Thought I'd post a Velonews response to the two articles posted earlier in
the week:

Friday's Foaming Rant: Smack the hack

By Patrick O'Grady
VeloNews editor at large

This report filed July 26, 2002

Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for
f---offs and misfits - a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy,
piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep
enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp
in a zoo-cage.
- Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

It must be a dull Tour. Otherwise I wouldn't be getting a dozen e-mails a
day about the latest outrage perpetrated upon the cycling public by the
mainstream media, which as usual are either completely indifferent or
actively hostile to us.

First came word of a column by Dimitri Vassilaros, in a Pittsburgh-area
cage liner called the Tribune-Review, that trotted out the requisite hoary
complaints - O, woe the poor, beleaguered motorist, who occasionally must
set down his cell phone and coffee cup to steer a safe course around a
bicyclist who shouldn't be on the roads at all because motorists pay all
the costs of their upkeep, woe, woe. This geek clearly has spent too much
time ensnarled in metro traffic, mesmerized by Clear Channel radio and
chasing hydrocarbons with an occasional nip from the hip flask, to scribble
an original thought.

Then there was a silly-ass screed by Ron Borges on the MSNBC Web site which
postulated that not only is Lance Armstrong not the world's best athlete,
he may not be an athlete at all. Borges, a sports reporter for The Boston
Globe, is an authority  in such matters, because he covers boxing, an
activity in which two representatives of rival minority groups batter each
other for the amusement of white folks until Don King or Tony Soprano tells
one of them to lay down, and pro football, a ritualized form of mock combat
intended to satiate the nation's bloodlust between wars.

Subsequently, howls of disbelief and cries for vengeance have ricocheted
around the Internet like stray rounds in the West Bank. And if you are
among those wounded, you can certainly dash off a critical letter to
Vassilaros' and Borges' editors, if indeed they have editors, and they are
sober, and can read, all of which seems highly unlikely given the quality
of their employees' published work.

But if you follow that impulse, why, then, the terrorists win.

See, this is what columnists are. Terrorists. On the outside, we are
largely indistinguishable from our fellow citizens, but inside each of us
dwells a wild-haired, unshaven, bomb-throwing anarchist awaiting the chance
to disrupt society for our own nefarious purposes, which generally involve
generating letters to the editor.

For a columnist, letters to the editor are the equivalent of letters of
recommendation. "He must be good," muses the editor as he tosses off a
sixth martini at lunch. "Just look at all the mail we get. I can't read the
sonofabitch myself, but I guess there's no accounting for taste. Speaking
of taste, double up on that, would you, barkeep?"

So toward that end, knowing that cyclists have thinner skins than a
ballpark frank, professional spectators like Borges underhand us a slow
pitch like, "For my money, being the greatest athlete in the world involves
strength, speed, agility, hand-eye coordination, mental toughness and the
ability to make your body do things that defy description. Chief among them
is not pumping your legs up and down while your feet are strapped to
bicycle pedals."

You could tell Borges, "Hey, you couch-bound jock-sniffer, it takes
strength to ride a 52km time trial, speed to drop Joseba Beloki on Mont
Ventoux, agility to navigate a corkscrew alpine descent at 60 mph, hand-eye
coordination to snag the musette you'll need to survive six hours in the
saddle in 90-degree heat, mental toughness to even finish a grand tour, and
the ability to make your body do things that defy description to win one."

But then he's got his letter, and job security.

Meanwhile, Vassilaros, facing another deadline with a head full of not
much, taps out a lame-o like, "I don't want to share the road with a
bicycle. However, you and I must because if we did not, it could lead to
tragedy. Drivers have to follow the law, but that does not mean we have to
like it."

You could tell Vassilaros, "Spaseba, tovarisch, but we don't exactly relish
sharing the road with you, either. And as regards the equitable division of
expense, you'll be getting your payback down the road, when we fit, healthy
cyclists are picking up the tab for your Medicare-funded nursing-home bed."

But then he's got his letter, and maybe an extra couple of bucks in the old
pay envelope.

Hell, I could write a nasty column calling Borges and Vassilaros ignorant,
sloppy hacks, talentless space-fillers with smaller audiences than Rosie
O'Donnell stripping to "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" at a roadside rest area.

But I'd probably just be trying to score myself a few letters to the
editor. I'm thinking about buying a new bike, and frankly I could use a raise.

"Never doubt that a small group of dedicated individuals working together
can change the world.  Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."  --
Margaret Mead
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