D103.com: Archive
This is an archived page of D103.com, a daily weblog by Daryl Lang.

From the C train to the shiny tower...

» I had a fun time last night at a concert by one of my favorite rock bands, Fountains of Wayne. When they performed "Radiation Vibe," they updated the original lyric, "He's just a dummy reading Playboy on your couch," to be "He's just a dummy reading Cargo on your couch."

» The New York edition of Metro, a free daily newspaper for commuters, debuted here Wednesday. It is a close cousin of amNewYork, the free tabloid Tribune launched last October. To compare the two competing papers, I picked up one of each on my way to work Thursday. While I prefer Metro's design, amNewYork has an edge in that it has ten more pages and is actually stapled together. While both papers have their merits, I think... Hell, this is such a tired topic that I can't muster any more words on it.

» I'm on my way to Maryland this morning. Choo-choo.

- Daryl

Lord of the flies

» I know some of you have been wondering, "Daryl, what is your opinion on the prisoner abuse in Iraq?" No? Well, if not, please skip today's entry and enjoy a classic entry from the Archive. (Sept. 7, 2003 was a good one.)

Still here? Okay, read on.

I'm fascinated by Private Lynndie England, a young soldier from a small town who somehow got mixed up in something horrible. I want to know all about this Abu Ghraib prison mystery. What really happened there? How could things go so wrong? While the story of prison abuse has a lot of political overtones, it's also a story about group behavior under stress. How else to explain it? Based on accounts in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, we don't even have an explanation for the goriest of these pictures, the ones of the mutilated corpses. Who took these pictures? What orders were given, and who gave them? It smells of a group hypnosis/cult behavior situation, where stress and the need to demonstrate authority trumped clear thinking. Either that or the photos are an exaggeration, a hoax, a mind trick used to fake out other prisoners. Doesn't seem likely.

For those who keep blaming the media for overblowing this story, or accusing the media of giving comfort to the enemy, I'm reminded of a slogan we learned in high school journalism class: If you don't want it in the paper, don't let it happen. This spring has been a turning point in the war. Those who unconditionally support everything about the war are starting to sound less like people with thoughtful opinions and more like those Fisher Price wheels that repeat the same random messages every time you pull the string. ("But- but- but- John Kerry took part in atrocities in Vietnam!!") It's a shame this debate has to happen during election season, because we deserve a real discussion about this war without concern for political affiliation. Yeah, right.

» Tonight: Fountains of Wayne at Roseland with Christel. Saturday and Sunday: In Maryland.

- Daryl

Suggestion box

» Possible new flavors of Sprite ReMix:

  • Ranch
  • Spearmint
  • Sundried tomato pesto
  • Maple
  • Pepper jack
  • Oceanfish 'n chicken
  • Super fudge chunk
  • Honey mustard
  • Hickory smoked
  • Peanut butter and banana
  • More?

» In the mood for something strange? Watch the new music video for "Walkie Talkie Man" by Steriogram.

- Daryl

Chopper 4 down

» Channel 4's helicopter crashed on a roof in Brooklyn yesterday during the 6 o'clock news. Everyone onboard survived, but it was a spectacular wreck, brilliantly captured by a competing station's news copter. I'm tempted to sneer about some May sweeps conspiracy, but instead I'll just point out that this is the fourth chopper WNBC has totaled, including a TV copter in 1998 and two radio traffic copters in 1986. (Will they be able to get insurance on another one?) TV helicopters are an over-used gimmick, and they're like giant dragonflies that buzz low over our city between 5 p.m. and 11:35 p.m. every day. Let me tell you, if one of them ever crash-lands on my roof, somebody's going to be getting an angry letter.

Sprite ReMix Berryclear » Soft drink review: Another year, another Sprite permutation. This summer's offering is Sprite ReMix Berryclear, described as "Sprite with berry flavor." I tried a bottle of it yesterday. Though painfully sweet, it's an improvement on last year's Sprite flavor, Tropical. It's less suntan lotion, more cotton candy. It's virtually identical to strawberry-flavored Mystic. I might buy this again. I'm still waiting to try C2 and Pepsi Edge, the low-carb colas that should be out this summer.

Also, in doing a quick Google search for Sprite ReMix, I was shocked to find out how many other blogs are posting soft drink reviews on a regular basis! Not that it's that original of an idea, but still! I've been doing this for a long time! Also, it's worth nothing that Pepsi Blue — a beverage so vile that I deemed it worthy of only a one-sentence review in 2002 — has been dropped.

» The practice of stealing WiFi Internet from your neighbors, which I've been doing off and on for months, has a name, announced in yesterday's New York Times: piggybacking.

- Daryl

Low gear

» My two favorite recreational activities are biking and hiking, both simple, traditional, low-cost pasttimes. Like so many activities, both are haunted by people who try to drain them of fun. There's a certain breed of cyclist and hiker that believes these activies are about gear. They establish rules on which kind of gear participants must have, then chide those who don't have it. When I hiked the Whites in New Hampshire, I ran into these sorts. "Where are your hiking poles?" they'd ask in shock, deeply concerned for my welfare. I'd politely mention that I prefer to hike without them, just me and my boots. "Are you here to bag [name of nearby mountain]?," they'd ask. No, I'm just here for a tranquil walk by the river. They didn't understand me, nor I them.

Same story with bicycling. When I was waiting in line for the bike ride Sunday, I was scolded by a gray-haired woman riding a million-dollar ultralight bike of solid Teflon, or something. She took a glance at my bike — its chrome basket festooned with American flags — and she sneered, "Well, you've got stuff." Clearly, I wasn't playing by her rules. Guess what: I don't care. I know how to ride, and I'll ride on my own terms: Safely, happily, and with whatever gear I like.

At the other extreme are the walkers and riders who simply don't give a damn. They litter on the trails. They wreck their bikes. They get lost and must be rescued. At best, these people are annoying. At worst, they're dangerous. Of 30,000 bike riders Sunday, two died during the ride (heart attacks) and 160 were hurt (cuts, scrapes, broken bones), according to the New York Post. Heart conditions aside, I think most of these wrecks could have been prevented by common-sense bicycle safety. Of course, I don't want to become a whiny biker-obsessive who scolds everybody else for failing to measure up to his standards, do I?

- Daryl

NYC bike ride photo
The Five Boro Bike Walk

» Photos of the bike ride: Click here.

I met up with my friends Kelly, Stacy, and Patrick yesterday for the Great New York Five Boro Bike Ride, a 42-mile jaunt around the city. Through every obstacle — endless lines, massive crowds, uncomfortable bike seats, hunger, fog, drenching rain, bright sun — we kept pedaling with our heads held high.

This is one strange bike ride. Because of the crowds, it moves agonizingly slow and can be dangerous. We saw several serious wipe-outs, at least one requiring ambulances. I'm sure most of us would rather do this kind of ride alone or in a small group than with 29,999 other riders. But here's the benefit: The city pulls out all the stops to make the ride work, closing down some of New York's most important roads and bridges for several hours to make way for the throngs of cyclists. We got to bike the FDR, the BQE, the Belt Parkway, and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, spiffy stretches of highway that are never open to bikes except during this ride. (From a bike, you can marvel at how big the holes in these roads really are!) The city ran extra ferries from Staten Island, where the ride ended, to accommodate all the bicycles and riders. Plus we got loads of free snacks; I smuggled two big bags of Terra chips home with me. I certainly enjoyed the times when we were actually cruising to the sounds of dozens of whizzing gears, tires on pavement, and the rushing of the wind.

- Daryl

Easy rider

» Today I'm a biker — Time to pull on the spandex. It's the annual Great Five Boro Bike Tour, 30,000 cyclists on a 42-mile road tour through (say them with me) Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. I'll post some photos here tomorrow, assuming I make it back alive.

» For reasons too complicated to get into, I had to wait for several hours yesterday for my friend Jeremy in a far-uptown neighborhood called Hudson Heights, an offshoot of Washington Heights. While waiting, I wandered through Fort Tryon park, home of the Cloisters Museum. A pretty day, and such a lovely park! Nice touch: I like the plaza near the subway station that has outdoor ping-pong tables.

- Daryl

"Portland, Oregon" - Loretta Lynn - 5.2.04
"Mad World" - Gary Jules - 5.6.04