Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Flat Tire

One would have thought that the wisdom and experience accompanying age would improve one's wit and sense of humour.  Of course, P.J. O'Rourke maybe the exception to this inferred rule. Whatever the case, O'Rourke's lame diatribe against urban cycling hosted by News Corp's dearth-of-humour broadsheet,  the WSJ, makes one wonder why, with so many interesting events and ample public figures with foot-in-mouth disease providing ample fertile material, he has chosen to point his low-watt Petzl in the direction of the humble, utilitarian bicycle, and it's typically well-intentioned owners. One would be forgiven for wondering whether there is some personal hidden agenda which is at the root of his anger.

Was he perhaps vertically-challenged more than the average kid when his father removed his training wheels? Or maybe he has a simple case of Cyclophobia? Was he forced to ride his sister's pink two-wheeled hand-me-down with sparkly handlebar tassles? Did he have some traumatic accident while mid-teens involving a parked car attracting the unwanted attention of a female object of his desire? Was HE laughed at mercilessly in his own tight black shorts? Did some two-wheeled Sierra Club environmentalist best him by sleeping with his wife (or worse, marrying his daughter!)? The exploration of this petty tyrant, will, in any event,  make for an interesting discussion with his T. next session. 

It does, however, highlight a more general question: Do Conservatives and Progressives age more or less symmetrically?


Anonymous said...

As a longtime cyclist (both a "commuter" and a weekend "roadie"), the only explanation I can think of is that Mr. O'Rourke's column was intended for publication on April Fool's Day, but somehow was delayed to the 2nd, perhaps due to developments in Libya or Fukushima.
Like many of those commenting on the WSJ site, I thought it was a bit off the mark as satire ... but seeing the vitriolic comments, I think he did choose his topic with full knowledge of the response he would get. We've all seen Youtube videos of similar attitudes being expressed on the floor of Congress, in City Council meetings, and we have even heard them in "polite company" at the dinner table.
Best regards,
David (still in Tokyo)

Chris of Stumptown said...

At least here in Portland, bike riders generally have cars. At least the affluent ones do, who seem to be the target of O'Rourke's ire. So I think the argument of "make cyclists pay" is specious.

I've always found it odd the conservative disdain for cycling as a mode of transportation. There is a general talking point that frugality and taking care of one's health are the responsibility of the individual, if not absolute moral virtues. But this belief on part of conservatives seem to end at the border of cycling.

"Cassandra" said...

I share both your sentiments. And Chris, your observation about the conservative lack of philosophical consistency at best, or outright hypocrisy at worst, was articulated well. While I have always suspected Mr O'Rourke of just plain and simple being a Dick (upper-case 'D'), this piece firmly pushed me off the fence. I am a big Mencken fan, and am outraged by comparisons with O'Rourke - most of which are probably made by Mr O'Rourke himself.

flubber said...

Irritable mental gesture, masquerading as satire, appealing to the grumpy-old-men target demo.

"French people! Hippies! People who think they are better than me!"