Car Free Sunday in Brussels (update)

no cars
car free sunday 2012

Today, Sunday September 16th is car free sunday here in B’ville. And the sun seems to be shining. I’m outta here. Bicycle heaven.

I’m back home with the photos from the Brussels no-car day 2012. It was an amazing day. The sun was shining in a way not often seen here. The streets were jammed with pedestrians and thousands of bicycles. There were musical events everywhere, food, people laughing, sitting in cafes, strolling around. I rode 6 different Villo bikes. I went down to the canal which looked sparkly in the sunlight. I rode over to the Grand Place and sat down to a coffee. Even in the expensive Grand Place where one buys a coffee in order to rent a seat the coffee was 3 euros, one less than normal in Athens. There was a Mexican band playing in the Grand Place. I sang along to “Cielito Lindo” more lustily than I probably intended. “Ay ay ay ay. Canta y no llores!” Brussels was never like this when I lived here before. Something happened. It got better. I looked around myself and felt…dare I say it? Happy. Yes. That was that strange sensation. What a great day.

 

 

Bikes In Brussels

this makes me happy

Just got home from rehearsal in a sweaty but elated state. Steven and I bought one week subscriptions to the “Villo” service. Villos are city bicycles which are part of the public transportation network. Using a credit or bank card in an atm style terminal, you buy a subscription at a bicycle station, one of the hundreds spread all over town. You enter a pin and detach one of the sturdy yellow bikes from the stands where they are docked and ride to the station closest to your destination. This is marvelous. Beats seven kinds of hell out of a car or a bus, or walking.

The next day, I took a quick excursion with one of these gems around the neighborhood of Madou, close to where we are working. I never really visited this area when I lived in Brussels so it was all new to me. I encountered a very beautiful park called “Parc Marie Louise” which I had never seen or even heard of. It has a wonderful lake with a fountain in the middle and a fake grotto which sports a waterfall inside. Something about this first encounter struck me as celestially beautiful. It probably helps that I had seen something like the same scene in a dream I had about an astral Brussels analogue in which great flowing cataracts and waterfalls featured.

 

 

Bicycle Rental in Ermoupolis

bicycle volta, Ermoupolis

We managed to find a bicycle rental place in Ermoupolis today and had great fun riding through the town along the sea. We rode up the hill and went swimming again in the neo-classical “Vaporia” section of town on the quays built by rich 19th century residents to allow boat access to their houses. I was impressed by the fact that the swimming area, deep and clear, is over one vast rock giving it a swimming pool appearance.

I was taken aback when we climbed the stairs back up the street to where we had parked the bikes and I discovered that I had a flat tire. I tried in vain to re-inflate the tire with the useless pump provided. In my addled dementia I also managed to step on and crush the lens of my Ray-Bans. I had forgotten that I had set them down on the ground while working on the bike.

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Biking in Athens (from an article for the Athens Voice)

actual bicycle path in athens (note pedestrian ignoring same)

I love to ride a bicycle. I love to ride a bicycle in Athens because I live here and it is here that I must express this love. Not because Athens is a great place to ride a bicycle. In fact, it is fairly difficult to ride here for a number of reasons. First off, there are no bicycle paths here (or so few that they amount to almost nothing). Second, and this should really be first, The drivers here are like some kind of wild animal. They won’t see you, and they will run you down and back over your corpse if they think they will get to their destination 5 seconds faster. You have to watch your ass carefully, paranoically. Your perception must be ever-acute. It helps to expect the worst. In any given situation, expect the driver to do the stupidest possible thing and you will never be disappointed.

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Bicycle Demonstration

bike demo at pedio tou areos

Saturday, November 04, 2006

 

Today I attended a demonstration of cyclists in Athens at Pedio tou Areos park. The aim was to show strength in numbers and ride to the Ministry of Transport to demonstrate in order to allow bicycles on the Metro among other demands. I had the most wonderful time. When I started cycling around this town 6 years ago, I felt like a lone freak, dashing around in between the cars, invisible, beneath contempt. How divine to find myself riding down Mesogeion and Vasilias Sofias avenues today, in the company of at least 500 of my cycling fellows. For just that little while, the bikes owned those main streets. I have noticed before that cyclists tend to wear these big smiles and today was no exception. Even when we arrived at the Minstry of Transport no one seemed to feel at all confrontational. Everyone was having too much fun.

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Bulletin from Amsterdammed

picnic on the bridge

July 11, 2005

Hello, my little chickadees. Miss me? I know it has been many moons since I have generated a wee missive like this, but hey, who counts such things among dear compas and friends such as we?

As is pretty normal these days, I am traveling around with tuxedomoon. This last session of my life as a singing baggage handler has taken me first to Amsterdam, then Naples, then Mestre, near Venice and now back to Amsterdam.

We are the guests of this sort of dada surrealist community group called the Illuseum. They are sponsoring a festival of events and exhibitions called “New Atlantis” to which we have been invited. We are conducting workshops and performing hither and yon, including at the perennial “Melkweg”.

I arranged and conducted arrangements of several Tuxedomoon songs, including “Jinx” which were sung by a spontaneous choir of locals at one such encounter. Steven worked with a group of local Moroccan lads on the TM number “Courante Marocaine”, but they flaked and ran when I started singing the call to prayer at rehearsal. They were offended, even though I told them I was sincere and reverent in doing so. There was also a woman who played an Alphorn onstage with us.

George Kakanakis, Peter and others went around filming for a possible film to be called “Bardo Hotel”.

my amsterdam ride 2005

I have been riding an old (circa 1920) bicycle around, lent to me for the duration by Grace de la Luna. This place is bike heaven. As you know, there are bike paths, roads really, everywhere with their own set of traffic lights and street markings and all. There is real bicycle traffic here; you have to be on guard just like driving a car. There are hundreds of thousands of bicycles on the road every day. Wow.

Today was old Blaine’s 52nd birthday. Way hey. Happy birthday to me. I’m not getting older, I’m getting…..um…well, I AM getting older. I frantically do yoga and ride a bicycle but nothing will persuade that old grim reaper to turn back the clock. Who gives a shit, finally? You don’t scare me,ese! As james whale sings in “gods and monsters” “Grave where is thy victory? Death, where is thy sting a ling a ling?” hah.

Pretty good birthday.we played for this public dinner on a footbridge over a canal. there were lots of people from the local community eating on the bridge. we played as the sun set. Pretty good.

Will go back to Athens in about a week.

In the meantime, I remain ever yours, faithful unto the end, like an old dog sleeping at your feet by the fire, humping your leg until you hit me with a newspaper, I crap on the carpet and you must put me down at last.

Yours for all time

Blaine Leslie Reininger
Born July 10 1953 at 3 am in Pueblo, Colorado, U.S.A.

the musical bit

Zen on Two Wheels

new bike, 2002
my new used bike, 2002

Zen on Two Wheels

Saturday Feb. 9, 2002

The good news is that today I bought a bicycle. The bad news is….there isn’t any bad news. Yesterday I was out on Athena’s bike, just drifting around when I happened upon a bicycle repair shop. This may be no big thing to you, but this is Greece and a bike repair shop isn’t that easy to find. The guy, I forget his name, though he told it to me, had some used bikes for sale, looking grungy enough to fit my budget. I pointed at one and asked, and he said “No problem, my friend. I feex and tomorrrrrow you take. 60 evRO.” My guy was as good as his word, and today I took delivery of my new old bicycle. He put it into the best shape possible and it is quite rideable. I took it out on the long jetty that protrudes into the harbor. This is heaven. Riding out into the sea with the mountains in the distance is about as close as one can come to riding out on the water itself. Whizzing along with the water on both sides is like shooting through a tube made of sky and sea, an ecstatic blue-white warp in the very fabric of Samsara, illuminated and vibrating like a bouzouki string.

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