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Bicycle Diaries (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

David Byrne
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Extrait

I’ve been riding a bicycle as my principal means of transportation in New York since the early 1980s. I tentatively first gave it a try, and it felt good even here in New York. I felt energized and liberated. I had an old three-speed leftover from my childhood in the Baltimore suburbs, and for New York City that’s pretty much all you need. My life at that time was more or less restricted to downtown Manhattan—the East Village and SoHo—and it soon became apparent to me that biking was an easy way to run errands in the daytime or efficiently hit a few clubs, art openings, or nightspots in the evening without searching for a cab or the nearest subway. I know, one doesn’t usually think of nightclubbing and bike riding as being soul mates, but there is so much to see and hear in New York, and I discovered that zipping from one place to another by bike was amazingly fast and efficient. So I stuck with it, despite the aura of uncoolness and the danger, as there weren’t many people riding in the city back then. Car drivers at that time weren’t expecting to share the road with cyclists, so they would cut you off or squeeze you into parked cars even more than they do now. As I got a little older I also may have felt that cycling was a convenient way of getting some exercise, but at first I wasn’t thinking of that. It just felt good to cruise down the dirty potholed streets. It was exhilarating.

By the late ’80s I’d discovered folding bikes, and as my work and curiosity took me to various parts of the world, I usually took one along. That same sense of liberation I experienced in New York recurred as I pedaled around many of the world’s principal cities. I felt more connected to the life on the streets than I would have inside a car or in some form of public transport: I could stop whenever I wanted to; it was often (very often) faster than a car or taxi for getting from point A to point B; and I didn’t have to follow any set route. The same exhilaration, as the air and street life whizzed by, happened again in each town. It was, for me, addictive.

This point of view—faster than a walk, slower than a train, often slightly higher than a person—became my panoramic window on much of the world over the last thirty years—and it still is. It’s a big window and it looks out on a mainly urban landscape. (I’m not a racer or sports cyclist.) Through this window I catch glimpses of the mind of my fellow man, as expressed in the cities he lives in. Cities, it occurred to me, are physical manifestations of our deepest beliefs and our often unconscious thoughts, not so much as individuals, but as the social animals we are. A cognitive scientist need only look at what we have made—the hives we have created—to know what we think and what we believe to be important, as well as how we structure those thoughts and beliefs. It’s all there, in plain view, right out in the open; you don’t need CAT scans and cultural anthropologists to show you what’s going on inside the human mind; its inner workings are manifested in three dimensions, all around us. Our values and hopes are sometimes awfully embarrassingly easy to read. They’re right there—in the storefronts, museums, temples, shops, and office buildings and in how these structures interrelate, or sometimes don’t. They say, in their unique visual language, “This is what we think matters, this is how we live and how we play.” Riding a bike through all this is like navigating the collective neural pathways of some vast global mind. It really is a trip inside the collective psyche of a compacted group of people. A Fantastic Voyage, but without the cheesy special effects. One can sense the collective brain—happy, cruel, deceitful, and generous—at work and at play. Endless variations on familiar themes repeat and recur: triumphant or melancholic, hopeful or resigned, the permutations keep unfolding and multiplying.

Yes, in most of these cities I was usually just passing through. And one might say that what I could see would therefore by definition be shallow, limited, and particular. That’s true, and many of the things I’ve written about cities might be viewed as a kind of self-examination, with the city functioning as a mirror. But I also believe that a visitor staying briefly can read the details, the specifics made visible, and then the larger picture and the city’s hidden agendas emerge almost by themselves. Economics is revealed in shop fronts and history in door frames. Oddly, as the microscope moves in for a closer look, the perspective widens at the same time.

Each chapter in this book focuses on a particular city, though there are many more I could have included. Not surprisingly, different cites have their own unique faces and ways of expressing what they feel is important. Sometimes one’s questions and trains of thought almost seem predetermined by each urban landscape. So, for example, some chapters ended up focusing more on history in the urban landscape while others look at music or art—each depending on the particular city.

Naturally, some cities are more accommodating to a cyclist than others. Not just geographically or because of the climate, though that makes a difference, but because of the kinds of behavior that are encouraged and the way some cities are organized, or not organized. Surprisingly, the least accommodating are sometimes the most interesting. Rome, for example, is amazing on a bike. The car traffic in central Italian cities is notoriously snarled, so one can make good time on a bike, and, if the famous hills in that town are avoided, one can glide from one amazing vista to the next. It’s not a bike-friendly city by any means—the every-man-for-himself vibe hasn’t encouraged the creation of secure bike lanes in these big towns—but if one accepts that reality, at least temporarily, and is careful, the experience is something to be recommended.

These diaries go back at least a dozen years. Many were written during work-related visits to various towns—for a performance or an exhibit, in my case. Lots of folks have jobs that take them all over the world. I found that biking around for just a few hours a day—or even just to and from work—helps keep me sane. People can lose their bearings when they travel, unmoored from their familiar physical surroundings, and that somehow loosens some psychic connections as well. Sometimes that's a good thing—it can open the mind, offer new insights— but frequently it's also traumatic in a not-so-good way. Some people retreat into themselves or their hotel rooms if a place is unfamiliar, or lash out in an attempt to gain some control. I myself find that the physical sensation of self-powered transport coupled with the feeling of self-control endemic to this two-wheeled situation is nicely empowering and reassuring, even if temporary, and it is enough to center me for the rest of the day.

It sounds like some form of meditation, and in a way it is. Performing a familiar task, like driving a car or riding a bicycle, puts one into a zone that is not too deep or involving. The activity is repetitive, mechanical, and it distracts and occupies the conscious mind, or at least part of it, in a way that is just engaging enough but not too much—it doesn't cause you to be caught off guard. It facilitates a state of mind that allows some but not too much of the unconscious to bubble up. As someone who believes that much of the source of his work and creativity is to be gleaned from those bubbles, it's a reliable place to find that connection. In the same way that perplexing problems sometimes get resolved in one's sleep, when the conscious mind is distracted the unconscious works things out.

During the time these diaries were written I have seen some cities, like New York, become more bike-friendly in radical new ways, while in others the changes have been slow and incremental—they have yet to reach a tipping point as far as accepting cycling as a practical and valid means of transportation. Some cities have managed to find a way to make themselves more livable, and have even reaped some financial rewards as a result, while others have sunk deeper into the pits they started digging for themselves decades ago. I discuss these developments, urban planning, and policy in the New York City chapter, as well as describe my limited involvement in local politics (and entertainment) as it pertains to making my city more bike-friendly, and, I think, a more human place to live.

Présentation de l'éditeur

Since the early 1980s, David Byrne has been riding a bicycle as his principal means of transportation in New York City. A few years later he discovered folding bikes, and starting taking them with him on music tour overseas, and experienced a sense of liberation as he pedalled around many of the world's principal cities. The view from his bike seat has given Byrne a panoramic window on urban life over the last thirty years as he has cycled round cities such as London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Manila, New York, Detroit and San Francisco. From music and the visual arts, to globalisation, politics, the nature of creative work, fashion and art, this book gives the reader an incredible insight into what Byrne is seeing and thinking as he pedals around these cities.

Filled with intimate photographs, incredible musical stories and a powerful ecological message, this is an enchanting celebration of bike riding and of the rewards of seeing the world at bike level.

David Byrne is a co-founding member of the musical group Talking Heads. He has produced many solo albums and collaborated with such noted artists as Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson and Brian Eno. He has received Grammy, Oscar and Golden Globe awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.


Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 3913 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 328 pages
  • Editeur : Faber & Faber Non Fiction; Édition : Main (3 juin 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B004GGUGEY
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°212.014 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
4.0 étoiles sur 5 David Byrne as Prince Charles! 21 décembre 2012
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Former Talking Heads leader David Byrne talks about cities, architecture, environment through the description of his love of biking. Fun to read with quite deep thoughts at the same time. Highly recomended.
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Amazon.com: 3.6 étoiles sur 5  77 commentaires
94 internautes sur 106 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Wonderful views of our world 17 septembre 2009
Par Kent Peterson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
David Byrne is a smart, funny, artistic sort of fellow whose talents, inclination and curiosity have led him all over the world. A few decades back, David discovered folding bicycles and since then he's ridden his bicycle along the side and back roads of many cities, riding, thinking, chatting, living life and seeing how it's lived in a wide range of places. His view of the world seen from a bicycle saddle gives him "glimpses into the mind of my fellow man, as expressed in the cities he lives in." Now, his meditations on people, places and the various ways we get along and get around are collected in his new book, Bicycle Diaries.

Bicycle Diaries is the best kind of art, a work that brings the reader along on the artist's journey. Bicycle Diaries is a physically beautiful book, hardcover with no dust-jacket, yellow embossed letters cheerfully identify the title and author while a black silhouette of a rider draws the reader forward. An observant reader will notice a tiny bicycle peeking out from the spine at the bottom of page 11 and on each odd page thereafter the bicycle has makes more progress. Fanning forward through the pages sets the tiny typeset bicycle free, racing across the pages in the oldest style animation, persistent vision holding tight to the bike while the pages blur past. Ever the artist, be it in music, lyric, print, or type, David remembers that a book can be more than just a file on a Kindle.

The tiny animation is just one example of the playful digressiveness of this book. While he casts a loving and critical look at the world, David is always conversational. He ponders, rants, muses and marvels. He reflects on how our cities reflect our minds. We build what we value, but our shaped world shapes those values. In an age where it seems that every celebrity has a publicist and a book that screams "look at me", David is instead riding his bike down interesting streets and pausing now and then to say "Hey, look at that!" He profiles interesting buildings, streets, people, cities and artists. He's structured the book as a series of chapters each concentrating on a city such as Berlin, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Sydney or New York, but the book is not a mere travelogue. In Manila, he uses the life story of Imelda Marcos as a springboard for contemplation of the way we each build the mythic stories of our lives. In Buenos Aires he considers geography, faith, death, music, art, unemployment, sex, the pack behavior of dogs, politics, football, gentrification, nightlife, and worker ownership. In every place he rides, he finds the unique and the common and connects the local with the global.

Bicycle Diaries is an intensely human and humane book, a book that echoes in print the sense of "My God, how did I get here?" that David expressed years ago in the Talking Heads. To an interesting person like David, all places are interesting and he consistently reminds us just how interesting humans are. We are the ones building the human world -- we don't just travel the world, we make it. David's work takes him out in the world, a world he shapes with songs and images. As he's ridden more, in more places, he's become more of a cycle activist, using his talents to shape the world to be friendlier to humans and bicycles. He's designed and installed bike racks in New York City, he thinks about helmet design and he works with transportation planners. And most importantly, he's written a wonderful book, a book that reveals the simple delight of riding a bike through an amazing world.
92 internautes sur 107 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 This should have been a New Yorker article 18 octobre 2009
Par Col des Aravis - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
David Byrne is an enormously creative and thoughtful composer, artist and performer. He's also a cyclist and a world traveler which makes him a kindred soul. These attributes prompted me to buy the Kindle edition of the book and, while my expectations were not very high, this book probably should have remained a magazine article. In the acknowledgments David says it was a publisher/editor who convinced him that there was a book here and the author would have done well to ignore the advice. It is really a collection of thoughts inspired by David's bike rides in cities around the world and, while it is modestly entertaining, the thoughts inspired by his two-wheeled meandering are not particularly original or earth-shaking. I found myself abandoning the book about half-way through which is something I almost never do. The writing itself is not bad, but I just don't think he has enough to say to make this work as a book. I remain a David Byrne fan and I'll look out for his next effort, but I wouldn't recommend buying the book.
73 internautes sur 89 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Not what it is hyped to be 5 février 2010
Par M. W. Kibby - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Not only is the title of this book misleading, so is the marketing and hype about it. Supposedly, this book was to convey Byrne's observations and interpretations from the saddle of his bike as he pedaled through cities and suburbs of some of the world's most interesting venues (e.g., Berlin, New York]. Would that it were such. Being an urban bike rider who observes the life and rigors of urban living from my bike saddle, I thought this would be a great read. Well I was wrong. In fact, if this book had not been a gift to me (because it was on my 2009 Christmas list), I would say I was ripped off.

Some sections of the book do describe what is seen, heard, and thought while riding a bike. The description of riding from a section of Buffalo (actually, he was in a suburb at the start of the ride, and he eschews suburbs to a fare thee well) to Niagara Falls is one such description as is his account of riding from downtown Detroit to, and past, 8-Mile Road, but even these are brief, sketchy in observation, and woefully lacking in understanding and interpretation. Yeah, Byrne has numerous comments about rust belt cities, but nothing he thinks or says is a reflection of what he has actually seen from his bike--his comments are just stereotypic notions about Buffalo and Detroit (at least his text about Buffalo did not mention snow) that could have been embroidered into a discussion without ever leaving a pent-house condo in ever-growing cities such as Atlanta, Houston, or Los Angeles. His thoughts have little to do with what he actually saw on his trips, because he missed many important sites and many of those sites he did note, he failed to interpret wisely.

I have made the Buffalo to Niagara Falls ride at least a dozen times (though I have sense enough not to ride the dangerous-to-bicylists Maple Road past Hooters (now closed), Fuddruckers, Commerce Drive and Sweethome Road as he did on his ride) and have walked from downtown Detroit to 8-Mile Road at least three times, and I could write a great deal more than a few paragraphs from what I have seen from just those experience and and still avoid the cliches of Detroit not being there anymore and dissing franchise chain restaurants. What he says about cities is actually sophomoric--not wrong, just not astute and woefully lacking in insight and resolution.

But the real kicker about this book is not that he fails to see much from his bike rides, it is that most of the book has nothing to do with bike rides. He goes on to a great extent about Baltimore, Berlin and other cities without even mentioning bicycling. A better title for this book would have been The Musings of a Man Sitting Late at Night in His Hotel Room When Visiting Some of the Great Cities of the World in Which I Rode a Bike Once in a While.

If you are a David Byrne fan and want to know more about what he thinks about this and that of urban and suburban life and his comments on certain cities, then this book might interest you; but if you think you are picking up a book by a bicylist who describes his observations and thoughts while biking some of the great cities of the world, this is not the book for you.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Missed opportunity 29 mai 2010
Par D. Knapp - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
This book is about how David Bryne used a bike to help him visit various places on his musical tours around the planet. Bryne seems to have few deep feelings for bicycling, and he offers little in the way of insights to the places he visited on his bike. For him, a bike is a means of transportation and that is about it. He could have walked to any of the locations he visited and conveyed the same vapid impressions of those sites. Yes, he has been lots of places and used a bike to expand his horizons, but his writing did little to interest me and he offered nothing but the most shallow of impressions of the places he visited. This book is much overrated. If you are a bike rider, you won't learn anything about how to use that bike to visit new places or even get tips on riding for pleasure. If you are a traveler, you won't gain any new insights to our world. This book is a time sink.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Recreation 11 octobre 2009
Par Sagey Sway - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This book is super fun to read. Hang out in David Byrne's front pocket as he travels the world and shares his perceptions about the hidden dynamics behind the socio-political environments of world cities. He somehow perfectly captures the moods and vibes of these places while sharing his interesting personal opinions of current affairs along the way. A leisurely read that I highly recommend.
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