Sept 16, 2004
Exit 65, Nebraska (between Sidney and Ogallala)
Dad is totally obsessed with the funnel. When we tell him we’re going on tour with Cyclecide, he has trouble conversing about anything much beyond how gross the idea of the funnel is and how much the bus must stink with all the grimy rodeo klowns on it.
Dad’s a traveling salesman, a convenience-is-necessary, different-hotel-every-night man who’s always clean and handsome and groomed and sprayed with carcinogenic, suppoedly-smellgood unguents.
He’s a good old boy, a man raised in squalor who valiantly pulled himself and his family out of the Mississippi mud and into a proud and comfortable life. He can’t stand the thought of people pungent with the odors of humans who have been working instead of primping.
Dad’s also a polite Southern gentleman who would rather stab himself in the eye with a barbecue fork than take a whiz in front of a dozen of his best friends, and the thought that his only daughter might do so makes him agitated to the point of speechlessness.
It’s not clear he even knows what it is Cyclecide does in our show. It’s always funnel this, stinky that, and then change the subject to something less incendiary.
See, on the Tour de Fat, Cyclecide does weekend gigs with long, long, long drives between each one, and on the drives, we drink a lot of beer. (And water and coffee and lemonade, but mostly beer on traveling days.) If Jarico or whoever is at the wheel were made to pull over to a rest area every time someone needed to answer nature’s #1 call, we’d never get anywhere.
So, at the front of the bus where the steps and the exit door are, there’s a funnel hooked to the front heater with a tube that goes down through a hole in the bus floor and spills out onto the highway. When it’s “that time,” we have no choice but to feed the road with our urine.
It’s not ideal, but that’s the way it goes. We try to tell Dad the Bike Rodeo Ladies’ Auxiliary has its own demure apron stashed in the glovebox for this kind of thing, and that nobody can see anybody else’s body parts during these sensitive incidents, but this gives him no consolation.
We should probably avoid telling him that in the past year, we’ve only peed in toilets about 1/4 of the time. Toilets in houses, even less. Usually, it’s in a truck stop bathroom, in a Porta-John, or (mostly) on the ground somewhere behind something.
Sorry, Dad — we’ve just not been around traditional porcelain gods very much. Plus, pissing on the ground is what homo sapiens were meant to do anyway. It’s spread out. We’re moving. It adds a healthy amount of nitrogen to the soil for the plants. It’s really not that gross.
Some political bike folks take issue (jokingly or not) with the fact that the Bike Rodeo rides around the country in a diesel-guzzling schoolbus. For those cycle-socialists who see the bicycle as a subversive tool in the war against the dominant paradigm, our method of between-gig transportation represents an impurity in the “bike people” argument.
We’re supposed to be the clowns who make bicycles look fun, the ones who add lighthearted entertainment value to the propagation of the idea that All Should Pedal — and not only do we not wear helmets or Say Anything in our show, we also use the juice of old dinosaurs to power our circus from town to town.
But the thing is, 1) we’re not political, and 2) cars are awesome. Bikes are great for interacting with your surroundings, making yourself an active participant in your life, getting exercise as you commute, feeling like a kid again … but in a country this big, a vehicle that allows you to move about the States of your own free will at 50-or-more miles per hour is a pretty big necessity if you ever want to do something besides see your own neighborhood and wherever the trains and buses go.
Yes, it’s true that big oil and the petrochemical industries just might be the number one reason that the earth, and our country in particular, is fuxored at the moment — but if you want to be all social-Darwinian about it, crude oil is just another resource the human race is going to mine the bejeezus out of until it’s depleted.
Pretty soon we’ll have to find something else to prop up the middle-earth’s blood, and legislation will free up some cleaner fuels to power our good times.
Everyone knows there are already cars in existence that run on electricity, water, hemp oil, fast-food grease, lemon rinds, and bong smoke — but that info’s going to keep getting pushed into the background by the big-oil companies that run the world until they themselves can figure out a way to corner the market and say they’re the ones who came up with the idea.
Until then, we’re going to refrain from feeling guilty about driving around in our 12-miles-per-gallon ‘73 Dodge van when not on tour. Making new things means pulling new resources out of the ground. Using vintage things ’til they’re used up means respecting the Urf.
The van, in addition to being our primary individual mode of transportation, serves as one of our other homes. Hardly any of us come to this tour from a what-you’d-call normal living situation. On tour, the “Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby”, the 1966 Gillig schoolbus klown-tank, is our nap room, our kitchen, our bar, our drawing room, our moving truck, our chill space, and our home. This weblog entry is long enough, so maybe tomorrow we’ll tell you about all the places we live and what we do to them to get them liveable.
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