“Every street is long and yellow and only made three dimensional by the tallness of those famous palm trees stretching to hold the sky up”
I am a cyclist. I grew up on a bike. My need to cycle is as much driven by love as by physical addiction. Cycling a city is a dance between red lights, equal part convenience, equal part a game. A bicycle is the ultimate tool to travel across a landscape, a created technology, faster than walking yet slow enough to leave time to reflect upon the features, happenings, and people you pass by. The juggle between keeping an eye on the traffic and indulging in the surrounding views keeps your nervous system awake, turning yourself into an active participant of the image. You are free to stop, free to move on. Contrary to inside a car, you are out in the open air, meaning smells and sounds are detected much stronger. Also touch is perceived differently and more intensely by the physical engagement of your body. You feel the wind and dust on your skin as moving forward and you feel the detail of the ground surface through the bikes rubber wheels. The bike becomes an extension of your body, connecting you to the crinkles of the ground.
Someone told me LA is not bike friendly. That distances are too far, the streets too uniform to enjoy, the traffic dangerously unaware of your presence, and the heat too overwhelming to bare. But at least it is flat.
If you ever cycled through LA, you would know that it is indeed not flat.
Rather as if Zeus got blinded by the mist, swept his hand a little too far, and brought the undulating waves of the Pacific right across the city, bringing with him its crests and its troughs. All the greyness, those linear pathways, routes of automobiles, they try to prove him wrong. Attempting to mute our imagination, to silence our creativity, put our dreams to sleep and thoughtlessly gaze towards the distance along those never ending highways. But they won’t fool us. Flatness is only a façade. Underlying is a vibrancy, a ground covered in discontinuities and intricate detail, a fabric of surprises and variety. Ripples of the sea made timeless by the concrete angel.
And in them, stored, lives the stories of the millions of people passing by. Memories of complex networks and dreams of generations to come. Within those ripples lay the bitter and the sweet, the stories of the city. Reminding us of our imagination, unlimited, free from any dimensions.
It is all there, ready, waiting to be made visible to those who choose to open their eyes. On an 80’s Univega, it’s a tough ride.