Yesterday I wrote that the DAM was certainly one of the pointiest buildings in town. Indeed it is. But I do believe it is surpassed in utter pointiness by that bit of roof on the convention center, pictured at right. Giant dancing aliens recently voted this feature Least Favorite Roof Corner to be Impaled Upon After Inadvertent Miscalculation of Parabolic Trajectory. That's galaxy-wide. So, back to the drawing board, Lebiskind.
Karen from Montreal read my ramble on messengers' being misunderstood and naturally wondered: 'If the entire messenger business is based on breaking traffic laws as you say, then shouldn't the whole industry be outlawed and basically be forced to disband?'
Karen, maybe it should be. Seriously. I'm not going to get too excited about defending the messenger industry as a whole. A lot of these companies are smarmier than you can imagine, engaged in all sorts of marginal business practices, and frankly deserve to go down. But at least understand that this isn't up to me or any lowly messenger. If a messenger insisted on riding in a strictly lawful fashion they would quickly, immediately, be replaced with someone willing to perform the required tasks. That's not to say the people at the pointy end of the spear aren't responsible for their own actions. They are. Everybody is. A messenger could simply get another job for instance -- nobody's holding a gun to their head. But they are not responsible for the industry or the demand that sustains it, much of which emanates from the same official quarters and power centers that would be charged with outlawing it.
It's instructive to examine what happened not too long ago in Vancouver, Canada when some folks in government got the idea of making the industrialized cyclists there straighten up and ride right. Laws were passed requiring messengers to obtain licenses, numbers, take special classes, get branded, implanted with micro-chips, who knows what. This project helped to educate the townsfolk in a few ways. First of all, they saw clearly that many of the bicyclists breaking traffic laws downtown were not messengers, even though many looked the part. And the real messengers, despite their new heavily and arbitrarily regulated status, continued to ride as they always had. Why? Because that's what messengers do. That's what messenger work is.
Time and time again, when cities have found themselves having to choose between outlawing the scofflaw messenger business or continuing to benefit from the service it provides, they choose the service. Or, they realize that they never really had a choice.
About an ongoing curiosity in velo-culture, Melanie in Chicago wrote: 'I always thought those guys were real messengers. How am I supposed to tell the 'posengers' from the real thing?'
Heck I don't know. The only way I can tell is that the group of working messengers in my town has dwindled to a small enough number that I actually know who they all are. If I went to another city I would have no idea. Just know that if you see one of these messenger-looking birds floating around they are statistically unlikely to be a courier.
I might have some identification tips for you. If you happen to get close enough, you can check the fingernails. Bike messengers don't have pretty, clean fingernails. Also, the term 'fixie.' Never, not once, have I heard a messenger utter the word. It's a dead giveaway.
Oh, time flies. I guess I didn't get around to answering the helmet comments after all. Perhaps tomorrow. I'll have to get my rubber suit out of the basement and throw down some tarps.