Thursday, February 03, 2005

Mayor Tom Potter, the Anarchist

So on this morning's weekly check of Portland's rumblings of news I found something pretty funny. Tom Potter, the mayor who everybody thought would be a personality-free goon, turns up on a critical mass ride. Sweet. So you mean the mayor of Portland is participating in the local event with the worst media coverage and reputation around? Awesome!

If you're not in the mood to read a seething article about how evil bikes are, I'll sum it up for you in handy bullet points (These are the thoughts of David Reinhard by the way):
  • Tom Potter rode critical mass last night
  • Critical Mass is for idiot hippy anarchists who's only goal is to spread " lawlessness on wheels" throughout the city
  • Qoute: "If they are anything more dignified than an anarchistic indulgence or an outburst to meet the deep pyscho-social needs of their participants -- and this is doubtful -- the Critical Mass rides are rages against the automobile"
  • Critical Mass completely slams traffic through the entire city
  • The riders damage cars and vandalise anything in thier path
  • They force bus riders to wait in the cold because of the previously mentioned traffic snaffu
  • They are causing Portland business owners to worry about Portland's troubling business climate (WHAT?)
  • Tom Potter is a bad bad man and a (get ready) FLIP FLOPPER and Sam Adams would never do something like that

I've been on a critical mass ride and here's my take on the rampant lawlessness. I went because I wanted to check it out, see what everyone was so up in arms about. Arrived at the park blocks as the sun was going down to hang out with a couple wierd cats with chopper bikes, about 10 messengers on fixed gears (who oogled at my old-school shwinn fixie for a while), 5 hairy-legged Lance Armstrong impersonaters and about 5 normal people on bikes. Maybe 25 lawless hooligans tops. Anyway, everybody rolls out and as we rode, I made mental lists of all the anarchic behavior I witnessed: When the group rolls an intersection while the light turns yellow, the stragglers sometimes run the red to not get dropped... disgracefull. People ride outside the bike lane, forcing cars to literally line up behind them, sometimes up to 3 cars at a time... unbelievable. One dude on a tall-bike STACKED IT into a beat-up Mazda and probably broke his nose and definitely dented the door of the car... insanity...

I broke off and went on my own ride after a while, and the impression that I got was not a group of criminals spreading hell on wheels, but a group of people trying to get attention for bikes in a fully legal protest/fun ride. Granted there were two idiots who were yelling at trucks and cars and thought they were THE SHIT because they rode kiddy bikes, but idiots flock to any gathering (like I said last time, politics is no exception).

So to me, the Mayor of Portland showing up at a critical mass ride is not a sign that he's a terrible man, but maybe more that he recognizes groups and events like critical mass, and wants to lend a rational hand to them. He'll ride and talk to people, but he's not going to smash windows and taunt cops because that's what your parents call "leading by example," a rare tactic in modern politics. If more people would show up to events like critical mass and make thier opinions and viewpoints heard without being idiots, maybe they'd be able to achieve something aside from just riding around on funny bikes. Aside from maybe a hint of shameless self-promotion among a certain voting sector, this actually seems to be a rare genuine political gesture. Good on'ya Tom. Good on'ya.

1 comment:

piglet said...

Yeah! You should have seen the video, Dean-o. It was the most civilized Critical Mass ride ever. Potter even had the cops saying nice things. It's pretty funny that an Oregonian editor (such a red paper in such a blue city) feels the need to diss him for it.