Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Rhapsody Apophenian

People have a tendency to superimpose patterns on random phenomena, what psychologists call apophenia. Epiphany can be creative, finding faces and forms in clouds, though its opposite, apophany, forcing everything to fit into your mania, is delusional and, depending upon degree, schizophrenic. This patternicity or randommania also ties to belief in the paranormal and other Type 1 Errors: Divination, gambler’s fallacy, numerology, unscientific conclusions. Every bump in the night isn’t caused by a ghost; world is noisier during day, so routine rattlings may not be noticed until quiet intervenes. Likewise, bicycling, though prevalent for last 150 years, wasn’t always such a profound influence on culture. Last year’s April Fools post stated, “Bicycles didn’t mobilize legions of Imperium Romanum.” Then odd ideas intersect your vector and warrant reassessment.

Though its name derived from Latin means “to run again”, a palindrome bears no resemblance to a velodrome, a track where cyclists race around. Why is it not called a palinilap? Can you guess who* is referenced by, "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama"? As a sentence or word that reads the same backward and forward, must palindromes also provide radar into someone’s identity? Clearly, no. There’s nothing to them other than humanity’s proclivity for play.

Shown in facsimile, the Sator Square, made before 79 AD, is considered among the oldest known examples. Cleverly constructed, it’s in Latin, readable from 4 directions. It has been analyzed for ages and ascribed with superstitious portent. Has it any connection to bicycles? Bicycles were realized millennia later, but aren’t these anachronistic terms suggestive?

SATOR could mean author, founder, god, originator, or sower of seeds. Scholars speculate that AREPO must be a proper name, though it could describe someone who creeps along or slowly measures, reminiscent of cyclists with cyclometers, especially those riding hesitantly forth as suitors to someone other than cousins or siblings to improve the gene pool. TENET holds or masters, OPERA works, and ROTAS are wheels, though as a verb it could mean spin. Wheels to modern ears would signify bikes or cars, though chariots or wagons to ancient Romans. Auriga, the charioteer, a diamond frame constellation balanced on celestial equator, was indeed the prototypical 2-wheeler.

Commonly translated, "The sower Arepo holds wheels with effort,” makes little sense. Context long lost, could be about charioteers, as “The wheelwright purveys wheels,” or ploughmen, “Whoever plants must attend plough’s wheels,” but what would be the point? As an amulet, probably symbolizes the perpetual rotation of day and night that sows new troubles with which to deal. Or may just be foolish graffiti no more meaningful than aibohphobia (fear of palindromes) or, "I’m a lasagna hog, go hang a salami." Rather imagine it as some prescient statement, “The author, a careful measurer of everything coming, has a book for you about bicycles,” thus making it personal and relevant.

This final translation is just a fantasy one shouldn't take seriously instigated by recently announced route of 2015’s Giro d’Italia; Stage 9 will swing near where Sator Square was found, in the shadow of Vesuvius, the volcano that erupted flowing ash, land and lava over Herculaneum, thus preserving this enigma to vex modernity.

* Rough Rider President Teddy Roosevelt.

“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality. Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see. I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy, because I'm easy come, easy go, little high, little low. Anyway the wind blows doesn't really matter to me.”—Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, 1975, "A" Side to "I'm in Love with My Car"

Friday, January 2, 2015

Venir Demain

When you mention songs, you ought to note books and videos, too. Many are coming tomorrow, arrived already without fanfare, have difficulty raising any interest, and rely on blog and social media buzz.

From Vimeo are an Adam Nestadter and Chris McCoy narrative of loss and redemption from a bicycle’s viewpoint, and Tim Pierce’s Ode to the Bicycle with numerous shots of mountain biking in scenic New Zealand.

Compliments of the season, this wheelwright cranks out the Carol of the Bells. Talk about tuning your spokes for the New Year.

Dave Walker presents a video of his indie ditty Bicycle to Montreal. Seems a wistful dream on a cold Quebecois afternoon. You don't have to go to Canada to find constant deterrents. U2’s frontman Bono wonders whether he’ll ever play guitar again after a bad bicycle accident. Public takes place on the road and this role of troubadour for granted, since so many will step up to fill it. You can't live sitting still.

Additional, less interesting or recent shorts can be viewed on Vimeo through this link.

After cyclist Jamie Bianchini hit rock bottom, he decided to take a tandem tour around the world and invite strangers to be stokers. Upcoming autobiography A Bicycle Built for Two Billion chronicles his adventures.

Due for debut, a new film For the Love of Mud wallows in international cyclocross scene.

Peloton e-zine lists 10 must-read cycling book of 2014, but all concern the exclusive community of competitive racing much maligned as of late for cheating and doping. Bike&Chain completely skipped this extremist position, content to address issues encountered daily by billions of bicyclists, the vast majority. lists nearly 50 new books, many not yet released. Seems most repeat previous articles and books. Award winning author Roy Wallack’s book How to Ride to 100 and Beyond (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 384 pp.), is the only title among them that promises a unique take on issues relevant to all bicyclists, particularly baby boomers. You can be assured (spoiler alert) that “how” means “never stop pedaling”. Distances may decrease with age, so frequency must be increased. If you want to be around tomorrow, ditch automobile and plan lots of short rides.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Featuring Jane

Not discovering new but noticing for the first time, this slim list of bicycling tunes must ring in New Year. Can’t say it was an exhaustive search, since blog and book already catalog so many almost any source offers only covers and duplicates. First 2 were listed in appendix, included only to link videos. For once they feature a realistic mix of boys and girls.

5ive, Bicycle Rider (instr. rock), Tortuga Rec., 2001 - similar to Mogwai
1 Speed Bike, Nixon-Reagan Circle Fighting Machine [techno], 2000
Adam Dayton Gibson (Adamsday), Bicycle Girl Theme (from The Walking Dead) [techno], Hits and Misses, self, 2010
ak47, Bi-Cycle [techno], AK47, self, 2011 - Kraftwerk mimic
Animal Nation & Sly Business, Girls on Bicycles [hip-hop], Don’t Grow Up to Be Like Us, Urbnet, 2013 - resembles Lyte Funky Ones' Summer Girls
A2J, Bicycle Ride [Christian, Asian Indian], Prove It, Go Media, 2013
Big Bang Boom, Bicycle, Because I Said So! self, 2012
Cliff Martinez, Falling Off a Bicycle Plus [idm], The Knick [sndtrk] HBO, Milan Entertainment, 2014
Frances England, Bicycle, Mind of My Own, self, 2010
Kevin Macleod, Bicycle [eam], Reunited, self, 2012
Laura Doherty, Bicycle [juvenile], In a Heartbeat, self, 2014
Liane Smith, Bicycle, Two Sides of a River, self, 2012
Jay Chou, Terdsak Janpan, "腳踏車" Bicycle [instr., Taiwanese], Secret [sndtrk], JVR Music Int’l, 2007
Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers, Devil Don’t You Steal My Bicycle [neo-bluegrass], On Being, self, 2011
Major Parkinson, Bicycle! Major Parkinson, self, 2008
Red Light Cameras, Bicycle [New Mexico Indie], Red Light Cameras, self, 2011 - front woman Amanda Machon (shown above) does a concluding pedal dance during Youtube concert.