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.


  1. I can't watch the news anymore. I know I'm out of touch with current events, but it's the only way my mind and heart can deal with the violence. I know it's there, unfortunately, However, life on a bicycle is good and never ceases to make me happy. I had the recent pleasure of friendly strangers smiling, asking questions, wishing us a fun-filled safe journey. Thanks for the whimsical art. Public art has the power to reach millions with happy thoughts. May it continue.

    1. Thanks anniebikes. There's more art to be found and seen out there, and bicycles are a great way to get to it.


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