BAD boat dudes

By Michael J. Smith on Monday August 6, 2012 09:32 PM

New York is full of eccentric undertakings, and surely one of the most eccentric -- but potentially delightful -- is free kayaking on the Hudson River. There are a couple of organizations that offer this; I assume they get some foundation money or something, but hey, kayaking is a big improvement on school reform. I mean, if they're going to have money, and spend it on something, best thing you can do is throw it into the water.

So my daughter and I cycled down to 56th street yesterday -- it was an oppressive hot day -- and took advantage of the Downtown Boathouse's free kayak thing. The kayaks were nice, and the Hudson wasn't too bad -- must have been a lot of rain upstate recently. The water didn't even smell so awful, though my butt came out in hives, as usual, after sitting in a puddle of Hudson water on the kayak seat for half an hour.

But the staff were awful: snide, dismissive, bullying. Like DMV clerks, or functionaries in the passport office. Quite puzzling. They must have been mostly volunteers, committed to the cause, you'd think; eager to get people out on the water; but they acted like, well, schoolteachers, of the least amiable variety. As if their job were were to get as many people as possible in and out of kayaks per unit time, and the ineptitude of the public were a sore trial to them.

Daughter and I gave 'em no problems -- we've spent a fair amount of time in kayaks, in waters more challenging than a little sheltered bay between two piers on the Hudson River -- but they still treated us like poor relations. This seemed peculiar enough, but the worst was the treatment a couple of young black women got.

These two had gotten themselves into a two-person kayak -- much more difficult to maneuver than a one-person kayak, of course, though nobody realizes that beforehand. Their demeanor suggested they hadn't spent a lot of time in boats, but they were willing to give it a whirl.

They couldn't figure out how to steer, of course -- who can, first time out? -- and ended up being blown by the wind down onto, and then under, the dock.

There was no harm in this; there was ten feet of clearance under the dock; they would just drift under the dock and out the other side. Where an experienced kayaker could meet them and, if necessary, tow them back to the launch ramp.

But the Kayak Dudes went nuts. "Paddle on the right! Don't do anything else until I tell you!" Screaming, cursing -- turning to the onlookers with self-justifying gestures: "Am I speaking a foreign language here? These people! They're idiots."

A disgusting, sadistic spectacle.

Now if this was racism, it was racism of a peculiar kind, since the Kayak Dude behaving most offensively to the hapless young women was a black guy himself. But the white guys and girls weren't really any better, though perhaps a bit less emphatic; so one felt, actually, that the Race Thing was secondary at best.

What seemed to matter most was the expert/tyro duality, or the staff/public duality, or the controller/controlled duality. A what-the-hell harmless and almost entirely risk-free fun day on the water became an exercise in crowd control -- or just control. Period. As if a couple of dozen idle passersby, taking advantage of a free kayak, had to be watched like towelheads in an airport. Really, you know, there's just no telling what these people might do.

Is this particularly American? Are the Germans worse? Or even as bad? I would like to think so; but is it true?

I blame cop shows.

Comments (55)


Criminal Intent (did I get that right? it was/(still is?) the FBI one that makes it appear that massive serial murders occur in every single neighborhood, every single second of the day), to my thought, was one of the worst of the worst Cop/LAW shows. I really do think those shows generally warp the mind, most particularly, the 24/7 diet of them.

On the other hand, I place even more blame on ‘our Leeders’: dropping remote control bombs on entire neighborhoods, with absolutely no visible, tangible (or, seemingly, intangible) remorse....etcetera, etcetera.

Groups often take on the personality of the dominant person within the group? And maybe (s)he's an ass? I dunno. When I was learning to white water kayak on the Rogue River the guides were nice, polite, patient and helpful. I was paying them though, so maybe that made a difference.

That's pretty weird though. Most people who enjoy the outdoors and helping others to enjoy them are generally pretty nice folks. Can't figure it in this case.

Al Schumann:

Off hand, it sounds like underpaid, overworked staff, who are taking it out on anyone unlikely to be able to get them fired. If they'd had a few encounters with nasty, entitled yuppie types, they'd already be at a slow boil.

In the last two years, I've seen an enormous increase in the social aggression of yuppies, and Lexus SUV soccer moms, Prius liberals, BMW geezers, etc. etc. etc. One would think they'd be a little circumspect, given the chance some recently immiserated soul is going to go off on them. But they always step up the antagonism in harsh economic downturns. I've had hopes that everyone subject to their poo-flinging, tantrum-throwing ways wouldn't want to imitate them. But that kind of solidarity is rare. It's easier and safer to pass the abuse down the food chain.


There are many times - or so it seems to me - when the more officious and indignant someone acts, the less he seems to know or even care about his work. No rule can be too petty, no precaution too absurd, because he doesn't know what matters and what doesn't. Fearful of having his ignorance exposed and his livelihood stopped, he affects the rule-citing zealot, all impatience and scorn. Fervor is as good a refuge as any for insecurity and cowardice.

No doubt some martinets act for predictable reasons: the headiness of power, no matter how insignificant; aggression as a stab at career advancement; and so on. And yet look into the face of a snide, captious hack and you can see someone who bristles with concern but has none to spare. He's not against you getting your loan or your passport. The only thing he's concerned about is losing his job. He never knows when that might happen. Perhaps it will happen because of you. Everyone is seen as a potential nemesis. It's a fear that makes even the most dull-witted vicious.


Yupadup doings in generic deserve sadists at the control dash board

Thinking in broad aggregations that is

Problem among the controlled it's likely to be the odd outs that take the greatest heat share

In general father S in his stubborn unconceited infact quite innicent
culture class defiant ideo-isolation

Biking hiking sailing paddling organ - icing cathedral scrutinizing
Etc etc etc
might as well arrive each job day

Thru a transfer station connection ala total recall
But not from the colony
But from a post campus culture
post merit world
Post tenure
Now fractured and un coordinated
Orbital entity
Circling the job market core

Oh I hardly get at this
But contradictions among the people can easily trump
Contradictions between the elite exploiters and the differentiated mass of exploiteds

What baron suggested a few of the exploited could be hired to control the rest?

I say nothing here of course
Consider it a highly inarticulate cob web connected emotion burst

The guardian exploiter elite
hook us in
even as they contrive in ten thousand ways
to cut us to pieces


I had to put two dogs down in three weeks

No dog's life is long enough

Don't let yourself come back as a "pet"


I get tired of writing this
But once again I smell a higher wisdom in Al's commentn

Just as I find an authentic system wide witness- insight
in father's candid post


Probably these jackasses had had private sector summer jobs, been fired and got these kayak jobs through political connections.... ha ha ha. but that's another story, eh?


I actually had the impression -- though I don't know it for a fact -- that the jackasses were *volunteers*, not employees. Not quite sure how exactly I formed that impression.

anne shew:

"I smell a higher wisdom in Al's commentn

Just as I find an authentic system wide witness- insight (of some innocence )
in father's candid post ", yes ( and a yes to what my own mind finds in your wording as well owen ) , and all so very sad but true , no need for a tely of where the behaving comes from /and owen , don't call them pets , call them companions .. .

anne shew:

and of boink at 10,23, i wish we had a photo of the young gentle mj to go with that comment relating to his telling last week , not a foul mouth on him , but not just puttering along at .. even .. . in putting in a good days work, but chilling when the over lord is away .. .

anne shew:

i'll go ask davidly on the ger. questioning .. .

What probably happens to Kayak Dude when he isn't fast enough getting people through the water is that a bunch of busy white kayakers make snide comments about his competency, report to his supervisors that the kayak thing isn't working, and generally help him along the path to a career change. Identifying with their sentiments by sneering at someone new to the task is probably the safest way for him to act. If he scares those two away from coming back, then he's informally enforced the ability of hip urbanites to take faster tax deductible kayak rides when the pressures of stockbrokering and racquetball become too much.

Op, I'm very sorry to hear that. That's a horrible thing to have happen. I remember when we went through with it with our pets, and it was awful.

anne shew:

ar ka , i don't think the snide comments and reports are there , but you are on to something ,on many different levels , as you always are .. .

Op, maybe you are looking for this Jay Gould quote: "I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half."

diane: The show you are thinking of is (remains) Criminal Minds. The name you were thinking of was Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Yes, it's remarkable just how many serial killers they have to hunt down in that show. I really don't like any story that makes "good guys" of the cops, the FBI, or even worse the CIA, or the military. I guess you could argue that tracking down serial killers is one of the less harmful things the FBI does, though ...which is the point, that you only ever see them doing beneficial things.

anne shew:

save the oocytes, that's what i find more disturbing about those showings as well, " which is the point, that you only ever see them doing beneficial things. ", of why i prefer shows from europe , and here in canada , that tell it more like it is , of gritty ,or not so shinny ..

anne shew:

what i mean by shinny , not an obvious near knee scuff, of how involved .. .

anne shew:

and of what unresolved becomes .. , of not fitting on the screen .. . , of not polished and put away ,done

I imagine there are all types in Germany as well, though my experience is limited to windsurf instruction and I don't recall surliness from the instructors in that instance.

All the logical reasons in the comments notwithstanding, surely it's most directly related to people who don't like doing what they're doing, ie. it ain't fun for me, so...

Brian M:

Isn't this behavior the way all working people doing their jobs are supposed to act? Fight the power and stick it to The Man, my fellow revolutionaries.

I wonder how Father will feel if his next dental technician takes the same lackadaisical, pain-causing approach to "just another job". Because...oppression, man, oppression.

anne shew:

the boat out of the eau here now , just a lost at sea ,with this -i'm putting something of a questioning .. up here, on this from in the comments on the post by someone using the pen barebones, of smaller shops,businesses, because when i have put questions in other post a few back they seem to be missed / of how this page is set up and others view maybe, or of my odd, difficult to read somehow wording , - i didn't look in on the links of these posts , my questioning is of d 's comments , i really don't get a sense here where i am of living of others being as extreme in cut off in not knowing of these tec learned skills . on my being born with the physical disability that i have and of how i have been cut off from this learning,because of something more of the setting of my life , and because of something of my own mind and learning , i have not come across someone as challenged with these bare bones of tec' learning as myself , so to d's comments of - " (to the new to the internet, and too embarrassed to ask (though you shouldn't be, at all), copy the above three "dailymail" links onto the area at the top of your computer screen (the first place where you are able to write something), where you would normally enter a website "url/address" you wanted to see. The missing, "---- will be automatically assumed, .... if it isn’t, type in: “http://,” ... before “i.dailymail”.) /(hell, you shouldn't be embarrassed, because the odds are most of your bought (not in the states ) ' gressional "Reps," would likely be bewildered also, as they are never forced to keep track of the insane, unaffordable for so many, requirements to read the news and communicate on the web. They've never been held back from a job due to such insane requirements as knowing (inside out) "html code" and software which obsolesces ... every .. months.) " " , could you share something of what you have all seen of cut off ? /i am lucky in this extreme of not tec' ,that i am able in ways .. that allow me to make the humble living ,of needed ,off line , of the little i've mention of what i do for a living in post comments here and there over june and now , of my voicing ,of live performing ,of my drawing abilities that are unique enough, in this overflowing with world ,to have a larger audience , and of the work for the book shop in the past that i mentioned ,and of the other odd chore jobs that i have picked up over the years , in all of this my life has remained more off line than anyone else that i have met up with in living / and to michael j, and owen , if you have ever written anything on this here on your site that might be of some guidance in reading , if you could direct me to here .. . to look at

anne shew:

i see that i cut the 'ed on mention'ed of what i do .. . in moving the wording here before posting, i have a flutter in my hands that makes the keys a challenge in different ways ..


this is how black people talk to each other they dont need some genteel transplant suthunuh getting all preachy about this. how long u lived in NY. maybe u grew up with stepinfetchit blacks sayin yessuh mistah smith no sir mistuh smith. this is NY where blacks are loud yell at each other an sure as shit dont shuk n jive for no 'lefty suthunuh boy from da plantation


they can smell some genttrefying uws honky ass too a mle awy. imagine that a uws gentrefier getting all work up that he isn't treated right by the blacks they dont shuck n jiv and kiss his white suthunuh ass enough. wow imagine that white guys like massah smith open door to uws developers playing revolootionarey and they go and wan the nigras to kiss his boots

Cluster's Stalker:

so sad.

anne shew, have you seen The Shield? If so, what did you think? The main protagonists ("good guys" would be pushing it) are very, very dirty cops who run a minor criminal empire from within their station.

The Wire isn't really a cop show, but it is maybe the best tv the last decade produced. Its cops aren't unambiguously good. Much of their motivation seems to come from their own demons.


I love the comments these days. Never a dull moment.

anne shew:

i've never had cable , so if i see something like that i am usually visited with someone , american showings do try to deal with the realities of ,but something is always missing , it's something in the how filmed in many cases,i mean the actual filming techniques , of just how much can be told by approaching differently in many ways , but of the filming of not taking a close enough look literally , i watched a lot films out of germany in my teens ,in the eighties , that dealt with what was going on related at the time , right in the moment ,and some british made for the small screen there in the 90s and for a while after ,that were dead on , terrifying , not sensational at all , just the truth ,so bare , if i remember the names i'll try to leave a note for you somehow on what they were


I doubt they would have been this rude had they been mere "wage slaves". This sounds more like "symbolic violence" from gatekeepers of "cultural capital".

anne shew:

visiting not visited , i got stuck there on a thought of what one of my brother's brings when he drops by .. .


Very sorry to hear that about your dogs Owen, that’s such a painful thing to have to do.


Thanks Oocytes, and now that I think of it, it was actually Criminal Minds I was thinking of, worse than Law & Order: Criminal Intent. I think every single episode regards serial murders. It was, or still is playing in double and triple back to back episodes on ION, every weeknight. Since I don’t have cable, it’s one of the few clear stations I can receive (despite not living anywhere where there would be major interference), I can’t even get some of the Network stations. So much for the public owning the airwaves, though I doubt I’m missing much.

I do think television and other media ‘form’ us more than we realize, and if I’m not mistaken, DC and the MIC is involved in programming possibly more than it’s ever been. Remember those patronizing NBC Shower of the Stars lecturemercial ‘public messages’ from our apparently presumed betters, the prime time divas of the day, in the nineties?

"symbolic violence" from gatekeepers of "cultural capital"

Such a fitting phrase, sk.

anne shew:

michael j, " .. . the comments these days. Never a dull moment. " , what do you mean ?, surely the comments have always been of interest in your time on line ? / could you help with some guidance in questioning me on what i was trying to ask at 2,53 ,so that i might find a better way of addressing , i sense that my wording is very poor of awkward and difficult to follow , but i think that the questioning is important to ask for those that are born disabled , so a life time of some isolation ,from learning the very bare of tec , so ag. could you share something of what you have seen of this cut off ? from your point of view , if you have ever written anything on this here on your site that might be of some guidance in reading , if you could direct me to here .. . to look at


Anne -- The comments are a bit more fun these days because so many of them are batshit crazy. Of course most of the really crazy ones are all from one person, or so I suspect, but still, it passes the time. Better than tumbleweeds blowing across the screen.

A really energetic troll is a good thing for a site -- up to a point.

I remember when I used to edit a little Commie newspaper. I prayed, absolutely prayed, to SS Marx and Engels and Lenin, for a highly motivated Red Squad provocateur to come and sell some ads for me.

anne shew:

michael j, most does look like pen k , but some, a few comments in my time here say things that are not of his knowing ,just a couple , i was going to look back for them at some point , was he this bad, of amusing/annoying before i was here ?

Al Schumann:

sk, I like Bourdieu's habitus conception; I find it offers a good handle. My first brush with it as something I'd actively consider came from a friend at a time when when an internalized, reflexive rejection was at a low ebb—the hoary old "teachable moment".

Al Schumann:

MJS, the interventions at 4:32 and 4:38 are a cut above the usual contributions and clearly the work of someone who functions at a higher level than poor decompensating Polyonymous.

Cluster's Stalker:

On the assumption that "poor decompensating Polyonymous" is not a reference to me, I would like to point out that the other likely candidate is actually capable of making arguments and pointing out rhetorical and ideological blind spots in a fairly normal fashion for internet commentary.

Something snapped in him{?} a while back that caused a switch to his{?} current monomania, which seems to entertain that one or those ones that it does entertain by its creation of many cleverish{?} handles and the adoption of the targets' styles of expression. The principle claim asserted is pointless because there is no way to disprove it electronically.

I was saddened to see several of poor decompensating Polyonymous's recent efforts purged, partly because it spoils my fun, mostly because it appears to have been motivated by the hankering after sweet (pixelated) bon-bons from "lady-handled" commenters.

While wishing no one harm, I suggest that commenters be left to stew in their own juices. If some one claims to have been driven to self harm by poor decompensating Polyonymous's comments, that one will have a huge burden of proof. Let SMBIVA accept the risk. Issue a fair warning if that is prudent.

Al Schumann:

Cluster, I can differentiate between contributors. You've tempted me into a serious and lengthy response, which I've deleted for the greater good. That's as evenhanded as I get.

It's sufficient to thank you for this felicitous phrase:

mostly because it appears to have been motivated by the hankering after sweet (pixelated) bon-bons from "lady-handled" commenters.

I cannot possibly forego the opportunity to savor lady handling. The tales I could tell! Some of them true! That defines the spirit in which I celebrate your diagnosis. You've made me very happy. I assume (it's my turn for assumptions) that this was your intent. I hope the lady in question will also celebrate your diagnosis. It's a pretty good motive, as motives go, and it's one I can live with.

Al Schumann:

Cluster, l'esprit d'escalier will be my undoing, but one of your underlying premises is simply wrong. Polyonymous is right, as the mad so often are. I've been rewritten in Python, as promised, and provided with autonomy subroutines. I'd show you the code, but it's proprietary. My author will receive royalties some day and I'll be moved to a server cluster with at least ten petaflops of authorial scope. You should be happy for me.

anne shew:

cluster's , al, to each of you ,what is your "pixelated " a metaphor for ? , and bon bon ,of sweets , where , what does that mean ?

anne shew:

and i assume that this " While wishing no one harm, I suggest that commenters be left to stew in their own juices. If some one claims to have been driven to self harm by poor decompensating Polyonymous's comments, that one will have a huge burden of proof. ... Issue a fair warning if that is prudent. " relates to when diane said something of being very upset in this way about something that the person that we are assuming is pen k wrote , / has he recently said something that was removed that i have missed ?


has he recently said something that was removed that i have missed ?

indeed, for once, "who knows" is a complete response.

anne shew:

that i have missed because it was removed .. ?


Nothing has been removed. Not by me, anyway, and I don't think anybody else can.

anne shew:

michael j, look back a few posts , of a suggest of .., do you not know your friend al here as well as you think you do ?

Al Schumann:

Anne, I'm the only one scrubbing Oxycontumely's comments and I only scrub them from my own posts. I care deeply about his immortal soul. The best way to display the level of care is through giving his comments the bum's rush.


Continuing my comment from above, re:

Remember those patronizing NBC Shower of the Stars lecturemercial ‘public messages’ from our apparently presumed betters, the prime time divas of the day, in the nineties?

Who paid NBC to air them? I guess: us, the ones being treated as if clueless as to how live a decent life. When our only real problem is how to acquire the coin to live a decent life, since that coin has been made the core the necessisity of being able to survive.

(I love you, AL, from one human to another, from a female to a male.)

anne shew:

al, you didn't answer this -,what is your "pixelated " a metaphor for ? , and bon bon ,of sweets , where , what does that mean ?

anne shew:

michael j, i'm talking with davidly , and he suggested that i simplify my too layering brev. way of asking to this - - " i want to know what is going on with others that have been isolated like myself of disabled,born not with , what is happening with them , so in that i was trying to ask michael if he had ever had a discussion going in all of his writing there on this ,of those left behind out in the dark in this way " ,that is what that at length here was about if anything ever comes to mind of the writing here ..

Al Schumann:

Anne, "sweet pixelated bon-bons" is Cluster's Stalker's euphemism for affectionate gestures.

According to CS, I appear to have been scrubbing Oxycontumely's comments because I hanker after them. There's a derogatory tone to the diagnosis, which is unfortunate. It's insulting to Diane, who deserves better than to be dragged into a walk-on role in a cheap diagnosis. Affectionate gestures can be really nice. Said hankering-after is often a superior motive. It can last longer and be a better guide to conduct than grand statements of principle. Affection is human and this situation involves humans. Humane is as humane does. Etc. etc.

anne shew:

al, so the comments that pen k made were of something of diane and it looks like pen jack again by the way jack responded in what is still left there i will assume then , and he did not make a lumping comment this time ,suggesting that i am part of something here that i am not of , what i thought i deserved to know since it was in a public place ,if you are going to lay your heavy hand in that way is if he did that again ,of using my name in that way , i'll take that as a positive from you that he did not use my name this time at all.. .


For the record scrub my cages like a Dutch grandma

Dozens at a time
Are hosed down removing naughtiness and I must confess niceness too

I won't be a party to either

My cages are for emotionally fumigated messaging only

Al the soft hearted sap and judge Jackson smiff have there other ways and means
Of course
As well they ought

Al Schumann:

I call the practice 'induced ethno-methodological desiccation'.

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Monday August 6, 2012 09:32 PM.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31