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‘Mein Fiets’: Hitler on Critical Mass and Portland’s bike scene

Posted by on July 8th, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Watch Hitler expound on
Portland’s bike scene in
the video below.
(Still from the movie Downfall)

Portland filmmaker Joe Biel has collaborated with veteran local bike scene participant Allan Folz on Mien Fiets, a short video that attempts to explain what has happened to bike activism in Portland since the demise of Critical Mass (a ride that once rallied locals in the hundreds, now barely even exists).

Mein Fiets, a crowd favorite at Filmed by Bike where it debuted back in April, was made by using a creative translation of the oft-parodied bunker scene from the 2004 film Downfall about the last 10 days of Adolf Hitler.

In the film, Hitler becomes enraged when he learns that no one rides in Critical Mass anymore. Here’s one of the exchanges, starting with a tirade from Hitler after he’s told that no one has shown up for the ride:

Hitler: “Critical Mass made Portland. Without Critical Mass the only cyclists in Portland would be middle aged bike geeks commuting across Hawthorne Bridge in yellow Burley jackets. Critical Mass rallied folks out of their homes and onto their bikes, bringing us together once a month… made a community.”

Officer: “My leader, the cyclists have won. There is no need to protest.”

Hitler: “You think there is no need to protest? *** Bullshit! This is Little Beirut for Christ sakes!…”

Watch the 3 min 55 sec video below:

Can I get a translater? from Joe Biel on Vimeo.

This spirit of this film is complementary to a larger film Biel is working on titled, Aftermass: A post Critical Mass Portland. That film (which he’s trying to raise money for via Kickstarter) will look to tie the demise of Critical Mass in Portland to a resulting lack of aggressive, grassroots activism for bicycles in this city in general. I could write a lot on that topic (I agree with the general idea) but for now, watch the video and let us know what you think.

[BTW, am I the only one that sees the irony in Hitler delivering this message, given the fact that for a lot of people, their negative perceptions of people who ride bikes and the "bike Nazis" termf was likely formed from their memories of Critical Mass participants?"]

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Comments
  • Caffeinated Bliss July 8, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    So THERE ARE Portland Bike Nazis?

    http://portlandbikenazis.blogspot.com/

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  • Jabin July 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    The movie is “Downfall”

    Thanks Jabin. I’ve updated the story. — Jonathan

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  • Did I miss it? Again? July 8, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Meh – I like this one better. Created years ago using same scene.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL1pq-ZBeGc

    N.B. May contain offensive language.

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  • Paul Cone July 8, 2010 at 4:17 pm
  • neighbor July 8, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I’m so glad this is available online- I was laughing too hard to catch all the subtitles when I saw it at Filmed by Bike.

    Freaking brilliant.

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  • Roma July 8, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    “Critical Mass rallied folks out of their homes and onto their bikes, bringing us together once a month… made a community.”

    I disagree. Critical Mass brought out the fringe elements of the Portland bike scene and/or already dedicated cyclists. It also pissed off motorists to no end thereby worsening the rift between cars and cyclists.

    If you really want to make a difference, you’ll get normal everyday car driving people out on their bikes. CM does not accomplish this. Right or wrong, I always viewed CM as an exclusive rather than inclusive event. Yes, I understand it wasn’t, but that’s just the way I always perceived it. But hey, I’m the type of guy that would rather ride over to Salmon than ride 10mph down Hawthorne just because I’m legally within my rights to do so. I’m glad CM is a thing of the past.

    Besides, we have events all the time where we come together as a bicycle community that bring out MUCH greater numbers than Critical Mass ever did.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Hi neighbor,

    thanks for reminding me that it first screened at Filmed by Bike. I’ve edited the story to include that fact.

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  • Red Five July 8, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Glad to see Hitler is funny again. wow.

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  • Devian Gilbert July 8, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    that clip is genius!

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  • Elliot July 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I’m sure the video is funny (I’ll watch it when I get home from work), but like Roma (#6) I disagree with the premise of “Aftermass”. Roma makes several good points.

    Like other forms of protest, Critical Mass was useful for gaining attention to what, at the time, was a fringe issue. Now that bicycling has political champions, established advocacy groups, bike shops that are active in supporting advocates, and a host of non-profits from Shift to the CCC doing all sorts of things, Critical Mass doesn’t really have a place to contribute. People who cling to it are just reminiscing, or want to foster an us versus them atmosphere to feel good about themselves for being on the “right” side, or are trying to dredge it up for political reasons.

    It will come back if it’s needed (hopefully not). Let it die peacefully… no need to exhume it for an autopsy.

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  • bh July 8, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Man I’ve been looking for this for *ever* since FBB. Thanks for posting this :)

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  • Marcus Griffith July 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Critical mass is like puberty: dramatic, chaotic and meant to be a short term stage in development. However, like puberty, many people seem to idolize the time period as something more meaningful than it really was.

    Critical Mass Riders: you had your wet dream, now wake up, change your sheets and go out to face the real world as well adjusted adult.

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  • beth h July 8, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    @ #8:

    I think it depends on who you ask.

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  • eljefe July 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    so you move to Portland after the bike culture is well developed and hate on those of us who had the courage to develop it.

    You’re welcome.

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  • OuterToob July 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Am I missing something? How is it that using Hitler as a spokesman for Critical Mass or rallying behind Hitler’s message to join Critical Mass intelligent or even slightly funny at all?

    Just a reminder for everyone who forgot recent historical events, Hitler was potentially the most evil hated person in the entire history of planet Earth – I don’t see how this is ‘freaking brilliant’ or even remotely funny to anyone.

    I personally have several relatives that were seriously injured fighting the Axis Powers in WWII as I am sure many of us do. Some of us had their family history completely wiped out when their relatives were ejected from their homes or interned in prison camps by Hiitler and his hilarious pals.

    Really, are these guys so out of touch that they forgot that their parents, or grandparents were alive and in one way shape or form most likely suffered in some way because of Hitler? It’s estimated that over 60 Million people were killed in WWII fighting this butt munch- why would anyone want to be associated with the Nazis?

    If this is what Critical Mass is about, I think it should be dragged down into a bunker and have a bullet shot into it’s head once and for all.

    Fun for the whole family my ass!

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  • Roma July 8, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    @eljefe (#14)

    Courage to develop it? Show me any evidence of causation between Critical Mass and increased cycling or cycling infrastructure in Portland.

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  • Bob_M July 8, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Marcus #12
    your analogies are funny and insightful.

    My questions are:
    What is wrong with middle aged bike geeks? Time was middle aged guys longed for a Porsche, now they covet Renovo. And who the heck wears a Burley rain jacket. All the real fred/geeks wear Showers Pass in that saffron yellow.

    Oh- the video is funny.

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  • Bob_M July 8, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Roma & eljefe

    Critical Mass was responsible for evolving Portland’s bike culture because it was so onerous, confrontational and divisive that civilized cyclists had no choice than to become activists. It is sorta like the gulf oil spill is good for the environment because it draws attention to the problems of oil drilling and use.

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  • Elliot July 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Watch your assumptions, eljefe (#14). I’m native, and ridden in plenty of Critical Masses, including the gigantic 10th anniversary Mass, and been abused and ticketed by the Portland Police while riding in it.

    Critical Mass had it’s place for a while, but times change.

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  • Elliot July 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    *its place

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  • Roma July 8, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    @bob_m (#18)

    Yeah I regretted that comment after I posted it. As Elliot said, Critical Mass had its place. I took offense at the assumption that we’re all ungrateful transplants (not me) and inference that Critical Mass was solely responsible for making Portland what it is.

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  • Huggybear July 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Their is nothing funny about Hitler in any kind of film. End of story.

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  • Michael M. July 8, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    @OuterToob (#15) — You might be interested in what Downfall‘s director has to say: “As for the idea of such a serious scene being used for laughs, Hirschbiegel thinks it actually fits with the theme of the movie. ‘The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality,’ he says. ‘I think it’s only fair if now it’s taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like.’”

    Humor is subjective, of course, and you’re perfectly within the limits of reason to find Downfall parodies inappropriate. But given that there have been hundreds of them (dozens of which have been hugely popular), it’s apparent that a wide swath of people don’t agree with your take on the matter.

    As for me, I think the idea has worn a little thin at this point — as has the idea of Critical Mass.

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  • Skipping the heat July 8, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    It seems the film is more about cycling in the post-Rev. Phil era.

    To look back at the days when Rev. Phil and his cohort of bike gods ruled the land. When he spoke, the ground would shake and panties would drop… too bad such a time never existed.

    Rev. Phil is not responsible for the popularity of cycling in Portland anymore than Sam Adams is responsible for making intern sex popular.

    The truth is that Rev. Phil is no longer relevant, if he ever was. He is a punch line to a joke that has gone out of style and wasn’t that funny to begin with.

    I agree, there is nothing funny about Hitler references.

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  • eljefe July 8, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Roma, I’ll give you an example of how critical mass increased cycling n Portland: myself. I started riding in 1995 when I was 15. Critical mass showed me that I wasn’t alone and that other people believed I had a right to space on the road. It was a radical fringe idea at the time. I don’t suggest that critical mass was the only component of bike culture back then, but it was significant. Can anybody name another expression memorable expression of bike culture from the time? I didn’t mean to target any individual with my comment, but there is a tendency among newer residents to criticize and second-guess strategies that were part of creating real privileges we all enjoy today. Direct action is one of those strategies, and I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to the activists that came before us and gave us a world better than the one they knew.

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  • spare_wheel July 8, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    “It also pissed off motorists to no end thereby worsening the rift between cars and cyclists.”

    What rift?

    Polling and voting shows that most people in PDX support bikes and bike infrastructure.

    Perhaps you mean the tiny but vocal minority that gets lots of play in our sensationalist corporate media…

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  • OuterToob July 8, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    @ #23

    I agree, the parody of the Downfall scene is about as original as a ‘Got Milk’ rip off. HEY – Got Critical Mass? – Oh dear lord, that’s FUNNY!!! (Actually it isn’t at all.)

    Yes hundreds of these lame parodies have been hugely popular, Hitler was hugely popular to the German people, did that make him right? Or did that just make a bunch of people extremely wrong?

    Just for the sake of argument, why don’t we take this idea one step further, maybe the authors of this parody could generate a few hilarious KKK biking parodies with the Grand Master rolling through No Po – the films would obviously be completely socially acceptable if a bunch of racists got some laughs, you know, because rallying behind any mentally ill murderer who kills anyone different than himself is a logical fit with cycling.

    And, seeing as how we’re the ‘different’ ones on the road, are we going to start laughing at everyone being run over by cars soon – they’re kinda like all of the Poles and Jews that were killed by Hitler right? You know, just minding their own business and then murdered for being ‘different’. I’m sure a few subtitled parodies of cars running over people on bikes would generate some laughs with the MSM crowd and be ‘hugely popular’ – as it was pointed out, humor is completely subjective so using Hitler as a spokesmodel must be acceptable as long as some fleeting minority finds humor in it.

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  • Red Five July 8, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    The ones that find Hitler amusing are the fixie riding, Pabst drinking, hipster kiddies who had everything handed to them by mommy and daddy and have no real idea what poor taste this whole thing really is.

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  • joel July 8, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    not amused. call me old-fashioned, but it will *always* be too soon.

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  • SkidMark July 8, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Strange Roma, I agree with you, yet I am part of the “fringe culture”.

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  • SkidMark July 8, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    If this movie ever comes out it will explain a lot.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XslBYB5f4bQ

    A Post-Critical Mass Portland: Living in a post-revolutionary bicycle age.

    Paging Rev.Phil

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  • SkidMark July 8, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    And for those using the internet under a rock.

    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/downfall-hitler-meme

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  • 151 July 8, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Ugh. This is why people should just let memes die.

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  • tonyt July 8, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    With all due respect to the Rev. and Co, the Downfall thing was played out early 2009. My god you guys are late to the party.

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  • Mixo July 8, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    1. Downfall meme – yes, tired, worn out meme, but in its heyday wonderfully amusing. Its not *Hitler* thats funny, its the absurdity of just how off the handle he goes over what amounts to trivial bs. In almost all cases its funny because we’re making fun *of* Hitler. Are we supposed to treat him with respect and reverence?

    2. Critical Mass – I distinctly remember the term “Critical Massholes” being the most precise way to describe my (outsiders) perception of the method they utilized to bring attention to their cause. However their radicalism definitely helped shaped the discourse surrounding bike advocacy, which helped us get where we are now. Question is, do we need that sort of radicalism going forward to fix the stuff that still needs fixing? (i.e. Motorists actually suffering consequences for running over bikers etc), Or have we reached a ‘critical mass’ and its only a matter of time before these kinds of issues are resolved?

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  • q`Tzal July 8, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    #32
    I would have thought that due to
    Reductio ad Hitlerum that comments on this post would have been shut off before JM posted:)

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  • SkidMark July 9, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Every group ride I go on functions like CM, i.e. we cork intersections to keep the group intact. This is not to thumb our nose at society, it is simply because the most dangerous thing is to get a car in the middle of a group ride. The driver frequently gets overwhelmed by the bikes beside and behind them and end up hitting a bike in front of them. Motorcycle riding clubs do this too for the same reason.

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  • Seager July 9, 2010 at 7:53 am

    #26:

    Polls show that Portlanders support cycling possibly BECAUSE there is no more critical mass. If CM came back I bet support for cycling would drop.

    CM has a time and a place, but if the city government is already pro-bike, then CM’s time is past. It would only make things worse.

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  • Brian E July 9, 2010 at 7:56 am

    We are so fortunate that we can laugh at Hitler parodies and ride critical mass.

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  • microzen July 9, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Pretty offensive. I would rather give up my 30 years of cycling and of bike advocacy than side with Nazis. I think it may be time to finally buy a car after 20 years.

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  • microzen July 9, 2010 at 9:05 am

    I don’t think of claiming Hitler as the inspiration behind Portland bike culture is particularly funny. I’m ending my rss subscription of this site.

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  • Allan Folz July 9, 2010 at 9:20 am

    All you trolls crack me up. These comments read like a Rorschach test for what ails the commenter.

    Is it a tired meme? You bet, got something better?

    Is it funny? In my experience, among people that actually leave their smug confines on the internet, yes.

    In fact, the magnitude of positive response I’ve gotten from people that enjoyed it has been a very pleasant surprise. Thank you to everyone that’s sent or otherwise expressed their appreciation. Making a movie, even a small short such as this takes a lot of work. It’s nice to know the effort was well spent.

    All my best,
    -Allan

    Ps. You Rev Phil haters are the funniest. Critical Mass and this short had nothing to do with him. It actually took me a while to register what prompted the screed. So you know, his “Producer” credit was a joke between Joe and me.

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  • Dabby July 9, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I must say that the downfall of Critical Mass in Portland may be one of the best things to happen to cycling here in a while.

    While it must have been a joy to ride slow, purposely pissing people off every once in a while, it was the working cyclist and the commuters who actually took most of the heat daily from Critical Ass.

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  • Skipping the heat July 9, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Allen,

    You can’t list Rev. Phil as the producer in the credits and than turn around upset people think he produced the film.

    You wanted the buzz of having the infamous jester in the credits you got it.

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  • Jessica Roberts July 9, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Loved it! And it reminds me how damn long I’ve been biking in Portland that I understood all the in jokes…thanks for getting this on the intertoobs, Allan and Joe, so that those of us who missed it at FBB could join in the fun too.

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  • Jerry_W July 9, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I agree with Dabby, shutting down Critical Mass has helped cycling.

    And since the bike rider community is breaking into factions, place me in the middle aged bike geek crowd. I guess we are going to hate each other now????

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  • Opus the Poet July 9, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Critical Mass was good for cycling back in the day, and its existence back in the day is good for cycling now. If CM had not taken place in other cities I would not have even the miniscule clout I have now with city politicians for trying to develop some bicycle infrastructure here in TX. So, you guys did more good than you know or think.

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  • weastsider July 9, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I think someone is bitter about critical mass being dead. I find it funny (not ha, ha) that he is identifying himself with Hitler.

    Hello! No one cares about critical mass anymore it’s as tired as this downfall parody.

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  • beth h July 9, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I wasn’t clear enough before. There is nothing funny about Hitler at all, even in a parody. As someone who lost an entire branch of my family tree to Hitler’s smokestacks, I find this use of his likeness and name distasteful in the worst way.

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  • Lynne F July 9, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Hitler – not funny. Not ever. I am reminded of that every time I look at the family pictures of cousins I will never, ever have the opportunity to meet.

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  • Devian Gilbert July 9, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    well… I’m a combat vet, my mom’s side of the family is Filipino, my grandma is missing a bunch of her fingers, I have plenty of jewish relatives too…

    uhh… ya… so I wonder how many VW’s are out there, etc…

    its a video…

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  • matthew vilhauer July 9, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    allan-kudos sir, kudos… and the nod to rev was great.

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  • Duncan July 9, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Old, tired meme. In very poor taste. Also very funny.

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  • Marcus Griffith July 9, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Critical Mass is not the tree of life that sprouted Portland’s bike utopia. Far from it. Portland’s Critical Mass rides were noxious weeds that nearly choked-out the local bike movement. They were not political statements to achieve social change, but mere destructive acts of anarchy for anarchy’s own sake.

    I say this as a person who regular participated in critical mass rides on both sides of the river. I stopped going when I realized the CM’s leadership were using the rides to propagate their own egos and self-serving agendas rather than make any positive contribution to the bike movement.

    Rev Phil and his aggregation of self-proclaimed bike elders do indeed have a place in Portland’s rich bike history. But not as crucial leaders they claim to be, but as just another obstacle the bike movement has had to overcome in its long and just quest for a better world.

    Strip Rev. Phil and his followers of their bizarre propaganda and all that remains is the hubris filled husks of false bike prophets. Those zealots would have the world believe they miraculously turned fright lanes into bike boulevards and filled our water bottles with an endless supply of PBR. I reject such nonsense. The wine the mortal Phil serves is nothing more than spiked cool-aid, no matter how he serves it.

    Now that the childish jesters have gone to bed and faded into the night, let us return to the task at hand. There is so very much to do before we rest.

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  • Joe Biel July 9, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Wow, glad to hit upon two tender topics…or three, if you count Phil.

    I love that everyone has to form a vocal opinion on Critical Mass…and Phil…but not really Hitler.

    If you want to dethrone a concept or leader, you make fun of them and own it. That’s why hundreds of parodies of this scene exist.

    That’s why gay people own words like “queer” now. Don’t let the haters have it!

    But seriously, people. Critical Mass isn’t what is important. It’s the concept–and I’m not just talking about the xerocracy and leaderlessness. I’m talking about the void in Portland for a bicycle movement like Times Up that isn’t beholden to political climates or bureaucracies and is willing to do what is necessary to show a visible constituency and provide a component that advocates in Salem and political leadership cannot.

    And yes, some people will hate it.

    But please please please can I see the polls show that Critical Mass make cycling unpopular? I PROMISE I will put them in the feature documentary if they are real! They don’t have to be scientific either.

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  • Crash N. Burns July 9, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    RIP critical mass. Zoobomb, you’re next.

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  • Anon123 July 9, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Marcus: That’s one scathing epithet you wrote for Phil. Not that I disagree with the sentiment, just that you could have toned it down. You know, speak well of the dead type of thing?

    I got sick of having to read about police/cyclists fights at critical mass Phil’s escapades, and even his title “Reverend” got older quicker than the Macarena.

    critical mass and drunk-on-a-bike Phil turned so many people away from cycling that it is going to take years for the harm to heal. Sure, he got some people to get on a bike, but his net impact was adverse to cycling.

    So, lets bury critical mass, Phil and the Macerana, say a prayer for them and hope to god they stay in the 90′s were they belong.

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  • john July 9, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I think Critical Mass has its place, just like all “revolutions”… eventually the revolutionaries need to start organizing and making things work for real or else it will all just fall apart.

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  • OuterToob July 9, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Joe, #55, if you want an informal poll on the popularity of Critical Mass why not use the comments above, I would assume the majority of these comments come from people who ride a bike and not exclusively drive a car. If we were to ask a few of the car drivers how Critical Mass affected their view of cyclists, I feel safe in assuming that their view of cyclists and Critical Mass would have been fairly unpopular based on the event.

    Of the 55 posts, there are many comments that do not mention CM at all and just point out that this was a douchey movie about Hitler trying to rally the cycling masses of Portland to ride CM. I did not see any part of this that dethrones or makes fun of Hitler – period, you guys positioned him as the leader of your cause. That glorifies Hitler, not the other way around. Too bad you couldn’t get your intent across.

    I’ll acknowledge there were a few pro CM posts like #25, #39 (stretching to count this one) & #47 – I count three posts in favor out of 55 comments.

    On the other hand, 12 people state they wish it would go away or think it is no longer needed. If you care to read the other comments you’ll notice they’re not very positive reactions to the other topics you brought up.

    I have collected the comments from the above posts in order to make it a bit easier for you.

    #6 – I disagree. Critical Mass brought out the fringe elements of the Portland bike scene and/or already dedicated cyclists. It also pissed off motorists to no end thereby worsening the rift between cars and cyclists.

    #10 – Critical Mass doesn’t really have a place to contribute. People who cling to it are just reminiscing, or want to foster an us versus them atmosphere to feel good about themselves

    #12 – Critical Mass Riders: you had your wet dream, now wake up, change your sheets and go out to face the real world as well adjusted adult.

    #16 – Show me any evidence of causation between Critical Mass and increased cycling or cycling infrastructure in Portland.

    #18 – Critical Mass was responsible for evolving Portland’s bike culture because it was so onerous, confrontational and divisive

    #19 – Critical Mass had it’s place for a while, but times change.

    #23 – As for me, I think the idea has worn a little thin at this point — as has the idea of Critical Mass.

    #38 – If CM came back I bet support for cycling would drop.

    CM has a time and a place, but if the city government is already pro-bike, then CM’s time is past. It would only make things worse.

    #43 – I must say that the downfall of Critical Mass in Portland may be one of the best things to happen to cycling here in a while.

    #46 – I agree with Dabby, shutting down Critical Mass has helped cycling.

    #48 – Hello! No one cares about critical mass anymore it’s as tired as this downfall parody.

    #54 – Critical Mass is not the tree of life that sprouted Portland’s bike utopia. Far from it. Portland’s Critical Mass rides were noxious weeds that nearly choked-out the local bike movement.

    You and Allan should keep patting yourselves on the back though, maybe eventually you’ll knock yourself into reality.

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  • matthew vilhauer July 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    marcus-if anything you are consistent ehh?

    please read aloud your second paragraph from #54 while looking in a mirror. again. and again. then for giggles look up the definition of hypocrite.

    prancing around on your white horse is a disservice to advocates no matter what their stripe. and the concept of humanity. it takes all kinds to make the word go round: squares, hipsters, bike geeks, weekend warriors, policy wonks, you , me, calvin, terrie e, etc. ad nauseaum.

    flowery metaphor and prose do little to mask your agenda.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 9, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    marcus,

    i disagree with your feelings about Rev Phil. Yes, he has an ego, as we all do… his just manifests in a certain way. I think it’s fantastic and I’m in the “it takes all kinds” camp.

    Rev Phil and the similarly creative, egotistic activists like him are the people that brought me into this awesome bike world here in Portland.

    I think there are definite negative impacts from critical mass. But I also agree with Joe Biel in that the spirit of critical mass is missing in this town and we’d all be doing better in terms of biking, if it (the spirit, not necessarily CM) would return.

    the ecosystem functions best when all roles are filled. right now in portland there is a distinct lack of street-level, in-your-face activism that I’d like to see return.

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  • Marcus Griffith July 9, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    My opinion is not inconsistent with my actions. Critical mass billed itself as protest and event to highlight certain cycling concerns. Such an event initially attracted wide spread support, myself included. After all, how many cyclists would oppose efforts to bring about a meaningful dialog to improve cycling in the area?

    Yet, Portland’s manifestation of critical mass was not what it was billed as being. Bait-or-switch or flawed from the start, it doesn’t matter at this point. Like myself,the vast majority of CM goers slowly realized the truth of the Wizard’s Illusion. Once unblinded by the smoke and mirrors, people stopped going.

    There is no mystery to CM’s non-existent popularity today. No matter how good of a PR department, people eventually stop going to a crappy restaurant.

    Now, opinions vary. I don’t claim to have touched upon the absolute truth. But, I too grow weary of explaining to new cyclists that they don’t have to swallow the Rev. Pill load to be become an every day cyclist.

    On that note, there is curt email I will send you about a topic I know you don’t want discussed out loud.

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  • qwerty July 9, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Jonathan,

    I disagree that street level bike activism is missing from Portland. It just matured from critical mass confrontations to more organized and effective mediums such as organized rides and government participation.

    Phil, himself, is a decent enough chap. Too bad his public persona “Rev. Phil” has had such a negative impact on local cycling. What ever good Phil has done; “Rev. Phil” has undone and than some.

    “Rev. Phil” hijacked Portland’s Critical Mass and turned it into celebrity a meet and greet with himself front and center. That was also too bad. Portland could have joined the many cities across the world with regular and helpful critical mass rides. Instead, people’s aversion to “Rev. Phil” caused the event to wither on the vine.

    Now, I understand Bike Portland is very much pro “Rev. Phil”. I quote you from 4 years ago:

    “If you haven’t been in the presence of the inimitable Reverend Phil Sano than you haven’t really experienced Portland bike culture”

    Yet, you got it wrong. Each passing year brings more and more people who find Phil has little to do with Portland’s bike culture and everything to do with feeding “Rev. Phil”‘s insatiable appetite for attention.

    I am less curious about what Portland will do in a post-Critical mass age, than how will Phil handle a post-”Rev. Phil” era? Will Phil let himself live in “Rev. Phil”‘s shadow or will he stride fourth as the bike advocate we all know he can be?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 9, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    qwerty wrote:

    I disagree that street level bike activism is missing from Portland. It just matured from critical mass confrontations to more organized and effective mediums such as organized rides and government participation.

    yes! it did mature, and that’s great… but it matured a bit too much and got to be old and soft and that’s not great. And it’s not great that our “government” has not really had our backs lately. I can give you lots of examples but i’ll save it for a post someday soon.

    Portland is indeed in a malaise/stagnant period of sorts and I think one of the reasons why is that our advocates have become too mature to the point of forgetting what it’s like to rock the boat. And trust me, NOTHING happens when you are a minority interest unless you rock the boat.

    As for Rev Phil, I guess i just don’t get the backlash going on here. He’s a neat guy, a friend, and someone who eats/sleeps/lives bike love and bike fun. What the hell is wrong with that? Yes, he has a huge ego… I do too! Many people do. I don’t really care how few people know him or what he means/doesn’t mean to “portland’s bike culture”.

    thanks for the comment.

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  • resopmok July 10, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Actually I think Hitler was probably a choice spokesman for CM, in that it shows accurately what happens to “movements” that are based on nothing more than whipping people into a frenzy over something without real substance. I’ve had experience organizing with fringe leftist groups myself, and I feel confident saying their problems stem from preaching a gospel that criticizes rather than providing solutions. Their real heroes – Marxist unions and organizations before WWI – succeeded in many causes by making conditions concretely better for the members they represented, despite the struggle it took to achieve. I don’t think we need revolutionary action in order to advance the cause of cyclists here, but a revolutionary mindset is probably helpful.

    The BTA is an actionless, administrative mess, SHIFT is not really an advocacy organization, CM has only served to make more people angry, and the city has way more concerns than just cyclists. Here’s the thing, we can kick and scream about how the city should do this or that, or if they would just change a speed limit or smooth out this bump over there or maybe try to build something from that Bike Master Plan thing, but it all comes down to money. I know people are out there searching for a good organization to give their money to, one that represents their interests as cyclists. I know there’s volunteers who want to get petitions signed and canvas for funds are out there, waiting to be told to go knock on someone’s door, or to teach bicycle safety classes, or write educational materials about cycling. We could have a strong political organization that uses its extra funds to pay for projects the city can’t afford, or that are voted to be of primary importance to its members. We could work together for effective, long-lasting changes that will benefit future generations.

    The real solution to the question of how to bring us all together – a Union of Portland Bicyclists – is easy and obvious. So who’s going to take the reigns, any volunteers?

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  • Melissa July 11, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Hitler references are just not funny no matter how well done.

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  • Mark July 11, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    But why “fiets”? That is Dutch, not German! What have the Dutch got to do with Hitler other than that they suffered under his terror? “Mein Rad” or “Mein Fahrrad” but do not use our word ‘fiets’!

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  • Joe Biel July 12, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    RE: Remotely Scientific Polling.
    Can we make something to account for the concept of the “vocal minority” and that Marcus Griffith loves to use multiple identities to create the illusion of multiple people with his perspective and voice?

    And as to the response of motorists in the ‘Mass: Roger Geller in his internal reports TO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT about his experiences riding in Critical Mass stated that escalation was brought by the police to the ride and that people in cars or on foot responded enthusiastically. If we can also recall the experience of former city commissioner Charlie Hales, who also rode “undercover” with Critical Mass and reported the same thing…These people had nothing to gain and everything to lose by doing this.

    But who wrote the history here?

    Sorry Marcus, but Critical Mass existed long before Phil was involved. When I met that dude he drove a truck everywhere he went.

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  • Joe Biel July 12, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I would to second the statement about Phil: Who Cares?

    If your need to state you personal opinions about an individuality, you have fallen to reactionism and are thus defined by your oppositional stance, rather than a proactive one. E.g. your position is reliant on Phil.

    So I say again: Who Cares?

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  • Joe Biel July 12, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Aftermass Trailer from Joe Biel on Vimeo.

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  • Marcus Griffith July 12, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Joe Biel: care to elaborate on your unfounded statement:

    “Marcus Griffith loves to use multiple identities to create the illusion of multiple people with his perspective and voice”

    From my understanding you are out of town til next Thursday (I could be in error), when you back in town, shoot me an email and we can discuss your Al M style conspiracy in person.

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  • kiol July 12, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    not a fan of the video and not a fan of the way CM’s were held in Portland.

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  • Joe Biel July 13, 2010 at 8:24 am

    I’m recalling a certain “joanofbike” incident, Marcus. Maybe you’ve given up those tactics, but a reputation hangs. In any event, I hope all is well.

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  • Marcus Griffith July 13, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Wow Joe… you really are desperate for fabricated facts to support your delusions. You can email me directly to continue this debate, please bring your so called “proof”, I could use a laugh.

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  • are July 13, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    why don’t you two get a room

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  • Todd Boulanger July 14, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Another forgotten fact about some of the larger critical masses is that they showed bicyclists what it was like to ride in large protected traffic streams in the streets that they struggled with each day as an individual cyclist…among thousands of driver boxes.

    Basically for an hour or two (minus a few conflicts with police or drivers) one got to experience what it was like to ride in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, etc…social and human streets…and what the City has begun to create with Sunday Parkways.

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