Hurricane Sandy struck Monday morning and for two days I stayed at home, calling friends and family. On Wednesday, I received a phone call from the folks at The Late Show with David Letterman. They wanted to know if I could perform, and if I could be at the studio in an hour. Transportation networks had been devastated by the storm; trains were not running and traffic was bumper-to-bumper. The only way to make it from my home in Brooklyn to The Ed Sullivan Theater would be to ride my unicycle 8 miles into Midtown. I grabbed my gear and hit the road.
As I crossed the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan, I immediately noticed that all traffic lights were out. Cars jammed the streets as desperate traffic cops and even some citizens tried to control the mayhem. I powered through the snarled roadways unscathed, making it to 53rd and Broadway in an hour.
What a busy summer it’s been, unicycling, juggling and performing across the eastern seaboard! Aside from performing at numerous birthday parties and bar mitzvah events, I’ve also
been featured in a Japanese TV commercial,
worked as a “hipster on a unicycle” for a popular HBO series,
rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchanged dressed as a giant bunny,
worked as a juggling/unicycling model for a major print advertising campaign.
On top of that, I’m finishing my 6th and final season as the juggling/unicycling peanut vendor for The Brooklyn Cyclones. I’ve also been working very hard on The Loose Caboose Show along with co producers Kristine Petrucione and Shane Webb. Below, you can see a clip from a recent show:
Last night I was featured on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. Make sure to visit JugglingFashion.com to get your official “Legalize Unicycles” T-shirt. Shoutout to my arch nemesis Sam Schwartz. The segment was a lot of fun, and The Colbert Report crew was extremely kind and professional. Take a look below:
In November of 2010, I was detained by two NYPD officers while riding my unicycle on the sidewalk near my home in Brooklyn. The officers took my ID and began issuing me a summons for bicycling on the sidewalk. I told the officers that I had been through this once before, and that under New York State law, unicycles are actually legal on the sidewalk. The officers took note of what I said and instead issued me a summons for obstructing pedestrian traffic, a criminal violation, even though there were no pedestrians in the vicinity. Not to take the situation sitting down, I decided to sue the NYPD for wrongful arrest. This lead to a great deal of press coverage. The New York Daily News went so far as to interview the former DOT commissioner regarding my case:
Former city Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Sam Schwartz sided with the cops, even if the letter of the law is not on their side. “I cannot condone unicycling, bicycling or tricycling by adults on the sidewalk,” said Schwartz, who writes the Gridlock Sam column for the Daily News. “Unicycling – even by an expert – on the sidewalk is particularly dangerous.”
Then again, if anyone could be secure on a one-wheeled vehicle, it is Kyle Petersen. For several years, the rolling legend has entertained crowds at MCU (formerly Keyspan) Park in Coney Island by juggling while bouncing on his pedal-powered vehicle. Now, Petersen is as much a symbol of the Cyclones as Sandy the Seagull or Wally Backman kicking dirt on an umpire’s shoes.
My story also got picked up on local television. Below you can watch me on PIX11: After all the charges against me were dismissed, PIX11 ran a follow up:
Four riders, five boroughs, forty-one miles, all on one wheel. Yesterday was the 33rd-annual Five Borough Bike Tour. Among the more than 32,000 cycling enthusiasts were Keith Nelson, Rob Hickman, Jason Kahn and myself, who rode the length of the tour on unicycles.
A mild morning quickly gave way to a hot-and-muggy afternoon, and the four of us struggled to stay hydrated. Jason, an 8th grade science teacher, was a useful guy to have around, as he came prepared with all types of anti-dehydration and anti-cramping remedies. If I ever get stranded on a desert island, I want to have Jason around.
Along the way, we ran into Ray Hoffman, an accomplished juggler and long-time Dubé customer, near his home in Astoria, Queens. Ray took some video of us, and gave us some much needed water as we headed to my home borough of Brooklyn.
Upon arriving in Brooklyn, we stopped at Rob’s apartment in Williamsburg to refill our water and to use the bathroom. Rob’s son is a 10-year-old unicycle enthusiast. He pleaded with his father to let him participate on unicycle in the 2011 bike tour. Rob’s response was “we’ll see…” After inhaling clementines and water, we were back on our way.
At this point, the four of us were experiencing varying degrees of dehydration and fatigue. I neglected to wear sunblock, which proved to be a costly mistake. The last quarter of the race was something of a blur. Riding down the Brooklyn Queens Expressway was completely surreal. I have many memories of being stuck in never-ending traffic jams on this stretch of highway. The lack of shade and the heat from the asphalt made the last quarter of the ride extremely challenging.
Exiting the BQE was a huge relief. The cool breeze from the Atlantic Ocean was a god-send, as temperatures were in the 80′s and humidity was unseasonably high. Even more exhilarating, however, was the opportunity to ride across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Not only did we forgo the ridiculous $11 toll to cross the bridge, we also got to enjoy some breath-taking views of Upper New York Bay. The finish line was at Fort Wadsworth, in the shadow of the Verrazano.
I realize it’s been a long time since I updated my blog. I’m in a transition period, and I’ve been extremely busy getting things in order. Here is the big news items:
I started working for Dubé Juggling as a social networking consultant and salesperson. I’ve been a customer of Dubé for nearly 10 years, and it’s quite an honor.
I recently hosted the late show at the New York juggling festival. You can find a review of the show (which I wrote, so the review is biased) here.
I was featured (along with my brother and close friends Keith Nelson and Rob Hickman) in April 5th’s New York Post. You can find the article here.
Last, but certainly not least, I am participating in the Five Borough Bike Tour, a daunting 41 mile ride, on unicycle. I am doing it to raise awareness of retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye. You can find out more about why I’m doing this at http://unicycle4maggie.wordpress.com/
That said, I hope to be launching a revamped website in the coming months. Please check back soon!