Standing next in line for the Starbucks crapper on a sunny Friday morning is always an anxious thing. You’re there fidgeting because the bran muffin and strong coffee have stomped on the sensors hidden deep in your bowels, and the only real question is whether the person currently in the lockbox is there for a li’l freshen-up or for a seat-clenching full body purge. In my case, the door opened and a plump, middle-aged lady exited. That’s usually a good sign, because for some reason Manhattan Beach women seem embarrassed by leaving major detonation fumes when there’s a line. Perhaps it’s because there’s something that conceptually clashes with a $400 pair of yoga pants and a corn-studded, 14-karat bowl buster, or perhaps it’s because when they open the door everyone goes, “Eeeeeewwww” and looks them over with what is quite literally the stinkeye. Or perhaps it’s just that everyone knows that fully accessorized women don’t shit boxcars in public.
I stepped into the toilet and immediately realized that the ol’ gal before me had dispensed with embarrassment and answered with a hearty “Amen” what must have been a mighty loud call of nature. “Fuck you,” I thought, “game fucking on.” Yes, it would be a battle of the toilet gases, and no chick in a pink leotard was going to overwhelm the mighty issue of my crack if I had any say in the matter. Plus, everyone thinks their own shit smells good, so the sooner I let loose the sooner my vent would overpower hers, or at least neutralize it.
The cranking and rumbling and grumbling that ensued must have struck terror into those waiting outside. Combined with not one, not two, but three industrial flushes that shook the door on its hinges, the poor bastards outside were being put on notice that the next person inside the closet of doom would likely suffer permanent brain damage. With the bran muffin leading the charge, I fired off a reverse burping growl and plunk that sounded like a logging truck had dumped its cargo off a 40-foot cliff into a very deep lake. The folks in line were bathed in a cold sweat. When I finished, I boldly threw open the door just as a kindly old fellow looked up with a stir stick in his mocha latte. The eyes of everyone in line were glued to my hands, hoping and praying that I’d washed them before touching the handle (I hadn’t). The elderly fellow dropped his stir stick as the fumes triggered long repressed memories of mustard gas in the trenches at Passchendaele. I strode proudly out into the sunlight, a spring in my step, five pounds lighter and ready for the day.
Genius where you least expect it
Much as I had been surprised to see that sweet lady in the pink leotard unabashedly doing what she had to do, living in the South Bay cycling scene is likewise a life of continuous surprises. Sometimes it’s the surprise, shock, and awe at the sheer genius that resides in our midst. Over the last few years a seed has germinated here, grown into a mature plant, and spread its seeds quite literally across the globe. Whether you’re aware of it or not, the look of cycling has changed, and continues to change, and to change for the better, thanks in large part to Joe Yule.
Joe’s work is glaring for its simplicity and elegance. Although since the 80’s, cycling attire has been synonymous with “ugly,” for decades before that the cycling jersey motif was classy and attractive. Think Faema, Molteni, Peugeot…designs that were used when a team only had one sponsor and the real estate of the jersey didn’t have to be shared with fifteen other logos. In the hyper-modern world of cycling where everyone can have a team kit, where everyone can have his logo on the team kit, and where everyone can have input into how the kit should look, it’s no surprise that designing an attractive kit is hard to do.
Through his design and production company, StageOne Sports, Joe has done the impossible: he has made cycling clothing look good again, reconciled the noisiness of multiple sponsor logos, and effectively muzzled well-intentioned would-be contributors who are nonetheless fashion idiots. Would you let the cleaning guy advise your surgeon about which clamp to use? Joe’s genius is that he can accept your input and not make you feel bad that your idea is stupid and ugly and that he’s not going to use it. His work is a triumph of art, of will, and of gentle, skilled diplomacy.
You can see the effect that Joe has had on cycling’s new look by watching the various clothing iterations of the Garmin team. Although the Red Bull-crazed designers at RadioShack and BMC have still not grasped the Universal Law of Fashion, “Red Only in Small Amounts, Especially in the Crotch Area,” they have clearly adopted some of Joe’s theories of simplicity. Leopard-Trek’s designers might have done an internship with him. HTC-Highroad, unfortunately, is still using the teenage kid who’s a “whiz” with PhotoShop and who does those great montages where he can put a shark’s head on a cricket’s ass.
The effect of Joe’s genius is more glaring on local rides, however. Leaving aside that most new club kits coming out of the LA area are designed by him, the people who are still “rolling their own” have taken a cue from his lines, his simplicity, and his powerful use of understated color. The effect is that summertime airborne visual pollution is way down, and that fewer children wind up in the emergency room needing their stomachs pumped after accidentally ingesting the view of a passing peloton. One of my favorite companies on Planet Earth, Spy Optics, has rolled out its 2012 team kit designed by StageOne that is–to use the proper artistic term–motherfucking unbelievably fucking awesome. And you can quote me on that.