Sunday, April 29, 2007

Weekend News

Ok, this one really pissed me off:
For $82 a Day, Booking a Cell In a 5-Star Jail

There is a reason some offenses involve fines and others involve jail time. Doing jail time is supposed to suck. People with money shouldn't be allowed to pay to make it suck less.

But... in the very unlikely event that I had to go to jail myself, I am sure I would want to take advantage of this sort of program myself, given that I am kind of a wimpy, non-alpha girl-- hardly the type who would do well in a prison gang...

As for lighter fare from the City section, this article about "fixies" is kind of funny. Fixie is short for fixed-gear bicycle. They have no brakes, there's only one gear, and the pedals are fixed so you can't just coast. They have a lot of fans among bike messengers and hipster kids-- I can see why, as they have a stripped-down aesthetic to them, and to actually ride such a bike indicates a certain hard-core cred, especially in a city like this one, where to ride any bike at all is to take your life in your hands. But don't think skipping all the bells and whistles makes this kind of bike any cheaper-- au contraire. They start at around $800 and go much higher.
What I think is funny about the article is that the devotees of these bikes seem to see them as a symbol of some kind of alternative culture:

Although fixed-gear bikes can be seen as a trendy accessory, they also allow a mild form of rebellion against what many of these bike riders see as a wasteful and insipid way of life. Fixed-gear riders embrace the contrary notion of taking a different route.
One of the riders interviewed says he believes in fixies as an "extension of a squatters' lifestyle... 'living a certain way, subsisting on recycling, not wasting, finding liberation... spiritualist anarchism.'" That is an awful lot of meaning to attach to a particular kind of bike, and I wonder if these people stop to think about how they are basically fetishizing an $800+ object-- doesn't sound too anti-materialistic to me! They are investing these expensive bikes with all these messages about what kind of people they are. How is that any different than spending $800 on a Louis Vuitton bag? The message may be a bit different but the medium is almost the same. I do think bicycle ridership should be encouraged, as it promotes fitness and energy conservation... but hey, carrying a heavy leather Vuitton bag should build a few muscles, and every cow they kill for one of those things is that much less methane gas being released into our atmosphere... Anyway, my point is: sometimes an expensive bike is just an expensive bike.

4 comments:

~Dawn said...

'living a certain way, subsisting on recycling, not wasting, finding liberation... spiritualist anarchism.'"

Dude, I will sell you my free bike for a steal at $400 and take off the blasted brakes FOR you!
FreakyWeird people.

fin_indie said...

Oh man, fixies are all the rage here in Seattle, too. Hipsters, hell yeah. Now, I used to use a fixie back in college to train for bike races, and TRUST ME, with no brakes, these things are FREAKING hard to stop. Not to mention, if you haven't been to Seattle, the hills are ridiculously STEEP, so pedaling one of these fixed gear babies up a steep hill will make a hipster puke out his greasy breakfast.

Most of those buying them seem to be trend hogs, they have no idea what they are getting themselves into. Amazing what people buy/spend "just because it looks cool", but actually has serious limited utility.

Anonymous said...

That article about pay-per-day jails pissed me off too! Why should the well-off get better treatment in jail? And this probably just makes the prisons worse for those who are poor.

Anonymous said...

Talking about squatter's lifestyles, I know a friend of a friend who has two "corporate" jobs and lives in a tent in someone's backyard.

I don't know what point she's trying to make. She's a walking contradiction.

And besides, if you have to call a job "corporate", it usually isn't.