'Byrne comes across like a post-punk Michael Palin.' Sephen Dalton, The Times
'An engaging book; part-diary, part-manifesto.' Observer
David Byrne, co-founder of the group Talking Heads, has been riding a bicycle as his principal means of transportation since the 1980's. When he tours, Byrne travels with a folding bicycle, bringing it to cities like London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Manila, New York, Detroit and San Francisco. The view from his bike seat has given Byrne a panoramic window on urban life all over the world.
An enchanting celebration of bike riding and of the rewards of seeing the world at bike level, this book gives the reader an incredible insight into what Byrne is seeing and thinking as he pedals around these cities.
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.