Re: Bike Lane

This is so great.  I think the breadth of the discussion here is inherent in the nature of the song.  I can see validity on all sides!

Re: Bike Lane

Hi, kateh!!I am guilty of having a lifelong love of exercise, including running and cycling. I say "guilty",  because I have often overdone (I am nursing an overtraining injury right now)and also it's a somewhat "bourgeois" endeavor. Oh sure, I will say I aspire to an Athenian ideal of challenging my body as well as my mind, but it's a fact that I am addicted to the endorphin highs and the thrill of going fast.

Bike Lane: I love the way the song starts by building up in the first measures. To me, this song sounds--sonically, I mean-- exactly like when I'm running or biking. Specifically: after I've already gone that first 10 or 15 minutes through the neighborhood streets with their minor obstacles: their parked cars, uneven sidewalk squares,  cracks in the asphalt, traffic,  garbage dumpsters, etc.  In my head, the song begins just when I turn on to our community canal path.  This path is smooth, no obstacles, and you have a straight shot through for at least a city block at a time.   The rhythm, and the pulsing of the guitar in Bike Lane  sounds just like how it feels when I am really pumping hard down that path. All that space and freedom lay before me, made by the community just for me! I really like to tear it up. I can go for miles ( Go, Jicky!)

I was recently passing my old neighborhood. They have replaced my old favorite park with a spectacular new park --with running and cycling paths that connect to our canal path system, 2 climbing walls, a water-features playground.  When the municipality decides to do something, they Effing DO IT.  That area has been transformed.  So why can't our city decide to do something about its police procedures? I'd love to see THOSE transformed!

Back to Bike Lane: So, once I have that space in front of me, I can start pumping up the speed. It's a safe place to be, and I usually have headphones on  (if running), playing music. I don't need adrenaline. The music propels me. I am in my own little world. The worst thing that ever happens to me is that my shoe may come untied. Or I may have to wait 30 to 45 seconds when I reach a cross street.

Bike Lane really makes me keenly aware that my life is full of white-lady first-world issues.  Will I achieve a "Personal Best" today?  When I'm listening to the song, I imagine Freddie when he tried to run away from the police. His heart must have been pounding, with adrenaline and fear. And you know, if only he could have succeeded, he'd've lived through that day.

A few years ago a distant relative/stout old lady was visiting us. The dinner conversation turned to jury duty experiences. The auntie was telling us how a jury she sat on was having trouble deciding the verdict based on the evidence of the case itself. She says when she pointed out to the other members of the jury that accused person had tried to run away from the police, they decided to convict him. "Cuz of course, you don't run away from the police unless you're GUILTY!"   We were FLOORED.  Me, I could totally imagine being innocent but yet doing whatever I could to avoid spending a night in our notorious jail while my case is "processed"... not to mention the horrific transport between facilities which is part of the routine in my local area no matter what you're charged with.

28 (edited by kate h 2018-06-07 07:40:07)

Re: Bike Lane

Jicky wrote:

Hi, kateh!!So why can't our city decide to do something about its police procedures? I'd love to see THOSE transformed!

Back to Bike Lane: The music propels me. I am in my own little world. The worst thing that ever happens to me is that my shoe may come untied. Or I may have to wait 30 to 45 seconds when I reach a cross street.

Bike Lane really makes me keenly aware that my life is full of white-lady first-world issues.  Will I achieve a "Personal Best" today?  When I'm listening to the song, I imagine Freddie when he tried to run away from the police. His heart must have been pounding, with adrenaline and fear. And you know, if only he could have succeeded, he'd've lived through that day.

I could totally imagine being innocent but yet doing whatever I could to avoid spending a night in our notorious jail while my case is "processed"... not to mention the horrific transport between facilities which is part of the routine in my local area no matter what you're charged with.

Hey Jicky! I LOVED your post — all of it even though I pared it down so the quote space wouldn't be as big. You write well — I loved your descriptions. I was right there with you, riding along. Loved it!

I'm a little afraid that I've set myself up with my critiques of the song's false dichotomy to appear indifferent to or even callous toward the plight of our black American brothers and sisters, fellow citizens. Nothing could be further from the truth but you know, when you wade into this territory it's easy to hit a lot of potholes.

My problem is astrologically I'm born in the week of Drama and Criticism and talk about being bang on. I'm a natural critic but I swear I do so only in the noblest spirit — basically in seeing how a thing can be even better. I don't have a spirit inclined to tear things down for the sake of nastiness or whatever. And I can't even help myself, it's just how my mind works. I strive for some objectivity and I can often be so removed that it _seems_ like my heart isn't there, like I'm failing to see the human piece of human situations. It's not that I'm that way, really, it's just I tend toward pulling out to a more removed view after experiencing the heart part and that can _seem_ cold.

In truth I'm a super verklept individual with heavy melancholic tendencies and again, being a Scor-Libran (sorry, I'm so into astrology), I'm totes agitated by injustice of any kind and have a slew of passionate responses to it. I'm so troubled by our violent, unjust, shadowed, and utterly unresolved history of and with blacks in America. Our slaveholding past holds a particular interest for me but the Civil War, Civil Rights, all that really touches my heart.

It's just that I don't fall down in line with the idea that, well, I guess that either whites should feel guilty about lives lived today in any regard (except patently racist) — bike riding, making music, dancing, eating out, painting our toenails — or that, that guilt, if called out as a "should be guilty" ("you want bike lanes, what, can't you see this other thing going on?") serves anything except, ironically, further division.

In my vocation as an energy and environmentalism writer I've tried scolding and I probably still sound like a scold on it even when I try desperately not to be and scolding just never works. It changes not one single mind. It builds no bike lanes, it stops no plastic straws, it makes no one carry a reusable bag, it doesn't clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The same goes for my take on the illogic in "Bike Lanes" — it doesn't follow that because one advocates for bike lanes, even vociferously, that one doesn't also want, or even work for, changes in injustice. The idea that all liberals are soooooo tuned out is overblown and misplaced and not necessarily healthy in my view. Human behavior is so damned complex who can keep up with themselves much less their neighbor? Log in my eye and all that.

Fortunately in using art, music in this case, Malkmus and "Bike Lane" can scold in a more buried way because in the end we can live in the multiplicity of beat, intimation, and immersion in a way that simple exposition — prose, essays, etc. — rarely reaches. The abstraction and non-linear layers in music allows for a different way in. It's one of the ways this song is so brilliant and ultimately effective in spurring discussion, wherever that may lead.

Who knows if I would have responded to this song so much had I not worked on bike lanes myself but rather on...some other allegedly superficial issue like planting trees or beautification. But I did and so I'm in the thick of it on this one. It's actually kinda cool because it has made me think, research, think some more, write, etc. It kinda offers a platform.

So I've mentioned Ibram X. Kendi's work already in this thread (the leading anti-racist in America I would say) and have since learned more about his specifics through his 2016 National Book Award winning title Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. PS, it's not definitive, and flawed in some regards, but let's not go there right now.

Kendi is very very clear in his take that nothing, NOTHING, will work to change racism in America except changes in leaders, policy, and law.

He's like, fuck Huxtable and Fresh Prince shows, fuck black superheroes, fuck football players and their knees, fuck marches and demonstrations, fuck love, fuck the necessitation of white guilt, fuck negating your own life in order to imagine your way into another person's struggles while actually doing nothing in the real world about it, fuck tearing down statues, fuck hiding history in museums alone, fuck re-naming shit "emancipation this" and "emancipation that," and stone cold get off your fucking asses and take it to the voting booth with one specific aim: elect avowed anti-racists whose intentions it is to undo our racist laws. He says opinion on racial equality, on true human evolution on race attitudes will happen in America NOT through opinion and "love ins" first and laws second, but laws first and opinion/attitude will follow.

Like many folks who note our vast injustices, he focuses the lion's share of his analysis on racist laws in the fucked up US criminal justice system. Drug laws and non-violent offender laws, the manifestly proven racist punishment disparities, and worst of all, that it's written into the Constitution that the only place where forced labor (essentially slavery) is allowed is in prisons where — what do we see but a disproportionate number of incarcerated blacks performing forced labor for for$profit prisons with longer and harsher sentences than their white counterparts?

So what I'd like to see is for all of us white liberals to keep riding our bikes and building our bike lanes because it's the right thing to do to have more ding dang bike lanes and fewer carbon-spewing killer machines and hostile roadways, AND for us to start clamoring loud and clear and unmistakenly for vocal anti-racist leaders who will undo our racist laws in the criminal justice system and anywhere else they exist (in school funding formulas and elsewhere, etc).

And the best way we can do this is to ride our hearts out on our bikes while jamming to motivating tunes all the way down to our local party headquarters (or start a party headquarters) and do the long, very slow, very boring, very Roberts Fucking Rules of Order method of political organizing with the single-minded purpose of the boring-ass but so richly promising work of politics. Because it works when we work it. We inherited an AMAZING system with the AMAZING foundation of the US which has already undone some of its egregious origins over the centuries through political work. And that rather than one more beautiful song, or one more beautiful march, that kind of committed organization in service to the aim, those kind of candidates, those kinds of electoral victories, and those kinds of fundamental legal changes are what is going to do this thing.

If that's what the leading American anti racist is saying to do, by gum we fucking ought to do it!

Rock on rockers. Rock the fucking vote!

Re: Bike Lane

Bike Lane, Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth
McLeod & Taylor, 15/07/2014