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Veer documentary gets harsh review from PSU paper

Posted by on March 5th, 2009 at 6:43 am

“I didn’t realize I had such hatred for these people… All I know is I have a weird desire to make quick right hand turns in my Honda without checking the side-view mirror. Just kidding.”
– Stover E Harger III, staff writer for the PSU Daily Vanguard

Portland State University’s Daily Vanguard newspaper has published a very negative review of the new film, Veer: A documentary film about bicycling culture.

Vanguard staff writer Stover E. Harger III gave the film 1 star out of 5 and wrote that, “it’s really awful”. Harger also wrote that filmmaker Greg Fredette has created “a self-indulgent piece of fluff that plants its feet way too close to its subjects to be anything but clichéd and boring.”

Reading his review, it’s obvious that Mr. Harger III is no fan of some aspects of Portland’s bike culture, or the people who are a part of it. Here’s a snip from his review (emphasis mine):

“Veer…attempts to follow the adventures of those quirky, oft-mustached, bespectacled, weirdly-skinny bikers that populate Portland with the ubiquity of rats in a subway tunnel.

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I didn’t realize I had such hatred for these people until I watched the movie, and I can’t pinpoint exactly why. All I know is I have a weird desire to make quick right hand turns in my Honda without checking the side-view mirror. Just kidding.”

Veer poster.

And here’s what Harger thinks about the Veer’s portrayal of some of the Portland bike scene’s more colorful social groups:

“The idea of a bicycle-themed dance troupe, like the Sprockettes, or a bunch of daredevils flying at dangerous speeds down a highway, like the Zoobombers, could be of interest to someone with no previous knowledge of the subjects, but only if they [the filmmakers] really got into what makes these people tick. Instead we are treated to drawn-out, slow-motion scenes of them riding around town, or doing their clunky dances, while we watch and wonder what these people are all about.”

Harger’s review isn’t all harsh criticism. He does write that he wishes Veer would have gone more in-depth on some of the storylines and characters (which he liked, but wanted more of).

I was interested to read Harger’s review because it was clear he sees the bike culture scene in this town from the outside. I’ve been wondering how it would look to someone like him, who does not bring a love for bikes and/or a personal and emotional connection to the stories and and the people in the film (which myself, and many other people in Portland’s bike scene have).

But really, what’s with the hate? And I think he went a bit overboard with the side-view mirror comment.

— Read the full review at DailyVanguard.com.

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Comments
  • Thomas Le Ngo March 5, 2009 at 6:53 am

    This is no surprise. Hate, obtuse ignorance, and little to no journalistic integrity are long-standing hallmarks of the Daily Vanguard.

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  • anna March 5, 2009 at 6:56 am

    I appreciate him letting me know my moustache is showing. self indulgent op ed is more like it.

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  • r March 5, 2009 at 7:07 am

    imagine how upset he would get if people started “kidding” around about cutting his brake lines or threatening his life in some fashion.

    dude obviously has no skill when it comes to critiquing. he’s just trying to get a few shocking/snarky comments in to get a reaction.
    he probably figures it’s easier to get his name out there that way.
    well, if thats what he wants:

    http://www.facebook.com/people/Stover-E-Harger-III/42005635

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  • Kevin Wagoner March 5, 2009 at 7:27 am

    The side-view mirror comment is really uncool. Grow up.

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  • 3-speeder March 5, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Mr. Harger is entitled to dislike the movie. He is entitled to dislike the people. And he is entitled to write about it.

    But his side-view mirror comment is irresponsible. “Just kidding” doesn’t excuse it. This is especially true in light of the all-too-frequent traumatic accidents of this nature seen in Portland and elsewhere.

    I hope the PSU Vanguard management understands this as well and tells Mr. Harger that is it time for him to find another outlet to vent his anger.

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  • Steve March 5, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Kidding or not, the threat of violence in a movie review is uncalled for and should be brought to the attention of PSU administration (although I’d bet they are already looking into it), I am anxious to see the film, having mixed feelings about Portland’s cycling culture myself.

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  • r March 5, 2009 at 7:55 am

    I gotta work out some deal with this other person who is on these boards as “r.” maybe I need to go with a capital letter or just change my name altogether.

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  • r March 5, 2009 at 7:57 am

    that having been said. I saw the preview at the Hollywood awhile back, and, I mean, the truth is that the film does take an insider’s perspective on a lot of things, and frankly gives the impression that the Portland bike “scene” consists of a rather small number of people who all know each other.

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  • Vance March 5, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Um, I presume this is a kid, right? Kids make mistakes. ‘Tis why we call ‘em kids. Patience, goodness-gracious. I fail to see how this out-of-context excerpt can be construed as a threat of violence anyway. Poor taste perhaps? Fanciful thinking…? Again…kid. Whatever one’s opinion here, I definitely don’t see the need for personal insults, and patronizing tone.

    I find it interesting that a Portlander with little in the way of a personal-stake, a fellow human unfamiliar with the so-called, “Bike Culture”, in Portland, could be so quickly, and so thoroughly alienated by it. Certainly, blame the kid. Don’t for a second consider whether aspects of the review have merit, or not. Quickly now, divert attention away from the possibility that Portland’s, “Bike Culture”, is off-putting and border-line ridiculous.

    Nope. Better to dogpile some poor college-kid and accuse them of heinous, and insidious crimes against society et al.

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  • Bjorn March 5, 2009 at 8:22 am

    I had a woman pretend that she was going to run me over in a parking lot earlier this year because she didn’t think I was walking fast enough. As I said to her at the time about her joke, which she thought was hilarious, “You’ve never been hit by a car have you?”

    Unfortunately there really is a big divide in this world between people who have spent time in the hospital because of a car and people who haven’t, hopefully someone will figure out a way to get the ideas into their head without having to have them get mowed down too.

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  • MattD March 5, 2009 at 8:30 am

    @Vance #9

    Kids do make mistakes, but Mr. Harger is the staff writer of a college newspaper which means he’s probably old enough to know better and be responsible for his comments.

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  • a March 5, 2009 at 8:45 am

    college newspapers are not known for quality content; staff writers are just learning their discipline.

    it’s not surprising to see. as much as they are adults, college kids haven’t yet matured, go easy on him. my guess is he’s not fundamentally or politically committed to his position. the larger message is he didn’t like the film…big whup

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  • R-diddly March 5, 2009 at 8:46 am

    I’ve been doing 90 to 95% of ALL my transportation by bike, year-round, for about 17 years, and I have no interest in so-called bike “culture” either. I’ve been to these events; I even drank beer, and still, they were BORING. Making this BIG DEAL about “hey wow, we’re on bikes!” seems like either
    a) the natural and understandable reaction of someone who has been starved of the opportunity to be on a bike in whatever bike-unfriendly city they just moved here from,
    or,
    b) maybe more importantly, just another “scene,” another chance for young people who haven’t yet truly established their identities — and I mean no insult there, I only mean that your true identity only comes from working hard at your true life’s work, which is rare to find when you’re 23 — to do something fairly easy (buy a bike) and instantly have a way they can identify themselves (“I ride a bike”), a scene they can fit into (“I’m a Zoobomber”), an instant cadre of friends, and maybe a chance to get laid (which is what motivates 90% of all human activity, and since a bunch of deadly-serious nerds will probably jump all over that “statistic,” let me say, that is what is known as, a “joke”).

    It’s like being a Trekkie (except the getting laid part… HA!) or a punk rocker or a hippie or a mod or a frickin chess fanatic or a fan of whatever band-du-jour. It’s a peer-group you can be part of. For 40-year-old farts like me, all that shit wears off. I don’t need a peer group because I have long-term friendships, I’m not trying to get laid because I’m in a long-term relationship, and meanwhile I have my life’s work and I know more or less who I am and who I want to be. I happen to be a fuckin hard-core biker in the midst of it, but it’s simply my chosen way of traveling between points A, B and C where the important stuff happens. In short, I’m over it. I’m secure in the fact that I’m on a bike every day and I don’t need to prop it up with a lot of hoo-haa. Half these people so into the “bike culture” will buy fucking minivans and SUVs the minute they have their first child.

    I read the review. The writer is being a little flip. Normally it’s ok because people in the audience are able to take a joke. (The minute you lose that ability, you’re doomed.) But anyway, it’s just a college paper, so the tone is more-or-less appropriate. Yeah the right-hook comment goes too far. The tone of Jonathan’s response and these comments is reactionary though, and fails to read between the lines. “He hates us all!” Well no, he’s trying to say, clumsily I admit, that the film shows this “bike community” superficially, without going into enough depth to make anyone in the audience identify with the people onscreen who didn’t already. Hence it’s nothing but a big wankfest. That’s a valid criticism of the movie. Probably he should’ve confined his attention to reviewing the actual movie though.

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  • chrisw March 5, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Meh. I cycle everywhere, but I don’t care for the Zoobomb/Critical Mass crowd either. I’m annoyed that they are considered by some to represent me or cyclists in Portland. They do, however, represent the obnoxious perpetual adolescence that so many people throughout this city seem to have embraced.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 5, 2009 at 8:57 am

    folks,

    “bike culture” is not owned by any one or two groups in portland. The film also happens to focus on the Community Cycling Center, the BTA, and another non-profit.

    Also, R-diddly. you wrote:

    “The tone of Jonathan’s response and these comments is reactionary though, and fails to read between the lines. “

    I don’t agree with that. Please re-read my story and tell me what parts lead you to believe that my tone is “reactionary”.

    I simply pointed out the first negative review I’ve read for Veer… and I made a comment that I didn’t think hate or a flip remark about hitting someone on a bike was such a good idea.

    thanks.

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  • doug March 5, 2009 at 8:59 am

    I can see how his comment wasn’t the best choice of words, but who are we kidding, it’s not a legitimate threat. Dumb, but that’s it.

    Just based on the trailer (I have yet to see the film so correct me if I’m wrong) my guess is this film spends most of its time following zoobombers, dancing bicyclists, bike parades, and people otherwise dressed up and riding around on two wheels. While I do think the writer’s “hatred” comment is pretty harsh, I do kind of resent the idea that the impression of this film might be that “this is biking [in Portland]“.

    I think it’s great to celebrate bikes. Bikes are awesome. But I keep hearing “bike culture” and many of the events linked with it are costume parades or riding down a hill on a kid’s bike or a film like this one. Yes, these are aspects of bike culture, but no more representative of it than clowns in clown cars represent ‘car culture’. If this sounds really negative it’s because I think a strong focus on this stuff, at the expense of people just riding around or getting to work without getting run over, kind of paints ‘bike culture’ in a goofy way that won’t be taken as seriously as it should (in terms of getting good bike measures passed, better infrastructure, etc.)

    Release the hounds!

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  • brian March 5, 2009 at 8:59 am

    I never new what the term “Bike Geek” meant until moving to Portland. It is literal. Let us bring cool back.

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  • k. March 5, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I think Doug (#16) is right on. I won’t release the hounds. He pretty much hits the nail on the head from my perspective. I’m also a part of Portland Bike culture. And while I appreciate the fact that the culture is a diverse one, I also somewhat resent the fact that groups like the Zoo Bombers and the Sprockettes have somehow become the face of it. What they represent is not me.

    And Jonathan, I also think that the Portland bike culture, or community, or what ever you want to call it, is big enough now that we can stop reacting to or rebutting every blurb or statement that comes out from someone about us. Cripes, this is just a student newspaper. Who cares?

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  • Joel March 5, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Stover, prepare yourself for one million hate emails.

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  • Paul Laak March 5, 2009 at 9:24 am

    So sad! I worked for the Daily Vanguard for three years and was the sports editor my senior year (1995-1996). I wrote a big article about being a team captain to the first-ever 24 Hours of Moab and wrote about Paris-Roubaix one spring. But I don’t know how he was able to print an obvious threat, even if “just kidding” followed. Someone should put his Honda on blocks in the park blocks…. NOT KIDDING!!!

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  • Drew March 5, 2009 at 9:24 am

    The social construct we live in today infers that it’s okay to “joke” about directing violence against bicyclists and pedestrians with a motor vehicle. Remember the talk show incident a couple of years ago?

    Those who fall prey to this line thinking are worse than pathetic. This writer is only following the herd. Baaaaa…..

    Perhaps he could to benefit from the same lesson that talk show host was forced into; by riding a bike downtown on risky streets with a guide. Maybe then, an understanding of what “vulnerable” feels like would clear some of the fog in his head.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 5, 2009 at 9:27 am

    “And Jonathan, I also think that the Portland bike culture, or community, or what ever you want to call it, is big enough now that we can stop reacting to or rebutting every blurb or statement that comes out from someone about us. Cripes, this is just a student newspaper. Who cares?”

    I could not agree with you more.

    Folks. Please understand. I did this story to share a review of a film about biking and Portland…. not as a response to the negativity of the review itself.

    as for “Who cares?” about what the reviewer wrote. I do. Snark and criticism is great… but when someone jokes about hitting another person with their car — especially when they do it in a newspaper — I think it’s important for the community to know about it.

    For a review of how serious i think it is when someone makes a joke out of bike/car safety, browse my coverage of the infamous Jammin 95.5 saga. In that case a local shock jock laughed on-air about hitting people on bikes with his car. The community did not take it lightly at all.

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  • kgb March 5, 2009 at 9:32 am

    “I didn’t realize I had such hatred for these people until I watched the movie, and I can’t pinpoint exactly why.”

    Sounds like he could use a couple hundred hours of therapy or a few good long rides in the hills.

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  • Eric Lanners March 5, 2009 at 9:41 am

    The editor of the Vangaurd needs to take a serious look at the author of this paper. What this author is condoning is assault with a deadly weapon. As a journalist you have a responsibility, that has been crossed and there needs to be a movement for your immediate removal from this publication.

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  • Krampus March 5, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Am I the only one thinking this PSU writer just wanted to ruffle some feathers and get his name out there?

    As for his threat, I don’t really view it that way. I think freedom of speech is a good thing and there’s a clear line between a solid threat and some dark humor, and his comment was the latter. I don’t think we should censor everything that any group/minority/”culture”/whatever can take offense with (not that Jon is insinuating that).

    I will say, though, I have little interest in seeing this documentary. As a bicycle riding resident of Portland, I’m affiliated with none of this contrived “culture” business, I just hop on and ride, no image or politics needed.

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  • R-diddly March 5, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Like I said, I agree that the right-hook comment went too far. In a court, that might even qualify as “hate speech” against a particular group. College paper or no, I think he ought to apologize or maybe face a lawsuit! Thereby learning how to be a journalist/critic.

    There’s already enough misplaced bike-hatred around. But the ironic thing is, hate can only remain or increase when people don’t identify with the people they’re hating. Veer had the chance to bridge that gap and, according to this review, kind of blew it. And if that’s so (and I haven’t seen the film BTW), then we all lose a little, whether we’re all wacky going “hey look at me!” on a bike or just getting somewhere.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 5, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Veer had the chance to bridge that gap…

    I agree.. and that’s what I’m most curious to see as this film spreads out to a wider audience. Will it succeed in connecting with non-bikers? Or, will it fall flat with all but a bike-loving audience (like it has with this reviewer)?

    I would just encourage everyone to see the movie for themselves and read more about it before making any judgments.

    I think some of the most moving and memorable parts are of the BTA working to pass laws in Salem and how local non-profits work hard to keep their dreams alive.

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  • Jim Lee March 5, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Dude drives a Honda.

    How sick is that?

    Rats Rule!

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  • SJ March 5, 2009 at 10:14 am

    I have to say, irrespective of the Vanguard review, really, that I don’t “get” Portland’s bike culture, either. On the one hand, you have Zoobombers, kids at heart adults, primarily, who function largely as what seems to be an anarchic, semi-artsy risk-taking group (who don’t have a full respect for the very laws that other bikers want to fully support); on the other hand, you have hey, what the heck laid back fun people who are doing that, having fun, no harm, no foul. There are other groups and different shades of bikers, of course–fixies (emo on wheels?) to cross crusaders, to cruisers to tall-bikes (um, ok?), but in Portland, the group has maybe turned into a clique open to easy ridicule. I count myself with those who just want to get to work and back on a bike. I don’t have a huge desire to connect with others on bikes because the “culture” isn’t important to me, especially when I see SO MANY RIDERS without helmets, who STILL don’t stop when at lights/signs, who STILL DON’T GET IT–I keep to myself and try not to lump myself in because, sadly, the public’s view of bikers, like the Vanguard reviewer’s, is too often formed when the bad apple makes the group look plain silly.

    Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the movie but plan to. And I’m not about not having fun, but I get it when folks who don’t ride see “us” as hipsters who are trying too hard to form an identity out of a mode of transportation.

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  • Bob_M March 5, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Hargar can’t tell from the Honda’s mirror if a cyclist is a beery bike cultist or a cycling business professional, but his mean spiritedness and eagerness to commit violence is detestable. Fie and a pox on his house.

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  • geoffrey March 5, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Bjorn: I get this on a painfully frequent basis despite having the tattoos from a number of hospital stays:
    http://sockpuppet.ca/xray

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  • Esther March 5, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Doug: I just saw Veer last night and if I recall correctly, it devoted time as equally to the Community Cycling Center’s school program, BTA lobbying in Salem, Nick Bucher’s parents and ECT as it did to Zoobombing and Sprockettes.

    Krampus: I agree with you about language and thought policing. I do think it is disappointing and frustrating (and frankly, just kinda evil) to joke about right hooks, especially in light of Tracy Sparling’s death, but I’m not going to lose too much sleep over the PSU Vanguard, which I’ve never perceived (or heard of anyone else perceive) as more than fishwrap.
    However, I think it’s somewhat specious to say you just hop on and ride…when the tireless political and visibility work of bicyclists like those featured in the movie have made the roads much much much safer, and have made riding that much more exponentially enjoyable over the years.

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  • mark Twain March 5, 2009 at 10:33 am

    @#16

    “Yes, these are aspects of bike culture, but no more representative of it than clowns in clown cars represent ‘car culture’.”

    Absolutely beautiful!!!

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  • Kevin March 5, 2009 at 10:52 am

    # 21 Drew said,
    “The social construct we live in today infers that it’s okay to “joke” about directing violence against bicyclists and pedestrians with a motor vehicle. Remember the talk show incident a couple of years ago?”

    I don’t have to remember the talk show incident. I’m living this right now. An SUV driver buzzed us, then told me if he ever saw me on the road again he’d run me over. I hit his mirror with an open hand and told him we’d need to talk to the police. He then intentionally ran into me as I turned to leave and then drove away.

    We called the police.

    I got a ticket for Criminal Mischief 2, a misdemeanor with up to $5000 fine.

    The driver was not cited for hit and run.
    The drive was not cited for assault.

    I have a court date for last March.

    full story at http://tinyurl.com/bluesuv

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  • Krampus March 5, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Esther: point taken

    Kevin: Yes, but you should not have hit his rearview mirror. If he’s crazy enough to take a swerve at you for nothing, he’s crazy enough to hit you with his car if you hit his mirror. Some people are just crazy. While he had no right to do what he did, you had no right to hit his mirror. That doesn’t make you safer.. if anything it puts you in greater danger and only agitates the driver. Plus now he has a defense, at least one as good as yours.

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  • Spencer Boomhower March 5, 2009 at 11:30 am

    My problem is less with the quick-right-hand-turn comment and more with the particular iceburg of which it’s the tip.

    As a society, we’re so infatuated with cars that we’ve become inured to their dangers. It’s easy to forget how dangerous they are until you ride among them without the comforting protection of two thousand pounds of armor. Or read stories like the one yesterday about the cyclist being scraped along the pavement by the idiot who couldn’t be bothered to remain conscious and/or sober behind the wheel.

    Cars are really dangerous. They can kill as effectively as guns, and plus do things guns can’t do, like crush human bodies.

    Pointing a car in a threatening manner at a vulnerable road user is like pointing a gun at someone. Revving the engine is like cocking the hammer.

    That flippant comment doesn’t stand out among a lot of American discourse, but translate it into gun terms and you can see the ugly: “All I know is I have a weird desire to walk into a room full of (random subculture of your choosing) and start firing my pistol at random. Just kidding.”

    Not really “ha-ha” funny, is it?

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  • Krampus March 5, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Revving the engine is like cocking the hammer?? what? That’s a bit much. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read or heard cyclists joke about running over pedestrians who don’t get out of the way, but I treat it the same as this PSU story, just talk. I think if cyclists become known as being excessively whiney about every little thing perceived as a ‘threat’ it’ll make us all look worse. Just ignore the guy.. he’s a writer for the Vanguard and you’re giving him center stage.. it’ll only inspire more ‘threats’.

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  • Mark C March 5, 2009 at 11:49 am

    As someone who dons spandex to go on long rides on my racing bike, and who also uses my city-style bike to get around town while dressed in regular clothes, I tend to agree with the comments above about the unfortunate tendency to focus on the zoo-bomber, hipster crowd as representative of cyclists in Portland. I think the real key to getting more people on bikes is to focus on everyday people who are using bikes for many different reasons. That way, people who are reluctant to cycle more can’t so easily write it off as something for the young, underemployed, tattooed crowd.

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  • slammy March 5, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    i would say that the author reads bikeportland.org a lot and intentionally crafted the review based on the content of this site. where else in portland media are right-hooks discussed in depth? he is making a joke out of Brett and Tracey’s lives. I’d reckon there’s some PNCA/PSU student crossover and somebody’s going to be pissed after reading this.

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  • david March 5, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    I agree with the posters above about falling into the crowd of using my bike to get around. I don’t particularly like that the Zoobomers or “hipster” crowd is what people usually think of when they think of bikes. That being said there are a lot of things I like about other aspects to Portland’s bike culture even if I don’t’ feel the need to be a huge part of it.

    Though I have to say I’m interested to see how many people are still riding fixed gears around town in 5 years as I’m curious if it’s just a fad. :)

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  • Editz March 5, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Just as films like Woodstock helped perpetuate the myth that all of American youth culture was comprised of mud covered hippies, it appears that Veer may be doing the same for bike users in Portland.

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  • hanmade March 5, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Ok so here’s my 5 cent review (I saw it last night and I’m an almost everyday commuter). I think that the “Portland bike culure” should includ everyone who bikes, but instead of being inclusive, the movie was very exclusive, only showing a small percent of what I think biking in Portland is all about. Sometimes the sound was bad and the editing could use some help. The movie doesn’t reach out to a broad public but preaches to the (small) choir. Yes, I was a bit dissapointed. maybe it will inspire another filmaker to do more!

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  • SkidMark March 5, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Now when I see a Honda i’m gonna want to put my handlebar right through it’s side mirror.

    JK

    I think that the people who were riding fixed gear 5 years ago will be the ones still riding fixed gear 5 years from now.

    hopethishelps

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  • SkidMark March 5, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Also, the majority of Zoobombers commute by bike, and the serious (fast) ones wear helmets. Let’s remember who took 2nd and 3rd at the Maryhill Festival of Speed.

    And if you don’t feel that were “represented” please make your own documentary.

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  • P Finn March 5, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    In other words, “Until somebody makes a truly convincing documentary aimed at getting motorists out of their Hondas and in the saddle, I’ll continue to belittle their efforts and threaten their livelihood.”

    Yeesh.

    Sort of makes me wish for a Every Cyclist Drives to School Day to show Stover E Harger III how much he & his Honda benefit from those who choose to ride in alleviating congestion, freeing up parking, etc. Not kidding.

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  • Kevin March 5, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Krampus, I’ll take my lumps for smacking his mirror, but if you have read my blog you have read my reasons. I couldn’t tell you that I might not do that again in the same circumstances. The driver and I will both get our say in court. Without that, it would be my word (and my witnesses’) that this guy was even in the area that day.

    Hardly a revving of an engine, this guy violated the law and put our lives in jeopardy by his close pass. Truly in the law’s language, “a reckless disregard for life”. He showed even more reckless disregard for life when he ran into me intentionally.

    Yup, I hit his mirror with my hand, his answer? Assault with a deadly weapon along with hit and run.

    Just add those two felonies to the long list of misdemeanors this guy will be looking at.

    And yes, when I’m done with this cycling will be safer for you too.

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  • dan March 5, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    I’m a super bike-fanatic, and love what Portland is all about… I have to admit I haven’t seen the documentary yet, but I can understand the sentiment by some that the “bike culture” that keeps getting so much attention is the zoobombers/sprockettes/ironclad/team beer sect. That side of Portland bicycling is great, but it’s really getting old. As much as I like this blog, it is also guilty of focusing too much on that one side of the bike culture here. As an avid cyclist I want to get involved with what is going on, but often I show up at events and because I’m not in the small circle of P-town bicycle heroes, I usually feel out of place and end up leaving. There’s a lot of people with great bicycle stories in this town that do not involve eagerly attracting attention to themselves in some way… why don’t we hear more about them?

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  • SkidMark March 5, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    dan, we just do what we do. We would still be doing it if nobody noticed or cared. The idea that I (or anyone else) build and ride freakbikes for anyone other than myself is laughable, it’s too much work, and there is just as much negative attention as there is positive attention.

    “We wanna be free to do what we want to do. We want to be free to ride our machines and not get hassled by the man…and we wanna get loaded!”

    (quote from “Blues”, played by Peter Fonda in the Wild Angels)

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  • Whyat March 5, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Veer focused on zoobombers and dancing bikes because that is more interesting than watching me commute uneventdfully to work every day on Lincoln.

    Stover E. Harger used colorful language in his review because that is more interesting than reading a colorless 2 dimensional piece. Maybe he didn’t hit it right, but that was clearly his intention, and not running over cyclists.

    My take on this is that if there really is a singular PDX bike culture out there, they take themselves WAY too seriously and need to relax.

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  • Close- but no March 5, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I did not care for the movie as a whole. Some fun and interesting parts, but sporadic at best.

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  • m March 5, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    while I agree the “right hook” comment was in poor taste, look at the bright side. At least he’s raising awareness of the potential danger.

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  • Paulo March 5, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    I didn’t read the review, but it seems poorly written and by someone who has a chip on their shoulder. For me, I was excited to see the film but was disappointed. It was very disconnected, lacked depth and was more of a fun montage to share with folks already involved in the Portland bike scene. Some fun parts – particularly the Zoobomber spots were great. Good attempt and as someone already said, more focus on the characters would have added a lot more. 1 out of 4 stars.

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  • Curt Dewees March 5, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I believe very strongly in freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I may disagree with this kid’s feelings about us [bicyclists], but I am very interested in his views. I think it’s helpful to listen to the honest, uncensored feelings–including the off-the-cuff, “just kidding” remarks–of those who don’t like bicyclists and don’t understand Portland’s “bike culture” or “bicycling lifestyle.” These people are out there driving cars, all around us, every day. It’s healthy to be reminded now and then of how some (perhaps more than a few?) of these clueless car drivers feel about us.

    Hopefully this student/writer will read some of our reviews of his “review” and learn something from our feedback. Perhaps he will become a better and more thoughtful writer because of it.

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  • JP March 5, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    I wish there was no such thing as a “Portland bike culture.” Instead, I wish it was just a bunch of people trying to get from home to work or work to home or to the grocery store on their bikes because it makes sense and everyone else around realizes that not everyone has enough money to drive.

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  • Coco March 5, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    The current editor-in-chief of the Daily Vanguard is Nathan Hellman. If you felt this article was offensive, you can email him your comments, respectably, at

    editor@dailyvanguard.com

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  • sumadis March 5, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    As a cyclist, filmmaker and occasional film critic, I’ve been on all sides of this fence. Seems to me that one of the easiest things to do in journalism is to show ‘wit’ through cynicism. Critical articles are an art, one that’s been abused by anyone trying to showcase their own snide, cheeky brand of ‘humor’ in the form of criticism. To put it another way, it’s way ‘cooler’ to write a negative article than a constructive one – not every film flack can be Anthony Lane, but they all try. While it’s interesting to get the outsider’s opinion, take a grain of salt with the stone soup this kid is eating while he writes to satisfy his own ego.

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  • SkidMark March 5, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Why can’t it be both, JP? That would be really inclusive. What wrong with just enjoying a bike ride, why does it have to be just about transit?

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  • Anonymous March 5, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Mr. Harger’s opinion of the movie doesn’t matter. He could have come out as a cycling enthusiast with a playful urge to slash a few car tires and it would have been just as inappropriate.

    The kid is a student learning about being a journalist. He put his words out there and now he gets to have a learning experience and take his lumps.

    This brings to mind a bit that I seem to remember from a Terry Pratchett novel where one of the more thoughtful characters wonders why it’s easier for someone to say something outrageous and follow it with a, “No offense intended,” than it is to avoid commiting the offense in the first place.

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  • buglas March 5, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Oops. #58 is mine. Didn’t notice that the name field was cleared. I’m not one for anonymous slams.
    dls

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  • revphil March 5, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    i was on the the Westward Ho! Bike Porn Southwestern tour the previous times it played, so i was pretty stoked to finally be able to go watch it.

    I care about bikes in movies, how they are portrayed, and the artists’ intentions. That shit matters to me a lot more than whinny internerds’ bitchin.

    Veer was a massive undertaking. They interviewed many different Portland bikers, unsure what exactly would come from their 9 months of footage. The directors made more of a classic documentary as opposed to the modern scripted nonfiction doc-u-stories. Veer shows 5 Portland cyclists sharing with the world something they love.

    Sure, its not perfect. I was initially frustrated by the lack of narrative drive most of the stories had. Only the BTA’s vinguette had a clear resolution:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dramatic_structure

    But then, this is a documentary, not a made for BikePortland TV audience.

    After watching the movie some friends from Richmond VA came with us on a big-bike-bomb. Sometimes I forget how good riding makes me feel. Zoobombing on a rain-free March night without a single car on the road is about as good as it gets.

    To Jason, Greg, thanks for putting a smile on my face last night.

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  • Blah Blah Blah March 5, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    So…Let’s see. I wouldn’t expect anything less from you guys if a piece was done up on the car culture in Portland. And who cares what this guy says, I’m sure the people who are going to see the movie aren’t going to be influenced by what he says. Plus, I would not have even heard of this guy if it hadn’t been posted here.

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  • D.R. Miller March 5, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Hey, why am I not in the film? How can it represent the Portland Bike Scene if it ain’t got me? But seriously, I have to agree with what Skidmark said, “we just do what we do. We would still be doing it if nobody noticed or cared.” That’s been my experience of the the many facets of the local “bike scene” since, well, since the storied days of yore. Outside attention comes and goes. It has no real impact. On the other hand such attention, if people start to believe in it and court it for self-serving purposes, *can* be a danger to the relatively integrity of any scene. Typically this kind of media-magnification induced explosion/implosion has happened to music scenes (e.g. Seattle circa 1990) but can happen to other subcultures too. One difference here is that bikes are ultimately utilitarian machines, and will not go away. But as more and more “ordinary” people ride them (in these money-tight times) the specialness and the very idea of a distinct “bike culture” may wane. Or to put it another way: whereas 6 or 7 years ago it might have been accurate to speak of a relatively single Portland “bike scene” and culture, now and into the future the population of regular bikers becomes large enough that it is impossible to speak in those terms. But SUBcultures of particular bike-fun-ism will continue to flourish as long as people keep doing things they love and congregating with others of like mind.

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  • April March 5, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    R-diddly:

    Wow. Way to make assumptions about the bike scene. Because there’s nobody in the bike scene/bike culture who is forty or over, or in a long-term relationship, or who has found their “life’s work.”

    One of the things I love about the bike stuff going on in Portland is that it sometimes is a great mix of people, and they can be open and fun to boot.

    I think it’s wonderful how, if you start riding your bike and talking to people and going to events, it’s easy to meet really great people, and make friends.

    In any case, I don’t understand why so many people commenting to this post seem so grumpy about fun bike stuff. If you don’t enjoy that kind of thing, don’t participate; what’s the point of being down on fun stuff other people are doing?

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  • beth h March 5, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    I admit I’m growing somewhat tired of the term “bike culture”.

    I feel rather outside of the core of “bike culture”. I ride my bike mostly to get places. It’s mostly good. It could be a lot better in some ways. I am blessed to live in a town where LOTS of other people also ride from place to place. I have to fight for my space on the roads, but that’s part and parcel of being an adult on a bicycle in the urban landscape. I love riding my bike enough that I’m willing to put up with the bad and experience the good.

    That’s really about it.

    Is that enough to build a “culture” around? Is culture simply a thing we’ve commodified until it becomes “chic”? If so, I’m OUT of the culture. Based on the press that organizations seen as somehow “IN” the culture get, I’m too slow and too old to be part of that kind of bike culture. I certainly hope a broader cross-section of people appeared in the movie “Veer” than the demographic shown in the film’s trailer (mostly young and mostly white). if not, then either Veer is not representative of Portland’s bike culture, or Portland’s bike culture doesn’t include a broad cross-section of people.

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  • James Ceccorulli March 5, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    My name is James Ceccorulli. I am involved in many aspects of bike culture at PSU; the cycling club, racing team and I am a member of the student formed Bicycle Advocacy Committee. Please understand that in no way does Stover’s sick comments towards bicycle safety reflect the countless hours that many of us dedicated students and staff put in here to make the campus more bike friendly. PSU is committed to working with the cycling community to expand the bike culture here and create alternatives to “right hooking hondas”. Please understand that to those of us who work so hard to advocate the bicycle as an everyday tool, this article is hurtful and a giant step backwards. On behalf of the school I attend and work at I apologize to Portland.

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  • Ken Wetherell March 5, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    “In any case, I don’t understand why so many people commenting to this post seem so grumpy about fun bike stuff. If you don’t enjoy that kind of thing, don’t participate; what’s the point of being down on fun stuff other people are doing?

    Well put, April. Or as my mom used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.

    Bikes are wonderful and versatile machines ranging in forms of artistic expression, sport, efficient transportation, business ventures, and more. To each his or her own.

    I see a diverse bunch of people who have at least one thing in common — an above average appreciation for the bicycle. Certainly, this is enough reason to look for ways to lift each other up. To me, this is the essence of a rich and living culture.

    Smile on. :)

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  • Dan Kaufman March 6, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Go see Veer! It’s fun to watch honest and informative. But I have a totally biased view (no mustache or glasses) but certainly biased.

    As a 40-something, married, father of three and native Portlander I’ve GOT to tell all you KILLJOYS that I absolutely and obviously adore Portland’s “bike culture” and am proud to be part of it.

    I guess I’m too young to be a hippy and too old to be a hipster but I’ve always dug hip. The bike scene is hip? Great!

    Zoo Bomb = Fun Free and you are invited
    Midnight Mystery Ride = ditto
    Mini-Bike winter = ditto
    Pedalpalooza = ditto
    World Naked Bike Ride = ditto
    BTA = Activists making a difference
    CCC = Ditto
    Bridge Pedal = Amazing
    Breakfast on the Bridges = Nice and yummy
    Filmed by Bike = Good stuff
    Bike Porn = sexy
    Cross Crusade = More than just races
    Bike industry = good jobs
    Who/what am I forgetting – Earl Blumenauer, the Springwater…

    I bike because it’s fun and liberating. I like to be with fun, liberated people.
    You don’t? That’s fine, but please don’t hope for my demise.

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  • froot dawg March 6, 2009 at 7:50 am

    i skipped to the best part! dan is right portland’s bike culture is all that and dont forget our velodrome with almost nightly racing in the summer! mt. tabor series both great spectator events! the general commuters, easy riders, team beer, the races out a kruger’s farm on sauvie island (family fun), the worst day of the year ride (a benefit for ccc) family fun, the hottest day of the year ride all fun, the dozen or so frame builders! portland bike culture is great. i have not seen the movie but i cant wait to. and if you have a different view of the portland bike culture MAKE YOUR OWN FILM!! and making fun, or just kidding about hitting a cyclist is not cool at all, some one else said it, unless you have been hit, swiped, knocked off you bike you might not get it and i hope you dont but it. and maybe that guy should ride more!! ride carefully!!

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  • Tasha March 6, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Dan-

    Thank you for that! As a 31 year old married, home body,fuddy duddy, I have been afraid to try the Midnight Mystery Ride and Zoobombing. You may have just changed my mind. I do already enjoy Breakfast on the Bridges (come try my muffins!) and Riding Naked in June. Oh and Pedealpalooza is a blast!

    Why does being 40 and married have to make one NOT enjoy being with people who enjoy having fun on their bikes? Most people I’ve met through the “bike scene” are over 30 and in relationships. Their not out to get laid or wasted or whatever else. They just want to have fun! I hope I’m still allowed to have fun when I’m 40. If not, kill me now.

    Hugs,
    Tasha

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  • Aaron March 6, 2009 at 11:05 am

    My letter to ‘The Vanguard’
    I would like to register a complaint against your newspaper regarding Stover E Harger III’s movie review of ‘Veer’. Mr. Harger did not simply write a criticism of the movie’s shortcomings (which I agree are many), he used the article to make an extensive complaint against a segment of Portland society which puts him in the same realm as Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken, more opinion than fact. But Mr. Harger went well beyond the limit of legitimate reporting when he used the article to make threats against the cyclists of Portland by using his car as a weapon. This is unforgivable in any context not the least being a public venue.
    I think I’ll make my point to him by finding his Honda and cutting the brake lines, oops just kidding.

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  • j-biddy March 6, 2009 at 11:39 am
  • Aka March 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    http://www.dailyvanguard.com/2.4063/1.1122944-1.1122944

    I think this article says that if you are riding a fixie with brake, you are poser. If you don’t have brakes, you are meant to get into an accident. if you have a fix gear bike and are not a bike messenger, you are an idiot …

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  • jake March 6, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Reading these comments was pure, unadulterated comic pleasure.

    Bicycles are hunks of metal to get us from A to B. Nothing more.

    Considering how adolescent most people in the “bike community” (not even close to all the people who ride bikes here) seem to be, the whole lame bike “culture” thing is no surprise. Look at any place where bikes really are part of the culture and you’ll see none of this horseshit.

    Laughable, but keep it up please! I love it!

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  • Spencer Boomhower March 6, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    #37 Krampus (sorry for the sloooow reply, hope you get this.)

    “Revving the engine is like cocking the hammer?? what? That’s a bit much”

    I don’t think it is. Though, if it wasn’t clear, I wasn’t talking about any old engine-revving. I’m talking about someone pointing a car at you in a menacing way, with the intent to show you they could hurt or kill you, and going vroom-vrroom-vrooom as a means a of expressing that menace.

    Using a car to threaten harm isn’t all that uncommon. Like in Kevin’s story:

    “An SUV driver buzzed us, then told me if he ever saw me on the road again he’d run me over. I hit his mirror with an open hand and told him we’d need to talk to the police. He then intentionally ran into me as I turned to leave and then drove away.”

    I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of thing, though not on a bike. I was in a crosswalk, and a driver who seemed to think I didn’t have the right of way roared halfway into the intersection then slammed to a stop just short of where I was. More than a revved engine, but you get the idea. It felt very much like being threatened with a weapon.

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  • Fi March 7, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Tasteless jokes should be ignored, not incite anger, or you are just giving in. P.S threatening to cut someone’s breaks is really just fighting fire with fire. You don’t know how to find someone’s break line, nor do you have the tools to cut it. Just like I am sure Stover doesn’t want to run people over with his car, that would cause an outrageous increase in his monthly insurance, and in this economy, how can anyone condone that?

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  • Christopher March 7, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    the movie looks really bad to me too. seriously, it seems almost masturbatory.

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  • Colin March 8, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    This movie sounds reallllly gay.

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  • Anonymous Supporter March 8, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    All of you need to stop taking the comment at face value and understand its purpose rather than its literal meaning. The way this comment has made you feel is exactly how many people have felt towards the Portland counter-culture and the goons that have infiltrated the bicycle culture. Everyone needs to realize that these drunken time wasters are not worthy of a full length documentary and their childlike behavior in no way define what Portland has ever been.

    I feel your pain Stover.

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  • pezzy July 20, 2009 at 1:53 am

    Stover Harger writes this kind of stuff about people’s interest groups. He did the same kind of hatchet job on science fiction fans a couple of years ago. There was no attempt to be neutral and professional. He looked for ways to say negative things about the people and their hobby. I know that he’s writing articles for some of the local weekly papers and I can guarantee I am not buying any paper that lets him write for them.

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  • Rondo January 19, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Review aside, the movie did suck. Fortunately, I already dislike Portland fixie-hipsters so it really didn’t change anything.

    Working as a bike ambassador for a year, I also observed that motorists are more polite than cyclists. Motorists seem intimidated, not knowing what cyclists are going to do, while cyclists said crap like “I don’t care about cars, I’m a victim, I have a right to the road, I can do whatever I want.” As an avid bike racer, tourist, and bike commuter, it’s a tough pill to swallow hearing that motorists are seemingly above my own culture.

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