Bike-Seat Philosopher

From The New York Times:


“David Byrne: singer, artist, composer, director, Talking Head.” I’m quoting the bartender Moe Szyslak from “The Simpsons” here, from an episode in which Byrne appeared. One could also add photographer, author, designer and, since the early 1980s, serious bicyclist. At first he just rode in downtown Manhattan, but as his career has taken him around the world he’s packed his full-size folding bike and carried it with him, sometimes resentfully paying a $125 “sports equipment” surcharge on airplanes. “Bicycle Diaries” contains accounts of his travels in distant cities like London, Berlin, Buenos Aires and Manila, as well as some closer to home — New Orleans, San Francisco and Detroit. His description of riding in Detroit is especially good: “I bike from the center of town out to the suburbs. It’s an amazing ride — a time line through a city’s history, its glory and betrayal.”

For Byrne bicycling is partly a means, partly an end. It helps him get places, makes him feel more connected to life on the streets, and also serves as a “form of meditation” that keeps him sane. Inevitably the diary format gives the book a random, scattershot quality: Byrne is in no sense a “programmatic” bike rider, and he admits he’s sometimes just skimming over the surface of the cultures he encounters. Even so, his interests and activities — cutting-edge art exhibitions, rock festivals, a subversive PowerPoint presentation about PowerPoint presentations, a belly dance party — and certainly his personality are singular enough to give the book consistency and coherence.

More here.