Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bicycle Diaries

We're on a road to nowhere.
Sort of takes a different meaning after you read Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne of Talking Heads fame.
More on this later.
First some background on Mr. Byrne.
The dude rides a bicycle.
Makes music too:

I didn't know exactly what to expect when I started reading.
David Byrne is a character, an intelligent character to say the least.
I knew of his bicycle stand designs that were used for a time in New York:

photo from The Scout

So I knew he was a bicycle rider, I just didn't know how much he rode.
Byrne is not a casual rider.
Seems he takes a folding bicycle where ever it's possible as he enjoys exploring on two wheels and he manages to go all over the world.
Which is what Bicycle Diaries is sort of about.
Okay, not really.
It's not really about riding a bicycle, but more about observations he makes while riding a bicycle.
In different parts of the world.
Which is interesting, cause Byrne is an art school drop out of sorts having spent some time at Rhode Island School of Design, so he sort of sees things a bit differently.
If you know what I mean.
Music apparently was his first love, parts of the book talk about the different kinds of music he is involved in; Latin music of all things.
The book is then broken into nine chapters on different cities across the globe and his experiences in them.
He does talk about how easy/difficult it is to navigate through these cities by bicycle, but mostly it's social commentary.
I found Byrne's narrative to be observant and philosophical.
Not preachy or anything as he tends to ask questions more than make statements, both engaging the reader to question why.
The why part gets into urban planning, sustainability, and of course the part the bicycle plays in the big picture.
The fact that he mentions Collapse by Jared Diamond should give you some idea of where he things we're going.
I found it a to be a good read, not what one would expect from an ex-rock star.
Well okay, maybe he is still a rock star, but you wouldn't know it except that he mentions meeting all his musical connections in all the cities he visits.
Okay, enough from me, just go and read it.
Or down load the audio book from here, something I plan to do, just so that I can hear him read it, along with some nice background music and sound effects.
Lemme just say that after reading this I've become a David Byrne fan. I was a Talking Heads fan but now I respect and appreciate the man more than the band.
I mean how can you not respect a dude in a really big suit?

photo courtesy here


Mark said...

What do you thinking tooling around town on a bike with him would be like?

Steve A said...

I also came for the title and stayed for the stories.

Anonymous said...

I saw the red shoe bike stand when I was in NY last year. I would have loved to have seen the others that you show as well.

limom said...

Mark, good question.
Byrne states that he's somewhat shy so perhaps the conversation would be a bit lacking.
I think you'd see some pretty cool places though.

Steve A, you need to get a blue bicycle and ride past some cows.

Paddyanne, I think the stands have been removed and auctioned off.
I like the idea of a bicycle stand as public art.