Not too long ago I mentioned that for years now I’ve been unwittingly riding right past not only a ghost train station but a monument to Confederate war veterans. Well, yesterday morning I found myself in that same spot once again. So I figured I’d go check out the monument:
Even I, a strident cyclist, sometimes feel self conscious about showing up to certain places by bicycle. I suppose this the power of cultural conditioning–somehow arriving at a cemetery on a diminutive bicycle is inappropriate, yet arriving in a gas-guzzling Cadillac is respectful. “Will I be turned away?,” I wondered absurdly to myself. Rehearsing the exchange in my head, I went on to explain to the imaginary security guard that I was simply there to visit the monument to the people who bravely fought to preserve the Confederacy and the institution of slavery, though it occurred to me that this would probably go over even more poorly than the bicycle.
“Ah, whatever, I’m wearing black, I’ll be fine,” I ultimately decided–though while I maintain that the bicycle is in no way disrespectful, it’s difficult to make the same argument for the shorts:
The monument is the biggest obelisk in the joint, and I’ve noticed it before, though until reading that plaque I just figured it was for some rich guy or something:
Here’s the inscription:
According to a document on the Town of Greenburgh’s website, the monument commemorates “40 Confederate veterans
who came to New York after the Civil War and became well respected citizens in the New York Metropolitan Area:”
While I’m not one of those people who have left Twitter in a huff, do I use it a lot less now than I used to, mostly because I realized it was mostly just making me irritable. One of the more irritating aspects of Twitter is what people refer to as the “culture wars,” and you’ll see people saying stuff like, “America is headed towards another Civil War!” This almost sounds plausible until you stop looking at Twitter for a few days and realize how stupid it is–and it seems even more stupid when you’re standing at the grave of someone who fought in and survived the actual Civil War. It’s not that history can’t repeat itself; it’s more like history doesn’t repeat itself in a way that’s convenient to people’s Twitter narratives, and oddly we’d all probably all be happier if we spent less time looking at our phones and more time looking at graves and monuments. Graves and monuments put things in perspective, whereas social media only distorts them.
I suppose everything seems tinged with the supernatural when you’re standing in a cemetery, but it was difficult not to feel as though the position of the sun at this moment was highly significant somehow:
It was like the monolith in 2001:
And even though it’s a completely different movie, I wished I had my Staff of Ra with me:
I was especially annoyed with myself for leaving it at home since I was even riding a bike with a pump peg.
Alas, with no hope of finding the Ark of the Covenant, I continued my ride, which took me past another cemetery I ride by quite often:
I wondered if this cemetery also contained any monuments that might make some people today feel uncomfortable, such as a mausoleum full of people who married their underage first cousins.
Actually, we have a similar memorial here in the Bronx:
You’ve got to know your literary history and/or your New York City landmarks for that one.
As for the bike I was riding, it was the Normcore Bike:
While the bike has been running very nicely for quite some time, now that it’s my primary road bike (for the time being) I felt it needed a little something extra:
And so I changed the tires:
While quite light and (ugh) supple, I’d found these tires to be a bit dainty for everyday use, and so I put them on my elder son’s track bike since there’s a lot less broken glass on the velodrome. (I mean we’re talking Kissena so of course there’s broken glass, there’s just less of it is what I’m saying.) However like a moth to the cliché I can’t help myself, and so I figured I’d try them on the Normcore Bike, and I gotta say the bike immediately felt faster:
Though as soon as I get a flat I’ll start railing against supple tires again, because that’s what people like me do when we’re not complaining about change in general:
The real beauty of the Normcore Bike is that it’s just as home in the countryside as it is locked to a chainlink* fence:
*[Don’t worry, it wasn’t locked to the actual chainlink part.]