Thursday, April 20, 2006

Conflict Diamonds I

Conflicts between cyclists and motorists happen, just as motorists have conflicts with other motorists. After a real gem of a conflict with a motorist today, I decided to name all of the entries about my cyclist vs motorist incidents of note as "Conflict Diamonds". Only the true gems will make it into this blog because if I were to put words down on every foolish vehicle manuever that was done in front of me, I'd never get anything else done.

"I had my turn signal on."

That's exactly what she said in response to my disdain for her driving skills after ripping by me and hastily cutting into a parking lot right in front of me. First, she came very close to clipping me while passing. Second, if I had not been paying very close attention and had anticipated this move, she would have at least gotten t-boned by my front wheel.

I managed to keep on the brakes, issue a very loud "WHOAH" and make a nice swerve into the lot without crashing into this foolish person's car. That was when she had the gall to mention her almighty turn signal that apparently allows her to make any asinine manuevers in her blue wheeled coffin with nicotine-stained windows. In response she was informed that if I had been in my pickup truck she NEVER would have even thought about trying that kind of idiotic manuever. Her wheezy emphysemic husband then decided to issue a few expletives while rolling up the passenger window in some strange and feeble attempt to protect himself.

As I started to laugh and pedal away, the driver started screaming at me again about her omnipresent turn signal. I couldn't pass up another round of laughter at their expense, so I turned back and asked her just exactly what she didn't understand about almost injuring me due to her ineptitude. She then issued some expletives of her own and was asked again what her malfunction was. That was when she produced the crown of her security blanket package, the almighty cell phone along with a statement that she was calling the police. I called this "pathetic", which wheezy answered with a "Go to Hell." I answered that with, "You're already in hell,'re sitting in it."

As I was pedaling off and Ms. Almighty was placing her call to the local constabulary, I couldn't help but think how that conversation was probably going:

911: 911, what is your emergency?

Alma: This man just threatened me!

911: Where did this occur?

Alma: In my car!

911: Where is your car?

Alma: In a parking lot!

911: What is the address of the parking lot?

Alma: I don't know! How am I supposed to know that?

911: Look around at the business and name some of them.

Alma: I see a Burger King.

911: What street is that Burger King on?

Alma: How am I supposed to know that?

911: Look at the street sign and tell me what street.

Alma: It's Main Street.

911: Ok, is the person who threatened you still there?

Alma: No, he left.

911: How did he threaten you? Did he have any weapons?

Alma: He yelled at me! I didn't see a gun but he might have had one, you never know.

911: What did he say?

Alma: He said I was a crappy driver!

911: Why did he say this?

Alma: Ihadmyuturnsignalonandhetriedtopassmebythecurbandialmosthithim (gasp) andthenhestartedyellingatmeandmyhusband!!!!

911: What kind of vehicle was he in?


911: Did he make any specific threats towards you or your husband?


911: Could you describe this man and his bicycle so the officers can look while they are coming to your location?


911: Ok, we'll send an officer to you.

If you think for one minute that frivilous calls like this aren't constantly placed to 911 centers throughout the USA, go sit in and listen in one sometime. I spent fifteen years fielding calls for real emergencies and calls like this "dramatization". Believe me, the frivilous calls outweigh the real emergencies by at least 100 to 1 in my experience.

I hope her cell phone battery died.


Saturday, April 15, 2006


I found a new word to add to my dictionary today. The inspiration was provided by a pickup truck driver, speeding up to a stop sign at a T intersection in a resedential neighborhood next to a school that was getting out. I was on the top of the T approaching on the wrong side of the street in order to avoid crossing over next to the busy intersection a hundred yards further down the street. The driver saw me, knowing there is no stop sign on the street I was on and appeared to be miffed that I was delaying his all-important arrival somewhere. As I passed in front of his gigantic pickup, he started spewing a bunch of garbage about me riding on the wrong side of the street. I turned around and laughed at him as he sped through his right turn and turned left on the next street down, right in front of a vehicle approaching from the other direction. He was a true hypocridiot for a)speeding in a school zone, b)almost causing an accident for failure to yield, and c)having the gall to bitch about a cyclist on the wrong side of the street in a resedential area.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Queen's Royalty Transcends

Queen's immortality was written in stone years ago due to hit after hit and a reputation for putting on one of the best stage shows in Rock & Roll. The adoption of We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions by sports arenas and teams doesn't hurt their recognition much either. Though Freddie Mercury is no longer of this World, they have transcended back to the stage with Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company fame.

The first thing I noticed about the crowd that had gathered outside of Cox Arena at SDSU was its diversity. There were people of all ages and races covered in the mix, which did not surprise me much at all. I helped my fair share in the diversity department by bringing my teenage daughter to the concert as an early Birthday present. There were more than a few other family situations present, including a large percentage of other father/daughter combinations. It was nice to see so many people from different walks of life getting ready to enjoy a Rock Show.

Having read reviews of previous shows on their current USA tour having low attendance, I was wondering how many people would show up for a Saturday night show in San Diego. As the time wound down to the show, it was obvious that this show was going to be close to a sellout. The seats were filled to the bleacher rows at the top of the far end from the stage and the bleachers were filled most of the way back stage left and right. San Diego rocks.

When the lights dimmed, the crowd sprang to life and from my vantage point, I could see Brian emerge from backstage and a roadie hand him the immortal Red Special. This was going to be good.

When the opening riff to Tie Your Mother Down cranked out of the stacks, the roar of the crowd almost drowned it out. Paul Rodgers did a fine job on the vocals and it was apparent right from the start that he was not trying to be Freddie Mercury, but was being Paul Rodgers. Roger Taylor's beat still kept things together and Danny Miranda's bass lines stuck to John Deacon's originals like Krazy Glue. Brian May? Brian May has not gotten older, he's gotten better. In concert, one often wonders if they are listening to a recorded track instead of live because he is so flawless.

The crowd was fantastic. They seemed a little less in tune during the Free and Bad Company songs, but got right in touch when All Right Now was played in the encore. There were a lot of Paul Rodgers fans, easily recognizable by being on their feet when Can't Get Enough and Feel Like Makin' Love were being played.

Take Love was introduced as a new song and is an fine example of what this lineup can really do, highlighting the best of Queen and Paul Rodgers' attributes and making a fine blend in the process. The crowd took it all in and cheered almost as loudly for it as they did the time-proven standards, deservedly so.

Brian's rendition of Love Of My Life was a definite highlight. He sat on a stool at the end of a catwalk that extended into the audience with a twelve string acoustic and had the crowd sing along. Though Love Of My Life is not as recognizable across the diversity board as Fat Bottomed Girls is, Most of those present knew it well and sang heartily.

The high point of the show for me was Lost Horizon. I've been to a lot of concerts and have seen a lot of people play guitar in my forty three years, but have never been so moved by music before. Brian May played Lost Horizon with such soul, it overwhelmed me and made me glad I was sitting down. If I had been standing, it would have made my knees buckle.

I saw Queen on The Game tour at the Forum in LA in 1980 and Dragon Attack was on ther set list for that show. Freddie was Freddie and there is no replacing him, however this lineup covered Dragon Attack with a fervor that would have made Freddie proud. The pounding bass lines and interspersed wails from the Red Special were as tight as they were in 1980.

Brian introduced Under Pressure as a song they "stole from Vanilla Ice". I'm not sure if everyone present got that, but my daughter and I were cracking up along with quite a few others around us. The vocals were handed off for various lines throughout Under Pressure, all handled really well considering neither Freddie, nor David Bowie were present.

Bohemian Rhapsody was presented with the class that Queen fans have come to expect. It started out with a video and recording of Freddie playing piano and singing live with the band joining in and playing along on cue. There was not one butt in a chair in the whole arena for the remainder of the show and the Wayne's World headbang was omnipresent, initiated at the precise moment required.

A phenomenon occured while the crowd was cheering for the encore that was frightfully funny. Instead of the time proven lighters being lit, it was mostly cell phone lights! This wasn't surprising, yet was hilarious just the same. It had obviously been a long time since I had attended an arena Rock Show.

The telltale thump thump clap of We Will Rock You broke the stage silence for the encore and the crowd responded in kind, shaking the arena on its foundation in the process. Paul handled the vocals in his style, fitting into the fold of the beat well. The fans responded with a thunderous WE WILL WE WILL ROCK YOU right on cue. Brian made his way over to a stage left riser that was a mere twenty feet from where my daughter and I stood and proceeded to rip right into the lead. Rock & Roll doesn't get much better than that.

All Right Now was set in-between We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions, which was the final song played in the show. Yes, they are the champions...of the World. Queen has transcended time and personnel loss to be heard across all walks of life. A Saturday night with them and 10,000 fans in San Diego helped drive that point home for me.

Set List

It's A Beautiful Day
Reaching Out
Tie Your Mother Down
Fat Bottomed Girls
Can't Get Enough
Take Love
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Love Of My Life
Hammer To Fall
Feel Like Makin' Love
Let There Be Drums
I'm In Love With My Car
Guitar Solo
Last Horizon
Bad Company
Another One Bites The Dust
Dragon Attack
These Are The Days Of Our Lives
Radio Ga Ga
Under Pressure
The Show Must Go On
Bohemian Rhapsody
We Will Rock You
All Right Now
We Are The Champions
God Save The Queen