By Chris Roberts
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
By Mike Billings
By Rachel Swan
By Erin Sherbert
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
Heart Like a Wheel
As a career San Francisco bicycle messenger (18 years and counting), I can assure you that I was rather shocked to watch the Jasons and Jennifers of the next messenger generation scurry around trying to turn a bunch of lone wolf, fiercely independent, rugged individual bikers into a pack of Republican Shriners at a convention. Messenger competition? Exhibits? More "shop talk"? Bah ... humbug. Equally ironic was the media's rush to embrace our little fest ("Spokes of Destiny," Aug. 28) and remind everyone that this low-paying, benefits-free job is, in fact, the coolest thing since piercing beyond the ear lobe.
Well, the great weekend came and I must admit I was wrong. All skepticism vanished as we all had a lovely time meeting and hanging out with fascinating arrested-development cases like ourselves from all over the world. I was sad when it was over and am very grateful to the organizers who put in so much time and energy to make it happen.
A word of caution, however, to all you youngsters doing the job: You hang on to a bicycle for a few years, and one day you wake up and find out it's been hanging on to you all along!
As a former messenger, I hereby nominate the organizers and participants in the absurd "Bike Messenger Olympics" for the prize of being the stupidest wage workers in San Francisco. Can anyone imagine fry cooks at McDonald's or convenience store clerks staging a public celebration of their jobs? Would any other group of wage workers making an average of six to eight bucks an hour throw benefit concerts to come up with money to pay off-duty cops $45 an hour to police a public demonstration of their enthusiasm over their working conditions?
Bike and walking messengering are the bottom of the barrel. The pay is terrible, serious injuries occur frequently, and bike messengers are occasionally killed. There is nothing to celebrate in being overworked and underpaid. But the bike messenger "culture" is unique among the vast array of demeaning tasks required by capitalism; many messengers are under the illusion that it's cool or macho to work their shitty jobs for shitty pay.
Bike messenger "culture," Haight Street, and stringy-haired trendoids with English motorcycles offer the appearance of bohemianism without the creativity and antagonism to bourgeois society found in a true bohemia. Taking time out to kiss their bosses' asses, participants in the Cycle Messenger World Championships are too gutless or brainless to take collective action against employers for less rotten wages and working conditions. Next time, race participants should show how cool it is to be exploited by doing the race on their hands and knees and picking up packages with their teeth.
Laughs Aren't That Hard
Why does Mari Coates review comedy theater? One of the shows she slammed the hardest, Jim Earl Theater (Stage Listings, Aug. 21), was indeed too long by half, and a little too loud. But gosh, Mari, save your venom for something really bad! Their sketch with four beetles running out of dung was one of the most bizarrely funny things I've ever seen.