Bicycle Twits 

I’m losing followers as fast as I’m gaining them.

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I’ve been using Twitter for several weeks now and am up to 81 followers. Besides reaffirming that I’m a Twitter nobody (Shaq picked up about 50,000 followers in the past 10 days), that’s weird. I’m losing followers as fast as I’m gaining them. I kind of figured that would happen since some of those early people following me lived in Sweden, Canada and England. It was just odd that they would even pretend to care about the goings on here in Salt Lake City. Maybe they dropped me because I never followed them back. Babies.

I don’t mean to take up lots of space and time with this Twitter stuff, but I admit there’s a certain fascination about it. Writing in just 140 characters is a fine way to communicate, I think, and limiting speech has its advantages. Wouldn’t it be nice to limit a Sunday sermon to 140 words? We all know a politician or salesperson whom we’d like to muzzle, too. I don’t see a problem until it comes to marriage vows and jury verdicts, perhaps: “I now pronounce you husband and …” or, “We find the defendant …”

Last night I found a new use for Twitter. I sent a tweet to my followers for story ideas for today’s column. All I got was Internet silence. This morning I opened Twitter to find a few suggestions, but nothing major. It wasn’t lost on me that a 2 a.m. tweet is like singing in an empty stadium—there’s no one there to hear you. So I tweeted about that. They were still asleep. A few ideas came in, though. Here they are:

From Ted: Hey, how about writing about the Flatlanders? OK, Ted, I will. I saw the Flatlanders’ (Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock) fantastic show at the State Room on Sunday night. It’s a great venue, a perfect setting for a band as tightly knit as the Flatlanders, and it was my first visit. The Flatlanders are Texas buddies, stellar songwriters and first-rate musicians. Their every show is a clinic in giving fans their money’s worth.

I first saw Joe Ely perform in Chicago in 1981 opening for Linda Ronstadt—of all people. I was on a writing gig having recently interviewed Ely by phone while he was performing in Park City—of all places. He’d just finished touring with the Clash and he just blew it up that day. It remains one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. You’ve gotta see “Fingernails” live! When I moved back to Salt Lake City, I begged Sam Callis and Otto Milleti to bring him to the Zephyr. I offered them free ads in the old Private Eye. They took me up on the offer and brought him. Say thanks, Salt Lake City.

Actually, don’t thank me. After a trip in 1991 to New Orleans, I also convinced some local club owners to catch onto the karaoke craze they’d never heard of. So, one for two.

Next Tweet from M: Write about Huntsman. OK, here it is: Good luck, Guv. You’ve been great, kept your word, opened eyes and opened doors. You led those horses’ asses to water, and it’s up to us to make them drink.

LRM asked that I write about the Tribune. Been there, done that. Tried following a recent Rolly column, though, but couldn’t find it. Thankfully, it turns out Tribune columnists fall under the category of “Entertainment” on the Tribune Website. I have nothing to add to that.

However, the Tribune’s Glen Warchol is usually a good source for stealing ideas. Not today, though. He’s tweeting about hummingbirds. Yup, hummingbirds. He’s got half of Mormondom pissed at him, and he’s worried about a little bird that looks him in the eye and flies backwards. That’s like his critics, except they don’t look him in the eye.

Responding to that tweet, I got a lengthy e-mail from TP, more of a story than story tip, that I’ve taken the liberty of cutting down to size. If you ride bikes, turn away.

The Bicycle Gangs of Salt Lake County. By TP.

If you drive in Salt Lake County you’ve seen them. They’re wearing the same colors of bike-riding tights, showing loyalty to their group—their gang colors. Like gangs, they break the law. They don’t use the bike lanes taxpayers provided for them. They block traffic and cause hazards to motorists. They speed down hills, they run stop signs and make illegal turns at will. I get a ticket if I run a stop sign or am speeding. How come biker gangs don’t?

But because they own bikes, they think they can break the law. And just like gangs, you can’t talk to them. They’ll flip you off first and even challenge you to pull over for a fight. Anyone driving in Mill Creek Canyon has either nearly hit a biker or nearly been hit by one. It doesn’t matter that you also paid a fee to enjoy the canyon; they think they own it. And they don’t even pay to use it. Why not charge them?

I ride, too, but now I think some motorist will take his rage out on me because I’m alone and an easy target. Biker gangs think they rule the road. Wake up, Police! Get the word out—stop the bicycle gangs.

I wasn’t going to print all of that, but just last week I was crossing 400 South at a crosswalk. Approaching cars in both directions were stopped. A bike rider sped past and damned near clipped me. He just turned his head and gave me a smirky smile. I’m not as mad as TP. I’m just glad pricks like him are on bikes and not driving SUVs.

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