Sunday, September 29, 2013

Breaking Delightful: Bike Art on Farmer Ave in Tempe


Tipped off by Eric Iwerson's Facebook post, I rode over to look at this co-lab Studio / TBAG public art

Ever since the Iliad, and reinforced by most of the intervening history, one would think that no fictional character could surprise us with the depths of greed, of violence, of evil, that they're willing lower themselves to before the story ends. Tonight, on the series finale of Breaking Bad, I shouldn't be surprised if Walter White kills everyone who's still alive: Skyler, Jesse, Junior, the Relocator Guy, Marie, Saul Goodman, Todd, Todd's uncle and the members of the Brotherhood, Badger, Huell (if he ever gets out of the safe house), and Lydia, they are all likely targets in the sights of his large machine gun, the tube of poison, or both. The most likely conclusion in my estimation is that when the credits roll, everyone will be dead or dying, with the very narrow possible exception of Holly White, their infant child, who I expect to see narrowly escaping a burning inferno of death and meth that Walt sets to take everyone out.

This is the form that our popular entertainments take in 2013: mass death at the hands of a fiercely evil and greedy drug-cooking killer. Turn on the TV and this is entirely expected. normal, run of the mill. Walk outside and hear people talking, and this is entirely expected. Open the news and this story is repeated every day, in thousands of variations: the behavior of homo vehemens ceases to surprise, shock, or amaze because we've already seen the depths that we're capable of reaching, and have grown immune to caring. We've lost the capacity to be surprised when the scary bad man jumps out from behind the door for the ten thousandth time. It's unremarkable because we've come to feel that it's standard operating procedure.

Loop de Loop


One antedote for this, one countervailing force to this violent noise which clutters up the airwaves between the repetitive commercials, is thoughtful public art which meets you on a human scale and surprises you with delight. A woman with air blowing in the wind with an alert puppy riding in her front basket. A racer doing an impossible loop de loop. These and more, popping up on boulders resting in chicanes on a street. Here's more:


Penny farthing rock-hopping: cleaned it.

Get your weight farther back, mountain biker dude!

That's either a Daniel Boone hat, or the classic pony tail out the back look

A steely smile in the pure pleasure of cranking up a hill (I believe this is the hill along the Crosscut Canal path)

More thoughtful delight like this bike art, and less cruel, wanton violence like Breaking Bad, that's the direction I'd like to see us breaking. It sounds highly unlikely, doesn't it? Well, I note that the kid on the tricycle is outside, in the sunshine, around others riding bicycles, so at least there's some hope there. I'm aiming for more delightful surprise. Thanks, City of Tempe, TBAG, and everyone for making this instance of it happen. 

This is real, and steel, and exists just to make you feel glad to be here on a bicycle. That's breaking delightful.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I've Heard These Bicycle Stories




I've heard these stories. Bicycle stories. Of riding straight into the setting sun so bright that you want to shield your eyes, but you keep riding because there's no other place you'd rather be. The one about the guy riding alone at night, along the canal, when an owl swooped so near to him he thought he felt its wings, as it vectored into a bunny running alongside. Icy rain rides. Art rides. Forgotten youth remembered rides: an instant gelled in the drops of water flung from a dog splashing out of the canal, mountain trails tunneling through cactus and mesquite. Creosote after a rain, citrus blossoms in the spring, rain that evaporates before it hits the ground in shimmering summer air. Wind that blows monster, rolling clouds of brown dust that swallow a city. An old man's dream of a bridge made real. Fish that dream. Kids who ask about how the bike works, and what a pump does, and you show them. Flat tires in inconvenient places. Seeming hallucinations: a burro wandering a city mountain park, a panda in the rain, fish rounded up by laughing wranglers, a giant squid painted on the wall of a dry canal, a hummingbird garden made of rough corten steel, foam cut up into tool shapes floating in the water. Drivers being nice to cyclists.

While commuting: gravity's cat, umbrelled with otherness, weird spinning bicyclists made from former traffic signs spinning in a space that asks why should I be sad when I have trees made of old denim, and giant wooden doors that sing when you move. One day: ice cold splashy drops splooshing out of a clear blue sky soaking the cyclist. Another day: someone's pet cat, just struck by a car, the light dimmed from its eyes within the last minute, held and stroked in the hands of another cyclist who stopped, as the owner came out, and we told him that she was gone. A clarity of mind, a woman met on the train on the way to the bike shop, hiking the bike up the side of a mountain trail too steep to ride up for mere mortals past a certain age, steel trench plates that are as ice to bicycle tires when wet, hot dogs of the gods met and gobbled up after long rides, bike swaps of surpassing variety and attainability of untold vastness of obscure but functional velo gear, a shop in Bisbee with lugged steel goodness lavishly displayed, tools that work as designed and parts that just work together for miles and miles and year and years. The efficacy of grease, and bearings, and gears, and spokes, and chains, and lightweight steel springy pingy planing road joy of just riding with a need for the bike. Miles I don't remember. Moments I can never forget. Blazing heat that soaks in like power. Salt rime. Ice rime. Goathead thorns stuck in the tire, then stuck in my finger, drawing blood and a sharp, dusty pain. 

Some too few moments. These. I've heard these bicycle stories, and I smile not because they happen so often that I can count on them, in fact quite the opposite, they are rare and unplanned and unpredictable and mostly I yearn for them to come back into my life now and now, but they can't be forced, and won't just appear on command. Many rides are just rides and I appreciate them, but they have no stories in them, at least none that I am bright or sensitive enough to ascertain. But, it should be clear, a requirement of gathering up one of these bicycle stories is to go for a bicycle ride. A short one to the store, or to coffee, or a medium length one to work, or to visit a friend, or a longer one slow for fun, or fast for workout, or any others, but the bike ride is the necessary step. A so-easy step. 

Run out, ride out, sprint for the hills, and open eyes to blazing skies, and the wind could be blowing non-stop straight into your face like it was tonight, but who cares, who cares...because once in a while, on a ride, some stranger unexpected and unknown lets you know that we humans have the distinct and real potential to bolster one another, to support and acknowledge one another, to very rarely but more often than never just know what the other one requires and share it. Sometimes we take a chance and the spinning wheels take us there. To see a new story that we've never seen before, or even to get smacked between the ears by a new dream that comes from who knows where in the cosmos and is more vivid and real than the thing that you just thought that you were in the moment before you dreamt it.

Sometimes when something breaks down we ask one another if we have everything. I've supplied a pump, a patch, a tube, a wrench, when the response came back that something was, indeed, needed. But do we have everything? How could we sustain that? Or know it, finite and narrowminded beings that we are, I doubt we could even understand that state if we achieved it. There are myths out there, and crazy bright lights, and awards for drivers who demonstrate that they truly don't have everything with their aggression and inattention. 

There also ineffable moments of cold breezes that come out of nowhere on a hot day, and wraiths that dance between cars at noon on a summer day, and the sweet singing sound of bicycle tires running down gravel desert paths at fun speed. All along the happy path, the stories lurk behind bushes and beneath lower overhanging culverts where the migrating bats roost in certain seasons and emerge just after sunset in the thousands to dine together in their crazy, glorious mass flying feast.

We can sell our cars and go without. We can all get cargo bikes and shop like human beings instead of gas powered robot consumers. We can ride tandems, and foldies, and tall bikes, and unicycles, and stingrays, and strap on electric booster motors that let us ride up mountain grades like ten giants. Or ride with the kid to the park with a makeshift picnic of organic stuff and fresh bread that doesn't seem logically compatible or assembleable until you realize that if you squish it altogether and SMASH it into a semi-blob shaped edible object it transforms into an edible wonder called a SMASHER that tastes better than anything except the crunchy pistachio biker bar with pistachio gelato on top at Le Grande Orange that you are going to split after you finish the SMASHERS.

I don't have everything; how could I, and how could I know if I did? But I know how to get more of these stories: go for a ride. Open up, relax, and spin. In sunshine, in rainfalls, in wind and mud. Oh the mud stories I should tell. Another time perhaps.The sunshine blazing straight into my eyes makes me see things and think things that aren't even there. Which I fully acknowledge, and am filled with joy at the thought that the bicycle stories which gestate from such material sustain and fill me and drive me forward. To tomorrow, and the ride which will happen then, with new stories made in it.

 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Riding with One Big Bag


Hey! A watch! That's where I put it

I commute to work with a big old bag that holds everything: clothes, laptop, tools, papers, pens, toiletries, jacket, all in one bag. It's simple, and usually quick, but it does tend to cause items to disappear in its depths, possibly lost forever. For example, I think there's a road tube in there somewhere, but I haven't seen it for weeks. There may be a folding torx driver, but I don't know for sure. 

This evening, while digging out the light bag in case it got dark during the commute, which is an increasing possibility, I spotted something shiny in the bottom of the bag. Shiny things grab my attention easily. It turned out to be a long-lost watch! I don't even remember the exact circumstances which caused me to chuck the watch into the bag in the first place. I think it was on a hot summer day and it just wasn't comfortable any more. Anyway, I was pleased to find it, and happy to see it still showed the correct time.

I still prefer the one big bag approach. But it can get kind of chaotic in there. I'm tempted to dump the whole thing out on the floor to see what I might find. Maybe that monocular I lost a year ago would show up. No, wait, I never actually owned a monocular. Did I? If I did but it's not in there, I can't really be sure, and if I never did, but it is in there, well that would have other implications. Probably better to not dump it all out, not tonight, anyway. Perhaps this calls for a more organized bag methodology? Pah! I'll write out that plan, and put it into the bag for future reference.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Couple Thou of Brightness


Forward view

I'm breathing in sunshine. It's autumn now, with these evening rides home soon to be done in darkness, but this evening, everything was bright and warm, and I was spinning strong. All darkness and thoughts of darkness were pushed out with a flood of light rushing into me. The months of summer piled up behind me and drove me forwards. What supposedly lies ahead is shorter days, lack of light at commute time, and while inevitable, and welcome, that's not what I saw on this night. What I saw ahead down the road was this:

The light charger, due west

To ride faster was good because it caused me to breathe faster, which pulled in more light, and stretched out the summer months piled behind me into a kite tail of knotted heat, keeping me stable and straight, headlong into the photonic flood. This same street at this same time will be dark soon, sure as the planet revolves with a tilted axis it will, I know that, but at this moment I opened my mouth and breathed in sunshine, deep of life and 93 million miles between us nothing in that breath of no season, no reason but to ride.

To hold my breath and keep that light inside me, that's what I wished. Plasma breath, a solar inspiration, to feel that heat surge through me out to my fingers, down to my toes, and radiating through my head into clarity and lightness and being. Autumn, I welcome you, and Winter just behind, because on this evening ride I breathed in some rays to get me through, charged up now, an illumined bridge across months to next summer, and holding tight inside the mitochondria of every one of my cells a couple thou of brightness.

 
 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Remember the Lost


*

I was remembering someone I've lost on my ride home tonight. I spoke with him a bit, out loud, and it seemed to help. Not that I could hear his voice or anything, but I could strike up a conversation in the tone and manner that we used to speak to one another, and it was comforting, if a bit strange, for me to do it aloud as I rode along on my bicycle on a fine evening. 

These late summer skies and low slanting equinoctical sun rays grab me, shake me a little bit, and remind me that I'm alive, and to make the most of it. Sometimes that's what the ride is about: he had heart problems, and I don't want those, so I should ride good, and far, and happy, to avoid them. That's what all the cloud photos are about, I think. At this particular moment they appear to be a bit inevitable for me, necessary, and apologies if they are growing thin here on the blog.

Tonight remembering the lost, and talking to him, helped me to clear my mind, ease my heart, and lift my spirits, in the remembering of his voice answering mine, in the way that our minds would bend to the other to meet in the middle and across the years that separated us, setting aside our clear differences to spend a few moments in time together with strong mutual understanding coming naturally. Beneath the harvest moon, with the summer winding down, is a natural time for it. Remembering, perhaps gazing at the clouds from my bicycle a bit longer than warranted, perhaps talking aloud with the lost. The loss is still there. But then, I too am still here, I'm reminded by this moment, to honor him with a little bit of joy in that, sometimes. 

 


*Kevin Berry's "Tributary Wall" sculpture / gabion basket and rusty fish noise wall

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Free Beer is a Good Omen




Some days the universe just smiles at you, urging you to shrug it all off and be happy to be alive in it now. I don't drink, but I can appreciate the positive nature of two free full cans of beer sitting on the curb. They were positioned such that if I did drink, I could have just reached down and grabbed one without stopping. Thanks, universe. Have a good day.



Monday, September 16, 2013

Phoenix Installs Protected Garbage Can Lanes


To overcome a rash of overtaking garbage can collisions, protected lanes have been added

Here let me fix that for you.

Photographic simulation for the sake of argument. If the first photo is OK, what's wrong with this one?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

So Linger the Days


Harvesting Black Sphinx dates in the Mountgrove neighborhood of Arcadia in Phoenix

You could understand if I was feeling a bit downhearted as I rode to work on a sunny Saturday morning. It was stacking up to be a full/long day already, with lots of work remaining, and tight deadlines looming.

Sometimes my commute takes me through the Mountgrove neighborhood, which has a grid-like array of gorgeous black sphinx date palms which have been producing fruit for decades. Date cultivation is labor-intensive, requiring several visits to the top of the tall trees per season to perform various tasks necessary to produce and harvest the fruit.

On this particular Saturday morning, I happened to notice someone up there performing some of those tasks, so I stopped to chat. He confirmed what I had read: he had been up this particular tree ten times in order to get the fruit to this point. He asked if I would like to sample a freshly picked one.

Dates, I learned later in the day, are eaten in one of four stages, designated by their Arabic names:

kimri: unripe (there seem to be sub-designations based on fertilized / unfertilized)
khalal: full size but still crunchy
rutab: full size, ripe, and soft
tamr: sun-dried on the tree

For several reasons including age, disease, power line company controversy, and thin skin which makes them somewhat less transportable and thus less commercially attractive, there's not a lot of this variety to go around any more (tree, or fruit). These Black Sphinx trees have been cultivated from off-shoots which grow from the base of the tree, so all of them are, allegedly, genetically identical. (would love to confirm that story). I've also been told over the years that the Black Sphinx trees don't grow anywhere else.

The guy harvesting the dates after ten trips up the tree lowered his lift, then rummaged through overflowing bag of picked dates to select one for me to try. Fresh off the tree, he handed me a rutab date, soft and unwrinkled. I bit into it. The flavor was dark, creamy honey and sweet sunshine that melted in my mouth. The fresh, complex date flavor lingered in my mouth and on my tongue as I thanked him and rode off to work.

Can a fresh-picked fruit handed to you by the person who picked it change your day, or your life? I'll share my thoughts between the time I savored the date from the photo above, until I saw the clouds in the photo below. 

All the way, the sweet honey taste of the date lingered in my mouth, so luscious that I felt certain that I would not want to drink coffee the rest of the morning, or eat for several hours, out of concern that the delicate sensations going on in there would be covered up, or washed away. I thought of the sunny, sandy deserts where dates are treasured and consumed all the time, and of the days of growing and basking in the Arizona sunshine which went into producing the sugars and flavors which were still tickling my tongue.

So many days I spent riding beneath those trees, while high above me the slow date magic was being worked, aided by someone regularly visiting them and performing the necessary nurturing tasks. I've posted about dates before, and date shakes, so I have known about these trees, but now I feel like I have a direct and more respectful connection with them: some days on my morning commute, I am going to ride underneath them, glance up at the ripening clusters, and my mouth will water as my memory fills with the creamy honey-sweet taste. So, sure, of course, this fresh-picked fruit generously offered and gladly consumed changed my day for the better, and will alter those future days with remembered sweetness as well.

But life? Changed? As on the evening of the "Lone Bike at the Rack" post, which has unaccountably gotten hundreds of hits from I know not where or why but would like to, on this Saturday morning ride in to work, my mind was not clear, and my heart was not light. I was worried about many work-related things, for I am a worrier in those realms at least. These states, a mind clouded with worry, a heart heavy with stress, are not how I wish to spend my days, assuredly, not dwelling in those feelings, I mean. So many other creative, life-affirming things I imagine.

Then came the date harvester, with the kindly offered and gladly consumed fresh Black Sphinx rutab. Taste lingering in my mouth as I thanked him and rode off. Creamy sunshine honey sustaining, like some sweet memory that will itself become a new sweet memory in its remembering. Days should be like that, exactly: hours into memories which we would return to ten times to nurture and grow them patiently into caramel sweet cream which lingers as we recall and savor them as they melt away. Life may occasionally take a sudden turn of inspired lusciousness riding beneath blazing sunshine. As with Black Sphinx rutab dates fresh off the tree, so linger the days.    


...so linger the days

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Small Creatures Living Next to Water


A home



I imagined myself a small creature, living in this fragile tent next to the water, across from an active construction site, together with my family of other small creatures, and our small store of food gathered in preparation for winter.


Aerial view of home



It's not an ideal home by any stretch. The wind buffets it, and at times feels as if it's blowing right through. It's not warm at night. It does a poor job of blocking the hot sun. When it rains, particularly a hard monsoon downpour, the roof is wholly inadequate, and what passes for the floor becomes muddy, wet, and cold. The yard consists of rocks, except for the single tree-like bush which also serves to prop up the house, somewhat.


Across the water


They are building something across the water. The ground rumbles as the machines roll back and forth, and as the tall tower crane lifts, turns, and drops, over and over, all day, and sometimes at night: lift, turn, drop, lift, turn, drop, lift, turn, drop...


The (small) big picture


The construction project with its heavy machines would appear to threaten our small home, but honestly, I think it's going to succumb to either the next big wind, or careless dog, that comes along. But I can't focus on that. I think I'll go down to the water, and have a swim. Soon it will be time to move on.




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Be This Gentle

A regular on my commute

Be this gentle. 

Those words came to me as I slowed to bid a good afternoon to this bunny who I frequently see on my commute. He's constrained to it, you could suggest, by his size, his physical and mental attributes: his niche is gentleness. I'll give you that. It's a nice niche.

I also thought: if a powerful animal, with many more options in front of him, with wealth, and power, and technology, and communications, and knowledge, can choose to be this gentle, but does not, I want to know why not? Do we just have the opposite of this inside us, which with its claws and teeth and sharp fangs just has to get out, no matter what? Are we not that strong?

Be this gentle.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bike Commuting Burning Bright and Dark







This series of photos spans just two minutes. I left work a little early, since several people told me that it was getting dark in the west, while it was gorgeous blue sunshine overhead. Since it stormed most of the day, this struck me as sound advice, and the sudden fall of cloud-induced ominous darkness emphasized the point.

Questions of the day, which the clouds seemed to answer:

Would the morning bike commute lighten what was a pretty heavy mood? YES
Would the sun get blotted out by the dark line of clouds? YES
What's the maximum age for attending Burning Man? YOUNGER THAN ME
Would the dark clouds dump water on me? NOT IF I RODE FAST ENOUGH
Did I ride fast enough? YES
Would a clever costume hide my age sufficiently for Burning Man? NO NOT LIKELY
How dark would it get once the clouds hid the sun? DARKER THAN I EXPECTED
How fast would the clouds cover the sun? TWO MINUTES
Is there another way for an old guy to see Burning Man? YES: DRONE
Would the evening bike commute lighten what was a pretty dark mood? PARTLY
Would riding faster to beat the rain do the rest? YES
Why all this stuff about Burning Man? BEAUTIFUL WOMEN ON BIKES
With age such a formidable obstacle why not forget about it? BIKE REPAIR ART PARTY
How was work today? BIKE REPAIR ART PARTY
Do you always ride in the rain? YES I LOVE RIDING IN THE RAIN. MUD ALSO
Doesn't it mess up your bike? IT'S CALLED BEAUSAGE (pronounced "byoo-sage")
What's the forecast for tomorrow? MORE OMINOUS DARKNESS, NO B.R.A.P.
The bike commute will make it all good, right? I CERTAINLY HOPE SO
Any other comments? I THINK I NEED A DRONE
 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

When Light and Dust Have a Story to Tell






Bike Lanes from the Far Side


Where the buffer lanes are now, used to be a door zone bike lane. Cars have parked along here for years.

Approaching the parked cars and the buffer lane, he* checks for traffic...

...crosses the buffer lane...

...and takes the only available lane. Excellent. I will do exactly the same.

This is one of the stretches I mentioned in "Paint that makes you go hmmm" because, as I expected, and unless something else changes, this is utterly incoherent for everyone trying to use this stretch: residents who have parked here for years, drivers driving, cyclists riding here, pedestrians (ha! figure that out! by law, you are walking the direction I am facing), law enforcement that never shows up to try to make sense of it, and we taxpayers who financed it. Communication regarding required lane positioning via paint only makes sense if it is backed up with coherent practice so that, foremost, those supposedly on the receiving end of the symbolic direction understand what to do. Because, obviously, confusing symbolic direction is worse than none at all. Similar to that old "Far Side" cartoon with the kid pushing on the door into the School for the Gifted with a PULL TO OPEN sign: something is just not jiving between the intention of the signs and the practice of the users.

*thank you anonymous rider guy for showing up at the perfect moment for these shots 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Lone Bike at the Rack


At evening, there's only one

Everyone has gone home so it's a scene of quiet, just one pair of footsteps on the pavement, a fountain across the canal, a touch of wind rustling the trees. The footsteps are shuffling along slower than normal. The heart is not light. The mind is not clear. At the end of this day, the head is not held high, nor the shoulders pulled back. Still, there's movement, a direction toward home, and where there's movement, there's life; where there's home, there's hope. A bicycle ride toward home on a hot and humid day into the shimmering gloaming. It's truly the humidity, not the heat, which saps you.

The practiced, semi-conscious motions which unlock the bike, load the bag on board, and throw the leg over the seat happen without thought. The first few pedals are as slow as the shuffling feet. The energy is not there, and the ride is as slow as you might think it would be at the end of such a day.

But the motion. The life returning. The spinning revives the inertia of happiness. The movement of air awakens the solitude into a depth of dimensional thickness, moving through this familiar rustling air which touches the trees while your own motion gathers it in, as it gathers you together within the whole space that knows you and that you know well since you travel it each day and night with nothing between it and you: there's nothing more neighborhood than this.

A ventured thought to test the memory of the morning finds nothing at first. Memory aches to uncover that bright and promising string of words, but the work day has burned it out of you. Pressed and crushed it into dust. Hot fire of endless utility clicks: click click click click till the morning's poem has been erased clean out of mind, it would seem. But you cheated the endless hot clicking fire, you denied its ultimate erasing goal: from your pocket you pull the crinkled piece of paper from the morning, the one you wrote down the string of words that seemed poetic to you in that bright sunrising moment, knowing from countless previous days what the day would do to you, and determined to deny this particular day its poetic erasure, you wrote the words down.

Smudged and crabbed words across the crinkles. Evening you can barely read the writing of morning you. What was written there: "tonight I will remember you, who would have stopped by the water, and spent the morning talking with a friend." The paper rustles something in the mind, which recalls the writing now, and most of the thoughts that went with it, and why you wanted the evening you at the lone bike at the bike rack to remember what the morning you was like at the end of the ride, before work, before the clicking fire purged it all out. Remember. A gust of wind comes and you let the paper flutter away on it, a message to another, carrying the purging this time, and what was washed away by it to leave behind a smile and a lighter heart with which to ride home. Where's there's life. The inertia of happiness is stubborn, you have to give it that much, it is bullheaded and determined to drive your feet faster around their cycling circles. The motion and the life which the spinning revives. The poem from the morning that you remember now. 

You've been here before and this is more practice at it. You're getting good after so long. Good because the whole space knows you, and you know it, traveling it each day with nothing between it and you. Knowing this happens, has happened, keeps happening, there's one sight at the end of the day which gladdens even a heavy and tired heart moving on slow shuffling feet: the lone bike at the rack.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How to Find Hot Dates on a Bicycle


My foolproof method of finding hot dates on my bicycle in Phoenix.

Look for trees like these palms with bluish-green broad leaves.

Check the ground around them. Look for recently fallen dates that the birds etc. haven't gotten to yet.

I got a lot of hot dates today. If I had some ice cream and a blender, things could get really interesting.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Sense of History


Barry Goldwater statue at his memorial in Paradise Valley

"Our responsibility in this hostile world is to defend successfully the concept of human freedom from every assault, ideological, economic, or military." Part of the quote carved in stone around the base of the statue.

I've decided to seek out more destinations of historical significance, to go and see on my bicycle. I've shown a few here previously, like the anchor from the USS Arizona, but it hasn't been a focus for me. I've touched on some of the local architecture and art history, but in this case, I'm looking for more national historical significance. While pondering this, or possibly the other way around, I thought of the Barry Goldwater memorial park in Paradise Valley, which I must have passed a thousand times, because this somewhat controversial Senator from Arizona qualifies.


Statue by Joe Beeler. Landscape architect Michael Dollin. Camelback Mountain in the background.

Libertarian chairman of the intelligence committee overlooking surveillance and red light cameras

In his long stint in American politics he tended to make a lot of people mad because he stuck by his own beliefs so strongly, even as they evolved over time to become somewhat more moderate in his later days, and I admire him for that, even if I disagree with some of his positions at some points in his career. The strength of his own convictions led to some rather surprising disagreements with both those who considered themselves his allies and his opponents. He ended up losing the 1964 Presidential election in epic fashion, in part because of his staunch opposition of the Civil Rights Act. He put out traditional anti-big government ads like this one, which featured a boy on a bicycle, while Lyndon Johnson hit him with the famous "Daisy" attack ad:




Medallion marking Goldwater's amateur radio hobby, call sign K7UGA

Bike rack and signage

The audio of a debate in Tuscon in 1961 between Norman Thomas and Barry Goldwater on Socialism vs. Capitalism served as an opportunity for Goldwater to express his views eloquently and clearly. Although I doubt I would have voted for him in the 1964 presidential election, or for Norman Thomas either, I appreciate the clarity and forthrightness of his views. In addition, I very much admire the gentlemanly and respectful manner in which he approaches a discussion with an opponent with whom he has very many disagreements of opinion.

Visiting Senator Goldwater's memorial made me curious to learn more about his thought. I'm keeping my eyes open for a biography. This quiet little park has some nice shady spots to sit and rest a bit, and a drinking fountain, too. It's a modest, respectful place, suitable for thinking about history.