Sounds Like Now
A blog by saxophonist Brian Sacawa
Archive for July, 2006
No! No! No! Please, Floyd. Say it ain’t so! I hate myself for thinking this, but when the UCI announced yesterday that one rider had tested positive for a banned substance during this year’s Tour, I immediately thought the worstâ€”was it possible that Floyd’s Stage 17 epic was simply too spectacular? Like, illegal spectacular? My (and plenty of other cycling fans’) worst fears were realized when Phonak confirmed today that Landis was indeed the rider in question, which accounts for his mysterious absence from two post-Tour crits in Europe.
It’s sad that when a rider does something special like Floyd on Stage 17â€”or Roberto Heras overcoming an awful crash in last year’s Vuelta to topple Menchovâ€”we almost automatically begin to speculate that there might have been something other than that rider’s ability, heart, or desire involved. What about Basso’s virtuosic Giro performance? Who can look back at that now and not wonder (although the jury is still out)? It’s really too bad for the sport. I still love cycling. And I still think Floyd’s clean as well as the man. There’s got to be an explanation, like he was probably so pissed off and embarrassed the night after his Stage 16 implosion that his body simply made all that extra testosterone in his fury. I mean, come on, the only thing Floyd ever did wrong was wear bad sunglasses.
Daniel Wakin has a delightful article in today’s Times about James Levine’s Tanglewood performance of “The Soldier’s Tale” by Stravinsky, featuring Milton, Elliott, and John. This anecdote, in which Mr. Carter relates his previous experience in the role of the soldier, is especially amusing:
Mr. Carter, who had been a friend of Stravinsky, offered that he had played the soldier before, in a production with Aaron copland as the narrator. John Cage played the Devil, skipped most of the rehearsals and shouted into the microphone at the performance. “He made such a lot of noise!” Mr. Carter said. “John called it the ‘Story of the Sold-Out.’”
After the concert, Mr. Carter said, he took Stravinsky to meet Cage, an avant-gardist who dealt heavily in abstractions. Mr. Carter went on: “Stravinsky said to John Cage: ‘You’re the only sensible composer I know. You don’t write notes!’”
Hot off the presses is the second edition of Take A Friend To The Orchestra, a collection of essays by bloggers, critics, musicians, administrators, and patrons, the fruits of Drew McManus’ yearly internet initiative of the same name over at Adaptistration. I’m thrilled to be included in the book. Order yours today!
An appropriate image on the eve of the Tour’s first big day in the mountains. Will there be a major sorting out tomorrow? I’m not even going to hazard a guess. However, I’ll wager that Rasmussen puts in a big KOM bid on Thursday. [Image courtesy of Brother Pachucki.]
I’ve seen plenty of cycling videos over the years—many Tours de France, several Giros, spring classics, Hell On Wheels, and so on, and on, and on. However, I recently watched a DVD that became immediately one of my all-time favorites: PRO – A Feature Documentary. Here’s a brief synopsis from the film’s website: “Using [the 2004] US PRO Championship in Philadelphia as its canvas, the film follows riders from every one of the major teams through the experience of Philly week and goes behind the scenes to learn what it takes to orchestrate and execute a victory at the most prestigious one day classic in American bike racing.”
Serious cycling fanatics will love the detail—the discussion and execution of team tactics, etc.—and marvel over the riders’ abilities and ability to suffer, like Danny Pate and Mike Sayers of Health Net driving a ridiculous break and putting the hurt on pretty much all by themselves for the better part of 100 miles, or Chris Horner attacking once, getting caught, and then going again from the bottom of Manayunk Wall all the way to the top causing complete carnage (although the move ultimately didn’t succeed). And while July cycling fans might not know the names of Danny Pate or Mike Sayers or Gord Fraser or Chris Horner or Erik Saunders or Mark McCormack, it doesn’t matter because the film takes you into their lives and into their minds, in the days leading up to the race and even months before the race. You get to know these riders as people—what makes them tick, what drives them, what their fears are. It puts faces on a sport that can sometimes seem anonymous as we watch the peloton roll by on OLN. That, and you get a play-by-play, lap-by-lap account of how tactics are playing out, what their immediate and likely consequences are and will be, what “needs to” and “should” happen, and why certain riders and teams are doing what they are doing.
All of this combined not only makes an exciting video, but also provides a way into the sport of professional cycling, which can often seem esoteric and disorganized to those who don’t follow the sport regularly. (I’d give it 5 Netflix stars if I could. But they don’t carry it!)
Here’s a common question: why do cyclists shave their legs? Many people think that cyclists shave their legs to reduce drag, much like a swimmer. However, cutting through the wind and slicing through the water are somewhat different and as a result, shaved legs have almost no effect on aerodynamics. I always answer this question with a story. Here goes.
So. Do you drive a car? [A: Yes.] Do you have insurance for your car? [A: Yes.] When you drive your car, do you expect to crash it? [A: No.] But you still have insurance, right? Just in case? [A: Yes.]
For a cyclist, shaving your legs is like having insurance for your car. You don’t expect or plan on crashing, but it might happen. There are several benefits to shearing yourself. First, if you hit the pavement, you will likely slide on it, creating a wonderful abrasion known as “road rash.” Sliding on the road with hairy legs will actually create a worse wound as the hair will rip more skin off. Second, shaved legs make cleaning the wound much easier. Third, as the wound heals, you do not have to worry about an infection caused by hair healing in the wound.
Enough gore. Here are a few other benefits: 1) massage is easier and less painful, 2) perspiration will evaporate faster, which has a cooling effect, and 3) it just looks nice.
Tonight is Tanabata, the Japanese star festival, celebrating the once-a-year meeting of Orihime and Hikoboshi.
Long long ago, on the west bank of the Milky Way, there lived a beautiful girl Orihime. She was a skilled weaver and worked very hard every day. Tentei, the Emperor of the sky was very happy with her diligence and married her to a very hard working cowboy Hikoboshi from across the Milky Way. Hikoboshi and Orihime fell in love and started to live happily on the east bank. However, they spent all day long having fun together and forgot about their work. This made her father very angry, and he separated the two to opposite sides of the river, so that they could not meet. Orihime was so sad that she cried for days and nights. However, once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month, a flock of magpies forms a bridge across the Milky Way, and the two lovers are able to be with each other on this one night.
Was I the only one to have to read today’s headline, “Crack Found In Shuttle’s Foam Insulation,” more than once? Maybe it’s because I’m moving back to Baltimore soon . . .
Well, it’s Tour de France time again and readers who usually stop by for music will know that the frequency of cycling posts for the next 2 1/2 weeks will probably outnumber posts about music. In addition to checking the usual daily cycling sources, cycling fans might want to take a trip over to a relatively new cycling blog called Men (in tights). As you might expect from their name, there is a good deal of tongue-in-cheek fun, and a great deal of editorializing. They got their first real boost after getting plugged on PEZ. Although their writing had a bit more depth when it was more intermitent, their TdF coverage has been a little scrappy (much like the sprints these last two days)â€”daily posting is hard work sometimes. However, I’m confident they’ll grow into their roles as daily peloton pundits.