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Bicycle Diaries

New or Used: $9.95
New or Used: $9.95

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Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne - the frontman of the legendary Talking Heads - is an enchanting travelogue from a cult figure in contemporary music.

About the Author

David Byrne was born in Dumbarton, Scotland, in 1952, and attended Rhode Island School of Design and Maryland Institute College of Art. He is primarily known as the musician who cofounded the group Talking Heads (1976-88), and has also been involved in an array of music, theatre, art and film projects, including work with Brian Eno, Thwyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, Jonathan Demme and Bernardo Bertolucci. He currently lives in New York.


When he's in a city, Byrne's preferred form of transportation for 20-some years has been the bicycle. Here is a grab bag of his observations-always interesting, frequently original-caught on the fly as the much-traveled Byrne crisscrosses the globe, from London and New York to Manila and Buenos Aires. In London, Byrne, known of course as the cofounder and lead singer of Talking Heads, attends an exhibit by an award-winning cross-dressing potter, who shows up at the exhibit with loving wife and daughter. In Manila, he is invited to sing along at karaoke with the Heads' hit, "Burning Down the House," but declines. The clean, safe streets in Berlin impress him, but he is disturbed by the lack of concern for bikers and pedestrians in his own country. Preoccupations recur: how do genes and myths shape our behavior and attitudes? Is creativity just a sophisticated form of lying? Why do souks and shopping malls look the same everywhere (is there "some kind of meme for social shopping?")? Verdict The man who emerges from these pages is the type of person we'd all like to meet, just more observant than most. Enthusiastically recommended for all readers of travel memoir or of just plain good writing.-David Keymer, Modesto, CA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Byrne is fascinated by cities, especially as visited on a trusty fold-up bicycle, and in these random musings over many years while cycling through such places as Sydney, Australia; Manila, Philippines; San Francisco; or his home of New York, the former Talking Head, artist and author (True Stories) offers his frank views on urban planning, art and postmodern civilization in general. For each city, he focuses on its germane issues, such as the still troublingly clear-cut class system in London, notions of justice and human migration that spring to mind while visiting the Stasi Museum in Berlin, religious iconography in Istanbul, gentrification in Buenos Aires and Imelda Marcos's legacy in Manila. In low-key prose, he describes his meetings with other artists and musicians where he played and set up installations, such as an ironic PowerPoint presentation to an IT audience in Berkeley, Calif. He notes that the condition of the roads reveals much about a city, like the impossibly civilized, pleasant pathways designed just for bikes in Berlin versus the fractured car-mad system of highways in some American cities, giving way to an eerie "post apocalyptic landscape" (e.g., Detroit). While "stupid planning decisions" have destroyed much that is good about cities, he is confident there is hope, in terms of mixed-use, diverse neighborhoods; riding a bike can aid in the survival of cities by easing congestion. Candid and self-deprecating, Byrne offers a work that is as engaging as it is cerebral and informative. (Sept.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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