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Friday, August 7, 2020

Bully Kazakhstain

Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander), Tomb Raider (Roar Uthaugh, dir., 2018): Foxy Londoner as fixie messenger.

After watching so many movies, have begun to question if filmmaking is such a benevolent enterprise. Trillions of dollars invested in mere entertainment certainly circulated cash, inspired audiences, provided diversity, and sectioned economy. But how much better might society be served if that amount was devoted toward curing issues of clean water, climate, energy, food, health, and housing? For example, average temperatures globally have increased for each of last 6 decades because of fossil fuel use and wars fought. Could it be that enough has already been wasted on what you’d deem responsible endeavors?

Giant broadcasting networks spend billions on shaping facts gathered by real journalists and scientists by spinning them into selfish narratives. What’s the point of confirming facts for liars and murderers to misuse? Fox News consistently shores up sinking GOP by conflating stories from other sources; in fact, now that control is slipping through rich Republican fingers it creates a lucrative opportunity for them to lie. It’s hard to see how many swallow such propaganda, but without truth anything goes. More voters are Independent (36%) and unrepresented than either Democrats (32%) or Republicans (30%), that is to say, fully aware other two deceive to exert influence and set policies that only suit their own agendas.

Macho possession, milk money extortion, and wedgie torment only describe classic bullies. Unfortunately, such social aberrations continue into adulthood, business management, parenting, political office, and presidency, where they become a horrid examples for youth and enable worse behaviors. Aryan nazis and supremacist tyrants were bound to rebound once a black individual was elected commander-in-chief, whose first thought wasn’t to pick a fight. Only a morally bankrupt poser would consider a war as a good way to consolidate power or get reelected. Even if you saw it coming, you’d probably assume you couldn’t do anything to prevent. Unless you take a personal stand against, bullies will create tragedies and ruin lives. Labann made up for neglecting to report emerging bicycle culture, particularly in films and songs, when other sources only enumerated not explained their relevance, and tied them into socio-political trends.

B&C described dramedy Rushmore (Wes Anderson, dir., 1998) in which eccentric teen Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) and industrial tycoon Herman Blume (Bill Murray) trade vengeful acts including Herman intentionally running over Max’s bike with his luxury sedan, and Max riding a beater replacement to his plant to cut car’s brake lines, for which he’s arrested but unrepentant. But a Youtube clip has since appeared that sums up these scenes. Lately herein tried to limit coverage on 21st Century.

Costume dramas, cowboy westerns, crime thrillers, romance fantasies, slasher romps, and space epics usually disappoint as sources of bicycling culture, but coming-of-age stories, family time tales, and human focus flicks often yield relevant references, though you should sometimes expect pabulum for plots. For example, The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens (Mark McNabb, dir., 2008) has an 11 year old protagonist biking about Spirit River, Alberta to fulfill his destiny as a third generation wizard. Critics rate it and sequel Billy Owns and the Secret of the Runes (2010) among the worst films ever made, schlocky ripoffs of Harry Potter franchise. Effects were not at all special.

In Cheney, WA, inventive paperboy Owen (Luke Benward) flings deliveries via a bespoke launcher mounted to back rack on his bike. Bullies and dogs attack, but he disengages using boobytraps and dog biscuits. Gem thieves roll into town and so commences the Diamond Dog Caper (Mark Stouffer, dir., 2008). Ownen’s high pressure tennis ball cannon made out of bicycle scraps holds off their siege of his hilltop tree fort. Chief bully gets his comeuppance when thieves, racing out of control in a rowboat on wheels, inadvertently chase him on his bike off street into a dumpster.

Dawn (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and Peter O’Neil, their daughter, and three sons live under The Tree (Julie Bertuccelli, dir., 2010) that towers over their home. Peter suffers a fatal heart attack and, while dying, crashes his pickup truck into it. While Dawn grieves, oldest son Tim (Christian Byers) takes charge. Neighborhood busybodies arrive, so Tim has to take bike to school. Crones urge Dawn to engrave family name on belongings, “Haven’t you noticed those boys riding bikes up and down the road lately?” as if evident they intended to steal TVs. Tim bikes to apply for a part time job. Daughter Simone (Morgana Davies) begins spending a lot of time up in tree’s branches, then convinces mom that the ghost of her dead dad can be heard high in its canopy. When Dawn begins to rebound with a new love interest, tree retaliates.

As did fictional news photographer Peter Parker and late street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, Labann reports freelance. Cunningham advised, “If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do, kid,” which is liberty at its supremely expensive essence. For decades freelancing to the New York Times, Bill only took a job with them in 1994 for health benefits after being struck by a truck while biking about, which is how he could perch at the no parking intersection of 5th Avenue and 57th Street and pursue insights into what real people wear. A documentary on his body of work, Bill Cunningham: New York (Richard Press, dir., 2011), doesn’t reveal the bulk of it, which has never been published. Nice to think a Boston born, mad hatter, vital octogenarian also biked, not just children who dominate this latest post’s reviews.

Supermarket greengrocer with Downs Syndrome nicknamed Produce (David DeSanctis) spreads his uplifting attitude among Louisville townsfolk not so challenged but who’ve created own demons in alcoholism (is set in Kentucky) and despair. Produce rides his bicycle to work, but gets knocked down later by vindictive coworker Colt who he turned in for shoplifting. Major League ex-player Cal Campbell (Kristofer Polaha) tries to take Produce under his broken wing, but instigates more trouble for him than encouragement or recognition. A bourbon soaked texter collides with and nearly kills him, but a hospital ICU is Where Hope Grows (Chris Dowling, dir., 2014) for those who survive. Kudos to Dowling for casting someone actually developmentally challenged in a starring role, the first in an English speaking feature film, who nevertheless does an award worthy job.

Set in Taiwan (what aggressive, imperial PRC bizarrely believes still belongs to them), To the Fore (Dante Lam, dir., 2015) stars bike team leader Eddie Peng and love interest Wang Luodan. Admit to not having actually viewed this Hong Kong Cinema film with an actual story, great racing footage, and lovely scenery dramatizing vicious cycling competitions. Was submitted but not nominated for an Academy Award, which usually depends upon many westerners having viewed. YouTube trailer had less than 50,000 hits after 5 years online, which suggest insufficient interest.

Quentin Jacobsen (Josiah Cerio as a boy, Nat Wolff as a young adult) has hots for miss across his street Margo Spiegelman (Hannah Alligood as a girl, Cara Delevingne as a young adult). Kids instantly bond and inseparably ride bikes, but grow increasingly distant through high school. One night Margo surprises “Q” for a night of pranks against betrayers. Then Margo disappears leaving a clue about where she may be, in one of several Paper Towns (Jake Schreier, dir., 2015) that cartographers add to maps to curtail copyright infringements but remain undeveloped and unpopulated. Q and pals decide to embrace adventure and solve mystery.

All for One (Dan Jones & Marcus Cobbledick, dirs., 2017) documents building Orica GreenEdge, an Australian international peloton team, from 2011 to 2016. Emotional and insightful coverage of major European races probe what decisions, efforts and sacrifices riders and teams must make to ever hope to stand on a winner’s podium. Features inevitable Phil Liggett commentary, and jumps between cheerful and cringeworthy.

India Hair plays a stubborn Quality Assurance Specialist at a French automaker in Crash Test Aglae (Eric Gravel, dir., 2017). When operations are off-shored for labor savings in country of India, employees are given Hobson’s choice of moving for less pay, own relocation costs, and worse conditions, or taking a lousy severance package. Compulsive about her contributions, Algae heads to India with two sympathetic coworkers. Their puttering subcompact gets passed by a group of geriatric cyclists. Companions give up on journey before they even leave Europe. She forges on alone, hitchhiking after car dies, sneaking into Ukraine, then stealing a bicycle in Kazakhstan and a motorcycle in Tibet. She collapses, and two tykes on bikes with a junkyard trailer cart her unconscious body to a dump on Indian border, where she’s miraculously rescued. Company, embarrassed by her ghastly ordeal and lost finger, decide to keep French plant open after all. Although broke and pregnant, she quits after realizing how this quest has freed her from limiting herself to a disposable cog in someone else’s greed machine.

Supposedly grown up friends still chase martial arts sensei Jeremy Renner (Marvel Avengers’ Hawkeye) in a 30 year game of TAG (Jeff Tomsic, dir., 2018), which occurs the last weekend of every.May. Not even suave Jon Hamm can lay on finger on Renner, who has always evaded his four rivals, never been “it”, and outran them on foot when they chased on bikes. Recalls famous Forest Gump scene. Sounds so ridiculous it could only be based on an actual case.

Gamble (Aaron Bartlett & Joe Bowman dirs., 2018) portrays dramatic mountain biking clips in rapid succession as top X-sports talents speed down single track slaloms specially prepared to kick up dust and look super dangerous. Narrated by cockney actor Alan Ford over heavy metal and punk soundtrack including Arctic Monkeys’ From the Ritz to the Rubble, Adverts’ One Chord Wonders, and Black Lips’ Raw Meat, all of which sort of describe how abused and advertised Mongoose and Santa Cruz bikes beat riders back. Klunkerz riders who invented mountain bikes did all this without disk brakes and shock absorbers, though they had to repack bearings after each downhill run.

Macho bully Ivan (Diego Delpiano) terrorizes schoolyard and whoever even talks to Sveva (Clòe Romagnoli), who he calls his girlfriend despite her adamant denials. Teacher Paola (Paola Cortellesi) breaks up his fight with Riccardo (Francesco Mura). Ivan’s gang later ambushes Riccardo, but he eludes and outrides them, only to witness Miss Paolo being kidnapped. After Riccardo summons urchins to crime scene, they discover that teacher is secretly 500 year old Befana of the Legend of the Christmas Witch (Michele Soavi, dir., 2018). After supper, these three and three more set out on their bikes to save her and holiday of epiphany. Having damaged some on Italian Alps terrain, these tiny heroes tie bikes together into a sailing ship. Villains dump bikes and them into a compactor, which they narrowly escape.

“Did anyone disclose to anyone where we’re going?” “It’s only five miles. We’ll be back before lunch.” So begins a group bicycle quest for Alex and two new friends trying to decipher what The Mysterious Note (Richard Aguilera, dir., 2019) means that they found in basement of hardware store which Alex’s dad is auditing before foreclosure. Nice new mountain bikes are left behind when road only slightly bars traffic. Just as well; they get trapped in an abandoned fallout shelter and have to be rescued by luck and prayers. Characteristic of these Christian based, low budget homilies, bad dialogue, heavy handed plot, and poor acting chase away audiences and raise critics’ hackles.

Popular comedy Good Boys (Gene Stupnitsky, dir., 2019) got 80% from Rotten Tomatoes, further evidence that saintly isn’t human and venial amuses more effectively. Max (Jacob Tremblay) and his naughty friends get ready for their first teen party, where they expect to kiss girls but don’t know how. So he uses his dad’s drone to spy on girl next door when not riding bikes with his best buddies on other preparatory capers.

Northern artist Harry Spence (Brad Worch II) ventures down to Charleston, SC on business, welcomed by belle Betty Lane (Lauren Swickard) offering Southern Comfort (Ryan Gregory Phillips, dir., 2016). Fairy tale romance turns into a nightmare. At one point, helping a friend’s son to get home, riding along a quiet road, a jealous suitor in a monster truck runs Harry off and tacos kid’s front wheel. He carries busted MTB through a cornfield and encounters a Ku Klux Klan scarecrow, but later repairs ride so kid can again deliver newspapers. Prejudice damns him as metrosexual Yankee scum, but he’s really popular Academy Award winning child actor Spencer Hayes grown up, who’s trying to research a potential movie role. His big shot news reporter brother interviews him throughout to capitalize on his adventure, but Spencer is actually secretly exposing him as a Pulitzer plagiarist.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Circus et Pane

Excerpt from Joe Meno's novel Office Girl, Bohemians and Young People on Bicycles Doing Troubling Things (Akashic Books, 2019, 224 pp.): "Odile Neff, art-school dropout, age twenty-three, rides her green bicycle along the snowy streets of the city that evening at five p.m., arguing with herself. She is wearing one gray sock and one black sock and her faint-pink underwear, hidden beneath her long gray skirt, is dirty. It is January 1999, one year before the world as everyone knows it is about to end. Communism, like God, is already dead.”

No matter how much you tout its benefits and joys, bicycling bundles in adversity and pain. It’s a circus guaranteed to annihilate or entertain. To inveigle rabble and snow job mob, Roman Empire would stage deadly contests and toss loaves of bread into stands. Not much has changed. These days, instead of gladiators, bloodlust demands sacrifices of drivers on highways, while distressed DOTs wring hands over safety delays; you supply bread. In fact, pro-cycling change (avoids as much per mile, 70 cents, as it costs to enable motoring) is already mandated by law and easy to accomplish given legitimate leadership. But it only takes one aged alcoholic with Alzheimers in high office to screw hundreds of millions. If you think things in USA couldn’t be worse, last week in Pakistan an American was executed for blasphemy, defined as disrespect for a totalitarian religion. Unless you are going to live by your own code of conduct based on proven equations, you settle for probabalism of clerics’ ethics and experts’ persuasions.

A two minute burst ages ago from a drug addled narcissist seems hardly worth noting for posterity, yet there are thousands of them on record, more than a score below, evidence of longstanding oppression. Usually the more effort one puts in, the better final products satisfy, but not always. Of nation’s 250,000 plus known musical groups, only a small percentage summits. However, to neglect revealing any from anywhere as they appear would be inappropriate. Plus you might find one that actually resonates with you. It’s one reason B&C was begun, as much about culture as cycling. Virtuous generosity of mere mention or unsolicited praise could be its own reward. Disgust articulated assists those whose patience has been stretched beyond reasonable limits.

Riccardo Cocciante, In bicicletta [Italian], Cocciante, RCA, 1982
“Cycling unhurriedly on Sunday morning, while I'm falling in love.” 

Katrina and The Waves, Riding My Bike, Shock Horror!, Aftermath Rec., 1983

Half Man Half Biscuit, A Lilac Harry Quinn, McIntyre, Treadmore and Davitt, Probe Plus, 1991
Cryptic lyrics summed up with, “Sturmey-Archer Campagnolo on my mind.” A love attraction gets triggered by someone holding a bike while standing in line.

Nemo, Bicycle Called Love [Belgian], Bicycle Called Love, Brinkman Rec., 1993

Cruiserweight, Elephant, This Will Undoubtedly Come Out Wrong, self, 2001
“I was taken just the other night to the circus show... and what a magnificent sight it was. But inside my heart, the glamour was fading. What the world needs now is to take this blindfold off. Was I lied to? 'Cause this question's been suspended but it's catching up with you. I can't believe it... Was I betrayed? Oh, to my dismay! So confined, he confided that nothing ever made his eyes shine at the circus show - where did all the happiness go? And if you think the world is a bicycle built for only you, well, brother, this big top, no, it never seemed so low.” Maybe a minor reference, but major relevance about what’s happening right outside your door, where you hesitate but long to go.

Tahiti 80, Open Book [French in English], Wallpaper for the Soul, Minty Fresh, 2002
“Looking back, it's always the same vicious circle: You fall in love like you'd fall from a bicycle. And everybody's walking in slow motion. You don't, you can't control your reaction. You should try, because you may burn your wings and crash to the ground. It makes you wish you were lost and never found. But you feel your face is blushing now. Your eyes are like an open book. One can tell everything from the way you look.”

Hot Chip, You Ride, We Ride, In My Ride, Coming on Strong, Moshi Moshi Rec., 2004
“Bicycle tire to guide me, a light in the night I can't walk towards the street has a dark end that's ours no more, a light in the night we can't walk towards.”

Woods, Kid’s Got Heart, How to Survive + In The Woods, Release the Bats Records, 2007
"I got time. Let me take a ride to the county line and get high away from all the prying eyes. I got a bicycle, and I got some time to kill, and I got a hundred reasons to make a living will, and tell a lie to make myself feel good inside. But no one needs to know the kid's got heart and his heart smarts. No one really cares who you are or who you think you are. Well these be sad times and we got real fears. It’s a bad time for ringing in a new year."

Peter And The Wolf, The Bike of Jonas, The Ivori Palms, Whiskey & Apples Records, 2007
“Nothing to talk about. I'm just gonna ride to work it out on Jonas' bicycle. Just cruising with the wind in your hair, when you ride this machine you truly are the mare. Flying down the road and dodging all the drunks left over from the night before.”

Bye Bye Bicycle, Meridian, Compass, Bonjour Recordings, 2009

Gerry Dempsey I’ll Cycle My Bike [Brit], single, self, 2009
“I'll cycle my bike wherever I like, under the radar, and over the dyke.... We’ll thread through the traffic, cut up the cars. We'll ride over the pavement and under the stars... We’ll perform loops and wheelies in the British Museum. We'll play Wall of Death round the Coliseum... We'll cycle in silence over glistening sands, over cities and forests in strange foreign lands. We'll gaze at our children, our parents and friends. And we'll wave to our loved-ones,’Look Mum, no hands!’"

Binder & Krieglstein, Fahrradlied [Stryian in German], New Weird Austria, Essay Recordings, 2010
“If I want to go somewhere, I ride my bike. That brings me to my destination faster... I love my bike. Cycling is low in pollutants... There are far too few wheels pollutant-free and low-emission. We cycle against traffic jams... I save a lot of time. Unlike the police, I prefer to go free of fine dust. If you overtake us, keep a minimum distance...”

Mirel Wagner, No Hands, Mirel Wagner, Friendly Fire Recordings, 2011
“I have been riding my bicycle all day long up and down the old dusty dirt road. Look, mother, no hands. See the sun filter through the trees. I am happy. Feel the wind and the speed, can’t see the danger. Look, mother, no hands.”

Binder & Krieglstein, Die Jungs [Stryian in German], Jugend, Earcandy Recordings, 2012

Joel Rosenberg & The Funnzies, The Bike Song, Come ride with me, single/video, self, 2012

Bibanu (Dan Popescu) feat. Carlito, Bicicleta [Romanian hip-hop], single, DopeFILM Records, 2017

Binder & Krieglstein, Stadtrad [Stryian in German], Trommeln der Nacht, Cooks Records, 2018

Jan Paternoster, Chef Van De Peloton [Flemish], single, Studio Brussel, 2018
Comedy on the Pavé, a stationary cyclist sings a chorus with attitude: “In Mijn wiel houde Gij dat geen uurke vol, ’K Zen de Chef van de Peloton Op souplesse Rijd ‘K ik recht naar de horizon.” [On my wheel didn’t keep up for a full hour full, K Zen, Head of the Peloton, on my flexibility ride straight to the horizon.]

Peirson Ross, Bicycle Song, The Alchemy of Fire - Songs to Benefit The Ojai Valley, Helpful Humans, 2018

Anna Anawalt, Bicycle Brent Song [Christian folk], single, self, 2019
Tribute to friendly bicyclist Brent Carpenter of Logan, Idaho.

Kruegers Randgruppe, Fahrradsong [German], Bonanza deluxe, Timezone, 2019

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Lammass Wiccane

Some plants and trees grow lammass leaves to replace those lost to pestilence. During global pandemics humans might burn to repopulate planet. Makes sense. On August 1st, Christian calendar coincides with Wiccan Wheel of the Year. Loaf Mass Day tithes harvest of wheat to church, while Lammass handfasting binds two betrothed witches together. Both were already lost rituals before being within 6 feet of each other came with a Surgeon General’s warning; make that 30 feet for bicyclists without masks, who intercept airborne particles faster around every corner. Grateful folks relish abundance of fresh summer fruits and veggies. One defines intelligence as adaptability to whatever envelopes you, mostly strife over harvests versus enemies. Suggests motives for merciless misuse and power abuse, for example, how King Herod, reacting to St. Peter’s being freed from chains by an angel and heading right onto Rhoda, killed blameless captors.

For centuries stories idolized adventure and violence, pandered to patronage or wealth, or represented the best and worst of talents and urges, typically with selfish agendas. Hard to discuss greatness or mediocrity of cultural artifacts, since they merely reflect collectively whoever you associate with them. Even so, internet searches for bicycling movies and scenes provide articles that rate instances with false consensus. Hacks who write them just copy one another. It’s as if a few were inadvertently culled and sanctified as sacrifices. Thousands more apposite get passed over. With so many contending for attention, less than half of films even return their investments in ad placements, ticket sales, video rentals, and whatever produces profits. Popularity will never be the measure of mastery. Artistry lies in not exposing its artificiality but projecting authenticity and reality.

Dr. Mercer (Harris Yulin) sends discredited cryptobiologist Mr. Dempsey (Ted Danson) on one last mission to Loch Ness (John Henderson, dir., 1997). With latest electronic gear, he’s resigned to disprove The Monster as a hoax and drink beer. Toward end of his 5-day stay, madam innkeeper’s (Joely Richardson) young daughter (Kirsty Graham) strikes a bargain with him; she’ll show them to him if he’ll buy her a red bicycle. He agrees, and she does (made lifelike by Jim Henson). True to his word, he keeps creatures an unsolved legend and returns with promised bike on board with hopes of calling inn his home having formed a strong bond with mom.

Sat through a plotless hour of bikers on BMXs and fixies doing dodgy stuff To Live and Ride in LA (David Rowe, dir., 2011) along its decidedly unfriendly streets designed specifically for motorists. One bicyclist on a limited access highway between high speed lanes shames horrified viewers as nervous newbies, although you sense it’s such stunts that cause bulk of fatal bike accidents. This is so typical of examples that Google searches provide: Doping exposés, racing action, or reckless abuse that attempt to stereotype riders as drugged, drunken or obsessed losers and senseless risk takers. With 60 million American bicyclists, every demographic is represented, including BMX kooks, commuters avoiding gridlock and subways, intrepid tourists, kamikaze messengers, license revoked recidivists, mamils chasing wamils, middle aged affluents, peloton training teams, savvy teens, school kids, tired retirees, those too poor to afford other means, weekend sportifs, young adults, zealous activists. Each have a right to every bit of pavement unless banned, not confined to broken shoulders, derelict parks, unswept gutters, or wooded trails. Don’t be surprised behind your steering wheel when one passes you. For perspective one might look back to documentary Taken for a Ride (Jim Klein, dir., 1996), which exposed General Motors malicious plot to eliminate competition from mass transit and foster dependency on automobiles, not only in LA but throughout nation. It led to anti-road protests, freeway revolts, highway removals, and relocations underground.

The Runway (Ian Power, dir., 2011) is a dramedy based on fact set in 1983 rural Cork, Ireland. Precocious bicycling delinquents Paco (Jamie Kierans) and pal Frogs (John Carpenter) have set up their own SETI station for seeking Spielberg’s E.T. using electronics they’ve swiped from merchants and townsfolk when they aren’t abiding bully abuse or breaking abandoned windows. Paco actually finds one in downed Colombian pilot Ernesto (Demián Bichir), who has run away with a fortune in emeralds. Anticipating his dad unlikely return from Spain, Paco had been learning conversational Spanish, so acts as translator and convinces town to help while serving own needs. They fix and refill plane and, to get it airborne, pave a tarmac runway.

In an oil deprived dystopia, where residents must bike or walk, everything is seriously Upside Down (Juan Solanas, dir., 2012) for Adam (Jim Sturgess), who falls for Eden (Kirsten Dunst). A decade later, when he learns she survived a real, seemingly fatal fall, he embarks on a quest to restore their relationship. Only thing, Eden and everything from her half of this binary planet obeys an opposite, potentially deadly gravity. Otherworld interaction is forbidden by law. She also has amnesia, so remembers nothing from before accident including him. What do filmmakers have against Ms. Dunst, who routinely gets battered or beaten in every script?

Juliana Betancourth stars as Columbian bicyclist Virginia Casta (Claudio Cataño, dir., 2017). Says unseen narrator, “I’ve always loved movies. I found them a portal to another world, another life. I was amazed.” Most only save a few frames of their lives as memories, usually the least enjoyable ones. Commuting to office cube and shopping in downtown Cali, Virginia cruises about on a ballon tire, blue colored, girl’s basket bike, often on crumbled sidewalks, which cause her to tumble. Driving aggression on nation’s streets was well documented by Bogotá mayor Peñalosa. A nightclub session of restroom sex leaves her pregnant, but, recently bereaved of her mother, she can’t go through with an abortion. Dancing in street, reveling in life, she run down by a texting motorist. Three years ago too few wore condoms, never mind masks. Not enough to fit one on, it must be kept clean, not be touched during use, which makes contagion contact mouth and nose, and wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Furthermore, you have to disinfect anything you bring into your home, especially groceries or mail, and stuff you repeatedly touch, like car latches, doorknobs, shifters, steering wheels, even take shoes off before entering. Yet world today is not so very different considering ongoing prevalence of worse diseases: Hepatitis C, HIV, STDs, Tuberculosis, and whatever else displeases.

Four Australian tourists - Angus Morton, Justin Diamond, Patrick Drapac and Sami Sauri - teamed up to explore Outskirts: Route 66 (Angus Morton, dir., 2018), including what culture still remains around this iconic High Street from Chicago to Los Angeles completed nearly a century ago but fallen in spots to feral ruin across 8 states, 2,400 miles, spread through 3 time zones. Luckily they had motel reservations and vehicle support so rode light without bags for a month on road. “Bicycling... can’t escape it. It’s a drug in itself.” Cross section of characters they meet paints a portrait of basically good but pathetically ugly Americans.

Jochen Mesle and Max Kroneck do Aussies one better as they bike between Ice&Palms (Philipp Becker, dir., 2019, headed south in spring from German border through The Alps to sultry Nice, France. Their itinerary crosses mountain passes, hikes alpine trails, and skis favorite peaks, at one point with their bikes on their backs. They sleep in tents totally unsupported for their month on, well, only occasional roads. Took a while learning how to handle bikes with a load unbalanced by bindings, boots and skis.

Ginger tween bicyclist Gerda Lie Kass discovers she’s not only a Wild Witch (Kaspar Munk, dir., 2019, Danish dubbed in English), but the one destined to overcome an evil plot against nature. Is she Denmark’s answer to Charmed one Alyssa Milano? Black cat Oscar intentionally cuts her off to spark her recognition that he’s her familiar animal friend. If being coven’s most powerful entity is no match for some kid trained to breath right, you might choose another avocation. It’s the Harry Potter snare designed to catch gullible childish unaware, since adults aren’t so easily dazzled and don’t care. Not like witches aren’t repeatedly linked with bicycling (e.g., Anathema Device, Wicked Witch of West Oz) ever since this freedom machine disenthralled women from household drudgery and emboldened them to take their rightful place in society. Patriarchy could never relinquish control so readily, would kill to intimidate half of society.

A documentary on positive ecological practices to ensure a Tomorrow (Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent, dirs., 2019) focuses on automotive overthrow, conscript representatives instead of elections, distributed agriculture and manufacture, energy alternatives (geothermal, solar, water, wastes, wind), local currencies (slows cash exportation), manual not oil based farming, permaculture, subsidized composting, transportation alternatives (bike, bus, trains), urban planning, and vegetarian over meat based diets. Surprisingly, some cities, fed up with multinational oligarchies, have long since adopted, though all merely revisit 1960’s with Whole Earth and Woodstock Nation. Each was described and endorsed by Bike&Chain over a decade ago. After designating more pavement for self propulsion, 67% of Copenhagen residents now bike, take mass transit, or walk, which improves city lives exponentially. Economist Jeremy Rifken explains, “[With too much atmospheric CO2] we are now in real time climate change... The whole water cycle of the planet is thrown off... violent winter snows, more dramatic spring flooding, more prolonged summer droughts, severer hurricanes... Our scientists tell us, on all the studies, we are now actually in the 6th extinction event of life on Earth. This is the most important piece of news the human race has ever had... There have only been 5 extinction events in the last 450 million years where there has been a wipeout of life. And it comes quick... death on a mass scale.” On another 100° day amidst burnt out gardens, one wonders how much heat it will take to wipe out biosphere entirely, or whether it’s already too late to remedy. From the soundtrack, Leonard Cohen in 1987 foretold, “Everybody knows the fight was fixed The poor stay poor, the rich get rich. That’s how it goes... And everybody knows that the Plague is coming... that it's moving fast... Everybody knows the scene is dead, but there's gonna be a meter on your bed that will disclose what everybody knows. And everybody knows that you're in trouble... what you've been through... Everybody knows it's coming apart. Take one last look... before it blows.”

Along those lines, documentary Motherload (Liz Canning, dir., 2020) describes the cargo-bike movement. Hundreds of people testified how they replaced their cars altogether with electric assist and manually pedaled units that fuse a bicycle with a trailer. “I just got groceries on my bike!” For those long sold on an automotive paradigm it sound like some amazing revelation, when, after all, cyclists with backpacks, baskets and panniers have been doing this for centuries. Biggest problem is all bicycling supplies produced on other side of planet arrive by fossil fuel means, so just increase carbon footprint unless they curtail motored miles by half or more. Moms making an exceptional trip doesn’t save planet, but it might be a start toward going daily for fresh air and bread.

Taking it to ultimate is Pedal (Scott Hardesty, dir., 2017) about video diarist Hera van Willick who lived the dream of life by bike entirely borderless and mobile. She spent a decade traveling through 43 different countries calling wherever she was home. Since COVID outbreak, US citizens aren’t permitted to enter 33 other nations, not that they were ever welcome in many anyway. You never know when a dream suddenly gets indefinitely suspended.

Clever YouTube video covers lyrics of Queen’s Bicycle Race by collecting movie clips related to each crazy phrase, many bicycling scenes previously described, others unrelated to bikes, and some never mentioned, e.g., Malèna (Giuseppe Tornatore, dir., 2000), who’s every boy’s sex harassment and every woman’s jealous gossip in 1941 Sicily. The last cited was Coen Brothers big budget flop Suburbicon (George Clooney, dir., 2017). Gardiner Lodge (Matt Damon), beset by gangsters, races away from a fire bombing on a kid’s bike. Loosely based on an 1957 instance of racial integration of all white Levittown, PA, it shows supposedly decent folks behaving badly throughout. Only Damon’s son Nicky (Noah Jupe) survives mayhem.

Monday, July 20, 2020

“The Dozens” Crack-aine

If forecast is clear, think nothing of taking on a midsummer half century. Since the mid-90’s have been roadie riding between 50 and 100 miles/week year round in weather that varies from sweltering to snowbound. In early years pushed 10-speeds half as much, so covered 150,000 miles lifetime, duly recorded as a total from 4 spent odometers. They say avid bicyclists add 10 years to their lifespan; if true, it's an investment of time that pays back 10:1. Who wouldn't appreciate such an ROI? Let detractors and rappers dare crack wise and gibber inane, “Yo daddy such a tree hugger, his bike has more miles on it than your family car.” Well, true, actually.

In past few months described over 100 films not previously listed in either book or reader. Beginning to believe it’s too much of a breeze to be bothered obtaining boatloads. Yet the same happened with songs; built up a huge list then began to find ever fewer that were creative or newer, naturally, given law of approaching comprehension with diminishing returns. Had to await emergence of next batch. Can never cover all, but could, if so inclined, focus on other art forms: decorative and fine arts, illustrations or paintings, perhaps other literature. Did already compile a bibliography, bixicon, and multiple appendices, yet belittlers still believe bicycling culture doesn’t exist, troll you to prove otherwise while ignoring a preponderance of evidence, and will never share your viewpoint no matter what you do or say. Pearls tossed before swine are thrown away, lost forever, were better left in oysters in seas. Hateful fatties detest anything that threatens their ephemeral amenities. “Yo mama so fat, she sat on a steel bike and broke it.” Here as promised are “the dozens” of newly detected ditties, as if you can actually deem all of them musical melodies. Snap, you snooze, you lose.

Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera, Reactions of a Young Man, Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera, Epic, 1968
“Your husband knows that you've been keeping me. The bond you wish to make can never be. The age between us is illogical. Don’t ask for love that is impossible... Try as you might to stop my wandering the changing time makes my position clear. You thought you could give me everything I might need. Unlock this cage of gold, I'm leaving here. I’m going home, I'm going home. Gonna ride my bicycle there... If you destroy his life because of me, you’ll find you've won a hollow victory.” Speaking of the obscure, old, and psychedelic, a freedom machine can be used to escape all sorts of prisons, even drug addictions and gilded cages.

Miho Hatori, Ecdysis, Ecdysis, Speedstar, 2005
“My body feels some sourness. Start to see a sight I've never known. Finally gravity starts to fall in my mind. Every moment I see is changing... So I ride my bicycle. My clock is now letting time go.” Arachnid moult or Björk mimic?

Rasputina, Incapable Of Regret, Oh Perilous World, Filthy Bonnet Records, 2007
“If you take your hands off the bicycle seat, you’re unable to ride the bike. You ask yourself, ‘Is she serious?’ I say, yeah, you bet your life. My loathing obscures my pain, my arrogance and disdain.”
Spirit and Dust, Next To Me Never Be, single, self, c. 2007
“Next to me I don't think I wanna' see a man cringing from fear of a death far too late... a world chasing harmony... horrible fates... I won't believe I can't beat this disease. I can make every day free and at peace with it... I will wander along through a stunning world... Riding my bicycle, questioning the world I see... Next to me I don't think I wanna' see a world working so hard at a future for who?” Good question. Heard of any billionaires with COVID?

Craig Johnson (aka Hypno-Ring, aka Laserbeams of Boredom), Bicycle [Intentional Noise], Bicycle, self, 2008
Other evocative titles include Cemetery Ride, Off the Chain, Spokes [I and II], but not sure you can even call it music, more akin to emergency sirens, jackhammers, and street din, though no less relevant to a harried rider trying to revel in a spin.

Katie Grace Helow, Bike Eye View, single, self, 2009
“My skirt is scraping rubber spinning fast between our legs, and it's amazing just how beautiful this city looks from bicycle pegs. And I hope that you are smiling as I lean on the curve of your spine, because the corners of my lips have been curled as high as the stars in my eyes since I climbed onto this ride... I’d rather spend the night here with you and Neruda than alone... there’s nothing quite like, holding onto your shoulders through infinite night, taking flight on the back of your bike.”

Barolo, Tourmalet [British instr.], Tourmalet, self, 2010
Title track from 12 by this group of improvisational psychedelicists is about a bad trip to a distant Pyrenees mountaintop, the famous, frequent, hors catégorie Tour de France climb. Other relevant tracks are Coppi !!! (Fausto Coppi, rated second all time to Eddy Merckx), Fuzzcycle, Graeme’s Washing Machine (Graeme “The Flying Scotsman” Obree broke 1 hour record by using a bike of own design scavenged from titular appliance), Pave de Vlaeminck (Roger Vlaeminck holds record for wins on Paris-Roubaix cobblestone stages), and Poulidor (crowd’s favorite underdog Raymond Poulidor, who competed doggedly against all time great Merckx).

Chad Vangaalen, Freedom for a Policeman [Canadian Folk], Diaper Island, self, 2011
“Freedom! Freedom and love... Flowers blowing in the wind for you, Policeman, who are you chasing now? Why won't you leave them be? Why won't you set yourself free. You’ve become such a drag. Why won't you be our friend? And drop your gun in hand?All your lights are beautiful, as you're bashing in my skull, and my stolen bicycle.”

The Heavenly States, Oui Camera Oui, Oui Camera Oui, Love Brand Music BMI, 2011
“George and Martha, sitting on a bicycle seat, they like to ride down the middle while they dangle their feet. He never holds her. She never holds on.”

Jerry Clarkson & The Ride Arounds, Bicycle, Bicycle, self, 2012
“He rode a bicycle, was only four, born in an alleyway behind a liquor store... no where to go, he just cruised along. “ Album named for track title, contains no other bicycling references.

Mark.Nine, Bicycles [Texan synth instr.], Bicycles, self, 2012
Only relevant title from a 13 track album.

Bicycle, The Auguste Banke Trophy Cup, single, self, 2013
“Mr Banke, from Seabeck Point, rode a 20 inch Preston Discovery.” Both artist’s name and mentioned single relate.

Emily McGuire, On a Bicycle Made for Two, Bird Inside a Cage, Shaktu Rec., 2013
“‘Cos I’ve been down and so dismayed. So many times I lost my way. But you could come to my rescue on a bicycle that’s made for two. ‘Cos I’m falling, I’m falling through your head. Oh, it’s love you said... And with love we’re gonna make our way.”

Tyler Cameron, Bicycle [Canadian folk], Prevailing Winds EP, self, 2013
"I rode my bike through my favourite park; it was a beautiful day with many reasons to celebrate... The park is so full of life today, and then I came upon parents soon-to-be. Well, the couple posed for a picture with the proud man’s arms wrapped around his proud partner’s big swollen belly. I saw the cycle of life from the bicycle I love to ride. I saw the cycle of life today.”

No Mothers, Bicycle, Bicycle, self, 2014
"I bought a bicycle but it treated me so mean. So I went searching for a kinder machine... In the corner was the bike of my dreams. It shone like lightening. It had twenty-three speeds! Bicycle, oh Bicycle... you’re shining so keen! Me and my bike, we're a fiercer shade of green... This bike's a racehorse. Oh my god can it fly! Thank you, sir, for setting me free! As for me and my bike, we will serve the road.”

Sean Farrell, The Quiet Moments of a Racing Mind [instr.], Bicycle Ride, self, 2014

Bomba Titkinka, Bicycle [Italian in English], Bicycle, self, 2015
“Had a brand new bicycle. He loved to ride night and day.”

Fomosurfer, Bicycle, Anybody Can Be Wrong, self , 2017
“I put on my helmet, and I grease the chain... check the tire pressure, and test the brakes. I’m in love with my bicycle. I’m never alone because I have you. I’ve been cross the country in all kinds of weather. Been out in a blizzard and a tornado... my only regret is not padding my knees.”

The Meep Initiative, Ride [Indian eam], Bicycle, self, 2017
“Each song [of 5] is part of a story about a cyclist who is training for a big race.”

John Sakars, I Pedal My Vegan Ass, John Sakars and Friends - Greatest Hits, self, 2018
“Ya wanna see how I get around town? Let me show you how I roll. How do I get to the grocery store? I pedal my vegan ass... How do I get to my place of work? I eat fruit, then I pedal. I eat veggies, then I pedal. I don't need no gasoline. I’m a lean, mean vegan pedaling machine."
Shook, Bicycle Ride [Dutch piano instr.], Bicycle Ride LP, self, 2018

Steve Kornicks/Produktor Music, Bici Cumbi, Umpteenth Rodeo, self, 2018

Going S (Hugh Yamada and Jay Mobley), Bicycle [American folk in Japanese], First Half EP, self, 2019
“Bicycle, how far will I go today? I will go wherever you are. Let’s ride the wind today... Let’s speed up and overtake him. 自転車!”

Mark Lesseraux and The Citizens, Bicycle, Not 12, self, 2020
“And it was physical, I could feel you there. It isn’t logical, but it was you I swear. And it was magical. I have got no words. It’s incontestable though it sure sounds absurd. Now every person that I meet is me. There’s no longer a we, just a you and a me that’s you... and the things I was thinking through. I got on my bicycle. Got on my bicycle!” Gives a Flann O’Brien, Professor De Selby vibe as explained by Third Policeman’s Sergeant Pluck, who introduced Atomic Theory of the Bicycle.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Who’s Jermaine?

Mr. Jackbunny, who claims it’s his fixation, put together this Youtube video with 24 cycling snippets from feature films, 18 not previously listed in B&C. A cordial kudos is in order. His inspiration was slow moving drama Barbara (Christian Petzold, dir., 2012). East German doctor (Nina Hoss), who in 1980 asks for an exit visa to be allowed to emigrate West, gets punished by assignment to a small village hospital, where she is both seduced and spied upon by a fellow pediatrician (Ronald Zehrfeld). Tensions mount as she is monitored, restricted, strip searched, and tormented as a persistent suspect, though she indeed plans to flee and meet her fiancé, who has given her enough cash to pay a coyote. She fixes up a bicycle to commute alone, elude totalitarian oversight, and make dash to extraction point. But freedoms demand sacrifices from someone.

For Labann, collecting references is more an avenue to awareness and entry to myriad ideas and new perspectives. Any handle is better than none in an input maelstrom. Deceptive or honest notwithstanding, motion pictures are marvelous mirrors of contemporary culture. Merely citing a movie is never enough; goal is to explain its relevance without spoiler alerts. Critics must decide how much bicycling a movie includes to merit mention. Although some might complain that Labann has few filters, do often skip when bikes aren’t germane to story, just passers-by riding or school kids locking onto a rack. Always try to find peak or unique recommendations, pass up films that don’t hint bicycling will be portrayed, and review any that do, though that often leads to dead ends and disappointments. Lists can be interim wasters or multiverse portals. Therefore, feel exceptionally compelled with no excuses to add explanations to Jackbunny’s extraordinary list of new examples along with others recently exhumed.

In teen feature The Karate Kid (John Avildsen, 1984), Ralph Macchio gets knocked off his Mongoose 24 by dirt bike bullies and swears to learn martial arts and protect himself after tossing crumpled bike into a dumpster. He’s overheard by aged sensei Noriyuki Morita, who offers to teach him. First lesson: Wax on, wax off. A black belt requires muscle memory, skill, and strength as would be gained through basic chores and cycling tours.

Back to the Future trilogy (Roger Zemeckis, 1984 - 1990) has several scenes that show bicyclists including peeping tom dad in Part I, and in Part II crazy inventor Christopher Lloyd trying to catch up with Michael J. Fox to whom he lent his car. Time travel films can spotlight just about anything, so squeals on wheels should be expected. Easy to offer a thrilling sensation by tracking cranking action from offscreen vehicles.

The Lost Boys (Joel Schumacher, dir.,1987) reveals a Santa Clara victimized by a gang of vampires. Won’t see any riding bicycles, but they do race around on motorcycles. It’s their teen hunter-slayers who ride in a BMX pack.

Cinema of Unease (Neill & Rymer, 1995) is the oddly named memoir of noted screen actor Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), who every week in boring Christchurch, New Zealand would pedal with zeal to local cinema, thus wheel to reel, fall lifelong in love with movie field for real.

Father and daughter John and Michelle Porter (Michael Gross and Hillary Swank, Academy Award Best Actress) return to his home town to settle affairs of his late mother. Collecting boxes at recycling center he see a kid’s bike and recalls when in childhood when he and his friend followed sister to a cave on their bikes, where demons killed her in a satanic ceremony. He electrocuted them, but Sometimes They Come Back... Again (Adam Grossman, dir., 1996). So he’s forced to finish task or lose lives of both daughter and self to their ongoing treachery. Grieving survivors have emotional issues to process. Britney Spears has been using a bicycle to find “me time” and reduce stress over her dad’s nearly fatal illness.

Teen son Drew (Tim Redwine) of Augmentor 1000’s inventor (Randy Quaid) and his posse enlist car thief Samantha (Jessica Alba, Dark Angel, Fantastic Four) and form P.U.N.K.S. (Sean McNamara, dir., 1999) to Protect the Underdog with Nerve, Knowledge and Strength and save his dad, who’s being exploited and literally worked to death by a corporate villain (Henry Winkler). Once Samantha helps them get suit that multiplies human strengths, Drew on his BMX activates device and outruns henchmen in an SUV on expressway. Target audience of teens probably don’t know that BMX’s can’t reach such speeds no matter who pedals them, though road bikes properly geared might, yet seldom outrun swag wagons driven dangerously behind.

Cocaine distributor Daniel Craig (James Bond) sorts through the Layer Cake (Matthew Vaughn, dir., 2004) of London underworld hierarchy rife with double dealing criminals. While setting up for a hit, his hired assassin homes in on an innocent bicyclist to decide best location to shoot from when time comes.

Turtles Can Fly (Bahman Ghobadi, dir., 2005) in war torn Iraq during Dubya’s Desert Shield. A smart teen bicyclist nicknamed Satellite (Soran Ebrahim) commands a ragtag army of starving Kurdish children to do whatever they must to subsist, including dodging land mines, rearranging television antennae, searching for a satellite dish to receive vital news, and unloading spent munitions from trucks. When his teenage girlfriend’s rape baby wanders into a minefield, he sacrifices area's only bike in an attempt to save him. Camp is thick with despair, especially after US forces pass through ignoring refugees on their way to debatable victory and wrong side of history.

Back in spoiled America, dimpled towhead Carol Lee (Ireland Rose Maddox) points to her holiday heart’s desire, a shiny new bike from Sears&Roebuck Catalog. Depression era want, WWII’s Day of Infamy, and worries over metal shortages conspire against it. Dad (Jace McLean) gives up trying to find one among downtown stores. Disappointment on her cherubic face is tear jerking, “Do letters to Santa get lost?” Then Santa’s little helper, lost mutt Mr. Christmas (Beth Brickell, dir., 2005), wanders off street into their lives. Will cost more than the $23.95 bicycle, only $3.00 down, but kids are content for the moment.

Director’s memoir of growing up on mean Queens streets purports to be A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (Dito Monteil, dir., 2006). Dito (Shia LaBeouf, Transformers), his dad (Chazz Palminteri), mom (Dianne Wiest, numerous major awards), and friends all lamely follow Antonio (Channing Tatum), an abused kid who grows up into a charismatic monster. Dito, who plans to go to California for a better life, finally splits after Antonio kills a couple of people, including, unintentionally, his own brother. Adult author Dito (Robert Downey Jr.) returns home to regret such influences and tend to family he left behind. Apart from a few incidental bicycles, can’t say why this bore inclusion.

Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007) describes police constable Simon Pegg, who takes two fisted pistol fire from an angry schoolmarm on a bicycle. His partner Nick Frost doors her to squelch threat. Film allegedly introduces phrase, “OK, boomer,” but can’t be faulted for thousands of mindless repeats. According to this Outside article, 185,000 bicycles are stolen every year in USA alone. Makes you wonder who wants to defund police forces while such heinous criminality abounds.

Confusing, low budget, but luridly entertaining science fiction Timecrimes (Nacho Vigalondo, dir., 2007) has Héctor (Karra Elejalde) witnessing an odd occurrence across a field behind his isolated country home. Bicyclist Barbara Goenaga lures him into forest, where he gets stabbed trying to help her. Scientist Vigalondo had already sent Héctor back a few hours, which creates a paradox that he must resolve, so becomes his own assailant.

Con artists The Brother Bloom (Rian Johnson, dir., 2009) - Bloom Bloom (Adrien Brody) and Stephen Bloom (Mark Ruffalo) - target eccentric heiress Penelope (Rachel Weisz) for one last score by sending Bloom down a slope on a banana bike to fake an accident with Penelope’s sports car. Plan goes awry when he falls for her.

Spy spoof advises that you to Burn After Reading (Ethan & Joel Coen, 2008) memoirs of former CIA analyst John Malkovich. When disc falls into the hands of Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand, these two gym employees see a chance to make enough money for her to have life-changing cosmetic surgery. Yeah, good luck with that.

An Education (Lone Scherfig, dir., 2009) has a young woman seduced by a sophisticated man twice her age while they bike about Paris together. Rather than being repulsed and feeling used, she’s grateful for lessons she learns. Doesn’t sit well, more middle age fantasy, phony and wrong, unlike Nabokov’s Lolita.

For a span of 127 Hours (Danny Boyle, dir., 2010), adventurer, hiker, and mountain biker Aron Ralston (James Franco, Oscar Best Actor nominee) is literally caught between a rock and a hard place after falling into a crevice in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Having to drink own urine and extricate self by amputating arm seem cruel and unusual punishments for not letting anyone know where you’re going and testing your mettle against remote locations. Based on actual events, Aron learns to value every moment alive.

Teens ride bikes around Detriot contemplating The Myth of the American Sleepover (David Robert Mitchell, dir., 2010) and who to hook up with for a summer fling before going back to school. Girls including Claire Sloma just want to have fun. Or they could star in a feature film.

In romantic comedy Your Sister’s Sister (Lynn Shelton, dir., 2011), Mark Duplass abuses a ten speed, then sleeps with his deceased brother’s ex-girlfriend and her lesbian sister.

Only the Young (Elizabeth Mins & Jason Tippet, dirs., 2012), a mockumentary filmed in Santa Clarita, CA, a smalltime backwater without much to do, covers coming of age aspirations of bicycling and skateboarding buddies Garrison Saenz and Kevin Conway, and love interest Skye Elmore, as they drift into unproductive adulthood denied the American Dream. Didn’t Flobots sing, “I can ride my bike with no handlebars... it's good to be alive in such a small world.”

Superior Donuts comedian Jermaine Fowler (aka crossdressing Miss Mimi Teapot of Ru Paul’s Drag Race), Bike Between My Thighs (single, self, 2013): “I love my ride, good for exercise, cardiovascular, and my thighs. Plus it kills a lot of time. While you’re waiting for trains, I’m running through stop signs... I got robbed.” Is this a short sitcom or new musical entry?

A remarkable 2015 tourism ad for Destination Gstaad focuses solely on road cycling at this Swiss Alps ski resort town. What else is there to do when there’s no snow half of each year?

Super salesman Tom Hanks temporarily relocates to Saudi Arabia to demo A Hologram for the King (Tom Tykwer, dir., 2016), the next step beyond video conferencing. Efforts are hamstrung with broken promises and official postponements, so frustrations arise as well as opportunities to take in local culture. He’s reminded of being on the board of directors of USA based Schwinn, and having to tell 900 employees that all operations would be transferred to China, so they were all being laid off. Chinese went on to copy bike build technologies and manufacture several brands so cheaply they eliminated competitors. Unchecked greed will never be a good thing. He loses hologram contract to Chinese competitors. After Americans sold China biological techniques and viruses, they were saddled with a bioengineered pandemic and more joblessness. Offshoring to capitalize on slave labor invites unforeseen consequences. And bicycling culture must include brands and workers whose livelihoods depend upon policy makers, promoters and purchasers. 

Economic decline in Bavarian town of Wackersdorf (Oliver Haffner, dir., 2019) in 1980 threatens re-election bid for socialist county commissioner Hans Schuierer (Johannes Zeiler). Plans to build a nuclear plant amidst its played out mines sound like a mutual godsend. Buoyed by news, he leads his cigarette smoking, old Master+ Red cycling team through pristine countryside. But he begins to notice how forcibly state mutes criticism and suppresses dissent, likens it to Gestapo tactics. Expressing doubt and supporting resistance, he’s threatened further and winds up cycling alone as former friends forsake him. Being isolated and ostracized are what men of conscience should expect. Doesn’t take a genius to do what’s right, then Chernobyl occurs and makes you look like one. Based on actual events, won’t be the first or last time liberal partisans had to fight neocon nazis and their greedy tactics. But Wackersdorfers who bowed to intimidation warn world how easy it is to shut up and simply let the wealthiest few steal your future.

Doctor Sleep (Mike Flanagan, dir., 2019) couldn’t help but recreate tricycling scene from The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, dir., 1980), where young Dave, rolling manically along halls of haunted Overlook Hotel, runs across ghastly twins girls who aren’t supposed to be there. Indoor cycling isn’t new, considering enclosed velodromes and fin de siécle venues, but you seldom hear much of it lately other than spin classes awaiting reopening as new COVID cases set record daily numbers and smart cyclists hit roads and wear masks.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Protease Antipain

In the few centuries since bacteria and viruses were known to cause diseases, zoonotic epidemics have become linked with animals, some used as food: Cholera from any animal feces, influenza from chicken and pigs, plague and typhus from bats, cats, opossums and rats, salmonella from all poultry, smallpox (killed 500 million people over 12,000 years) and tuberculosis from cows. Mosquito bites transfer Chikungunya, West Nile and Zika viruses, dengue fever, and malaria among humans. Pandemic incites health concerns; people gravitate to whatever they think improves immunity, including bicycling. A  plethora of ills and potential for death await those who don't proceed with care.

To fight Hepatitis C, HIV, and retroviruses, they’ve developed several antipain drugs around protease inhibitors which have extended patients’ lives up to 60%. Some of these compounds are found in common foodstuffs: Apple, banana, cabbage, legumes such as soybeans, potatoes, seeds, spinach, some herbs and spices, tomatoes, what’s generally identified as ingredients of a healthy diet, and whole wheat. A couple of almonds every day are supposed to preclude cancer. Is relying on food quackery or will dripping elderberry syrup into your tea actually prevent contagion or provide a remedy? You are what you eat, it’s said; food is fuel, and inner chemistry enables mental focus and rational stability. Too little Vitamin D you get for free from sunshine causes depression. Niacin deficiency can cause psychoses. Sugar and white flour increase incidence of diabetes. A human body completely replaces itself every 7 years or so, some parts more quickly, versus brain cells irrevocably lost along with memories and spirit, which can be a source of serious distress. To forget and forgive might relieve your stress.

When three friends - played in childhood by Christina Ricci, Gaby Hoffmann and Thora Birch - reconnect in 1991 to help Ashley Aston Moore through end of her first pregnancy, they compare Now and Then (Lesli Linka Glatter, dir., 1995), their coming-of-age summer. During big bike boom of 1970, all kids on camera have one that they ride incessantly around otherwise empty suburban streets. Gaby attempts to retrieve a bracelet from a storm drain but gets trapped as water rises. Walter Sparrow, whose reclusive character only comes out at night to ride his bike, rescues her. Adult perspectives allow them to reconcile. Critics knocked film as a girly version of Stand By Me, though it has become an admired cult classic.

Television series Mystery Science Theater 3000, Season 8, Episode 21 (1997) was a roast of movie Time Chasers (David Giancola, dir., 1994). Crow (Bill Corbett) complains, "Come on, this can't be the hero of the film. He has a geeky ten speed bicycle. He should have at least have a cool burnt orange Stingray. This can't be the star. Maybe he's going into the house to meet the real hero." In one scene cyclist/inventor/protagonist Matthew Bruch carjacks a Yugo, crashes it into a rack of bikes, flips car over, pardons himself saying to owner, "I don't drive," then steals a bike to continue his flight from corporate goons chasing him. Duly listed in B&C's appendix, took until today's cable streaming to actually watch this low budget turkey.

You must count health among gifts you have to apply to retain. Rigorous exercise boosts mood, builds stamina, and buoys libido. Everything that Lila Says (Ziad Doueiri, dir., 2004) bubbles up from an abundance of hormones, apex of imagination, and avid self propulsion. After moving in with her aunt in the Arab ghetto and throughout story sweet sixteen Lila (Vahina Giocante) in a short skirt rides her moped around contemporary Marseilles like a pro to tease young men. Story narrator Chimo (Mohammed Khouas) falls for her simulation of smoldering sophistication, and she his kind sincerity. There’s a long scene of a heavy petting balanced aboard her rolling bike. Chimo’s fickle friends sexually harass her, and jealous pack leader rapes her, proving she was a virgin after all her worldly words. Heartbroken, Lila moves to Poland, and Chimo plans to follow, but writing this story earns him a scholarship to an exclusive Paris school.

A lonely elephant escapes zoo captivity through an abandoned Santander bike-share unit, a London Underground subway ride, then a purchased unicycle to home on Serengeti Plain in Paradise, Coldplay’s 2011 hit. "When she was just a girl she expected the world, but it flew away from her reach... Life goes on, it gets so heavy. The wheel breaks the butterfly, every tear a waterfall. In the night, the stormy night, away she'd fly and dream of paradise." You can say you saw everything once you see an elephant fly.

Very Good Girls (Naomi Foner, dir., 2013) Gerri (Elizabeth Olsen) and Lily (Dakota Fanning) take trains from Flatbush enclave to Brighton Beach to meet up and skinny dip. Then they ride their bicycles along sea strand. Later they talk of divesting themselves of the vexation of virginity before going off to college at summer’s end. Gerri collides with an ice cream truck manned by David (Boyd Holbrook) and starts flirting. David is really an artist who takes photographs and turns them into posters he pastes all over New York City. When Lily sees one that shows her bicycling from behind, she returns to ice cream cart and starts an affair with David. Gerri gets jealous, and tries to seduce David after her dad dies. This threatens her friendship with Lily.

Life goes haywire for newlywed GenXers Alice and John Macy (Juno Temple and Michael Angararo) when Alice swipes The Brass Teapot (Ramaa Mosley, dir., 2013) from an antique shop owned by an aged Nazi concentration camp survivor. Since ancient times, the teapot was coveted and stolen by generals, genocidal maniacs, heads of state, and history’s most infamous villains, including Hitler. All exploited its one magical property: treasure commensurate with the degree of pain or suffering. emotional or physical, holder personally experiences or witnesses. In this social allegory on greedy effects and mental defects, the Macys are nonentities. John commutes by bike to a dead end telemarketing job. Unemployed recent grad Alice takes their beater Pinto to her consecutive unsuccessful interviews. When she accidentally burns herself, teapot belches out a couple of Benjamins, seemingly a godsend for a couple struggling to make ends meet. But there’s a curse, of course.

After successful Afghan ops together, soldier Robbie Arnell, handler for USMC Malinois dog Max (Boaz Yakin, dir., 2015), advances into a Taliban held position to protect injured dog, but gets gunned down doing so. His teenage brother Josh Wiggins, who sells illegally copied video games, winds up with surviving hero, who’s talent is sniffing out munition caches. They embark on a series of adventures together in which dog teaches boy the bad pay and bitter fruit of crime.

The Intergalactic Council of Superior Beings (voices of John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Terry Jones) intercepts Voyager II, then convenes as judge and jury to try Earth for destruction or inclusion, not that they’ve ever chosen the latter. Procedure means randomly selecting a sole individual, very nearly settling upon Sarah Palin, to have power to do Absolutely Anything (Terry Jones, dir., 2015). Nope, it’s bicycling nerd, school teacher, and small man Neil (Simon Pegg). Neil just wants to not get run over by a van, which tacos his wheel causing him to be late again, survive another day among his unruly students, and woo lovely neighbor Catherine (Kate Beckinsale), who hardly knows he exists. Discovering his powers, then doing selfish or stupid things with them, including making his dog Dennis (Robin Williams, posthumously, in final film role) talk and think like a human, are enough to convince him to transfer his powers to Dennis, which averts global catastrophe at the final moment. Anyone but a bicyclist would have done worse.

The Brothers Grimsby (Louis Leterrier, dir., 2016), orphaned and separated as children, reunite and retreat to their Lincolnshire home town, where juvenile delinquents on bikes roam litter laden, traffic free streets devoid of industry. Nobody dad of eleven kids Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen), a demented soccer hooligan who works the dole system with devoted girlfriend Rebel Wilson, and secret agent Sebastian (Mark Strong), falsely accused of going rogue, fight through adversaries on both sides to prevent terrorist Penelope Cruz from killing billions of poor people. Despite disgusting scenes and slapstick antics, these heroes save the day, and noted bike hater Donald Trump dies of AIDS along the way. Hurray!

Cultural artifacts related to bicycling are forever emerging, so it's hard to keep up chore of cataloging. One can query many search engines to find references to bicycling, but results relate not to culture primarily but to racing, as if life is nought but a Darwinian contest you cannot escape and must lose. Aggravating. Aussie filmmakers Eleanor Sharpe and Nickolas Bird document MAMIL (2018) regarding middle-aged weekend warriors clad in lyric who have “all the gear and no idea” what drives them from family and jobs into obsessed road lust. Maybe it’s just a chance to test self esteem against hand picked competitors for narcissistic dominance in land down under. Narrated by long time Tour reporter Phil Liggett, this string of sound bites purports to clarify.