Patrick O’Grady is known for his Friday’s Foaming Rant columns in Velonews and his cartoons that appear in Bicycle Retailer. Basically, if you follow cycling even a little bit, or have ever worked in a bike shop, you’ve heard of this guy.
Back in 2002, in the early days of drunkcyclist, he penned the following cartoon for the Bicycle Retailer:
When that issue hit the streets, it caused a surge in site viewers that crashed the server I was hosted on. The rather small hosting company I was using at the time had no choice but to shut the site down for a few days while they sorted out the rest of their client’s sites. It lead to a rather large increase in what it cost to keep this site online. It was one of many growing pains the site went through. Of course, this one was more like a bomb went off than a growing pain. But you get the idea. He also has a website: maddogmedia.com
What is your name?
Depends on who’s calling. But the driver’s license says Patrick O’Grady.
What do you like to be called?
Patrick. “Pat” sounds like something Bill Clinton might do to a passing plumper by way of introducing himself. Nicks include the collegiate “Shady O’Grady” and, of course, “Mad Dog,” a sobriquet I was awarded at a Colorado newspaper for my habit of howling like a deranged coyote around deadline time while prowling the newsroom on all fours, occasionally raising a leg. This paper, incidentally, eventually paid me American money to take my act on the road. I spent it on porn, drugs and strong drink.
How did you first hear about drunkcyclist.com?
I believe it was the boys at VeloNews who turned me onto the site. As you can tell from reading the magazine or website, they don’t do much work over there at North 55th in Boulder. They mostly spend their days begging for bike jewelry, downloading gay porn and massaging their wands to Graham Watson photos of Lance Armstrong. (Sorry, guys, but I told you things would get ugly the next time my check got “lost in the mail.”)
Do you read drunkcyclist.com?
Oh, yeah. It’s a daily must, along with The New York Times, Modern Drunkard, Talking Points Memo, The Aristocrats, The Washington Monthly, Dirt Rag, Mother Jones and my own site, which I check upon arising to see if I wrote anything monstrous the night before while under the pernicious influence of socialism, Scotch or both.
How does it feel to be interviewed on drunkcyclist.com?
I’m honored, truly. Hell, I don’t even have tits or anything. Well, actually, I do, but they’re not pretty. They’re real, though.
Where do you work and for whom?
I’m involved in libel construction and advertiser/subscriber dispersal for a couple of bicycle magazines: VeloNews (since 1989) and Bicycle Retailer & Industry News (since ’92). I also contribute to the VeloNews.com website, in the sense that Rush Limbaugh contributes to genteel political discourse. All this takes place at the Mad Dog Media Whirled Hindquarters in scenic Bibleburg, Colorado, home of the famously un-gay, non-meth’-using Ted Haggard.
How did you get involved in writing / journalism? And what does one call it?
Through cartooning. I drew some incredibly shitty cartoons for my high school and college papers, plus a couple smallish underground papers, and thought I might be the next Pat Oliphant, or maybe Gilbert Shelton. But I never took any art classes, because I was concerned I’d pollute the style I didn’t have any of. And then I found out how many cartoonists actually made a living at the gig and thought I’d better study journalism, just in case that whole fame-and-fortune thing didn’t work out. Good thing, too, because while I drew for every newspaper and magazine I ever worked for, reporting and editing paid the bills. Happily, I found that the same off-brand sense of humor that drove me to cartooning could be applied to written commentary, and that’s what I enjoy most these days. When I have my clothes on, anyway.
As to how one describes journalism, the late Hunter S. Thompson offers a pretty solid definition in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”:
“The press is a gang of cruel faggots. Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits — a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.”
Still, it beats working, as Hunter could tell you, if he weren’t busy being dead.
Where were you born?
In Annapolis, Maryland, at the U.S. Naval Academy hospital. Apparently the Air Force had examined the family history and wanted nothing to do with helping to further the O’Grady lineage.
Are you Conservative or Liberal?
Neither. I’m registered as a Democrat, but unhappily. I tried to register as a Yippie for the 1972 Nixon-McGovern contest, hoping that Pigasus would run again, but without success, and so I voted for McGovern, though he was the least swinish of my remaining options. I had a romantic flirtation with the New Left through college — the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party, the Maoist-Stalinist October League and its out-of-wedlock child, the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), that whole post-SDS, Mike Klonsky crowd. I lost interest when it became apparent that Communism and Christianity shared the same problem—a rigid, humorless orthodoxy that discouraged independent thought and ruthlessly punished any deviation from the party line. For a glimpse of what that era was like, see Monty Python’s “Life of Brian,” the scene where Brian tries to hook up with the People’s Front of Judea while selling snacks at the Coliseum. Since college I’ve voted for independents, Democrats a Libertarian or two, and none of the above. Never a Republican, though. That would be the political equivalent of jacking off with sandpaper mittens.
Mother fuck George Bush, or thank god he’s our President?
Mother fuck George Bush, face down, in the Mesopotamian mud, with a big, red, rubber dick, preferably molded by the lesbian daughter of a dead Iraqi civilian and wielded by a blind, one-legged Marine from Building 18 at Walter Reed.
Iraq War: Good idea or fucking huge mistake?
Fucking huge mistake. We should draft all the cheerleaders, keyboard commandos and armchair generals who were for it, send them to Iraq (they can come home when they’re safely dead and no longer a threat to the national gene pool or the Constitution), and bring the soldiers home to their families.
Coffee or tea?
Both. I take the coffee black, to match my aura, but put honey in the tea.
Do you drink alcohol? And what’s your poison?
Does a fat dog fart? It’s mostly inexpensive wine around the DogHaus — lately I have an inexplicable taste for Red Truck and White Truck, ten bucks a bottle, but it could just as easily be Tractor Shed Red, Laurel Glen Reds or some tonsil polish from the land of cheese-eating surrender monkeys. If I have money nearby, I like a bottle of the 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Heitz Cellars. As regards beer, Lagunitas IPA is stellar, as is almost anything from Deschutes. Bushmills, Herradura Añejo, a real dry martini — as Thomas McGuane once said through a character in “Something to Be Desired,” ”I don’t how it tastes as long as it kills brain cells and fucks up my memory.”
Albuterol for asthma and the occasional Advil for – well, you know. Performance enhancement. There, I said it. The nicotine, ditch weed, ha.
What religion were you raised?
Protestant Lite. We attended Sunday school and church on various Air Force bases, where the sky pilot was just another dude in uniform like my old man, who was a real pilot. This sort of non-denominational lecture regarding the martial wishes of the Celestial Commander-In-Chief failed to inspire me to hold up “John 3:15” signs at the Coors Classic.
Quitting daily journalism after 15 years of drudgery and going free-lance. If I’d known it was possible, I’d have done it five years earlier. Maybe 10.
Interviewing a bunch of Klansmen at a Denny’s. The hashish, mescaline, LSD, amphetamines, psilocybin and cocaine of my misspent youth are a very dim memory indeed.
Ever had a problem with either?
There was a spell in the Eighties where I occasionally woke up under my pickup in someone else’s driveway. I blame the Reagan administration.
Atheist or true believer?
I am a Zen Druid. I hug the tree, even though I know that the tree and I are already one.
Do you have a significant other?
Shannon and I have been married for going on 17 years now. And she knows where all the guns are, too, which should tell you something, considering the amount of insurance she carries on me. Incidentally, for those who don’t think the shit’s funny, I know where all the guns are, too, and I loaded them myself. Hollow points. Bring a Kevlar vest and your Blue Cross card if you plan to visit.
One sister, who works for the Department of Social Services in Larimer County, which mostly involves selling poor people to Con-Agra in nearby Greeley. This is why I buy only organic meat from Coleman Natural and Larga Vista Ranch.
Do you get along with your parents?
Now that they’re dead, yeah.
What was your childhood like?
I was spoiled rotten. Typical baby-boomer. The folks thought the sun shone out of my ass until I hit puberty and commenced to talk out of it. We did move a lot, though, and that was something of a pain, always being the new kid in school, trying to ID the Nazis in the teaching staff and find an honest dope dealer while dodging another ass-kicking.
Did you fucking hate high school?
Oh, yeah. Definitely didn’t fit in. I was a long-haired, science-fiction-reading, dope-sucking, beer-drinking, shoplifting letterman in a weirdo sport (swimming) without a driver’s license. A clique of one.
Did you go to your high school reunion?
No, when I was finally paroled, I decided to stay out of the joint forever.
Who pisses you off, and why?
A sizable percentage of my fellow Americans, for flushing their birthright down the shitter in a moment of panic. After 9/11, this country went from GI Joe to Betsy Wetsy in nothing flat, with the exception of the men and women in the armed forces, who clocked in and went to work at a job we should never have asked them to do. Appalling. Ben Franklin was right.
Who do you want to meet?
Jesus. I’d like to know how he feels about so many of us totally missing the point he was trying to make. This sort of thing happens to me, too, but nobody’s tried to nail me up for it. Yet. Incidentally, anyone looking for an out-there take on the Christ mythology should dig up a copy of Michael Moorcock’s “Behold the Man.” I read it while hooked on his Eternal Champion cycle. It’ll send you straight to church, if only to steal from the collection plate.
What music do you listen to?
All sorts of stuff, from Sixties rock to bluegrass, country to jazz, classical to punk. Tom Waits is a favorite. If you’re stuck in snow country, the Allman Brothers did the best wind-trainer CD ever (“A Decade of Hits, 1969-1979”).
What do you read? Books? Magazines? Newspapers?
All three, plus ingredient labels, web sites, billboards, you name it. I have a bad habit of copy-editing menus, which often spoils what otherwise would be a delightful meal. We subscribe to the local cage-liner, a rancid heap of neo-libertarian bumwad that I worked for back in the late Seventies, to see who’s trying to slip it to us here in Bibleburg. I also subscribe to The Nation, Mother Jones, The Progressive, High Country News and some other lefty pubs. Dirt Rag I read online, but I really should subscribe; same with Bike. But there are only so many hours in the day, and the bathroom already looks like we’re training a retarded puppy in there. My favorite contemporary book authors are Thomas McGuane, Jim Harrison and Robert Russo, who should’ve gotten the Pulitzer for “Nobody’s Fool,” which was far superior to the long-winded “Empire Falls.”
What movies do you like?
I lean toward weirdo comedies and standup videos, surprise, surprise. We have lots of standup comedy: George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Eddie Izzard, Sam Kinison, and one Dane Cook courtesy of a niece who thinks he’s funny but is wrong. Anything with Michael Caine or Peter O’Toole (The Man Who Would Be King, A Lion in Winter, Lawrence of Arabia, The Quiet American). Diner. The Commitments, an underrated flick about a bunch of Irish wankers trying to build a blues band in Dublin (based on the first story in the Roddy Doyle Barrytown Trilogy).
Do you watch television?
No. It gnaws away at the forebrain like a starving rat.
Do you watch sports?
We had cable installed so I could watch last year’s Tour. That pretty much punched my ticket, so we unplugged it again. I’ve never understood the American fascination for playing with sticks and balls. Maybe Ted Haggard can explain it to me, if I buy him some meth.
Do you drive a car much?
Not really. Working from a home office helps. Of course, I make up for the lack of a daily commute by zipping out to Sin City for Interbike, or to Arizona for a week of dicking around in the desert, or to Santa Fe to eat everything in sight and leer at naked hippie chicks at Ten Thousand Waves. That tends to spin the old odometer.
What do you drive and why?
I have two automobiles: a 2005 Subaru Forester and a rusty ’83 Toyota pickup. I drive the Forester if I’m going anywhere I don’t feel like walking back from. The Toyota is my around-town machine, because the born-agains here in Bibleburg drive like they can’t wait to meet the Boss.
Where do you want to be in five years?
Back in America. Some assholes stole it back in 2000 and I’ve been living in Oceania ever since.
How ‘bout in ten years?
Hmm. I’ll be 63. Considering I never expected to clear 30, I’ll settle for being on top of the earth, pissing on GOP wingtips and telling ’em that it’s my take on Reagan’s trickle-down fantasy.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d be less well-hung. I can’t count the times some nosy neighbor has called the cops, fearing from the screams that I’m murdering my wife.
Any final thoughts or words?
I’ll quote the late, lamented Molly Ivins on this one: “Raise hell.”