Keith Snyder
Door always open.

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Snickers and tykes

We had to be at the ACE Film Festival in Manhattan by 2:45. It was 90 degrees, 75% humidity. Subway stations are generally ten degrees hotter. In order to be nice and fresh when we got there, Kathleen called a car service.

The car service nightmare began when we discovered the 1:30 car had arrived, waited, and left--all before 1:25.

The 1:50 replacement car had a broken front seat, no air conditioning, and a senile driver with a jet-black dye job who took us the wrong way. We argued. She argued. We all got farther and farther from our destination. She argued some more and complained about the broken air conditioner. We said let us out. The last we heard of her, she was threatening to call the cops as we hurried down into the subway. We said go ahead.

The R train crawled. The squawky announcement said it would be running on the F line. We got off at Lexington and grabbed a cab.

The text messages with Larry:
Me (2:10 PM): May be late. Car service nightmare.

Larry Picard (2:11 PM): That sucks. Sorry. Good thing I wore my hostess dress.

Me (2:42 PM): We're in a speeding cab. 1st Ave. & 30th.

Larry Picard (2:42 PM): You're doing good. It's going to happen. I can feel it.

As it turned out, the man in the hostess dress was right. We were dropped off a couple of blocks from the Broad Street Ballroom (there was road construction) and made it there in time to resolve the will-call issues. The ticket company got a lot of the names wrong, which, considering the distractedly stoned and job-hating voice I gave them to, wasn't surprising.

The screening itself--lots of fun! The only real snag was that the Broad Street Ballroom is a big marble room with nothing to cut the reverberation, so the audio became an enormous mass of echoes. However, Bob Auld did such a good job on the vocal recording that for the most part, it cut through the din. The music got pretty lost, but the overall thing held together--and we all had a fabulous time. The entire cast was there, most of the main crew members, and a lot of friends, so we surpassed the comedy audience minimum--the threshhold above which people begin to set each other's laughter off. And once an editor/author relationship, always an editor/author relationship; I found myself watching Michael Seidman to see if he laughed at the right places. (He did.)

Great time.

Then we were informed that they were doing filmmaker interviews upstairs, which we hadn't expected, and our presence was requested. I did a little video interview for, which I assume will be online soon, and the whole cast got a segment as well. Jason Arthur assured me I only babbled a little. I'm looking forward to seeing it--and kicking myself for not mentioning that ILY is a musical number from CUPID & PSYCHE, an original feature-length musical in development. (And about which I hope to have news about in about a month, about.)

Pizza afterwards was also a lot of fun, with my film friends and crime fiction friends meeting each other. (And I guess Mary holds the distinction of being both, since she's got a credit on the film.)

Remember this, from 15 days before the shoot?

At the pizza joint, Larry presented it to me framed, signed on the back by a bunch of the cast and crew--alongside a red tin of Hediard Blend tea, which he knows I love. It's now up in the hallway across from the boys' room, next to the print of a Gabe Leonard painting of a grafittied bridge in Glendale:

Cab ride home, quick boy time, don the backpack and new helmet, and ride the bike out to Horace Harding and Main to catch the 8:05 bus to Orient Point, so I could crash with friends before my century ride the next morning.

7:50. No bus. And--now that I was reading it more carefully--a not particularly clear description of where to wait.

I called Hampton Jitney. A Russian woman said you're at the dropoff, not the pickup, and told me go to other side. I said other side of what. She said other side. I said other side of what. She said other side. I said other side of what. She said other side of road. I said other side of which road. She said...

This went on far longer than it would have for someone with a less absurdist view of himself. Finally I talked with someone else, who told me I had to get to Main and 190th.

But couldn't tell me how to get there.

I said "I'll find it," hung up, and found a car driver who pointed for me.

That way.

40 blocks.

8:04 PM.

I got to Main and 190th at 8:13. No bus. I'd hoped they'd hold it for me, since they knew I was trying to get there. Just to be sure it wasn't running late and I could still maybe catch it, I called Hampton Jitney again--and got no answer, so thinking maybe they were avoiding the jerk they'd just talked to, I called their other number and got the man again.

"Just calling to make sure I missed the 8:05 to Greenport."

"You the guy on the bicycle?"


"It's not 8:05, it's 8:50. You're fine."

After a silent moment, I cracked up. "So I fuck up, and it saves my ass?"

He cracked up too. "Yeah! I was thinking after you hung up...8:05?"

This story is actually more complicated, because there was also some confusion about the last bus that goes to Greenport and the last bus that goes to Orient Point, but I got a soda and sat around waiting for half an hour, and it was fine. I got to Greenport at 10:30 PM and rode 6 miles to Orient in the dark. Email from my Treo on the bus went like this:
My lovely hosts: We really really want to come get you in Greenport. I don't want you riding at night.

Me: You realize we pasty white Jews glow in the dark.
But they still intercepted me at a certain turnoff, which is good, since I would have missed it.

A few pleasant minutes of socializing, and everybody went to bed. The insect noises through the open windows were rustic and wonderful--though if it had taken another twenty minutes for me to fall asleep, I would have started thinking of them as a goddamn racket.

(If you're in New York, support my lovely hosts by attending the New York Festival of Song, which looks like it's going to have a great season. I got the first of the brand-new 2007/2008 programs.)

The snooze button on a Treo isn't easy to hit, but I managed half a dozen times and didn't get up until 6:00 AM, and wasn't on the road until 6:30. Half an hour to the Orient Point start line, half an hour getting my route sheet and wristband and adjusting my seat... I wasn't pedaling until 7:45. Not exactly what I'd planned.

Two general types of groups got in everybody's way for the next hundred miles: Groups of three middle-aged men in Lycra on expensive road bikes, and groups of two chatty women on hybrids.

Sometimes the groups of three men used bike club jargon ("Car up!" "Car back!"). I don't remember what cartoon or comedy show had a bit where repeated voices in different vocal registers yell "Raise the drawbridge!" "Raise the drawbridge!" "Raise the drawbridge!" and then "Lower the drawbridge!" "Lower the drawbridge!" "Lower the drawbridge!" but that's what these guys are like. "Car up!" "Car up!" "Car up!"

And more annoying, "Rider up!" "Rider up!" "Rider up!" which means somebody slower than them is considered an obstacle. When it's a tight peloton on a training run, this isn't a big deal--but these three guys have no discipline or consideration. They're all over the road, they're taking up entire lanes, they're blocking cars, they're not swinging wide enough into steep curved descents and making me brake behind them on the way down so I have to kill myself on the way back up, they're hemming other riders into turns because they don't know how to stay tight. But they've got the Lycra and they're calling out the jargon, by gum, and they're egging each other on, so they're real men. "Car back!" "Car back!" "Car back!" Hup hup hup!


The duos of chatty women are less annoying personally because they're not pretending to be hotter shit than you--but they're presenting the same kind of blockage to the lane. Two abreast means I have to break out of the lane to get around them, which puts me into traffic (if we're on the shoulder) or into oncoming traffic (if we're in a traffic lane). At that point, I become the jerk with the jargon, saying "On your left" as I approach--which, if uttered in a polite tone, means "Don't be alarmed as I pass you" if you were in an intelligent position to start with, and "Would you get your slowpoke behind over to the right instead of yakking with your friend, goddammit" if you weren't.

"On your left," I said to one pink-suited cyclist riding next to her friend. And then "On your left" again, still in a friendly way--and in response, I got "Thank you" in that exclusively female tone that means "You're a jerky man, go away."

Okay, well, okay.

What everyone says about drop bars is that they offer multiple hand positions--and they do. But not one of them was comfortable. Both hands are bruised, and my right pinky finger is still numb at the tip.

I'm willing to accept that my technique is at fault--but I also suspect the bike hasn't been fitted to me well. Rather than go looking for more comfortable handlebars (which will lead me down the sulfur path to weird bike land), I need to find out how to balance my body better when it's in a riding position.

So the ride sucked?

No way! The ride was great!

Vineyards, beaches, gentle hills... okay, it was way too humid and warm, but I kept hydrated and carbified, and my diagnosis of iliotibial band syndrome seems to have been correct: "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being," said Goethe, and this applies to knees. Gearing differently and spinning more on hills gave them the self-esteem they needed to make their dreams soar!

So then there was Rest Stop #4, at which (seriously) there was a wine-tasting.

That's what we need at mile 89. Alcohol.

(No morphine, though. I asked.)

When the text message came that there were people waiting for me at the finish line, I pushed a little harder into the final segment and the calves quivered halfway into cramps for the whole 11 miles. But the shark didn't quite bite--just took a lot of nibbles. And if there's anything better than coming up on Greenport High School after riding 106 miles, and seeing toddlers rise off a picnic blanket over in the center of the school lawn, look around for you in response to Mommy pointing you out, and jump up and down, happily yelling DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! I don't know what it is.

Does it look as though Daddy is hauling two completely uninterested little boys up to face the camera? Well, that would be because the first attempt came out like this:

It's a new book, after all.

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