Tuesday, September 18, 2018

“Acting like birds”: Beach Ride, History and a Swim with Florence

Top photo by this writer, the next four by Ed Dutchmazz,at Fort Tilden.

When you ride a bike, history is always a part of the journey. It shapes the routes you take, the streets you traverse, the conditions you enjoy, the congestion which informs our streets, and the water you encounter along the way.
Sunday, a few of us met for another ride to the beach together as Indian summer extended into the fall.
Its been ten years of these rides.
Joe, who was there for the first ride back in summer of 2008, joined us in Prospect Park, along with Julia and Beka and Ed and Steven.
We rode along the park to Ditmas making our way down Rugby Road, past the majestic old homes, to 14th street, Emmons Ave through Sheepshead Bay, along the green bike bike path to Flatbush, over the bridge, to Fort Tilden.
Along the way, we talked about a few of the rides we’ve been on together through the years, the World Naked Rides, Critical Mass, rides the police cracked down, and those such as the Beach Ride that never drew the attention of the police.
We’ve tried to build something wonderful over the years.
Some of it has survived.  But much of it has not.
Bike lanes are still around but so is the controversy over these contested streets.
Riding, Joe played the soundtrack to Shortbus.
The quiet sounds of Gentleman Reg’s “It's Not Safe” came on:
Outside of tiny windows
Impenetrable land made of cloud
With textures, rolling hills, white meadows
Movements that unsettle
And remind one where we are
Movements that unsettle
And remind one where we are
Intentionally out of control
Seemingly graceful
Acting like birds, acting like birds
It's not safe to be naked,
Young or creative anymore
It's not safe to be naked,
Young or creative anymore
Stopping for food a few of the riders agreed that we’d stay at the beach all afternoon and then make our way to the Grub Community Dinner.
I was going to leave early to go to the prop making party for the Families for Safe Streets ride of remembrance later in the fall.
The beach ride is a gateway to cool shit, noted Joe.
If I die in the rip tide, it was great, he screamed running into the water.
Birds were there to greet us.
Swimming we could feel it.  The tides were strong; Florence was bringing it, pulling at our feet, eleven foot waves hurling our bodies.
Up and down the East Coast tides have been rising, a shark attack in Cape Cod, the boy dying the night before in the Rockaways, flooding throughout the Carolinas, as the poor, those who cannot move or have nowhere to go deal with the brunt of the storm first. It feels like it’s coming our way.

“In Flood-Hit Public Housing, a Reminder That the Poor Bear Brunt of Storms’ Fury” noted the Times.


And in New York, unseasonably warm weather reminds us the globe seems to be changing along with all of us. People from all over New York were at the beach, other cyclists, friends from the harm reduction world, a man selling gummy bears.  Joe made ceviche, pouring everyone a glass of wine, as another majestic afternoon passed in front of us.


Lets do another ride in October.

I’m sure it will still be warm, unless Florence takes us.
Will we ever learn to live in harmony with the planet as the First Nations and Native Americans taught us, and supporters of Deep Ecology practice today?
Will the storms and cars, crashes and conflicts continue?
I left early for the prop making party at on 7th street, riding down Flatbush, navigating between honking cars and pot holes, making it to Park Slope in less than an hour for the prop making party.
Interference Archive’s invitation described the event:
Interference Archive and Families for Safe Streets (FSS) are excited to collaborate on an upcoming propaganda party to create materials for the World Day of Remembrance, commemorating lives lost in traffic crashes across New York City. Join us on Sunday, September 16th from 2-5pm at Interference Archive (314 7th Street, Brooklyn NY 11225) to make posters, memorial banners, buttons, and more. FSS is comprised of a group of individuals who have lost loved ones or have been injured in traffic crashes. Their mission is to channel grief into action and through grassroots campaigns, help realize a city where pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles safely co-exist.

What is a propaganda party? It’s where we invite organizations, activists, designers, and folks like you to come together, hang out, meet each other, and make and distribute stickers, posters, buttons, and more. At this event we’ll be collectively printing graphic material to spread the word about the work and values of FSS — both for you to take back to your community to share, and also for FSS to use in their current organizing.

Why do we use the word “propaganda”? “Propaganda,” from the same root as “propagate,” refers to information that is shared in support of a cause. In modern times, the word propaganda has been weighted with negative connotations; we aim to reclaim the word. Our daily lives are saturated with supposedly “neutral” material that implicitly supports existing power structures. We use the word propaganda because we have no desire to feign neutrality.

This event is part of a project that is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC).

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