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Bicycle Diaries Paperback – 3 Jun 2010
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Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne - the frontman of the legendary Talking Heads - is an enchanting travelogue from a cult figure in contemporary music.
From the Back Cover
Since the early 1980s, David Byrne has been riding a bike as his principal means of transportation in New York City. Two decades ago, he discovered folding bikes, and starting taking them on tour. Byrnes choice was made out of convenience rather than political motivation, but the more cities he saw from his bicycle, the more he became hooked on this mode of transport and the sense of liberation it provided. Convinced that urban biking opens ones eyes to the inner workings and rhythms of a citys geography and population, Byrne began keeping a journal of his observations and insights. An account of what he sees and who he meets as he pedals through metropolises from Berlin to Buenos Aires, Istanbul to San Francisco, Manila to New York, Bicycle Diaries also records Byrnes thoughts on world music, urban planning, fashion, architecture, cultural dislocation, and much more, all with a highly personal mixture of humour, curiosity, and humility. Part-travelogue, part-journal, part-photo album, Bicycle Diaries is an eye-opening celebration of seeing the world at bike level. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
As the title suggests, the material for the book evolved in diary form over time, and the structure of the book reflects this. It is right, and true to the material, that this should be so, but it does mean that the various entries are of variable quality. Nevertheless, books of this kind, where an intelligent and engaged observer with a liberal agenda but no particular end in mind takes a close look at localities, are scarce indeed. In the hands of a travel writer, or a journalist, a totally different book would have emerged, but actually, this is the book I wanted.
Byrne is particularly good when examining U.S. cities, from the horrific but fascinating decline of Detroit, to the hopeful reinvention of New York. One excellent passage in particular sticks in the mind:
"Since the onslaught of the automobile in the middle of the last century, and the efforts of its enablers, like Robert Moses in New York, the accepted response to congestion has been to build more roads, especially roads that are high speed and with limited access. Eventually it became clear that building more roads doesn't actually relieve congestion - ever. More cars simply appear to fill these new roads and more folks imagine that their errands and commutes might be accomplished more easily on these new expressways. Yeah, right. People end up driving more, so instead of the existing traffic levels remaining constant and becoming dispersed on the new ribbons of concrete, the traffic simply increases until those too are filled. That's what New York and a lot of other cities are realizing now. The old paradigm is finally being abandoned."
Thank goodness for that.
It is a great book and acts like a concise travel guide
David Byrne occupies the urban cyclist's moral high ground, but rather than being simply anti-car, riding a bike prompts a personal critique on the growth and decay of cities caused by highway planning, motor companies, and corporate business. His chapter on American cities contains deeply felt insights on ghetto-isation and economic flux.
Byrne's insights come from seeing and reflecting, rather than scholarly analysis, but it sits comfortably alongside the urban texts of Jane Jacobs and Richard Sennett. What distinguishes Byrne is his acute spatial awareness and his ability to describe the social and economic patterns of urban territory with an urban planner's understanding. As a child of Baltimore's suburbia, he perceptively describes how many of the most committed city dwellers maintain a bond with the `comfort food' of suburbia.
This is the same David Byrne as we knew in Talking Heads: a curious and humorous observer of society and behaviour, translated to multi-media creativity. This book resonates with his observations on housing and shopping in his film 'True Stories'; his doubts about land use planning in the song 'The Big Country', and the post-industrial vision of 'Nothing but Flowers'.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you started reading David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries
thinking that it would be a guide to taking a cycling trip around the cities mentioned, you probably were a little... Read more
Unexpectedly great read. I am not sure why this works as it is not a linear story and jumps around quite a bit but David Byrne manages to perfectly exalt the joins of cycling.Published 2 months ago by Larsist
Review of what? great book, but I've not had time to finish it yet. It was a bit dusty when it arrived, but no major problemPublished 13 months ago by Mr. I. HEANEY
I am passionate about cycling, not in a macho or, heaven forbid, a lycra-clad way, it is quite simply my favourite mode of transport for getting from A to B. Read morePublished 16 months ago by nigeyb
Great book in good condition delivered quickly. No reason to complain about that!Published 18 months ago by showes