Friday, April 18, 2014

Efflux Riparian

What attracts humans to water? Endless thirst? Despite floods, people pay a premium to live alongside bays, coves, estuaries, lakes, ponds, or rivers, sometimes want burial at sea. Frequent fog and rain cut any sense of posh riparian space. During storms a rising sea is an unseen menace. Droplets of water exhibit cohesion; they are chemically designed to chase and cling. Humans flock and gang together, or insist, even stalk, whenever ignored. Tears sting with salt. Also like seawater, blood dissolves, foams, pulses, perhaps stains, and rushes to intermingle. A body wants to be inside another body, back in a warm, wet sack. At 24 weeks embryos of fish and humans appear identical.
Aquatic craniates are man’s earliest ancestors, evolutionarily speaking, and everybody still has structures related to fins and gills. So, a woman does need a man like a fish needs a bicycle, after all, which is to say a partner for species propagation if not traditional monogamy.

In contemporary Russia, Pussy Riot rejects patriarchy and pretty much has had it with Putin’s repressive politics. Barely adults, they’ve already spent years incarcerated for their dissent, as portrayed in recently screened HBO documentary, A Punk Prayer, directed by Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin. Not confined to Eastern Europe, female issues peaked in 2013, a year of gender controversy. Conservative policies that exclusively cater to state religions endlessly result in tentacles of inequality. Yet without prayer and respect world would definitely be poorer, perhaps unlivable. Studies in America report that females get 75-93% as much as males for same jobs. Their view to the top is clear through a prohibitive glass ceiling. Why let an eroding undercurrent poison business, governance and interpersonal relations? Why ignore 50% of the population? Why not listen instead and proactively act? After effluxion over time, any social contract expires.

Routes cyclists take are not quite as fluid, more like taffy; you squish to hurry up, stretch to get in more miles. Firmament will always be fiction. Nothing lasts. Solid ground crumbles, sometimes turns into rushing mud. As a book, Bike&Chain likewise runs all over the place, torn in a thousand directions. Yet there’s an arc and center, even denouement, if no plot or purpose. Who isn’t pushed and tugged all over these days? Writers only mirror events, milieu, what’s happening. You weren’t born onto one side of issues promulgated only to exploit you. Matriarchy or patriarchy? Why not equality? Humanity moves forward united, will fall divided, wouldn’t survive without diversity. Growth and improvement can distance self from persistent deceptions and transitory illusions. To get there you must swim in facts within a school surrounded by sharks, not remain stuck on a shore of suppositions. This was B&C’s departure from fiction.

Agreed, novels have enormous influence, yet legitimize violence, whitewash root causes, and worsen insanity. Criminals and terrorists are inspired by novelists who write details that can be used to harm and maim. Fiction tends to fit into genres, tired plots with only names and places changed, and worship conflict. Instead, life itself resembles long stretches of boredom punctuated by rebellious bursts against inhuman oligarchs, not a scenario that fits neatly into a derivative genre. Devoid of any entertainment distractions, B&C tried to fathom the emotional bottom of interpersonal ethics. Is that even possible? Feel readers would rather be fishing for themselves than getting along by sharing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Essex Terraplane

Remember running backwater routes in the 1970’s and seeing an “authorized” Hudson dealer, really a junkyard for a defunct brand. Rusting hulks sat and sulked awaiting rare enthusiasts to restore in mirth and terrorize roads with their girth. The Terraplane, an economical (as low as $425 new), fast model introduced in 1919, was lamely advertised, “In the air that's aeroplaning, but on the land, in the traffic, on the hills, hot diggity dog, that’s Terraplaning.” Imagine bicyclists resented sharing byways and terrain with these flightless turkeys, yet aviatrix Amelia Earhart hawked them, bluesman Robert Johnson droned on about them, and robber Dillinger drove one. Private transportation spread and still permits crime sprees. During the 1930’s Depression, Essex merged with and outsold the more profitable Hudson, so they abruptly discontinued production. No wonder Hudson subsequently had to sell out to American Motors, neither of which survived.

When I feel so lonesome, you hear me when I moan / Who been drivin' my Terraplane for you since I been gone… Mr. highway man, please don't block the road, 'Cause she's reachin' a cold one hundred and I'm booked and I got to go.—Robert Johnson

A website commenter said you shouldn’t discriminate cyclists from motorists, suggest a them-us dichotomy, since most both drive and pedal intermittently. Makes you consider how autos became popular a century ago. Origins fascinate, although no one thing will ever totally instigate, rather the sum of conditions. It was a no-brainer that a bicycle’s motility and a biplane’s power would merge into motorized cycles, then multi-wheeled versions for the balance challenged. Oil became available as a cheap energy source, instant compared to coal or electricity. Yet it took a celebrity to convince masses to give up cycling. If not for hard hills and heavy loads, motors may never have caught on. Chores and contours of course occur; they cannot be contravened without conflict. Stalwart riders know climbing builds and descending thrills, but who can blame workers trying to earn livings for choosing perceived convenience? One can’t just grovel in fear and hide at home.

There are hundreds of videos on Youtube showing mtb’ers going where no car could ever go, often downhill catching big air. Others present relevant songs.

By London indie rock band Bombay Bicycle Club, The Hill wants to rewind the clock and seal Pandora’s Box...
And, alright, let's go outside, / And rise, rise, rise to the meaning of life. And we're trying but we're all falling out. I want to go back to old times.

Comedian Benny Hill slyly reports on cycle sports...

By Avenger’s composer and Madison native Joel McNeely, Bicycle Ride scores final credits of TV series Dark Angel starring Jessica Alba as a bike messenger. Many miles later, she looks fabulous in that Fantastic Four skin suit. Surprised she hasn’t yet cameoed on The Big Bang Theory having rubbed elbows with Marvel obsessed cast at MTV Movie and People’s Choice Award Shows, though her name was mentioned.

By Noah Drew, This Hill Again describes a notorious night commute after happy hour.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Common Refrain

Browsing and grazing, almost too easily uncovered hitherto unmentioned bits of cycling culture. The Chemical Brothers, Velodrome [edm], single, Universal Music Group, 2012 - This accompanied an animated video played before each velodrome trial at the 2012 Olympics.

Thanks to The Wizard of Oh for collecting the following European bicycling songs among scores more already mentioned in B&C’s appendix or subsequent blogs:
Alex Roeka, De Muur Van Geraardsbergen [Dutch] Wolfshonger, Raaf Rec., 2002. This wall of misery is a cobblestone climb which culminates the Tour of Flanders.

British Sea Power, Lucky Bicycle, Valhalla V.I.P. EP, Rough Trade, 2011.

Immer diese Radfahrer, Lied - Mit dem Rad, Kamerad [German].

Kees Ruiter, Moin Fiets [Dutch folk], Live telecast; video shows a cyclist riding along dikes in the Westfries area of Northwestern Holland.

Les Thugs, Biking [French punk], As Happy As Possible EP, Sub Pop Rec., 2008.

Miranda Eve, The Bicycle Song, single, circa 2012.

Nora Jane Struthers, Bike Ride, Carnival, Blue Pig Music, 2013; video has songstress riding a retro bike throughout.

Robert Long, Vader op een fiets (Dad on a bike) [Dutch], Achter de horizon, EMI, 1986.

Found independently was this trio of older songs:
Antoine, La Troisième Roue De Ton Velo (French), single, 1970.

Jean Narcy, Bravo Eddy [Belgian], Ah! Quelle Histoire, Decca, 1970; about supreme cycling hero Eddy Merckx.

Manuel “Canario” Jimenez, En Bicicleta [Puerto Rican Jibaro] circa 1960 on retrospective album Y Su Cuarteto, Codigo, 2009.

A band in the burgeoning cycling center of London, Me for Queen has an innovative idea for an all-cycling, crowd-funded album called Iron Horse. Now you too can claim blame for adding to this song stampede. Says group's singer Mary Erskine quoted in a Guardian article, "This whole album has come from the time on my bike. You're kind of operating on two different levels: you're going through the motions, you're hyper-alert ... and, at the same time, the rest of your brain is off just free thinking. That's where all my good ideas come from; it's pretty much 99% on the bike." She expresses frustration with motorists and sensations of danger, realizes album won't change the world, but shares her perspective as a cyclist. Same as Bike&Chain. One finished cut, White Bike, is a folk ballad about ghost bikes; proceeds go to a charity that supports victims’ families.