Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rain for Spain

Been watching Chris Froome zoom to his third Tour de France victory thanks to steady team pacing by Cardiff Giant Geraint Thomas, and Spain finally represented on next to last stage because Ion Izagirre descended fearlessly from col de Joux-Plane to Morzine in rain, whereas tentative members of peloton had all seen crashes on wet slick and white lines. Congratulations to all who embraced this 2,200 mile, 3-week torture with tens of thousands of feet of climbs, even those who never finished, though a record number, 175 among world’s best cyclists, did.

Between stages, been searching for films that depict bicycling culture conspicuously, summarized by year below. IMBD currently lists 1,100 movie and television plots that somehow involve bikes, some of which have already been mentioned, though others don’t bear to be. Neglect staying on top, and so many perfect examples drop like rain you can scarcely keep up. Propelled to an obsession, begins to resemble trainspotting or wondering just how many other ubiquitous appliances - such as blenders, movie cameras and spectacles - are used or worn and could be reported. In some respects, don’t blenders and eyeglasses resemble bicycles?

James Earl Jones in Dreamrider (Bill Brown, dir., 1993. 92 min.) inspires a young man who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident, played by actual para-athlete Matthew Geriak, to follow his dream, which means accepting a bet to ride his 10 speed Raleigh from Fullerton, CA to Boston, MA. Breaks a cross country time record, then gives away bike to first kid to greet him at Old North Church. Based on life story of Bruce Jennings and filmed entirely on location in a succession of cities, last reel finally exhibits some one-legged bicycling.

In made-for-television feature Footprints in the Snow (Richard Spence, dir., 2005, 96 min.), Julie Hill, paralyzed in a car crash, abides experimental treatment, restores leg mobility, returns to riding bikes with family, and thereby saves marriage.

Horror/slasher film Shadow (Federico Zampaglione, dir., 2009, 77 min.) is about soldier David, who, after serving in Iraq, begins a bicycle tour of Europe, defends beautiful Angeline, gets hunted by troublemakers, and winds up kidnapped by freaks.

The Parking Lot Movie (Meghan Eckman, dir., 2010, 14 min.) documents attendants of a Charlottesville, Virginia lot, who get by on bicycles and skateboards and get even with typically rude SUV drivers.

After an automobile accident, a veteran cyclist, played by director, acquiesces to train a prodigy (Michael Cuddire) yet struggles to teach him how to unleash The Potential Inside (Scotty Curlee, dir., 2010, 37 min.).

Catching Up (John Jenkins-Stark, dir., 2011, 7 min.) follows pressures facing a semipro racer in a sport that fellow Americans seldom appreciate. The European Grand Tours may attract unruly fans, but world’s hardest bicycle race crosses United States and has already inspired scores of films.

Traffic in L.A. Sucks (Rocio Mesa, dir., 2011, 18 min.) for Rocio, who arrives from Spain believing motoring is the only way around this megacity. Left after a crash without a car or cash, she turns to bicycling for a happy shock.

The Bike Heist (Brttany Baxter & Curtis Cleveland, dirs., 2012, 88 min.) occurs after avid cyclist’s bike and one he borrows from cute neighbor get stolen. Chaos ensues when an old friend suggests title caper to swipe all bikes in apartment building and wriggle out of responsibility.

Break Away (South African, Frans Cronjé & Morné Theunissen, dirs., 2012, 118 min.) has Francois (Frans Cronjé) applying advice from a pro cyclist and riding an old bicycle to deal with job loss, provide for family, and recognize own values.

Fixation (Alex Trudeau Viriato, dir., 2012, 40 min.) celebrates joys of fixed gear bicycling in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose.

High Tech, Low Life (Mandarin, Stephen Maing, dir., 2012, 27 min.) introduces Tiger Temple and Zola, two bloggers who take on the Great Firewall of China to report about issues government wants to suppress. Tiger sets off across country on a bicycle, Zola on a motorcycle, both armed with digital tools and free speech desires.

PBS ran a series in 2012, Pedal America, which can still be seen online.

Aftermass: Bicycling in a Post-Critical Mass Portland (Joel Biel, dir., 2013, 75 min.) describes how activism transformed the now famously bike friendly Oregon city.

In July, 2011, for 10th anniversary of attacks on September 11th, six Los Angeles firefighters biked 3,300 miles in 45 days across America to New York, documented in Let’s Roll (Matt Holwick, dir., 2013, 83 min.). They battled conflicts, despair, physical injuries, and severe weather; raised funds for Leary Firefighters Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project; and stayed overnight in welcoming fire stations.

In The Bicycle (James Richards, dir., 2014, 72 min.) resentful black 10-year-old Bobbi and divorced mother’s finance, 36-year-old Teddy, can’t stand each other. But when Bobbi’s bike is stolen, Teddy sees it as a chance to bond with his future stepdaughter.

In magic realism short The Bicycle Man (“Cyklisten”, Swedish, Aarne Norberg, dir., 2014, 13 min.), soccer mom in Torne River Valley suffers a tragic traffic loss then witnesses a miraculous healing by an Italian cyclist headed to the Arctic Circle. Cynical journalist wants to disprove.

Bikeman Begins (Odin Lindblom & W. H. Bourne, dirs., 2014, 100 min.) explores environmental superheroes riding bicycles to Comic Con in San Diego and resulting mayhem.

A Convenient Truth (Dominick Bagnato, dir., 2014, 85 min.) blows whistle on California assemblyman Coleman Burleson’s plan to cure climate warming, energy shortfall, foreign oil dependence, illegal immigration, obesity epidemic, and unemployment with a unified solution: Hire workers to pedal bicycles that generate electricity in his factory.

Serbian film The Disobedient (Mina Djukic, dir., 2014, 106 min.) sees childhood best friends reunite as adults and spontaneously embark on a bike tour and misbehavior.

Fort Tilden (Charles Rogers & Sarah-Violet Bliss, dirs., 2014) is the summer destination for NYC fixed gear hipsters (Bridey Elliot and Clare McNulty), who, like a lots of young adults lately, seem stuck in adolescence.

Njinga (Martin McCann, dir., 2014, 138 min.) documents Kate Leeming’s unprecedented transit of equatorial Africa by mountain bike, 13,700 miles in 10 months of 2010, to highlight needs of a poverty stricken, war torn continent.

Omega Rose (Australian, George Dorobantu, dir., 2014, 100 min.) begins 3 years after all but ten million humans have been annihilated. A bicyclist rides to a show that might explain what happened.

April 9th (Roni Ezra, dir., 2015, 33 min.) is a docudrama about Denmark in 1940, when the first troops Danes could muster against German blitzkrieg were South Jutland bicyclists.

The Ataxian (Zack Bennett & Kevin Schlanser, dirs., 2015, 21 min.) is a documentary about Kyle Bryant, unable to walk because of terminal nerve disease Friedreich’s Ataxia, who nevertheless attempts the bike Race Across America (RAAM) to seize every moment versus mortality.

Odd couple with a long distance attraction meet in Paris but quarrel over her gift of The Bicycle (Arne Körner, dir., 2015, 82 min.). The Bicycle is listed as a cast member.

Bike Against the Wind (Mark Vashro, dir., 2015, 60 min.) documents director’s 4,700 mile ride from Boston to San Diego through American South, and interviews locals he meets along the way.

In 2012 racer Jason Lane, The Hammer (Hornsby films, 2015, 85 min.), attempted RAAM, world’s hardest cycling race, 3,000 miles in 10 days. On day 3 he got run over by his own sag vehicle yet persevered.

Ithaca (Meg Ryan, dir., 2015, 96 min.) is based oh William Saroyan’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Human Comedy. Set during WWII, teen bicycle messenger Homer Macauley (Alex Neustaedter) delivers telegrams to families of fallen soldiers. Mom and pop are played by bankable stars Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

Filmmaker bikes 6,500 miles to Alaska to name a mountain, Mount Lawrence (Chandler Wild, dir., 2015, 90 min.), after his father, an outdoor enthusiast who committed suicide.

The Rider and the Wolf (Nathan Ward, dir., 2015, 62 min.) documents mountain biking pioneer Mike Rust. Rust often repeated Stewart Parker’s line, “The bicycle has a great past ahead of it.” Defending his home in remote San Luis Valley, he chased out intruders but was never seen again.

Blue Bicycle (“Mavi Bisiklet”, Turkish, Ümit Köreken, dir., 2016, 94 min.) looks at preteen Ali, played by Selim Kaya, forced to weigh his dream of owning a bicycle against democratic justice.

Set in Aqaba, Jordan, Five Boys and A Wheel (Said Zagha, 2016, 20 min.) is an Arabic-language adaptation of Raymond Carver's novella Bicycles, Muscles, Cigarettes.

Ovarian Psycos (Joanna Sokolowski & Kate Trumbull-Lavalle, dirs., 2016, 72 min.) covers an East LA bike crew of Latina self described misfits who ride together as protection against neighborhood violence.

Interesting 15 second 2016 spot for Quaker Oats has child fueled on oatmeal take his first “Bike Ride”.

During 103rd Tour de France, Smith showed a race specific ad for its sport sunglasses. Taiwanese manufacturer Giant was another major sponsor with a commercial for their line of bikes and a team with as many stage wins, 2, as Froome’s, Sky. GMC didn’t disappoint with typically nauseating SUV commercials to match the horrific use of motored vehicles running down pedestrians and snapping frame of Froome’s bike on Mount Ventoux.

Bicyclist crosses Maine and finds Somes Sound to be Too Cold to Swim (D. W. Young, dir., 2016, 80 min.). He then befriends an ex-marine and younger sister, and reconnects with dying, estranged father.

Fish Without Bicycles (Daisy Aitkens, dir.), in oven and not due until 2017, concerns unwed motherhood. Based on oft repeated metaphor for women not needing men, don't know if bicycles will show prominently.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Brooding Graphomane

Still sitting on fence about whether collecting, sorting and theorizing about cultural artifacts serves any practical purpose. Now attuned, you notice every humble bike you once filtered out. They call anyone with an insane writing compulsion a graphomane. Computers have expanded outlets for poets and public's chance for rants by a quantum advance. Journalism died. Media became infotainment. Social media promotes hipster hegemony. You can assume this means most of what you read merely deflects criticism, incites mayhem, provokes replacement, or spins fables, unless you stumble into some backwater where brooding deliberation over decades seeks beauty in reality.

B&C deserves a snappy anthem. Listed many songs that nicely align, but to select only one would show bias. So wrote own that quotes names you might know or ought to.

Bicycling Culture by Labann

Sport or transportational:

Labann wrote tomes on this
conveyance you pedal.

Vulture for cycling culture:

On something less vulgar,
could've avoided ulcer.

Fervor, fear beget regret.
Yet so does parking

your butt on a soffette.

Buy wheels at a bike swap,
junk dealer [1], trendy shop,
or yard sale next door stop.

Can ride it if you like [2],
though many bust or rust [3]
when no longer a tyke.

Chorus:
Go outside. Ride, ride, ride.

Play the fool. Just decide
to swallow your damn pride.

Learnt really hard lessons [4].
Dodged some stones in the road [5],
during cycling sessions.

Ever look left, right, left
across, not let yourself
of living be bereft.

Pass losers, motorcrashes [6],
balderdash on diaper rashes.
Steer clear of bigot clashes.

Activist Morrisette heed.
Dan Hermann, Illich read.
Bike’s all you’ll ever need.

Wake white [7] or yellow [8] zeal.
What will you reveal
pursuing an ideal?

Chorus:
Go outside. Ride, ride, ride.

Ignore jibes and sneers snide.
No pet? Be your own guide [9].

Don’t forget to mention [10]
how Pierre Michaux’s bike
was world’s best invention.

Choose a freedom machine [11].
You will get glad and lean,
but it won’t keep you clean.

Never get there? Went far
on fixed wheel with crossbar [12],
faster than driving car.

Tied my bike to a post [13],
shamed to fret. Still almost
got stole' by some foul ghost.

Depressed you say? Why not
be on a flow today?
Pedal your blues away [14].

Chorus:
Go outside. Ride, ride, ride.

Neither be pushed aside,
nor let rights be denied.

Ride bike slowly [15], sans dread,
wherever you like, Grateful
Dead songs in your head.

Beasts and botanicals,
spandex mamils, fat bottomed [16] wamils,
such amusing mammals.

You, me, and the devil
make two [17]. Not merely revel,
peddle on the level.

Bicycle built for fools [18],
forget about it [19]. Tools
can’t touch me, beyond rules.

A’cycling through village [20]
’s legal right, no breakage.
Driving’s just a privilege.

Chorus:
Go outside. Ride, ride, ride.

Safer than your next stride;
motoring’s suicide.

Snippet Sources:
1 Paul McCartney, Wings, “Junk” (1970)
2 Syd Barrett, “Bike” (1967)
3 Tom Waits, “Broken Bicycles” (1982)
4 Melody Gardot, “Some Lessons” (2008)
5 Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Stones in the Road” (1994)
6 Björk, Sugarcubes, “Motorcrash” (1988)
7 Tomorrow, “My White Bicycle” (1968)
8 Tracy Jane Comer, “Yellow Bike” (2006)
9 Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Bicycle Song” (2002)
10 Be Your Own Pet, “You Are My Bicycle” (2006)
11 Matthew Price, “Freedom Machine” (2009)
12 Wild Billy Childish, “Medway Wheelers” (2005)
13 Woody Guthrie, “Dance a Little Longer” (1946)
14 R Crumb, “Pedal Your Blues Away” (1978)
15 Trey Anastacio, “Let Me Lie” (2006)
16 Freddie Mercury, Queen, “Fat Bottomed Girls” (1978)
17 Scissor Sisters, “Bicycling with the Devil” (2004)
18 Jimi Hendrix, “My Friend” (1968)
19 Kevin Bacon, “Got Damn Bicycle” (2008)
20 John Lennon, “New York City” (1972)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Chanson Neuvaine

A bike can be your best friend, extension of soul, or prie dieu kneeler on which to supplicate blessings. Novenas consist of prayers repeated, often sung for nine days or more, usually toward favorable happenings. All songs beseech attention, not necessarily divine intervention, yet forever exhort some spiritual connection. Can't forget that catchy tunes now owe a whole lot to Gospel Plow long before and sacred hymns of yore. Never look back. Pedal onward.

Angus and Julia Stone, Main Street, Angus and Julia Stone, self, 2014. “My bones are aching for yours. You rode me on your bicycle down Main Street… Held me as though I'd never leave. You rode me on your bicycle down Main Street.”

Ariana Grande featuring Nicki Manaj, Side to Side, Dangerous Woman, Republic Records, 2016. “This the new style with the fresh type of flow: Wrist icicle, ride d*ck bicycle. Come true, yo, get you this type of blow. If you wanna menage, I got a tricycle.”

Ben Weaver, Split Ends, Mirepoix and Smoke, Bloodshot Records, 2010. An environmental sensitive and Minneapolis native, Ben tours between engagements by bicycle and writes poems and songs inspired by his journeys. While most lyrics don’t specify bicycles, riding intensely informs his reflections. Fellow Bloodshot artist and Chicago wrench tech Al Scorch credits local bike advocates for launching his music career, and similarly bike commutes to gigs, though unlikely to live up to surname while lugging gear.

Blonde Redhead (Amedeo and Simone Pace) wrote score of The Commentator, a new Brendt Barbur documentary that trails Paris Roubaix race coverage by legendary announcer Jørgen Leth set for debut this month.

Darryl Worley, Nothin To Lose [c&w], Here and Now, 903 Music, 2006. “Gasoline prices are higher than ever. They line up to buy 'cause they hate going slow. Someday I might learn to ride a bicycle, but I ain’t got no place to go… I used to spend all my time making money, much in the fashion of my dear old dad. He could have taught me to ride a bicycle. Now I bet he wishes he had.”

Fetty Wap, Go Hard Boyz [hop hop], single, self, 2016. “Bikes up, guns down… bought a Banshee [brand name bicycle]... Riding all day, and all night… We believe in bicycles, don’t believe in helmets… Bam! Bam!”

Fossils, Bicycle Chor [“Bicycle Thief”, Indian], Fossils 2, self, 2004. Founders of the Bengali underground rock scene, Fossils derived named from feeling crushed by early disapproval.

K’coneil, Bicycle, Love/Lust, Gedion Soldiers Entertainment, 2016.

(Adrianna) Krikl & (Viviane) Be, Bicycle, Odds & Ends, self, 2016. “I hop on my bicycle and ride, anywhere… Cruising downhill nice and slow, ‘cause I don’t got nowhere I need to go, spinning wheels… All I want to do is have some fun. I like to ride my bicycle… Grab your 10-speed, because it’s about to get hot.”

Monkey Majik, Bicycle, Time, Avex Entertainment, 2008. "Don’t wanna fall on my head. Don’t wanna botch up my chain… The whole notion of balance and gravity, my chin wasn’t up. Where was I headin’? I’m closin’ in on a fire hydrant, disaster’s waitin’. Ain’t goin’ far, I get up, I get up, don’t give up. I reassemble it all. I found out, you’ll do it if you wanna do it.”

Nahid Afrin, Loraalir Uraajaan [Assamese-Indian pop], Chor (The Bicycle) soundtrack, Terakota Records, 2015. Tune scores trailer for a new film in Assamese language about innocence of children who share a bicycle until it's stolen.

Stoffer & Maskinen, Vi to Er Smeltet Sammen ["The two of us have melted into one", Danish], Stoffer & Maskinen, A:larm Music, 2008. Anchors soundtrack of 2014 feature film Copenhagen in which an adult bicyclist visiting city meets an adorable teen waitress [still image above]. While a peripheral mention for being in a bike movie, its lyrics speak directly to wheel obsession in a sort of Flann O’Brien, Third Policeman way. “We are melted into one. We can no longer separate… You are my pulse, heavily throbbing, that makes my blood circulate with every beat of every second. You'll follow the rhythm of my heart around. You are the centre of gravity of my thoughts, my lightness when I feel heavy. And, if I float for no reason, you'll pound the rhythm of my heart around… all alone and without a day, cause we will never go back.”

Wax, Two Wheels [hip hop], single, Island Def Jam Music, 2011. “I'm just riding through the valley on my bicycle, just pedalin’, pedalin’, pedalin’, pedalin’, pedalin' along… I’m gonna sing, oh yeah, oh-my-my, ‘I don't give a f*ck about a DUI.' You can take away my license, but you can't take away my pride. I'm a keep drinking until the day I die. Two wheels is the way I ride.”

Y.N.RichKids, My Bike, single, 2013. A gang of Minneapolis ragazzi recorded this def hip hop jam. "Ok, I'm back on my bike. I don't need a car; these two wheels gon' take me far… I'm ridin' around real slow, and 'u' already know that I'm fresh to death on my bicycle. And you should 'prolly' know, that I can do it with no hands. I'm the man.”

Update: As is always, no sooner than a list is released, other entries magically appear. Carlos Vives and Shakira, La Bicicleta [Columbian in Spanish], single, 2016. [Shakira] "Your way is not complicated on a bicycle that takes you everywhere… Take me, take me on your bicycle. Hear me, Carlos, take me on your bicycle. I want to travel around together…” In official video, both Columbian superstars ride dangerously against traffic and neither wears a helmet. Doesn't much matter after Shakira shakes.