Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More strips


Striped bike

Red


Color-coordinated tee and trainers

Friday, March 26, 2010

Now listening to...

The bird and the bee, "I can't go for that".
This is a live version of one of the tracks in the new Bird and the Bee album, called Interpreting the Masters Vol 1. A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates. The album turned out to be pretty bland and soulless, basically because Daryl Hall outsings this bird in every song. They use the same sequenced, synthetic and not particularly original sounds all over the album, so it feels repetitive and poor in craftsmanship and concept. Nevertheless, I couldn't resist the idea of a Hall and Oates covers album by an indie/electronic group (because I knew that they would not take an ironic and bullshit approach to a 80's hit). This is what I'm listening to nowadays on my bike.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Close encounters in the new bike lane

Today I went for my first ride in the "Ciclovía Norte", the bike lane that connects Retiro and Plaza Italia recently inaugurated by the city government. There were a few bikes and dozens of people walking or jogging in it. Even when they have a sidewalk just for them, the pedestrians decided to walk on the bike lane, I don't know if because they thought that it was made for them or because it was new and they felt that they had to try it. I didn't mind to share the path so I cycled slowly and tried to enjoy the ride. But two minutes later, when I was passing a little girl riding a children's bike (of course, I had to ride over the opposite lane to do it) a jogger run into me. He could have avoided me, but I think he expected me to get off the bike path (or to run over the little girl, I don´t know) to let him through. "YOU ARE RIDING ON THE WRONG SIDE!" he shouted, to which I reply that I was passing another bike and that HE was jogging on a path that was only for bikes. "SAYS WHO?" he shouted again in typical arrogant porteño manner. I couldn't see any signs around so I had to repeat myself: "This is a bike path, it's only for bikes. YOU could have very easily avoided me just by moving one step to your right". Again, he stressed his point: "Why? YOU were riding on the wrong lane". "I was passing another bike, that's the only way to do it". Perhaps he too thought that the dialog was getting repetitive so he move onto his final argument: "You are an idiot", he said. I felt the adrenaline pumping into my veins and replied: "No, YOU are a fucking asshole!" I guess he sensed that I was very willing to get into a more serious fight so he turned around and began to jog, again over the bike path. Since I got the last word, I felt that I had "won," even if I´m not sure exactly what. But this feeling helped me to relax faster. A few seconds later I saw the sign that I was looking for but I couldn't figure it out. Was that fucking jogger right? Am I an idiot? (This is a rhetorical question, dear reader) What does this sign mean to you? If it means that people and bikes must share the lane it kind of misses the point of having a bike lane, more so when you have a sidewalk just a few meters away.

Wrong?

Right!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Critical Mass Buenos Aires: March ride

A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleur

Felix, photographer, check his website

Bicipunks

Cruisers cut the street

Angry cabbie thinks he owns the road

The ride goes on...

until we meet another demonstration!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sayonara

In Miyashima

Kyoto: my favorite things

Kyoto was the city I liked best. It's modern and very traditional at the same time. Ancient and new. You have the high end stores, of course, and the Starbucks everywhere but at the same time you can still see Maiko (apprentice geisha) walking into a restaurant in Gion and houses more than a hundred years old. The city feels more livable, more friendly and more stylish than any other place I've been in Japan. And it's the hometown of Astroboy!




























Streets of Gion


The golden palace


Kyoto Manga Museum

The "wall of manga"

The vaults: first editions

Maiko drawn in manga style

A real maiko

Funaoka Onsen
An Onsen is a hot spring. Funaoka is the eldest one in Kyoto. It was established in 1923. We went after a long ride with our bikes, in a very cold winter night. When we arrived we were on the verge of freezing ourselves. Two hours later, we left like floating in a bubble of steam. We ride one more hour to our place and never felt the cold again. Admitance fee is 5 dollars and you can stay as long as you want. Men and women are separated because no clothing is allowed in the baths (not even towels). I was the only foreigner sharing the pools with twenty naked japanese men. Everyone pretended to be cool about it but I have to say that at least those japanese men could not avoid to look at a westerner's penis. I guess it was just curiosity. I never felt unconfortable, though. The place is beautiful (very nice vintage white tiles on the walls) and the electrified water bath is something to try out!

Best bike store: Moulton specialist Moku 2plus4

Japan must be the place with most record stores per capita in the world. In Shinjuku (central Tokyo) only, the Union Disk chain has like ten stores, each one of them specialized in one genre (both in vinyl and CD) and all of them very well edited. But in Kyoto you can find stores that never went into CDs and that even have some stuff still sealed from the 70's and 80's. Like this one...

Not a bad find at all

More Kyoto

Bunraku theater

We went to a Bunraku play at the National Theater. It lasted four hours (and they only performed excerpts from the complete play). The story dealt with samurai, ronin, fake identities, fights, kidnapping and murder in the Edo period. It was like viewing a "live" action anime. Each (very realistic) puppet is handled by the puppet master (whose face you can see, but it' amazing how they manage to express, to signifie absolutely nothing) and his assistants (who use a black mask to signifie that they are invisible). The story is told by several singers that take turns and that do a sort of sprechgesang (they middle point between singing and talking), accompanied only by a shamisen (sort of a three stringed banjo) player. As Roland Barthes says, the perfomance is devoid of hysteria: the players do not try to show off their art but to dissapear in the play.

Pachinko!

Panchiko is like a vertical pinball in which you can win small prices and, occasionally, money. Your only intervention consists in releasing the ball (you have to turn a wheel to select the speed: medium is the right one). The rest is luck. The ball has to go into a little hole to give you a change to win. Old time players say that the trick is knowing which machine to choose. Some people make a living out of it. And much more lose a lot of money every day. Inside the manga decorated parlors the noise is deafening, stadium rock level: there are hundreds of machines emiting high pitch noises and some gabba-like techno music. Not really recommended.

Nara Koen

Mount Fuji

Our friends took us to a gathering closer to the mountain, where thousands of people met to pray for peace.

Tokyo: cosplay