Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cruise Night: It Takes A Village, Idiot!

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:

I like '56 and '57 T-Birds best of all, but I didn't see any last night. I did, however, see an awesome GTO. Check out the hood tach! I thought that was very, very cool.

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!


P.S. - It's a good thing very few Londoners read this blog. If Wortley Villlagers (or at least their business and community associations) did, they would probably try to piece together who I am and run me out of Old South for being a traitor to their quaint and kitschy ways and not loving every little thing about the precious Village. If you hate Cruise Night too, please, PLEASE leave me a comment! Anonymous will do fine! If you are a Cruise Night booster and this post has angered you, I welcome your comments too.


Keri said...

Think of it this way, they gave you the inspiration to write some really funny stuff. Great post!

There is a similar event once a week in Casselberry (FL), but they occupy a parking lot. The blocking of a street around here would not be tolerated once a week... even for car culture.

Near as I can tell, the event is a social club meeting of the car owners more than a public showcase. The old cars are fun to look at - drivable art. I doubt anyone is going to look admirably upon most of the vehicles we've built in the last 30 years.

AndrewP said...

They must be having this weekly occurance on your street because it has smooth pavement .... ;)

Just sayin' ..... :)

RANTWICK said...

Cute Andrew. It's not that smooth.

Wortley Village is a great place to hang out, perfect for an outdoor social gathering. There are shops and restaurants, ice cream places and a bar with a patio nearby. It would be a lot more fun than the parking lots Cruise Nights happen in on other nights of the week, just not for me and possibly the local residents.

I don't know what local business think of it or whether it generates above normal sales for them... the organizers sell a lot of hot dogs and hamburgers, but I don't know about the stores, etc.

nick said...

Man, every week is pretty excessive.

I would also like to officially state that I'm 100% in favor of rear-facing bench seats.

Dogfart said...

Village Idiot!

Love the post, why these crackers have to close a street off during peak times of transit in a city that gets pissy about 10 minute traffic jams is beyond my dogbrain.

I like the occupation pictures paticularily.

Great Rant Rantwick


RANTWICK said...

Nick - yeah, we used to "fly" little whirly things made of cardboard on fishing line out the back window. Sigh... those were the days.

DF - Welcome back! Yep, I find the willingness to close the street and cause further delays in these days of summer construction in Old South puzzling too.

cafiend said...

Car folk frequently look with amused contempt on pencil-necked geeks on bicycles. Since cyclists are in the minority we make a fine target for slurs and jibes majorities can no longer level at other minorities. We're fair game.

Standing up for ourselves we run the risk of looking a bit silly and ineffectual. Criticizing their good time we look like killjoys.

It's a strange twist on bullying.

Steve A said...

That's what you get for hanging out with low class Detroit Iron. I'll have you know that I rode my bike to my Jaguar Club Concours and nobody picked on me at all. And, for the record, I like having such events on grass.

Matter of fact, after I pinned my "judge" ribbon on, they were positively kissy kissy.

Food vendors do well at such events. Furniture stores would rather such events go elsewhere.

Rollz said...

You could always take Ridout. No wait that has been closed since the 1980's.

RANTWICK said...

Rollz - If I could just remember ahead of time, I would take Ridout in a heartbeat.

I like the bike path that spits me out on York at Wortley, an by then its too late.

Doohickie said...
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Doohickie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doohickie said...

You must be ticked; you didn't even close the post with "Yer Pal, RANTWICK".

Since cyclists are in the minority we make a fine target for slurs and jibes majorities can no longer level at other minorities. We're fair game.

Nothing to do with being in the minority. They're just jealous, and don't you forget it!

RANTWICK said...

Doohickie - I think this particular episode had very little to do with bikes OR cars or cyclists and drivers. It was just one kind of fed up dude (me) and another fed up dude who happened to have a microphone.

As for being ticked 1) I don't use "Yer Pal" every time and 2) writing that post has left me in a state of peace regarding Cruise Night. I probably won't even mutter next time!

PM Summer said...

Love those T-Birds... and the one-act play.

As for the weather, your wish is my command.

RANTWICK said...

Thanks PM - on both scores.

Rollz said...

It's the next day after reading your post and I am still cracking up over the occupied territories. I will never be able to go to the village again without laughing.

Bike Lemming said...

Probably the only time in his life he'll tell you it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk... :)

RANTWICK said...

Lemming - you got that right. That was part of what made me so mad...

Anonymous said...

Loved this post! This is my first summer living in the village, and I actually live BETWEEN the barricades and sentries!

You think taking a bike down Wortley Road is hard, try driving home once the festivities have started. I have finally written on my calendar to stay home on Tuesdays to avoid the glares and having to get out of the car to move the barricades myself!

RANTWICK said...

Anon 4:53 - Thanks so much for commenting; I knew I couldn't be all alone...

Anonymous said...

I HATE CRUISE NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Could they not find a parking lot to hold that event? How about Wortley Road PS or St. Martins?

Anonymous said...

You need a Hot Air Ballon to get from your house to your destinaton...

man that looks like a hassle

RANTWICK said...

Fritz - I'm saving Hot Air Balloon commuting for my retirement. Thanks for reading!

Todd S. said...

This is late, but you directed me here :)

Anyway, you should continue riding through the event. Riding on the sidewalk may be illegal, but they can't make riding on the road illegal just because some cars are parked there. Can they?

RANTWICK said...

They do have permission to close the road to traffic with barricades, denying all cars (and other vehicles including me), so that people can walk freely on the street.

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