The Straight Story
POLICE OFFICER: It is dangerous and illegal to ride a bicycle in a procession.Democracy Now! broadcast a segment discussing an upcoming documentary about "Critical Mass" bicycle turn-outs in New York City. I suppose city governments can have various concerns about large scale protests, usually citing safety issues and law-breaking potential. But recently, the opposition has turned more sinister:
AMY GOODMAN: Norman Siegel, you're a long-time civil liberties lawyer. What is going on here? What about the lawsuit saying that the group TIME’S UP! cannot publicly -- or individuals cannot publicly talk about these events?The documentary called "Still We Ride" focusses mainly on the ride which took place right before the RNC and where police arrested 254 very, very, very slow moving bicyclists.
NORMAN SIEGEL: I think it's very troubling. It's the first time that I'm aware of where the City of New York is trying to enjoin protest activity. I think it has huge ramifications for activists, if the city can prevail on this. The implication would be that activists could not publicize any form of civil disobedience. Just think of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement not being able to publicize people coming together to sit in at the Greensboro lunch counters in the early '60s.
I don't really know who coined the phrase "Still We Ride" but google-cycling turned up this essay by The Cyclotherapist circa 1999:
Why do we love the bicycle? What is it about the bicycle that is so endearing and enduring for us? Why do we, sensible people who work hard all week, get on a bike and beat up our brains and butts to ride as far and as fast and climb as high and as hard as we can? We sweat, we swear, we ache, we agonize, and still we ride.I look forward to seeing the documentary at some point but knowing how these independent productions tend to get lost in the mix, I suggest as an alternative David Lynch's The Straight Story. Lynch himself describes it thusly "It's a very slow road movie....This is a story about old age. And it's a story about a man's life." I love the movie because you cannot truly figure out what the enigmatic elderly protaganist Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) hopes to accomplish by driving his John Deere riding lawn mower across Iowa to visit his brother in Wisconsin. One critic partially rationalized his plight:
The slow pace of this film is key to a fundamental issue being addressed. Alvin cannot be in a hurry, so he is not in a hurry. He accepts the terms of his task, and uses them to whatever advantage is available.That basically reveals a single individual's psyche. Absurd at its core, a Critical Mass event essentially multiplies Alvin by a thousand and replaces his riding lawn mower with a bunch of old Schwinns. And not one person in the procession can justifiably answer the question "What's the point of this activity?" other than to say we're just going at our own pace.
Apparently, authorities fear this fact-based reality more than anything else.