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Am I Invisible? A Portrait of New York City Bicyclists Opens April 8

Untitled (Ghost Biker) Marina Berio
Untitled (Ghost Biker) Marina Berio
Am I Invisible? A Portrait of New York City Bicyclists

Opening April 8, 2014 6 – 9 p.m.

In the Great Room at The Old Stone House
Old Stone House & Washington Park
336 Third Street, bet. 4th/5th Avenues
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Directions

Am I Invisible? A Portrait of New York City Bicyclists is a transmedia project produced by Bicycle Utopia in collaboration with Recycle-a-Bicycle and The Old Stone House.

Am I Invisible? is a portrait of New York City viewed from a bicycling perspective. Artists Marina Berio, Christopher Cardinale, Jeanne Hilary, Johanna Kindvall, Sam Polcer, Justin Strauss Mike Taylor and Harry Zernike will be exhibited along with images from the Am I Invisible? Open Call, and images created during an Am I Invisible? Bike Art Party, a community event organized with Queens Museum. Am I Invisible? A Portrait of New York City Bicyclists will be on display at the Old Stone House and an interactive public art installation in locations around NYC from April 8 to June 3.

Am I Invisible? is inspired by the experience of biking in the city. Biking creates intimacy with the built environment, encourages social interactions and enhances awareness of New York City as an ever-evolving, collective cultural experience.

About the Artists

Marina Berio

Marina Berio is an artist and photographer. She has been granted a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, the Aaron Siskind Foundation Award and a Pollock/Krasner Grant, and been invited to various residencies including the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Millay, and Schloss Plüschow in Germany. She has exhibited photography and drawings internationally, including Michael Steinberg Fine Arts, Yancey Richardson Gallery, Von Lintel Gallery, Smack Mellon, and Artists Space in New York; Les Rencontres d’Arles, Galerie Camera Obscura, and the Centre Photographique de Pontault-Combault in France; her work has been published in Foam and Fantom. Berio is Chair of the General Studies Program at the International Center of Photography in New York City. She lives with photographer Jean-Christian Bourcart and their son Elio in Brooklyn, New York. More about Marina’s work at marinaberio.net

Christopher Cardinale

Christopher Cardinale is a cartoonist and muralist. While living in Guatemala and Mexico, his work was inspired by encampments of striking workers and anarchist punk collectives. He has been publishing comics since 2001 when his first graphic narrative appeared in World War 3 Illustrated Magazine. Since 1996, Christopher has led large-scale, collaborative mural projects in New Mexico, New York City, Italy, Greece and Mexico.His work addresses themes ranging from labor organizing history, cyclist and pedestrian rights, urban environmentalism and post-Katrina New Orleans. Christopher illustrated the graphic novel, Mr Mendoza’s Painbrush, by Luis Alberto Urrea, chosen by Kirkus Reviews as one of 2010’s best books for teens.

Johanna Kindvall

Johanna Kindvall is a designer, illustrator and architect based in Sweden and New York City. She editss a food blog, kokblog; her illustrations appeared in The Culinary Cyclist, by Anna Brones. Her illustrations have been published on blogs such as Art of Eating, Foodie Bugle and the books The Fabulous Baker Brothers. She is currently at work on a cookbook in collaboration with Anna Brones, which will be published by 10 speed press. Her work has been exhibited widely, notably in 14th St Overlay by Walczak & Heiss in Denver, Colorado, at the Triennial of Lövestad, Sweden, at the National Art Museum of China and others.

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Jeanne Hilary

Jeanne Hilary is a photographer and new media artist.  She is founder of Bicycle Utopia, a public art project about New York City seen from a bicycling perspective.

Her work has been exhibited widely, notably le Centre Pompidou, le Palais de Tokyo, Le Musée Carnavalet, la Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Lilit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, The Museum of Fine Arts, Calcutta,, the Museum for Contemporary Photography, Chicago. She has received numerous grants and residencies, among these: The American Center, Paris; the Fondation Regional Pour l’Art Contemporain, Ile de France; the Ministére des Affaires Etrangéres, France; the Palm Beach County Cultural Council; the Ministére de la Culture, France. Her work has been published in  The New York Times, The Guardian, La Repubblica, El Pais, Le Monde, Libération, le Nouvel Observateur, l’Express, Geo, Newsweek, Fortune and many others. Her work is broadly concerned with how the built environment impacts human endeavor, and how memory and desire inform contemporary society. She has worked extensively on gangs and youth issues in Chicago and Los Angeles,  women’s issues, infrastructure and housing, poverty and immigration in France’s housing estates, and a range of human rights and social issues in Egypt, Afghanistan, India, Turkey, China and Rwanda, throughout Europe and the United States. More about Jeanne Hilary at jeannehilary.com

Sam Polcer

Sam Polcer recently recently completed his first book, New York Bike Style, which will be published by Prestel in Spring 2014. (He also has a blog, Preferred Mode, that features some of the photos from that project.) His writing and photography has appeared in The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalTravel + LeisureHemispheresBrooklyn MagazineThe L Magazine,  among others. He is Communications Manager of Bike New York. Previously, he was a nightclub visual designer, traveling circus spotlight operator, documentary filmmaker, DJ, video editor, blueberry picker, election campaigner and event producer. When he’s not riding his bike or traveling on assignment, he spends as much time as he can in Brooklyn, NY. More about Sam Polcer at Preferredmode.com

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Justin Strauss

Justin Strauss, 16, from Forest Hills, Queens is a junior at Stuyvesant High School. Justin is photo editor for both The Spectator, Stuyvesant’s student run biweekly newspaper, and The Indicator, Stuyvesant’s yearbook. His interest in cycling began in 2012, after participating in bike tours in and around New York City. The following year, Justin joined the Century Road Club Association. He competes in road, track, and cyclocross races for the club’s Junior Development team. Justin saw the opportunity to combine his two defining interests in Bicycle Utopia’s Am I Invisible? contest and he plans to continue to experiment with using photography as a medium to capture the beauty of cycling.

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor is a printmaker, painter, writer, self-publisher and arts educator. He works in screenprinting, painting, collage, sculpture and performance. His work is narrative and autobiographical, documenting his surroundings and reflecting on culture, politics, and the human condition. While self-publishing anthologies of his own artwork, comics and writing he is also an elementary school art teacher. 

Harry Zernike

Harry Zernike makes photographs and films for a broad range of commercial and editorial clients. His photographs are in a number of books as well as private, corporate, and museum collections. He has been spotted in road and cyclocross races, and toodling around New York on a single speed. A predisposition to photographing cyclists (conflating work and play) led him to publish the printed 9W- a journal of Cycling Photography and it’s online companion 9wmag.comwww.harryzernike.com

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Am I Invisible? A Portrait of New York City Bicyclists is made possible with generous support from our sponsors.

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You’re Invited! We’re Having a Bikes / Photo Party at Queens Museum Sunday, February 23

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Join us at the Queens Museum Saturday, February 22 and Sunday, February 23 for Am I Invisible? A Portrait of New York City Bicyclists Bike + Photo Party!

Bicycle Utopia, in partnership with Recycle-A-Bicycle, Rolling Orange Bikes, Harvest Cyclery and Silk Road Cycles is having a photo party at Queens Museum.

Bring your own bike or pick one of ours in front and have your picture taken in front of views of New York City from the past, present and the future. Express yourself and let the world know about how you’d like to see and be seen in New York City.

Everyone who participates will receive a complimentary photo, and a chance to be included in Am I Invisible? A Portrait of New York City Bicyclists, a public art installation and exhibition taking place at locations around New York City, and the Old Stone House from April 8 – June 3, 2014.

Am I Invisible? A Portrait of New York City Bicyclists celebrates the diversity and unique style of New York City bicyclists, and advocates for safe streets. Am I Invisible is an Open Call for photography and art, a public art installation and an exhibition on the theme of complete streets and bike safety. Am I Invisible? is organized in collaboration with community, biking and arts organizations.

To find out more about Am I Invisible? A Portrait of New York City Bicyclists, go here.

A Bikestrian

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This just in from artist Frédéric Lère:

“You could not miss me.

“Walking a Citibike from the art supply store to my studio. Should I use the sidewalk or the bike lane? I opted for the bike lane, smoother surface.

“All the way up 8th Avenue from 23rd to 38th Street. Respecting all the traffic lights and unruly pedestrians…

“I was special, a bikestrian.

“One of the unruly persons that I met was driving a Yellow cab. He cut me off, forcing me to use my brakes, as he turned left on 35th Street, running a red light.

“The driver was a cop in a uniform!?!”

You can see Frédéric’s The Freevolous King Lère Show at the Mayson Gallery, 254 Broome Street, New York, from January 22 to February 05.

Proceeds from the show benefit the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit.

 

A Visit to Bicycle Roots Bike Shop in Crown Heights

What’s different about New York City from Central Illinois? Artist Kathy Creutzburg pays a visit to Joe, Nechama, Herschel and Steven at Bicycle Roots Bike Shop in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

 

 

 

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Chinese Delivery Man

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“The decorations hadn’t changed in years. On the wall was a giant red Double Happiness poster. The formica counter was cracked and repaired with duct tape. Overhead was a giant take out menu with vinyl numbers taped over the old prices. Fortune Garden was strictly take out only. There was no room to dine in even if someone wanted to.”

Author, playwright and screenwriter Isaac Ho has written a pulp thriller based on a series of murders of Chinese delivery men that took place in New York City in 2004. “It wasn’t a serial killer,” says Ho,  ”It turned out to be a gang of kids who saw easy money: a Chinese guy, therefore he, and the people around him, probably don’t speak English very well, or at all, and are probably illegal, and so wouldn’t be too well-documented or protected by the legal system.  But once the arrests were made the story ended, the press stopped covering it. I wondered, what happened to the victims’ families?”

The story is told in both English and Chinese, highlighting the isolation the language barrier creates for the main characters.

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Told from the perspective of the family of the murdered man, the main actors in the story are poor working-class or illegal immigrant business-owners, for whom the crime itself is only the beginning of their troubles in a world made of trouble.

The novella’s deeply ironic perspective pokes fun at a host of TV drama clichés as it makes the case that the only thing worse than being invisible is to become visible.

Detective Jackson knew he had to let the other shoe drop. “As far as the police are concerned, it’s an open and shut case. We have all the proof we need. However, the District Attorney may plead them out rather than go to the trouble of a jury trial.” 

 “What?” 

 Detective Jackson tried to sum up the U.S. criminal justice system for Lau. “Judges love it when you make things easy for them. It’s kind of the American way.” 

 Now Lau was upset. “They’re not going to die for what they did to my son?”

“They’re minors. Even if convicted at trial they won’t get the death penalty.”

Lau composed himself and tried to put his thoughts into something the American detective could understand. “My youngest son tries to make me watch baseball but I don’t understand the rules. Difficult. Not simple. In China, when a person kills someone, they are put to death. Simple.”

The murder victim’s father, outraged by the legal system’s failure to deliver a justice he can understand, driven by grief, and guided by the incomprehension that comes with a 300-word English vocabulary, tries to save his son’s honor and prevent his family from falling into the abyss of poverty, homelessness and deportation that the crime, with its loss of one wage-earner and the delivery car, pushes them into.

The legal system’s betrayal is only the first in a series that leads Lau ever deeper into a conflict  that becomes exponentially more complex  as each person Lau encounters brings his or her fear and cultural values to it. His ultimate downfall involves a bicycle and two fateful Mets tickets to a game at Citifield.

“If you write this story from the investigating cop’s point of view, you’re free to move around, to talk to everyone, but if I’m following Lau, I only know what he knows; the investigation is the least interesting part of the story. I grew up watching TV with all these stereotypes–characters and storylines. This perspective imposed limitations that were challenging to me as a writer. In writing the story, I had to break my own stereotypes. The question becomes, what is he going to do about his son’s murder? How does his journey resolve?

Isaac Ho grew up in Rockland County in the 1970s. His parents were immigrants from different parts of China who met in the United States. Every Saturday the whole family drove to Chinatown to shop for groceries, pick up the Chinese newspapers and eat dim sum.

Growing up in white suburbs, where kids at school called him Bruce and Pearl Harbor, he learned to hide in plain sight–trying to fit in as much as possible with white friends, and consciously trying to repress his Chinese identity.

That changed when he came to New York City to study acting. He found himself bumping into all kinds of people, and connecting with an Asian arts community. But one of his teachers at NYU advised him against working on original plays by Asian Americans, saying, “Nobody takes ethnic theatre seriously. You’re going to waste your time on something that doesn’t matter.”

“In my other books, the politics are like a sledgehammer, but in this book it was sufficient to tell the story from Lau’s point of view, that’s enough of a political statement in itself.

“In my first book, The Repatriation of Henry Chin, the story is about a guy who goes on the run chased by an ICE agent. Someone who read the first completed draft said “You introduce the protagonist way too late,” which I didn’t understand because Henry Chin is introduced on the first page. He thought Henry was the evil Chinese guy, and the ICE agent was the knight in shining armor–we’re so used to seeing white male characters as heroes, “You really have to change this; it’s way out of balance.”

“So I reworked things to make it clearer that Henry, the Chinese guy, is the hero.

“I ran into the same kind of thing when I started working on the new book. A lot of people asked me,’Why would you write about a Chinese delivery guy? If you’re going to tell a story about someone like that, there has to be something special about him, he’s just too ordinary.’ But the opportunity that writing about Americans who also have an outsider identity provides is to look at how strange America is, instead of looking at it from an “insider” perspective.

“Recently I took a trip to China with my father. We were driving through a modern section of Shanghai and slipped into a little alley that was completely traditional, surrounded by all these enormous highrises and shopping centers. When I was growing up, my grandmother told us she lived a day’s boat ride upriver from Shanghai. I asked my father if we could visit that place, but he said no, it doesn’t exist anymore. It’s part of Shanghai now. The city has expanded so much it has just absorbed the surrounding villages and towns.”

Ho, who has lived in California for 20 years, experienced an even more intimate culture shock when he visited New York in 2012.

“When I came to visit New York City for the first time since 1998, I was shocked by how much it had changed: on the one hand, it was like slipping on an old skin, the heat and sticky clothes, eating from food carts, getting around on the subway–except I had to get used to the metro cards, instead of using tokens.

“On the other hand, Lower Manhattan and Chinatown is like a military zone, with all the barriers and the security around 1 Police Plaza, and forget about parking your car. A friend of mine who lives in Chinatown and works in Long Island City told me he uses his bike to get to and from work. “He said,  ‘Screw the subway, it’s much easier by bike.’

“Even Chinatown has changed: it’s not just Cantonese food now. When I went with my aunt we had Shanghai-ese food at  a dim sum place on Elizabeth St.”

Chinese Delivery Man

Isaac Ho, 2013

152 pages

Digital Fabulists

 

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 Photograph: Andrew Shuie, Am I Invisible? A Portrait of New York City Bicyclists, 2012

 

 

¡Vivan los Muertos! Day of the Dead Celebrations at la Casa Azul

paul lambertonArtist Paul Lambermont’s lifelong fascination with Mexica theology began when he was seven or eight years old and saw an image of the Mexica dipping their feet into pails of sap to makes boots for themselves. “How cool is that?”

This spectacular painting (“the figure is the size of a small child”) is part of the Vivan los Muertos exhibition currently on view at La Casa Azul. The piece is made of found paper, that has been sewn, stapled and painted.

The painting represents the God Xipe Totec, and is part of a series inspired by the Codex Borgia, the Codex Zouche Nuttal, and Tibetan Art which he calls The Codex Chitipati. ”I am interested in the art and myths of many cultures and time periods. Despite separation of geography and time, images are constantly repeated.

“Xipe Totec is the God of Springtime and Vegetation. He is represented as having been flayed: the skin is removed so new life can come through. During the ritual devoted to him the priests wore the flayed skin of sacrificial victims. It’s sort of nice we don’t do stuff like that now–it would make us more paranoid than we are already.”

The Vivan los Muertos exhibition includes work by Claudia Corletto, Pablo Caviedes, Michael Guillen, Ramon Gutierrez, Antonio Pertuz, Vanessa Peters and Airy Quiroz, and a community altar in memory of the writer Oscar Hijuelos, who passed away in October of this year.

¡Vivan los Muertos at La Casa Azul on view from now to November 23.

La Casa Azul Bookstore 143 E. 103rd St 

Highlights From Last Week’s East Harlem Art and Culture BikeART Tour

Great weather, great art, great food, site-specific spoken-word performances by JC Augustin, and wonderful music by Blue Maky at the East Harlem Harvest Festival were just some of the highlights of the BikeART tour on Saturday, October 27.

We’re looking forward to more of the same and just more on Saturday, November 2 for the Day of the Dead tour!

Sign up here!

October 27th East Harlem BikeART Tours: Play(LABS)!

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Muralist, graffiti and tattoo artist Badder Israel puts the finishing touches on “Yellow Brick Road” his tribute to the cultures of the Indians of the Americas–Maya, Inca, Aztec and Taino. The mural is part of Play(LABS), a public art installation in four East Harlem community gardens, organized by the West Harlem Art Fund and New York Restoration Project.

Join us on Sunday, October 27th on our bike tour! Starting from the East Harlem Café we’ll make stops at Play(LABS) and other art and culture locations, the East Harlem Harvest Festival. We’ll taste some great food, listen to some great music–it’s going to be a great day to be in Harlem!

Tours start at 10 am and 2 pm.

For more information, and to book a tour, go here.

Bike Share Part I: New York and Paris, the Same Only Different

New York and Paris. So different and yet somehow so alike.

In New York, everyone speaks some version of English, even if the speaker’s vocabulary may be limited to, “I’m sorry I don’t speak English.”

In Paris everyone speaks French and it’s not because they really can speak English and just don’t want to.

A case that proves the point: the Parisian dog-owner. When Monsieur or Madame calls out “Viens ici!” the animal scampers right up. Surely even the British, that most animal-loving of nations, and, along with Americans and Australians, among the last mono-lingual cultures on Earth,  do not suppose that French dogs are bi-lingual.

In New York, dogs, like cars, croissants and everything else, are larger than the Parisian. Canine New Yorkers watch TV all day alone in their apartments, relying on people dropping by occasionally to open cans and doors, sleep with, bark at and accompany them when they venture  outside. If there’s a sale on, dogs in New York enjoy taking the subway to Bloomingdales, dressing for the occasion in plaid jackets and riding in shiny black vinyl sacks carried by their humans.
bilingual dogs
In Paris, if you are a lady, and a man opens a door for you–which all men, without exception, do (another difference), it is proper to say “Pardon” and not “Merci,” to show you have not confused gallantry with service.

In a Parisian restaurant, it is possible to carry on a conversation without being obliged to shout over loud music and even louder fellow diners. The waiter will never ask you, while you are chewing a mouth full of food, whether you have finished eating, nor will your empty plate be removed before everyone else at the table has put down their fork and knife.

And thank heavens this is not the case in New York. Half the city’s gastroenterologists and hearing aid manufacturers would be put out of business. Just another example of American superiority over the French,in keeping productivity high and unemployment low.

“Pardon” is French for “Excuse me.” When the word is spoken for the purpose of making one’s way through a crowd of people, it means “Having spoken, I will now stop and wait for you to make an adjustment to your spatial orientation which will allow me to pass.” The speaker then suspends all forward motion while the obstructing human moves out of the way. Once the path is clear, forward motion is resumed.

In New York the concept is more spiritual in nature. The words are spoken like some magic charm the utterance of which, while shoving to the right and left, not to say trampling over, inconveniently slow or stationary men, women and children, absolves the speaker of any hint or blot of rudeness such pushing, shoving and trampling the pusher, shover or trampler might otherwise incur.

On those unfortunate occasions when the New York interpretation of “Excuse me” is addressed by a bicyclist toward a motor vehicle, its flaws become immediately apparent. Just as no one in Paris, nor indeed in all of France, ever believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, or that the physique of the giraffe or the penguin are the result of a Divine Plan, so it must be conceded that in the matter of “Excuse me,” the French usage has distinct advantages over that which prevails in the great city of New York. In this particular case, one hopes for less, rather than more, courtesy.

As they say, Vive la différence.

Turning to geography, one notes that Manhattan and Paris are about the same size. Both cities are defined by their waterway. In Paris, the water runs right through the middle of it; in Manhattan, around the sides.

From the point of view of population, about the same number of people live in Paris and Manhattan, quite a large number. With regard to the inevitable space problem, Manhattan residents go in for the taller solution, Parisians favor the smaller.

Two million people live in central Paris, where there are exactly two high rises:the Tour Montparnasse, built in 1973, and the Eiffel Tower, built in 1889.

The Tour Montparnasse was built mainly to improve communications with the Shadoks and the Gibis  who have been trying to get to Earth with their ridiculously miniscule wings since 1968.

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The Eiffel Tower was built to demonstrate how steel construction could liberate architectural design from the height limitations of load-bearing walls. In Paris, this spectacular breakthrough in engineering instantly produced a law restricting building height to seven stories within the city center and 20 on the outskirts, a classic case of French “I can but I shan’t.” This cultural characteristic is very useful in an urban agglomeration where 15 million people live crammed into tiny apartments. For if one cannot expand upward, one must divide living space into ever tinier units.

No reticence such as that which inhibited the French afflicted anyone on this side of the Atlantic. Architects and plutocrats alike spoke with one voice to greet the new technology: Yahoo!

The unbuttoned enthusiasm that ensued resulted in ever-taller buildings of such unwholesome design that, following the construction of the 38-story Equitable Life Building in 1915, a law was passed requiring that henceforward, all skyscrapers must be designed so as to allow daylight to reach street level for at least two hours a day.

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Just as it was at one time possible to see the sky from the ground in Manhattan, there was also a time when it was possible, in either Paris or New York, to go out for a pleasant drive around town just to feel the wind in one’s hair, or, within no more than 20 minutes of setting out from the city center, find oneself rolling briskly through green fields. Ah, the Nationale Sept, what have they done to you? Perhaps the Canal de l’Ourcq might be a friend to turn to in your agony.

Both cities now sit at the center of gigantic urban agglomerations of 15 and 20 million people respectively. I myself can’t count higher than the six people I can fit around my dinner table, but I can tell you this: depending on whether you start out by taking the Lexington Avenue Line Uptown or the A train Downtown, one doesn’t really get the feeling of having actually left New York City before reaching Maine or North Carolina. Had you gotten on the F train by mistake, your fate would remain unknown as there is some debate among New Yorkers as to whether or not there actually is anything beyond Philadelphia.

Even if everyone stayed right where they were, 20 million people would still be quite a large crowd. But these hordes do not stay put. The need for employment requires a large portion of them to travel into the city center daily, and then go back home again at night. Somewhere P.T. Barnum is fuming with frustration that he is no longer alive to throw a tent over such a spectacular feat.

Not to be outdone by Jobs, his beautiful twin sister, Leisure, brings in a further 45-50 million visitors per year, for the sole purpose of livening things up when footballs fly through the air or there’s a sale on at Bloomingdale’s.

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In 1959,  Jean-Luc Godard made a movie whose plot relied entirely on Paul Belmondo’s ability to  park his car absolutely anywhere and leap out from behind the wheel to  chase Jean Seberg all over Paris, she herself afflicted with a mania for jumping out at stoplights. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, it’s obvious why these two were made for each other.

Twenty years later, Paris was the second most polluted city in Europe after Athens.crammed round the clock with barely moving motor vehicles, horns blaring.

More cars meant more dogs, naturally. If you weren’t sitting, irate, in your car not going anywhere, you were picking your way through so much  Dachsund and Yorkie residue that the Sanitation Department created a custom-built fleet of motorcycles equipped with vacuum hoses designed for the sole purpose of sucking up dog shit.

What to do with all that shit was a problem at first but it seems to have been resolved—nobody knows how. Maybe there is a Yucca Mountain full of crap somewhere, perhaps in some sub-Saharan former colony, or if not that, le Quatre-vingt treize.

Had Paul Belmondo fallen in love with Jean Seberg circa 1980, the first time she jumped out at a stoplight he would have lost her forever while he drove around in circles for hours looking for a place to park instead of running after her. Even if he had found an empty space after a mere two or three hours and a sidetrip to the gas station, the minute he started to run he would have slipped in dog shit, broken his neck and died. It would have taken 90 seconds instead of 90 minutes to tell the story. Scene one, fade to black, roll credits. Trying to drag things out rather than shorten them, Godard never would have hit on the idea of using jump cuts. Today he’d be a cashier in one of those combination Dunkin’ Donuts Exxon stations instead of saying things like “Even when it’s not funny, it’s more funny” to Dick Cavett, who should know what he’s talking about, if anyone does. Only the movie title would stay the same, Breathless, but it would mean something completely different.

More cars, more people, more pets. It will be 1973 all over again,the same only different. It is estimated that by 2030, one million people will move to New York City; 90% of the population of both France and the US will be living in cities. Coughing and honking across the Atlantic,  Manhattan and Paris will each fuse into two giant parking lots, the glow of every streetlamp and headlight surrounded by a misty, romantic glow equal parts carbon emissions and Cromolyn, the sky permanently dark with self-driving helicopters transporting Masters of the Universe to and fro between their citadels of productivity and parking space-sized habitation pods.

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Or, alternatively, Bike Share. Here again, as ever, New York and Paris, twin souls.

In Paris, before Bike Share, on the best of days, bus drivers used the horn like an improvement to the accelerator, and a reasonable alternative to the brake pedal. On less good days, they urged their municipal steed from depot to depot with a single-minded devotion to speed. Passengers wishing to ascend to or descend from the juggernaut counted as no more than mere insults to be ignored in their passionate pursuit of the greater goal.

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About a week after the beginning of Paris Bike Share, I was riding one of these pleasure boats when the vehicle slid up behind a small flock of six or seven wobbly Bike Share cyclists noodling along at about 3.5 miles an hour. Anyone needing to pee or on their way to a sale at La Samaritain would walk twice as fast as these cyclists. I could not believe my eyes, therefore, when the driver slowed the bus to a crawl, taking the occasion to crack the window and, leaning back in his seat, light up a cigarette as we floated up the Boulevard Sebastopol as if on a summer cloud.

In New York, within six weeks of Bike Share, cyclists began marveling among themselves about the “Citibike Zone,” describing it to each other in hushed, awestruck tones as a kind of Shangri-la where motorists drive slowly, carefully and have even been sighted yielding to cyclists at intersections and other barely credible phenomena. I would not believe it if I hadn’t with my own eyes witnessed pedestrians acknowledging the ringing of a bicycle bell with a pleasant smile and a wave, rather than the torrent of obscenities to which the New York City cyclist is accustomed.

Seen from Outer Spac, these blue riders sprinkled throughout the streets make the city look like a field of blue-eyed grass. A kind of serene dignity attends the pinball-like trajectory that characterizes the more or less forward motion of these cyclists, and a far-off gaze hints at great minds filled with more important things than the nonchalant revolution they carry out with arms outstretched to welcome the future that is now, and legs spinning at speeds that recall why Tex Avery is so beloved by all.

Paris Bike Share celebrated its fifth summer this year: 250,000 annual memberships, 1.3 million rentals in 2012, and fewer accidents than any other mode of transport, including cyclists using their own equipment, with a total of six fatalities among 130,000,000 Bike Share trips.

New York Bike Share projected 60,000 annual members for its first year. Use surpassed all estimations in the first three months, with 80,000 annual members and, in Auguse an average of 36,000 trips per day. “I actually think you could quadruple what we have now,” said Jon Orcutt, DOT Policy Director at a public discussion  in September.

New York like Paris?

 

 

NY Art Book Fair has Back Yard Grass

The New York Art Book Fair is one of our favorite events of the year, and we are thrilled to see that Montreal-based multi-disciplinary artist Jenny Lin has a new pop-up book she’ll be showing this year, Back Yard Grass.

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We discovered Jenny’s work last year, when she showed us Skinny Leg, a pop-up book and comic.

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Hand-made artist pop-up books are to literature as bicycling is to transport, at once the most physical, labor intensive, elegant and idiosyncratic expression of the medium.

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It has been a bad year for bike accidents, starting with, on January 4, a fatal accident that involved a truck and a woman who had just pushed off from the curb.

It’s been reported that the truck was driving too fast. Certainly this, and the horrific accident in August, the result of a road rage incident between a cab driver and a cyclist in which a bystander was maimed, have fueled the ongoing debate about criminalizing reckless driving.

It’s easy to forget that if you can’t see the driver in a vehicle’s rearview mirror, he or she can’t see you. Steve Vaccaro, a lawyer who represents cyclists injured car accidents, compares the disregard on the part of car manufacturers for the people among whom vehicles will circulate to the circumstances that led to the class action suits against asbestos manufacturers, saying that car manufacturers should be required to take reasonable care that automobiles are designed with the safety of pedestrians and cyclists as well as drivers in mind.

The thing we hear most often as soon as we say the words “Bicycle Utopia” is, “I’m afraid to ride my bike in New York City.”

And we agree, everyone on a bike should ride defensively with regard to pedestrians, cars and buy viagra online safe other semenax ultimate male cyclists, and never, in an unprotected environment like a city street, ride so fast, or so close to other cyclists, that you can’t stop or get out of the way should something weird happen. New York City is Weird Capital of the Universe, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s a mistake to assume everyone around you will always behave in a reasonable manner, or believe that anyone will pick up the slack for your own weirdness.

We shake our head in wonder when we see people riding the wrong way down a one-way street at night without lights wearing earbuds,and, paradoxically, a helmet–as if this accoutrement is some kind of magic charm that will protect the rider from not only head injuries, but stupidity of such monumental proportions.

Skinny Leg recounts in black and white and 3-D Jenny’s bike accident in which a garbage truck turning a corner knocked her off her bike and ran over her leg, breaking it in three places. In the week before the accident, she noticed things breaking all around her.

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“One reason I got hit is that it was winter and I was wearing so many clothes my mobility was compromised and I couldn’t get out of the way fast enough.”

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Jenny’s leg healed completely. In Skinny Leg she talks about how hard it was to overcome her fear to be able to get back on a bike. Finally she was inspired by a story she heard on the radio, about a woman who….

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and she is riding again, but she doesn’t ride in the Montreal winter anymore.
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B&D Press at the NYC Art Book Fair 2013, MoMA PS1 September 19 to 22, 2013

B&D Press is a micro publisher based in Montreal, Canada