Oct 11, 09
Read in October, 2009
I asked the library to get this book something like half a year ago, as soon as I found out it was coming out. when it finally was released and the library had a copy for me I got it and devoured it. I'm a fan of david byrne, as much or even more of his work after the talking heads, and I'm a fan of bicycles, so a book full of david byrnes musings about riding a bike through a bunch of different cities around the world seemed like a winner to me, and so it was. While it may seem a bit silly... rock star tells us his opinions about stuff... whoopie... Byrne is a much more perceptive and original thinker than a lot of the rock stars out there, so there is much in this book that you can really sink your intelectual teeth into. There are plenty of things to get you upset, such as how Robert Moses destroyed large portions of many of our cites with his freeway plans, chopping up central cities with interchanges. And there are a lot of laughs as well, and inspiring moments and some great writing. "Golf courses are not green" is one little gem that sticks with me.
Bicycle Diaries would make a lovely companion set with Andrei Codrescu's Hail Babylon, which is another volume of impressions of various cities, all, or nearly all american in Codrescu's case. It seems unlikely that humans will leave the cities, at least without a catastrophe to drive us out, so we should work on making them a bit more liveable, and a bit more friendly to the world at large, and David Byrne has some good ideas in that direction, and no it's not just "everyone should ride a bike", it'll take more than that, and 100% bike ridership is not possible or practical... it'd be beautiful to see, but I don't envision it happening in this country.
there's also a flip animation of a bicycle zipping back and forth on the bottoms of all the pages, and the cover is beautiful.