Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Haulin' Ass (and some furniture): Moving by Bike

I come across a lot of material that underscores the many differences that exist among the various subsets of the cycling population. However, once in awhile I also encounter something inspirational that reaffirms the fact that, as cyclists, we are all a part of a community. And, as this video shows, when that community comes together there's almost no limit to how irritatingly self-righteous we can be.



That's right, Fascist war machine: the forces of gentrification no longer need your fossil fuels to power their relentless march across Brooklyn. When this woman was priced out of her Fort Greene aparment and decided to price someone else out of an apartment in neighboring Crown Heights, she didn't just gas up a U-Haul. Instead, she assembled some friends who also wanted attention and did the whole thing by bike.



This is perhaps the most moving film about moving I've seen since Richard Pryor's "Moving." There are many wonderful moments here, but to me the most inspirational by far is when the fixed-gear rider joins in to move a single plant. Sure, the cynical among you might say that a token effort like this is almost as insulting as actually sitting on the sofa and drinking a Snapple while your friends are moving it, but to me it's a bold statement about how even the smallest effort counts towards making a change.



In fact, as I watched them tenderly working together to secure the plant to the rack, I realized that this beautiful green thing was actually a metaphor for the heart of of our community and the greenness of their endeavor.




Almost as stirring was this image of the moving crew making its way towards Crown Heights, their Cones of Smugness lighting the way. I was touched by the manner in which they shared their labor, much as they will probably come to share the bedbug infestation undoubtedly borne by that futon. (Futons are the public restrooms of the furniture world.)

To me, this procession of fools evoked Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal," except that they substituted despair with an overblown sense of pride.


But it wasn't all haughtiness and heavy lifting for our protagonists. They also took a break from their labors to rub other people's noses in their accomplishments. Here they stopped to ask a man removing an armful of boxes from the back of a truck if he was moving. If you've ever fallen off your bike and found yourself lying in a pool of your own blood, only to be asked by a passer-by if you've had an accident, you can begin to appreciate the sort of irritation this guy probably felt. To me, the fact that he didn't reply by hurling an end-table at the cameraman speaks volumes about his patience and renews my faith in humanity. Especially when you consider that the cameraman was probably wearing a cone on his head.

So what have we learned? We've learned that it is possible to move your possessions over a short distance without using a motor vehicle. We've also learned that it is that much easier when the weather is in your favor, you've got a bunch of friends who don't have jobs, and your personal politics preclude you from owning bulky items like televisions. But most of all, we've learned that fixed-gears aren't just for riding in self-indulgent videos; they're also useful for transporting plant life in self-indulgent videos.

234 comments:

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Anonymous said...

200!! Speedy as usual. At least I finished.

Anonymous said...

Darn, I lost the sprint to 200th place.

Anonymous said...

Do I get a sticker or something??

-theothercanuck-

Anonymous said...

-theothercanuck-

You'll get a sticker. It has a big capital "L" on it and it goes on your forehead.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:34

Thankyou for pointing that out. What would I have ever done without someone like you to help me out. Your a national treasure. They should quit campaigning down there right now and make you president... speaking of losers.

-theothercanuck-

leah said...

Well people here are really showing their true colors...

BikeSnob, you'll call out pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers who make stupid mistakes, the smugness of bike movers, the vanity of memorial artwork, fads, mechanical ignorance, but you won't call out the sexist creeps and homophobes posting on your blog. You are complicit not only for saying nothing, but because you are giving them a forum.

I respect Caroline and Christopher and I know they do work to amend the problems people complain about on this blog, which is more than can be said for most of the commenters here.

I know there are many communities in the NYC cycling sphere where this kind of language and behavior is denounced and where members (especially non-male members) are judged not on how they look, or whether they'll stand up for themselves against bigots and haters, but on the positive work they do. I wish more attention were paid to them.

Anonymous said...

The only thing self-indulgent I am seeing in this whole topic is yr annoying article.

Bike moves are awesome!

Love, Portland, Oregon

Anonymous said...

-theothercanuck- 10:37 pm

I'm sorry that sounded mean-spirited to you. Since it's a standard joke in the house where I live I guess I'm desensitized; I really didn't intend it that way and I was surprised you were hurt. I apologize and I'll be more careful from now on.

If you thought it was because of the 'canuk' wrong again. I've lived and worked in Canada and my best friends of 30 years are Canadian.

Anonymous 9:34 pm

Anonymous said...

...ripping on yet another staffer at Transportation Alternatives. First it was Paul White, Executive Director and his penchant to show some crack & now Caroline & her love of plants. Are you trying to say that NYC's paid bicycle advocates should re-prioritize their efforts & focus on projects that will help to create a more bicycle friendly NYC?

Gram in PDX said...

I've moved by bike, but out of necessity, bot out of green smugness, and I definitely didn't get any help from hippiesters.

The bike move crews piss me off, they have all these guidelines like "you can't have too much stuff but you gotta have more than one load," and "it has to be more than a mile but it can't be too far, oh and it also has to be through neighborhoods so that everyone cat see us and our stupid flags."

The cloud of smug that follows the bike movers better not merge with the san francisco hybrid driver's smug cloud, or there will be a smug storm ala south park the likes of which will level entire loft complexes!

Nicholas Whitaker said...

give us your ideas on how to better promote cycling in NY, we would love to hear them.
It's hard enough getting the city to give us some love, and to convince our higher ups to let us continue doing bike related stories.
Better yet, how about coming out from behind the comfort of anonymity and letting us shoot a video on why you bike?

Anonymous said...

Aw shit. Is this a crypto republican blog? If it is, I'm warning you, I'll stop reading.

Arena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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ashhar said...

Thank you for the wonderful effort

إني تذكـرت والذكرى مؤرقـة * مجـداً تلـيدا بأيـدينا أضعـناه
أنَّى اتجهتَ للإسـلام في بـلـدٍ * تجْده كالطيرِ مقصـوصًا جناحـاه
كـم صرفتنا يـدٌ كنـا نـصرفها * وبات يـملكنا شعب مـلكناه
بالله سل خلف
بحر الروم عن عرب *

بالأمس كانوا هنا واليوم قد تاهوا
وانزل دمشق وسائل صخر مسجدها * عمن بناه لعل الـصخر ينعـاه
هذى معـالم خرس كـل واحـدة * منهن قامت خطيبـا فاغرا فـاه
الله يعلم ما قلبت سـيرتهم يومـا * وأخطـأ دمـع الـعين مـجراه
يا من يرى عمـراتكسوه بردته * الزيت أدمٌ لـه والكـوخ مـأواه
يهتز كسـرى على كرسيه فرقـا * من خوفه ، وملوك الروم تخشـاه
يا رب فابعث لنا من مثلهم نفـرا * يشـيدون لـنا مـجدا أضعنـاه

ashhar said...

Thank you for the wonderful effort

إني تذكـرت والذكرى مؤرقـة * مجـداً تلـيدا بأيـدينا أضعـناه
أنَّى اتجهتَ للإسـلام في بـلـدٍ * تجْده كالطيرِ مقصـوصًا جناحـاه
كـم صرفتنا يـدٌ كنـا نـصرفها * وبات يـملكنا شعب مـلكناه
بالله سل خلف بحر الروم عن عرب * بالأمس كانوا هنا واليوم قد تاهوا
وانزل دمشق وسائل صخر مسجدها * عمن بناه لعل الـصخر ينعـاه
هذى معـالم خرس كـل واحـدة * منهن قامت خطيبـا فاغرا فـاه
الله يعلم ما قلبت سـيرتهم يومـا
* وأخطـأ دمـع الـعين

مـجراه

يا من يرى عمـراتكسوه بردته *

الزيت أدمٌ لـه والكـوخ مـأواه

يهتز كسـرى على كرسيه فرقـا * من خوفه ،

وملوك الروم تخشـاه

يا رب فابعث لنا من مثلهم نفـرا * يشـيدون لـنا مـجدا أضعنـاه

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