March 27, 2018 Comments Off on Battle of the cowards, Part 1
Yesterday I was scrolling through the list of web sites that have recently linked to this blog, and I came across an unusual one: SavePVpolice.org. It’s not often that the police are designated as an endangered species, a list more often populated by things like democracy, the First Amendment, and equality under the law.
Not very intrigued, I clicked on the link and it took me to an anonymous web site purporting to support the Palos Verdes Estates police department and “Measure E,” the tax measure that PVE residents will vote for or against on April 10, and depending on the outcome, will either re-fund or abolish the city police department and replace it with a policing contract through the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
This “PVE Cops Matter” web site lists the bare bones of Measure E and why you should vote for it. A more detailed impartial analysis is here, and the rabid voice against the tax proposal is here. At the end of the day it’s a bunch of almost rich people fighting over how much tax money to spend to keep out the riff-raff, so, whatevs.
But in the early part of the day, or rather the wee hours, it has something to do with democracy, with #fakenews, with Internet trolls, with the cowardice of the almost rich, and of course with cycling.
Almost three years ago the cycling hordes remonstrated with the powers that be in PV Estates and got them to put up a couple of signs stating the law, that cars must give cyclists three feet when passing. This created a backlash of incredible proportions and resulted in the mayor and her city council slapping down any further steps to enhance road safety for vulnerable users.
The fury of the almost rich people was impressive, such that the police were temporarily put on “biker harassment duty,” resulting in many trips down to Torrance courthouse to have bogus tickets dismissed. Over time, though, the unending stream of cyclists and the intensity of the political battle caused most PV Estates residents to shrug and stop caring, finally realizing that cyclists pose zero hazard to their Rage Rovers, and finally grasping that every bike rolling through PV Estates meant one less car.
“Less cars in our city.” This was arithmetic they could understand, and it happened in tandem with a lawsuit against the city, its police force, and several residents alleging all manner of high crimes and misdemeanors in regard to violence at the Lunada Bay surf break. In short, the bikers lost the battle but won the war. The cops no longer harass us, most are downright friendly, and the nastiest residents aren’t much worse than resigned to having healthful, safe outdoor activities in their non-exclusive community.
Little boy chicken
One price for engaging in civic discourse in PV Estates is, unfortunately, the risk that you might incur the wrath of Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr. Early on in the bike battle I heard whispers about this guy, mostly along the lines of “be careful,” and “he is spiteful beyond belief,” and “Bob has the world’s worst baldheaded short man complex.”
It turns out that although the first warning was needless, and the third warning was possibly true, in my opinion Chapman really is the most horrible person in PV Estates. And for an enclave whose mayor and city council hate people for riding bicycles, that’s saying something.
Who is Chapman? That’s a good question, because much of the conflict and fury that I encountered when advocating for safety for vulnerable road users seemed to be fomented by a small group of truly hateful people. After listening to the rumors, I wondered if Chapman were perhaps the Hater-in-Chief, so I made a public records request to the city to find out if he was as nasty as I had heard.
Several hundred dollars and more than a month later, the horribly overtaxed city clerk handed me a disk with all of the documents responsive to my request. Although Chapman’s name had been redacted from many of the documents since they are police incidents, given the fact that the documents were produced in response to a request for “activities or complaints regarding or connected with Robert Chapman,” it is my opinion, and will likely be yours, too, that the person responsible for the great majority of these these complaints is not someone you’d want to ever call “neighbor,” let alone “in-law.”
The police incident reports connected to Chapman are astounding, so I’ve broken them down into three files. Note that these are all public documents and available to anyone willing to make the request and pay the copying fee. They are only current through March, 2017, so if you make your own request you will likely unearth a lot more.
But these records documenting the World’s Worst Neighbor Ever are not all. Chapman is also the ultimate keyboard warrior, a guy who I’ve never seen show up to contest an issue before the city council, but who prefers to flood the world with his opinions via email and, I also believe, anonymous Internet commentary.
In response to my records request, the city also released hundreds of emails from Chapman, many of which bear his name and company logo, and others which use one of his favorite handles, “ankur.” You will get a big laugh when you read the Urban Definition of “ankur,” and try to square it with this bald, squat, middle-aged Internet tough guy holed up in an ugly house as he complains to the police about raccoons.
Many of the emails relate to the hilarious Chapman “assault” case; others relate to his virulent opposition to Measure D, the precursor to Measure E, which he now also opposes and leads the charge against. I’ll post those and an analysis of the Measure E funding bill later in this series.
When chickens battle
One of the hallmarks of cowardice is anonymity, especially when used to tear down others. The Bluff Cove HOA web site as well as the web site dedicated to attacking individual PV residents and cops (since put behind a registration wall), bear great similarity to Chapman’s writing, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that he’s the author.
But The World’s Worst Neighbor is old news in PV Estates, and he is in many ways its most representative resident. Chapman’s hostility to non-residents, his aggressive use of his copious free time to badger opponents, his vindictiveness, his shame at being rich but not super rich, and his belief that the public should be subordinate to his personal wants is what the establishment of places like PV Estates were all about in the first place, with a particular emphasis on the exclusion of blacks and non-whites. So as odious as Chapman is, he’s also a fair representative of the community and its mores, too. The violence at Lunada Bay and the hate crime attack against the Pakistani liquor shop owner in PVE a few years back didn’t germinate in a petri dish of love, acceptance, diversity, and justice.
You need look no farther than the web site opposing him and dedicated to :saving” the PVE police department to find the commonality … this web site is anonymous, too. Apparently when you are outraged and angered in PV Estates, you scurry off to your computer and let ’em have it, anonymously.
Because, you know, that’s how Madison, Hamilton, and Jay wrote the Federalist Papers.
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October 19, 2017 § 35 Comments
I winced when I saw a couple of recent tweets by Peter Flax and Ted Rogers acknowledging that their support for the road diets in Playa del Rey and other parts of Los Angeles have been beaten back by the entitled cager class. Peter has written a great article about the fake democracy, fake news, and relentless trolling that has played an outsized role in perverting government on the local level into what it mostly is on the national level: Everything for me, nothing for you, with “me” being the wealthy and “you” being everyone else.
Flax, Rogers, and a whole host of advocates are feeling the pain that South Bay cyclists felt last year when the PV Estates City Council, fueled by the trolling of Garrett Unno and his horrible wife Zoe, the unprincipled rage of bad people like Cynthia Zaragoza, and the anonymous, pseudonymous trolling by Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., voted to shelve any proactive steps that would make PV safer for vulnerable road users. Flax and Rogers have come to grips with two nasty realities:
- The trolls oppose policies that can prevent killing or maiming vulnerable road users.
- The trolls see such bloodshed as a reasonable price for their convenience.
- The trolling powerfully affects the levers of governmental power.
When the realization hits, it’s devastating. Voting, canvassing, public debate, even modest funding by advocacy groups … all of these things lose to the power of the trolls. The power of a few moderately wealthy, angry trolls who have lots of time on their hands and limitless spleen to vent can galvanize entire voting blocs and can steamroll the needs of the many for the selfish wants of the few. Facts, data, logic, and republican ideals of protecting the weakest in society are laughable concepts that mean nothing when it comes to making transportation decisions regarding bicyclists and pedestrians.
With regard to making LA’s streets safer for vulnerable road users, though, the defeat is largely a function of advocates’ failure use existing law. Road diets, road striping, segregated cycle tracks, and bike lanes are the byproduct of a cyclist-inferiority pathology that has been vigorously promoted by cagers and motordom. Thanks to relentless fearmongering, many cyclists now believe that the only way they can safely use the roadways is by being segregated from it, and their overwhelming fear is of being hit from the rear, even though statistics show that such collisions are a minority of all car-bike collisions.
The bitter truth is this: Whether or not cyclists think that lane control works, road diets and bike infrastructure won’t work in Los Angeles’s angry, white urban areas. White and affluent cagers have shown that they are more than happy to subsidize the perception of speed and efficiency with more pedestrian/cycling deaths. It’s no different from the blase attitude towards the Las Vegas Massacre and Terrorist Attack. Such deaths are the well known, well accepted, and perfectly irrational price that America is more than happy to pay for the unrestricted right to have and use guns. Why should additional dead and maimed vulnerable road users be any different?
Hint: They aren’t.
Unlike the road diets that are never going to happen and the citywide carving out of bike lanes from normal traffic lanes that will never come to pass, lane control uses existing law to empower cyclists and make their activities safer. But empowerment isn’t something that comes and knocks at your door. You have to take it.
This means knowing the circumstances under which you are entitled to take up the full travel lane, when you have to ride as far to the right as practicable, and when you have to pull over to let faster traffic through. Learning these things and pounding them into the heads of cyclists is a task that few advocacy groups want to do because they are so committed to the infrastructure policies that angry cager Angelenos have proven they will never accept. I challenge anyone in LA County Bike Coalition to come to PV Estates or Rancho PV, two of the best cycling destinations in America, and make any headway at all against the evil mayor and her callus henchwankers. To add to the impossibility of positive policies, monstrous and slothful bike hater Zoe Unno now sits on the traffic safety committee. It’s like putting the wolf in charge of the henhouse and giving her a carving knife and gas range to boot.
If bike advocates haven’t gotten the message, they need to listen again: Los Angeles isn’t going to cede an inch of roadway for your exclusive use. So admit defeat and take up arms using existing law: Teach your friends and fellow cyclists, and most importantly teach yourself how to ride safely and legally in the traffic lane. After my years of experience with this technique, I’m confident you’ll find that the water is fine.
Another harsh reality has gradually become clear. As unfair as it may be, and as much of a double standard as it is, we are at a point in cager-bike relations when you have to take care of yourself first. This means lights. If you’re running anything less than two powerful headlamps and anything less than 3-4 powerful lights from the rear at all times, day and night, you are heaping additional risk onto yourself, especially if you are still riding in the gutter or in the door zone. As much as the PV cagers may hate cyclists, the chances are slim that they will kill you intentionally–with the exception, of course, of John Bacon, who appears to have died precisely because of an intentional hit.
In short, the people have spoken: They hate you and don’t care if you die. But at the same time, they don’t want to get your blood on their hood or, even worse, see an increase in their insurance premium. So take the lane. Ride like a Christmas tree. It still beats living on Mom’s couch.
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August 29, 2017 § 12 Comments
Jeff Kepley, director of the popular Palos Verdes Estates babysitting service Wipe ‘n Dandle, announced his retirement yesterday. The sudden news leaves residents scrambling for a replacement service that can provide fresh diapers, soft facial tissues for drippy noses, mushed up bananas, and can give them a soft booby to suck on when they get an ouchie.
Cycling in the South Bay sat down with one of the community’s biggest babies, Lewis Robert McButtchaps, Jr., to find out how he intended to cope with the sudden loss of taxpayer-funded butt wiping.
CitSB: This must come as quite a blow, Bob, given that a review of service records shows that you’re Wipe ‘n Dandle’s biggest baby. I mean, customer.
McButtchaps: It was a huge shock. Huge. Sad.
CitSB: Can you tell us how it’s going to affect you?
McButtchaps: Wipe ‘n Dandle has always handled my every tantrum with incredible professionalism. Whether it’s other babies making noise across the way to wake me from my nap, or just coming by to put some talcum on my po-po, Wipe ‘n Dandle has always been there for me.
CitSB: There’s talk in the community of bringing in another diaper service. Snotnosers, Inc., already services the other three communities here on the peninsula. And they seem to do a pretty good job of keeping the squalling, wailing, whining little brats happy, sort of.
McButtchaps: That’s a farce. We babies in PV Estates are a special butt-rash on the hill and require special treatment. For example, when there are noises that scare me at night and I think there’s a big orange monster under my bed, I can have Mr. Kepley and his professional dandlers come over in a couple of minutes. Snotnosers takes up to ten minutes to pat me on the back, burp me, clean out the poop that has squirted up my back, and get me back to sleep.
CitSB: Some folks say that you’re just a spoiled little brat and that Snotnosers does a fine job. After all, you’re almost fifty.
McButtchaps: Nuh-uh. I’m not spoiled at all. They’re spoiled. I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you. Wipe ‘n Dandle’s service levels have dropped a bit recently, though. A couple of months ago I cried a lot and was colicky and it took four of their full-time butt-wipers and the dispatcher to come make me feel better and tell me I was a Sweetums and a Honey-Pie.
CitSB: Some folks say that Wipe ‘n Dandle’s service levels haven’t really dropped; rather they’re tired of coming over to a faux estate that’s so “exclusive” it’s constantly filled with other babies and gardening trucks over by the bluffs. Some folks say that you have a rash no one can heal.
McButtchaps: That’s not true. For example, a couple of years ago when I was in my baby pool without a diaper, another little girl came over and stole my floatie toy. I was scarred for life and filed a restraining order against her. Snotnosers, Inc. couldn’t have done as good a job putting on a fresh didie as Mr. Kepley’s team. Mr. Kepley’s men love me. Did you know I’m a palm frond manager?
CitSB: What’s that?
McButtchaps: I’m like Harold Icahn.
CitSB: Oh, a fund manager?
McButtchaps: Palm frond manager. It’s like a hedge fund but it’s made of palms.
CitSB: More hedge than fund?
CitSB: I see. After reviewing the service records at Wipe ‘n Dandle, the other babies around you seem to hate your guts. Any thoughts about that?
McButtchaps: Yes. Every time someone is mean to me, I call up Wipe ‘n Dandle and they make the meanies go away. It’s not my fault they are all jealous and want my toys.
CitSB: What do you think they’re jealous of?
McButtchaps: My smooth head. All the other babies have lots of hair but my head is very smooth and they’re jealous of that. Also my tummy which pooches out and is very soft. Do you want to touch it?
CitSB: Er, no thanks. So, what are your plans for getting another team to come in here and wipe your little butt every time you feel out of sorts?
McButtchaps: What are you doing this afternoon?
CitSB: Uh, I’m busy.
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PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could.
June 21, 2016 § 10 Comments
I have recently devised the best training loop ever in the history of bicycle riding, called the Wanky Super Power Loop. I also hold the Strava KOM on this fantastic, amazing segment so please don’t bother trying to take it. In fact, since it’s my only KOM I really hope that all of you cyclists in the South Bay will be sure to not try and take it from me, as it would really hurt my feelings a lot, kind of like the time that I set a secret KOM on my home street and showed it to Eric and he went out and took it away from me the next day.
I’m not bitter about that.
Also, I trust that Wanky’s Super Power Loop will remain with me atop the leaderboard at least for the next five or nine years. However, today’s post isn’t (only) to point out how totally I crushed the Wanky Super Power Loop segment, it’s also to gin up recognition for this as, really, the best riding loop anywhere, ever. Why is it so good?
First, it has plenty of elevation but none of it is steep. This means you can use it to clear out your legs after a weekend of racing or eating donuts. It also means that if you want to go racing around as if your power numbers and Strava doodads really matter, you can do that too. In other words, it’s good for slow and it’s good for fast.
Second, it has plenty of shade. Los Angeles is not known for shade, and in the summer of the hottest temperatures ever recorded at the South Pole and an El Nino that has bleached dead hundreds of thousands of hectares of pristine coral reefs worldwide, there is a premium on trees (until you need them for a new floor, of course). Wanky’s Super Power Loop lets you pedal in comfort no matter how many people die from heatstroke over in Gardena.
Third, since it runs through a gorgeous and quiet neighborhood on the edge of Palos Verdes Estates, you will piss off all the curmudgeons who think that the street is theirs. Nothing makes a fun ride funner than waving a cheery “Good morning!” to some codger with an impacted stool who just wrote three angry letters to the mayor and donated $5 to the Trump campaign than the sight of a happy bicyclist pedaling down his street.
Best of all, Wanky’s Super Power Loop reprises sections of the infamous Thursday Flog Ride, so while you’re spinning along you can pick out the most judicious place to launch your attack or to chokingly wave “Easy week!” as the peloton rides away.
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November 7, 2011 § 2 Comments
There is a meeting of the Palos Verdes Estates Traffic Safety Committee on Wednesday November 9 at 4:00pm at PVE City Hall. The first item on the agenda is traffic calming on Via del Monte. See the agenda at http://www.pvestates.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=953. Wankmeister will be there and he hopes you will be also. It is important that cyclists are heard to demand that they take us into account in any plans for changes to that roadway. We need to insist that they remove the deadly speed “cushions” near the bottom of the hill. One cyclist has already been seriously injured, and we need to convince them to remove the cushions before another catastrophic collision occurs.
If you can attend the meeting and wish to speak please arrive a few minutes early and fill out a speaker’s slip. You will want to check the box to speak about the item on the agenda “Traffic Calming on Via del Monte.” At the appropriate time your name will be called and you will have three minutes to speak. Those three minutes go by very quickly so think carefully about what you want to say.
Here is a suggested “comment” if you want to attend but don’t have time to organize your thoughts, or if you get nervous speaking in public. Practice it a few times and you’ll win the whole council over in three short minutes:
“Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to comment on traffic calming on Via del Monte. As a cyclist, I fully support calm traffic. Perhaps we could begin by shooting all of the irate, over-caffeinated, asshole motorists who buzz us, scream at us, and smash into us as we legally try to use the roadways. An effective alternative method for calming traffic is by making the crazy fuckers trying to kill us wear straighjackets, and then dosing them up with huge quantities of sedatives. A small, padded cell would also, I believe, have a calming effect on the nutjob motorists who lurk along the roadways of Palos Verdes Estates.
“It has come to my addition that this fine city, in its laudable attempt to calm traffic, has installed traffic cushions at the bottom of Via del Monte. I learned about this one morning several months ago, as I descended VDM in the wee hours. Although I had a light and am very familiar with the road, you can imagine my surprise when I hit the brand new speed cushions, which were ‘fresh’ and therefore had no warning signs or reflective striping, at the modest pace of 15mph. I did a somersault, trashed my $7,000 carbon frame, and got an exciting trip to the trauma center at UCLA Harbor where they bored a hole in my skull and drained the fluid that had accumulated from the bruised and bleeding surface of my brain.
“Unfortunately, this did not calm me down at all. In fact, it made me mad as hell. What the fuck were you people thinking? I mean aside from the obvious ‘Let’s kill a few cyclists to let them know we hate them and don’t want them here.’ More importantly, aside from killing and injuring cyclists, who came up with the name ‘cushion’? I have a cushion on my sofa and a couple on my bed. They are soft, pliable, and greatly assist my ass from getting sore when I sit, and they help me fall asleep quickly. I have also been known to prop them under my girlfriend’s butt in order to achieve a more satisfying angle. These fucking things on VDM don’t seem to serve any practical effect other than bashing my head against the asphalt. Maybe ‘bash’ is the new ‘cushion.’ But as far as I’m concerned they suck.
“Finally, I’d like to tell all the fine residents of PV who think their shit doesn’t stink—it does. And the sooner you rip these stupid fucking cushions up and start coming down as hard on motorists as you do on cyclists, the better. Thank you.”
P.S. “When’s the last time an irate cyclist ever ran over a motorist?”