Bicycles & College Radio in Cleveland

Riding the trails and filling the air waves.

Knock off the dust and get me some new strings!

My first guitar, purchased at Solon Music 30 plus year years ago.

My first guitar, purchased at Solon Music 30 plus year years ago.

I started playing my electric guitar again after a couple decade break.

I first picked up a guitar in middle school and I still have that first one, a Fender Model F-35 acoustic.  It is one of those enormous dreadnought shaped monster that I am amazed my arm fit over at that age.  It’s vinyl and cardboard case fell apart years ago and it has been resting in a corner of one room or another, collecting dust and on rare occasions beckoning to me to pick it up and play.

I grab it, give it a quick tune and then strum a couple of chords.  I might even try to play a song or two, but then it goes back to the corner of silence.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.  As you can see, Fender built very patient instruments back in the 1970′s.

Well around the first of this year I started to get a hankering for playing some electrified guitar.  I still had my trusty Yamaha SG-2000 solid body guitar from around 1978 or 1979 but no amplifier.  Well it turned out I did have an guitar amp, a small tube amp from the 1950′s that worked.   It also lacked a grounded plug and that made me think of the possible shocking outcomes from its use.

I did use it a couple of times and then made contact with a friend at CWRU who has it and is going to give it a once over, add the grounded plug and just make sure it is safe to use.

Besides that amplifier problem, I was finding the Yamaha guitar awfully heavy and not the most comfortable thing to sit on a couch and just play.  I needed something light that I could fiddle with sitting in front of the TV, un-amplified, to just get some finger dexterity back.

My daily searches of Craigslist unearthed a nice little red Ariana Stratocaster copy that only cost $25.  As I always do, I kept looking at Craigslist and picked up another Strat, in this case a Squire by Fender that likely came in one of those starter kits.  It came with two nice patch cables and only cost $20.

The Ariana got new strings and great set up by a friend of a friend.

Did the Ariana get used?  Did the amp ever make it back home? And what about Naoimi?

Those are all questions for another day.

Goals, what are they good for?

ImageAs the month of October arrived, I found my bicycle riding mileage approaching 2000, just as the day light free-falls away in earnest. When the year started, I stated a New Year’s Resolution of riding 3000 miles this year.  That would be more than I had ever done in a year, by a wide margin.

It is clear to me now, that there is no way that I will be able to reach that goal.  Likely I will fall somewhere in the neighborhood of the past couple years, right in that 2200-2300 range,  My best year ever tally was a tad over 2600.

Should I be disappointed?

Should I look at it as a string pulling me forward and keeping me focused?

How do you use New Year’s Resolutions, or do you not even bother?  Christmas stuff is hitting the shelves already so maybe it is time to start planning for 2014.

Forgotten friend who had two wheels

pics transfered 2 3 08 345

I have been spending a bit of time culling through a rather large directory with many many pictures of bikes that I have owned at some point over the past six years.  Came upon this one, of my trusty Nashbar 4050 road bike.  Picked it up on Craigslist with the intention of reselling it, but I started using it and really liked it.

It had a Suntour Accushift 4050 drive train, which was the top end of Suntour’s index shift system.  Accushift does not have a great reputation, but I found it to be crisp and precise.

It also featured a chromoly frame, alloy wheels and a nifty paint color that you don’t see everyday.  In fact, I have never seen another bike with that color.

Well, one day while riding home from work on Cedar Avenue, a couple of pedestrians popped out in front of me, from behind a rather large man standing on the sidewalk, and I hit them head on.   The two girls walk away apparently unhurt and unwilling to wait for the police.  The collision was their fault, but they just laughed and walked away.

Two guys in a pick up truck stopped to make sure I was okay and waited with me until my wife was able to pick me and my bike, now pile of scrap metal up.

I likely had a concussion, although I did not go to the emergency room, so I never received a diagnosis.  My head hurt for five days.  My neck hurt for five days, all the way around, which I had never experienced before and hope to never experience again.  My helmet was smashed in in the back where it struck the road when I fell.

The left crank arm was bent from the impact with the road.  The front fork was bent as were both of the frame main tubes from the impact with the two pedestrians. The picture give a pretty good idea just how much that metal gave as it was quickly brought to a halt.

Making vinyl records more hi-fi and less snap crackle and pop

For the past few weeks the selections on my radio show have sounded a bit better, thanks to an accessory that I found while cleaning out some drawers at home.

My trusty old Discwasher!

Such a simple ensemble of items that does a nice job of grabbing the dust and debris from the surface of the album and holding tight to it until whisked away by the small brush that nestles around the fluid bottle when stored inside the brush.

Back when vinyl was the norm at the radio station, there was always a Discwasher sitting in the main air studio, and even at some of the listening stations.  Now that the norm is the CD and the digitized library played via the computer, such things have become scarce.

I will admit that using digital delivery methods is easier when on air, there is still something special about the record jackets, the brisk caress of the Discwasher and the needle drop and back cue to get the next track ready to spin.

What you need to clear the debris and achieve sonic success.

What you need to clear the debris and achieve sonic success.

Fall cycling on the Summit Hike and Bike

Fall cycling on the Summit Hike and Bike

Nothing but open trail.

Taking in the sights of bike commuting

One of the sights on a bike commute in May 2012

On the days that I am able to ride my bike home from work I often get to see some great scenery.  I can’t make the ride everyday, since it takes me about 2 hours and covers about 20 miles of road and trail.

The first part of the ride takes me from University Circle towards downtown, past the baseball park and over the Lorain/Carnegie Bridge.  This section requires paying pretty close attention for traffic, and involves a lot of traffic lights.  Sometimes my timing is good and I am able to just keep peddling, but typically,  I end up getting stopped at more than a few red lights.

The next leg of the trip takes me through Tremont, where my attention shifts a bit towards cars that are parked (look out for that swinging door!) or folks who are parking at one of the many restaurants.  It is amazing how, as a group, they really don’t seem to pay much attention to things around them.  I am also on the look out for dogs.  There are a few stretches where there are big dogs tied up outside and the occasional dog running loose.

At this point I hit the first little stretch of trail, behind Steel Yard Commons.  Then a short stretch on Jennings and Harvard and then it is straight on down the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath towards home.

The towpath is where I really get to relax and take in sights, both natural and industrial.  On the industry side of things, there are the massive oil silos and the wafting smell from the North East Ohio Regional Sewer District’s treatment plant.  On the natural side of things, I get to see animals ranging from turtles, to birds to bunnies.

The cone of silence

EMF and cycling along

Is this the last free zone in Northeast Ohio’s future?

As I was taking a bike ride this past Thursday, on the Summit Hike and Bike trail, I decided to finally take a picture of the section of trail where it runs under these sort of funky looking electrical power transmission towers.   In my mind, it all has a bit of a sci-fi vibe to it.

I imagine a future, where there are few places that the surveillance apparatus is not able to track everything you do and say.  Not just stuff that is said over a network, like the internet or a phone, but everything you say in face to face encounters.  Every place except those confluences  where both people and strong electromagnetic fields come together.  This short section of trail is one such place.

The time to travel through this section is so short, even for someone peddling in a leisurely fashion, the authorities allow it to exist.  Exercise and specifically riding a bicycle, they have learned, gives people a false sense of being free.

But they do monitor those going in and out very carefully.

Over the years we have learned that it is a mistake to ride hard and plan to slow down in the zone.   If your speed is more than 1-2 mph slower than the mile lead up to the zone, you will be stopped, questions will be asked and then you will be on your way.  But you know that a flag has been set and greater attention is now on you and everyone you come in contact with.

There is a story, that may or may not be true, of a women who had a flat in the zone.  It took her 15 minutes to fix it and ride out.  She was taken in and not returned home for nearly a week.  A job was lost and hardship befell her.

Or so the story goes.

We have learned to make our messages short, to plan and pace our rides and to live free in these fleeting moments.

Raging Zebras, but not at the zoo.

Raging stripped beasties

So I see rage and not panic in those faces.

A few weeks ago I played a track on my show from a band called Zebra from their album Panic .  I said I was going to post a picture of the cover, because of the rage I could see in the face of at least one of those stripped beasts.  So do you see panic or rage there?

So do you just play whatever random things you find in the library?

Over expectations lead to this disc being put aside and not played.

Included the Clash but the sound did not grab me.

Contrary to what your ears may tell you, I don’t just play what ever random discs I pull from the record library a few minutes before my show.  I preview a stack of things, dropping the needle into each and every track, to see if anything really catches my attention.

Two weeks ago I pulled an Ellen Foley album called ‘The Spirit of St. Louis’ and noticed (was reminded) that the Clash was the backing band on it with many tracks written by Jones and Strummer.  I gave it a listen, and well, it fell flat with me.

I set it aside.

I don’t think it was bad, but my expectation was so high (I really like the Clash) that it just could not live up to my mental hype.

Omaha and weaving some on air chatter.

Contains the great song 'Omaha' - so listen my friend

Another classic album at WRUW-FM 91.1

My stroll through the vinyl library this week, led me into the ‘M’ zone, which thankfully is nowhere near books with titles like ‘Dial M for Murder.’  Who has time for all that CSI crime scene investigation.  Damn it, I have records to play.

One of the albums that I pulled was Moby Grape’s Great Grape, which features their hit song ‘Omaha.’  If the song title does not conjure up anything,  maybe the lyric of ‘listen my friends’ will help.  Well anyway, it is a great song with a solid late 60′s vibe to it.

Earlier that morning I had glanced at an article in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland’s daily newspaper) about Warren Buffet suffering from prostate cancer.  Now he is known as the Oracle of Omaha, since he lives in Omaha, Nebraska.   So I could mention that little news factoid, but is that really enough of a connection to merit getting talked about on the show?

Not really, but what if there was one more thing to tie the song title, to the news item?  Well as I browsed the pocket folder that contains the public service announcements sent in to be read on air, there was one about — prostate cancer.

So that became the PSA I selected to read this week, and it all came together during one of the song breaks.

Listen to the show here:  this week’s RADIO SHOW archive.

And if you want to see Moby Grape perform ‘Omaha’ on the old Mike Douglas Show, you can go here: MG on MD.  An added little fact, the Mike Douglas show got its start in Cleveland.

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