Sunday, November 11, 2012

Canal Convergence Bike Ride: The Sound of Water

Ride starting off along Washington
The sound of the water
says what I think.
-Chuang Tzu

When ride leader Kevin Vaughan-Brubaker (pictured below during the safety talk) kicked off the ride saying that we should be thinking of a line of poetry or verse that came to mind during the ride, for later use at the Arizona Falls, where we would stop and do some interesting word-mashing, I thought of Chuang Tzu. I'm always up for some interesting word-mashing. In the event, we ran short of time, and bypassed the AZ Falls. Or, at least the formal ride did. I rode over there afterwards anyway, to listen to the water saying what I think. 

A few words of direction and inspiration

Starting the ride

Soon after we started, I was fortunate to strike up a conversation with Laurie Lundquist, an artist responsible for several excellent public art works that I have long admired. As we rode along the Crosscut path, I mentioned that I appreciated the "Centerline" green granite sidewalk art by Barbara Grygutis, but that some of the shape references in it to nearby things were still obscure to me. The triangles for Hunt's Tomb, for example, were obvious, and it seems like there may be some big horn horns, but I haven't figured out some of the others. We tried together to figure out some of the others. Not sure we were 100% correct, but sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.

Then she told me that she not only knew where the marker is which shows the spot of the tunnel dug by the German WWII POWs came out near the canal, but that she designed it! I have been looking for that thing for ages, and found out today that I had been riding right past it every time. It also turns out that she was involved with the Tempe Town Lake bridge project, which dedicated readers will know I followed a little bit obsessively as it went in.

Laurie Lundquist near the POW tunnel marker

The escapees were planning to float down the Salt River to the ocean, but found only a bed of rocks...

The marker, finally located!

Waiting to cross Indian School, location of the future OSG 64th St "Master Link" Bridge over the canal (dreams)

Joseph Perez, City of Phoenix Bicycle Coordinator

Arrival at the Soleri bridge, cyclists near solar noon (note dagger of light near red line)

When we arrived at the bridge, there was music and brunch waiting for us, which is always nice, and also the art that's been put together for the Canal Convergence event. "Sonic Pass" is cool because as you ride or walk through it, it senses your passage, lights up, and makes sounds at you. One of the pillars was kind of cooing and humming at me while I was taking its photo. Hello pillar!

Christopher Janney "Sonic Pass"

This sidewalk path reacts to you, acknowledges your passing, and probes your subconscious

Sparkly fish! (installation by local artist Christy Puetz)

Sparkly fish!

"The People's Flag of Arizona" by Tex Jernigan and Dominique Karowski

Ant Farm Collective inflatable structure

Inside the structure, the outside world is blurred out

Mighty muffin from Dottie's True Blue Cafe for brunch!

Floating out there in the canal beyond the muffin is "Nodal Water Garden" by Jeff Zischke. It's solar-powered, it lights up at night, it floats.

Art with muffin and coffee. But not just any brew, no: CARTEL COFFE LAB perfection in a cup

The "Nodal Water Garden"

Arizona Falls through a bicycle wheel
In the end, after the art and brunch, I rode out to Arizona Falls to listen to what the water had to say. I've stopped here on hot summer days, I've taken wallpaper-worthy shots of models posing behind the water, I've refilled my water bottles after long rides to the outskirts and beyond, recognizing that home is still a few miles further on from here, but near enough that the water's encouragement doesn't ring hollow. They mentioned on the ride that there's a bit more canal bank paving on the way, spiced up with some Laurie Lundquist art. Imagine art floating down the canal, moving farther and farther through the city, past the rusty fish of light on the corner, insinuating its sometimes puzzling, sometimes provocative, always enriching presence deeper and deeper into the minds of the residents of vast housing developments of Pumpkinville.   

The falling water at Arizona Falls seems to think that I love public art, and bike rides on perfect days, and talking with people who carry the warm beating human heart of the city inside them. Then the water told me something else, something I didn't even know that I was thinking:

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
it's always our self we find in the sea.
-e.e. cummings    

A stray node, attempting to float down to the ocean. Go little node, escape, go! Freedom is yours! (taken a few nights ago)


  1. As with Pedal Craft, the speed with which you blog about events rivals the networks calling last week's election. I enjoyed the ride and learning about the POW marker, which I'd never noticed during previous trips along the Crosscut Canal. I didn't know you were on the ride, or I would have introduced myself face-to-face. I'm sure there will be another occasion.

    1. David, I try to get the event posts out soon because otherwise it seems like I get caught up in other things and never post them. Same here on the introduction, next ride we should connect.

      The POW marker was farther north than I thought it would be. I think I must have ridden right past it about 62 times.

  2. sparky fish and giant muffin! OH MY :)
    thx for sharing your fotos +the ride, love joining informational things upon which one learns a good deal of history and fun facts throughout town

    1. meli you see such things and hear such things while riding your bike a for a while things seem like they are just about right. --xxo


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