Thursday, July 28, 2011

Expensively Stupid

Bicycles get stolen pretty much every minute of every day. It's a given. Fortunately, I've had good luck in San Francisco (knock on wood), mostly because my bikes are old and beat up. Also, I never leave a bike parked in a dodgy area, or for a long period of time.

New York City was a different case. I visited an editor's office on Lower Broadway for half an hour. Despite his invitation to bring it inside, I didn't, and returned to see the skeletal frame of my bike still locked to a sign post. Both wheels and seat were stolen.

A common occurrence; but when a celebrity gets his bike stolen, suddenly, it's news! Top that with it being a $2300 bike owned by a TV news reporter, and have the theft caught on camera, and it's definitely "news."

I'm sorry, but anyone foolish enough to leave such an expensive bike outside doesn't get much sympathy from me.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Closing the Borders

Borders bookstores are closing nationwide. This is sad news, but it's also predictable.

From the Detroit Free Press:

"The Borders sales started Friday at its remaining 399 locations, which include 259 Borders superstores, 114 Borders Express and Waldenbooks, and 26 Borders airport stores.

Liquidators plan to clear out more than $700 million of inventory, including books, puzzles/games, activity sets, stationery, magazines, music and movie media, calendars, posters, store fixtures, furnishings and equipment.

"This marks the end of an era," Edwards said in a statement."

Along with placing the blame on, ebooks, and the economy, there's another angle, that Borders' business practices toward authors was less than friendly, and more geared to a cafe culture.

Author Larry Correia posts about his experiences with Borders, and several expansive comments add to it with informed perspectives from former employees, major authors and fans.

It's easy to blame corporations like But for me, it's about adapting to inevitabilities.

In the week since I published the Kindle versions of my three books, I sold more copies than I did at an average Borders store. Small, independently published just don't get shelved in chain stores very often. As a consumer, should one feel obligated to pay more at a brick and mortar store instead of paying less than a dolar online?

With independent bookstores, particularly local ones, shopping helps you, because you're keeping local businesses alive. But in times like these, a bargain is a bargain.

I've probably given away, donated or sold off more books than I now own. While I doubt I'll ever get so Zen that I only own 100 Things, the idea of getting rid of 100 things sounds great.

Among those things, for me, are a lot of old paper files, including my PR materials, which include a lot of print-outs of bookstores I sent promos to, or arranged reading events. In looking it over, I realized that the majority of these independently-owned bookstores have closed. Gone. The sentimental or archival value of this list may have value to someone else, but I have to face the fact that I can't be an archivist for an entire culture.

In another personal business aspect, I just got my annual invoice from my printer of PINS. They've been storing the files and negatives from the original print version. In converting the manuscript (I had to download a new version of Quark to extract the text into Word, then convert to HTML), I noticed some persistent typos that exist in the print version.

It's a bittersweet duty that I'll have in contacting the printer to let them know that the old-school files will no longer be needed. Frankly, I realize now that the fonts and layout are a bit antiquated. I'm happy to know that the Kindle version, and a new cleaned up manuscript, will be the legacy of that book into the 21st century.

So, basically, like a beloved rotary phone or Victrola, I'm throwing out the outdated versions of my work.

99 more things to go.

Friday, July 15, 2011


When I titled my third novel Cyclizen, I didn't exactly invent the term. But I like to think I popularized it. Obviously, my dream of making it a mass cult movement was an epic fail.

Anyway, riding home from work today, I pondered the term "cyclophobia" and was surprised to see that it's already a real word and apparently an actual phobia.

The definitions seem to focus on a root fear based on some childhood trauma. Some people are afraid to ride bicycles. If they have balance issues, or a traumatic past, that could be the reason. After my last serious accident, I refused to ride, then was afraid, then cautious, and now, I'm still cautious, but of other vehicles, not cycling itself.

But some other people, non-cyclists, don't fear cycling as much as cyclists themselves. Actually, to compare it homophobia, they don't fear bicycles as objects, or snap at them like pretty much every small dog I ride past. Instead, they hate cyclists like racists hate people of other races.

Yesterday, an elderly woman was struck and seriously injured by a cyclist in downtown San Francisco. This led to many online comments, including a few posts by Facebook friends, who made generalizations like "most cyclists are rude and arrogant." "Most cyclists have a smug sense of entitlement." "Cyclists should be forced to get insurance."

It went on. And on.

Yet, only the day before, a UCSF shuttle bus crashed into a truck carrying a trailer of cars at the infamous Most Dangerous Intersection, Octavia and Oak. One person was killed and four injured. Here's a previous article about the intersection.

This is also the same intersection where I photographed the handsome Patricio Hoter years ago for the cover of Cyclizen (the upper half is of an early 1990s New York ACT UP protest).

I didn't see any posts about how dangerous shuttle buses are. However, I can recall three times when a UCSF shuttle bus driver nearly killed me by swerving into the bike lane, and in one case, a driver was so enraged when I tried to escape his path that he deliberately drove at me to run me down. I only escaped by jumping onto a sidewalk and behind a garbage can.

It was a horrible incident, and my complaints to UCSF were, of course, ignored.
Do I now have a phobia of shuttle buses, or UCSF? No. Do I generalize now that "most" shuttle bus drivers, UCSF ones in particular, are lousy drivers who probably hate their jobs? Yes.

But despite the overwhelming factual data proving that the majority of traffic accidents involving cyclists are caused by cars and jaywalking pedestrians, the hatred and fear of cyclists continues. People who have one or more unpleasant interactions or near-accidents with cyclists foist their hatred and fear on all, or "most" cyclists.

The most ridiculous things I read were frequent resentful complaints about our "entitlement," as if we all think we're 'allowed to break traffic laws because we're cyclists.'

Yes, some do. Some cyclists are total jerks. But they're no doubt jerks off their bikes, too.

I hardly consider myself "entitled" when I have to daily avoid cars, trucks, cab doors, double-parked vans, deranged homeless people and drunks wandering in the street, not to mention nails, broken glass, sunken curb drains and sewer holes, and dangerous potholes in the street.

To top it off, a new study claims that cyclists are more prone to heart attacks than sedentary auto drivers.

But wait. The same British media publication debunks that. So yes! No! Whatever.

A higher chance of being killed, a probability of dying from bus fumes, a near certainty of eventual bike theft, and a large-scale vilification from non-cyclists.

If that's entitlement, you can have it.

UPDATE: July 20: Another serious accident, another online article and another venue for irate vindictive cyclophobes to foist their hatred against an accident victim who may be dead.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


My three novels, PINS, Monkey Suits and Cyclizen, are now available on Kindle. Monkey Suits has a slightly different cover.

I hope a lot of new fans have a Kindle, because ePub has given me a few snags so far.

Also, Cyclizen is now an ebook on

Monday, July 4, 2011

Firearmed is Forewarned

Happy birthday to the only country whose national anthem ends in a question mark.

You'll forgive me if I tend to remove myself far away from pyrotechnical displays this year.

I'd love to believe it's the land of the free. But it's more lately been the land of the "free to dodge bullets."

Yesterday, I'd been at this stop an hour before a shooting Saturday night left one man dead. Later, someone with a knife was shot by BART cops.

Last week, five people were shot on the Saturday of Pride weekend near Civic Center (at least the hot shirtless guy doesn't seem hurt. But seriously...).

With the memory of the Pink Saturday shootings two years ago, some were quick to associate it. The criminals were apprehended, and a video of the aftermath was aired.

SF Pride even got into the fray, threatening to sue the videographers for misrepresenting pride, as the shootings took place a few blocks away from Civic Center.

Again, I missed this shooting by a few minutes. That's happened several times in other places throughout the city.

But in addition to that, what's Pride doing, while in the middle of its own difficulties, diving into a video bitchfight? Here's the aftermath on Market Street, which focuses on a 75-year-old man bleeding. WARNING; graphic.

Read a critique of this censorship attempt, and see other videos HERE.
Happy 4th, freedom of speech and all that.

Oh, and congrats, New York.