"I tried the Vélib’ public bicycle-rental program in Paris…"
Photo by Matthew Rankin
Chapter 1: American Cities
"I arrive in Valencia, a 'town' near L.A., in the early evening. I wash up and walk around outside to get my bearings. I seem to be nowhere or maybe on a movie set—there isn’t a soul on the sidewalks and the buildings nearby are all relatively new condos in fake this or that style. Across the street are indooroutdoor malls that architecturally imitate streets, but their 'streets' have no people on them."
Photo by DB
Chapter 2: Berlin
"I bike out, appropriately enough, along the amazing Karl-Marx-Allee, a sort of Soviet-inspired version of the Champs Élysées or Avenida 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires or maybe New York’s Park Avenue. But this boulevard is even wider and grander than many of those. The vaguely Moscow-style grand apartment buildings that line this boulevard outdo those in Moscow and rival the apartments on large avenues in other cities, except these are more orderly and repetitive, echoing each other, going on and on as far as one can see. The scale of both the street and these buildings is not quite human, and the images that come to mind and the accompanying sensations imply to me an idealistic utopian infinite heaven."
Infrared photo by DB
Chapter 3: Istanbul
"…these calligraphic works seem, for the moment at least, perfectly in synch with contemporary Western sensibilities—text as art, the word as thought made beautifully tangible—even if they might have been oceans apart from those abstract and formal ideas at the time when they were made."
G. Dagli Orti / De Agostini Picture Library / Getty Images
Chapter 4: Buenos Aires
"In the morning I decide to bike out to Tierra Santa (the Holy Land) in hopes of some photo opportunities. It’s a theme park located close to the river out past the domestic airport that
advertises 'a day in Jerusalem in Buenos Aires.' I find that it is closed today, but from outside the gate I can see 'Calvary' with its three crosses poking out of the top of an artificial desert hill."
Photo by DB
Chapter 5: The Philippines
"Foreigners notice the jeepneys right away. How can you not? They are super-colorful, freakish progeny of leftover U.S. Army jeeps that have morphed, elongated, and mutated into a kind of cheap, tricked-out form of public transport. Jeepney drivers adorn their vehicles with names and sayings: Lovely, Mama-Cita, Metal Mania, Pray For Our Way, Grandma’s Pet, Reconnaissance Patrol. This one reads Simply the Best, no doubt quoting from the Tina Turner song. There is a kind of jeepney wisdom."
Photo by DB
Chapter 6: Australia
"A few days later I reach Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta, another isolated rock formation in the middle of nowhere. These are both on Aboriginal lands, and the Aborigines co-run the park. We, the traditional landowners of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, are direct descendants of the beings who created our lands during the Tjukurpa (Creation Time). We have always been here. We call ourselves Anangu, and would like you to use that term for us."
Photo by DB
Chapter 7: London
"I am introduced to Grayson Perry, the transvestite potter who won the Turner Prize a few years ago. 'It’s about time a transvestite potter got this prize!' he said when he won. […] He is in full Victorian baby-doll little-girl drag tonight, looking like Alice in Wonderland when she suddenly got big. […] I am thrilled to meet him. He is married and has a daughter—I saved a family picture that was in the UK papers when he won the Turner Prize. In the picture, he stands in his dress alongside his attractive and seemingly ordinary wife (she’s a shrink!), she giving a full-on laugh, and in front is their daughter, beaming a huge smile, obviously happy that Dad has won the most prestigious art prize in the land."
Ian Hodgson / Reuters
Chapter 8: San Francisco
"It’s no accident that the humble garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard began their partnership in Palo Alto is an icon here. Like Sun Studio in Memphis, where rock and roll was born, or Menlo Park, New Jersey, where Edison lit up the world, this funky little garage is revered partly because it’s nothing special. Its ordinariness is the point."
David Paul Morris / Getty Images
Chapter 9: New York City
Street procession, NYC
Photo by DB
Epilogue: The Future of Getting Around
"When I agreed to co-judge the rack designs I sketched out some amusing smaller bike rack ideas of my own, each for a specific New York City neighborhood, and passed them on to the DOT. They were not meant as serious proposals, but as an incentive to loosen up. To my surprise the DOT responded, 'Let’s do these! If someone pays for fabrication we’ll put them up.' There is a dollar-sign-shaped rack for Wall Street, a highheeled-
shoe-shaped rack for upper Fifth Avenue, a doggieshaped rack for the Village, an abstract shape for MoMA, etc."
Photo by Kerry Ryan McFate, courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York