I’m here in Ottawa while Carrie attends a meeting of the Law Commission of Canada. The plan was to hang out in the hotel room and write, but the reality is that I’m more in sit-somewhere-and-read-and-wander-around mood. And so I have.
Yesterday, while waiting to cross the canal on Rideau St., I got stuck in traffic for a minute. I was was behind a bus so I couldn’t really see, but at the corner there were some guys hold bikes in the air and I could see others on bikes riding into the intersection. Then the guy in the car to my right rolled down the window and starting cursing the bikers. Which leads me to believe that I just experienced my first Critical Mass Ride (motto: we’re not stopping traffic, we ARE traffic), which is borne out by the scheduled 5:15 ride in Ottawa the last Friday of each month. Zack Furness, one of my doctoral students, wrote a dissertation on biking politics and I was really surprised at some of the hostility motorists showed to critical mass bikers. But I’d never seen it for myself. Guess that’s another take on road rage. Zack’s diss is in the pocket at Pitt and will be revised into a book very soon, from what I gather. . . .
As to my tooling around Ottawa. Yesterday was all about music shopping. I stopped by Songbird Music, which is like a graveyard for old gear, especially the back room. That’s the recording and PA section, and I saw all sorts of dusty old gear, some of it from the 1970s and some of it with brand names that I suspect never made it south of the border. It’s like an Isle of Lost Toys for musicians.
I’m saving Octopus Books to visit with Carrie — so that’ll be tomorrow.
Oh yeah, my Theory of Ottawa: it’s like a great college town. I don’t know if Canadians have a concept of “college town” but if they did, maybe they’d look down less on their Capital City. I’m always surprised to hear Canadians disparage Ottawa, since it seems like a perfectly nice place to me with plenty to do, at least as a visitor. It’s not a global city like Montreal, and certainly not as cool but as someone who’s spent my life in the midwest and mid-east United States, I find it perfectly charming.
Yesterday was Critical Mass day in Chicago, too. I have to say that there’s hostility all around between bikes and cars here in Chicago. Now that it’s warm and more bikes are on the road, I see daily tons of road rage swapping back and forth, and both bikes and cars doing stupid, unsafe shit, each fulminating against the other and stewing in self-righteous rage about to whom the roads “really” belong.
And, of course, all the indie kids are dressing like bike messengers and riding around on double high bikes.
On a slightly related note, I saw an amusing craigslist post the other day in which the poster was looking for other bike folks, but asking respondents to steer him away from the local “bike cults” and their “recruiters.”
More Chicago Critical Mass stuff here: http://www.gapersblock.com/merge/archives/2006/05/#013652
I’m going to have to go on one of those Critcal Mass rides sometime. It sounds like fun!
testing your spam.
When I was 9 my parents took me to the parliament buildings to stare at the funny guards (are they still there?) then I was attacked by a low flying pigeon.
Ottawa is kind of like an amusement park version of a real capital city.
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