Friday, March 18, 2016

What Spines Splain

Sometimes a picture accompanies a post here. Magazines have lots, which would make any website attempting to emulate an e-zine. Readers would've visited Flicker or Pinterest if they wanted eye candy instead of literary art. Unadorned words can satisfy; Academy especially honored script/story writers at last Oscars ceremony. Books don’t have to be read to be collectible or important. Sometimes just bringing them together on a shelf and organizing titles serves a purpose. Minimally, it says something about owner’s interests. Row after row of bike related titles points to a persistent, ubiquitous bicycling culture. However, when you google “bicycling books”, hardly any come up newer than 20 years old even though, in the last few, several have been published beyond ubiquitous gearhead, race and travel titles.

Labann, Bike&Chain Companion Reader (2nd edition, 2016): Spent a month cleaning up book for careless inconsistencies, dead links, and obviated references. Having reviewed, then augmented and updated song list, too, now over 1800 items. Surprises how many links disappear. Youtube if rife with legal squabbles and take downs. Links to own posts were cut when Apple, who hosted original site, discontinued service. Idea that anything posted to internet is indelible isn’t true, rather, web seems sadly unstable. Forget citing e-commerce sites, which change daily. News servers dump old stories, and political platforms shift depending upon who’s in power and what voters complain about. How do you access week-old Facebook posts, what happens to dated Twitter tweets, and who uses Myspace anymore? They even sell a service to erase your presence altogether. At least Wikipedia maintains a page as if a bin or stub, though contents morph over time. Like Labann, other bloggers compile blog entries into books, so maybe some details do endure somewhere.

Another emerging book by Argentinean author Juan Carlos Kreimer, The Bicycle Effect: Cycling as Meditation (Findhorn Press, 2016, 192 pp.), notes the endorphin rush and zen mindfulness that pedaling has to offer, as would anyone who read Labann over last few decades.

Something of interest after seeing recent border crime feature film Sicario is Kimball Taylor’s The Coyote’s Bicycle: The Untold Story of 7,000 Bicycles and the Rise of a Borderland Empire (Tin House Books, 2016, 380 pp.). It’s about a smuggler of illegal aliens who makes a million transporting them by bikes, then suddenly disappears leaving thousands littering roadside.

Matt Rendell just dropped The Death of Marco Pantani (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2016, 368 pp.), a 10th anniversary reissue to his 2006 original. Did not know until now that Lelio Bonaccorso illustrated and Marco Rizzo scripted a graphic novel entitled Gli ultimi giorni di Marco Pantani (The Last Days of Marco Pantani, 2011) chronicling events that led up to Pantani's death and exploring French journalist Philippe Brunel’s conspiracy theory that he was murdered. Pantani, nicknamed Il Pirata for his bald head, bandana, crowd pleasing bravado, and freewheeling ways, said, “I ride instinctively, responding to the moment. There's chaos in everyday life, and I tune into that chaos.” He often upbraided UCI for focusing on his alleged flaws to the exclusion of others, “Rules, yes, but the same for everyone.”

Emily June Street feminist steampunk novel The Velocipede Races (Microcosm, 2016, 256 pp.) explores forbidden teenage passions in a straitlaced alternate reality.

Pedal Zombies (Microcosm Publishing, 2015) with 13 stories is the third in an annual series of slim feminist sci-fi anthologies edited by Elly Blue along lines of Bikes in Space and Bikes in Space Volume II. Volumes III and IV are already being developed.

Trailing behind, travel entrepreneur Charlie Scott would have you Slowing Down to See the World (House of Anansi Press, 2015, 200 pp.), or at least lots of Canada.

Evan Friss, The Cycling City: Bicycle and Urban America in the 1890’s (Historical Studies in Urban America) (University of Chicago Press, 2015, 288 pp.) tracks an era that envisioned a bicycling utopia. American cities once had a richer bicycling culture than anywhere else in planet’s history, though implementation stalled with the popularity of motor vehicles. Since its invention, bicycle tide has ebbed and flowed with each generation. Car use just continually grew until grandparent, parent, sons and their children were all simultaneously plying ever expanding roadnet, which hardly supports bike-ped choices anymore. Bicyclists can’t really cross 4, 6, 8 lanes safely. Yet residents still debate and vision remains unfulfilled to this day. Each city still needs advocates to point the way.

Chris Day self published an e-book, A Speck On The Map: Riding My Bicycle Across The USA (2015, 582 pp.) on spec of attracting others who eye this perennial excursion across planet’s most extensive network of pavement.

In Peter Joffre Nye's biography The Fast Times of Albert Champion: From Record-Setting Racer to Dashing Tycoon, an Untold Story of Speed, Success, and Betrayal (Prometheus Books, 2014, 60 pp.), subject went from setting record for Paris-Roubaix race to founding Champion Spark Plugs empire.

Aussie counterculture/crime author Kim Westwood had novel The Courier’s New Bicycle (Harper Voyager, 2011, 327 pp.).

“If you ride bikes in baltimore then you a soldia'. I got a fat chain it goes around my bike. The cops are hasslin' me, but not too bad 'cause I'm white! Trash Rules Everything Around Me (T.R.E.A.M.)”— Wingnut Dishwashers Union

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