Please note: There are lots of pictures in this post. Most are clickable for larger versions.
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There is a Summer tradition that takes place near my house. It is called "Cruise Night", and it happens in Wortley Village on Wortley Road, just south of the bad pavement I photographed recently. Paradoxically, there is no "Cruising" involved, just the closing of a couple of blocks of the street and the parking of a whole bunch of beautiful classic cars, and God help you if you try to "Cruise" through on your bike. More on that later.
I love cars, especially classic cars. I have a real soft spot for old T-Birds in particular, like this '62 and '63 pair of beauties I saw at last night's Cruise Night:
Or this RED 1965 Thunderbird Convertible:
There were lots of other cool cars, including this 1947 taxi and an old Plymouth Satellite. We had a '73 or so Plymouth Satellite station wagon when I was a kid. It had a rear-facing bench seat at the back that allowed me and my brothers to do all kinds of fun stuff to the cars behind us... but enough about that.
Like I said, I love cars like these. But man oh man, do I hate Cruise Night. Going through last night to take these pictures was the first time I had passed through in two years. Let me tell you why.
Firstly, it closes my most direct route home after work. I am often tired after work, and I don't like having to detour around this thing so close to getting home. Secondly, Cruise Night occurs EVERY Tuesday of the summer. If this was a twice a summer or even a once a month thing, I would be a lot less cranky. But every damn week? My guess is that most locals have seen 90% of the cars after attending just one cruise night. I know people enjoy getting together with their cars, but if you want to do it EVERY week, why not find a field or a parking lot instead of closing my street? I have been told that the Cruise Night organizers have to pay the City to close the street like that. I don't know if that's true or not. If it is true, I have a beef with the City for allowing these dudes to be such persistent and regular street closers. I think I'll find out where Cruise Night's head organizer lives and pay my fees to close the street that goes to his house every Wednesday night of the summer for my "Groovy Bicycle Show"! I wonder how he would like it?
Last, but certainly not least, I had a run-in with the organizers two years ago. Because conflict is not my bag, I just go around Cruise Night now, muttering the whole way. Two summers ago, though, I was stopped at the barriers closing off the street and asked to dismount from my bicycle. I complied, walked a few steps, and seeing that there weren't any pedestrians to endanger, I got back on and very slowly started riding through. Now, the Cruise Night organizers always have a nice loud PA system set up so that various local bands can play fifties and other music at the event. That's cool with me. I am an amateur musician who gigs a few times a year myself. I'm all for people getting out, playing some tunes and having a good time. When that same PA system is used to yell at me in front of everyone on the block, I get a little pissed.
Here is how this little play went down:
Mr. Microphone (over loudspeakers): "You on the bike with the black helmet. Get off your bicycle. There is no riding allowed among the cars."
Rantwick, nowhere near any of the cars or any people, scowls, dismounts, walks his bicycle to the sidewalk and remounts. He resumes riding, very slowly.
Mr. Microphone (over loudspeakers): "It is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk, stop riding the bike".
Rantwick stops and looks over his shoulder at Mr. Microphone.
Rantwick (yelling, voice cracking like an adolescent boy's): YOU stop closing my street every week!
Rantwick resumes riding very slowly.
Mr. Microphone (over loudspeakers): I guess some people just think the law doesn't apply to them!
Rantwick rides slowly away, red-faced and muttering profanities. Fade to black mood that lasts for two years.
I was a 38 year old man riding his bike slowly and carefully through an event that wasn't really underway yet. Only about half of the cars had arrived, and there were very few people at that point. I should have gone back to Mr. Microphone and asked him who the hell he thought he was, power tripping and playing John Law with his sound system, and publicly "shaming" me in the process. Instead, I just rode away. My best guess is that Mr. Microphone never had the "Mr. Microphone" as a young man, and as a result never managed to use his convertible to its full potential.
This "amplification void" was left unfilled until this poor fellow became the grand poohbah of Cruise Night. Sadly, the mic came too late, for he was already too cranky and bitter to use it for good stuff like getting some action, and resorted to taking his frustrations out on me instead.
Of course, if I could have a do-over, I would have just walked my bike through as requested. It was late in the summer, and I was sick of going around this thing every week, and I suppose I was kind of asking for it. My beef is not really with the cruise night "no bike" rules - it is with whoever that jackass on the mic was. It makes me want to show up with a bullhorn to even up the score a little. I might want to opine loudly about what I think of people closing my street every week, complete with barricades and sentries and self-appointed legal authorities. You know what that sounds like to me? Occupation! Cruise Night "takes the village" on a weekly basis!
I never remember about Cruise Night until I see the barricades and sentries. All I can do is detour around it, muttering, "you know that Cruise Night Takes A Village, Idiot! You should have remembered and gone a different way!" Ah well, time heals all wounds. This stuff won't bother me a bit when I'm dead.
Remember, grudges are like toads, so don't hold 'em for very long!