Amoeblog

A BIKER'S DREAM: INNER CITY STREETS FREE OF CARS

Posted by Billyjam, August 25, 2008 12:15pm | Post a Comment

Cycling down a completely traffic-free Park Avenue in the heart of New York City over the weekend, I was reminded of the numerous futuristic or Sci-Fi movies in which the Big Apple is abandoned after some major disaster.

Last year's I Am Legend (available on DVD at Amoeba) -- in which Will Smith and his canine companion wandered a deserted midtown Manhattan -- specifically sprung to mind as myself and other cyclists, hikers, and skaters, unhindered by any autos, passed by the raised street level outside Grand Central Terminal at Park and 42nd Street, heeding the city's invitation to "Play. Run. Walk. Bike. Breathe." 

The reason there were no cars two days ago, and also on two previous Saturdays this month, was because it was the third and final weekend day in the first ever city initiated Summer Streets program. From 7AM to 1PM, all autos were banned on Park Avenue from 72nd on the Upper East Side all the way downtown, essentially connecting Central Park to the Brooklyn Bridge -- a seven mile long distance, all traffic free!

But what made this whole cycling experience so special is that it is normally impossible to do a bike ride like that, at least in such a stress-free way.  Like most major cities, the best way to see New York is by bike, but the problem is that cycling round Manhattan is far from safe. Typically you take your life in your hands, maneuvering your bike through New York's congested auto-dominated streets, on weekdays especially, with erratic drivers (including lots of yellow cabs & buses) unpredictably accelerating and cutting you off or worse. And as for the few bike lanes on Manhattan's major thoroughfares: drivers notoriously ignore them and cut off cyclists all the time. I personally know of several NYC cyclists sent to the hospital due to negligent drivers.

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RAHOWA: I Am Legend (2007)

Posted by Charles Reece, December 15, 2007 06:29pm | Post a Comment
i am legend book cover   i am legend poster

There was to be a great joke played out in the latest film incarnation of Richard Matheson’s novel of the last surviving man on Earth.  The old racist movie cliché is that if a black man is one of the central cast, he’ll be the first to die.  So casting a black man as the last surviving man in Matheson’s tale seemed like perfectly mad twist given how the book ends, a joke that would do Renny Harlin’s DEEP BLUE SEA, where LL Cool J is the lone survivor against smart shark attacks, one better.   However, Hollywood’s commercial belief in soothing heroic endings turns the casting of Will Smith as Robert Neville into something of a sick hoax where the old cliché is given new life for the current generation.

In the book, Neville is described as a white scientist with blue eyes and blond hair, weighing in at 200 and some odd pounds.  While having an English name, he’s also of Germanic origin.  The Master Race parallel was obviously intentional, given that the story is about our species' one lone survivor indiscriminately killing off the now dominant competitors.  'Indiscriminately,' because although his rivals in this Darwinian competition look the same, have the same feeding patterns, similar totemic fears of garlic and religious icons, and the same nocturnal behavior patterns, they're of two types: a more bestial, lower order form and a mutant human-vamp hybrid capable of highly rational thought.  Neville is a classic tragic figure, holding on to the last vestiges of our civilization’s rationality by pathologically trying to find a cure for vampirism even though he’s immune and more than willing to annihilate the Other through a more physical remedy while it sleeps.  His success via the latter means has made him a fearsome legend in the hybrid community as the ravager of their race. 

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