David Byrne: On Bikes and Cities

May/June 2011 | Momentum Magazine | Online here

Listening to David Byrne talk about bikes, you might forget that the man is a legendary musician and world-famous artist, as well as an impassioned cyclist who’s keen to improve infrastructure and get more people on two wheels.

But the former Talking Heads performer is a reluctant advocate, although he is becoming one of the most famous faces of the North American bike revolution, thanks to his online journal and the book it spawned – The Bicycle Diaries. His follow-up tour, Cities, Bicycles and the Future of Getting Around, features a set of arty bike racks and stories from his years in the saddle.

“I haven’t wanted to be a real advocate or proselytizer,” he said in a phone interview from New York. “But if I sense that people are kind of ready and willing to try something, later I’ll say, ‘Well yes, this is how you do it, and this is how it’s done, and this is my experience, and the rest is up to you’.” Continue reading →

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Bowing at a Human Pace

January/February 2011 | Momentum Magazine | Download PDF

Musician Ben Sollee didn’t ride much before 2009, when he embarked on a 200-mile (322-kilometer) tour from his home in Lexington, KY, to the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, TN. But an ad for an Xtracycle cargo bike sparked the idea of using a bike for his music tours. He and his family now use a Surly Big Dummy in place of a minivan.

He’s covered a lot of ground since then. A December 2009 trip was followed by the 2010 Ditch the Van tour, for which Sollee – along with percussionist Jordan Ellis, tour manager Katie Benson and her brother, filmmaker Marty Benson – cycled 1,800 of the 4,000 miles from California to Washington, DC.

The idea of a pedal-powered tour is tinged with green, but environmental concerns aren’t what motivated Sollee.

“If I was trying to do it to save the world or be green, I think it would stop pretty quick,” he said. Continue reading →

Five Alarm Funk: Servants to the Music

Spring 2011 | Renegade Radio | Online here

Five Alarm Funk

Five Alarm Funk onstage during the 2008 Vancouver Jazz Festival. Picture courtesy the band.

If you could somehow bottle up a Five Alarm Funk show, you’d have a new source of alternative energy.

The 10-man Vancouver band’s brassy blend of funk, rock and world music powers an onstage show complete with dance moves, choreographed arm movements and the occasional shark-gorilla wrestling match.

“It’s an all-around show,” says saxophonist Dameian Walsh, “not a music recital.” Almost all of the moves started out spontaneously, he explains. “It it’s cool, we keep it.”

It’s a sentiment that sums up much of what the band – which in addition to Walsh features four percussionists, two guys on guitar, one on bass, two blowing on trumpets, and another on the trombone – does. Continue reading →

Convocation profile: Michael Fryer

June 2010 | The Ring | Online here

Michael Fryer

Michael Fryer

The dinnertime conversation in Michael Fryer’s house may have centred on science and math, but it was never dull.

His father, a high school physics teacher in Sechelt, BC, and his mother, who has a background in biology, focused on “fun science” and ideas, he says, with the family figuring out the number of trees in the world, or using vinegar to show that blackberries can be used as an indicator of pH.

“We were good at leaving all the boring stuff for school and just dealing with the fun stuff.” Continue reading →

Convocation profile: Anne Mitaru

June 2010 | The Ring | Online here

When graduate law student Anne Mitaru saw a posting for an internship with Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), she wondered, “Is this possible?”

Mitaru, who was born in Canada and raised mostly in Kenya (she earned a bachelor of laws degree from the University of Nairobi), has a background in international law and women’s rights, and DAWN—a network of feminist scholars, researchers and activists—is a major organization in the field.

“I, of course, seized the day,” she says. “Any feminist working on global South issues would want to have an opportunity to meet the people behind DAWN.” Continue reading →