Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh...and this...

Last night I had the sublime pleasure of seeing David Byrne live in Albuquerque. A supporter of the campaign got us great seats and back stage passes. The show was amazing; Byrne rocked a bunch of classics, but the new stuff was absolutely beautiful. Enjoy.

All Hands On Deck....

So as you may have gathered, I'm pretty much too busy to blog while I'm working this campaign. It's amazing work and I'm loving it, but it's totally consuming, so I'm going to make it official: Glider Bison's blog will be suspending posts until after the election. This is not to say I won't occasionally find time to post -- I hope to -- but I really can't guarantee that, and I don't want to mislead my reader (hi mom).

Also, on a much more important note -- we need help. If you (or someone you know) wants to spend the next 34 days trying to elect the leader of the free world, get in touch with me. You'd be working alongside some of the most intelligent, passionate, driven people you've ever met. This campaign has built one of the most effective political machines known to man, but this many-wheeled monster needs drivers -- people who can help organize our army of volunteers. We work very hard, we support each other like we're family, and we have a shitload of fun. It's not easy, we can't pay you, and you'll have to get yourself to New Mexico; however, you will feel like you're actually making a difference in this election. It's a good feeling.

This is the call, send in the cavalry.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Continued Behind the Scenes Coverage of the Barack Obama Campaign!!!

This is Sam Johnson reporting LIVE from the nerve center of the Barack Obama campaign. Holy shit it's really un-fucking-believably busy here. Well, that looks like all the time we have -- now back to your regularly scheduled internet programing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This is Sam Johnson reporting LIVE from the nerve center of the Barack Obama campaign. Holy shit it's busy here. Well, that looks like all the time we have -- now back to your regularly scheduled internet programing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Quick Little Update Thingie

And here's the morning's news:
  • I've been helping our team put on Star Crossed, without a doubt the highest profile race in Washington state. It's been a really good experience for me; as someone who usually gets to just hop out of the car, throw on a kit, and start racing, rarely pausing to think about how that start/finish line got there, who built the podium or the announcers' stand, or where all those miles of barricade came from, it's been really good for me to see how much damn work it takes to put on a race! Terry Buchanan is the promoter of Star Crossed, and he and I have been staging things for weeks now. The last three days have been full-on grueling, and I'm just about to head back to the venue to finish the tear down, but I'm happy to say that things went off without a hitch!
  • I FOUND MY CAMERA CHARGER! As you may have noticed, I haven't posted any pictures in a while. Unfortunately, in the pre/during/post burning man confusion, I lost track of my camera charger. I found it last night, and the battery is charging as we speak. All is right with the world, expect photos soon.
  • Yes, I raced Star Crossed in a speedo. Yes, many pictures were taken. Guilty as charged your honor. I wouldn't be surprised if they start surfacing soon. (If you know of any, post them on my comments).
  • Update: here are some sweet ones:
Here's Cooper -- look at 'im go!!!:Here's me, FLYING over a barrier:
Here's Cooper, after his race:
Lastly, here are some guys, real live Canadians Mark and Mike, who really "get it" when it comes to the atmosphere of a 'cross race:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Don't Eat Those Berries.....

Seattle is blessed with (or cursed with, depending on how neat you keep your garden) limitless blackberry bushes. They grow everywhere: highway medians, parking lots, driveways -- you name it. Until recently I've been enjoying those juicy little morsels everywhere I go -- who doesn't love a free hand-full of berries? However, after spending a few minutes on my porch watching people walk their dogs past the berry bushes in front of the house, I just learned why you "don't eat berries lower than a dog's leg." I guess from now on I'll be a little more careful about which berries I thoughtlessly pop in my mouth.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Different Kind of Race

Now that my season is over, I am often asked the question "Sam, what in tarnation are you going to do now?"

Well after weeks of skirting the question ("hey, so how 'bout them Huskies?"), making shit up on the spot ("I won a raffle for a full-ride to Harvard's medical school -- who woulda thunk?"), or worst of all, telling the truth ("so help me god, I have no idea," followed by 10 minutes of inconsolable sobbing) -- I finally might have an answer to that question. At least for the next 50 days.

Consider this an official Glider Bison press release: on September 22nd, I'll be flying out to New Mexico to take a position as a full time manager for the Obama campaign. That's right, the Glider Bison's endorsement is about to become an investment. As a patriotic young American (the real kind, not the Bush administration/Toby Keith kind of patriot) with lots of energy, no job to speak of, no real plans until next season, and a the desire to curb the, uh, mildly troubling turns I've seen our country take over the last *gulp* EIGHT FUCKING YEARS, I figure I'm as well situated as anybody to donate my time and energy to Obama's campaign. From now on, I'm taking direct responsibility for the 2008 election; if Obama wins, you can thank me. If he loses, you can thank Sarah Palin.

I will be helping organize volunteers in southern Santa Fe County. My "turf" will include mostly rural little towns like Glorietta, Galisteo, Madrid, Cerillios (pronounced seh-REE-yos), and most excitingly CaƱoncito -- a charming (and at times shockingly backwater) community located in a beautiful canyon 25 miles outside of Santa Fe which I myself used to call home. I've been warned that campaigning in rural New Mexico is not easy, and as a former resident, I'm inclined to agree -- CaƱoncito residents tend to solve arguments by pointing guns at each other, I can't imagine they like being asked (even politely) to make sure they go to the polls on election day. Regardless, I'm pretty excited.

Just as a warning, the out of state volunteer handbook I was told to read contains the following:

How much will I be expected to work?
The days will be long, but we don't want you to burn out before Election Day. The staff will most likely be working 16-20 hours a day, but we won't ask that of the volunteers. Work as much as you think you can without breaking down before the election

That might have an impact on my ability to blog for hours on end like I clearly did today.

Stuff Lance Should Do Instead

By now the news of Lance Armstrong's planned return to professional racing has permeated the mainstream media in ways that only Lance Armstrong news can. Yesterday I overheard a Lance-centric conversation by people who know absolutely nothing about bicycle racing -- people who have no idea who Carlos Sastre is, what the UCI stands for, or how Dave Zabriskie's chamois-cream feels when applied to a man's undercarriage. I think I threw up in my mouth a little. Last week I stated my opinion about Lance's return -- I think it's foolish of him, but I'm excited to watch him try. However, even more than watching Lance come out of retirement and attempt to dominate cycling, I want to see Lance were come out of retirement and attempt to dominate something else entirely. So, for your reading pleasure and viewing delight, I've assembled a list of Stuff Lance Should Do Instead (with corresponding photoshop monstrosities!!):

  • BASEBALL!!!!
I haven't read a single article that mentions Lance's news without bringing up Michael Jordan in the same sentence. We all remember Mike's short-lived stint in minor-league baseball -- why couldn't that work for Lance too? Besides, certain similarities between the two sports (drug scandals, a deeply entrenched good-ol'boy network, funny pants, etc.) would help Lance feel right at home.
  • INVENTOR!!!!!
We all know Lance has really powerful legs. What most people don't know about Lance is that he has an equally powerful mind. Imagine the scientific equivalent of winning the Tour de France seven times. Yeah. Ever heard of a little thing called a "flux-capacitor"? Lance showed me a schematic for one last week. Or how about a dilithium-crystal-powered warp drive? Lance could have a working prototype by tomorrow night, if he only put his mind to it. Please Lance, you've used your beautiful legs, don't let that beautiful mind go to waste.
  • POP STAR!!!!!
He can sing, he can act, he can dance -- he can do it all, he's LANCE! Lance has all the makings of a pop super-star: he's good looking, physically fit, and willing to sell his soul. Plus, Lance is one of the lucky ones: in a sport where most racers go bald well before they retire, Lance still has enough hair to craft a unique (and nauseating) "look" of his own. So go ahead Lance, frost those tips, groom yourself a gross little goatee, hire some back-up dancers, and start climbing the pop-charts. I'm sure you'll be a huge hit with the younger blond females (especially those who bear an uncanny resemblance to your mother in her younger years).

If there's one advantage to being an elite cyclist, it's that you need to consume on the order of 5,000 calories per day just to recover from a hard day's work. Something tells me with all those years on the bike, Lance has learned his way around a kitchen. Just imagine being guided by a seven-time tour winner through the intricacies crafting the perfect triple-decker PB & J sandwich. Audiences will love his weekly energy-bar recipe, and his series called "keeping eggs egg-citing." Also, as I noted in a previous post, there's a real lack of attractive male hosts of Food Network shows -- Lance could restore balance to the universe, and bring the sexy back where it belongs: in the kitchen.

Lance was an integral part of the design process of nearly all the equipment he used to win the Tour seven times in a row. He spent hours in the wind-tunnel helping Trek perfect the TTX 9.9 SL. Oakley consulted him regularly for input on their Radar and Flak-Jacket eyewear. Lance even hand-drew the initial design of the now famous Giro Atmos helmet on a restaurant napkin. Just think what Lance could do if he turned his finely-tuned design sense to the world of haute couture. He'll bring Giorgio Armani to his knees. I suppose it's unfair for me to photoshop Lance's face onto a runway model's body, but here you go anyway:

This one is just inevitable -- whether it be for the '09 season, or after Lance re-retires, mark my words: Lance will be a contestant on that show. Seriously, if Mario Cipollini can do it, Lance can do it to.

Burningman: The Last Bits of the Burn

Here's a few more Burningman pictures. Consider this my final post on the matter; from here on, what happened at Burningman stays at Burningman.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You've Heard This Before.....

Ok, I know I've said this before, but this time I mean it; now I'm ACTUALLY done with my serious racing season. As I was driving out of the Nevada desert, I got a call from a teammate. He informed me that he was the victim of an unfortunate (and rather nasty) crash while racing the Green Mountain Stage Race out in Vermont. As sad as I was to hear this, I was NOT saddened by the fact that his injury opened up a spot on Ian Mckissick's hit-squad for the Mt. Baker Hill Climb. Ian is one of the best pros in the country, and by far the fastest guy in the Northwest. For those who don't know, the Mt. Baker Hillclimb is a peculiar race. It's a mass-start road-race totaling just under 25 miles, the first 15 of which are mostly flat. It's not sanctioned by the USCF, so there are no restrictions regarding equipment. This means things like disc wheels, time-trial frames, and ultra-lightweight bikes are all allowed. Ian can go uphill faster than almost anyone in North America, so his victory was as sure of a sure-thing as it gets in cycling (i.e. barely bettin' odds), but he needed help; if the pace for the first 15 miles wasn't fast and steady, Ian might not have had enough juice to break the record (and thus secure the huge prize for the man who did so). At least that's what we flattered ourselves into thinking.

That's where I came in.

My job was to time-trial with teammate Dan Harm, flat-out, balls-to-the-wall until the bottom of the climb. Dan and I wore matching red BMC skinsuits, while Lang Reynolds, the third stage of our multi-stage rocket, wore a white skinsuit that matched Ian's. The guys in red had full aero setups, and the white guys rode bikes that were pounds under the UCI legal limit. It was fucking cool. (By the way, if anyone knows where pictures of this race might end up, please comment!) We all lined up right on the start line, and after the gun went off, we took it out so fast, we'd shredded the 120 person field to maybe 20 people before the first mile. Dan and I rode like bats out of hell, sharing the wind-breaking duties evenly until the intermediate KOM eight miles in. I lead it up most of the KOM, but people hungry for the cash came around me, among them Ian who whispered sweet words of encouragement as he went by. "Good job, you'll get back on," he said, before storming off the front of the field, totally alone, taking the KOM by a good 200 meters. Dan and I got dropped towards the crest of the climb. I was able to claw my way back up to the group (unfortunately Dan was not), and once I got there I went right back to driving the pace. To quote the great Dave Towle, I "flogged [myself] like a rented mule," until the road started to point up. Exactly according to plan, Lang picked up the pace at the base of the climb for as long as he could, and once he started to pop, Ian took it from there. There were a few other strong guys there for sure, and Ian had to attack a few times to shake them, but once he got off alone, he didn't look back, and smashed the record by over a minute. I kept riding at my threshold, and actually caught a few guys on the climb -- results have yet to be posted, but I probably cracked the top ten. Cool huh?

After the race, we got to change and chill out in Ian's fiance's nice new RV. We set up folding chairs, basked in Ian's success, and drank cold cokes -- and for a few precious moments, got to imagine we were real pro cyclists. The fact that I got my biggest payout from a bike race ever certainly didn't hurt.

I'll admit, I felt shockingly good. Considering how my last few races ended up, and the fact that I'd just spent 9 days in a desert breathing more particulate matter than half the residents of Beijing combined, I wasn't expecting much. Fitness is funny stuff. It's kind of like training a pit bull: the more work you put in, the better it gets; for the most part you know what it's going to do -- but sometimes it goes completely crazy for no reason and bites you in the ass!

Monday, September 8, 2008


They gots every kind of fire you could want out at burning man:
They gots yer strange fire-breathing steam-driven buggy contraption

They gots yer scantly-clad ladies dancin' all sexy-like with burning ropes and hula-hoops.
They gots yer ironic flame throwin' fire fighter (a personal favorite).

This is the Temple. It was beautiful. They burned its ass!


Taking a small break from the Burningman coverage, I thought I'd share my opinion on the following:

I just read this Velonews article about how Lance might be coming out of retirement for 2009. I just want to know -- WHAT THE FUCK IS HE THINKING???? If this is for real, Lance is a fool. He beat cancer, dominated the sport like none other, never got caught for doping, and was one of the few legends in all of sport who retired while he was on top instead of fading into mediocrity.

He can't possibly get any greater; he can only do his reputation harm.

Let's say Lance comes out of retirement and wins the Tour de France again -- hell let's say he wins the Tour de France 7 more times -- would his overall big-picture greatness level change at all? NO!! In 30 years, people will look at him exactly the same way: a total legend, on par with perhaps 4 or 5 other athletes in the history of sport.

So what's the deal Lance? We all know you could probably win the Tour again, but shit man -- what happens if lady luck decides to dance with someone else next time? Imagine how it would feel to drop out of the Tour on stage 13 with a broken collar-bone. Or what happens if -- god forbid -- someone "contaminates your food" -- or hell even if one of your teammates gets busted for doping and your team gets asked to leave? Think of the "guilty by association" bullshit you've already had to deal with and multiply that by 1,000. Or what if you get there and realize that since you left, the bar has been raised a little, and you've gotten a little older, and you just don't have "it" like you used to? Do you really want to come out or retirement and finish 6th in the Tour?

Now, considering the extremely dire situation the domestic peloton is facing for next year (what with Toyota-United, Healthnet Maxis, Symmetrics, and Jittery Joes all either folding or downgrading to armature status), I certainly wouldn't mind the increased attention and sponsorship dollars Lance would bring to the sport. So Lance, if you're simply doing this to help build the sport of cycling, then great! Power to you! Welcome Lance! I'd love to take a crack at ya! Me and every single other cyclist on the road! Sign me up!

Honestly though, I hope this is all hype. I hope Lance keeps dating actresses and musicians, and running marathons, and that Lance's reputation stays right where it is.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Burningman: Life on the Playa (Sure Ain't Easy)

If there's one thing above all others you've gotta be ready for at Burningman, it's the dust. Dust gets everywhere. It gets into your tent, your clothes, your hair, your mucous membranes, and even into your brain (where it causes instant insanity). This year, there were two major wind storms that lasted for hours on end. I arrived at Black Rock City on Monday night, right in the middle of the first one. Seeing as how I was a total burningman newbie, I completely underestimated the tenacity of the dust; upon arrival, I promptly pitched my tent, and shuttled all my gear inside it. I've since learned that playa dust is a lot like the mail: through rain or sleet or dark of night, the playa dust will get through -- your tent. Here's what a tent (mine in particular) looks like after a few hours in a dust storm. Please keep in mind, my tent was fully battened-down the whole time. [Notice the following dust-covered belongings: my toiletry kit (with toothbrush), my pots and pans, my coffee cup, my baby wipes (aka my "burningman shower"), my peanut butter, my cowboy hat, my jacket, my shoes, my sleeping bag, my box of cereal, AND MORE!!!]
I was informed that dust storms usually last half an hour. The dust storm on Saturday lasted for nearly 10 hours. Due to the cavernous disparity between my expectations and the reality of my situation, the slender reed of my sanity was whittled away completely only four hours in. For those of you who aren't math majors, that left roughly six hours of pure madness in a total white-out dust storm. Not good. Ya'll remember that scene in Forest Gump when Lieutenant Dan is up in the crow's nest of the shrimp boat, shaking his fist, yelling to god "you call this a storm?" Yeah. That was me, only I was wearing a speedo, goggles, and cowboy boots, and I was in the crow's nest of an art car instead of a shrimp boat. Here's me, standing valiantly at my camp, trying to "wait out" one of the wind storms. Moments later I charged the photographer and ate her alive. For the most part, life continues pretty much as normal during dust storms, only everyone's wearing goggles. Goggles on the playa: your most valuable possession. I'm here to say right now, if I had to choose between my goggles and my speedo, I'd chose goggles before you finished asking the question. Fortunately, no -- make that very very fortunately -- I was never forced to make that choice. Now there's more than just one kind of dust storm out on the playa; some are systemic and affect everyone at once, while others are very localized, and menace only one camp at a time. Here's a good example of some unfortunate bastards who got an extra dose of dust -- yippie!
For all the trouble the dust creates, it can make for some pretty sunsets. At night the lamplighters place lamps along all the streets. This is a great help when trying to orient oneself at night. "Citizens of Black Rock City, make way for your lamp lighters," the head-honcho lamplighter yells as they approach. The lamp lighting ceremony is greeted with shouts and cheers by most. During the day, the heat can be oppressive. Every morning around 9:00 AM I was awakened to the sensation of my brain overheating, thanks to the powerful greenhouse qualities of my tent. With an air of desperation, (my brain had but moments before it suffered a total meltdown), I would unzip the door, flop outside, and prepare for my day. I again demonstrated my inexperience by failing to bring an adaquit shade structure. Since there was no shelter from the sun's rays at my camp, my only option was to slather myself in sunscreen, pack a few essentials in my musset bag (granola bars, water bottle, goggles, camera and map), and hit the road in search of shade elsewhere. I found that the best way to combat the heat was to wear my speedo all day long (bare skin just breathes so well...). Also, seeing as how dust saturated every article of clothing I owned starting on day one, and seeing as how dusty clothing tends to chafe, I found it simply more comfortable (and less irritating) to adopt a "less is more" approach to apparel. Honestly, it's burningman, I was one of the most well-dressed people out there.
After spending 9 days in the desert wearing nothing but a speedo, I would be willing to wager that I have the best fearsome-speedo-tan to wattage-at-threshold ratio in North America. Prove me wrong. Make my day.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Burningman: The Art Cars

Things are CRAZY out on the playa. There are art cars -- ranging from the simple and unassuming to the monstrous and mind-blowing. Some art cars, like this strange pirate cabin, are ramshackle contraptions held together mostly by wire and glue; were the speed limit at Black Rock City more than 5 miles per hour, these clunkers would surely shred themselves in no time. I'd recommend riding in that crane-mounted chair; it was quite relaxing. Then there are the massive-mobile-party cars, or MMP's as I like to call them. Traditionally loaded with roughly 5,000,000 watts of sound blasting equipment, a massive dance floor, and a full open bar, MMP's are literally capable of "rocking the party that rocks the party." Here we have the infamous Rubber Ducky MMP. Rumored to have cost more than $300,000 to engineer and fabricate, the Rubber Ducky is a true monument to the Burningman Spirit. It's bigger than an ocean-liner, it blasts techno music louder than all of Brussels, and it has a fire-breathing mohawk. How much cooler can you get? Not much.
Another category of art car is the true mutant. These vehicles bear no resemblance to normal cars, and share only a shred of their DNA. Below we have the gorgeous crab-walker-thingy, which took over three years to engineer and hand-weld, and yet is still incapable of turning on its own (seriously -- to turn it the driver had to lower a massive lazy-Susan from the vehicle's belly, hop out of the cockpit, and manually turn the hunk of steel to a new heading).

Next is the "big'ol'crusher-hand of death" -- one of my favorites.
First you go sit on the couch, and put your hand in the sensor-laden glove.
Then the crusher-hand did whatever your hand did. If you wanted to squeeze the car to a pulp, all you had to do was squeeze. If you wanted to lift the car and drop it, all you had to do was lift and drop. So simple. So fucking cool.
Then of course we have the Mad Max inspired vehicles, seen here in the midst of a massive dust storm [note: I didn't even capture the best Mad Max vehicles, some of which were remarkably faithful to the movie].

And naturally the crazy animal cars, this one being an angler fish.
To be honest, this sampling of art cars doesn't even scratch the surface. There were hundreds and hundreds of these things, and almost all of them lived up to the same standards of creativity, innovation, and absurdity that you see here. Yowzers.

I'll Warm You Up With This.....

There's a lot to cover from the last two weeks. I'll start you off with just a photo show of some of the madness. Keep in mind that this is but a drop in the bucket.