Monthly Archives: October 2011

Bikes in Mexico City

I made a trip down to Mexico City this past week, and wanted to highlight a bit of what I saw in terms of bicycling.  On Sundays, they close off a portion of the biggest avenue in the city, Reforma, and until 2pm open it to bikes, runners, rollerbladers, etc.

There are numerous bike share racks along the avenue.

And it appears they have racks set up in quite a few places around the big city.

Here’s a closer look at one of the Eco-Bici machines.

At one end of the avenue, they set up an ‘urban cycling school’ to help folks learn to ride.

I saw a fair number of painted bike lanes around town, but Mexico City riding looks daunting to me – lots of cars, lots of intersections without stop signs where the most aggressive drivers just shoot through.  But I did see some riders braving the open streets, including one guy riding against traffic in between lanes!!!

Anyway, looks like there are also some big organized rides.  This billboard was up in one of the Metro stations (cheap and frequent service), for a Halloween/Day of the Dead evening ride on Oct. 29.

Basquiat – The Radiant Child

Last night I watched a DVD documentary on the 1980s artist Jean Michel Basquiat, called “The Radiant Child”, which included footage from an interview done in 1985 in LA.  The picture above is from another interview, I’d guess around 1982, and I just liked it cause he’s unexpectedly wearing the Wesleyan shirt (my alma mater).

In recent years I’ve come to appreciate his work more and more.  He grew up in Brooklyn in relatively well-off circumstance, but apparently had quite a complicated relationship with his businessman father, and ran away from home several times.  He ran away for good at age 17 in 1978 to Manhattan, and his initial efforts were doing graffiti with a friend under the name SAMO.  This was not standard graffiti – SAMO had messages for the world which were legibly written on building walls in block letters.  Despite being mostly homeless, he had a strong desire for fame and seemed to find his way into it remarkably quickly.

His painting shares similarities with the SAMO work – it’s mostly flat, often features words and lettering, and is frequently covered over with various layers of paint – almost like a building wall that’s been partially painted over and then more graffiti applied later.  The colors and images are stark and striking.  The last one I remember seeing in person was at the Pompidou in Paris, and it nearly jumped off the wall in comparison with most of what was in the gallery.

His work dealt with many aspects of art and racial awareness and his black heroes.  Unfortunately in life he was apparently derailed by the sudden fame and money and hangers-on.  By 1988 when he died, he was feeling almost washed up already, though some of the late work is just as strong as ever.