Monday, October 21, 2013

Blue Vervain

Seasons shift, spins tempt less, writing wanes. Not supposed to care about landscapes traversed, but do anyway. Grand expanses of green beneath glorious dawns and orange foliage crank brain like an antique Victrola, but falling leaves bring inevitable fears and invisible tears, since ice soon appears. For days out of the saddle consider media as a consolation to the ages of man caught in the cycle of life.

Tire of bixliographies that don't list Bike&Chain and the misbegotten but popular practice of decorating lawns with Tom Waits' rusty bicycle leaned against a tree, planted with annual flowers, gladioli, and mood improving vervain, as if some kid fled parent's nest and left it behind for college. Might symbolize a slew of songs that commemorate lost passions of youth or rediscover simple joys once thought unsophisticated. Nevertheless, find many references to bicycling culture not revealed by titles alone.

Alan Bradley's new novel, Speaking from Among the Bones, has a bike upended on its cover. It's from a mystery series about a ferocious 11-year-old girl, Flavia de Luce, a sleuth who rides a Gladys bicycle, what Fanny Willard learned to ride.

Adolescents soon become bored teens who imagine intrigues in well produced video Vélo Volé (Stolen Bike). French singer Thomas Fersen pines away in his own La chapelle de la joie. Hey Ocean bemoans disappointment in Bicycle.

Kiki Lambert would beat ennui by spinning small wheels of her Brompton folding bike, as she sang in Les p'tites roues (sur l'air du Poinçonneur des Lilas). White rap trio Da Gryptions strut to attract Montreal's mademoiselles in The Bixi Anthem. Deadeye Dick is infatuated with vegan love interest New Age Girl (Mary Moon).

Matthew Good Band wonders about a new hookup in As Long as You're Mine, a new link for a song discussed in Appendix. "Love is just like riding a bicycle, and riding a bicycle is just another way to get thrown." Liaisons definitely can go terribly wrong with intolerable consequences. Both men and women come from Mars or Venus. Sheryl Crow's backlash at being dumped by Lance Armstrong somehow disclosed his doping involvement, as described in Albergotti's and O'Connell's new tell-all Wheelmen. What of Les Wampas' homage Rimini to Italian campione de ciclismo Marco "Il Pirati" Pantani, who died untimely, some say, of depression over EPO abuse accustions? Note stylish skull guitar.

Milwaukee singer/songwriter Peter Mulvey documents his 50 mile ride with Ralston Bowles on trikes to another concert engagement. He's traveled entire East Coast by bike to perform, as well as loops up to 500 miles on recumbents. Pete considers a self propelled musical tour a "Better Way to Go", but will ladies think him a "dork"? Adults can still select their own ways to trek, and Some People go by bicycle or out way too soon.

Sangria Gratuite serenades with anti-car, mariachi tune El Velo Solex. MIght as well have Pierre Péribois chime in with his happy accordion march Nous on Fait du Vélo from Vive les pompiers as dirge rather than When The Saints Go Marching In.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dyke Unchain

Following famous titles from the late 19th Century, notably A Wheel Within a Wheel: How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle (1893, 104 pp.) by WCTU’s LGBT leader Fanny Willard, one might be led to believe books on bicycling for girls are few and slim. Prejudice against suffragism persisted into the 20th, characterized by that wicked witch on a bike in The Wizard of Oz, whirled disparagingly from Halloween and Sapphic themes. Often hear it deemed evident that female interest has renewed in the 21st. Probably has to do with same old issues: Limited opportunities, stifling paternalism, transportation hardships. Would never imply women need a “what to wear” guide or whatnot. Generic books about bikes could suffice for every gender and orientation, but shrewd to pander to distaff half who buy more books and won't be denied.



UK's Guardian newspaper ran an on-line article asking for comments on cycling in children's books only to conclude there aren't many, although that's not al all true with hundreds on everything from safety concerns to youth motocross. Since juvenile titles are even slimmer, only listed books from the last decade with a Lexile measure above 800.

Cathy Bussey, The Girl's Guide to Life on Two Wheels (Ryland Peters & Small, 2013, 128 pp.)

Beverley Brenna, The White Bicycle (Red Deer Press, 2012, 198 pp.); 3rd novel in her Wild Orchid series about a child with Asperger's Syndrome won Printz Honor this year.

Katie Dailey, Heels on Wheels. A Lady's Guide to Owning and Riding a Bike (Hardie Grant Books, 2012, 96 pp.)

Sue Macy, Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) (National Geographic Children's Books, 2011, 96 pp.); nominated for and won several awards.

Previously mentioned books by Claire Morissette and Elly Blue.

Margie Melvin, A Woman Without a Man Is Like a Fish Without a Bicycle, (AuthorHouse, 2009, 68 pp.)

Selene Yeager, Every Woman's Guide to Cycling: Everything You Need to Know, From Buying Your First Bike to Winning Your First Race (NAL Trade, 2008, 320 pp.); substantial volume probably still shy of pretensions.

Carolyn Keene, A Race Against Time (Simon & Schuster, 2004, 160 pp.); a Nancy Drew Detective Mystery.

Jane Kurtz, Bicycle Madness (Macmillan, 2003, 122 pp.); fictional account of youth befriending Frances Willard.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hijack McClane

Men argue unfounded opinions more heatedly than scientific certainties. It's how they roll into battle, perhaps because they've hijacked role models. Since last century that usually signifies antiheroes and individuals beset with impossible tasks not of their own choosing. Sorry to have overlooked scene in Die Hard with a Vengeance (1998) where NYC Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) and Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) commandeer bikes from Bowery boys because some bad guy Simon says, not their finest hour. The pair worked together earlier in Pulp Fiction (1994), only then Willis rode off on dead Zedd's chopper.

More recently Argo (2012) had Ben Affleck attempting to rescue six American Embassy workers hiding in Iran after Shah's fall. One rejected exodus scenario was to have them all ride bicycles to the Iraqi border 400 miles away. They were supposed to fit in with locals frequently seen riding in this multi-award, Oscar winning film. Can't blame them for jetting out moments ahead of capture.

Self sacrifice falls under the profound phoniness of capitalist expectations for everyone except superhero businessmen on white fixies. Why unilaterally assume risks? You can hardly expect cyclists not to ask themselves this before braving streets devoid of decency where wage earners race thoughtlessly to mundane posts assumed to serve deceit and inhumanity. Welcome to the jungle. When fear rules every transaction becomes a slugfest.

From the previous century, women role models like Annie Londonderry helped half of the population gain human rights with none of the aforementioned bluster and machismo. So salute ladies on wheels without objectifying them. Be grateful they reverse the relentless stress of testosterone.