A Factual Lesson from the Deep South of My Youth


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The complete ChainLink thread can be read here: http://goo.gl/JbBUe

The children of ChainLink are at it again… There is a group called the Midnight Marauders who have decided to be:


Down To FuckWithTheLATERide

My guess is that they like to act as agents of confusion and mayhem and they are openly planning their efforts. They show contempt for those folks who bother to pay the registration fee for the LATE Ride by labeling them “Silly Yuppies”. Part of the real problem here is that on more than one occasion writers like John Greenfield of the Chicago Grid site have openly used vulgar pejorative terms about the suburbs on the ChainLink and when I asked about this sort of approach he denied any hard feelings for this neck of the woods. Instead he tried to convince me that he was just being poetic in his references to the suburbs. In fact despite their seeming disrespect for the suburbs ChainLink groups have made it a point to ride out to far flung suburban locations to camp and more importantly (as is their won’t) to drink themselves into a drunken haze.

Afterwards they spend time making obscene gestures at cameras and posting them on the ChainLink photo gallery to demonstrate their profound distaste for anything resembling adult behavior. And frankly it makes me sick and tired of being part of the thousands of folks in the suburban areas who pony up money to ride:

  • Bike The Drive
  • Four Star Ride
  • L.A.T.E. Ride

and any other fund raisers which we silly yuppies have helped support. Now the real problem here is that we have stood this abuse without being aware of it or even caring. Sometimes you get the feeling that a problem like the one demonstrate below is just beyond your control:

Anyone else planning on “auditing” the L.A.T.E. Ride?

Reply by Spencer “Thunderball” Thayer! 2 hours ago

The Mc L.A.T.E. Ride doesn’t publish their route ahead of time because they don’t want people auditing their ride. Silly as it seems. They think people should pay money to ride in a large group. LOL! Silly yuppies.

However, thanks to technology, people have documented previous rides.



Looks like the common route is Halsted at Greek Town. What was the bar we met at back in 2010?


A Cautionary Tale for the Active Transportation Alliance (ATA) and the Friends of the Park (FOP)

My grandmother like many African-American women her age despite having a high school diploma and some junior college training was unable in the 1960s to get employment that was offered to white women in Birmingham, AL, indeed just about anywhere in the South. So like many women she cleaned house for white women living “up on the hill” in Insley, AL.

If you know your history there was a boycott of the bus system by these women and men because they wanted to have segregated riding ended. I experienced this problem firsthand because as a child I had to pay up front by the driver and then step off the bus and walk to the back door to enter the Colored Section. In fact when you got off the bus in the downtown areas you were not allowed to eat at places where whites could be served and indeed the washrooms and water fountains were segregated. The water fountains for the “coloreds” were older and often did not work. I guess the Conservatives of that day felt that the lower income forced on black folk did not entitle them to equal accommodations, just separate ones.

So when Rosa Parks decided to keep her seat rather than give it up to a white man and was arrested, those trouble makers from Atlanta showed up a boycott was organized. These ladies walked to their jobs and avoided the buses in order to make their point. Being treated as a second class citizen was unjust and unfair. And the city began to look at the only thing a Conservative can understand, namely the bottom line, and decided that perhaps segregated busing was a bad idea. It took a good long while but things changed for the better.

Now the white power structure in Chicago is treating suburbanites like “coloreds”. Active Transportation Alliance has an active membership on ChainLink. They are aware that the sometimes utter disregard for “silly yuppies” is counter to their constant requests for donations. My guess is that if the suburban ridership in all three of these rides were to dry up, they would be a collective financial failure. Now you might ask “Why be angry with ATA and FOP?” The simple answer is that only groups this size have the clout to put pressure on the folks that run ChainLink to make them stand up to the scofflaws in their midst. And the fellows in the Midnight Marauders are not fringe elements but good friends with many of the regular members on the forum.

It his more than high time to stop giving ATA or FOP monies that only confirm that we are “silly yuppies”, until such time as they are forced to put pressure on ChainLink to have the guts to clean up their act. Sometimes hipsters need to know that not everyone is down their their “foolishness”. The term foolishness is one that my grandmother used on more than one occasion when trying to express her contempt for silly behavior. Of course when you are a pre-teen and unaware that the universe does not revolve around you this seems rather harsh. But perhaps the feet of the white bicycling power structure in Chicago have to be held to higher standards than they are willing to achieve at present.

I constantly am bombarded by inferences from members of the ChainLink forum that every bad thing that happens along the Chicago Lakefront Trail is due to the bad behavior of ghetto youth who they euphemistically term “urban youth” or “flash mobs”. What is being planned by the Midnight Marauders is no less troublesome. There is no need for a group like this to participate for or against a fundraiser for an organization that they have little interest in supporting. What I fear may happen is that there will be disruptive behavior designed to make the route less safe than necessary simply because they wish to attract attention to themselves in the way that Junior High School students would when out pulling pranks. But fueled by alcohol things might not end up well at all.

It is in fact this kind of behavior that sometimes steers the Chicago Critical Mass rides in the wrong direction. If the cycling power structure in the city won’t act perhaps you will join me in withholding funds until they do. Even bicycling clubs can threaten to withhold contributions until such time as we “silly yuppies” get some respect for what we do.


  1. ::: Now the white power structure in Chicago is treating suburbanites like “coloreds”. Active Transportation Alliance has an active membership on ChainLink. :::


    :::I constantly am bombarded by inferences from members of the ChainLink forum that every bad thing that happens along the Chicago Lakefront Trail is due to the bad behavior of ghetto youth who they euphemistically term “urban youth” or “flash mobs”. :::

    Yup. This is an issue I take with many privileged members of the Chainlink. On this we can agree.

    1. I had this quote in mind when I criticized the white cycling power structure in Chicago for treating suburbanites like “coloreds”:

      “As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.”

      — Benjamin Franklin

      ChainLink has a responsibility to not look like http://tightrope.cc/catalog/. This means being vigilant regarding the treatment of each member with respect by the others. But ChainLink has a conflict. Its ownership is part of the very cycling community it serves and has personal friendships with some of the more vocal and sometimes bigoted members. ChainLink appear to be moving towards an advertisement supported format. That means that membership figures are paramount in attracting new advertisers.

      What could help ChainLink’s owners is some pushback on the part of the biggest supporters, namely groups like Active Transportation Alliance and Friends of the Parks. They can give cover to the owners by allowing them to explain that a given thread has been closed following negative complaints by these big sponsors.

      Politicians do this sort of thing all the time. Say the President wants to take a stand that his leadership is reluctant to allow. So a behind the scenes maneuver has a leader in the opposition party calling for this or that change in policy and suddenly the POTUS can slowly begin the move towards that policy knowing that he will have the backing of the opposing party and that will force the hand of his party to follow suit.

      Words Matter

      When our thread called willing participants in the L.A.T.E. Ride “silly yuppies” it signaled that there was active condescension inherent in the view you hold. Now for a group like ATA to sit silently by and say nothing while having a fee structure that is somewhat similar is puzzling.


      “Registration is for Bike The Drive is open until the event begins. The current cost to sign up is $48 for adults who are not members of the Active Transportation Alliance, $45 for adult members, and $15 for children (under 17 years old). Those fees include a t-shirt, and breakfast is available for an additional charge. If you register the day of Bike The Drive, the cost is $58 – and you don’t get a t-shirt.”

      ATA owes it to its customers to defend their character against what is supposedly a pejorative description which at its very heart is dismissive. Being silent is tantamount to agreement with the premise.

      Disrespecting One Another

      Today’s youth call the dismissiveness of another, the act of disrespecting them. It is a bit like manner in which Southerners referred to black men in their midst (regardless of age) as “Boy”. That single word summed it all up. Here was something less than a true man who despite his age had not risen above the developmental level of a white youth (if even that). The term “silly yuppie” is clearly intended to be dismissive. It says to the ChainkLink community that these are “rubes” coming into the big city who do not have the savvy to recognize when they are being fleeced and no doubt look upon what they are doing as something noble and uplifting.

      In fact when the question of volunteering to help the ride the response to the question “why would you bother?” was answered thusly:

      “Some people have the inescapable need to feel special and to cultivate the praise and accolades of their peer group. Without it they wilt and are unable to support their own sense of self-worth. It’s a hive-mind thing.”

      This immediately begs the question what does the average ChainLinker feel? ChainLink sets up a booth at the Bike The Drive event so the forum ownership has some positive sentiments regarding that event as do those who volunteer to help in the visitor booth. Are these people self-delusional? Why would you ever even set up a boot at a ride whose fee structure was a high or higher than that of the L.A.T.E Ride if you felt that riders in that event were “silly yuppies”? That would probably mean that BTD participants were not just “silly: but “stupid yuppies” because they paid even more.

      The Economic Realities

      Organizations like ATA and FOP get quite a bit of money from government grants. But what they earn from the invitational rides is important. Every dollar these days is precious because budgets are tight and frankly monies spent on such things as bicycling are often ridiculed by those who use dismissive terms to describe people who are “silly” and “stupid” enough to ride around on bicycles when there are perfectly good automobiles to be had. And if using a car is not practical surely the monies already spent on buses and trains are sufficient to provide a means of getting to and from work or other places.

      But many ChainLinkers appear to be caught up in an antiestablishment mindset that can sometimes be counterproductive. When the city makes an effort to create bike lanes rather than being grateful they sometimes respond by biting the hand that feeds them. They lob criticism at government officials for changes that they don’t deem useful and seem ungrateful much of the time.

      They even have difficulty with sharing bike lanes with folks who are running or rollerblading. Suddenly they have gone from being without a lane altogether to not wanting to share the one provided. Clearly the Active Transportation Alliance has a great deal of work to do in getting users of alternate modes of transportation on the same page and speaking with the same voice.


      Protest Alone Is Not A Strategy

      The recent Occupy Wall Street protests were questioned by some pundits for the seeming lack of followup in terms of a coherent political strategy. Their counterpart the Tea Party had made inroads into the political landscape by offering candidates and securing funding to conduct and sponsor campaigns. OWS did nothing of the sort.

      Many ChainLinkers are apparently of a mind that merely being “against the Man” is enough. Acting in a scofflaw fashion is in fact fashionable and anyone not following that plan is somehow “silly” or “sold out” or whatever.

      At the heart of every movement for change there is a defining moment of protest. The actions of Rosa Parks set in motion the Birmingham, AL bus boycott which gave birth to the Civil Rights Movement. The Stonewall Riots led to the formation of an awareness on the part of the LGBT Community but it took years of political activism to finally move their cause to the front burners of each party.

      Any politician who seeks higher office knows that despite their lofty goals for societal change there are still rubber chicken dinners and handshaking lines and baby kissings that have to be endured. In fact the skillful politician is one who understands that all those small towns that must be visited on the campaign trail are an essential ingredient to building a coalition that can accomplish great things.

      And what would a ChainLinker say about anyone who sat down to one of those horrid dinners and paid $2,500 for the pleasure of doing so? Are they too “silly yuppies?”

  2. Beezodog,

    You’re talking about the time I made fun of the suburb of Berwyn for allowing the Car Spike, the town’s most famous landmark, to be razed to make room for a Walgreens. As we discussed at the time, I’ve also written several articles praising the suburbs’ many hidden gems, so it’s not accurate to call me someone who disrespects suburbia. For example, this write-up of my 40-mile hike from Logan Square to Aurora critiques some aspects of the western ‘burbs but also highlights some great bike trails, restaurants, historical landmarks and more: http://newcity.com/2011/05/11/forty-turning-a-milestone-into-an-epic-hike-across-suburbia/

    1. Right you are, John. But more troublesome was your characterization (in the title of your piece) of Aurora using not very flattering words. I am certain that were I the mayor of a town like that or the members of their tourist board that would have been dismaying.

      Suburbs and big cities alike both are frantically searching for tourist dollars. In fact this weekend one of my personal favorites, Eyes to the Skies is being held in Lisle. It features hot air balloon rides.

      Most municipalities would far better wish to be know for colorful balloon rides than have their names and thus their values as tourist destinations sullied.

      You have a duty to your readers and they like somewhat sensational tones especially when it comes to suburban areas. As long as everyone and I mean everyone is aware that any remarks are meant as satire then perhaps you can avoid the trap of having to constantly remind others that your past articles do not reflect your current views.

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