Sunday, June 20, 2004

Not quite World Naked Bike Ride In Bellingham. First try in 2004.

See photos below.

I, personally, wasn't planning to go totally naked (knowing this is Bellingham), just skimpy shorts and body paint. Posters called for both naked and costumed riders which would have been fun to see. Pictures below.

Update. More recently, another bunch of folks have organized rides in Bellingham starting in 2009 and continuing till the present. See here.

Many cities around the world have naked cycling events. In Seattle, there was a group of painted, naked cyclists at start of the Fremont District Solstice Parade. Other cities like Toronto, Vancouver have their events. What about Bellingham?

I thought about traveling to Seattle, but saw some posters for
World Naked Bike Ride in Bellingham. Can this be? Isn't Bellingham a bit reserved? Hidden?

I decided to "stay local" and see if anyone would even show up.

The poster described this as a costume ride in celebration of WNBR.

Knowing that public nudity is illegal, I wasn't planning to go nude. Just taking one's shirt off, or painting oneself, could be considered radical in Bellingham. Of course one does see lots of shirtless Frisbee throwers, and so forth, in city parks. Hot days can be rare in this area; except maybe late summer.

Not surprising at all, about the first person to show up was an officer from the Bellingham Police Department. They saw the posters too, I guess.

Striving to maintain a friendly demeanor, the officer was asking questions about this event, orienting himself as to what was planned.

As a few more people showed up the officer started explaining laws about public nudity. If I remember correctly, it's a misdemeanor, but when someone 14, or under, sees this, it can be a felony.


I put forth my vision of scantily clad, painted cyclists showing off healthy bodies. This would be legal and a step beyond boring everyday life. There was once a car advertisement touting "the shape you want to be in." If mild erotic appeal can be used to sell cars, why not the bicycling lifestyle?

There was no problem with that, as far as the law was concerned.

Just then, my friend Rick showed up having watched the Fremont event in Seattle. Yes, indeed, there were totally naked cyclists in that parade. Families even brought their kids and baby strollers. They were watching. It was relaxed. A festive atmosphere in the big city.

I commented that it was probably good for the economy. Vendors and Fremont businesses did well from the celebration.

We marveled at the contrast between the Fremont Parade and Bellingham. I am not sure how the public nudity laws are dealt with for the Fremont event. Some kind of politics must have been worked out ahead of time.

In spite of the legal damper, and the fact that there wasn't a huge turn out, several shirtless painted cyclists were gathered. We rode down the South Bay Trail from our starting point outside The Hub bike repair collective.

Awaiting us was dancing at Boulevard Park. That was another event.

I think I was the only painted cyclist to join in the dance for a bit.

Starting to get ready.  Click on photos to see larger versions.

Having some fun.

That's me with loud shorts  Click on photos to see larger versions. 


Participants often say these rides are to protest the indecency of over consumption and oil dependency. Making this point with naked riding may be a stretch, but one can sort of follow (I hear Rush Limbaugh laughing in the background).

Why go to something erotic when one is just trying to make a comment about oil?

Good question.

I don't know what the connection is for other cyclists, but for me it goes this way.

There is a certain amount of indecency in the way most people approach things like dating, relationships and socializing. Much of it revolves around possessions. possessing one's partner, the toys one must have to play the game. Consumption of alcohol that takes place in establishments where people go to socialize.

I prefer a more aesthetic approach. Standing back and enjoying the dance of life with out having to own it. For some reason, the conversations that take place around some nude hot springs are more intelligent than other gatherings.

Cyclists can be appealing as they pass through my vicinity; lean and healthy.

I guess I am looking for a selfish reason to promote cycling. Saving the world is okay, but most people aren't motivated because the affect of one person is hardly a drop in the bucket. Saving one's own health is a more tangible sell?

Think of how much money Americans spend on things like diet aids, hair dye, clothing, all for the appeal, and of course, the car one drives. "It's the shape you want to be in."

Cyclists are usually lean and healthy just from the cycling lifestyle.

Speaking of shapes, when I was a kid, the family car was a STATION WAGON.

In the 1980s, as families and relationships demanded more, the station wagon got taller; a MINI VAN.

Soon the mini van got more sporty and fun, the SUV.

What's next? Maybe the more armor plated HUMMER to keep it all going?

Not to mention troops in the middle east for oil supply, the Hummer might be needed to plough through traffic.

Or there is the naked cyclist, even just lightly clothed cyclist. We survive by not being in the traffic pattern of main stream life.

Article about that ride in a small newspaper, Bellingham Sun 2004.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The Great Plains or California

Monument at geographic center of North America, Rugby, North Dakota.

The Great Plains or California

A very interesting article in May 2004 National Geographic about the Great Plains of USA. North, South Dakota, Nebraska and so forth. Some counties where median age is 60 and still loosing population. Stagnate economies.

Interesting irony, some of these sections of the Great Plains are politically conservative. People embrace hard work and lower taxes, yet the economies are stagnate. In some towns, the funeral home may be close to the only thriving business, but housing is affordable.

On the other hand, some of the politically liberal places, like San Francisco Bay area in California, have booming economies and un affordable housing.

Where they talk hard work and low taxes, there is nothing to do.

Where they talk justice for poor people and "down with the corporations," one must just about be a millionaire to live there.

Every ideology seems to not match reality at times.

See my short essay about Crossing North Dakota by bicycle.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Some Memories From The 1980s, Ronald Reagan, Rock Hudson, The Air Controllers

Flags at half staff on WWU campus after death of Ronald Reagan. I was never a fan of Reagan. Here are some reflections on the 1980s era.

Not following television, or movies, I never heard of Rock Hudson, until just before his death. Radio newscasts were speculating that this mighty figure had AIDS. The news came to me on a little transistor radio strapped to my bicycle as I was biking across Washington State for the first time.

Not long after that trip, I learned that a local acquaintance of mine, Scott Lennon, had just been diagnosed with AIDS. He was one of Bellingham's early cases.

Coming back from my bike trips all tanned and healthy, I had mixed feelings about hearing this news. On the one hand, of course, it was sad. On the other hand, I couldn't help feeling a little vindicated. Much of my college years, I was such an odd ball, I didn't fit into the local social scene of gay people that much.

Scott was a fairly glamorous and popular guy. My gay experience was closer to being a loner. I was not very comfortable in bar settings, but being a loner had some advantages, including missing the venereal diseases going around.

After Scott was diagnosed, he slowed down a bit. He devoted the last years of his life to AIDS prevention and education. Spoke at schools and many other settings.

Maybe the loner wins in the end, like in the tortoise and the heir. On the other hand, it is very important to remember the phrase, "there by the grace of God go I."

This tree was planted in memorial to Scott Lennon who lived in Bellingham and died from illnesses related to AIDS. It resides in the courtyard of Fairhaven College, a branch of WWU. I think this is the tree they planted, if my memory is correct.

That whole era of the mid 1980s was colored by the Ronald Reagan's Presidency. Self-righteous thinking was a hallmark of Reagan's era. Like the cartoon I saw of Santa's slay passing over the food bank line. Santa dropped a brick that said, "get a job."

It can be a cold reality.

Maybe Reagan's belief in private charity took the cold edge off this picture, but only slightly.

I have always believed in a balance. Personal responsibility and compassionate government.

Too self-righteous a philosophy can turn around and stab one in the back. Another memory I have from the 1980s was that day Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. They went on strike wanting pay raises and better working conditions. Reagan fired them. Air controllers are government employees and he was trying to stick by his word to reduce domestic spending.

The air controllers union, PATCO, had just endorsed Reagan for President in 1980, so I read. What they were thinking? Maybe they had it coming. I couldn't help feeling a bit self-righteous about the air controllers also. I never voted for Reagan.

It seems like we need balance. Personal responsibility is very important, but compassion is needed also. One must never forget the phrase, "there by the grace of God go I."

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

2004 Fourth Corner Pride Festival

The following images taken at 2004 Fourth Corner Pride Festival  Sponsored by PFLAG  (Parents And Friends Of Lesbians And Gays)

Located at Bloedel Donovan Park in Bellingham. A homespun, somewhat smaller version of the gay pride festivals held in large cities. Whatcom County, You're coming up in the world. A good size turn out, given that we are not San Francisco. Shows that a lot of caring people reside in this area. Festival celebrating GLBT folks and the many friends and volunteers we have from non gay sexual orientations as well. It brought Whatcom County out in the (most of the time) sunshine for one afternoon at least.

We're here, we're queer. Stick a pin on the map where you live. Dots starting to fill in, even in Lynden. "Stick it to Lynden."

Dancing to the heavenly sound of a marimba band.

Welcoming table from United Church Of Christ. One of several churches represented.

Looking at outdoor booths through glass block wall of Bloedel Donovan gym. It didn't rain till people were ready to pack up and leave.

A cake after most of the rainbow was eaten.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

House fire in Bellingham

As I was biking across town, I saw smoke down a street. Sure enough it was a house fire. They were able to quickly douse it.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Reflections on Cordata Area in Bellingham, WA.

Silicon Valley Creeping North

A few weeks ago, I bicycled out Cordata Street. Haven't seen the campus of Whatcom
Community College for quite some time.

It has grown! Bellingham has two major centers of higher learning
now. WCC and Western Washington University, known as WWU.

Comparing Whatcom to Western brings one word to
mind - Parking. The community college seems to have parking, at each
building, while Western is less "car friendly."

I like Western's layout better, being a non driver. Western is a much prettier campus.
It gets a lot of criticism for parking being a long ways from buildings, but bike parking is right near the door..

The Whatcom campus looks like it is becoming a "juggernaut" for a
mini "Silicone Valley." So many firms in glass steel boxes. Light
manufacturing mixed with warehouse style retail. It reminded me of
last summer, biking through Mountainview, California, near San Jose.

One nice thing about Moutainview; it does have lots of bike lanes.
The sprawl has been "retrofitted," for calmer things like bikes.
Also retrofitting for earthquakes.

Codata Street, in Bellingham, was poorly planned with out bike
lanes. Seeds of sprawl, along with all that parking at WCC are
planted. Newer streets, out in that area, have bike lanes.
Retrofitting is happening here also.

"Is the cup half full or half empty?" Or, as some people say, "is it
overflowing?" "Out of control?" Anti growth advocates hate seeing things like Cordata mushroom.

When I was riding though northern California, my radio
practically danced off its handlebar mount with a jingle from this
firm called "Tap Plastics."

The jingle goes "Tap Tap ... Tap Plastics." And there is a full

It's just about cutting plastics to sizes for things like window
coverings. Does it deserve all this fanfare?

Now, Seattle stations ring with the jingle as a "Tap Plastics" has
landed in Bellvue. Will it someday come to Bellingham? Will it be
followed by "Crispy Cream Doughnuts?"

If it does, it would likely land in Cordata area.

Amazing how people's day to day purchases can shape the world.

Business tends to make big deals out of trivial items. That new sofa
cover, paint for the deck.

When I was growing up, in eastern Washington, the entire landscape
seemed covered with signs for "Tiny's." It was a business in
Cashmere, Washington." Little signs would just say,

"Tiny's, Cashmere, WA."

Fence posts had signs, houses had signs, phone poles, bumper

What was "Tiny's?"

When we finally went through Cashmere, my mom looked out the window.
With great disgust in her voice she said, "It's nothing but a big
overgrown fruit stand!"
It's about "making a living." "Getting that new sofa and sun deck."

See more of my Bellingham pictures here.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Saw this reader board in my neighborhood on Memorial Day. "God Bless Our Troops," also a list of car repair items (for God to bless?) That is "car culture" and part of the reason why our troops are in the Middle East.

See More signs here.