Deflated

Years ago, in the waning days of my relevance, I used to make fun of a company called “Best Made,” which basically painted the handles of axes an sold them to douchey urbanites (I realize “douchey urbanites” is redundant) at a considerable markup:

Kim Hastreiter, an editor of Paper magazine and his former boss, said: “Peter is like a regular guy with an eccentric way of thinking, and he’s interested in things that function. You know he loves a Shaker table. He probably loves a yellow pencil or a bar of Ivory soap or a paper clip or a well-designed tube of toothpaste. It’s all about stuff that’s what it is. That’s an idea that’s really popular right now.”

Yep, you spoiled millennials may not realize this, but before Best Made came along you couldn’t get stuff that was “what it is.” Instead, everything was what it wasn’t. For example, you’d go to the supermarket and buy a can of Bumble Bee® tuna, but then you’d open up the can only to find out it was full of cold cream. It was really frustrating, not to mention wasteful.

Anyway, much like this blog, it seems as though Best Made has also sputtered out like a vintage Land Cruiser with an…uh, well, whatever mechanical affliction might fell a vintage Land Cruiser:

While the tweeter may be reveling in Best Made’s demise, I take no pleasure in it. For one thing, I don’t like seeing people lose their jobs. For another, Best Made and I had something of a symbiotic relationship–they sold dumb overpriced shit, I made fun of them for selling dumb overpriced shit–so this latest development is yet another reminder that the salad days are over and my lettuce has long since wilted.

I mean sure, Best Made was, as I noted in my reply to the tweet, basically what would happen if Wes Anderson opened a Scout Shop:

I mean seriously, tell me that doesn’t look like a prop from “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou:”

But even so, we’re all a little poorer without the “sense of wonder” that drove Best Made:

“We always used to say there was a sense of wonder at Best Made,” Buchanan-Smith said on a recent phone call from upstate New York, “and it’s that kind of intangible element that you can’t really put your finger on.”

Even if what they were wondering was, “Hey, what other cheap shit can we paint a few lines on and sell for a shitload of money?” So I guess in that sense we’re actually richer. Which is confusing.

Of course, maybe I’d be more successful if, instead of being wistful, I seized on the opportunity by filling this new void in the marketplace. For example, reader Steve Barner was kind enough to send me this incredible assortment of vintage Wald pencils:

Which, if I had any business sense whatsoever, I’d turn right around and sell for $20 each.

I’d also carry deerskin gloves with custom hand-curated designs on them, like the ones Barry Wicks sent me a few years ago:

I have to admit that I really like riding with deerskin gloves, and I even wore them today. Once again I had planned to take the Teledyne on a farewell tour before sending it back to Classic Cycle, and once again it was wet outside so I spared it the grime–but it wasn’t actually raining, and so I skipped the rain bike in favor of the beguiling ride of my Litespeed. I then headed down to Central Park, but there’s one thing you can count on when you’re riding a road bike with fancy tires on wet New York City streets, which is that you’re going to get a flat. So I availed myself of an empty trash-strewn Citi Bike station and made it my base of operations as I set about replacing the tube:

The beer bottle in the background is not mine, but I really should carry one around with me, because these things always seem to go more smoothly when you’re drinking:

Though even in my sober state I quickly found what appeared to be the culprit:

I placed it on my saddle to take the measure of it, then I flicked it away less I forget about it and unwittingly remount and grind it into my scranus:

I hate when that happens.

After I fixed the flat I stopped at a bike shop to replenish my saddle bag stores, and by the time I reached Central Park it was in fact raining, so instead of doing a few laps I only did one and then headed home:

My non-rain bike was now filthy, but fortunately I have access to a hose:

Come for the dated Best Made references, stay for the garden hose POV bike-washing shots:

Now my bike was clean for a change, so maybe it was a good thing I’d been caught in the rain after all:

In fact, I was feeling like such a dynamo of productivity that I even took the time to repair the punctured tube instead of simply throwing it on the gigantic pile of tubes I will get around to repairing exactly when Hell thaws again after having frozen over for a hundred years. I’d even noted the location of that giant sliver of glass in relation to the tube–but wouldn’t you know it, the puncture was somewhere else on the tube entirely, which means it was caused by a completely different fragment!

The science of inner tube forensics is endlessly fascinating. I may have to offer artisanal tube repair at my new store. I’ll find the leaks by submerging the tubes in an antique cast-iron clawfoot tub and charge $50 per hole. Sense of wonder indeed.

*Please don’t @ me, vintage Land Cruiser Freds, because I don’t think I can handle that level of insufferability. It’s hard enough listening to Rando Freds tell me which rack I should be using on my Rivendell.

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