The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: the Bad #5 and The Ugly

5. No-Brakes Guy

I’m compiling quite an archive of insane people out here. There’s Chain Bullwhip Guy, Chinese White Supremacist Guy, Random Question Guy/s, and a host of others. (No time to write about all these here if you haven’t yet encountered them. Check out my blog if you want: http://rob.easternity.com/). Add to that a guy I met a few nights ago while biking back to my dorm. I was cruising along when he pulled up next to me riding an odd-looking bike that seemed on first inspection to be very good. Very narrow, road-bike tires, sturdy frame, but no brand name of any kind and no color, either. It was all white. I’ve seen a couple of them around town. Anyway, he and I started talking and he complimented my bike. He asked how fast it could go, was impressed when I told him, and then I said, “Your bike looks pretty good, too. Is it fast?” “Yes,” he said, “but it has no brakes.” He said this with a smile, so I chuckled, thinking he meant his brakes just weren’t very good, because who smiles about not being able to stop a speeding vehicle? But then I took a closer look at his bike and realized that no, in fact it literally had no brakes AT ALL. No brake lines, no brake handles, no nothing. The guy was cruising through town on a fast bike with no capacity for stopping beyond the application of his own two feet. I started getting very nervous, then, because we were approaching an intersection and I didn’t want to be nearby when a rich guy in an Audi cannonballed into him at 100 mph, reducing bike and rider to a hellish strawberry-donut hash of gore and plastic. He stopped himself all right, then hung a right and waved to me. “Goodbye!” he said. Goodbye indeed, comrade, and probably for much longer than you think.

The Ugly

1. Leonard Cohen’s Chinese Doppelganger

Dark-blue cable-knit sweater. Blazer. Eyebrows just so, hair just so, loafers. Seriously, the guy could have started sing “Hallelujah” right there and I wouldn’t have blinked. The thing is, the only person who can pull off the Leonard Cohen look is Leonard Cohen. Everyone else just looks like they got kicked out of a Cape Cod yacht party.

2. Incongruous Stickers

Saw a guy on a 50-cc mini-bike the other day with a “Baby on Board” sticker pasted on the fuselage. First of all: riding a 50-cc mini-bike through urban traffic ranks just behind riding a tricycle on the coolness scale. You might as well be cruising into Aspen with Jeff Daniels riding bombardier. Second: baby on board? If so, that’s an idea straight out of “Get ‘Em Started Early: The Evil Knievel Guide to Good Parenting.” Third: if there’s no baby on board, why in the name of sense and justice would you put the sticker on your already hyper-uncool vehicle? Intentional irony? I don’t know. I love it, though.

3. Eternal Construction

Is anything in China ever finished? Sometimes I think Tianjin isn’t so much a city as a kind of construction industry fire-drill. Crews put up an apartment complex or a new store simply for the practice. Then they tear it down and build something else. And no one ever has any warning. I keep waiting for the day when a wrecking ball comes through my dorm-room window, followed by a construction worker demanding to know why I haven’t already moved out. Or maybe even better, for the day when I wake up to find they’ve built an entirely new building up around me in the night. I go to bed in my dorm room, and wake up in the sporting-goods section of Wal-Mart. It could happen. I mean, they’re tearing up the marble plating at the base of Zhou Enlai’s statue by the front gate of our campus. Why? Who cares? See. . .practice.

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3 Responses to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: the Bad #5 and The Ugly

  1. Pingback: Hao Hao Report

  2. Marian Rosenberg - Haikou #1 Translation Agency says:

    The brakeless bike is probably a fixed gear. They first became popular outside velodromes among bike messengers in New York and now they’ve spread and are starting to take over the trendy bike riding world.

    • Rob says:

      Interesting. Why would something so dangerous be trendy? To me, a brakeless bike taking over the trendy bike-riding world is a little like tiny parachutes taking over the skydiving world.

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