Monday, July 23, 2007

UPDATED: Yellow Manta Ray Execution Day!

Go here
and read the post entitled 'She Shines'

This is my Podling, and he is a miracle.

When I was a kid I rode my bicycle everywhere. This made me a target for the neighborhood bullies, because the bike I was forced to ride was a huge dorky clunker of a thing*, made even dorkier by the addition of apehangers, banana seat, and a sissy bar by my father. It was slow, it was fat, it looked like clownshoes and unfortunately, it was indestructible. I used to go over to the lot where the kids had build a dirt course and 'accidentally' leave it lying around. Pretty soon one of the boys would 'steal' it and start doing jumps with it and letting it go down the hills by itself and crash at the bottom. Not a scratch. Not a dent.
Rotten, unkillable bastard bike.

What the thing did, between having to make fast escapes from marauding kid gangs and simply trying to keep up, was give me legs like a draft animal. I had to work twice as hard as the spiderbike kids just to make the big, heavy sonofabitch move, and we lived in a hilly neighborhood. When I finally, finally got a normal bike (a white Schwinn Suburban 10 speed) I could make that thing FLY.
But here's the bike I really wanted, little design whore that I was:
pix from this site:
go here NOW.

...A Schwinn Stingray. And to this day I want this bike. Unfortunately, so does every collector out there, and they're being bought up and cut apart by the dozen to make these:

...Lowrider bikes. Something I also desperately need.
What can I say; once a design whore, always a design whore.


I went to Seattle with the Stainless Steel Amazon a few weeks ago for a nice 'girls day out'...and it was nice. Seattle is still cool. It's still recognizable as the town I once lived in. Except for one significant absence: where did all the winos go?

I keep coming back to this at odd times ever since I got back. It really bothers me.

Back in the 80's, Seattle had a very visible, very large homeless population. You could see them on the hillsides beneath each highway ramp, underneath each bridge, inside and next to every abandoned building and tunnelled beneath every overgrowth of blackberries on every vacant lot. There were entire villages, with pathways. It was like a city within a city, a third-world one.
Not now.

Seattle has turned it's commercial downtown into an enclave of shiny, happy condominiums and cheery street art. There are nowhere near the number of abandoned properties that there once were, and very little land goes unused nowadays. That might have something to do with it...but how much? Seattle is a huge city. The police are finite. I wasn't spanged once, and as I've advanced into middle age I have become a bum magnet. Nobody. And I saw schizos, no shopping cart people, no urban campers, no bums in doorways, nobody. It was strange.

I won't lie and say I miss them because I don't. I was a single woman with an infant (and no car or income) trying to navigate the streets back when Seattle was slap-full of predatory homeless. I was easy prey and made very keenly aware of this fact every minute I lived there. It didn't matter if I was on the sidewalk, riding public transportation or inside my 'secure' building-ha!-or not. I resented it like hell.

But nonetheless, a huge population of human beings has simply disappeared off the face of the earth, and whether or not I liked them I'm still weirded out by it. Really weirded out.
Can anybody answer this for me?

Anybody with something other to say than 'Soylent Green is peeeeeeepul" that is.


*this bike:

...of course nowadays the stupid thing's worth beaucoup buckolas because it's a 'classic'. the picture doesn't really indicate the sheer mass of this monster, was like a fucking parade float and it was made of solid pig iron. and you know what? i'd still have it crushed. bastard got me beat up more than once. quite a bit more than once, in fact. they wouldn't even let me park it near the cool bikes in the bike rack at school. *snif*


  1. See, you were just ahead of your time, would have been cool now. (and it did give you great legs)

  2. With those legs I'm sure you could have subjected the homeless to a damn good kicking.

    Public drinking has been banned in our cities for years. The boozehound vagrants are still there, they're just not so visible.

  3. joe: not by my choice, lemme tell ya. you never saw a happy kid like the happy kid i was when I finally got the white ten-speed. wotta demon!

    garfy: it wasn't just the boozers, though; add in the runaways, the bingers, the psychotic and the addicts of various stripe. feral street humans. hundreds of them. gone. it's freaky.

  4. I can't tell you specifically why, because I'm not there, but I'm pretty sure it's something soylent-greeny. I love my city and I miss it, but I have never seen such a place for sweeping issues under the rug.

  5. i have many scars from my bike riding days. if i were to ride a bike in the neighborhood i currently reside in (until tomorrow then i'll reside in the boondocks where there isn't a neighborhood) i would get run over. they have bike paths, but they're so confusing and they aren't normal paths, so pretty much everyone is in one lane and bikers tend to get skwushed.

  6. FN i adore your dream bike! it reminds me of the bike i had as a baby jungley - it was called a Chopper. Did you have them? I HATED it at the time - all i wanted was a BMX - but looking back damn...that was one cool bike....

  7. FN, did you go to the Pike Place Market? The last time I was there, a lot of the winos were laying around on the grass in that park there. I know they still hang out (some do) in the Pioneer Square place, you know that thing with the pergola (did I even spell that right?).

    They are still there, but I know the city has bulldozed some of their homes up on the hill where I-5 goes to I-90. They had some sort of homeless colony up there for a long time. Driving on the freeway I still see some sleeping bags and garbage under bridges if you go slowly in traffic.

    I'm hopeful there is less of a homeless population now than there was....but that's probably wishful thinking on my part.

    btw, I had a banana seat on my schwin too. Good times....good times...

  8. All the winos migrated north to Vancouver.

  9. Ouch, you had it bad huh? Now I understand the new bike below. That makes up for it all now doesn't it?

  10. A while back, the newspaper had an article about how the winos/druggies in Seattle have been co-opted. They can qualify for low-income (the rent was like $200) apartments and don't even have to stop drinking. Apparently it turns out that having them in government subsidized apartments and providing them with free clinics is cheaper than having them on the streets, in terms of police/ER services. If I remember right, Seattle saved over $500,000 last year alone. Weird but true. The more conservative citizens ranted and frothed about it, but hey, it's saving money. The druggies/winos can't be involved in any violent crimes or anything above a misdemeanor, or they're out, but otherwise pretty much anything goes as far as living in the apartments.

    And most cities (even out here in BFE) now have programs where housing for the mentally ill is subsidized by the government. In our county, they have to sign a contract stating that they will not use drugs or alcohol, and must be in treatment services and taking their meds, and must agree to let a social worker visit them every month, unannounced. The rent is on a sliding scale, based on their income.

  11. fat sparrow - so, what you're telling me is that if i move to the pac/nw, and start drinking, then i can get cheap government subsidized rent?

    garfer - public drunken-ness is a thing of everyday life here. it's a college town, the only thing you can't do is smoke in a public place, and feel free to wonder around willy-nilly anytime of the year. they'll just pick you up, dust you off, and send you home.

  12. Yup I can empathise. I never got the right sort of duffle coat and suffered a whole winter of mortification. I'd buy the bike second hand and then pay to have it crushed into a floor lamp or summat!

  13. alala: i figure it has to be some sort of uber draconian enforcement policy thats being kept hush-hush. that's my fear.

    pink: here all the bicyclists ignore the bike paths; they're full of joggers -and ride right out in traffic. they PISS ME OFF.

    junglyjane: i guess back in the 50's and 60's kids in cali were customizing bicycles, and schwinn copied the general style when it came out with the Stingray series. you could take a stingray and buy aftermarket accessories for it that would turn it into a chopper bike, or a high rise, or a lowrider. it blows me away that kids in the UK were into this too!! you had a chopperbike? *jealous*

    pam: all we saw at Pike Place was a bad tranny playing guitar for change and looking over her shoulder. that's when it really knocked me over, in fact. no spangers in the Market? wha?...remember the huge encampment by the old ranier brewery up on the hillsides? is that the one they bulldozed? we didn't go up that far south.

    mj: hell, that could well be. or south, to portland. vancouver felt positively homelike the last time i was there...ALL the citizens were present and accounted for, not just the 'pretty' ones.

    g: well....i still want a Stingray, though. *pouts*

    fatty: we saw the special report on that program a couple of weeks ago! apparently it's the worst of the worst that got the housing...the few folks that were statistically costing the city the most money in enforcement and medical.that accounts for 60 out of thousands.....??
    so now they have this nice building to live in with onsite services, kind of like a potemkin village for winos. and you know what? that's pretty damned enlightened. I'd be glad to pay tax money for a widespread program like that.

    pink: no, you have to show up in Harborview a certain number of times a week and punch a bunch of cops first. then you qualify.

    apprentice: welcome! yeah, parents back then didn't get it. 'I had to walk five miles each way to school with no coat, barefoot, so you should feel LUCKY to have anything at all you little ingrate!' kinda thing.

  14. Ironically, with that retrodesign, who ever rides it now will be the COOL KID.

  15. I would have loved to have owned any kind of bike. We was po' folk. I borrowed bikes until my junior year in high school when I finally made enough to buy my own.

  16. Iffin you get a lowrider, I'll get one too...we can then bike around town, in our vintage dresses and shoes...of course a gangsta lean will be required.

  17. I feel you school bike pain FN , I had a real horror that my parents got from a second hand dealer . I can still feel the burn of embarassment when I think about the damn thing. I went out and brought my first really cool shiny new bike when I was in my 30's...... the first bike I had ever owned , that hadn't been 'previously enjoyed'

  18. I always guessed you were a bike girl. I have a small confession. I have never owned any bike and I can't ride one.

    Seattle's homeless were all rounded up and sold for burgers during the Winter Olympics. Thats my guess, either that or Chtulu drove them away..

  19. FN this has prompted me to post on my own childhood bike horror .
    I may need therapy

  20. I had a Chopper bike as well as JJ! All looks, v. collectable now of course - but a pig to ride - heavy & slow. Plus I almost killed myself on the U-shaped handlebars when I crashed.

  21. The wino's were taken away by Monkey Boy.

    Junglyjane, I wanted the Chopper but was too old and was already riding motorcycles when they came out. Little Miss has an old Grifter which was the BMX type bike that also became a classic at the same time. Weighs 3 tonnes and is hard to change gear.

  22. JJ , FROBI and TICKS

    ALL I EVER WANTED WAS A CHOPPER , with that cool gear shift and the big back wheel

    ***subsides into sobbing and gnashing jealous heap in corner****


    Raleigh has re-released the Chopper!!!!

  24. I so wanted a chopper as well - my next door neighbour got one for her birthday (1971 I think) and never ever let me have a go - *thinks* - her name is Lorraine Reason - so if you're out there Lorraine, watch your back HA!

  25. The new Raleigh Chopper doesn't have the cool but awkward to use, frame mounted gear shift. In effect this makes it a shortened version of Beasties Moulton but with a bigger back wheel.

  26. All the winos are in internet cafes, writing blogs.

  27. thanks for the linkage sweetcheeks....we live in a miracle! praise the lord!
    sorry for shite contact, rrrrrrreally busy doing a photography course. i will be back!
    take care

  28. Gawd I love those bikes..I had been collecting pics of them for a while..back in the early 70s had a beauty with extended forks, banana seat, sissy bar, headrest, a wheelie mobilee..
    the ultimate Bully Magnet!

    Ok, so in Seattle the underclass has been adopted and cared for by the government..
    very la di frickin da for the USofA...
    it sounds to me as if we have somehow annexed Seattle?

    I actually believe that the street people are being collected and churned into soylent green, there I said it, to feed the endangered Sasquatch,
    we may have uncovered the secret ingredient in Starbucks coffee!
    No wonder it's so bloody expensive.