It’s funny how being back in Los Angeles after close to three months of sleeping in forests has a disembodied quality to it. I see everything but it’s not really me who sees it.
For example, a guy passed so close today, a classic LA punishment pass, that only a few inches separated me from serious injury or death.
For example, I crossed a street and a Rage Rover going almost 60 laid on the horn and never slowed down at all.
This and a thousand other things remind me that this is the city. It is filled with a lot of anger but also with a lot of excitement. It has its own kind of beauty but it’s a beauty dissociated from trees, sky, water, stars.
Mostly, the city is a million variations of “Look at my money.” Car, house, business, clothes, boob job, whatever … “I’ve either made it or I’m about to.” The irony is that no one really makes anything here. They just live, some longer, some shorter, some happier, some sadder, but in the end, it’s just life.
While living, though, some people try to put good energy out into the ether. One of my first stops was JP’s new bike shop, The Dropout.
JP and Boozy P. were already hard at work buffing and putting the finishing touches on the shop. What immediately struck me was how rife the shop was with local items rather than being exclusively stocked with stuff made by multi-glomerates.
There were wallets by Fierce Hazel produced by Frankie Holt right here in LA. There were socks by Base Cartel, produced by Diego Binatena right here in LA. There were JoJe all-natural energy bars, produced by Jess and John in North County San Diego. There were Team Dream socks, there was artwork by an amazing bike artist in Colorado, and there were Split energy chews produced by Jeff Mahin, also right here in LA.
JP’s long-term presence and participation in the South Bay fuels his desire to support the efforts of the people who have a true passion for bicycles and who have a genuine interest in sharing what they have to offer with those who share that same passion. For example, talking about riding. As someone who has almost talked more about riding than he actually rides, JP supports other rider-talkers, and if you hang around The Dropout much you’ll be awash in more cyclist bullshit than a post-race fistfight over who-nudged-whom-for-thirty-fifth-place.
JP also believes in promoting the business of local riders, even ones who are utterly worthless human beings, because he recognizes that at the end of the day it’s better to be a worthless cyclist than a worthless financial advisor or lawyer. And of course JP understands that without a place for people to stand around and shit-talk, cycling as we know it will die.
However good Facebag and Instasham are for generating fake controversies, there is nothing like a bike shop for ginning out massive, whopping, defamatory rumors by the hour. And any endeavor inspired by a love of the bike, be it drawing, painting, clothing, or nutrition, will keep the local cycling community connected if it can be glued together with old-fashioned rumor-mongering and idle gossip.
At a time when participation in traditional bike racing is slowly dying like a mom and pop market in a small town where everyone knows your name and personal history, and therefore justifies outrageous prices and crappy service ’cause the next store is 20 miles down a dirt road, JP has created a shelter in the storm, a place where idle minds and skinflint attitudes can coalesce to waste time in a productive, time-honored, and meaningful way.
The Dropout is dead! Long live The Dropout!
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