17 May 2023

Marching, Or Pedaling, To Our Own Drummers—Or Guitarists

 I have to admit that along with the mental and physical health benefits—and sheer pleasure—cycling has given me, something that keeps me in the saddle is that it still feels subversive sometimes.

During my junior and senior years in high school, I definitely was pedaling to my own drummer (or guitar player: they were my real musical heroes, along with Bob Dylan) when my peers were leaving their Schwinn Varsities and Continentals, Raleigh Records and Grand Prixes (Is that the proper plural?) and, in a few cases, Peugeot UO8s, the moment they got their drivers’ permits.

Since then, I’ve been in the minority for most of my life: In previous posts, I recalled how I often pedaled rural roads, suburban subdivisions and city streets without encountering another adult cyclist. Then, as now, some saw me as a nuisance or even a threat:  Even during the last years of the Cold War, a man or woman astride two wheels instead of behind one and on four was linked, in some minds to socialism or communism (which, although different, were and are conflated).

Even today, as adults—mainly young ones—riding to school or work, or for fun, are more common here in New York and in other places, I still feel that bicycles are vehicles, if you will, for changes.

I was reminded of that during a late-day ride, when I was greeted by this grand dame at MOMA/PS1.

Along the way, I pedaled along a familiar path on the Long Island City waterfront.  If I were just a little more self-centered (which would be saying something!), I’d say the Parks Department landscapers were paving the way for me.

I’m told that people whose favorite color is purple tend to march, or pedal, to their own drummer, or guitarist or lyricist.

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