Thursday, June 02, 2005

Thrill Ride 2000 

I usually slide into a little funk at the beginning of summer because I’m overcome with melancholy nostalgia for the pine woods of East Texas where I spent many halcyon summers at camp. When I graduated from camper to counselor I worked in the horse stables teaching riding there. One of the best parts of the job was taking the friskier, more high spirited horses out for a run in between classes, especially the summer after a devastating equine infectious anemia outbreak decimated our usual herd of ancient, mellow trail horses. These gentle nags were replaced with 5 years old half broken horses fresh from the racetracks, almost completely unsuitable for novice riders. Horses are sly and crafty creatures that can immediately sense when an inexperienced rider is on them. They will take full advantage, stepping on a rider’s feet and leaning all of its weight onto that when the rider is trying to mount the horse, sticking its head in the grass to graze while the rider pulls on the reins in vain, or, without warning, galloping off for a few spins around the riding ring while the terrified, hysterical camper clings to its neck for dear life. One way to ensure better equine behavior was to wear the horses out between classes.

We would take the horses and race hell for leather through trails in the woods. There was really nothing as thrilling as crashing through the trees, jumping over fallen logs, getting whipped in the face by overgrown branches and eating spider webs (if you were first) or dirt clods (if you weren’t) kicked up by the rider in front of you. Lately I have managed to recapture some of the thrill by riding my bike to work, especially when I ride through a certain section of the city on my way to the library, a free-for-all, lawless neighborhood that has fiercely resisted any attempts at gentrification. This area has been basically ceded to drug addicts, hookers, retired sailors, the hopelessly insane and the permanently addicted. It’s as lawless as Deadwood, and it is vibrant with depravity and sin. The sexual energy alone thrown off by prostitutes, boy hustlers and men cruising for sex is enough to knock me off my bike. Yesterday was the first of the month, a.ka. pay day, and the entire area was even more festive than usual as people poured out into the streets like it was Mardi Gras. The streets and sidewalks were transformed into an open air marketplace, a bazaar of vice.

Addicts don’t respect laws, especially minor ones like jaywalking, and I had to dodge and weave my way through junkies wandering and carousing in the streets as I pedaled as fast as I could. I was distracted by one drag queen’s outfit, ho’ couture at its finest, and almost rammed a barefoot woman in a t-shirt and nothing else who had lurched out between two parked cars right into the bike lane. She looked like whatever she was addicted to had given her permanent neurological damage, but she jerked back in time and disaster was avoided.

One of the many sex shops that line the streets has a window dresser with a sense of humor, creativity and style who updates the displays frequently. Usually the window features a mannequin dressed in t-shirts the store is selling. Sometimes these shirts will have a seasonal theme. Around St. Patrick’s day the mannequin wore a vibrant green t-shirt that read in huge letters encased in a shamrock “F*ck me, I’m Irish!.” These days the shirt reads “Beaverfight Referee” and the mannequin had a whistle around its neck and a referee hat. In an artistic touch, sort of the the Surrealist school, the mannequin is surrounded by a garden of upright pitch black dildoes that I pray are novelty size. I still prefer riding through the woods on a horse, but biking through the urban jungle as fast as I can is still a pretty exhilarating way to start my day. The smell of crack burning in the morning is beginning to smell like victory to me.

great essay, great picture to go with it (undead)
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