After two years of research and planning, Theatre Conspiracy is digging into the creation of the documentary-style play Extraction. Our international cast and team of theatre artists are in residence at The Cultch in Vancouver for the next couple of weeks to experiment before a work-in-progress presentation at Your Kontinent: Richmond International Film & Media Arts Festival on July 21. Read the rest of this entry »
This month's mass was gettin' bigger, as the sun came out and the DST-change made it brighter. The weather was threatening as late as 4 pm in my neighbourhood but it ended up being a beautiful day.
First surprise of the Mass was the giant American film shoot occupying the Art Gallery square before us. What made it a little more surprising was that one of the ride veterans led the start of the ride through the film shoot - or so we thought. It looked like a good bit of fun and a political point well-made when we started passing right in front of the camera. But then he stopped, took two steps up the Art Gallery stairs, and the guy started explaining why we were going to occupy the gallery steps for 20 minutes until it was time to leave on the ride.
Uh-oh! I signed up to make a statement about bike culture over car culture, not to make a statement against Hollywood Film Productions. I make plenty of those every day, and while I like the idea of earning everyone on set an extra 20 minutes of pay while slowing down the Hollywood agenda by several nanoseconds, I had no clear reason to throw Critical Mass into a head-on, high-stakes confrontation with max-pressure location managers, whose chief activity all day is cajoling people to get the hell out of the way and let them get on with their work.
Instead of linking the horrible video of a guy driving through Critical Mass in Brazil,
Here's a wicked counter-punch from the Wafalme kids in Nairobi.
I think I have frostbite in my little toes. But it was worth it to Critically Mass.
I also did an interview with Openfile.ca, a new online / local news service, about the question of whether critical mass is needed in the New World of Bike Lanes. I'll post that when it's written up.
The big question today was - what would become of the pseudo-counter-mass which was meant to draw riders off into the bike lanes, to celebrate them and avoid angering the Easily-Angered Car Gods?? Well, it looked like there wasn't much of an issue - Jamie Ollivier was there, doing his thing, and the main Mass did ours.
[thought i put a note debunking this - but it seems to be missing. This turned out to be over-hasty in the heated debate over bike lanes - these guys, in a complicated way, WERE working for the city. Sorry for the overreaction]
The people who oppose bike lanes are doing a bit of a dirty tricks campaign... maybe.
These folks in the video were out claiming to be working for the city, acted a little shady when questioned, and yesterday were suggesting that "the city is thinking of getting rid of the bike lanes."
Read the rest of this entry »
This week there's been a debate on the Velolove email list in Vancouver about Critical Mass: should it be abandoned or radically altered now that we have a few bike lanes and a pro-bike council? The debate got me so riled I decided to go to Critical Mass for the first time in years, partly to re-assess my ideas about the event. I also wanted to show support for bike culture in general at a time when the haters are hating and they've taken over Toronto.
A basic medical ethic says: First, do no harm. In other words, don't make things worse or it will be harder to make them better. A few folks think that Critical Mass does more harm than good, especially now that bike culture has invaded city hall.
I don't think CM needs to stop just because we got a couple of bike lanes built in Vancouver. How many Vancouverites really understand how important CM, and other bike-advocacy clusters, really were in that process? The visibility of any interest group contributes to their political success, and cyclists are no exception. So if CM faded away, what would happen to everything cyclists have gained in this city? Do the powers behind the automotive industry and consumer culture in general just fold up their tents and admit defeat?
Would those same people argue that the car culture in Toronto will now sit back and enjoy their victory, stop agitating their base, etc, now that Rob Ford has declared the war on the car is over? Should the cyclists in TO just give up? No to both, of course; cars will keep trying to consume everything put into their gas tanks and cyclists will keep struggling for saner alternatives.
Is there any other activist camp that has a big public party once a month? CM is a vital and unique node, and it should continue.
I can assure you that after a super-fun, polite, and exciting tiny little ride (one person counted 28 riders at peak), I came away certain that Critical Mass can do no harm. We got one unfriendly honk versus dozens of friendly toot toots, lots of hollers, the group stayed very tight (it was small, after all) and corking was barely necessary.
Josh Hite and Flick Harrison mentored some volunteer photographers at the Vancouver Drawdown this past weekend - if you don't know the event, it's the first one ever, and the photos should explain it all.
There was a Chalk Drop at community centres around the city, and various free public drawing stations to draw dancers, paint with your bike (!) and draw on the sidewalk!
Join in next year!!!
Now that I'm writing about cinema for Momentum magazine, please send me all your bike film stories and information! That doesn't just mean movies about bikes, it means cycling artists / filmmakers as well. Momentum is about the self-propelled lifestyle, from environmental, economic and political stuff to social, fashion and health angles - so if you have a cinema / video / moving-picture spin that involves human-powered machinery, try me out.
Since the weather's so awesome for biking, I think you should all check out the latest issue of Momentum in which I demonstrate how to carry a cat on a bike.
What never made it into the issue is the fact that this was Spooky's first and final ride. We were taking her to the vet to be put down, after the terrible surprise of cancer that grew behind her right eye and couldn't really be solved. That's a long story which I don't need to blog about - suffice to say the kitty loved the adventure of riding a bike, in the safety / concealment of her cat carrier. Oh, the things we learn too late.
In case that crazy issuu.com viewer doesn't work, it's on the Momentum site as well (without the picture, though).
The Wheels of Chance
by HG Wells
Urban Biker's Tips and Tricks
By Dave (Mr. Bike) Glowacz
Both pretty awesome books! I could go on about them here, one being Wells' (surprisingly) non-sci fi about adventure and romance in the early days of cycling (they were the fastest thing on the road!) and the other, Mr. Bike's handy guide for maximizing your bike awesomeness.
But the reviews are much more complete than whatever short blurb I write here, despite how useful it would be to draw google hits by saying Hoopdriver Hoopdriver Hoopdriver!
Check them out with the links above.