Friday, February 8, 2013

Likely Birdbrain

Should be as intimate with streets as you are with food. Every season they pepper streets with debris, but in Winter alone they salt. After a thin film of snow evaporates, notice how white they remain dry, almost frosted. Not at all wholesome, this saline mix kills vegetation, saps surrounding life, and spreads pollutants downstream. Why abide this tasteless culture of destruction?

Googled phrase, Bicycling Culture. Did find, as follows, several interesting sites hitherto unnoticed, but didn't find Bike&Chain among first 200 or so references, even though it's been devoted to bicycling culture since before turn of millennium, the occasion which it commemorates. Nobody should deem it scholarly to dredge up ephemeral internet links, but can't the same now be said about books and periodicals? Booksellers, newspapers and publishers are either going bankrupt or merging miserably, although some say society has entered a golden age of written word. Media did build to a crescendo of credibility, but all that's already past or at risk. A longer perspective realizes newspapers evolved from gossip and were once nothing more than disreputable entertainment. Television has taken over despite bogus reality programming. Funny this pendulum swing, tick, tock, whence it came, especially since more people can read than ever. You must provide something life altering and worthy of their time, otherwise they act more like birds pecking at crumbs and roosting in huge flocks on electric wires with no leaves to hide behind come February.

When not drooling over bike porn, Bike-In-Review also does book reviews, recently Amy Walker's On Bicycles: 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life. Sounds like a great read if someone lends a copy. Listing seems a weak approach that smacks of internet sifting, but never so judgmental as Top 50 or 100 based on sales and uninformed popularity. Still, with endless differences between bicycling and motoring as choices of motility, be suspicious of any effort that stops at only 50.

On Affinities Journal, Chris Carlson's seminal "'Outlaw' Bicycling" homed in on car counterculture in a post-petroleum Portland, OR. With a half decade since gone by, efforts may have been premature. Bear witness to a growing awareness that cyclists do belong in traffic, though motorists don't quite get the fact that cyclists aren't subject as they to laws, which are mostly designed not to enforce safe practices but to pick their pockets. Little wonder motorists resent birds, free grazers, riders, whoever gets in their way. Kinship among cyclists, other than small cliques, is more a myth; advocates argue among themselves, and group rides become either beer or hammer sessions. No bicycling demographic exists, rather a rainbow spectrum from conservative racers on space age materials to poor indigents on beater steel from decades past. "At times a traveling party" is overstated, but "reputation as unhip" is not, despite linkage of hipsters with self-built fixies.

Laying bare bicycling's loser image, Bicycle In Popular Culture Blogspot tracks myriad odd references from pop culture, which range from books to commercials to films. Recent films include Bicycle Movies and Reveal the Path among others Bike&Chain has already either mentioned or reviewed. Should have noticed Verizon's Big Romantic Gesture commercial, in which a lothario uses a bike and GPS to draw a map in a heart shaped loop of San Francisco to send by cell phone.

During a Columbus, OH gathering, Jessie Matthews does her allotted 20 minutes on 20 slides about women in cycling with great observations on their lack of current participation in America but not history or world. Unlike top-down TED talks, anyone can speak at bottom-up Pecha Kucha nights, but aren't arbitrary time limits for those without much to speak of? Food for thought.

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