The Deer Hunter (1978)

Michael Cimino has just died.

So I will reblog my review of The Deer Hunter. I have seen Heaven’s Gate (it’s as bad as the critics say). I have not seen his other films.

The Deer Hunter is a flawed masterpiece. It’s racist, reactionary, overly long, but in the end it’s a great work of art. It’s worth seeing, if only to get an idea of how the American invasion and occupation of Vietnam ultimately destroyed America.

Giant Escape City (2015): First Impressions

This is the now most viewed post on my blog, surpassing my post On Being a Failed Writer (which got “Freshly Pressed” on the WordPress front page), my use of the John List murders to frame my review of The Omen (which got linked by the biggest newspaper in New Jersey) and my review of Saturday Night Fever (which was one of the first things I wrote for this blog, way back when it was called “Pair of Outsiders,” and which consistently gets hits on Google).

I suppose what it proves is that the Internet is still a practical place. The Giant Escape City is a useful, cheap hybrid with a good drive train and an already installed rack. You can find it on the Giant Bikes website, but there aren’t many reviews. In fact, it’s difficult to find a good review of almost any bike that costs under $2000 dollars. Cycling magazines tend to prefer the exotic, custom titanium bikes with breakaway frames, $10,000 dollar carbon road bikes that weight less than my foot (I was going to say “less than my dick” but carbon fiber engineering still hasn’t gotten to that advanced state), touring bikes from obscure, earthy crunchy hippie manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest. A good cheap, Taiwanese hybrid? Forget about it.

Local bike stores are often high-end local bike stores, at least in New Jersey. I suppose it’s different in Seattle or NYC. Trying to buy a good $1000 dollar road bike or a decent $1200 dollar touring bike is a bit like walking into your local Ferrari dealer and trying to buy a Honda. Part of the reason I bought the Giant Escape City was that it already had the rack. That doesn’t sound like much, but add the cost of labor to the cost of buying a third party rack and you’re looking at spending about another $100 dollars. What’s more, bike mechanics hate little jobs like that. People who ride touring bicycles often tend to be bike mechanics, and usually just order a rack from the Internet and install it themselves. Getting a Topeak Explorer rack put on my late, totaled Raleigh Clubman (I survived a catastrophic crash. it did not.) took what seemed to be forever. It was a great deal at REI back in 2011. The rack ate up all the savings.

On the whole, the Giant Escape City has served me well. I broke one of the fenders changing a tire and decided just to take the other one off. The gearing can be complex and the chain used to slip a bit before I got the most recent tuneup. But if you want a hybrid with a rack, touring bike gearing, and nice clean looks, I’d recommend it over something like a Trek FX. In any event, I’m planning to do a lot of long distance riding over the Summer and will report back extensively.

Reading the Landscape: 46


Riding through Watchung Reservation in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, I come upon the Deserted Village of Feltville.


I park my bike to have a look around.


The Deserted Village of Feltville is in some ways the model for all American suburbia. An employer builds housing for his workers.

David Felt, a businessman in Boston, Massachusetts, decided to move to New York City in 1825. By 1844, the production of his mill could not grow fast enough to meet the demands of the merchants he supplied, so Felt began to look for land in New Jersey on which to build a second factory. Eventually he bought land from the descendants of Peter Willcox, and in two years, he had built a mill on Blue Brook, two dams for the mill, and a town for the workers in the mill. He named this new town “Feltville”. Within the little town, Felt gained the nickname of “King David”, for he required the residents to attend services in the churchhouse and their children to attend classes in a one-room schoolhouse.

The nearby towns of Basking Ridge and Berkeley Heights started out in fact as corporate villages for the gigantic Bell Labs complex in Basking Ridge. Feltville is now part of the Watching Reservation and the Union County Park system (one of the few things New Jersey has ever done right.


What to do if you find Yogi and Boo Boo trying to steal your picnic baskets. I occasionally see black bears in Watching Reservation but never manage to get close enough to take a photograph (not really a good idea anyway).


Don’t selfie-shame me bro.