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Bicycling for Dim Sum

uploaded: Sat, Jun 28, 2008 @ 11:11 PM last modified: Sun, Jun 29, 2008 @ 12:59 AM  (replace)
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” How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm After they’ve seen Paree”—Joe Young and Sam M. Lewis, from a World War One era song, public domain, 1918

This week our United States financial markets staggered under the realization that our nation’s pattern of unrestrained resource consumption no longer fits the realities of the supply of economic (and moral and engine) fuel available to support the economy.

On Main Street USA, we see a light bulb flashing on among ordinary people, as folks realize that the conservation neglected for the decades this crisis has been coming must become not only a trend but a lifestyle. In my local area, mass transit is suddenly filled with riders, and even on-line auctions feature dramatic run-ups for well-used high mpg sub-compact cars.

Yet this new (and long-overdue) pragmatism about our rampant non-renewable consumerism cannot undo the way in which our day to day culture has been infused with and benefited by the effects of travel and outreach. The USA today is a much more diverse place than the country in which I was a boy some forty-something years ago. I believe that these changes have been a wonderful leaven which has risen to create a far richer naan of culture than the white bread culture of my youth.

I had a mental construct of people moving from SUVs to pedal-powered transmissions, and yet continuing to live lives open to experiences outside the golden arches. I saw a world in which people bike to cafes to eat dim sum.

I am very partial to the “klankbeeld raaphorst” at Marco takes a Creative Commons flickr photograph and writes a “soundimage” song each week (or so), giving away the resulting wonderful song on his weblog under a CC license.

I decided to do things the other way ‘round. Having written my song,
I set out to find a CC image to accompany my song—an “Imagesound”.
I found this picture of a bicycle rental saleswoman having lunch by
her bikes in Guangzhou, a dim sum source, by the Zhujang River. You can see this CC BY picture, by Lin Zhizhao at:

Perhaps while the would-be-hip Americans in my song are riding 700 dollar one-speed custom bikes to 35 dollar dim sum cafe lunches with machine-dried table-cloths and butane-heated dim sum carts , the woman in the picture is having a more modest lunch, renting out bikes to tourists for 3 dollars a day or so.

In this same way, although this song is stylistically an homage to
the music of another culture, it is in fact merely electronica created in the Texas prairie with no more versimilitude to its influences than a Broadway show has to the music of Polynesia. Until we all live not only in our affluent places, but in the places of those gentlepeople who live all around us, then we will not begin replacing consumption with compassion. Perhaps in the meantime,though, we take it one step at a time.

This is a song about transition, and about replacing the consumerism of failing resources with a new sharing economy of ideas and smarter consumerism of sustainable living. I am filled with hope and expectation that an oblivious time in USA history is passing, and the first hints of informed change begin now.

"Bicycling for Dim Sum"
by gurdonark

2008 - Licensed under
Creative Commons

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