FIVE THINGS WITH WRITING PROFESSOR AND DEDICATED BICYCLE COMMUTER CHRIS GODSEY
FIVE THINGS is a new weekly feature on the Banjo Brothers Blog and it's a short interview about life and bikes with a notable person. This week’s FIVE THINGS is with University of Minnesota Duluth Writing Professor, dedicated bicycle commuter, freelance music journalist and essayist, Chris Godsey. For the past eight years Chris has also co-facilitated weekly critical dialogue groups among men arrested for using violence against women for the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. Enjoy this week’s FIVE THINGS
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU RIDING?
CG: I own five bicycles: 1. Chum Bucket Red Single-speed Surly Karate Monkey with a Rabbit Hole rim and 3” Knard tire up front; 2. matte-black 1x9 Surly Krampus; 3. Midsummer in Minnesota Green Advocate Lorax; 4. Baby-blue single-speed 1980s Schwinn LeTour frankencommuter; 5. red-on-red Specialized Sirrus 3x9 commuter. I ride the Schwinn daily to and from teaching at the University of Minnesota Duluth, about six blocks from home. It’s set up 42x18 with backswept flat bar and only a front brake. It is indescribably fun. The Lorax, which generally rests November till April, is so handsome and fun I struggle to believe I actually own it. All rides on the Karate Monkey and Krampus are a blast. I do up-and-down commuting on the Sirrus, which I bought for cheap in September; it’s stalwart and I always wish it would feel more like the Schwinn.
My rule is that in order to have a dram or two in the evening I have to engage in at least one hour of vigorous outdoor activity. I stay pretty true to that.
BANJO BROS: WHERE ARE YOU RIDING?
CG: My general non-commuting rides start at home — near the top of 19th Avenue East — and head north through campus toward Jean-Duluth Road or Vermillion Road. Both those routes lead to gravel and single track for hours. I’m usually only out for a little more than an hour. Sometimes I’ll head to Hawk Ridge and take it to the Lester-Amity trails then ride back up, toward home, via Seven Bridges Road or Superior Street to the paved path that parallels Tischer Creek and comes out at Mount Royal. On some Saturdays I stay out long enough to find gravel that feels like it’s further out of town than it actually is. I’m not fast, but I can leave home, do a vigorous single-speed lap in Hartley Park, and be back in an hour. I don’t haul or ride a bike out to PIedmont, Brewer, or Mission nearly as often as I should. My favorite riding might be on Superior National Forest gravel roads and four-wheeler trails accessed less than a mile from my mother-in-law’s house in Hoyt Lakes.
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING/READING/LISTENING TOO?
CG: Music means a lot to me so I’m not sure why I listen to podcasts more than music when I ride. Lately it’s been Criminal, Terrible, Thanks for Asking, 2 Dope Queens, Revisionist History, Snap Judgment, The New York Times’ Popcast or Still Processing, or a few others. When I do listen to music it’s usually a weird mix that might comprise the Hold Steady, Ani DiFranco, Lupe Fiasco, Led Zeppelin, the Tragically HIp, or a bunch of other stuff. I also listen to as many Ojibwe-language podcasts and lessons as I can find. I am not Ojibwe, but for reasons I could try to explain but that might not make much sense, I’ve been doing my best to study the language for a few years, and since finishing grad school a few weeks ago I’ve been putting in at least an hour or two a day on it.
BANJO BROS: WHAT ARE YOU DRINKING?
CG: I drink a lot of coffee. Too much. If I’m doing what I intend to do I stop by noon. Most days I stop by 2:00 or 3:00. My wife — Ms. LaCount, to you — and I just bought a fancy grinder, and the pour-over coffee we make at home is now consistently good. I also buy a lot at school, usually along with sweets — Peanut M&M’s, Reese’s extra-large peanut-butter cups, chocolate-covered peanuts, and the occasional Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll — I eat in a bite or two then regret. Ms. LaCount and I both enjoy bourbon and scotch. My rule is that in order to have a dram or two in the evening I have to engage in at least one hour of vigorous outdoor activity. I stay pretty true to that. I don’t like to cook. I wish I did. I’ve just never enjoyed it. Ms. LaCount does, and I can clean a kitchen much better than most people can, so that’s our usual arrangement.
BANJO BROS: WHAT’S STUCK IN YOUR CRAW?
CG: I am pretentious toward people who behave pretentiously; judgmental of people who judge; impatient with impatience; hypocritical in how I rage against hypocrisy; self-righteous in how I point out self-righteousness; dismissive of anyone who’s dismissive. For about eight years I’ve co-facilitated weekly critical dialogue groups among men arrested for using violence against women. One result of that work is that it tipped me from feeling cynical into generally trusting no one. Maybe like three people. It has also led me to feel love for pretty much everyone. Maybe all but like four people. Violence used to maintain dominance and enforce compliance or submission troubles me deeply. Its overt manifestations make its subtle ones tough to see and easy to minimize when they’re noticed. I struggle deeply and constantly with what I’ve learned in the last eight years about how that all works in ways most people in dominant cultural positions simply don’t care to notice. My craw also feels aggravation from advertisements based on anthropomorphized food; the pervasiveness of “utilize” when “use” does the job; ubiquitous assumptions that everyone loves ketchup; the impossibility of buying a new pickup truck with a true bench seat or manual transmissions.
MORE ABOUT THE FIVE THINGS INTERVIEWS FROM BANJO BROTHERS
A big Banjo Bros. thank you to Chris Godsey for participating in this week's edition of Banjo Brothers' Five Things. These short interviews about life and bikes will appear every Friday on the Banjo Brothers Blog.
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