Going Rogue for Breast Cancer Awareness

Something is different this year than the previous two. My brother and I won’t be riding in a Breast Cancer Awareness Ride this year.

Apparently frustrated with their inability to cure breast cancer despite creating all that awareness, Trek is not sponsoring a tenth annual Breast Cancer Awareness Ride for 2015. In the past, Trek bicycle retailers around the country would organize a 10-mile or 25-mile ride to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The entire thirty-dollar registration fee would go to this organization.


In 2013 and 2014, my brother and I rode this ride at Two Wheels One Planet, in Costa Mesa, California. Because my brother now has to take his son to soccer each Saturday morning, he said would not been able to go to Costa Mesa to participate this year. I suggested that he look for another location to at least ride ten miles before his son’s game, but that’s when we learned that Trek is not sponsoring a ride this year.


However, that did not stop a number of bicycle retailers from going rogue and organizing their own ride throughout the month of October. Two Wheels One Planet is one such shop. They will be hosting their ride today, on Saturday, October 17, and donating the proceeds to the American Cancer Society.

Kuods to TWOP and other shops that have continued to organize their own rides, even it’s without the support of a major bicycle manufacturer.

The Real Tax Day Way Yesterday

For most taxpayers in the United States, “Tax Day,” the deadline for filing income tax returns for calendar-year filers, is on April 15. It’s a day that, upon reaching adulthood, every working American observes closely as a holiday or a tragic anniversary (September 11 or December 7, for instance). But in a post-Fordist America, where not everyone earns a living from a single full-time job, the deadline is six months later.

For filers who earn all of their income from a single full-time job, filing taxes is pretty simple. It gets a little more complicated if you own a house or have a lot of medical expenses, but for most of these people, you rush to file your taxes because you’ll receive a refund. The sooner you receive your money, the sooner you can buy that new TV or start on that addition to the house. In such cases, April 15 is the due date not the do date for filing an income tax return.

But not everyone has a single source of income. For instance, I cobble together a living from various teaching jobs at multiple colleges. Each one issues a Form W-2. In addition, I occasionally do other work, such as help a small company set up a secure file sharing system or edit videos for an art gallery. Each of those gigs yields a Form 1099-MISC. Also, in the last few years, I’ve offered my improving screen printing skills to a few places in need of custom-printed t-shirts. Each of those also results in another 1099.

All of the sources of income make for a complex tax return. Freelancers with multiple clients are no strangers to having a pile of tax forms showing income. In order to minimize one’s tax burden, it’s smart to record and to report business expenses as much as possible. This takes a lot of time, and for those of us who are overly meticulous or are terminal procrastinators, we file a request for a six-month extension.

Consequently, “Tax Day” for post-Fordist workers is really October 15. An extension to file your taxes is not an extension to pay your taxes. You still have to pay any amount due before April 15. But getting an additional six months to figure out what you actually owe is sometimes necessary. Write a big check in April, file later, and get a tiny refund at the end of it all.

I’m ashamed to admit that I did that this year. I didn’t file my 2014 tax returns until yesterday, October 15, 2015, two and a half months before the start of 2016. And like a lot of people I know with multiple sources of income, I know that I wasn’t alone.

A Spectacle in Williamsburg

One of the reasons I was drawn to New York City was the presence of many great places to see movies, especially small independent theaters that are often referred to as “microcinemas.” These are not necessarily repertory houses, such as the Film Society and the Film Forum, although those are great, too. A microcinema screens rare, forgotten, or cutting-edge work that only a small audience would ever want to watch. New York was perfect for that. As I’ve said elsewhere, New York has a thousand things to do and a hundred people that want to do that, too. But as moviegoing and New York City both have changed over the years, many of these microcinemas have disappeared like the video stores that once supplemented one’s rabid cinephilia.

The Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn is one such remaining microcinema. Located on South 3rd Street off Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, it screens a wide variety of offbeat films you probably can’t watch anywhere else (except the Internet), and they screen their films in what looks like a storage room inside a prewar tenement building (except the space was last a bodega).

Spectacle Theater, Brooklyn New York

The Spectacle Theater occupies a former bodega’s space on South 3rd Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (Photo: Ken Rowe / Cinema Treasures.)

Also, they charge only $5 per screening.

As with any financially unfeasible operation, they have taken to Kickstarter to raise some money. The folks behind the Spectacle have somehow secured a ten-year lease on their space and have launched a fundraising campaign to in order make some much needed repairs and improvements to the space.

According to their Kickstarter announcement, some of those improvements will include:

  • upgrade to a new and better projector and sound system
  • sound-proof the theater so that Brooklyn’s sirens and screams no longer form part of our films’ soundtracks
  • install upgraded 16mm projection capabilities (no more tripping over our projectionist extraordinaire John Klacsmann as you enter the theater for 16mm screenings)
  • install an actual HVAC system so you will no longer swelter in the summer nor freeze in the winter, and we’ll build new risers so that you back-row people will be able to see the screen better
  • repair our sad-looking floor
  • redo our facade (but not in a lame way)

I’m as skeptical as they come with many, many Kickstarter campaigns. But this is a good one. If you’re a New York–area cinephile, contribute some money so they don’t have to resort to “raising ticket prices or selling $12 single-origin chocolate bars and açaí bowls,” as they threaten to do in their campaign announcement.

Contribute to South 3rd Street Forever!

Remembering Chantal Akerman and Her “Feminist Horror” Film

Chantal Akerman, an internationally renown filmmaker who made her first film in the late 1960s, has died in Paris at age 65. Le Monde reports that she committed suicide.

I first learned of Akerman in college in 1997. It was then that I watched one of her films—Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), that changed my life. I’m not exaggerating.

As a newly declared film student at UCSB, I was already watching quite a few films, although most of them were standard commercial, narrative films from a variety of countries and a range of time periods. This film, however, was different. It ran for about three-and-a-half hours, very little happened in terms of story, and most of the film seemed to be shot from the eyeline perspective an adult’s hip.

Jeanne Dielman endlessly preparing food at home

This film is very hard to watch, but that is exactly the point.

I was taking an interdisciplinary course that was equal parts women studies, film studies, and art history and was taught by film studies professor Constance Penley and Abigail Solomon-Godeau from the art history department. The class was a survey of women in art history, and it met twice a week on Monday and Wednesday afternoons for our lecture/discussion period. We also usually convened for two hours on Wednesday evenings for a film screening. One week, Professor Solomon-Godeau warned us that, on this particular Wednesday night, we would be staying late. We would be watching Jeanne Dielman, a film she described as a “feminist horror film.”

This may have been the first time I understood the relationship between content and form, and how a spectator can relate to an onscreen character. Jeanne Dielman is a single mother who spends almost the entire film cooking and cleaning. We watch her watch each dish, one by one, that is more boring to watch than the proverbial drying of paint. By showing each of these household chores in real time, or maybe even expanding the duration, we experience Jeanne’s ennui along with her. It is one thing to have a character explain how bleak her life seems as a domestic servant, but it’s another to have to endure the never-ending dreariness of household labor.

Akerman’s oeurve was a lot more eclectic than this one feminist film with avant-garde tendencies. She made documentaries, narrative shorts, as well as other narrative features throughout her life. But for a student getting his feet wet studying film, Jeanne Dielman was the first film I saw where it began to make sense.

Yacht Rock… Ten Years Later

Twenty or so years ago, it was impossible to watch cable TV and some broadcast stations during fringe-time without seeing an ad—or even a full-length infomercial—for the Time-Life compilation Guitar Rock.

If memory serves, there was also a version of the ad that included two dudes hanging out when one of them asks the other where he got all this great music. The second bro emphatically responds, “it’s Guitar Rock!”

Over the summer, I had a similar moment. I was working with a guy on printing some t-shirts, and he was playing a Spotify playlist consisting of Seals and Croft and the Doobie Brothers. After a few selections, I asked, “what are we listening to?” In a comparatively hushed voice, he responded, “oh, it’s Yacht Rock!”

Almost immediately, the term conjured up the kind of soft rock music enjoyed and created by wealthy members of the yachting class.

But it was also an online video series!

Premiering ten years ago, Yacht Rock was a web series that fictionalized the lives of soft rock stars, including Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Steely Dan, Toto, and Christopher Cross. And the series’s parody of Daryl Hall and John Oates explains why they were again popular in the late 2000s and why “I Can’t Go for That” was on heavy rotation on the jukeboxes around the East Village and around Williamsburg in 2007.1 But today, even more than the “guitar rock” appellation, “yacht rock” has survived as a signifier for soft rock of nearly forty years ago.

And like cassette tapes, I hope that the “kids today” realize how bad it really was and move on to something else.

The Face of an Angel

Remember last year when I was visiting a number of small brewing companies and getting a photo of myself enjoying a flight of their products?

One of the places I visited around that time was Angel City Brewing near downtown Los Angeles, and my mother, of all people, got a photo of me anticipating a flight of their beers.

Angel City Brewing

Late last week, I learned from my brother that LA Thrillist used that photo to illustrate their write-up on a click-baity, listicle about “43 Los Angeles Bars You Need To Drink In Before You Die.”

I hold a flight of five beers at Angel City Brewing

As some of you know, this is not the first time that someone has used one of my photos to illustrate a web article. Earlier this year, I learned that Curbed used one of “my” photos of the Four Seasons restaurant in the Phillip Johnson–designed Seagram Building. Similarly, DNA Info used one of my photos of Manhattanhenge from Long Island City after LIC became a hotspot for seeing the sun set in line with the Manhattan grid. And these are the ones I know about.

A quick web search revealed a few other uses of my photos, including:

Keep in mind, there’s nothing specifically improper about these uses. I made all of those photos available under a specific Creative Commons license allowing anyone to use my work as long as it is attributed and not used for a commercial purpose. Nonetheless, it would have been nice to receive an email or a comment on the Flickr page alerting me to the appropriating of my work: something like, “Hey dude, we used for your photo for an article on a ‘bucket list’ of awesome bars in Los Angeles. Hope you check it out.”

But at least it’s nice knowing that my photos might bring people to some interesting places in downtown Los Angeles and midtown Manhattan, as well as Queens and Kentucky.

The End-of-Colloquial “Summer Classic”

Throughout the United States Labor Day weekend marks the end of “colloquial summer.”

Over this past Labor Day Weekend, my friend Brian and I led a club ride through northern Putnam and southern Dutchess counties that he has appropriated as the Summer Classic, Road Ride Edition.


The ride is based on another “summer classic” ride by John Ferguson, author of the Riding the Catskills blog. Ferguson’s ride starts at Southeast station in North Brewster and goes through some very quiet roads, long stretch of gravel paths, and long descents. We also started our ride at Southeast station, but as city slickers, we adapted the course to follow more paved roads than the original course. (Thanks, Brian!) However, there was plenty of pastoral beauty among the rolling hills of the course.

Brian's Summer Classic: Brewster-Bangall-Beacon

And there were constant reminders that you’re riding through farm country, such as a rusted tractor that functions as a lawn ornament.

Brian's Summer Classic: Brewster-Bangall-Beacon

Some of those reminders, like the smell of fresh cow manure, didn’t photograph well so use your imagination for those.

Though both Ferguson’s route and our citified club version end in New Hamburg, I learned that some of my friends were hiking in Beacon that day, and I was drawn to meet them there for some après–hiking/biking activities. Failing in my role as a ride leader, I left the group at mile 67 and took the Dutchess Rail Trail to Hopewell Junction and headed southwest on NY-82 and NY-52 until I arrived on the eastern edge of Main Street in Beacon.

Brian's Summer Classic: Brewster-Bangall-Beacon

Nearly a decade ago, when I first went to Beacon, the falls near the (improbable) junction of Main Street and East Main Street, was only an abandoned factory.

Beacon, New York

On this day, there was a wedding on those grounds. I caught the tail end of the wedding party heading to the reception hall.

Beacon by Bike

As I arrived in town slightly ahead of my friends, I stopped by the new-to-me Denning’s Point Distillery near the corner of Main and Chestnut Streets. Like most new distilleries, most of their products are “un-aged.” They offer two vodkas (one straight and one flavored), a gin, a rye moonshine, and an American whiskey, aged for seven years, that they bought from a distillery in Kentucky.

Beacon by Bike

The rye moonshine was surprisingly smooth, especially considering how much trouble I had with another unoaked rye whiskey. I didn’t ask, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was filtered at least once to tone down the white-dog effect. I finished my tasting with the aged whiskey, which was the subject of a photograph I asked a fellow visitor to take of me.

Beacon by Bike

After the distillery, I found my friends and headed to another new-to-me brewery. Beacon’s 2-Way Brewing is located in a multipurpose office park building, which reminded me a lot of what you see in Southern California.1 But what it lacks in architectural charm, it makes up in proximity to the Metro North station at Beacon. It’s about a five-minute walk to the station, making a convenient place to end a day-trip to Beacon. As for the beer, I only tasted their Beacon Brown ale, because I like alliteration, and Climb High PA, to salute my hiking friends.

Beacon by Bike

Both were solid offerings, but nothing that stayed with me. That might be because the place smelled a lot like Pine Sol, which likely overpowered my senses, and because I had a really delicious Orangeweisse by Rushing Duck Brewing at Quinn’s earlier that day that really hit the spot, as they say.

But that’s not to say that we didn’t spend any time at the brewery. We kept missing trains until we finally caught the “ten oh-eight,” the last direct train to New York.

  1. When I visited my cousin in Orange County late last year, I noted that most every cool place out there—a brewery, a music venue, a record store—was located in an office park. 

Whose Mindset is it Anyway?

Though it came out during my recent gardening leave, the latest Class of 2019 edition of the Mindset list is available to make you feel old.

Initially intended to help faculty at Benoit College in Wisconsin avoid “dated references” and to be aware of mindset of an incoming first-year undergraduate, the list has become an annual ritual both signaling the dawn of the academic year and to have someone remind you how youngsters presumably think. Almost immediately, the list garnered attention in the press and became fodder for your friends and colleagues to forward via email, years before things “went viral” as they do today.

I was largely unimpressed by this year’s list. Some of the items here are not what I would consider exclusive to the young. For example, the list reminds us that for an eighteen year-old, “Google has always been there” and that “Wi-Fi [is] an entitlement.” I’m old enough to remember the early days of the web when we browsed through directories—not search engines—and connected to computers using Ethernet (if we were lucky) and telephone modems (if we were home), but today, I can’t imagine life without search or spending a significant amount of time somewhere without broadband, even when airborne.

One reference did ring very true. Apparently, for these kids today, “Heaven’s Gate has always been more a trip to Comet Hale-Bopp and less a film flop.” However, that’s been true for a while. Whenever I’ve mentioned Michael Cimino’s maligned epic film, I always note that I am not referring to the California cult, which happen to have the same name. That’s been true both when teaching undergraduate classes and chit-chatting at a cocktail party. Most people really don’t remember that film.

No one here is going to a comet. (Heaven's Gate, Michael Cimino, 1980, Kobal Collection)

No one here is going to a comet. (Heaven’s Gate, Michael Cimino, 1980, Kobal Collection)

But most of the remaining items appeared to only make a reader feel old as opposed to actually describe how an eighteen year-old American student would think. For example, would an incoming undergraduate student care that the “airport in Washington, D.C., has always been Reagan National Airport?” Who on earth is Ronald Reagan? Or that “CNN has always been available en español?” Do kids today even have cable? Or that “Ellis Island has always been primarily in New Jersey?” My guess is that it’s not that many American, regardless of age, are even aware that most European immigrants entered the US through the Garden State.

These immigrants are actually in New Jersey. (AP Photo)

These immigrants held at Ellis Island are actually in New Jersey. (AP Photo)

However, the list always contains some interesting facts that even aging faculty (and your aging social peers) would find novel. For example, have we really been mass producing hybrid automobiles in the US that long? They seem newer than that. Do surgeons really use “super glue” in the operating room? And who knew that Amoco gas stations were even around as late as 1998?

Finally, I found one very notable item that reflects a deep social change, even more so than the ubiquity of Wi-Fi or the length of the Lion King’s run on Broadway. The list notes that “‘no means no’ has always been morphing, slowly, into ‘only yes means yes.'”. It’s a mindset that kids and old-timers should all share.

Outdoor Cartoon Carnival at City Reliquary

As a fan of summer and of movies, you would think that I would be a huge fan of outdoor movies. I am not. Usually, the films screened at these events are crowd-pleasing hits that I have either seen already or could easily watch on a cable TV network or a streaming service. And because this is New York, it’s usually a struggle to secure space for you and your picnic blanket.

The one outdoor summer screening series that was an exception to this was the one at Socrates Sculpture Park. The series catered to Queens’s status as the most diverse borough of New York City.1 Not only did they screen a variety of international movies, some curated by Film Forum, they paired local eateries serving the native cuisine of the film’s country. Except for that one time they inexplicably paired German würsts with a Russian film, less than seventy years after the conclusion of World War II.

If you want to see the series at Socrates, you’re too late. It wrapped on Wednesday.

But tomorrow, Saturday, August 29, you can go to Williamsburg for a unique outdoor film experience. Thomas Stathes, the man responsible for the Cartoons on Film DVD collection I plugged earlier this month, is programming an Outdoor Cartoon Carnival at the City Reliquary. And as a bonus, all the films at this screening will be from 16mm film prints.

While there’s no bike valet, it’s also certainly not E.T.. It’s fine movie, but I’ve seen it a few times.

Outdoor Cartoon Carnival #35

  • Saturday, August 29
  • The City Reliquary, 370 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn
  • $10.00

  1. I have no idea if this is actually true.