By David Byrne
(Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670021147, 320pp.)
Publication Date: September 17, 2009
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A renowned musician and visual artist presents an idiosyncratic behind-the-handlebars view of the world’s cities
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 started taking them on tour. Byrne’s 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 one’s eyes to the inner workings and rhythms of a city’s geography and population, Byrne began keeping a journal of his observations and insights.
An account of what he sees and whom he meets as he pedals through metropoles from Berlin to Buenos Aires, Istanbul to San Francisco, Manila to New York, Bicycle Diaries also records Byrne’s thoughts on world music, urban planning, fashion, architecture, cultural dislocation, and much more, all conveyed with a highly personal mixture of humor, curiosity, and humility. Part travelogue, part journal, part photo album, Bicycle Diaries is an eye-opening celebration of seeing the world from the seat of a bike.
A cofounder of the musical group Talking Heads, David Byrne has also released several solo albums in addition to collaborating with such noted artists as Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, and Brian Eno. His art includes photography and installation works and has been published in five books. He lives in New York and he recently added some new bike racks of his own design around town, thanks to the Department of Transportation.
The art rocker and Talking Heads founder wants to take you for a ride inside his head. David Byrne's new book Bicycle Diaries is a collection of roadside musings. More at NPR.org
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The underlying message here is that while bicycling may be a political movement, it can also be liberating and fun at the same time. I'm hoping Byrne's book now heralds bicycling's offbeat entry into the American mainstream, just as his wacky persona hit the big time thanks to our parents' taste in pop music.