Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Mariposa Article; The Small Class of Perfect Things

Last night I attended the launch of the new issue of Dandyhorse. The cover story is my first attempt at cycling journalism—a fairly long article about Mike Barry.

I hadn't seen the article in its final form until last night. I must say, as someone very careful with his writing, it was very odd to see many of my sentences modified. And to see my favourite paragraph removed! But the magazine looks gorgeous, and I've received lots of enthusiastic emails about the article and the magazine. My stylistic aim was to write the article in a "Mariposa-like style": to make it functional, minimal, and elegant. I think that comes through in the final version.

I'm extremely happy to see the Greg Curnoe painting on the cover. If I were to list my two favourite Canadian artists, they would be Greg and Mike. So it's quite special to have a Curnoe painting of a Barry bike on the cover of the magazine with my first article!

There's a lot of good stuff in this issue, including a nice article by Mike himself about his association with Greg. The magazine is available for sale at bike shops and book stores in Toronto or through the website. For those who haven't seen Mariposa bikes (how awful!), you can see them here.

Here is my favourite paragraph, which didn't make it in:
Mariposa bicycles are among the extremely small class of perfect things. In an unusual congruence of form and function, beauty and efficiency are mutually reinforcing. Nothing is superfluous, everything is precisely where it ought to be, and no detail of finish detracts from the mechanism. Made by hand using traditional methods and materials, sized individually for the rider, unique in design and conception, they outlast and outperform their factory-made and laboratory-researched counterparts. Mariposas are the sorts of bikes that obsess people obsessed with bikes, and without which there would be no bicycle-obsession to begin with.

Updates! It seems like another good part (Marta's favourite!) didn't make the cut! This is from the section called "The City":
Barry’s utopia is one in which cycling is as normal, easy, and automatic as breathing. “I’ve got a photograph at home,” he says—“it’s just a couple of girls in France, standing by the side of the road, leaning on their bikes, chatting. I don’t know—that to me sort of typifies what I love about bikes. How it should be—a part of your everyday life.” He continues, “A couple of years ago in Liège I was sitting and chatting at a café when two women came along on their Dutch bikes. They were in their teens—riding next to one another with their handlebars just about banging, chatting away as if they were sitting on a park bench. And they’re heading through traffic, and one of the girls has a drink, and she passes it to the other one. That’s what was so lovely about it—that the bike was just part of everyday life. They had complete control, and there was traffic all around them—it didn’t bother them at all.” Laughing, he concludes “That’s what I would like to see here some day.”
Also, Olvier tracked down this link that shows a blurry photo of the "anti-American" mural Greg Curnoe did for Expo '67. Mike Barry discusses this in his sidebar to my Dandyhorse article. (Note the typo there: it was for Expo '67, not '76!).


Neil said...

Hi AH,
Do you know if there are any shops in Ottawa that stock this magazine? I'd be interested in picking up a copy.

AH said...

Hmm, I don't know! I do fear the subtitle of the magazine, "Toronto on Two Wheels," will limits its nationwide reach somewhat!