NY Times article due out tom'w!

Tomorrow (7.3.07), the New York Times is running an article on our club (NYUC) and some of its members. If you’re interested, check it out online or in RL (if you have access to the paper). I haven’t seen the article but assume that it’ll be extremely positive (unlike that odd one in Time Out New York a few years ago, which was supposed to be ‘edgy’).

I’ll include a link to the article later, or someone else can do that or just post the article however that’s done.

Oh, and see y’all at the NAUCC 2007! I’ll be the one with the Sharpie, signing autographs on people’s backsides.

I hope it will come off after a few showers

The article

Here is the article from the Times, at least the part I was able to snag from the NYT website. There were two photos: One of my brother from the waist down, seated on his Coker, and another of a club member riding a BC wheel. To my mild dismay, there will be no need for Sharpies: I’m not mentioned in the article despite having given the reporter two interviews to furnish most of his information and in spite of the fact that he profiles my brother and could simply have noted that I founded the club. The only thing I’m really bummed about, tho, is the prospect that someone from the Parks Dept. will read the article and decide that unicyclists shouldn’t be permitted at Grant’s Tomb.

The article:

JOHN STONE is a composer and an athlete in Manhattan, and he has never been in a circus. This last fact is an important but often misunderstood aspect of his life, but perhaps one of the drawbacks of commuting to work in Midtown from his home on the Upper West Side on a unicycle.

“It gets tiresome that people see me on my unicycle and they only think of that,” he said on a recent Sunday while holding a tall black unicycle with special features to accommodate long-distance rides. “Sometimes people will see me riding and start singing circus music at me.”

Mr. Stone, 37, was with others who understood his plight. Every other Sunday, unicyclists who call themselves the Unatics and say they are New York City’s only unicycle club, meet at Grant’s Tomb in Riverside Park to ride, learn new tricks and bond with others who share their love of balancing on top of one wheel. The club, which was founded in 2001, has more than a hundred members.

On this particular Sunday, about 30 unicyclists rode along the concrete entrance to Grant’s Tomb. Club members arranged metal barricades into three rows, so that beginners could find their balance with handholds.

James Sui, 14, impressed other riders by hopping down a set of four stairs at once and remaining upright. Ted Piltzecker, a jazz musician and professor, traced lazy circles while juggling three balls. And Shane Hope, an artist who lives in Brooklyn, glided by on what he called a BC wheel, which is essentially a unicycle without a seat or pedals.

For club members, these Sundays are one of the few chances to feel as if their hobby is a mainstream sport. “This is a friendly world,” Mr. Stone said, adding that riders often know one another’s names and share stories. He said that asking to borrow someone else’s unicycle was understood and encouraged.

But those who don’t ride unicycles also orbit this one-wheeled community. So, Mr. Stone said, unicyclists must sometimes curtail their space when tour groups descend on Grant’s Tomb, where it is generally frowned upon to ride on the monument.

Throughout the afternoon, two rangers from the National Park Service stood at the door to Grant’s Tomb and watched the Unatics. “I thought they were part of the circus the first time I saw them here,” said one ranger, who did not give his name because he said he was not allowed to speak with reporters. “I think they should go down to the trapeze school on the West Side and put a hat out and make a mint.”

Club members have often offered to teach the ranger how to ride a unicycle, he said, but to no avail. “I would break my head open,” he said.

Too bad you got shut out, David. Even though you didn’t attain fame here, I’d still ride with you, if it’s any consolation.

Yeah, I get that all the time when trying to encurage people to learn. It makes the sport seem really dangerous and only for dare devils. The reporter should have ended with something that counteracted that comment like, “Club members arranged metal barricades into three rows, so that beginners could find their balance with handholds [and learn how to fall safely].”

But people don’t want to read about a sport that looks impossible, but isn’t, and looks dangerous, but isn’t. That’s why the extreme stuff is so popular in the press. Don’t worry David, that was just one small article. Press begets press, and there will be more!

Take a look, the article is currently on the front page of the NYT website.

Hey, nice article. It’s cool to get unicycling somewhere so high profile, a load of people have forwarded me links to it .


Nice Work!

Any positive press involving average NY’ers riding unicycles for fun and exercise will help the sport grow!

Thanks, John. I’m happy that the article came out – just not thrilled with the article for reasons already mentioned. I’m sure we’ll get a few new members as a result.

We’ve been written up in Time Out New York as well as a few pieces that appeared on the AP wire but were probably not picked up too much (like one written by a Columbia Univ. journalism student). We were also video’ed and interviewed for that segment on the “Today in New York” show on NBC a few years ago.

I’m not sure that any of those led to anything else, but this one might (since it’s the NY Times, after all!). I can only hope.

Ironically, I probably can’t make the next two meetings of the club, so I won’t get to reap the rewards of new membership except vicariously.

So is the club meeting this month (July 2007)? The website says first Sunday and third Saturday, whereas the NYT article says “every other Sunday”. Presumably the latter is a simplification of the sort made by newspaper reporters everywhere :-(, but thought I ought to check, Sat 21st or Sun 22nd (or neither of those!)?

Cheers, Alan.

(I’m in the area for a while and would love to drop in!)

1st Sunday, 3rd Saturday

Yeah, Alan. Thanks for asking, and welcome to NY. We meet, as the website sez, 1st Sunday and 3rd Saturday of every month. The article left out that detail (and the fact that I co-founded the club) in the spirit of abbreviated journalism.

See you Saturday!