Carbine On My Handlebar

“When shoes and clothes and food, when hope is gone we’ll all have the rifle.”
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

 

Vintage WWII bicycle.

I have worked a lot over the years, worked on ways to carry things on my bicycle. I have never, however, worked on how to carry a carbine on my handlebar.

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The Only Truth Is Creation

There is neither painting, nor sculpture, nor music, nor poetry. The only truth is creation.
—-Umberto Boccioni

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, by Umberto Boccioni, Cole and Blackburn, Dallas, Texas

I like sculpture. Though I am not picky – I especially like a certain flavor of sculpture. I don’t know what it is called, but I know it when I see it – modern, yet semi-representational, it has to have a certain strength and a feeling of movement.

One example is The Drummer in The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, New Orleans Museum of Art.

The Drummer, Michael Sandle

Another is, arguably my favorite sculpture, Large Horse, by Duchamp-Villion.

Horse by Raymond Duchamp-Villon

Large Horse by Raymond Duchamp-Villon

So, that is not the only thing I like, but it is something that I always like.

One day, a while back, I was on a bike ride from downtown through Uptown, Dallas. I was with a fairly large group, riding downhill, riding fast, when out of the corner of my eye I caught an unexpected glimpse of a sculpture. A sculpture I liked. In a flash, it was gone. I didn’t even remember the street I was on – only the general part of town I was in. It took a long session of exploring with Google Maps until I found the sculpture at the corner of Blackburn and Cole.

Today I had to drive Nick down into Uptown to pick up his car and on the way out I stopped and took a couple of photographs. Then I had a web search to find the sculpture – it’s a famous one, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni. It’s a Futurist sculpture – with a well-known version in The Museum of Art, New York.

From the museum website:

Umberto Boccioni
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space
1913 (cast 1931)

Boccioni, who sought to infuse art with dynamism and energy, exclaimed, “Let us fling open the figure and let it incorporate within itself whatever may surround it.” Breaking with the tradition of self-contained sculpture, Boccioni opens up the silhouette of this marching figure, who forges ahead as if carved by forces such as wind and speed. While born of Futurist aspirations, it also remains evocative of an ancient statue: the wind-swept, striding Victory of Samothrace in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

I have no idea how this cast (or reproduction) came to be placed in front of a high-end apartment complex in Uptown, Dallas. It’s cool, though I seem to be the only person aware of it.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, by Umberto Boccioni, Cole and Blackburn, Dallas, Texas

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

“How dare you laugh,” Mr. Thomas said. “It was my house. My house.”

“I’m sorry,” the driver said, making heroic efforts, but when he remembered
the sudden check to his lorry, the crash of bricks falling, he became
convulsed again. One moment the house had stood there with such dignity
between the bomb sites like a man in a top hat, and then, bang, crash, there
wasn’t anything left—not anything. He said, “I’m sorry. I can’t help it, Mr.
Thomas. There’s nothing personal, but you got to admit it’s funny.”
—-Graham Greene, The Destructors

Destroyed V-Bike, Arts District, Dallas, Texas

I found this destroyed V-Bike when I was taking a photo of the mural called “The Storm” on the Ace Parking Garage at 717 Leonard Street for yesterday’s blog entry. If you look in the lower right portion of the photo of the mural you can see the bike, sort of – gives a sense of scale.

The full mural (previous photo center bottom) – Ace Parking, Dallas, “The Storm” Art Mural on Ace Parking Garage at 717 Leonard Street

If you live in Dallas, you are used to seeing bike share bikes broken all over the place. This one was in particularly bad shape – it looks like it was torn apart by a T-Rex. I assume it was run over – hopefully nobody was riding it at the time.

I have wanted to write about the saga – the rise and fall – of the bike sharing movement in Dallas, but it is/was too complex/bizarre/exciting/sad and kept changing – writing about it was like nailing jelly to a tree.

This Texas Monthly Article is as good a summary as you will read. In short, four or five companies jumped on the Dallas dockless bike share bandwagon and tried to stake out territory by putting thousands upon thousands of bikes out on the streets and sidewalks. They were everywhere. Then, there was a predictable crash and now you rarely see a rideable bike – except a lot of homeless have hacksawed the locks off and are riding them for free. Where the bikes failed they were replaced by electric scooters – which seem to be more practical for a few reasons.

I have mixed feelings – of course I loved the idea of the dockless bikes, freedom and anarchy and all that, even though I couldn’t imagine actually riding one (I have one of my personal bikes with me almost all the time in Dallas). The highly regulated bike share in New Orleans seems to work very well (though that is a tourist city – something completely different). And I do find the scooters useful.

So I’ll just be sad at the torn up bikes. Especially the V-Bikes – they were assembled locally and have some interesting innovations – single front fork blade and chainstay, enclosed shaft drive, and no-flat tires for example. They did have one fatal flaw though – the seats weren’t adjustable and I am too tall and couldn’t ever ride one.

Two V-Bike share bikes flanking my vintage Cannondale at Mockingbird DART station, Dallas, Texas

Shaft drive on a V-Bike bike share bike.

A Kind Of Library

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

Recycled Books
Denton, Texas

Everyone has their own addictions. One key to a happy and successful life is to choose your addictions wisely, and manage them well.

One of my addictions, one that I am managing, is owning books – especially used books. The depth of my addiction was when we lived in Mesquite – our house had a long, L-shaped hallway that was unusually wide. It was wide enough for me to cover the walls with bookshelves and then fill those with books – mostly bought on clearance from Half-Price. You can only read so many books – you only have a limited time on this earth (and so much of it is wasted at work and such) and your reading speed is finite. You can, especially if you buy used, own a practically unlimited number. I know this sounds nuts – but that is how an addict thinks.

When we moved, the movers went ape-shit over the books. “We have never seen so many books before,” they complained and said it would cost us more than their estimate to move us. So, here, in Richardson I limit myself to two full-sized bookcases and one small one (which holds exclusively writing books). If I get a new book, I get rid of an old book. Now the fact that I have… probably a score of bookcases-worth of tomes stored electronically in my Kindle… that doesn’t count, even though I doubt I will live long enough to read a fraction of them.

Kindle

Call Me Ishmael

Jeff Koterba color carton for 7/21/09
“Mars”

So now, I’m remodeling my room (once a formal dining room, then, for years basically a disco and LAN party room set up by Lee – now I have inherited it) with a new desk and a compact sound system. I was trying to figure out where to put the “bookshelf speakers” and decided that they should go on a bookshelf. So I had to remove a few tomes and went ahead and cleared out some space for some new purchases I have been contemplating… and then had a few cardboard boxes full of old books (it’s surprising how much weight and space books take up once liberated from their shelves).

I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t throw books in the trash. Odd thing really… but I can’t. Usually we cart old books to Half-Price, though we don’t really get any money for them (especially when you figure most of them were bought there from the Clearance racks). Then I remembered something I always see riding my bike around.

I’m sure you’ve seen these too – the Little Free Libraries. They are… if not everywhere, at least a lot of places. People build a sturdy little glass-faced box in their front yards, accessible from the public thoroughfare for people to “take a book or leave a book.” There are five near my house with another baker’s dozen within cycling range. What a cool idea!

Dallas, in its infinite wisdom, proposed regulating these, until they realized that was nuts. Reading these stories I love one quote. Apparently the whole brouhaha was started by one person asshat repeatedly calling to bitch about his neighbor’s library until the city stall jumped on it.

“Well, for all you kids listening at home, if anyone ever tells you one person can’t make a difference,” said East Dallas’ Philip Kingston, “remember one jerk using 311 in District 10 caused us all to waste our time here and caused the loss of hundreds of staff hours.”

So, today, I set out on my usual bike ride. Because of the torrents of rain over the last few days I rode my commuter/cargo bike – it is as heavy as a tank, but has fenders that make standing water and mud less of a pain. I have a set of Bushwhacker Omaha folding grocery panniers which make quick trips for food easy (I have six grocery stores with a two mile bike ride of my house). Once I put up the groceries I refilled the panniers with surplus books and headed out to a few close by Little Free Libraries.

I delivered a few books to each one – picking books that normal people might like.

I’m especially proud of the fact that I didn’t take any books (though I did look). Is that selfish of me? I’m feeding someone else’s addiction while I’m dealing with mine.

The sculpture in the outdoor reading area at the library.

The Job Is Not the Work

“The job is what you do when you are told what to do. The job is showing up at the factory, following instructions, meeting spec, and being managed.

Someone can always do your job a little better or faster or cheaper than you can.

The job might be difficult, it might require skill, but it’s a job.

Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.

I call the process of doing your art ‘the work.’ It’s possible to have a job and do the work, too. In fact, that’s how you become a linchpin.

The job is not the work.”
― Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Mural Artist at work, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

The Finished Mural, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

The Head Is Fully Protected

“Until the notion of Helmet-Assisted Life catches on with more people, you may be seen as a threat if you wear a helmet during moments of intimacy. Yet it might also be true that relaxed intimacy cannot occur unless the head is fully protected.”
― Ben Marcus, Notable American Women

Local Hub Bicycle Company, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Local Hub