Hypocrites on Wheels | Letters | Chicago Reader

Hypocrites on Wheels 

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To the editor:

May I offer a few thoughts inspired by John Greenfield's profile of bike messenger-turned-author Travis Hugh Culley [March 30]? I haven't read his book yet, but I can already tell the guy is a budding literary genius, maybe the next Jim Thompson. Consider, for example, the chilling economy with which Culley, using the passive voice to startling effect, evokes the solipsistic interior world of the true sociopath: "We [messengers]...can penetrate a crowd like it was a puff of smoke. There is no fear."

Mr. Culley: for your information, there is fear. You know those unhip, ungroovy, slow-moving bipeds, crowds of which you "penetrate like smoke" on your bicycle? They feel fear. Not that I'd expect a two-wheeled "rock star" like yourself to give a toss.

Second point: can journalist Greenfield clarify how he reckons Culley and his "Immortal Class" to stand in opposition to capitalism? Are we talking about the same bike messengers here? I mean, the ones who carry documents and contracts and other such corporate folderol from one downtown office tower to another, right? When-where-how exactly does this activity transcend the filthy-dirty-poopy cash nexus? Is it those nifty little fingerless gloves that make the difference? The fancy sci-fi sunglasses?

The funny thing about this article is that prior to reading it, I was inclined to partially exonerate scary bike messengers as individuals, apportioning at least some of the blame for their behavior to the rules of the rat race. Now, however, I have learned that their aggressive riding practices are less a matter of economics, more the reflection of a grotesque subculture of narcissism and self-delusion.

Cliff Doerksen


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