Toxic Assets Dec03


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Toxic Assets

The best part about having an expensive hobby like cycling is that you never have to worry about what normal grownups call “investing” because you sink all of your money into plastic parts for your bicycle. Your portfolio is your quiver of bikes, and your broker is eBay. If you want to, you can diversify by buying both Campy and Shimano components, but the only payout you’ll ever see is a crumpled piece of paper taped to a box truck and a photo or two of you standing on milk crates of various heights taken in the dusk, after even the families of people that care have left the race. But when the economy goes to shit, it has almost zero impact on your life. Because who the fuck cares about mark to market accounting?!

But the worst part about maintaining an expensive hobby like cycling is that you never want to get rid of anything you purchase. There is never a good time to sell. It either has sentemental value, like the busted Rocky Mountain seatpost that took my virginity during a romantic 48 hour adventure race at Whistler. Or it has future value, like my 2004 limited edition Tickle Me Elmo Primal Wear Jersey, still with original tags and in Near Mint condition. None of these things are ever actually going to get used again. They’re just going to sit in my box labeled “parts” that may as well be labeled “Short Circuit 2 props” because the only person that’s ever going to make any of that shit work  is Steve Guttenburg and his sidekick, the racist Indian stereotype.

It isn’t just bike stuff either. That box sits next to another box of worthless electronic crap. Like my trusty Apple Newton, the first PDA with handwriting recognition. The original owner had erased then entire system dictionary and replaced it with only profanity, so anything you wrote would be recognized as some variation of “piss shit shit motherfucker fuck shit whore.” It was like buying an iPad that ran only the Tourette’s translation app. It took me weeks to figure out the problem, but I was too stubborn not to use it so I had a series of grocery lists that read like Bukowski’s poetry.

These are my toxic assets.

It’s worthless now, that Newton, because the average American consumer in 1991 recognized that replacing a pen and paper with a $1000 digital device  is a fucking ridiculous idea, unless that digital device can also magically pull pornography and videos of kittens from space.

Why am I bringing these up now? Well, because I haven’t bought any bike parts in ages so I have nothing to talk about. This is what people do when they run out of shit to talk about. They talk about the past, and how they were once in a band and climbed K2 without any oxygen and slept with 4 women at once and how they used to be a pretty good racer. And they they pull out their boxes of faded pictures and broken bike parts and electronics and they stare at them wistfully.

Well, I’ve never accomplished shit. But I had an Apple Newton once, GODDAMMIT, and that makes me someone.

Mostly I’m bringing this up because I just read this great price from the NYT Sunday Magazine about storage units. And by “just read” I mean last year. But I just thought about it today, because my brain processes things 1 year late. And then I listened to the Planet Money story about Toxic Assets, which was really fantastic. So you should read or listen to both.

Storage Units

Toxic Assets

Here here is a video of kitten attacking its own reflection: