The Bar Is Called Heaven

October 10th, 2007

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Charles-

Well. Here I am. Sitting in my studio. Getting shit done. It’s a temporary setup until we build the walls out a bit. But fuck talking about this, because I got to see David Byrne Saturday night.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect, it was billed as a night about biking in New York hosted - and I guess curated - by David Byrne featuring music, film, lectures, and also surprises. So G and I go, we roll up and check our bikes with the bike valet and find our seats. A Danish guy was already on stage talking about how bike friendly Copenhagen is and what their goals are and how they achieved their current status of an unverified “most bicycle friendly city in the world.? After them was a weird bike gang from Brooklyn of older Mexican men who rode antique bikes fitted with homemade pneumatic horns. It seemed like someone asked David to just “go out there and talk to them for a few minutes? or something because the gang didn’t really have much to do beside wave and honk their horns – since each horn was a different pitch it almost passed as music and therefore they also has sort of a Blue Man Group vibe – and David didn’t know what to ask so he awkwardly would look around at them and maybe say, “So… you guys don’t get these right off the shelf like that do you?? or “Is that one a stick shift?? After them this Brit from Warrington gave a presentation of ridiculous attempts at bike lane design (I think this was to emphasize how autocentric our society is), for example a photo of a bike lane with a phone booth installed right in the middle. His narration was perfectly British: witty and with a dryness that implies technically this is funny.

But the highlight of the night was this choir from western Massachusetts called Young at Heart made up of all old people. First their backup band, which includes a little blind woman on violin, comes out and they start laying down this really groovy beat and then the rest of the choir comes out, hunched over, some with canes, but all of them dancing onto the stage. And they’re all wearing yellow long sleeve t-shirts that say BICYCLIST backwards on them. So the band stops, the conductor gets their attention and the launch right into Bicycle by Queen and it was amazing. After the final round table of urban planners they come back out to close the evening and what do they start with: the opening to Road to Nowhere. And if you listen to those lyrics, there’s just something really intense about old people sing “the future is certain, give us time to work it out.? But then after the opening they switched gears and just totally fucked my emotions up and possibly even changed my life forever by taking it right into Heaven. Heaven is a song about embracing the unknown, specifically death, and here is a group of people in the last part of their lives singing – with a sort tropical, cheesy twist – about how fun nothingness is. Then David Byrne came out and they sung a song I think called One Fine Day with him.

The whole night had this community vibe, one because it was almost like a town hall and at a place called Town Hall, but also because everyone there was promoting and supporting a specific, simple, and effective way of improving urban life. Afterwards as we waited in line to get our bikes, we watched the valets bring them out and tried to guess whose they were. And then we ate Mexican food.

-Ben

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