As most of you know, I’m leaving on a crusade to rid the world of Sea Goats. As such, I’ve sold Zero Per Gallon, and I couldn’t be more excited about the new guy taking the helm of ZPG. He’s not old! He’s not fat! He’s not boring! And not excessively hairy!
OK, that’s understating things. Kit really is awesome. He rode from SF to LA a few weeks ago, and literally carried three stranded elderly people 42 miles on his Xtracycle because it was just the right thing to do. They were lost, and dehydrated, and their Oldsmobile had broken down, so he strapped ‘em on with bungee cords, and gave them some old sweaty shirts to use as bandanas, so that dust wouldn’t get in their noses. Pretty crafty, huh? When feeble old people get lost and need carrying, look no further than Kit Kohler. That’s what kind of upstanding citizen he is. He’s also funny, and full of energy, and loves bikes a lot (but not too much; he’s never tried to smell my seat or lick my top tube or anything.)
Anyway, I am honored and humbled and inspired that Kit is taking over ZPG. I’m also grateful that he sat down for the following interview.
So, ladies and gentlemen of the bicycle kingdom, behold Kit Kohler, the new Chief Executive Presidente Extraordinaire of Zero Per Gallon.
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Jonny5: Hi Kit.
Kit: Hola compadre.
Would you prefer to go by “Chief Executive Presidente Extraordinaire”or “Big Banana” or “Head Honcho” or some other more grandiose title?
I am still running focus groups on a number of titles. For the time being, I will accept the title “The Dude.”
Cool, The Dude. Can I remain Head Honcho Emeritus?
For sure. And believe me, I will be making use of your clout for years to come. In a few years, when you return from sea, don’t be surprised to see images of yourself selling Japanese soft drinks. Next time you might want to read the fine print on those fancy legal contracts.
Oh crap. How did I miss that? Did I miss a bunch of other stuff? Are you secretly a closeted goat lover? Let’s set the record straight: do you hate goats?
Hate is a strong word I reserve for organizations that picket funerals. Goats have not yet earned this feeling from me, but suffice it to say in the past few months, I have certainly developed a profound distrust.
Hmmm, sounds like you’re equivocating. Have you ever gone to a costume party dressed up as a goat?
Have you ever gotten so drunk at a costume party that you maybe passed out, or flirted with someone in a goat costume, or don’t really remember what you did to/with someone in a goat costume?
I have no idea what you’re talking about. Next question.
Do you have friends who are the type of friends who, if you passed out at a costume party, or maybe tried to dry-hump a person in a goat costume, would, like, maybe dress you up as a goat or take incriminating photos?
This is ridiculous. Can we talk about ZPG again?
I AM talking about ZPG! Are your friends technologically savvy? Do they know how to take photos? Do they know how to use the internet? I mean, are there photos of you dressed up as a goat, humping some other dressed-up goat, on Facebook? Do I need to prepare myself for this type of shock?
I think this question will have to be addressed by my press secretary. Unfortunately I haven’t hired one yet, so I guess it will have to wait.
Damnit! Stonewalling, huh? You won’t get away with this for long. So… are you gonna, like, bring ZPG into the next millennium and make it all web-2.0 and stuff?
Web 2.0? How quaint. I plan to have ZPG operating to Web 18.75 standards by 2010, an entire decade before anyone is even aware of what this level of sophistication is. I’m aiming for the history books.
Cool, cause I just read that book about John Adams, and I think a little ZPG stuff would go well in between the love letters than John and Abigail sent to each other. But really: are you gonna change the ZPG brand at all? I mean, in addition to the ZPG and 53mpb stickers and patches and shirts, are you gonna make an “I heart goats” design? Maybe, in your case, you should make an “I got drunk at a costume party and my friends dressed me up like a goat and made me do terrible terrible things and then they took photos and posted them on the internet” design. You could be the first person to model the design, too. Think that would sell?
Alright, enough already. I was 19. I was in (rural) Alberta, Canada, and everyone insisted it was a local tradition. Can we move on now?.
I knew it!
Hey, that was more than 10 years ago. I’ve changed.
Oh yeah? So what’s your deal these days? What kind of life does a former goat lover live? I mean, you live in the Bay Area. Do you, like, wake up and do yoga and drink foofy coffee drinks and, like, do some sort of tech/computer work and only eat free-range quinoa grown by disabled orphans with AIDS in africa that you bought from deaf midgets at a farmer’s market and spend your evenings phonebanking for the libertarian candidate for governor, what’s his face?
Here in The Higher Power’s Land — I am a native North Californian — we respect all living things, treat our bodies as temples, grow deeper with the universe through a medicinal plant known as Cannibus and on the odd occasion, refer to ourselves as “I and I.” I’m a vegetarian, I work for a company I still can’t describe in five words or less, and I only eat the disabled orphan African stuff because it tastes better.
What? You eat disabled African orphans? That’s awful!
No, no — I eat the disabled African orphan brand of quinoa. I mean, jeez, I’m a vegetarian.
Oh. Right. Of course. So do you like the Governator? Are you gonna send him any stickers for his SUV’s?
He’s from the future. There are bigger things on his mind than the health of our planet. Robots have taken over civilization.
Is that why you ride a bike? Because it’s, you know, all manual and not automatic/electronic/robotic?
Yeah, totally. No matter what goes down, me and my bike will survive.
Do you have any pets? You probably have like 14 of those tiny hairless dogs with huge bat ears, right?
I have two cats.
Are they hairless or are they awesome? And do they have awesome names like “Awesome” or “Brilliant” or “Fantastic” or “Stellar”??
They are hairier than you can imagine, and they are sterling, and I have all sorts of disgustingly cute names for my cats which I am unwilling to disclose at this time. Maybe if you hadn’t brought up the goat incident I’d feel more willing to share.
I apologize, The Dude. But are you claiming you can conjure up a greater degree of hairiness than I can? Are you stepping?
Dude – my cats are hairier than your mom!
Ohhhhh! Nice! Two points to The Dude!
Thanks. I feel better now.
Good, cause I wanna ask you more about goats. Do you have any stuffed goats?
No matter how many times you offer, I really don’t have the space for that trophy goat head, and I really don’t agree that it would look good in my living room above the mantle.
Oh yeah? Are you, like, some design genius too? Are you an expert in Feng shui? What do you know about the aesthetic value of beheaded goats?
My partner, Jakki, nixed the idea, OK?
Wait, you’re married?
Yeah, I’m married to an extremely passionate cyclist. Not to get too smooshy, but she’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about cycling as a lifestyle. She’s just as committed. Heck, she’s rocking a ZPG sticker on her bike alongside “Mend your Fuelish Ways.” Needless to say we get about 2 gigabytes of email a day from activists. My spam filter has actually given up and is now trying to buy a plane ticket to the North Pole to save endangered polar bears.
Whoa, the awesomeness of Jakki and your spam filter rivals that of my former cat. But that’s beside the point. Allow me to get all smooshy: does Jakki have stinky biker feet like the rest of us? Or, like, huge nasty bunions and callouses?
I will not disparage Jakki’s feet. She’s very well balanced.
Does she know about that little Canadian goat incident in your past?
No comment. But Canadian Goat Incident would be a good name for a band.
Do you own a car?
I do. I bought a Subaru Outback five years ago. It sits for months without being driven, and I forget to turn off the interior lights and I have to jump start it every time I want to drive it. I also frequently find myself terrified by driving it. I mean, to put it into D&D terminology, switching from a bike to a car is like: – 160 Vision, + 200 Attack Damage.
Huh? Are you one of those Dungeons and Dragons megadorks? Because you don’t seem like a megadork. In fact, you have some pretty hip striped shirts that remind me, in a good way, of the stuff I wore back in elementary school — when life was innocent and straightforward and everything was cool and exciting. What’s the deal? I mean, I just wear jeans and a t-shirt, and half the time it’s a ZPG shirt, and people are like, “I wish gas was that cheap,’ and I’m like, “well it would be if you rode a bike,” and they’re like totally stumped – but whenever you wear your striped shirts I’m just like, “that guy’s cool.” I’m not sure if this is even a question, but tell me about your style anyway, and reassure me that you’re not a megadork.
First of all, I can’t help but notice that somehow we were all effortlessly cool in elementary school. I know I have a few photos that tickle my narcissistic tendencies every time I see them. They’re proudly on display in my Facebook album entitled “Kit – The Early Years” in case you wanna see ‘em. And no, there are no goat-related pictures there. Then high school happened, the grunge scene, you know, it wasn’t so great for men. My heart still flutters when I see a girl wearing a skirt with black tights and Doc Martens, but flannel wasn’t so kind to men. Then I put on about 20 pounds in college, so that wasn’t so great, either, though by then I was developing the style I have today. Finally, I got out and discovered the bicycle, lost the pudge, and started to look really sharp, I think. I’m certainly a fan of stripes, but I’m an even bigger fan of Argyle. I don’t know if this will ever show up in future products for Zero Per Gallon, but I wouldn’t rule it out.
How do you feel about velcro?
It’s an amazing technological breath-through. Who knew they could so effectively replicate the sound of ripping polyester?
If you had an unlimited supply of velcro, and a BB gun, and whole bunch of jalapeno peppers, and knowledge that a certain petting zoo known to harbor goats had very lax security, what would you do?
Stonewalling will get you nowhere.
No comment! I’m a married man and can’t engage in certain shenanigans anymore!
But sometimes life presents amazing opportunities, you know?
Fine: I’d give you a call.
That’s what I’m talking about. You’re a smart one, The Dude.
I know, I know.
Have you ever been hit by a car?
I have not. I am currently knocking on wood.
Do you have a real job?
I do. My title is 40 characters long.
Um, so you know how to read and write and count really really well?
Totally. My pen is a sword. And I mean one of those bad-ass Samurai swords, not that sissy s#!+ the French used to poke each other with in Shakespeare. In fact, this type-written interview is pretty much transcribed from the original, which was written in the blood of my enemies.
That’s awesome. I like your attitude. How are you gonna spice things up at ZPG?
I’m planning on introducing casual Fridays at the office, and by casual I mean nude. Unfortunately we have no office and I would probably be arrested for walking around San Francisco in the nude, so this may have to wait until we’ve garnered a greater market share.
Whoa whoa whoa, that business jargon is going way over my head. Let’s use language I can understand. What about the quality control process I used to call ” Look In The Friggin’ Envelope To Make Sure No Goats Snuck In There While I Was Busy Checking Out Crazy Stuff On The Internet” – are you gonna continue with that?
Before investing in Zero Per Gallon, I did extensive market research to determine customer-satisfaction and brand-recall rates in Men and Women between the ages of 18 and 34. The results seem to verify that your aforementioned process has been working flawlessly, and that if any goats have infiltrated your packaging, the recipient was either too frightened or too thrilled to levy any sort of complaint against Zero Per Gallon or you, Jonny5.
I knew it all along, but thanks. How many bikes do you have? Do they have names? Describe them in poems, please.
My first bike is a craptastic big-box-sports-store faux-mountain bike. Yes, I know, total newb bike, but I have her covered on my deck because I can’t bear to part with her.
Ode to a Mongoose
Who danced like a whale
I didn’t know when I bought you
I should have gone with hardtail
I may talk badly
of your creaks and your groans.
But any others who slight you
will get my fist to their nose.
My other bike is pretty much my sole method of transportation–a Surly Long Haul Trucker. She’s my do-everything bike from commuting to grocery hauling to touring. Her name is Gladys.
She’s steel and she’s muscle,
not nimble but smooth.
She isn’t a racehorse,
But she knows how to move.
She’s soft as a cloud.
She’s tougher than grit.
She’s chipped and she’s weathered,
and she don’t give a shit.
Nicely done. You sound like a true devotee. Any thoughts on bicycle rockstardom lately?
Most people with email addresses seem to think Danny MacAskill is a bicycle rockstar — they forward me that video of his trials riding about three times a day. But I think everyone who gets the message behind Zero Per Gallon is a bicycle rockstar. Cars are a foregone conclusion in our culture — our infrastructure is set up for it, and everyone in a car is convinced that you’re nuts to use a bike for real-life every-day transportation. I can’t tell you how many times people have done a double take and asked me, “you rode here?” This is something everyone under pedal power hears on a weekly basis. But the more you show people that it’s do-able, that you’re doing it in normal clothes or that you’re a regular person and not some lycra-bound athlete with monster thighs, the more you whittle away at all the voices, the little excuses, telling them that cycling as a lifestyle is just too inconvenient. If you’re a cyclist, you are making a difference every time you throw your leg over the top tube, whether you realize it or not. Your friends and family have noticed what you’re doing. Every time they see you and your bike they’re reminded, encouraged, and inspired to be something better. If that’s not being a bicycle rockstar, I’m not sure what is.
I heard Lance Armstrong likes to go on long rides all caffeinated up on that Rockstar energy drink. Wouldn’t that, technically, also sometimes make him a bicycle rockstar?
Sometimes, sure. But not after the caffeine wears off.
Kohier — isn’t that like the faucet company? Was your great great great greateat grandfather a faucet inventor?
You are too kind. I usually refer to it as the name you see shortly before you send last night’s dinner a-packing. It’s no relation, but seriously, how many people get to saddle up to a urinal, turn to the guy next to them and say, “Hey, this one has my name on it.”
Is there any chance that your great great great great grandfather was also a goatherder, and if so, is there a damn good reason you didn’t bring this to my attention before I signed all those legal documents?
I knew this would come to light eventually. Luckily it didn’t before you signed the legally binding paperwork. If you have a problem you can phone my lawyer. His name? Hans Ziege.
How excited are you?
I’m about to lose control, and I think I like it.