Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Walking Shots, Biked Over

Robert Smithson's concept for a floating island.

Stanley Crawford's concept for a man-made floating island. Image courtesy of (buy some shallots).

Love that Smithson painted geological cross-sections.  Always found these so engrossing in text books. 

John Gerrard's Solar Reserve at Lincoln Center.  An LCD screen displaying a virtual solar power station written over a vacant expanse of Nevada desert.

Beneath the watery April sun, an occasional police car or jeep cruised slowly, watchfully, among the bright shoals of cyclists who floated, flushed, moist, openmouthed, above wantonly pumping legs, curiously disowned, jumping knees, and the transparent whir of wheels.   

-Harold Brodkey, Hofstedt and Jean--and Others, originally published in the NewYorker, 1969

 I was nearly hit by a cyclist the other day.  I was crossing 5th ave with the light and he came careening downhill with no intention of stopping.  I panicked and froze and he squeezed his brakes until his bike squealed and he popped forward on his seat. We each checked if the other was okay before we started yelling. I had the light, was my point. What if he was a car, was his point. To which I again stated, that I had the light-- this is generally less of a problem for cars. I told him he should watch where he was going and I assumed he was just as much in shock as me, because what if I had been a car? but then I grew furious with him and conceded, yes, it is true assholes who want to go fast and ignore traffic lights can drive cars or bikes. He told me to go fuck myself. I had actually just gotten off my bike. I had locked it up before crossing the street. I had the helmet tucked under my arm as I was yelling at the guy.  I was thinking about this today when my train stopped.  Strap-hanging for fifteen minutes with only the dark of the tunnel on the other side of the window, I became conscious of a fear that somehow time would figure out a way to stop-- time would stop but but my consciousness would remain active, my subway car would drop out of time, my fellow passengers would not age and would not feel time passing and though we'd all be stuck with one another, we'd remain as equally inaccessible as if the train were moving and we were waiting for the next stop. It is with biking that the frustrations of mass transit-- of being held momentarily due to the train traffic ahead, of sick passengers, of investigations and earlier incidents, of the people who look as if they've already died twice that day that stay plastered in place even though there's room in the middle and of the others who wedge themselves through the closing doors, of the basic package of powerlessness the city offers its residents--disappear.  I love riding my bike in the city.  At its best I feel as if I'm floating just eight inches above the city, which is enough to feel euphoric.  The city and its rules peel away.   The biking passages in Hofstedt and Jean-- and Others are the best I've come across for detailing the sensation of riding in the city. 




Magic hour