I\’m just south of Kerry Park right now putting on my gloves, hopping on the bike, putting the kickstand back as I straighten out the front wheel and sit up on the bike—and not precisely in that order.
To my 11 o\’clock there\’s people, and a dog.
There\’s 23.6 miles on the odometer.
The dog is crossing into my headlights, and he\’s got a reflective collar. He\’s shaggy.
[Motorcycle shifts into first and revs into first gear]
I\’m making my way down the street. Making a left. A man crosses my bath and hobbles along, as if rushed by me. But he has plenty of space.
I\’m going down hill, somewhat uncomfortably. These hills are steep. But I\’m engine braking and feathering the front break and then coming to a complete stop using the rear brake—despite knowing that the rear brake doesn\’t do much as you near the end of a stop. That is, unless you have a passenger, and there is a disproportionate amount of weight on the rear wheel.
These streets are rough and bumpy.
I have a small faux leather bag on my front forks that, when the forks have sufficiently compressed, the bag bumps into the headlight.
I am at a four-way-intersection, two-way-stop, narrating this. My right blinker is on. I make a right onto a well-lit road—Olympic Place.
[Engine steadily revs]
Behind me, not even a block away, there was a protest—well, not even sure if I can call it a protest. There was maybe fifty people outside a local representative\’s apartment. —Protesting.
This is different than the last protest—less heated, less chanting, less people. This time they only brought bikes, no cars.
(Cars came later in the night while I was gone.)
Last time they came through, I was scared. I was spooked. I ran down, got my bike, which was ten meters from the route, undid the lock as quickly as I could—which is still pretty slow—and I got the fuck out of there. I rode north through the Queen Anne Suburbs, winding through historic road, ending up just south of Fremont.
—And I was scared. I was spooked. I was thinking, my god they might tip over my bike. Which that was a little bit of an irrational fear. But it\’s not like I had anything else going on that evening. …I was spooked.
Out there, I saw a dragon, marching its way down the street. —Dragons don\’t march. But they were marching, making a serpentine trail through a quiet neighborhood. Angry young people, calling for revolution, chanting slogans—woke, awake but mindless.
Today, Caitlin sent me a picture when I was still making my way home from the gym. There were people gathered outside of a house nearby. I figured it was another protest—and it was. I messaged an acquaintance who lives in that building. And he confirmed that there was a local representative in the building. And that they were trying to speak with the representative.
I was annoyed. I made my way home. Put my stuff upstairs. And I walked down. I walked through the back entrance. I walked around the building to the front and not more than twenty meters they were there. I walked around the group. I made a quick survey of who was there. Mostly young people. A few black people.
[Wind and engine noises]
I went back upstairs. Mariah was there speaking with Caitlin. She left. I took a shower. I put on pajamas.
I went down. And there was a line of bicycles. they were just starting to back up. I approached the line of bicycles what exactly they were trying to do. Naturally, more articulate people stepped up (from the small crowd) and started talking.
[Engine engages 1st gear]
I heard just about everything I expected to hear. They wanted to talk to the local representative. They finally dragged him down to his level, and they spoke with him. And um—they spoke with him. And they said, \”We weren\’t able to speak with him under other conditions.\”
And it\’s like, if he\’s not willing—. I said, \”I\’m here. I live in this neighborhood.\” I pointed to the building that they were infront of; rather, the building that was behind them. And it\’s like, \”This is government subsidized housing. There\’s a lot of people of color here. This a pretty woke neighborhood. I thikn what you\’re doing here is counterproductive.\”
And they said, \”No we spoke with Andrew\”—something. I don\’t know his last name. (Andrew Lewis) And they said, \”Well, we got you down here.\”
And I told them, \”I feel alienated from your movement because of this.\”
And one of the half dozen or so people said, \”oh we\’re so sorryyy you feel alienated.\”
Obviously they don\’t. They do not care what I feel. Which I don\’t expect them to. They\’re a fuckin group of people; —a group of people generally doesn\’t care. And I\’m not a black person, so obviously they don\’t care. I\’m just another white person to them, anyway.
[Engine and starts from first gear, revs high. I say, merging issues in response to the high revs.]
There wasn\’t much of a conversation. I don\’t think they were really talking to the representative. Like, if he\’s not talking to them under normal conditions like town halls, etc. etc. —I mean they\’re challenging his authority. It\’s a power move. It\’s not communication.
I am now at Dick\’s. The question is do I want to get food, or do I want to keep going?
I\’m going to keep going. I\’ll get Dick\’s on the way back.
So there\’s this one girl in particular, a young black girl—well, mixed race. And shew was antagonizing. Young. [20ish] Adolescent. She had adolescent frustration. And she was surrounded by people enabling her, enabling the means by which she is channeling her frustration. And she made some at hominims (at me). She said, \”Get out of here with your flip flops.\” And she kept talking about my flip flops. And I mean, I was wearing them because I was at home. I was ready to go to sleep.
[Engine idling, visor opens]
I\’m not sure what else there is to say other than, I walked away. I remember saying something like…—I don\’t remember when I said this, if this was the first time I left or the second: I hope you continue to develop. And as I walked away they said, \”Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter. Black Lives matter.\” They wanted me to say Black Lives Matter. It was a power move. —You\’re with us or you\’re against us.
Do black lives matter? Yes.
Do all lives matter? Yes.
Do I understand the meaning of the phrase—rather—do I understand the meaning of the slogan Black Lives Matter. That\’s a yes: It is a slogan Colin Kaepernick came up with. Or at least I know it from him. Because black people keep getting shot by the police because there are some fucking serious problems with the police force. I know that. And the entire fucking (Western) world was protesting that for a minute. So I feel like most people know what that means. Or there\’s just such a political and ideological divide that people don\’t understand each other at all anymore.
(Unintelligible because of wind) …this is the final straw for me. BLM is fucking meaningless. It\’s a fucking slogan that people chant to see which party someone is in. It has nothing to do with black lives anymore. It\’s just a little fucking political game. It\’s a little social game. It\’s not about saving lives. There\’s a lot of heat and not a lot of light.
I\’m still going to do my best to respect people who do the whole Black Lives Matter thing.
—Because there are good people who mean well. unfortunately that phrase \”good people who mean well\” is universal to a fault—well, no that\’s not… There are good people who say BLM and think about what it means. And I\’m sure they (only) use it in appropriate places. I think the main thing is that BLM is (generally) bullshit and kind-of-fucking-meaningless.
And they killed it. And by they I mean—that\’s it—they, all of them, all of us. It just got overused. That\’s just the lifetime of that sort of thing. These things come and go like animals in a forest. That\’s what it is as far as I am concerned.
So, I try walking away—frustrated.
[Engine idling then revving]
An angry young black woman insults me as I am walking away. —That\’s personal. That\’s personal. That\’s personal.
And so I said, and I felt my voice shaking and my tongue getting in the way, and I said, in anger and fear, tempered by sadness and suffering, \”Do you want to make this personal?\” And I turned around and made a beeline for her, saying, \”Do you want to make this personal?\”
A black man—not particularly athletic, somewhere between 220 and 250 pounds,—stepped forward with great energy. I stopped advancing. I stood there. We stood there somewhere on Olympic Place. I looked at him, sizing him up. Sizing the fight.
One beer and the right insult and, hell, all that would have been fair fucking game. He was not particularly scary.
He said, \”yeah, I\’ll make it personal. I\’ll make it personal right here.\” He brought a lot of energy
[Engine idling, visor opens]
I have been wanting to fight.
[engine idling, sighs]
I have been wanting to fight.
[Engine revs, wind]
It\’s dark out. I\’m on Aurora. Someone had their fucking lights out. I tried waving like a madman at them, flashing my high beams at them trying to get them to turn on their fucking headlights. They did not get the message. —There\’s a metaphor.
So, yeah but uh.
I think if it was just the fight, I think it would have been fun. —Nothing ideological. Not business. Just violence. That\’s what it would have been. Fuckin\’ good old fashioned violence.
I\’m on Aurora and N 192nd street. It is unremarkable. The air is cold—and suddenly smells like smores, and it\’s gone. Yeah.
Out of some strange habit I often try to go from fifth gear to an imaginary sixth gear. —I only have five gears.
[Engine idling, then revving.]
Anyway, fighting him would have been for the wrong reasons. I would have fought him because an adolescent black woman wanted to start a fight, one that she could not finish. That man might have done her a disservice.
Anyway, it was immaturity on her part. So…
[Engine idling then reving.]
Violence feels good.
Sometimes violence is necessary.
As far as the species is concerned, violence itself might be good.
Somewhere Plato says, \”Not even Achilles could have fought to men at the same time.\”
There were a lot more than two men.
Maybe I could have been any one of their asses. Maybe even a few pairs of asses. There were some small people there too. But it wouldn\’t have done much good for me.
What did WWII do for the human race?
I\’m on Aurora and 212th. I wonder how high these numbers go.
I hope this is a phase. I hope these people grow past this.
They asked me what I am doing. I didn\’t have a satisfying answer for them. I said that I am voting and educating myself. What else is there to do?
I said, \”I might be having no effect. But you\’re having a negative effect.\”
I do actually think we\’re doomed. Revolution is not the answer. Revolution ain\’t the answer. That ain\’t it chief. These people out there are very good with slogans, but they aren\’t good with guns.
Now, I\’m at 196th St SW. Looks like the numbers start going down now. There\’s a Sherry\’s. It\’s like Denny\’s but somehow not Denny\’s, which is IHOP but somehow not IHOP.
[Engine calmly revving as wind blows. Engine idles and revs again.]
I think that there\’s a good chance that uh these people and the movement they represent will not really amount to very much. Granted it\’s not something that you can prove or disprove.
(As I type this the following day, they are marching outside again at 1:28pm)
I\’m making a left at 176th, just because.
I made an illegal u-turn, so that\’s fun.
I have yet to see a prostitute on the side of the road. I can only imagine approaching one on a prostitute and saying, sorry I can\’t let you on without a helmet, that\’s illegal, maybe next time.
I\’m passing the Sherry\’s again.
I think it\’s important to confront these things. I mean, I also feel like I don\’t have that much of a choice. My spirit won\’t let me rest; there\’s a dragon outside. Maybe I\’m dramatic. But some part of me thinks there\’s a dragon outside.
I passed a police officer. I am going the speed limit. But that own\’t stop me from experiencing mild and fleeting panic for a brief moment of self awareness, a self illuminating spotlight of consciousness that is the experience of being alerted to the possibility of being found out.
I wonder if that man, the one who stepped forward to fight, I wonder if he\’s been to jail. I have no idea.
But I bet most of those people haven\’t been to jail.
I\’ve been to jail.
It was a rough weekend.
It was worse than the psych ward, even though it was shorter. When I went to jail, my soul was still… [engine revs] recovering from the psych ward.
I met some bad people.
I mean, who am I to judge a man\’s soul? But I sure as fuck wouldn\’t call them good people, though there may have been good people among them.
224th street SW and Aurora. West Coast Auto Works, used cars, vans trucks. 76 Gas Station. Cash, Regular Gas: 2.74, plus 10 cents for credit.
This bike takes premium. I wonder what that\’s running.
228th: Miller Rent-All. [Engine revs] I wonder if they have prostitutes. No. Only heavy machinery. And chainsaws.
The individual is always the exception. But the law of averages is a force to be reckoned with. It is not fate, but my god, it is close to it.
I am unremarkable. You are probably unremarkable, especially if you\’re reading this. I mean this, objectively…statistically…
I\’m not set up to do anything great—whatever that means. I\’m beginning to realize the extent of this. Much of the past two years, especially the past year, has been a realization of my irrelevance to the world. (Unintelligible)
The smell of smores is back. Nice dry logs. Fragrant. —not quite smores, it\’s a beautiful smell of wood.
I don\’t even know where I was…
The past year…
[Engine revs hard]
The past year…
I don\’t know why I ever thought differently. I\’ve always hoped for something more. For purpose. For a unified narrative. For something for it to all make sense—a final moment of achievement, a label, something to say this is it. But that ain\’t\’ it, chief. This ain\’t it, chief.
I get the sense that the universe—the real big universe— is all possible worlds.
[Engine idles and then revs]
Then, in relation to all possible worlds, our absolute size because meaningless. —At least it does for me.
It\’s like comparing yourself to infinity.
It just doesn\’t make sense.
North 152nd Street and Aurora: McDonald\’s, a bus stop, a pot shop, a Korean Calamari place. —A Korean Calamari Place—with an open sign. I don\’t image they will be open, but my god I will find out. I don\’t know if this u-turn is legal…
Oh, it\’s by Tandy Leather. That\’s where I get my leather. Haha.
Is this it? Nope. [Engine revs] Next block.
I missed the exit. Time to make another u-turn.
Maybe it\’s a prostitution front. I don\’t think Caitlin will be happy if I take a prostitute home. I definitely can\’t afford a hotel and a prostitute. Damn. Maybe next time.
[Engine revs momentarily]
Hae-Nam Kalbi & Calamari, open quite late on a Monday, let\’s see what this is about.
\”Is it open?\”
\”I think they\’re open till ten.\”
\”Okay thank you.\”
I guess that\’s it—
There was no space for reason. There was only power.
You must grab the beast by the head.
There is no reason, only will.
Approach and behold the magnificent terror of the crowd.
I do not matter to them.
A voice—no—my voice says, \”Get the fuck out of my neighborhood.\”
I have no reason to say it. I do not need a reason to say it.