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By Patrick O'Grady
Mad Dog Media
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Another year in the toilet, and just in time, too. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a fresh start, or at least some fresh material.
VN web dude Charles Pelkey and I were starved for content the other day and decided to post a call for New Year's resolutions. "You want to start the ball rolling?" Charles asks me. Why not? So I toss off a couple droll unpleasantries, chief among which is: "1. I will write a column during 2003 that does not refer to George W. Bush as an intellectual flyweight who has surrounded himself with more war-mongering fascists than Benito Mussolini. But not today."
So this silly little hooter from Pennsylvania reads my quips and e-mails CP a couple of his goals for the coming year, then adds, "And finally, I vow to force myself to read Patrick O'Grady's foaming rants just to see if he can actually keep his resolution of writing at least one column in which he refrains from calling our heroic, courageous and brilliant President George W. Bush an intellectual flyweight or some other such slanderous drivel. Frankly, I don't think Mr. O'Grady will be able to keep that resolution."
Jesus Christ, doesn't anyone read anymore? Apparently not. Let's take these misconceptions one at a time here, sport, see if we can let a little of the air out of that head of yours.
"Heroic." Dubya dodged Vietnam by joining the Air National Guard through pure political privilege, then finked out on the last two years of even that REMF tour of "duty."
"Courageous." See "heroic," above. But if that's not enough, lamp this Los Angeles Times bit about the Chickenshit-in-Chief's response to the 911 attacks. Lots of folks forgot about that. A few of us didn't.
"Brilliant." Now that's a howler. The best The New York Times had to say about him was along the lines of "C-student frat rat who spent more time studying the class register and memorizing names of classmates and cracking beers than cracking the books." Hey, I can dig it. I only managed a 3.25 GPA myself, and it sure as shit wasn't at Yale. But if I'd planned on running the country down the line, I'd have tried a little harder, 'cause my daddy was only a career Air Force officer instead of a Republican congressman.
And yeah, I'm going to have trouble keeping that resolution, with so many people in such dire need of information that doesn't come from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh or out of their own asses. Happy New Year.
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"Non-negative." Ho, ho. "Nonsensical" is what I call the UCI's latest euphemism for "doped to the titties." Sure, something seems seriously weird about Garzelli's ringing of the Dope-O-Meter in the Giro, but it's gonna be hard to put any spin on the Panaria deal, which sounds as routine as the LAPD pulling a no-knock on a South Central crack house.
Maybe we should just let the silly buggers use whatever they need to take care of business. Methamphetamine, coke, smack, angel dust, whatever gets 'em up the Gavia faster than the Road Runner, who has been known to lift the corners off the ground from sheer torque while dropping Wile E. Coyote faster than a junkie losing a bindle in Hell's Kitchen as the beat cop approaches. Let 'em snort fat rails of human growth hormone off their doctors' forearms and sprinkle nandrolone over their breakfast muesli, what the hell. Let 'em race 9-pound bikes made of dental floss, swizzle sticks and rubber bands, climbing L'Alpe d'Huez like Eddy Merckx recorded at 33 1/3 and replayed at 78, passing the camera motos like a Ducati does a Vespa.
Why not? The racing will be entertaining as hell, pharmaceutical companies will fight each other like Israelis and Palestinians for the choice advertising space, and since the drug-addled Übercyclists will be croaking at a rate unheard of outside of an African AIDS clinic, there will be plenty of job openings for the young up-and-comers.
Sure, it'll be hard on the clean guys, but who wants to be part of a sport where you can work your nuts off to keep up with the dopers only to get sandbagged by some swine who'll lace your bottles with a masking agent from the big-hair era for a few lira and a naked pic of the podium girls?
Meanwhile, how about Tyler Hamilton? The poor sod has spent more time on the pavement during this year's Giro than the white line, and he just keeps getting back up, marking the other hotshots and limping back to the hotel to write his race diary for VeloNews. It's like watching the 1976 Ron Lyle-George Foreman fight. If Tyler doesn't make the podium in Milan, it sure as hell won't be from lack of heart.
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What fun. Just as the legs were starting to take shape from some semi-regular riding, I'm laid low by the Death Snots, forced to take more dope than Marco Pantani, Robert Downey Jr. and the entire Sheen family. This may explain the latest venomous streak on the homepage. Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Meanwhile, for you meteorology buffs, still no rain, no snow. Nada. Clouds form, the temperature drops, but it's like one of those big sneezes that refuses to reach fruition. April and May are usually the big months for that sort of thing around here, and now all the wise guys say we're hosed for this year. Apparently, it could rain for 40 days and 40 nights and Noah wouldn't even have to break out the galoshes. Bad juju. And we're on a well, so it's showers only every other day or so, peeing off the deck (well, me anyway -- the wife insists on a porcelain seat), and drinking nothing but the finest whiskies, beers and wines. One must conserve.
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It's not bad enough we have psycho bombers stuffing Home Depot hand grenades into the mailboxes hereabouts, plus addlepates burning trash and the odd trophy home in the middle of a four-year drought, but now I have a goddam sinus infection to put the stanky icing on this turd-cake.
The good news is that I've been able to blow huge gobs of snot all over the property in the past couple of days. Here's hoping it acts as an all-natural flame retardant and renders the road too slick for dynamite-fanciers to approach without air support.
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The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away, as my man Tom Waits has observed. I was all giddy over finding a royalties report from Velo Press in the mailbox on Friday, only to have the wife tell me that our numbers-cruncher, Doug the Woman, says we need to cut Uncle Sammy a $2200 check on Monday, in addition to the usual thousand-dollar handshake we give the sonofabitch every quarter. Throwing cartoon-book royalties at that rascal will be like chucking bricks into the Grand Canyon. Better I should chuck a few bricks through the windows of Kenny Lay's Aspen hideaway, seeing as Enron didn't pay any taxes at all in four of the last five years.
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After rediscovering the joys of riding a mountain bike with 2.2-inch knobbies on pavement in Monterey, I drove to Pueblo to ride the road bike for the first time in a good long while. Parked the White Tornado at City Park and rode past Lake Pueblo to Red Ink Ranch and turned around into one hell of a headwind. Nothing like a bit of a breeze to help you locate your precise point on the power-to-frontal-area grid.
Immediately afterward I drove north to Colorado Springs to scarf a giant platter of corned beef, spuds and cabbage at Jack Quinn's, washed down with two pints of Guinness, which goes a long way toward explaining certain wind-resistance issues. Pulled a U on Nevada to snag my usual parking spot, right in front of a motorcycle cop, and had all of 20 cents for the meter. Fuck it, I thought, I'm hungry. Eat now, pay the ticket later. Came back afterward to a clean windshield, which like the 2000 election would seem to indicate God has a soft spot for idiots.
Deadlines are met and I owe myself a treat, like maybe a great big bottle of Jameson Gold and a screening of "Lord of the Rings." Thirty years ago I'd have watched it on acid. The gift that keeps on giving, if you believe in flashbacks. One night at a friend's house we watched a lamp slide back and forth on a table like something out of "The Exorcist," which wouldn't hit the theaters until a couple years later. It was much better than whatever was on television at the time, and probably still is.
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Who are these people the media cretins keep blabbering about, the 85 percent of Americans who think Dubya's doing a swell job? Eighty-five percent of the people I know don't even believe he's the president, and the 15 percent who do are depressed. Maybe the pollsters are only talking to the various Bush daughters, who do seem to spend an awful lot of time getting fucked up. Nah, I'll bet even they think he's a dick. After all, they know him a lot better than we do.
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Enron didn't so much avoid paying taxes for four of the past five years ... it simply eliminated the middleman, giving the money directly to politicians.
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Kenneth Kusmer has a book out on homelessness, "Down and Out, On the Road: The Homeless in American History." And a very fine book it must be, 'cause it costs $39.95. One wonders whether it might be more enlightening to buy eight homeless persons $5 worth of lunch and talk to them for a while.
Once upon a time my bad attitude and I were having a few drams at Squirrel's Tavern in Corvallis, Oregon, when a pair of street folk wandered up to my table and asked if they could join me, saying I looked as though I could do with some company. I offered to buy them a pitcher, and they refused, saying they had plenty of money to buy their own refreshment.
Turns out they were hoboes of long standing, riding the rails in search of the sun. They wintered in San Diego or Tucson, and summered in the Northwest, getting their food from restaurant dumpsters at closing time, collecting refundable bottles for cash, and sleeping in abandoned buildings. I was a 40-hour-a-week newspaperman, with a salary, a pickup and a rental house, but they weren't fussy ... they bought me a beer and chatted with me, just as if I were a regular guy.
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Enron gave millions of dollars to 71 senators, 188 congressmen, the chief of the Securities & Exchange Commission, Attorney General John Ashcroft and the president of the United States, among others. And when the company went bust through a combination of ineptitude and outright criminality, and began hollering for help, none of these guys did shit for them. You didn't give your congressmen a nickel. What do you think he's going to do for you?
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The other day I was in a Starbucks in the Denver Tech Center, scoring a grande Americano before the trip home to Westcliffe, when I counted 10 people wearing black leather jackets. Seven men and three women, in a retail establishment the size of my living room, all making the same fashion statement. And all I could think was, "Somewhere there are 10 very cold cows."
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