15 January 2017

A Quick Ride, The Race And A Race To The Bottom

Today I had breakfast with my mother and a friend of hers who's of a generation that didn't, and still doesn't, do brunch.  Later, I went to see La-La Land (nothing deep, but not bad)and went out to dinner with my mother and father.

In between breakfast and the movie, I squeezed in a bike ride. I just made enough turns to ride in circles (and sometimes squares and triangles and other geometric figures) that brought me back to where I started.  

Along the way, I visited an old friend:

Well, OK, I first encountered "The Race" two years ago.  Its creator, Wes Cackler, actually seemed to understand cycling.  Perhaps he is a cyclist?

Unfortunately, nobody in the city or county seems to understand that pubilc sculptures require maintenance as much as buildings or other structures do.  Well, to be precise, while there was grant money (apparently from outside sources) for the sculpture, no money was budgeted for its upkeep.  To be fair, the city's and county's arts budget is all but non-existent.

Enough about politics and philistinism.  The ride was pleasant, with early afternoon weather much like yesterday's.  I did something, however, that I regret--at least a little:  I stopped at "Wally World".

It was the same branch of Walmart in which I bought a tire and two tubes during a visit here a few years ago because I flatted, it was Easter Sunday and no place else was open.  Today, I had no such excuse.

You see, we don't have a Walmart anywhere in New York City and, to my knowledge, the nearest one is at least 100 km away.  The only department stores in the Big Apple that rival Wally's in size are those of Macy's.  But Macy's, shall we say, caters to a different clientele, and doesn't offer building tools and supplies or sporting goods, among other things.  And the other department stores, such as Kohl's or Target, can fit into one or two floors of Macy's.

The day I bought the tire and tubes, I took a quick glance at what was offered in the bicycle section and was neither pleased nor surprised.  Today, I wasn't looking for anything bike-related, but I decided to check out their bike section anyway.  

Now, it was sad enough to see brands I once respected, such as Schwinn, Mongoose, affixed to bikes that were, frankly, junk.  And it was rather disheartening to see Bell--the creators of the first bike helmet that offered both protection and performance--on generic bike parts and accessories to make them seem, well, less generic, as well as useless plastic "baskets" for the handlebars of toddlers' trikes.

Today, though, one of the mighty really had fallen, at least in my estimation.  A company that has a long history in cycling, and whose products I've used for almost the entire time I've been a serious cyclist, are now embossed on emissions from Chinese factories:

I can't believe the company that made the first really good frame pump for clincher tires--as well as other fine accessories--in France, for decades, is now on the shelves of stores owned by a company that has done more than most to enable child labor and other kinds of worker exploitation in developing countries.

I doubt that Walmart has ever sold anything made in France (except perhaps for some cheese) or any other European country, or the British Isles.  I don't think much, or perhaps anything, at all the store sells today was produced in Japan.  None of that, however, is as galling as the fact that the company continues to label merchandise "Made in USA" when, in fact, it is made in China  or other low-wage companies, or is made from components manufactured in those countries and assembled or merely finished in the 'States.

Zefal products, made in China, on Walmart shelves:  How the mighty have fallen!


  1. should those be labeled "Assembled in the USA" instead of "Made in the USA"

  2. Another trick is to have products made or assembled on the island of Guam by chinese wage slaves. Since Guam is a US territory it is then legal to claim it to be "made in USA".

  3. Anon--I agree.

    Phillip--I'm not surprised. About twenty years ago, some US manufacturers were making items in Puerto Rico, with wage slaves imported from Haiti and other places as well as poor Puerto Ricans, and calling them "Made In USA". I guess Guam is the new Puerto Rico. (Both, by the way, were booty from this country's 1898 lynching of Spain.)