Friday, August 3, 2018

Detroit has electric scooters now, so we tried them (and didn't die)

Posted By on Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 5:03 PM

A pretty Bird nesting illegally on the sidewalk. - JERILYN JORDAN
  • Jerilyn Jordan
  • A pretty Bird nesting illegally on the sidewalk.
I've been enjoying consensual nonmonogamy for the past two years, in part thanks to your column and podcast. I have a delightful young lover, and our connection has evolved into a kind of Master/slave relationship. I "allow" her to fuck other men and women, and she delights in asking my permission and recounting the details of her other trysts to me. We are curious how much of this she needs to disclose to her other lovers. They know she isn't monogamous and they are aware of her relationship with me, but so far she has chosen not to tell them the extent to which I "own" her and have jurisdiction over her body and actions. Of course, it's just an elaborate role-playing game — but is it wrong to be using these people as pawns in our game without their knowledge and consent? If so, when should she tell them? Before she sleeps with them even once? Or after she's developed a more intimate rapport with them? There's a perverse thrill in her other lovers being totally oblivious to it, but we want to be ethical in our polyamorous ways.

—Masochists And Sadists Tackling Ethical Relations

This falls under the header of permissible secret perving (PSP), MASTER, and I will allow it — with one caveat.

My go-to example of PSP is the foot fetishist who works in a shoe store. So long as he's good at his job and his secret perving is undetectable — no bulges, no heavy breathing, no creepy comments — no harm done. And if he goes home and jacks off about all the sexy, sexy feet he saw and, yes, handled during his shift, he's not hurting anyone or doing anything unethical. It's important, however, to note that the foot fetishist salesclerk's perceptions aren't the ones that matter. If he thinks he's playing it cool — he thinks his perving is secret — but his customers or coworkers are creeped out by his behavior, demeanor, heavy breathing, etc., then his perving isn't secret and is therefore impermissible.

The secret perving you're doing — the girlfriend has to beg for your permission to fuck other people and report back to you afterward — is small and it's a bank shot. The other people she's fucking provide mental fodder for your D/s role-playing games, MASTER, you aren't directly involving them. Your role-playing games take place before she fucks someone else (when she asks your permission) and after she fucks someone else (when she recounts her experience). And what turns you on about your girlfriend sleeping with other people — and how you and your girlfriend talk to each other about it — is no one's business but yours.

Now for the caveat: If one of your girlfriend's lovers strongly objects to Dom/sub sex, relationships, or role-playing games, and your girlfriend is aware they object, and you two want to be exquisitely ethical, MASTER, then either your girlfriend shouldn't fuck that person or she should disclose your Master/slave dynamics to that person and allow them to decide whether they want to fuck her anyway.

Zooming out for a second: Some people in open relationships don't want to know what their partners get up to, and these couples usually have "don't ask, don't tell" agreements about sex outside the relationship. But many more people in open relationships do want to hear about their partners' adventures because it turns them on. Someone who doesn't want to risk being fodder for a couple's dirty talk or even their D/s role-playing games shouldn't be sleeping with people who are partnered and in open relationships. There are things we have a right to ask the people with whom we have casual sex — like whether they're practicing ethical nonmonogamy, if they have an STI, what kind of birth control they're using, whether they're on PrEP, etc. — but a casual fuck isn't entitled to details about your relationship.

My boyfriend of one year has refused to delete photos from his Instagram account that show him with his ex-girlfriend. They were together for three years and briefly engaged, and they broke up two years before we met. They aren't in contact in any way, so I don't have any worries there, but I think making photos of him with someone else available to his friends and family — and now my friends, too, as many are now following him — is incredibly disrespectful. We've had numerous arguments about this, and his "solution" is for me to "stop thinking about it." He also insists that no one is looking at 5-year-old pictures on his Instagram account. If that's true, why not delete them? He refuses to discuss this issue, even as I lose sleep over it. I've tried calmly discussing this with him, I've tried crying, I've tried screaming my head off — nothing works.

—Personal Insult Causing Stress

There's definitely something your boyfriend should delete, PICS, but it's not old photos of his ex.

The man I'm going to marry has a huge boot fetish. He has about 200 pairs of boots in his size. His size also happens to be my size — and I'm half convinced he wouldn't have proposed if we didn't have the same size feet and I couldn't wear his boots. I want to surprise him with a very special bachelor party (that we'll both attend): It would be all guys with the same size feet as us, and everyone will be wearing different pairs of boots from his collection. I'm picturing a big group of guys doing for him what I do for him: Stand on him, let him lick my (actually, his) boots, make him crawl and grovel. His feet aren't an uncommon size (11.5), and I'm guessing enough of our mutual friends would fit into his boots that I could actually make this happen. He's the only fetishist I've ever been with — all my other boyfriends were vanilla — and I'm wondering how he would react if he walked into a room and found a bunch of his friends wearing his boots and then I ordered him to start licking. I think it would be way better than going to a strip club or a drag show.

— Boyfriend Obsesses Over Tall Shoes

P.S. He's not really "out" about his kink.

Wow, BOOTS, you saved the most salient detail for that postscript: Your boyfriend isn't out to his friends about his kink. So unless you're talking about a small subset of his friends — only old friends that once had benefits — do not out your boyfriend as a boot fetishist to all his friends with size 11.5 feet. If your fiancé has fantasized about some sort of group boot-worshipping session, and he's shared that fantasy with you, and you want to help him realize it, that's great. But he needs to be involved in determining where, when, how, and with whom he'd like to make this fantasy a reality.

My bi girlfriend and I are getting married in a month. We're in a cuckold relationship — she sleeps with other men and women, while I am completely monogamous to her — and "my" best man is one of her regular male sex partners and her maid of honor is one her girlfriends-with-benefits. No one else at our big traditional church wedding (that her mother is paying for) will know. But I wanted to let you know, Dan, since reading your column is what inspired me to be open about my kinks, and our relationship — the best I've ever been in — wouldn't exist without you.

— The Happy Couple

Permissible secret perving at its finest/hottest, THC. Thanks for sharing, and be sure to send me a photo of the wedding party for my records.

On the Lovecast, a sex toy expert's husband's favorite sex toy: Impeach the Motherfucker Already:, Questions?

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The great Evel Knievel once said, “If you don't know about pain and trouble, you're in sad shape. They make you appreciate life.”

Before today, I was guilty of perhaps not appreciating life as I should, because before today I had never ridden an electric scooter.

Just last week, Los Angeles-based electric scooter rideshare company Bird landed its pilot program in Detroit, releasing a flock of matte-black machines into our downtown. Bird, which operates in 22 states in the US and recently launched in Europe, has quickly become provider of a fun way to get from point A to point B, as long as the damn thing is charged as each scooter has a 15-mile lifespan. But ever since the company debuted its service in Santa Monica last year, there's been a lot of outrage and confusion, too.

The City of Detroit Department of Public Works noted as much in a recent Memorandum of Interpretation regarding the incoming scooters:

Private sector companies are aggressively deploying dockless electric-assisted scooters in cities across the country, often without any input or guidance from cities themselves. Like the earlier arrival of ride-hailing (or transportation networking companies) like Uber and Lyft, these new mobility options are causing significant upheaval as well as shifts in travel behavior nationwide. Public agencies have struggled to get out ahead of venture capital-funded disruptive technologies for which existing regulations are either inapplicable, inadequate, or inappropriate. This has led to a significant amount of tension between cities and companies.

An example of such tension: According to a cute graphic that launches when the app is opened, all you have to do to conclude your journey is engage the kickstand, click the "end ride" button on your phone, and park near bike racks when available. However, apparently the parking requirements are far more detailed than the app recommends. Per the city of Detroit, prohibited parking areas include:

"...any vehicular travel lane including bike lanes, traffic islands, sidewalks less than six feet wide, any block without paved sidewalk, any area within six feet of any crosswalk, bike rack, fire hydrant, manhole cover, drinking fountain, public art, driveway or curb cut, sidewalk cafe, municipal parking pay station, street furniture, or areas occupied by landscaping including lawn, flowers, shrubs, and/or trees." 

The list goes on. The tension between cities and companies like Bird and rival company Lime have reached legal levels, as it was announced this week that L.A. lawmakers are looking to temporarily ban electric scooters, citing that unsafe riding practices are endangering both riders and pedestrians. One such naysayer, councilman Paul Koretz, tweeted that the ban would keep folks safe until "firm regulations" are established. 

Until then, we're kind of in a Wild West. There's even an Instagram account dedicated to documenting the violent deaths of Bird and Lime scooters. Here's one on fire, and another under water. Some idiots started dumping them in piles because unlike MoGo bikes, which require a docking station, you can leave these things anywhere.

click to enlarge Jerilyn "I have a death wish" Jordan. - PHOTO BY JACOB STOCKING.
  • Photo by Jacob Stocking.
  • Jerilyn "I have a death wish" Jordan.
So before Detroit has an opportunity to throw Bird scooters off of buildings, bowl them into oblivion, or just straight up throw them in the trash, we decided to take the skies — er, streets — to test them out.

To ride, all you need is a smartphone, a drivers license, and a thirst for danger. Luckily for me, I had all three.

The first obstacle is tracking one of these bad boys down. During my commute earlier in the week, I had counted 10 scooters in action in the early morning hours. The app conveniently shows you on a map where the nearest Bird is parked (and how much battery it has) so that you can plan your journey. Thankfully, Bird has enlisted a maintenance squad to swoop in at night to fully charge and inspect each scooter, scattering them about town around 7 a.m. and making them ready to roll. We located our first of two scooters at a Rite Aid in Midtown, appropriately parked near a bike rack.

The first thing to note when hopping aboard: Balance is required, which is why I'm really glad I took those Groupon yoga classes four years ago. It's relatively easy, but getting your footing just so is key as it's not wide enough to mount your feet parallel, nor long enough to line them up toe to heel. The second thing to note: 15 mph is actually pretty fucking fast. The third thing: The app informs of local law, which requires riders to wear a helmet. Unfortunately for me, I had forgotten to grab my scooter helmet when leaving the house and anyway, I sort of wanted a cop to pull me over... on a scooter.

OK, so I instantly broke the law, but along Woodward Avenue there are no bike lanes — only wheel-sized QLine tracks, which I wanted to avoid. Instead, I took to the sidewalk until I reached Cass Avenue, where I treated bike lane posts as an obstacle course, weaving in and out like some sort of madwoman.

Things to account for when you are going 15 mph on a Bird scooter, which disconcertingly begins to sputter and shake when pushed to the limit: ill-timed car doors, sewer grates, real athletes traveling by bicycle, those giant metal plates that cover up potholes in the middle of the road, curbs over 3-inches, and my reason for almost biting it — uneven sidewalks. Even the slightest imperfection can cause you to biff it.

But you don't have to go the maximum speed to have a good time. In fact, the scooters are more responsive when you take it easy and only threaten to tip over when you are at a complete stop, so you can maintain a steady pace while remaining sturdy. The damn things are well-designed.

To add to the list of illegal and dangerous things I attempted while scooting: texting. I tried using my phone first to take a selfie. But because the accelerator requires a pressing motion on the right, and the brake a pulling motion on the left handlebar, there was no conceivable way to operate a phone. I even tried laying against the flat portion between the bars, steadying my phone with a stray thumb, but that proved to be a really bad fucking idea. Don't text and drive.

Eventually, I got the hang of it. I was the devil on two wheels, baby. I had a clear bike lane in my path, the wind in my hair, and a pretty flexible deadline. Non-scooting pedestrians gawked and were not as annoyed as I would be if I was forced to accommodate some douchebag on a scooter barreling at me. In fact, I received mostly smiles, some waves, and even a marriage proposal which I think may have been in response to my advanced trickery (see below).
click to enlarge Feelin' fancy. - PHOTO BY JACOB STOCKING
  • Photo by Jacob Stocking
  • Feelin' fancy.

But what they don't tell you about the Bird scooters is that at some point you begin to feel invincible. Fear is no longer breathing down your neck, and like the scooter itself you are running off of some mysterious energy source. This is why, at one point during my six-mile ride, I forgot that I was not in a car. I was going as fast as a car, sure. But I was not in a car. So, when I cut across lanes of traffic while navigating a crosswalk and caused a series of cars to squeal to a stop — horns blazing, "fuck yous" a-flying — I realized that after navigating downtown and Midtown with reckless abandon, I had let my scooting skills go to my head.

Before setting my Bird free, I wheeled her (I named her Lily Tomlin) up to the Metro Times offices using the elevator, feeling every bit like a criminal. Were they tracking me? Was there a Bird Big Brother watching my every move? Would a member of the company's charging crew break in to rip my beloved scooter from my hands? I wasn't about to find out. But to answer your question, the scooter does accelerate on carpet pretty well, and even our ever-so-busy Editor in Chief could not resist the temptation. Our conclusion? It's fucking fun.

Though the fate of Bird may be uncertain, as evidenced by the many gruesome deaths the electric-nuisances have endured, as of this month Bird is valued at $2 billion dollars. At $1 per scoot and .15 cents per minute of scooting, my one-hour 6.1-mile ride cost me a whopping $10.60. Though I only encountered one other scooter-rider, nodding at one another like we were in some secret super badass club, the experience brought me closer to the city and closer to injury than if I had obediently stayed at my desk. Not only do I feel one with the road, but now I can tell my future grandkids that I was alive when electric scooters invaded Detroit, and that I once rode one — and survived.

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