself: I have mentioned this to a few local folks via email, that I keep running into assholes on my bike rides, people who don’t want to talk, who want to keep hammering, who suffer from the 40% I.Q. Reduction Syndrome that afflicts so many thousands of cyclists when they have a bicycle between their legs. Sometimes I chase these guys down, sometimes I let them go, sometimes I stare sadly to the east, over the mountains, and think maybe I should get the hell out of here and live in a rural area where hippie folk ride bikes because it’s fun, because it’s pleasurable, not because it’s a way to prove the size of one’s metaphorical dick or the scope of one’s manhood. One of the funniest things my buddy Professor Sherkat ever said was when we were talking about a new guy in town who trained on the Joel Friel plan – with all the zones and the mathematical charts on progress and happiness. Sherkat said, “The guy should just go and jerk off for a couple of weeks.” I’m pretty sure the guy in question didn’t and is still riding like a jackass. Oh well. So I’ve emailed my complaints to a few locals and they have all replied with basically the same thought: “Race your bike, Mag.” And my reply is this: “Do I have to?”

Yes. I do.

I’m not in great shape but am slowly getting in better shape, and in a Cat IV Masters road race or crit out here I would get shelled quicker than me and the Champ used to shell peanuts while we watched White Sox games at my place in Carbondale. But I guess I can’t worry about the results. If I try as hard as I can in race, with a number pinned on my jersey, I will be hammering in the appropriate environment for hammering.

Then again, maybe I should just put on baggy shorts and get a 29er and leave the roadie world altogether.

Probably doesn’t matter so much. My ass feels good. That’s really all I had to say today. A person can build any number of joyful days on that.

Six full months till cross season. Lordy. The wait’s killing me.

Intervals at 4:20 this afternoon. Anybody up for it?

Monday, March 22, 2010


From the Fletcher Avenue Bridge, you can bike the ‘other’ direction on the bike path, toward downtown. And I say ‘other’ with my index fingers bracketed because very few of the hard-core hammerhead cyclists ever pass that way owing 1) to the crappy bike-path conditions down that way and 2) to concerns about “those who dwell within the mountain,” to borrow a phrase from Lord of the Rings. True enough, the three miles of path beyond this gate are bumpy and potholed and gnarly and the socioeconomic conditions aren’t exactly on par with Beverly Hills, but since when has that stopped a Heckawee from riding his bike? Besides, with no jackasses riding in this direction, that means this Heckawee can spin and enjoy the view and keep his heart rate and his blood pressure low.

The reverse view of the Fletcher Ave Bridge on a rare gray day in Silver Lake. You can see that the path isn’t finished – cable railing not installed and so on – and there isn’t enough money to finish it, I don’t believe. And see the debris along the embankment? That’s how high the river rose a month or so ago. Under the bridge itself, of course, is the homeless guy with his Bolano novels. Out of respect, I will not take his picture with my cell phone. One of these times, though, I will interview that fellow and post it here on Mag’s Sentence. If he will talk to me, that is.

Here, gathered on the riverbed stones, are some of the incredibly frightening thug-types who seem to scare off cyclists from this part of the path. They are standing around a small picnic table on which is a bottle of California champagne. A gorgeous female model (is there any other kind?) fondles this bottle and the rest of those folks are assisting a photographer who is taking the model’s picture. I don’t know about you, but I’m writing my City Councilperson. These good-looking people with money are ruining the neighborhood!

Powerlines, trees in the river, run-down warehouses: tell me this isn’t a groovy place to ride bikes. Actually, my only complaint is the City used what money it had left to patch the dirt sections on the path with asphalt (there must not have been enough money to re-asphalt the whole thing), and I miss the dirt stretches. Funny thing, a couple of days ago, I emerged from this bumpy section of the trail and got back on to the smooth part that leads toward Griffith Park and I met up with a cyclist on a Specialized. Nice guy. Talkative. I was happy to have a friend for a while. He was telling me that he thinks the path is way too crappy and bumpy from whence I had emerged. He couldn’t believe I was riding down there. “I paid way too much money for my bike,” he said, “to beat the fuck out of it like that.” He was riding a Specialized Roubaix.

I’m riding a 2003-model Trek 5500. It has seen better days and if I were to try selling it, I would probably have to give the prospective buyer a few hundred bucks just to fix it up. On crappy surfaces, though, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better road bike.

I believe the makers of this fine artwork are the folks who scare off the hardcore hammerheads. Listen, I know it’s a tough neighborhood along this stretch of path but then again, it’s not all that scary. People wave. People say hello. Children play out on the path while their grandmothers supervise (all the more reason not to be a hammerhead: safety first, folks!). And dozens of people fish in the river. The only thing missing here is cyclists, which is what makes it ideal for cycling!

The end of the line. Beyond this fence, under this bridge: scary people. But here’s the thing, if the city put up the money, this path would extend four or five miles longer and connect with the path that goes all the way to Long Beach, for chrissakes! And from there a person could get on the San Gabriel River path and go clear into the mountains, all without ever encountering traffic. But there’s no money to make this happen. Sad, sad, sad situation. Still, from here in the other direction, till past the Zoo, it’s seven full miles of uninterrupted bike path. I have to be thankful for that.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekender: "Don't Call Me Lady." Repost

After making this one - which sort of cracked me up in the stupid/happy department - I decided it would be time to make a few more and give em up, which is exactly what I did. They say here in L.A. - probably a thousand times a minute - that if nobody's watching your show, you gotta stop producing the show. I spend more time on my bike now. Could be worse.

Have a great Sunday. Enjoy yourselves! I'll be back tomorrow with new schtuff. - mag

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Weekender: "Thank You, Lance Armstrong." Repost

Looks like Lance Armstrong didn't race in today's Milan-San Remo, which was won brilliantly by the great Oscar Friere. Lance apparently has gastroenteritis (he has the shits or the pukes or both) and couldn't leave the bathroom long enough to reach to the starting line. Anyway, I'm reposting this in honor of Lance's 'condition.' I had fun making this cartoon - whenever it was - and it proves why the xtranormals about cycling where two skinny guys talk about bike parts and sprints to the town line are much more popular than the ones I made! Have a great Saturday - mag

Friday, March 19, 2010

Life Sentences #12

The following operates on the theory that nobody can bullshit a bullshitter. If you don’t understand that theory, you are at grave risk. Seek assistance somewhere. Not that you’ll find any.

Preamble to Sentence of the Day:

I remember hearing the possibility of Universal Bullshit prophesied many years ago, at Slim’s Saddle Bar in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, drunk at nine-thirty in the morning with my co-workers from the overnight shift. We would buy shots of Schnapps and shoot them together and light cigarettes and collect ourselves and somebody would inevitably say, after a long thoughtful exhale, “Yeah, it’s all bullshit.” We would nod and laugh in the manner of fuckin-A right but nobody there at Slim’s believed it was all bullshit, only that most of it was.

These days? Bullshit is literally passing through our bodies in wireless-signal waves twenty-four hours a day and apparently, even though the bullshit’s inside our bodies, we still want to access this bullshit on every electronic device available whenever we’re conscious, which is how fucking much of the time?

Like the man once told me: Mag, you ask too many goddam questions and don’t have too many goddam answers.

This is how I’m watching March Madness: I’ve got the laptop set up in front of the TV and next to my laptop I’ve got my cell phone. While the game’s on, I’m working on a secret document and checking my email and checking my Facebook and following the Sportsguy’s live chat on and texting my buddy The Champ and my buddy Chef Guido and my daughter and a number of other people all at once, and holy Jesus if I haven’t had A.D.D. all my life, circumstances have conspired to make me test positive for that shit now. There’s just so much bullshit going on at once!

I guess I should take the old-guy approach and be a standard-bearer of the past and say, “Friends, this multitasking behavior will signal the death of the novel and of art and of music and of film. Please learn to concentrate.” But you know what? Fuck that. Our mental environment is a bit scattered, is all. We just have to find a way to get everything we need to get done within this context. In cyclocross racing, when the conditions are horrible and everybody’s bitching about the conditions, the strongest racers still come to the front. Why should the rest of life be any different?

Sentence of the day:

Mag loves the constant bullshit and the lack of focus that comes from it.


Mag (subject) loves (ditransitive verb, meaning it carries two objects) the constant bullshit (direct object with imbedded adjective) and the lack of focus (second direct object built from a noun phrase) that comes from it (restrictive verb phrase with pronoun referring back to the first direct object).

Further analysis:

That's really all bullshit, folks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Eat Dog

Don’t look her in the eye. Don’t give her anything. She will have you believe she deserves a piece of chicken, a Milk Bone, a walk, a trip to the dog park, a ride in the truck, a five-hour break from your desk to play fetch with her squeaky toy in the yard. She will guilt you, too. She will tell you, “Look at what those bastards have done to me! Splashed white paint on half of my body! Everybody thinks I’m ugly now!” You can tell her, fifty times a day, that she’s beautiful outside and inside and that everybody who meets her really appreciates her and thinks she’s smart and talented and engaging and worthwhile in every conceivable way, but this will never satisfy her. She will always look you in the eye and say, “You don’t really mean it.”

Stupid dog.

Disturbing trend with her of late: She somehow manages to appear at the dog park in Silver Lake most every day and she not only has been improving her abilities to scrap and to work deals and to establish protection arrangements with her fellow criminals in the prison yard, she has been humping her fellow criminals, too. Now don’t get me wrong: I appreciate and respect anybody’s orientation and wish for creatures of all persuasions only the happiest of times in the happiest of circumstances. But Jesus fucking goddam Christ, she is a fixed female; doesn’t that mean the surgeons removed all her hump potential? Or maybe humping is what fixed females do to pass the time while they’re in prison?

I’m realistic about this stuff, I guess. I can certainly understand – and indeed I promote – wild running-around behavior at the dog park. Dogs are supposed to run around at the dog park. But I can’t understand the skinny, hipster-douchebag dog owners at the dog park who are pacing with their cell phones, completely ignoring their dogs while talking extra loud about shit like “If we can nail the title sequence, the film will be perfect” or “Make sure the crew is fed. Those guys get pissed off if they’re not fed properly” or “I have way too many meetings next week to fit you in.” Or wait. I take that all back. I understand the douchebags: they want people to think they’re important. But girl-dog-to-girl-dog humping?

Looks like this is either a wonderful moment for me to explore the extent to which I really believe in social justice and equality for all or maybe it’s time for me to hire a dog shrink and figure out what switch got flipped the wrong way inside my dog. Or maybe the best course of action is to let dogs be dogs. Her name is Rocks, after all. What’s wrong with her getting hers off?

Meantime, I remain, as always, confused.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Good Shit #1

See the ‘g’ in the lower left corner? That doesn’t mean ‘G’ in the old-school rapper way that the white kids in Iowa have never understood in the first place. The ‘g’ means this product is safe for Celiac sufferers. The ‘g’ means Mag can consume what’s inside and not have it emerge from his ass in increments over the course of a entire weekend reading of Anna Karenina.

‘g’. ‘Gluten-free.’ Fuck. This shit is good, though. Not as a good as a Five Dollar Goddam Footlong from Subway. But it’s still goddam good. $2.99 a bag. I am dipping one of these fuckers in tahini right now and for forever and ever, amen.

Verdict on TRADER JOE'S THIN MINI EDAMAME CRACKERS: Serve early and often during March Madness.

Point: “When there’s nothing bad to say, there’s nothing to say.” – Lao ‘G-motherfucker’ Tzu.

Counterpoint: “Something’s fucked up with these elephants.” - ‘G’ Hannibal, citizen of Carthage.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

To Live and Train in L.A. #8 AFTER ACTION REPORT

These are my tools. Obviously fucked up. I left them on my back porch for the last couple months locked in a plastic toolbox because what possibly could go wrong with that? You think tools will rust here in California? It so also happens for the last couple months that my bikes have been running fine, only maintenance required being lube on the chains and air in the tires and the occasional squirt of WD-40 into the guide holes where the shifter cables pass across the bottom bracket.

Sometimes I think about starting up cigarettes again. After the occasional squirt of WD-40 into a guide hole, for instance.

A couple of months ago we had a huge, huge rain event in Los Angeles, a few inches a day for almost a whole week. Dudes were whitewater kayaking down my street, pretty much. It was intense. These rains were so intense that enough water seeped through the cracks of my plastic toolbox to fill the insides to the rim with rainwater and the resulting misery is my goddam tools have turned into undersea relics some guy with a beard and a degree from Stanford might find on a submarine salvage mission to the Bermuda Triangle of Craftsman Tools.

They’re in the sun now. If I clean them and grease them and treat them with respect they’ll return to their former glory.


Since when is Monday Jackass Day in the cycling world? I thought everybody was supposed to have raced on Sunday and would therefore be too blown to do anything on Monday but easy spinning. Even if you don’t race on Sunday, you’re supposed to simulate racing on Sunday, which means either you go long or you go hard, preferably both. Or on Monday you act as if you actually did go long and hard on Sunday even if you didn’t. In any case, Monday means the same as take it easy. Don't matter who you are or where you're from.

My testimony (obligatory act): Temps were 80 degrees. No wind. No humidity. Plenty of California sunshine. Bad conditions for easy spinner. I was on the path not two minutes when I noticed a guy in full Castelli kit pulling up behind me. I ushered him past me and said, “Mind if I catch your wheel?” Meaning maybe we could ride together for a while and perhaps engage in some Monday-style conversational cycling fellowship. He was like, “Sure, but I’m taking it easy. My hip is trashed. I have bursitis really bad.” I was like, “Cool. I’m just out for spinner. Let’s trade pulls and keep it mellow.” I was elated for about two-thirds of a second but then as sure as shit emerges from the mouth of Glenn Beck the guy took the lead and held his pace steady at 23.5 miles per hour for the next four miles, never once flicking his elbow, never once ushering me through to take my turn at the front. When we reached the end of the path, he said, “Thanks for pushing me, man.” He went on his merry hammering way toward Griffith Park. I turned around and clicked into my little ring and started spinning back another 4.4 miles and this guy thought I pushed him? I was on his wheel.

At while later, at the Fletcher Street Bridge turnaround, where of course I turned the fuck around, I saw a blinding blue flash approaching, a rider I had seen a number of times before, middle-aged, head down, grimace and gray stubble, hands on the brake-lever hoods, enough menace and unhappiness in his face to make Stalin seem like Rachel Ray taking a bite out of a flourless dark chocolate brownie. My inner Stalin-hater came out. I waited for him. I clicked into the big ring. I was ready. Fuckin-A the guy blew by without saying hello – sure sign he was to dickheads what Anita Bryant once was to Florida oranges – and I dove into his draft and caught his wheel and announced I was there, I was on his wheel. This guy? He didn’t acknowledge me and didn’t change his hammering position even in the slightest, just kept pedaling like the evil Stalinlike machine that Joel Friel and his training bible has created in those among the general populace whose intelligence quotients drop forty percent when they ride a bicycle. This guy had all the Stalinlike gear, too: the PowerTap cranks, the full Assos kit, the custom carbon bike. But to give him his due, he ramped it up and ramped it up till he was piling along at 28 miles per hour, which I don’t give a fuck how fast you think you are, that’s pretty fucking fast (my buddy Professor Sherkat would insist that 28 miles per hour is actually slow). I hung with this guy for a while, for a couple of miles, then exposed my inner Oscar Mayer Weiner to the world and dropped off his wheel. Fuck.

Welcome to Los Angeles, I guess.

Monday, March 15, 2010

To Live and Train in L.A. #7 PHOTO TOUR EDITION

The Los Angeles River. A river encased in concrete with a forest growing from the middle of it. Beautiful, no? Look at it. Take your time. I know the picture is wobbly-cell-phone poor and that the lighting doesn’t probably do the essential magnificence of this scene justice - not to mention that directly to the right of the frame, as it were, fifteen Hispanic guys were sitting on white buckets and fishing for God only knows what swims in this river, but I was ashamed to be a tourist and point my cell-camera at them. I’m not a tourist, after all. I live here. This is where I get on the bike path every day and point my way upriver and spin for 4.4 miles without interruption. At the end of path: Griffith Park. Not far from there: Forest Lawn Cemetery. In its own weird way, this is a cycling paradise.

You’ve got to love the bike bridge over Los Feliz Boulevard and the structural majesty of the river channel and the white swatches of paint on the concrete from where the city crews wage their endless war against graffiti. The war, like all wars, is pointless. Why bother painting over the graffiti? Is painting over the graffiti supposed to preserve a sense of an unbesmirched natural environment, a natural beauty the Los Angles citizenry can enjoy on their weekends off from their horrible jobs? As if river isn’t encased in fucking concrete already?

To the right of the path we have a scenic view of the rental studio/rehearsal warehouses on the far bank of the mighty Los Angeles river and of course we can’t miss the Verdugo mountains in the distance. Admit it: You know goddam well you want to ride to the top of those mountains and even in this terrible picture you can see the dirt roads cut into the hillsides. Cyclocross expedition, anyone? I’ll bring the inspiration. See you at 4:20 next Thursday.

On your left you’ll see the heartachingly gorgeous Interstate 5. This picture was taken on a Sunday afternoon, which will explain for you the lack of traffic. Normally, at four o’clock in the afternoon, a cyclist on this bike path can travel at twice the rate of speed as the helpless rich fuckers in their fancy cars. And oh no! There’s a cyclist approaching, and he’s in his aerobars hammering. Don’t make eye contact with him. It could be dangerous.

Games in progress. Curious behavior I have witnessed here on a number of occasions: The winning team and their families and friends (which I’m guessing are relatives, too) leave the field and walk to their cars and honk their horns at the losers while the losers are still moping about on the field, kicking at the ground and contemplating the meaning of life. I like this practice a lot. We should institute this in cyclocross racing. If you lose, you have to stay out on the course while the winners drink beer in their cars and smoke cigarettes and honk their horns at you and sing chingala pinche puta or something of that nature. In fact, I’d like to see every American citizen undergo this kind of group humiliation at least once a month on account of that might mellow our collective national arrogance in a wonderfully realistic, sometimes-we get-our-asses-kicked-and-take-well-deserved-shit-for-it way. Or wait: isn’t that why people race cyclocross in the first place?

This is where the HD comes into L.A. Looks more like a maximum security penitentiary more than it does a TV station or maybe it really is a maximum security penitentiary of the mind?

Oh well. Life on the bike isn’t all flatness and urban lightness along the L.A. River. There are plenty of huge hills and bad roads and scary drivers to keep a cyclist more than occupied. This is my street. Nice road surface, don’t you think? I fucking love it. Especially on the way up.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekender: More King Missile!

What Sunday isn't complete without this song?

I'm at the desk working on a secret project today and am going on a bike ride this afternoon that just won't be long enough, but at least I'll be getting out there. I'll be back tomorrow with new Mag's Sentence non-madness. - mag

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Weekender: King Missile

As far as I'm concerning, it don't get any better than this King Missile song. Deep stuff!

Hope you're riding and writing and relaxing and having a great weekend. I sure am (or plan on it) - mag

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bad Shit #1

The name of this product gets astonishingly close to summarizing its quality. Take the L out and you’ll have it in a nutshell – or a nutless shell maybe? Or better yet, a tasteless nutless shell? I have to ask: Why the hell wouldn’t you the L out of the name? Everything else has already been taken out of this shit: Wheat free, gluten free, fat free, no sugar, low sodium, no cholesterol, only seven calories per cracker. Sure, a poor, long-suffering, shit-unstable Celiac can eat this these ‘crackers’ without experiencing complete intestinal collapse, but Jesus fucking goddam Christ, you might as well cut strips of typing paper and spread them out on a plate and people can dip these strips of paper into your Trader Joe’s tahini when they come over to watch the game. That’s right: These HO – GRAIN CRACKERS are simply awful, worse than awful, not even worth feeding to a starving chickadee in Saskatoon on the coldest night of the year. HO -GRAIN CRACKERS make communion wafers seem like they’re Kettle Cooked Salt and Vinegar potato chips (incidentally, do you think Christ would be mad at me for mentioning Salt and Vinegar chips in the same sentence as communion? He had some bad experiences with vinegar, you know, and might still be in therapy over it). To make matters worse, which is almost impossible that matters with this shit could be worse, HO – GRAIN CRACKERS are almost six bucks a box at Whole Foods.

Now listen, the first thing that happens when you realize you have to live on a restricted diet is that you search for the things you can eat: And Celiacs can actually eat all sorts of neat things, including Mission Tortilla chips, which are completely totally one-hundred-percent kickass in every possible way, and I guess Fritos are sans gluten, too, but since we’re keeping Christ in the mix today, let me say this: As Christ as my goddam witness, I declare that Fritos ain’t got one iota of donkeyshit on Mission Tortilla chips. Ah, the joy of having a disease! So yeah: celiacs can also eat rice and meat and cheese and potatoes and anything that fuckin-A doesn’t have any gluten in it. All those wonderful items that celiacs can eat: fattening. Or maybe they’re not really fattening. Maybe it’s that when you realize what you can eat in the context of what you can’t eat, you naturally feel the need to eat more each time you eat because you think that’s all the food you’re going to get. The consequence for me is I’m eating my gluten-free way into the Pillsbury Doughboy look. Which is not optimal.

As a corrective measure then, I spent way too much money on HO - GRAIN CRACKERS only to find out they suck. And I’m pissed.

Final verdict: The only good use for this product is as tinder to start a fire.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

An Inspiring Message of Hopelessness

Give a forty-six-year-old fellow a laptop and access to the internet and the desire to create great literature and the ability to place the chicken marks in the correct places between words and phrases and clauses and what do you get? A big steaming pile of bullshit! Ain’t it predictable? Or better yet: Isn’t Mag predictable? That guy, I’m telling you, spends way too much time breaking people down , telling them there’s no hope, ruining their dreams, destroying the last vestiges of their joyful outlook about Jesus and Mother Mary and Joseph the homeless guy who reads Roberto Bolano novels under the Fletcher Street Bridge. Mag should look at himself for once his in lousy life. Mag should look at the collective failure he represents. Then maybe he’d stop sticking the knitting needle of his regrets into our fucking eyeballs!

Look. I’m totally serious. If you give a person a basketball and the ability to dribble and to shoot and to run the court, this person might posses the skill set to rock the house at the YMCA lunchtime shirts-and-skins game, but that doesn’t mean this person can suit up tomorrow night and save the L.A. Clippers from certain disaster, right? Or if a person ice skates or plays guitar or sings karaoke or rides a bicycle or befouls perfectly stretched canvas with paint or – whoa, I gotta stop this meander before it cuts itself off from the main stream and turns into an oxbow. [Editor’s note: Mag’s Sentence will offer a special prize to the first person who can decipher the previous meander metaphor.]

So yeah. You’ve got the equipment. You’ve got Microsoft Word and Final Draft and a stack of hip novels that women like to read and a stack of hip screenplays that 25-year-old studio executive assistants like to read and don’t forget the Adidas sneakers: don’t leave your hovel without them on, hey, because ain’t nobody gonna take you seriously if you’re tramping around town with Jesus feet and all the unhustling, unschmoozing behaviors to go along with your Jesus feet. That’s right. You’ve got your shit together now. You’re a wise, scrubbed weenie on the way up. So what do you need to do, with all this stuff you have? Flip the coin, baby, and hope you know somebody who might help you catch it. Because that’s what the sauce reduces to: either you’re a true genius (rare but possible) and nobody’s going to deny you, or you’re going to have to be one lucky motherfucker.

So far in life, I’ve been a motherfucker but not too lucky.

Still, why give up hope?

Answer (and I can’t help quoting my old buddy Chainsaw from back in the day): “Because you’re hopeless, asshole.”

Ah, the artsy-fartsy life, it’s so uplifting.

Wishing you the best of luck in all your endeavors,


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

To Live and Train in L.A. #6

I was going to write something inspiring today – about how good my dumps (translation: shits) have been lately – but I guess I’ll save that for tomorrow or for the day after that or maybe not even mention it ever again (doubtful). Instead, I feel like bitching about my future on the bicycle, which is something that I have determined is not too fucking bright. For one thing, despite my diligent efforts to roll my sorry ass out the door on a bike every afternoon, despite my regimented flat spinner days mixed with my unregimented hard hammer-after-the-jackasses days, despite that my attitude about getting out there and going after it is totally spectrally positive in every conceivable way, I’m still not in much better shape than I was a couple of months ago. My progress has been so incrementally slow, in fact, that I think I should be racing cyclocross in the fall for Team Giant Sloth instead of Team Heckawee. Maybe I’m getting too old to feel any zip in my legs? Maybe two hours a days isn’t enough? Maybe I should quit lounging around late at night, composing obnoxious documents on Microsoft Word or on Final Draft and eating salted-in-the-shell peanuts and slurping various forms of overpriced grape juice? You think that’s it? That I’m training correctly on the bike but behaving incorrectly off the bike?

Wait, wait. I need a piece of cheese just to finish this document. Good cheese, too. None of this processed bullshit like they melt and pour over the nachos at Burrito King in Silver Lake (worst Mexican place in L.A., incidentally). I want ultra-fat, ultra-sinky, ultra-kickass cheese. Preferably from Wisconsin. But I’ll accept the from-France type in a pinch.

Sorry. I lost my bearing there for a long second.

So like any eggheaded bicycle freak on the comeback trail, I have a goal set for myself in the fitter, leaner wastelands of my future: cyclocross season. I want to race every weekend this coming fall. No problem, right? That means it’s six full months from now before I have to toe the line and mush my guts off into the dusty, barrier-strewn trail of Southern California Cyclocross and fight tooth, fang, and claw for a finishing position three-quarters of the way back in the pack and consequently feel proud of myself for having finished three-quarters of the way back in the pack. You have to admit, incidentally, that training your ass off for a whole year in order to put in consistently below-mediocre performances is high-fucking-larious.

Oh well. It’s all fun, don’t you think? I surely do. Check out the picture above: that’s my street. Much more entertaining to climb than to descend.

That’s my new motto, by the way: Much more entertaining to climb than to descend.

At 4:20 this afternoon, when I’m out riding, I will pause along the trailside for inspiration and I will then point my front wheel toward the nearest steep hill and starting huffing upward.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Life Sentences #11 SPECIAL 100th POST EDITION

You gotta find amusement in higher learning, right? If you don’t, fuck it: I gotta laugh when I think about some of the classic examples of genius I witnessed at work during my time in the halls of low-grade academe. I guess I shouldn’t think some of this shit is funny but I can’t help myself because what can I say? It’s just so goddam funny.

So one time, I got my hands on the copy of a textbook a fellow professor was using as a lecture prompt for a creative writing course. An anthology of some canonical material, of course. And I couldn’t help flipping through the pages and reading the margin notes, even though I knew this was sort of like reading somebody’s diary and that when I eventually arrive in hell this is the type of behavior that will merit extra-high flame on my proverbial eternal ass-burner. Oh well.

Eventually, I found in this textbook D.H. Lawrence’s famous story “The Rocking Horse Winner,” about which my enthusiasm is roughly the same as it is, say, for Major League Baseball, meaning I don’t mind it; it’s not bad; but I might change the channel when the commercial break comes. I noted that my fellow professor had annotated the following sentence:

Everybody else said of her: "She is such a good mother. She adores her children." Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each other's eyes.

My fellow professor had underlined ‘herself’ and ‘themselves’ and wrote in the margin (and I can’t remember the exact wording), “Reflexive pronouns establishing a pattern for reflexive action throughout the story.” Nice theory. Plausible, too. A kid in the story gets a hold of a rocking horse and appears in a few spazzy scenes on this rocking horse and I guess that’s reflexive, right? Might be some other reflexive actions occur in the story, too – hell, give a non-stupid person any adjective and apply it by analogy to any text and this shit’s going to line up into something meaningful (this same principle works with playing Mahavishnu Orchestra’s album Inner Mounting Flame at top volume and watching a Lakers game with the sound off: Kobe and Pau will dribble in perfect sync with the music every time). So we can imagine this professor conducting a seventy-five-minute thoughtful lecture/discussion on the reflexive nature of “The Rocking Horse Winner” and the students in class becoming so enlightened that blood trickles from their ears. Trouble is – and I hate to break this shit to you, former colleague – those pronouns you underlined? Herself and themselves? They are intensive pronouns, not reflexive pronouns. So your theory on reflexive action, as my friend the Iranian Redneck would say, is basically a high-brow form of goat-fucking.

See, a reflexive pronoun does have a -self attached to it, but it appears in the objective case of the sentence and it reflects back on the subject. Thus: I (subject) hate (transitive verb) myself (direct object and reflexive verb). An intensive pronoun, on the other hand, generally occurs in an appositive position or directly after a noun or a pronoun, and the intensive pronoun’s function is to intensify or amplify another noun. Thus: Mike himself showed up on his bike for group ride. Or why not let D.H. (the H stands for Horsecock: little known fact) Lawrence do it for us? Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so.

I gotta write in the margins of this blog: “Intensive pronouns establishing a pattern that this story is gonna be totally intense, dudes!”

See how much fun this shit is?

Sentence of the day:

Fuck yourself, Mag.


(Implied subject: You) Fuck (transitive verb) yourself (direct object and of course a lovely reflexive pronoun), Mag (noun in direct address: note, people, that a comma precedes it).

Further analysis:

I will. I will. I have been. I have been.