Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bicycles and Autonomy

The Chainbreaker Bike Book
a Rough Guide to Bicycle Maintenance
222 s. rogers st.
Bloomington, IN 47404

This is an illustrated guide to everything you’ll ever need to know about fixing and maintaining bicycles. It tells you what tools to use, which way to turn the nuts & bolts (not always the way you think), and provides insider tips and advice along the way. This is seriously the only book you will ever need on bicycle maintenance. But That’s only the first half of this book, the second half of the book is the reprinted version of the zine that started it all, Chainbreaker. Great zine, excellent reading, and very inspirational. I loved Shelly’s article entitled, “Hey Ladies!” wherein she recounts some of the challenges and obstacles that she has had to overcome being a woman mechanic. Stories like this need to be told and re-told as often as possible. The layout is cut and paste and full of beautiful pictures of bikes and bike people, fun illustrations that reminded me of ‘The Moonlight Chronicles’ at times, and really great bike-centric stories, ideas, and advice.

Anarchist Bicycle Rally Confidential Mad Libs
Joe Biel
POB 14332
Portland, OR
ABR CML is a compilation of police reports written about Portland Critical Mass bicycle rallies from 1993 through 2005 with select words taken out mad lib style. As an activist I found this to be fascinating. I thought I might be a bit freaked out by it, in the “Seriously? They really do spend all of that money and dedicate all of those resources to this stuff” kind of way, and to a certain extent I was. But I also felt a bit of relief that my paranoia over all these years has been somewhat justified. This book is a good resource for anyone who feels compelled to speak loudly about issues that threaten the status quo. Knowledge is power and reading this gives the reader a unique look into the inner workings of at least one bureaucracy paid to keep the peace in the ‘progressive’ city of Portland.

How and Why: a do-it-yourself guide
Matte Resist
POB 582345
Minneapolis, MN 55458
Microcosm $14
222 s. rogers st
Bloomington, IN 47404
In keeping with the bike-centric-diy-theme, we have this book. Like ‘Chainbreaker’, H&W is full of illustrated and useful information outlined in an accessible and very reader-friendly way with lots of pictures. And it begins with bicycles: how to fix ‘em, outfit ‘em, and even how to ride ‘em in the winter. It goes on to provide practical information and tips on a wide variety of subjects such as buying a house, building a mouse trap, educating & socializing your youngsters, building musical instruments out of all kinds of funky shit (bike spoke kalimba?), bike tube bungee cords, pop can solar panels, and an extensive section on how to grow veggies that’s worth the price of the book alone. This is a great resource for anyone wanting to take a shot at living off the grid, or at least attempting to move a bit further away.