William Gibson Part I

William Gibson’s connection to bicycling, or more specifically, to bike messengers, began with his novel Virtual Light which recounted the adventures of San Francisco bike messenger Chevette Washington. Chevette has stolen a pair of high-tech sunglasses which are embedded with a kind of software that details the massive redevelopment of San Francisco and forebodes the even further displacement of the city’s poor and disenfranchised. Like all of Gibson’s work, Virtual Light is a critique of end game capitalism and envisions a future in which the annihilation of the middle class is complete and the working classes consist of people like Chevette who subsist on marginalized low paying jobs like messengering, and squat in place like the abandoned Oakland Bay bridge.
Gibson evidently solicited help from a messenger named Markus, aka “Fur” who published a messenger zine back in the early nineties and shortly afterwards died of a heroin overdose. Gibson’s elegantly turned tropes and dystopian themes have won him prominent place of notoriety in the mainstream of literature and have solidified his reputation as a techno-prophet. He single-handedly invented the concepts of “cyberspace” and “virtual reality” and may have contributed to the evolution of “reality TV”. instead of 15 minutes of fame, the most we can hope for is 15 seconds.


Transit Strike

Okay, let’s back it up.  No, I mean way back.  Before the internet.  Before cell phones.  Let’s travel back thirty years ago to the year 1980 and see what crazyflybikeguy was doing and what the world looked like.  Check out the dude in the background with the funky lid.  You don’t see people wearing those kinds of lids anymore.  This picture was taken during the transit strike of 1980, when the entire city had to resort to other means to get to work.  This was the event that put bicycling on the map for New Yorker’s. It made the city seem more proletarian, as if it were some kind of Bolshevik plot(thank you Barack Obama), seeing the streets filled with bicycles like Amsterdam or Peking.  Hundreds of bikes everywhere you looked.  It was also the year that I became a messenger, quitting my job at Simon and Schuster, to go out on these streets to wait for the apocalypse.  I gotta say that the apocalypse never came(unless you consider 9/11 apocalyptic), but the new millennium did and with that the beginning of a new age in transportation.  In the coming weeks and months I’ll try to expand upon my thesis about the transit strike and the evolution of bicycle culture in New York.  Stay tuned.