Mr Black’s Black Friday Bike Ride thru Irvine (while listening to Paint it Black)


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As I instigated the whole Black Friday movement (by selling speakers from Black Acoustics’ corporate factory at steal-of-a-deal prices on the day after Thanksgiving in 1981), the day has always held a special place in my heart.

But, is it possible to over-do a good thing? Do we really need EIGHT weeks of days like Black Friday (depending on the reseller) divided between pre-TG and post-TG? Does the term even retain any meaning at this point? Or has it just become another ambiguous word to blur reality and fog the minds of consumers?

Are corporations becoming even more cynical anti-family forces overtaking our uniquely American way of life?  Isn’t Thanksgiving still supposed to be about family sharing a meal while the texters and sexters are silenced for a few hours? Or do we just stuff our face as quickly as possible, so that we aren’t late getting in line at J(esus).C(hrist). Penny opening by 3 PM (ON Thanksgiving!) or Wal·Mart, which opens late to the party at 5 PM. At least Target, Macy’s and some others have the decency to wait until 6 PM. Of course, they remain open all night, with the “doorbuster” prices only valid until midday Friday. Like any of those items (no rain checks) would be available at that time, anyway. Of course, online Black Friday is virtually endless and, like rust, it never sleeps.

Well, none of this boorish behaviour entered the threshold of our traditional family affair. We enjoyed a long afternoon relating to each other with ribald conversation and leisurely sipping libations while sporadically munching on pre-meal delicacies before slowly ingesting the feast featuring the culinary contributions from all guests. And superb red wine. A real family effort.

My friend and I stayed past 10:30 PM, usually a safe time to traverse the freeways of LA (or OC). Not on Thanksgiving. Not any more. Although we avoided the 405, with no less than (8) malls between my sister’s home and my place, we still got stuck in stop-and-go traffic near shopping Meccas on either side of LA, utilizing the 101 and 5. Jesus, what the F are all these people buying? The 60-mile trip to north OC took 1.5 hours. Jeesh. I was numb by the time I finally retired around 2 AM.

After a slow start in the late morning (couldn’t have been caused by red wine…could it?) I began BF with my normal routine and did some reading, previously delayed by the incursions of normal life in a time-rapacious culture. Despite being perfectly comfortable on the futon in couch mode, I was compelled to get out of my man cave to see what all the frenzy was about (the Thursday LA Times was mere wrapping paper used to deliver the package of 7-plus pounds of advertisements). I think I saw an ad that said I could purchase an entire kitchen for under $3. I could have misconstrued the small print, though. Red wine…

Even though it was freezing (LA area term for ANY temp 60 degrees or lower), I put on an undergarment, took out my full-sized cycling gloves and went riding to the mall through fall colors in the brisk 59-degree air via the wonderful San Juan Creek bikeway through the center of Irvine. After pedaling a couple of miles at moderate speeds, I was warm as toast. The highly oxygenated air with billowing clouds made for a very enjoyable riding experience (though, as the mileage accrued, I had an ever-increasing burning sensation at the contact point of my flesh and the severely sleek seat). I guess that my only ride complaint is that my taint ain’t as tough as it used to be when I was riding centuries in the nineties.

bike on crowd

As I neared the north edge of south county, I came across two babes in burkas pushing babies in strollers (on the correct side of the path, to my astonishment). As I approached, I conjured the spirit of Dikembe Mutombo’s finger-waving schtick for GEICO and used it in the faces of the mothers while I verbally admonished them with a stern quip, “No baby racing after 5 PM.” They stopped in chagrined silence for a moment before breaking out in  boisterous (for them) audible laughter. I could even see their eyes dance from within the cloth portals of their headwear. Who says Muslims aren’t a fun bunch?

At that point, I had actually passed the specter of The Spectrum, all aglow with the holiday spirit (including Spectre on the IMAX screen). However, it was clearly still visible from the south (and all directions, for that matter). Kind of like money-sucking Disneyland for shoppers and eaters. So, drawn by the lights of the garish spectacle, I turned around and headed over to the re-vamped center of Irvine.

While momentarily hesitating at a red light, I observed two cars angling ACROSS lanes, filled with young men from countries covered in sand where the women can’t vote. The irony of the profiteers of petrol dollars wasting petrol dollars while mindlessly circling the vast parking lots like toothless sharks in search of empty parking spots that didn’t exist was too laugh-out-loud funny, almost causing me to crash while diagonally crossing crosswalks impaled by motionless autos paying no attention to the traffic lights as their colors were moot.

While approaching one such crosswalk covered in pedestrians, I noticed a 6-foot (or more) cute blond geek of a young woman (who might have been me in my twenties had I been Caitlyn Jenner re-gendered). She hesitated, seeing me briskly approaching, so I slowed, allowing her to proceed while uttering, “Tall girls always go first.” She burst out laughing while the others, less endowed, grimly carried their sacks of sale-priced booty toward their autos, giving the circling exhaust spewers hope of actually parking their vehicles.

Just a short distance later, still in the shadow of the colorfully lit Ferris wheel, at the next crosswalk, a young Hispanic girl was scowling, looking straight down at the pavement while entering the road. She must not have gotten to the mall in time to bust some store’s door. “Don’t look both ways before entering a street, as suicide by parking lot mishap is all the rage…at least I hear it is…in Paris.” (Too soon?) She gave me a dirty look. Black Friday, indeed. Not being Asian, at least she was not glued to a small black mass of plastic with never-ending pictures, words, and emojis covering its clear face. Still, how safe can it be to stare straight down while crossing a street? She was lucky it wasn’t Black OUT Friday.

Having covered the perimeter of the entire outdoor mall, I concluded that my white friends, living in the exalted, gated communities of the highlands, were all wet about cultural demographics. Out of the tens of thousands of celebrants covering The Spectrum, way more than 32 of them were Caucasian. I figure, it being Irvine, in Orange County, most of the rest were all just there via visas enjoying the feeling of home while perusing the bizarre bazaar. However, I hoped our government is alerting the millions of Syrians arriving on our shores every day by 3-masted Tall Ships (according to Fox News), to the sorry fact that, even after a year of noisy, intrusive construction, including MANY new multi-level parking structures built by developers with dreams of multi-cultural growth, The Spectrum still can’t offer any of them a parking space on Black Friday. This information may influence them to alter their plans for a new life in America.

Speaking of the Middle East in the middle of Irvine, on my return ride down the creek path, I spied a threesome of bodies in the distance, covering the entire width of the bikeway. As I neared, noticing a wide-brimmed hat on the man in the middle, covering what looked like braids, I remembered seeing that get-up on the multitudes walking the sidewalks of West LA at sunset on Fridays. Fearing an international incident and the scorn of the Anti-Defamation League, I shouted, “Look out everybody, there is a giant fat guy rapidly approaching on a bike, we might all be killed.” The middleman turned, laughing so hard, his twirling locks almost poked out his eyes and the sea of men parted like I was Moses with a long walking stick. Eat out your dead, cold heart, Charlton Heston. I figure saying what I said was better than uttering some slur against The Tribe, which I normally reserve for the Orthodox in NY and Israel, as well as the perps on Wall Street, the heads of pro sports leagues, agents and rock star killers, not to mention the neocons near our nation’s capitol. Besides, it was the day after Thanksgiving, cut ‘em some slack, for chrissakes.

After arriving home safely, I realized that Irvine had become a much nicer version of the Middle East than the actual Middle East, which would be much better off if Peter Jackson shipped the entire place to Middle Earth. I felt the weight of the world lifted from my shoulders and wondered if maybe the optimistic believers from MoveOn.org were right after all…

…Yeah, right. Enough of their crap. Back to football, crass consumerism and celebrating the true meaning of the Holidays: Honoring military “heroes” who blow up shit.

T R Black

Copyright 2015


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