Monday, June 2, 2008

E.B.G.=Eccentric Bike Gang

It is 1:17 in the morning after a long Sunday of activities. Where did I just come from you ask? I successfully rode my bike home all the way from the Planetarium! Why was I at the Planetarium? Just acting as part of a bike gang for a student film. Pretty much how I conclude every weekend.

Honestly, after quitting Bike the Drive after only doing 10 of the 30 miles a few weeks ago, I thought my biking career had ended and Caliente, my 15-year-old rusting Schwinn would have to retire.

My knees hurt so badly that instead of completing the south route with my mom (who hadn't ridden a bicycle in 30 years) and her friend, Rob, I stood front and center for American English's (a Beatles cover band) entire two-hour set. By myself. And I have a nasty one-shoulder sunburn to prove it. It was the closest I'll ever get to seeing the actual Beatles, so I sang my heart out to every word and even went a little dance-crazy when they performed "Twist and Shout"

BTD '08 Photos
BTD '07 Photos

So, as I stated, I thought I would never be able to bike again. Instead I agreed to being part of a bad-ass bike gang named the Argonauts (based off some Vonnegut novel...a writer I've embarrassingly never read before) for a Depaul student film. Our first shoot was last Wednesday night and we shot underneath Lake Shore Drive just south of Navy Pier.
Unplanned fireworks burst into the sky over Lake Michigan and we all pedaled our bikes down the pier, whooping with excitement like a bunch of caffeinated ten-year-olds. "This is kind of magical," I said to one of my gang members, who I had previously been talking to about yoga and hair salons (obviously we're very gang-like). Who knew one could access such view-friendly locales during after-hours. I sure didn't.

I thought biking to Navy Pier from Ukranian Village Wednesday night was quite a feat, but tonight takes the cake--University Village to Navy Pier to Planetarium to Wicker Park.
During tonight's shoot as we slowly made our way down the lakeside path, Kalyn told anyone we passed, "We're an eccentric bike gang." I thought it was hilarious and eventually deemed ourselves no longer the Argonauts, but the E.B.G. She got a few great reactions from people; one man even broke into giggles.
Here's something I learned being an extra. The director doesn't actually have any idea how long a shoot will last, so any time given is irrelevant. Lying on the concrete with the Field Museum in front, the Shedd Aquarium to the left, the lake behind and the Big Dipper above, I decided to chill out and not worry about time (Does anybody really know what time it is/Does anybody really care/About time..."). Police on bikes were arresting three men just a few feet away from us. I'm still not sure why.

When we finally made it to the Planetarium beach to film the conclusion of the feuding gang race, we made it just in time to get kicked off the beach by a slow-moving cop car who announced through a megaphone that the beach was closed for the night. None of us had eaten, and we all retreated onto the museum boulevard, pining after our promised sandwiches and PBRs. Chessa held us over by generously dispensing slices of her homemade sandwiches, though, which I devoured like I hadn't eaten in weeks.

I rode home with Shelly, Kalyn, and Angelia, dreaming about and salivating at the thought of downing a fountain Coke. I know, I know, a normal person would dream of h2o, but not this gangster. Usually I quench my thirst with chocolate milk or cranberry juice, but every now and then a fountain Coke really hits the spot. Something about the carbonation. Realizing that nothing nothing stays open past 10 in this damn city, Shelly and I in unison brainstormed: WENDY'S!
Kayln, a few bike lengths ahead of us, stopped at a red light alongside 3 motorcyclists. As Shelly and Angelia pulled up alongside her, she delivered her, "We're an eccentric bike gang" line and I vowed (yet again) to never leave home without a camera. Could there be more hilarious of a site than seeing 3 meatheads with no sense of humor waiting to peel away from 3 corresponding crazies claiming to be in a vintage Schwinn gang?
A few blocks further on our adventure to hipsterville the air grew much warmer away from the lakefront, and I took off my jacket and my dad's button down plaid long-sleeved shirt (hot, i know) and tied them both around my waist. "Your shirt fell off," a guy with his friend outside a bar called out to me. At first I thought they were saying something derogatory until i looked down and realized my hoodie had in fact fallen onto Grand Avenue back about fifty yards. Oops. I planted my bike on its kickstand and shuffled over to pick up my discarded clothes. "Thanks!" I said to the man as I walked back, embarrassed.

At Wendy's we dutifully waited in line behind a car in the drive-thru. When we approached the order here speaker, we said what we wanted, but instead of the voice thanking us and instructing us to proceed to the first window, he said, "Are you on bikes?" Yeah, so? "You have to be in a car, we can't serve you." The adolescent angst crept up from my junior high storage unit as I defiantly complained about bike-prejudiced people. Logical solution: Call Chessa to come drive us through the drive-thru. She jumped at the chance to be part of the prank and showed up a few minutes later in her station wagon. As we waited for her we discussed opening a healthy fast food joint that would only serve cyclists and that would turn away anyone in a vehicle. When Chessa arrived, one by one we rode alongside her open passenger window and shouted our orders through the two windows into the speaker. The man accused us of already trying to order, but Chessa insisted she had just gotten there and we were all her roommates. At last! We finally got our french fries and fountain Cokes. We had to split the fries, though, because they forgot to give us one. At that point I didn't care anymore. I rode the rest of the way by myself down Milwaukee with my insanely biggie Coke, every now and then throwing a fry into my mouth.

My two-year gig as a driver ends in August, and I'm already worried about not having the funds to ever own/fuel a vehicle again once I have to hand over the keys to "my" beloved Volvo. But I have to say, after tonight, I'm pretty psyched about reintroducing Caliente into my daily routine.

[Ordinarily I have Sundays and Mondays off, but I worked today and was asked yesterday if I could work I should probably get to sleep so that I can safely transport the kid to school in five hours. Maybe I'll tell him to ride his bike there...]

This post is outdated now, but where one door closes another opens...I, believe it or not, didn't take any pictures during the filming, but the talented Francesca (Chessa) Gagliano just posted Polaroids she took. So I'll just pretend that that's why it took so long to press "Publish Post." Enjoy.