Segway? No way

March 4, 2009

Inspiration comes in all shapes, sounds, and sizes. Sometimes it is a majestic red-tail hawk swooping down right before your eyes to snatch up its breakfast. Other times it’s a goth-couple with a billboard-size boom box skulking down Oak Street, or a random celebrity sighting at your favorite coffee shop.

And sometimes it’s an emasculated cop humming past you on a Segway.

You’ve seen these guys, right? Downtown mostly. All decked out in yellow, speeding past on their “vehicles,” which look like pogo-sticks on wheels. They even have little “fanny packs” on their handle bars for, I dunno, their jacks and sidewalk chalk. No matter how crappy my day is, when I see a Segway cop I immediately perk up. At least, I think to myself, I’m not that guy.

What’s I’m trying to say is that cops are supposed to be figures of authority. In extreme circumstances they are supposed to be, at the very least, mildly threatening. Zipping past me on the sidewalk looking like a Chiquita banana on skates doesn’t exactly make me want to obey the law. In fact, it makes me want to break something.

I understand that patrolling the city is hard on the dogs. So I get that a mode of transport might be useful. Bikes? Fine. We are Bike Town, USA. Horses? Even better. And great for crushing skulls. But a Segway? Seriously? “Stop…or I’ll be forced to get off my ridiculous futuristic steed and chase you down! Aw, screw it.” I’m pretty sure I can outrun you.

Cops get a bad rap for being fat and out of shape and unhealthily obsessed with sugar-glazed pastries. This is not fair. But when you’re scooting around on your Big Wheel instead of, you know, ACTUALLY USING YOUR LEGS, you’re only hammering home the myth that the police are a bunch of portly Chief Wiggums.

As an aside, here’s my own personal Segway story (I mean, who doesn’t have one, right?).
I’m in Los Angeles reporting a story for another magazine. But I hate L.A. so I always stay in Santa Monica. I’m walking from my hotel and across the beach to grab something to eat when I see a homeless man on a side street taking a whiz on the wheel well of a BMW. That in itself was an amazing sight to behold. As I got closer he signaled with his free hand to something laying beside him. It was a Segway (stolen I would assume) thrown over on its side. “You want a Segway my man? I’ll give you a good price.” Of course he would. I mean, what’s the demand for black market Segways, right? As the urine pooled around the handlebars I smiled, said “thanks, but no thanks,” and wandered off, my sides jiggling like jelly.

On to the weekend…

Spoon shows have become sort of a semi-regular occurrence since lead singer Britt Daniel moved to Portland. This is great news for us; Spoon is one of the most consistently awesome rock bands around and Daniel one of the best songwriters. But with no new album to promote and the summer festival season not yet upon us, the timing for another gig is odd. Until you realize that the word on the street is that the band is currently convened in Portland to start tinkering around with songs for a new album. Which means this unexpected Spoon show might offer up some fresh tunes. Hell, even if they don’t, just hearing “Jonathan Fisk” is worth the price of admission. [9 p.m./$19-22/Crystal Ballroom]

The stage adaptation of Dan Gutman’s book, Honus & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure, focuses on a hard-luck twelve-year-old who stumbles upon the rarest baseball card of all: Honus Wagner. Not only is the card valuable enough to pay for a college education, but it’s also possessed of magical properties that make time travel possible. Considering the current sordid state of our national pastime, a little magic is certainly in order. [2 and 5 p.m./$16-24/Dolores Winningstad Theatre]

Notice how I haven’t yet mentioned the new Watchmen movie? There’s a reason. Geeks in their tight Silk Spectre t-shirt will be crowding local cinemas to catch this long-in-development nerdgasm (myself included). But most will try their damnedest to be in the earlier shows, so they can go blog and bitch about it on the “Ain’t It Cool” movie site. Smart comic book geeks like you and I will wait until Sunday when the crowds will have likely subsided, at least a tad. That way we can don our tights in relative privacy. [Various movie theaters]

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