Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me ... You missed my paean to St. Patrick !


Some of us may know satirist/author Patrick J. "P. J." O'Rourke from his stint as a panelist on NPR's weekend
show Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me. The geezers among us, or in my own case within us, may associate his name
with the glory years of National Lampoon. O'Rourke is said to be "the most quoted  living man in The Penguin
Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations".

He also appears to be the go-to guy when it comes to hiring somebody to write anti-bicycle satirical rants, for example

Dear Urban Cyclists: Go Play in Traffic Wall Street Journal, April 2011

"From Dublin to Bogotá, bicycles are taking over city streets. What's next, lanes for hopscotch and pogo sticks?"

Bike lanes violate a fundamental principle of democracy. We, the majority who do not ride bicycles, are being forced
to sacrifice our left turns, parking places and chances to squeeze by delivery trucks so that an affluent elite can feel
good about itself for getting wet, cold, tired and run-over. Our tax dollars are being used to subsidize our annoyance.

And an Examination of the Actions Necessary to License, Regulate,or Abolish Entirely This Dreadful Peril on our Roads

"What are we to make of an adult in a suit and tie pedaling his way to work? Are we to assume he still delivers newspapers
for a living? If not, do we want a doctor, lawyer, or business executive who plays with toys? St. Paul, in his First Epistle to
the Corinthians, 13:11, said, "When I became a man, I put away childish things." He did not say, "When I became a man,
I put away childish things and got more elaborate and expensive childish things."

His essay originally appeared in "Car and Driver" magazine (1984) and was included in "Republican Party Reptile" (1987).

Bicycles: the new conservative enemy      Maclean's magazine, July 2013
The rise of bike-sharing programs has created an unlikely new target in the culture wars.

In the 1980s, the conservative humorist P.J. O'Rourke wrote "A Cool and Logical Analysis of the Bicycle Menace." He was
joking. In 2013, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz said, "the bike lobby is an all-powerful
enterprise" and the presence of a bike-sharing program in New York was an example of "the totalitarians running the
government of this city." She wasn't joking. Rabinowitz's widely discussed appearance on a Wall Street Journal video,
which was picked up by many news outlets and The Daily Show ("Slow down, lady, they're just bikes!" Jon Stewart
exclaimed), did more than draw attention to complaints about the effectivness of the Citibike program. It made people
aware of just how hostile some conservative commentators are to bikes.

And harkening back to National Lampoon:

Conservatives' new enemy: Bikes    Boston Globe, December 2013
The bicycle is emerging as a new conservative front in the culture wars.

Even before Toronto Mayor Rob Ford became internationally famous for being videotaped smoking crack, he was known as a
City Hall version of Bluto Blutarsky of "Animal House". [...] His boorishness is so conspicuous and well documented that it raises
the question: Who elected this guy? And why? The answer, in large part, comes down to transit. Ford is famously pro-car, and
his strongest support came from suburbs outside downtown Toronto, where voters drive into the city during the day and return
by car in the evening.


 

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