Tom Petty From a Nutritional Standpoint

I was never a hardcore Tom Petty fan. I admired his impressive repertoire of tunes. He produced and the product was solid.

There's a ton of music I'd listen to before I'd listen to Tom Petty. But that being said, in today's climate of pop music radio drivel, if I'm scanning the FM dial, a TP tune is going to win out over* just about any of today's crappy, pitch corrected, rhythm doctored, overproduced, artificial ear candy.

And candy is a good analogy and segway to the central thesis of this post. Tom Petty was to rock music what fruits and vegetables are to good nutrition. Wholesome, healthy, staple diet rock-n-roll.

I'm not usually gonna choose fruit or veggies to eat if there's an option for a big cheeseburger (for argument's sake, let's call Black Sabbath the cheeseburger). I'm gonna enjoy the cheeseburger more. But I know that for good health and wellness, I need to eat some fruits and vegetables sometimes. So I do (listen to Tom Petty) on a fairly regular basis.

And there is no shortage of fruits and veg on the radio right now, let me tell you...

*Note: A better word here would be "trump," but that word has been recently spoiled and associated with racism and all manner of lameness and malfeasance.


An Angry (and Perhaps Inebriated) Cyclist

I meant to relay this encounter the other day, but never found the time.

On Friday evening, I rode my cruiser bicycle to my class at Edgewood College. I took the bike path that runs along the north side of University* Avenue and then through the suburban sprawl of west Madison.

When I turned left at the quick dog leg of the path at Shorewood Avenue, a somewhat tricky intersection for both bike and car traffic, I heard a loud voice behind me. It said something to the effect of, "At least some of these dickheads stop for bikes!" A moment later, a shirtless young man passed me on his bike. Since I had no frame of reference as to what he was talking about, but sensed it was loosely directed at me, I simply responded something to the effect of, "Hi," as he whizzed past me on my left. As he took off in front of me, I thought I heard him grumbling to himself, about what I had no clue.

I felt a gut level intuitive anxiety about the shirtless, pasty white pedaler, and was glad that he was traveling faster than I was. Even so, I slowed down a little bit to put some distance between us. He was still in my line of sight when he passed the Shorewood community pool and the associated tennis courts beyond. As he did, I heard an eruption of angry verbalizations from the youth, directed at no obvious target in particular. I could not really make out what he said specifically, but it sounded like it was rich in expletives.

Maybe he has Tourette's Syndrome, I thought. This is a tic disorder that causes the afflicted to blurt often obscenity laden nonsense, particularly when they become anxious. However, this working theory was discarded a short while later when I came upon the lad lambasting a surprised and mildly terrified couple in a white car. The lad on his bike was in front of the car screaming at its occupants, something to the effect of, "[expletive] trying to [expletive] run me [expletive] over?" I had not chanced upon this tirade early enough to know what had transpired to cause it, but I knew that I did not wish to be drawn into it, so I slowed way down to allow the angry bicycle boy to pedal off. The couple in the car were still reeling from the encounter as I came up behind their stopped car. They too gave the raging rider some time to piss off. At this point, my working theory was that the youth was in some way inebriated, even if only drunk on his own hubris.

I continued to keep ample ground between myself and the belligerent biker. At some point, he stopped biking and reversed direction. It was unclear what had caused him to change course, but now he was heading straight toward me along the bike path.

Don't make eye contact, I told myself, pretending to find something very interesting to look at in the uninteresting scrub along the side of the trail as the bare torsoed intransigent passed me, thankfully firing no verbal abuse my way. As far as I could tell, the young man's grudge(s) seemed to be restricted to non-cyclists, as I had not heard him taunt or tongue lash any of the several bikers he had passed on the trail in the short time I had been aware of his presence. With the kid now behind me and going the opposite direction, I pedaled hard in an effort to prevent any further interaction with him. Pretty soon, I came to the intersection of the bike path with Highland Avenue, where I turned right to take residential streets the remaining distance to Edgewood.

That kid will probably either get his ass kicked or get thrown in jail before the day is through, I thought, glancing furtively into the rear view mirror of my bike helmet. It occurred to me, given the age of the young man, that perhaps he was a newbie himself, having some difficulty coping with Madison's bike transit conventions. If this were the case, and admittedly this was complete speculation, then the lad likely hailed from some place where bicyclists reign supreme and everyone else is a second class citizen without value nor human rights.

I should say at this point that I think it's possible I manifested the angry cyclist with my mind, and perhaps he did not really exist, even though I understand this would be an admission of acute psychosis. When I had departed my house for class, I was feeling rather belligerent toward cars and their drivers myself, with no real basis for my perceived animosity, other than the baseline fact that Madison WI residents are, on the main, terrible automobile drivers. Notwithstanding the large number of cyclists in Madison and the ample infrastructure for cyclists to share the roadways with motorized vehicles, the auto drivers seem completely oblivious to the presence and rights of bikers. This is especially true in the early fall, which this was, when a lot of new people (newbies) move to Madison at the beginning of the school year, most of them in their late teens or early 20s. It takes the newbies a little while to acclimate to Madison's transportation conventions, which must not be the standard in a lot of other places. Many streets in Madison are bike avenues where cyclists have complete domain over the entire width of the road. Every time an old street is repaved, a city ordinance requires that a painted bike lane be included in the construction, and there are miles and miles of dedicated, multi-use recreational trails.**

*Note: This avenue is named after the University of Wisconsin - Madison, I think, and not Edgewood, which is a college, not technically a university.

**Note: These trails are used by cyclists, runners, pedestrians, roller bladers, and the like, but there is a tacit understanding that they are primarily bike paths, as evidenced by green BIKE PATH signs that demarcate them.


Road Trippin'

I'm road trippin' with my folks across the Heartland. To wit, I'm helping them with their drive home to Ohio from their summer cabin in northern Wisconsin. They drove themselves down to Deborah's and my house in Madison this morning and then I jumped in their car and drove them through the heinous Chicago traffic. While Madison WI has the worst drivers I have ever encountered, Chicago has the most douchy and negligent ones. In Madison, people suck at driving, perhaps unwittingly. But in Chicago, they willfully cause trouble. I shant dwell on it, because they really are not worth my time. Suffice to say, my middle finger got a good workout today.

We lunched in South Bend IN, at a Bob Evans, which wasn't half bad. I had a potato crusted flounder filet, after which my dad took over driving for a spell. We decided to stop for the evening in Elkhart IN, deep in Trump country. We checked into a Red Roof Inn that my folks frequently stay at. It was pretty gritty, with amorphous blobs of humanity lingering around the place, bulbous, tattooed, and generally grisled. The 100% smoke free room I was first assigned smelled like the last resident smoked about 100 cigarettes in it. Thankfully, the lady at reception, who was no barrel of laughs, gave me a new room without any hassle, and I got the sense this was not an uncommon request of her. The establishment was chosen because they accommodate dogs, like my folks' yellow lab Sunbeam. They also accommodate pot bellied pigs, like Sammy, the amorphously blobby pet belonging to one of the other patrons residing at the Red Roof Inn. A few minutes after unloading our bags into our rooms, I took Sunbeam out for a walk around the premises, and a few minutes after that, I heard many emergency vehicle sirens in the distance. These grew increasingly louder and then seven or so cop cars and an ambulance or two screamed into the Red Roof Inn parking lot. Sunbeam and I were on a grassy strip between the motel property and a Menards, on the far side of the building from the cops. I stayed there and observed the unfolding drama at a distance. However, my folks were still at the motel, up in their room on the second floor.

After a little while, with no signs of imminent danger nor gun play, I wandered back toward the motel entrance. My mom was out on the second floor balcony and yelled at me, "Stay over there! There are a bunch of cops on the other side of the motel." That was fine with me. I took Sunbeam on another pass of the grassy strip, which had no shortage of smells that intrigued her. After a few more minutes, I called my mom on her cell phone and she told me that she and my dad had decided to look for another motel, as this one appeared to have a high danger quotient. As it turned out, the cops were responding to a reported suicide attempt, not a homicide or drug deal or other raw human excitement, though those things were certainly within the realm of possible transactions at this gritty establishment. I don't know if the suicide victim lived or died, but the bad mojo was enough to deter us from staying there. We canceled our booking there and relocated to a somewhat less gritty Fairway Inn, a couple miles away.

We had dinner at a nearby Applebees restaurant* and then retired to the new motel room, where I'm now finalizing this post, with photographic proof, before retiring.


*Note: Applebees restaurants have literally NO vegetarian entres of any kind on the menu. They have some items on the appetizer menu that contain dairy only. I ended up getting grilled salmon with a side of veggies and it wasn't bad.