Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Biopics Appertain

You don't unlock culture completely through a bicycle, which only existed after da Vinci’s concept, de Sivrac’s celerifere, Drais’ dandy, and Michaux’s boneshaker. Bicycles didn’t mobilize legions of Imperium Romanum. Never had Chinese emperors mandated or Greek philosophers contemplated, but modern men and particularly women have surely made up for lost millennia. It's still the conversation and transportation choice for dowagers, eggheads, heiresses, kids, and whoever isn't blessed with cash to blow on a motorized jumbo that dominates byways.

Saw Aronofsky’s period film Agora in which Rachel Weisz plays early philosopher Hypathia, who made her mark as astronomer and educator before being pathetically stoned to death by a Christian mob. An agora was an open place in an ancient city where people convened to exchange ideas, whereas separate markets were for trading goods, together what then constituted public space whence civilization eventually thrived. Private interests now control colleges, government offices, shopping malls, and supermarkets. Today, only parks, roads and virtual reality remain for residents and visitors to share. Yet bicyclists mostly cringe along edges, marginalized beside motoring carnage. Who knew it was a war with tens of thousands maimed and murdered every year, more than all soldiers in wars since WWI? Tenuous connections nevertheless persist. Bludgeoned-by-religious-bigots became instead crushed-by-automotive-morons.

Weisz walking while filming Bourne Legacy on location in bicycle infested Philippines.

On a spin of only 6 miles, got buzzed, pinched into gutter twice, and told to “ride on the sidewalk”. Wondered whether the old lady who opened a window to yell felt automotive frustration, out of sorts with lingering winter, or really concerned for my welfare. After all, people constantly try to warn others to avoid danger. In this case, cycling on sidewalk is actually less safe than obeying traffic codes that apply to both bikes and cars. Maybe her maternal instincts overcame measured reason, or she just couldn’t apportion a lane twice as wide as her subcompact. Felt bad for saluting her rudely. You’d have to be an April fool to not notice flower tips breaking through and people suddenly pedaling around despite phobia of the open. Who was she to tell a stranger how to behave?

Labann has been giving unwanted advice for decades. Just who does he think he is? Really, B&C meant from the start to remain neutral, strike a balance between cordial encouragement and social criticism. Conflict surrounds any center stance, pulls you in opposite directions, suggests you choose sides. To be a cyclist you must learn that leaning leads to toppling. You can describe survivors as those who are conservative on safety standards while liberal on harmless choices, intense in family care yet modest in personal appetites, quick to exploit sensible opportunities but slow to try what’s new. Avant-garde, explorers, and original thinkers absorb abuse, become burnt offerings to gods obtuse, yet refuse to pay the deuce’s dues. Instead of cursing or stoning, you ought to thank them for their sacrifice.

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