Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bicycle Diaries

David Byrne, founder of the Talking Heads, has compiled a series of short essays about bicycling in cities around the world. The bicycling essays are accompanied by additional essays about music, friendship, city planning, and the scale of human communities that were inspired by thoughts that sprang into Mr. Bryne's head while he was riding his bicycle, visiting with colleagues, and performing. Mr. Byrne is an unabashed liberal, and he doesn't suffer fools lightly; I got the impression that he's of an age (mid-50s) and financially comfortable enough that he doesn't have to take any guff from anyone. His perspective is refreshing.

Having enjoyed the book, I have to point out that there's not much here that hasn't been said before, especially about city planning. I enjoyed the bicycling essays the most, and especially enjoyed his reflections about bicycling in New York (where Mr. Byrne lives), in other American cities, and in Berlin; the essays about other world cities were not as fully developed. The recollections of interactions with musical colleagues might be interesting to fans of world music, but I hurried through most of them. A good (but not great) read, and a gentle introduction to city planning for those not already familiar with the basics. The book is 291 pages long, but the pages are small and there are lots of photographs.

No comments: