Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Substituting Bike Couriers for David Bowie

So it turned out to be one of those good news/bad news kind of nights. A friend and I were going to meet up at Strange Matter at 7:30 for a showing of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars because neither of us had ever seen it and we wanted to correct that before anybody found out and shamed us.

But upon arriving at Strange Matter, it was business as usual and there was no screen set up. When asked, the waitress told us that the Ziggy screening had been moved and that instead they'd be showing Pedal, a bike documentary. Okay, it wasn't David Bowie, but we both love a good documentary and the bike angle definitely had a lot of appeal. We were disappointed, (this was bad news) but not crushed. But how to fill the time until the film?

The perfect answer: an inaugural night on the Ipanema patio. I spotted a friend out there, went in to the bar and got two more and the five of us enjoyed some excellent conversation in the comfortable night air. Every table on the patio was taken, so it wasn't just us thrilled to be outside at night again. Loads of people were out and about this evening; it seemed like every other person who came by was someone one of us knew.

In order to start the patio season off right, I ordered a big piece of chocolate/chocolate cake with a raspberry filling. They tell me it's vegan, but all I tasted was chocolate heaven. The spring-like air, the delicious dessert, this was all very good news.

A couple of hours later, we pulled ourselves away and went back to Strange Matter for the 2001 documentary, which was about bike couriers in NYC. As most anyone knows, people are bike messengers because they love what they do; some even subscribe to the "ride or die" mentality. And for many, the lure of danger is a very enticing part of what they do. One spoke of "riding the wave," that is, catching a series of green lights for 20-30 blocks straight and the high that results.

And then it was more bad news. The DVD began stuttering, halting for a second or two and destroying the flow of the film, just as the on-camera couriers were talking about how they "fly around" and the sense of "feeling free" that motivates them. One said there was an outlaw mentality to the job.

But the technical problems did not stop. At one point, the DVD was removed and wiped off (as the guy did so, he lectured us about the need to wipe from the center out, prompting some quick person at the bar to challenge that we are supposed to always wipe from front to back. Ew.).

We got another 10 or 15 minutes of decent viewing before the problems began yet again and the DVD was removed and replaced with a different film about bike tricks. It wasn't nearly as interesting to us and my friend and I were genuinely sorry not to see the ending of Pedal; we were both really enjoying it.

Looking back at our unexpected evening, I think the best way to sum it up is: you can't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need. Ah, spring...bring it on.

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