Monthly Archives: September 2016

Riding The 2016 Indian Scout Into The Shattered Dreams Of Men Who Did Not Live

In my ongoing quest to introduce my butt to a motorcycle that it doesn’t hate with a quiet vengeance, I’ve recently rented a 2016 Indian Scout.

 

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If you want an informative and experienced breakdown of this vehicle, kindly Google “Indian Scout review.” Because you will find neither of those aspects here. This was my takeaway: I always thought cruisers were a little silly — riding all spread eagle, hurtling crotch first into the void. After riding the Scout, I can confirm that statement was perfectly accurate… with the important stipulation that I have also discovered that riding all spread eagle, hurtling crotch first into the void is glorious.

When I stepped off the bike at returns, the rental guy asked how it was. In unison, we both said “surprisingly good.” He laughed and told me that those were not only his exact words when he first rode it, but also those of every single person who’s rented one.

The Scout hits that ‘just right’ niche. Everything was fit beautifully — all thick steel, satisfying thunks, and solid movement, like riding a tractor designed by Lamborghini. Which they actually do, and it probably isn’t like riding a Scout at all, so I apologize for this entire analogy.

If you have a normal, high-functioning ass, I imagine the Scout would be quite comfortable. There’s very little vibration at highway speeds, but some lurching in lower first that requires careful moderation of clutch and brake. That could be because this was a brand new bike, though — there were only thirty miles on the one I was given. This falls well into the break in period, and the staggering at very low RPMS might well ease with just a few hundred more miles on the engine. The wind was definitely a problem above 60MPH — if I bought one, I’d certainly get a detachable windscreen. I stress “detachable,” because you do not want to mess with this bike’s looks. It’s gorgeous just the way it is. You don’t hot-glue a welder’s mask to a supermodel’s skull just because they might one day need to weld something. That kind of gear should be a situational thing.

Of course, like all motorcycles, the only thing this bike attracts are other motorcycle riders, and old white men who wish they rode motorcycles. But boy howdy, if you want to bang a geriatric in a Windstar who is just chock full of regrets about his lost youth, this is the bike for you. I spent half my ride being paced by minivans; openly ogled by retirees dealing with complex emotional problems.

As to the quality of that ride: The bike has a ton of pull without being unfriendly — it’ll forgive a lot from you, which is good, because I have a lot to forgive. I wrong my motorcycles daily. You hit a pothole too hard in a curve and The Scout won’t throttle-lurch you into a tree, no matter how much you might deserve it. The engine will lug along or rev a bit high in just about any gear, making it seem like you suddenly downshifted to third on purpose, instead of hurling you over the bars and straight into a paramedic’s “amusing anecdote for the day.” The Scout even hauled to a stop shockingly well, considering the single discs up front and back. They’re a lot heftier than they appear. Perhaps most importantly: The bike doesn’t plant its feet in the corners and trundle through like a reluctant cow, as I expected by the looks of it. I can dance with the Scout every bit as well as I did my Street Triple.

Note that I said “every bit as well as I did.” I’m sure a better rider could wring a lot more out of a Street Triple than they could the Scout — but this is not a review for ‘better riders.’ This one’s for the incompetent assholes. We deserve a place, too.

And now, for the pain review. You can skip this if it doesn’t concern you. There just aren’t a lot of resources out there for people with this condition who also ride motorcycles. I figured I’d contribute.

The nerve condition I suffer from is called coccydynia, which is just quality comedy. It’s got the phonemes for “cock” in there — always a plus — and it pertains to the butt! Asses and dongs alike, crammed into one short phrase like humor concentrate. Sadly, the condition is rarely funny in practice: It just means a pain that starts out light, but quickly escalates into agony whenever I sit, recline, or generally try to relax.

I bought a standing desk for work. I replaced my couch with a giant bean bag that I can flop face down on and wallow in like a comfort-pig. But there was no fix for my motorcycle. An hour on my 2013 Triumph Street Triple was unbearable. New seats, risers, pads — nothing helped. I finally sold it earlier this year. Now I’m down to renting bikes, trying to see if any ergonomics will help.

For the first test, I went with a cruiser, because the triggers for my pain are ‘any kind of pressure on the tailbone,’ and ‘leaning too far forward with the legs bent’ — I guess this stretches out some kind of nerve cluster back there. I don’t know. All I know is that the Street Triple hit both of those triggers, while the Indian Scout only hit one: The pressure on the tailbone. You recline way back in that deep, deep saddle.

To cut to the chase: The bike did not work for me. Riding still hurt like crazy after a bit. However, on the Street Triple, the pain became unbearable after about an hour, and would potentially last for days. On the Scout, the pain became too much after about an hour and a half, but an hour or so of standing and walking around could reset it, and I was able to ride again.

Perhaps that’s because the Scout allows the rider much more movement — you can put your feet up on the highway bars, scoot forward in the saddle and lean toward the tank, push up and back to perch atop the rear of the seat. It all still hurts, of course, but it turns out that writhing in agony is a lot more tolerable than sitting absolutely still in agony.

Still, I’m happy: Not only because I got to ride a fantastic bike, but because the reduced pain and experimentation with different riding positions convinced me there might be a bike out there that will work for me. For now, it’s looking like those will be either Adventure Bikes or Dual Sports — not traditionally my favorites. But still, much like pizza and sex: some motorcycle is always better than no motorcycle.

On Butt Disorders And Motorcycle Reviews

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with motorcycles for a while now…

In that I love them, and they hate me.

I recently sold my bike — a saucy little 2013 Triumph Street Triple — to a couple of military kids who promptly cracked the oil pan into the tailgate while loading it up. I didn’t hold it against them. For very long.

 

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A few crude voodoo dolls and blood sacrifices to the Loa later, and I was over it: They’ll have fun with her, which is more than I could’ve done. See, I have some kind of strange damage in my back, specifically the tailbone area. It’s not coccydynia, which is a disorder in the actual tailbone, but it’s not sciatica, a disorder in the sciatic nerve, either. What I have is apparently not only a new disorder, but one that affects a terrifying new type of spine — one solely evolved by me and me alone — that medical science cannot classify, beyond “worrying.”

I’ve been through every doctor and specialist, and had every test they could think of, plus a few more I’m pretty sure they just made up on the spot (“This is the uh…de-back…ulator. The de-backulator! Very expensive.”) with no real answer. Finally they gave up actually helping and just tried to treat my depression about their inability to help: “Sorry we can’t fix you, but we CAN fix your ability to CARE.”

And then, to everybody’s surprise, the duoloxetine helped. Not with the depression, but with the actual pain: Apparently it’s also used to treat nerve pain — something nobody mentioned to me, ever, at any point, until after it started working. Science, everybody!

But whatever: The good news was that I could exist comfortably again in most situations. I have to be careful how I sit, and for how long, but the pain has been downgraded from “life-ruining agony” to “butt annoyance.” Lord knows I can deal with some butt annoyance. But this still meant I couldn’t do motorcycle rides for any length of time. About an hour on my bike was all I could take before the pain went from distracting to crippling. That, again, should’ve been fine: Motorcycling for an hour is like six hours of meditation.

But then Portland’s population exploded, and with it came more traffic, and more drivers (a term I use generously). Portland’s roads are insane right now, and keep in mind I first learned to ride a motorcycle in the heart of Los Angeles. I was out there, barely balancing, piloting an entirely new type of vehicle in a massive metropolis famous for two things: People too rich and famous for consequences, and vehicular homicide. And I still powered through. But Portland today scares me.

Red lights mean literally nothing out here; I see a nasty accident every other time I leave the house. I can take care of myself, and I accept the risks inherent to motorcycling, but this left me with a dilemma: With the increased traffic, I could no longer get out of the city to a decent riding spot before the pain kicked in. A forty five minute trip out to the country meant I had to turn around the very second the road got nice, and cram right back into the murderous traffic to head home. I thought I could deal with it — that I could have fun riding around the city itself for short bursts, but there’s just too much carnage out there. Venturing out on a motorcycle is like playing Twisted Metal as Axel, only you don’t get the Supernova Shockwave. (Note to motorcycle manufacturers: Maybe install a Supernova Shockwave generator?)

 

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So I sold my bike and bought myself a bitchin’ Mustang as a consolation prize. Try not to pity me too hard.

But damned if I don’t still lust after motorcycles. Ah, well… some loves are just not meant to be.

And then I found out something amazing… you can rent them!

Holy shit, did you know you could rent motorcycles? You probably did! Because you’re not an oblivious idiot like me! I sure as hell didn’t think of that.

Now, this still leaves me with the same nerve problem, but there’s a shred of hope: I’ve only ridden sport-standards — basically sport bikes where the riding position is slightly more upright — since the pain started. Maybe different ergonomics would work for me? Maybe a better suspension? Probably not!

But maybe!

The rental places really only have big, fuck-off cruisers — because most people that rent motorcycles are dads going through a mid-life crisis so severe they can’t even commit to a vehicle — but honestly, if any bike is going to work for me, it’s probably going to be a lumbering, spread-eagle, beef supreme monstrosity. Can you tell I’m not a huge fan of most cruisers? Still, some motorcycle is better than no motorcycle. And thus begins my butt’s adventure through motorcycle town. It starts this weekend: I’ve rented an Indian Scout for a trip to the beach on Sunday.

 

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Now, I know I said I don’t like most cruisers, but the Scout is not most cruisers. I’ve had a crush on that bike from the first time I saw it, and it was only exacerbated by the gushing reviews. It’s a gorgeous classic cruiser that actually rides well. That’s a rarity, like a big guy with skulls tattooed on his face who moonlights as the most delicate of ballet dancers. Sadly though, the Scout probably won’t work for me: It’s a standard-cruiser, with a fairly forward seating position and suspension pretty close to the Striple. But I figure that I’ll start with the bikes that I love, but are most likely to cripple me, then work my way out to the bikes I don’t adore, but that also won’t obliterate my spine. Who knows? Maybe I’ll touch ass to a Harley and it’ll be love at first buttstroke.

Anyway, I figured I’d do write-ups about the different bikes I try. Sort of a crippled man’s guide to cruisers (when you don’t like cruisers).

I’ll let you know if The Scout lives up to the hype next week, provided I can still walk after getting off of it.

THE DAY THE APES LEARNED TO FEAR MAN

So one last thing about the forgotten magnificence that was Congo, and then I’ll shut up about the movie forever. That was obviously a lie; let’s neither of us pretend to believe it. Anyway, I wrote some fan fiction – not about the movie itself, but about the moment the climactic scene was written. If you don’t know the scene, by god, correct that error now, before it’s too late.

John Patrick Shanley did not have time to wipe the sweat from his brow. He let it drip onto the keyboard, lubricating the words as his fingers — swollen with genius; leaking majesty like a cooking sausage leaks sausage-juice — wrestled the climax of Congo from the immaterial realm and pinned it to reality.

‘APES EVERYWHERE,’ he sausaged, madly. ‘APES COMING OUT OF THE WALLS.’

John Patrick Shanley felt his skin flush. His heart beat an unhealthy, yet familiar rhythm. In the distant and isolated part of his brain still concerned with reality, he knew he should be seeking medical attention. But brilliance is as much a disease as it is a gift.

‘LAURA LINNEY SPRINGS INTO ACTION,’ he typed, furious at the ineptness of human language. ‘SHE GRABS THE DIAMOND FROM BRUCE CAMPBELL’S CORPSE AND PLUGS IT INTO THE SPACE LASER.’

John Patrick Shanley is standing now. He has shifted into the present tense. The past no longer concerns him. He doesn’t remember abandoning the chair. He types with the manic velocity of a virtuoso. That hackneyed image of a frenzied Mozart, hunched painfully over the keys, beating at the piano like it is no longer an instrument, but a reticent bully, which refuses to give him the music he requires.

THE APES APPROACH BUT ZOOM-

“Zoom?” He thinks. “Is that the right word? Can there be a wrong word now, at this intersection of inspiration and madness?”

‘BUT ZOOM,’ he continues. ‘LAURA LINNEY FIRES THE LASER, SLICING OFF THE HAND OF THE LEAD APE.’

His heartbeat. It forms a song. He knows that now, but cannot place the melody.

‘CONSUMED WITH BLOODLUST, LAURA LINNEY LASERS DOWN APE AFTER APE-’

His fingers, zealots of some angry and demanding god, pound on, though he pleads with them to stop.

‘APE AFTER APE AFTER APE’

His nails peel off between the keys. Blood flowing into the cracks between letters.

‘AFTER APE AFTER APE’

John Patrick Shanley finds that he is no longer just typing, but screaming the words.

‘AFTER APE AFTER APE FALL TO LINNEY’S LASER LIKE – WELL LET’S JUST BE REAL HERE, LIKE APES BEFORE A LASER. THERE IS NO COMPARITIVE ANALOGY.’

And now John Patrick Shanley is no longer typing at all. He is standing, erect in every possible sense of the word, with one foot planted firmly on earth and the other in the war halls of Valhalla. The keyboard does not need him anymore. It clacks away like a player piano, the words guided inexorably toward their destiny. There is no escape anymore; not for them, not for John Patrick Shanley, not for anybody.

‘LASERS AND APES AND APES AND LASERS,’ the words continue, as John Patrick Shanley furiously thrusts his pelvis into the open air, into the universe itself.

‘SINGED FUR AND APE HANDS FLYING EVERYWHERE, UNTIL THE APES MUST CONCEDE VICTORY TO THE CRUEL HAND OF LINNEY-‘

John Patrick Shanley is climaxing, but spills no seed. The cosmos accepts it from him; secrets it off into the ether, to swirl amongst the stars.

‘HOOTING IN DESPAIR, THE APES TURN TO FLEE ONLY TO FIND AN ERUPTING VOLCANO. WHAT? A VOLCANO! WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? THESE QUESTIONS ARE FOR MAN TO ASK AND GOD TO KNOW.’

John Patrick Shanley knows the song now. The cardiac beat thundering away inside his chest. It is called Eye of The Tiger. It is by the band Survivor. The pounding is not confined to his body; the thrum of his blood resonates against the floor of the cosmos. In his distant home in New York, Survivor lead singer Dave Bickler awakens, screaming.

‘APES ALWAYS KNOW WHEN THEY ARE BEATEN. ONE BY ONE THEY HURL THEMSELVES INTO THE LAVA — BOTH AS AN ACT OF ATTRITION FOR THEIR FAILURE, AND A SACRIFICE TO THEIR NEW GOD, SCIENCE, WHO HAS SO MERCILESSLY BLESSED THEM.’

John Patrick Shanley weeps. He weeps and roars and cums and bleeds.

‘THE FINAL APE EXECUTES A PERFECT FRONT FLIP, CANNONBALLING INTO THE MOLTEN ROCK AS A LAST ACT OF DEFIANCE. TRULY, HE WAS THE GREATEST APE. TRULY, IT WAS NOT ENOUGH.’

The keyboard, overloaded with energy never meant to be channeled by a mere machine, explodes. The night sky becomes as day for a moment. But the illumination, as it always does, fades. It fades from the air. It fades from John Patrick Shanley.

Colorful sparks drift slowly, fireflies on a breeze. If you stood atop a tall building in New York City that fateful night and looked west, toward the heart of our great nation, you would have seen it. Just for a second. So quick, you would always question its nature. Was it a dream, a hallucination, a trick of the light?

You would have seen the embers form a mammoth pointillist image of the American flag, tiny lights plucked out of the darkness, each of its fifty stars the heartbroken visage of a dead gorilla.

How To Help A Trapped Hummingbird

This isn’t a funny or entertaining post. You can skip past it unless you’re trying to help a hummingbird right now. It just happened to me recently and I had a hard time finding all the necessary information, concisely phrased and collected in a single place.

Here’s what to try, in order:

  1. Just make sure the bird has as many open exits as possible, and leave it alone for a few minutes. Leave the room. Don’t stand by the trapped space, or near any of the exits. If you can, cover all light sources but the exits. Shut or throw a blanket over the skylight if it’s accessible, close all of your blinds, on windows that don’t open and/or you don’t want the bird to head toward. It will likely leave in a few minutes.
  2. If there’s no place in the trapped space for the bird to perch, bend a thin wire hanger – not the painted kind, and not the fortified kind; those are too thick – or fan out the individual straws on a broom. Hold it near the bird (don’t chase it around), and hold as still as you can. If the bird perches, you can slowly and carefully move the broom or hangar toward the exit.
  3. If there is a place for the bird to perch in the trapped space, it may stay there for a while, resting and trying to escape over and over again. If you have a hummingbird feeder, hang it between the trapped space and the exit. Hummingbirds are attracted to red things most of all; you can try placing a few red objects in its sight line to ‘lead’ it to the feeder or, if you don’t have a feeder, just lead it outside.
  4. If none of this works, the bird will exhaust itself soon. You’ll have to take it out by hand. Don’t use nets or tools or anything – hummingbirds are extremely fragile, and they cannot hurt you – just be sure to use a very, very soft and careful grip. Don’t worry about it struggling away, they’re far weaker than you think. Barely touch the bird. Only hold it by the sides, gently pinning the wings to the body. If you grab it front to back, you may accidentally compress the chest, preventing it from breathing. As soon as you get outside, carry it with an open, cupped palm. Give it a minute to recover. It may take off on its own.
  5. If the bird isn’t recovering and you have a hummingbird feeder, very gently grasp its upper body by the sides, stabilizing its head, and very gently guide its beak into the feeder holes. You’ll know if the beak is going deep enough because the tip will be wet when you pull it out. Only leave it in there for a second or two, then remove the beak and give it a few seconds to recover. After the first dip or two, it should recover enough to drink on its own when you slip the beak into the feeder. You’ll see it – the neck feathers ruffle up a bit and the head moves. After repeating this process a few times, hold the bird with an open, cupped palm again. Give it a minute or two for the food to kick in, and it should recover and fly off.
  6. If none of that works, line a small box with soft cloth — no terrycloth or anything with loops or tangles to catch the bird’s feet or feathers. Remember to punch some airholes, cover the box, and call either a vet or the local Audobon society, if you have one.