Tunes For the Bike Experience, Vol. 3

June 28, 2009

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix Rocks You.

Check some brilliantly catchy eclectic rock from France. Phoenix has produced a couple of albums now, but this is definitely their breakthrough.

The filtering and soaring, swooping electronic riffs that accompany the more traditional rock elements of guitar, keyboard and percussion are more typical of a great French House track. But that should come as no surprise, considering that one of the Phoenix team, and producer of the album, is Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk. His sound is all over this in a wicked, excellent way.

My favorite album of the last few years. You cannot listen to the first single off of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, the uber catchy 1901, without bobbing your head and grinning like a mad man. Its a totally infectious, joyous, and optimistic album for a time and era that needs more light hearted voices and sounds of love and life like this. That track will hang on summer evenings all season long, for sure.

I am absolutely pumped to go to NYC to see them play Central Park this Sept and hear that sound echo off of the buildings into crisp autumnal night. Fuck yeah.


The 1989 Miyata 512 and LeMond’s 8 Seconds

June 27, 2009

I recently noticed that someone out there had stumbled into my blog by searching for this bike, “1989 Miyata 512”. I’ve never written about that bike in here, but what’s weird is that I did own one. In 1989, in fact. When I was 15. Suppose it now makes sense to write about it.

I saw that Kevin Bacon bike messenger movie – Quicksilver – and had to have a road bike. I stopped at the beret though. I saved up and networked myself into getting a deal at a local shop. My 512 was lavender and white – not the most manly “colorway”, but I didn’t really care.

That Miyata was a lot of bike for a 15 year old kid; a seriously pretty good whip at that time. I rocked it up to Market Mall and to St. Francis High School as fast as I could make it go. I remember my friends on their mountain bikes pleading with me to take it easy, lavender and white colorway or not. I even had a hairnet. So here’s to you, Miyata 512, with your oval chainrings and Sugino component group – you got me going.

So how does all this relate to Greg Lemond? Well, it only does in my head, but it was just a few weeks after getting this bike that I saw Lemond win Le Tour for the second time, over French icon Laurent Fignon, by a still-standing record narrow margin of just 8 seconds. ‘Jack’ went on to win the World Championships that same year, and would would win his third Tour the following season, way before Lance was the patron of the peloton.

Give it up – 8 seconds for the Miyata 512 and LeMond’s epic victory, two things strongly correlated in my mind.

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Evolution from the office-dominated urban core

June 23, 2009

A couple years ago I interviewed British architect Wil Alsop, for FFWD, when we had come to Calgary to talk about the city space and offer his unique perspective on it and our place in it. When I asked him what we could do to improve Calgary, he suggested turning all of the first 5 floors of downtown in a combination of retail and living space, to adjust our mix of urban/suburban population and to add some vitality to our city streets after 5:00.

So the other day I was talking about the future of the city and how I felt that the urban landscape will eventually evolve under two main motivating factors: the influence of our increasing need for urban space for housing, and technology that means that, more and more, we no longer need to gather in such large spaces to get things done. This is what Alsop was getting at.

Imagine a downtown not dominated by office buildings but instead is a civic place of retail, cafes and restaurants, museums and schools and could feature ‘nexus’ points, hubs that are wired for people to gather in whenever there is a need to meet to face to face. There could be high end, lavish hubs, and lower end, cheaper hubs. A monthly fee could give you access to a booking calendar for the space and a passkey to get into them all. With smart phones, you can zoom around and check see where they all are, plotted out with Google Maps. Each hub has a board room, a big LCD screen tied into Internet, plus a couple of smaller, private offices and a lounge for brainstorming or just meeting.

There’s a paradigm shift coming, I think. Things will eventually go this way. Traditional downtown office buildings require a massive amount of energy to maintain, and moving 80% of a population into the core to work, in every industrialized city in the world, is brutally inefficient. Changing the need for white collar workers to be in the same place at the same time would dramatically improve the nature of the city, and would be much better on the environment. On any given day, only 40% of your workforce might need to leave home to meet. Up to 60% could conceivably work from home, via Skype, and get just as much done.

Check out these cool spaces:

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Tunes For the Bike Experience, Vol. 2

June 19, 2009

Wagbeard sure could bring it.

One of my fav local bands as a 20-something in this ranch and derrick city.

Turn it up.