Listen, MSR, I couldn’t be more sorry that we had to end it like that. I was there for such a short time and we barely got a chance to talk and hang out. You know I love you! You know that.
I Dear Milano–Sanremo
That was weird right?
Listen, I don’t know what Agente di P.G. Dario De Rosa told you, and I don’t want to get into a he-said, she-said, kinda deal, and it sounds like there is maybe (????) a criminal charge, a felony, being brought against me, and I have all this paperwork which says I was “invited to decline my generality,” I don’t even know what that means, but I signed it, all of it. There were so many papers, and it is scary that I signed some shit I can’t even read, and inefficient that they’re still using so much paper and stamps, so many stamps. It sounds like in two to three years I will receive a fine in the mail, which may cost as much as a thousand euros, and in the meantime a lawyer will contact me, maybe, or maybe not, that part was extra fuzzy. Listen, Google Translate is good but not great, but basically bottomline this was really a great big misunderstanding. Did you know that show Eastbound and Down, with Kenny Powers? Well if you haven’t seen it, let me tell you, it’s hilarious. It’s about a white-trash washed-up baseball player, Kenny Powers, and his colorful antics. He’s kind of insensitive and inappropriate, like that’s his thing. Point is, he has this move. When he gets angry (and yes, aggressive) towards people he sorta pops his crotch out and then kinda like, karate chops this thighs on either side of his penis, sorta “at” people, while like, making eye contact and shit.11Listen, just see it in action here, but promise to come back to MFS and finish reading after you go down a YouTube black hole for thirty minutes. Nevermind.
Listen, this whole thing is kind of embarrassing. That fight we got into in Genoa after the Carabinieri released me is totally my fault. I just didn’t feel like talking about it, and the race was still going so I felt like you were only half listening to me, like you had better things to do. I think we both said some things we regret, right? And now you’re messaging my friends. I know I told you I would text you some answers when I landed but I was so tired because it was a 29 hour flight—we had to layover in Newark or JFK or whatever, it was one of the New York airports—and my phone was dead. Then a day went by. And another. And now it’s been over a week. And I know you know we haven’t posted the race report yet. Which isn’t like us. But we did that Reach for the Dream thing, which, did you see that? What. The. Fuck?! First of all, yes, some people actually believed that Kanye West narrated our illustrated Powerpoint Presentation. That just doesn’t even make sense, IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!!! Also, all the hate, and dude there was SO MUCH OF IT, was almost all about Kanye. I mean, we DEF got lambasted as well, for sure, but apparently exercise bikers by and large hate Kanye. Whatever. Then it was April Fools Day, and this letter is going to be weird and confusing enough without publishing it on the first of April. Point is, I’m home and I owe you a letter.Listen, I couldn’t be more sorry that we had to end it like that. I was there for such a short time and we barely got a chance to talk and hang out. You know I love you! You know that.”- DWP
Speaking of which. Let me back up. First of all it was so wonderful to be inside Italy again! We’d been literally edging for weeks. Not sure if you were following us on the new website or on gram or whatever, but we’d been in Europe for two weeks before we finally made it to your place. I know I know, I get it, but listen, nobody told us that Paris–Nice was boring and flat, and that nobody cares about it because it’s boring and flat. Also, not sure if you heard but the worst part, we never made it to the sun. We saw all of the fields. And nearly all of the castles. And we ate beouf and chocolate pain. A lot. Like everyday basically. Ben was there. The whole deal really, but still, no sun. Also, as you know it finishes in Nice, and Nice is RIGHT there, like down the coast and over a mountain and boom, Bob’s Your Uncle, you’re in Sanremo. And yes, we woulda coulda shoulda come straight to Milano after the race but dude we had to go to Girona, Spain for five days. Which was yeah, exactly what it was supposed to be. It was easy and enjoyable, and we did the whole Yo MFS Cribz: Girona Edition22Coming Soon! thing which was illuminating. And productive, we made hella Tight Butthole content, more on that later, obvs, I know you’re going to love it, it’s sooo you. Also, Sidenote: Lucca is next! 100%. Ben King officially invited us. And the Chewbaccas are there, and they invited us. Anyway, we stayed in Dan Martin’s place right next to that Catalan Gothic number, that cathedral, you know the one that dude from Majorca designed, what’s his name?, he’s famous. I just Googled it. It’s Jaume Fabre. Anyway, It’s old, it’s great, it’s got steps—dude what’s the deal with Girona?, it’s like the Steps Capital of the Universe—our apartment was right next to it, we ate Catalan Mexican like three nights in a row, there’s this new coffee shop everyone is talking about, everything was cheap because Spain is broken and the Euro is busted, we saw Alex and Ted, and the Red Market and the fortification wall, and blah blah blah blah. Listen, when we can talk about all this stuff some more at some point, and I know you want to get into the nitty gritty, the fingerprinting and all that, but first, can we talk a little about Italy, and you?
I know we only saw you for a second, but dude, you look fucking great!
Also Raaadeo Keith Keith is still sooooooo good. Get this, the first night we got in we’d been driving for like eight maybe nine hours, all the way from Girona, back through Nice and Monaco and the mountains on the coast there, through Sanremo basically—which, I should’ve stopped and checked it out then right? Because as you know I definitely DID NOT make it to Sanremo on race day, whatever—okay so we’d been driving basically the whole day and it was dark and kinda raining and we’d made it into the center-ish of Milano and we’re looking for the place where we were going to stay, it wasn’t a hotel, it was some kinda Air BnB deal, and we’re kinda burned out and boom, we found Keith Keith, and Keith Keith was killing it! First thing we heard sounded s o f r e s h, so immediately I Shazam’d it and it was The Chemical Brothers. Of course, right? Which, it turns out, the song, Do it Again, is actually pretty old but whatever it sounded so good and then right after that, a dance remix of that Hanging Tree song from the movie Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Italy, dude, you guys will remix anything! And then, this was classic, the Air BnB guy had emailed us earlier in the week and told us to make it to his place by 10:00 PM. So we did, we pulled up at 9:45 PM. But he wasn’t there, he said he was running late which was fine, whatever. We asked him where to eat, and he told us about this one place around the corner, some kinda upscale Asian Fusion deal. It was packed but we parked anyway and walked around and in the meantime we found this other place, a traditional Italian deal, but modern, all organic, whole wheat crust, fresh ingredients, they sat us right away. We ordered pizzas and some pasta… dude… the diavola… the pasta sauce, it’s like yeah, this is why people all over the world love Italy, you guys are soo good at food dude. You really are.
Speaking of which, the next day, before registering at the Tobacco Place—long story but listen in the end we found the right place—we walked around in our neighborhood for an hour or so. Two Groms33This is the name of a gelateria in Milano, we’re not talking about youth skaters here. dude. We had two Groms less than ten minutes from our house. Love it. Also, what’s up with this Italo Hip Hop look you guys are running these days, it looks really tight. Diamond studs, hyper fake tans, space sneakers, these crazy World War ll step-down taper fades, shit is on lock!
Anyway, that morning, the morning of the race, things were going so well. First of all, and dude please you REALLY have to hear this, like, you really need to hear it hear it: the difference between a whatever mid-season UCI World Tour 8-day stage race and a proper Spring Classic, especially one like you, one of the monuments man, is so huge. It’s not subtle or small or vague or insignificant, it’s H-U-G-E huge. Where I do I start? First of all it was raining and dark, and all something-wicked-this-way-comes looking in the sky. The cobbles were wet. The train tracks running up the main drag from the buses to the sign-in were wet. All 800 rolling enclosure and caravan related motorcycles parked in perfect formation near the stage were wet. It was steamy and PACKED with people and anticipation inside the coffee shop, which since when does Italy even have coffee shops!?!??! The crowds and umbrellas and humanity on display were soaked and vibrant and properly intense. Behind the sign-in you’ve got that ancient plaza and arch deal serving as a headboard to the whole spectacle. The announcers!!!! So loud! So unintelligible! And the pre-game jock jams, also so loud, and also so unintelligible. The whole scene was thriving and vibing and just kinda pulsing with hype. It was freaky with hype. You know, Whodini-style man, The Freaks Come Out at Night! Eddy Grant-style, Electric Avenue! Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo! Shit was p o p p i n g off. Crack-a-lack! People just feel you man.It’s like I was standing there thinking, I can literally feel them feeling you. We were all feeling each other. Young, old, fans, spectators, bystanders, the cyclists, the organizers, everybody was feeling everybody else, and what that was about, was you Milano–Sanremo, they were feeling you dude.”- DWP
The next two hours was a blur of rain, macchiatos, Nutella croissants, Raadeo Keith Keith, Ciao-Grazie-Ciao-Ciao, roundabouts, the race passing past, getting chased out of an empty—because it was closed or possibly out of business—gas station parking lot by an old guy shaking a cane at us because we all had to pee and so pee we did against the back wall of said gas station, which wall was virtually hidden from the street so what the fuck old guy!?!??!, mountain rivers, mountain villages, water (rapids) coursing over various abandoned cars half submerged and left to rust and rot in the middle of mountain rivers flowing through the middle of mountain villages, etc.; until “The Tunnel” at Passo Del Turchino.
I’ve thought about this a lot and I don’t think it makes sense to go into the details. In some ways it’s irrelevant or immaterial right? I mean, it happened. Also, I’m pretty sure that if and when my court-appointed lawyer contacts me she/he will advise me to refrain from making any and all comments about the matter. You know, for fear of incriminating myself and shit. Here’s what I’m comfortable saying and let’s just leave it that shall we?, the cop, which cop was actually a Carabinieri, which is some kinda military-police hybrid type deal, was being a dick. Sorry. I mean, he was being obstinate. And petulant. About allowing us, bona fide Stampa, to walk down a short narrow section of the course to the end of a tunnel. The section of road in question was about thirty yards long and flat, the race was 25 minutes away, and the issue was, according to the Carabinieri officer, whether or not 25 minutes was enough time for us to reliably cover that distance, which was, like I said, about thirty yards. Manual for Speed is the first to admit we’re not physiologists and/or sport nutritionists, and we’re definitely NOT shaped like athletes. But I think we would have made it. What happened next was, I walked safely around the section of road in question, in a manner that WAS NOT prohibited—I hiked through some woods basically—got to the other side, gestured to my colleagues, the gesture was willfully misinterpreted out of spite, I was arrested and placed into a Police vehicle more or less RIGHT when the race finally came past. Like I was saying before, basically it’s Kenny Power’s fault.
And that was basically that. I know I missed half the race, maybe more. I know we’ve had these plans to hang for like, the last eight months. And I know having MFS come to your party was a big deal for you. It was for us too.All I can think to say is, I’m sorry, and you’re rad, and next year dude, next year.”- DWP
Also, we made you an umbrella typology, as like, a gift. I know it’s not our best work and it’s not that big, but dude, that first one, where can Manual for Speed get a set of those puppies!?!??! Man it’s good to hear you laugh and smile. We good?
II A Brief Typology of Umbrellas
III A Brief Step-by-Step Description of My Incarceration Organized Like a Timeline
- 12:30 PM: I was placed into the backseat of a police car. I was not searched. I was not handcuffed. Eventually I was allowed to use my mobile phone. TO BE CLEAR, with one exception that comes way at the end, not one single person throughout this entire process speaks more than three words of English.
- 12:45 PM: Officer #1 (the main perpetrator) and Officer #2 join me in the vehicle. We drive down the mountain with the sirens on. Not because I was in the car but because Italian Police don’t drive anywhere for any reason, at any point, on any day, WITHOUT the sirens on. You drive? You speed!, with the sirens on!
- 12:46 PM: We pull over a vehicle (another Stampa, incidentally) for illegally passing a car on the way down the mountain. While pulled over we are ourselves illegally passed by the very same car the Stampa gentlemen we’re questioning had passed only moments before. We let the Stampa gentlemen go with a verbal warning (at least, I think that’s what happened???) then give chase. We get stuck behind a large truck-type vehicle which refuses to yield. By the time we make it around the vehicle, it’s decided (I think???) that catching up to the latest violator is no longer a priority; we still speed, only now with no point or purpose. On the way down I use Google Translate to some effect. It appears that I will be held for a period of time, fined, taken to court, then released.
- 1:25 PM: My colleagues Emiliano Granado, Ian Marshall and Raoul Sturme arrive at Police Station #1, they are told to wait outside. They are told that I will be released in one hour. I am told the same. I am also told that I will be released in five minutes. At this point I notice for the first time that the police station is heavily staffed. I mean, there are officers everywhere. Lots of milling. The whole scene kinda had this Union or dock workers vibe.
- 1:39 PM: I am questioned by Officer #3 and Officer #4, they want to see my papers—my passport. I dont have it, it’s back in Milano I explain.
- 1:58 PM: Emiliano is allowed into the Police Station in the capacity of translator. Emiliano DOES NOT speak Italian. But he speaks fluent Spanish. Which is closer than English. Emiliano is brought up to speed regarding the need to procure a photograph of my Passport if not the Passport itself. Emiliano begins a text correspondence with Keiran Best. Keiran was unable to find my Passport, and yes, she checked in the laptop sleeve in the Billingham Camera Bag. In addition to my immediate concerns regarding my #kasual incarceration, I’m worried I may have lost my Passport. My return trip home is now doubly dubious.
- 2:36 PM: Officer #5 brings me into his office where I begin filling out the first of several rounds of paperwork. Paperwork #1 is my Dichiarazione d’identità personale, which as many of you will know translates to a Declaration in lieu of affidavit. We discuss my Drivers License as a possible substitute for my Passport and/or a Photograph of my Passport. At first it seems like a suitable substitute and but then it turns out that it isn’t. Officer #6 walks into Officer #5’s office with my 2nd and 3rd round of paperwork in his hands. They discuss something. I begin my next two rounds of paperwork. Meanwhile, Emiliano and I discuss the need for those dudes, the un-incarcerated remainder of MFS, to get on the road and headed back to the race before it’s too late and they miss the finish.
- 3:07 PM: We ask Officers #7 and #2 about timing, we are told that it will only be thirty more minutes. Apparently, all that’s left now is for me to be transported to Police Station #2 where I will be photographed because at this point I am still unable to produce a photograph of my Passport.
- 3:15 PM: Officers #2, #5 and #8 drive me to Police Station #2 with the sirens on. We slow to honk and wave at runner babes—not joking—otherwise we speed and terrorize traffic the whole way up the coast. Five minutes into the drive, Keiran texts me a photograph of my Passport. At which point Officer #5 makes a call, which call lasts for about three minutes. For a second it looks like we will turn around, the moment passes, and we are clearly instructed to continue on to Police Station #2. The drive takes twelve minutes.
- 3:27 PM: Once again, I am escorted into a station and instructed to sit on a bench by the front door. Via text, it’s decided that Emiliano, Raoul and Ian will leave Police Station #1 immediately in an attempt to make it to the finish of the race before the finish of the race. Plans are also made to pick me up, here, in the northern suburbs of Genoa, in roughly four maybe five hours once the race is completed. And assuming, of course, that I will be released by then.
- 3:35 PM: Officers #2, #5 and #11 escort me from the waiting room near the front door to the Booking Room in the back; there is some confusion in the process though because the booking room is locked and nobody, it appears, has the keys. We wait in the hallway outside the Booking Room together for about three minutes until Officer #12, a plain clothes Officer, arrives with the keys. Inside the booking room it’s cold and dark and none of the equipment, like the computers and heaters and whatnot, is turned on. If I had to guess the last time the Booking Room was used, based on the color of the walls and the fluorescent panels in the drop ceiling and the general mid-80’s Czechoslovakian smell to everything, I would have estimated sometime in late August, 1996. Officer #11 instructs me to sit in a chair opposite a PC computer, at which point we begin a 35-minute intake process. Officer #11 types, with two pointer fingers and oddly enough, his left thumb, about 11 words a minute. Officers #2, #5, #8, #12 and #13 all stand in the small room with us and watch the entire process. At one point Officer #5 says something to Officer #12 but otherwise they are quiet the entire time. After the intake procedure I am fingerprinted, but first Officer #11 spends 10 minutes rolling-out the fingerprint ink like he’s maybe making a pizza crust or mixing some Renaissance oil paints or something. We fingerprint my individual fingertips, my individual fingers (like not just the tip), all four fingers together, my palm, and my whole hand. Both hands. Twice. The whole time Officer #11 guides my body parts with his hands which hands are inside blue latex gloves which he pulled from the pocket of his jeans when this portion of the event first started. The process takes about 28 minutes not including another five minutes to roll out more ink. Then we do photographs. There is an adjustable articulating chair and an x-ray shaped camera and the whole thing feels a lot like a Soviet DMV. Not that I know anything about a Soviet DMV. Although wait, now maybe I do?
- 4:57 PM: I am returned to the Booking Room for a second set of portraits.
- 5:01 PM: The waiting room again.
- 5:48 PM: Officer #14, also a plain clothes officer, comes into the waiting room to speak with me. He speaks English very well. He explains to me that I will NOT be charged, that this all just a formality, that the crime I am accused of committing is a felony, and fairly severe, and so therefore I am simply being issued a formal warning instead of being brought into a complicated/gnarly legal process. Officer #14 shakes my hand, says goodbye, walks out of the Waiting Room and out of my life forever…
- 5:49 PM: …except I watch him have an impromptu 20-second conversation with Officer #17 in the hallway, after which he comes back into the Waiting Room, apologizes, says he was mistaken, says that Felony Charges are in fact being drawn against me, that I will be appointed a lawyer, that a fine will be levied against me, that I will be released in 20 minutes, that I am free to go, for now. And that, “in Italy you never go to jail, but you pay many fines.”
- 6:15 PM: I am returned to Police Station #1 via the coastal drive and more sirens, honks and unnecessary swerving and speeding.
- 6:30 PM: I am instructed to fill-out Paperwork #4 and #5, copies of both are given to me. I witness several phone calls. I am issued some kind of verbal decree or statement or some shit. I ask to use the bathroom. I am released.
- 6:31 PM: I walk around for about an hour looking for a functioning ATM, I find a river and lots of concrete buildings. I watch a high school soccer game. I find a coffee shop and a gelato joint. I play chess in the dark on my iPhone until it dies. I watch the sunset on the boardwalk.
VII Campo Ligure
VIII Passo del Turchino (aka Passo del Daniele, founded in 2015)
X A Short List of Apologies
- Emiliano Granado. Dude, I’m sorry I kinda hanged you up HARD. Thank you for being supportive and non judgmental. I love you.
- Keiran Best. Babe, I’m soooooo sorry I made you tear the apartment apart in search of my Passport, while crying and confused about my welfare.
- Dear Carabinieri Dude, you know who you are, I am sorry you are mentally deficient, insecure and prone to misunderstandings and prejudice.
- Dear Raoul and Ian, dudes, I’m sorry I messed up your day so bad. And dudes, when you and Emiliano arrived in almost-Genoa with a couple of slices of pizza and some executive water for me, I knew it was all going to be okay.