Thursday, February 28
Tuesday’s post midnight news was dominated by the Clinton vs. Obama debate. I had heard every political pundit and analyst debate who the winner was and had reached a saturation point that made me listen with only half an ear. Then came some huge news—and I’m not talking about the umpteenth snowstorm that was transpiring in Chicago outside my window. In minutes, an announcer said, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra would be performing “Live” from Pyongyan, North Korea. My ears tuned in.
For more than a year, plans were being laid for this concert. It would be the first and largest cultural exchange with North Korea. The announcer called the event historic.” I longed for the music to start and when it did, magic happened. I sat mesmerized, forgetting about the snowstorm, trying to forget about the fact that motorcyclists were out riding on Saturday and now, on Tuesday, we would be digging out from an estimated 5-8 inches of snow.
Lorin Maazel, the conductor, and the orchestra fascinated the audience. The orchestra began by playing the anthems of North Korea and the USA. The orchestra played Gershwin, Dvorak and Wagner. I especially loved Dovorak’s Symphony #9 in A Minor, better known as the New World Symphony. I don’t think I’ve heard it performed better. Gershwin’s “An American In Paris” seemed to have special significance and I couldn’t help but think of the Americans in North Korea. Panning the audience showed the raw emotions evoked by the music. Some faces seemed lost in the music as people listened with their eyes closed, others moved their heads ever so slightly; one person, a woman, dabbed her eyes.
Thunderous applause followed each piece. An effusive audience showed their appreciation with stand ovations, the last one lasted five minutes! The concert ended with the playing of Arirang, a much-loved folk song evidently adored by both North and South Korea. The audience was visibly moved throughout the concert but the finale brought the house down, so to speak. The concert was followed by a discussion with the audience. Watching Maazel interact across cultural lines added true class to the evening. Such cross-cultural exchanges are demystifying, they facilitate a much-needed understanding among humans outside of all the political caterwauling.
North Korea’s best cellist said he yearns to travel and perform abroad and hopes that the successful visit by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s created such opportunities. Music really is a universal language--you could see it on the faces in the audience. I could feel the connection thousands of miles away.
While this blog entry nothing to do with motorcycling, it has a lot to do with traveling to distance lands, which is what appeals to me most about motorcycling. For many reasons, not the least of which is political propaganda (on all sides), individuals and groups must be bridge builders and bridge crossers. As I continue to research places to ‘cycle this riding season, I shall remain mindful of the historic cultural exchange between North Korea and New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Now, if only the riding season were in sight!
Friday, February 22
In Palo Alto, on Stanford University's campus, bicycles are ubiquitous! A tour guide said there are 14,000 students enrolled there and 12,000 registered bicycles . I don't know if this includes faculty and staff who ride to work, but the place reminded me of images of China's congested two-wheel traffic. Riders zipped around campus, which appears devoid of overt bicycle lanes . How they manage to avoid crashing into each other is beyond me. But bicyclists seem to know who has the right of way and how to avoid cell-phone talking strollers immersed in conversations so important that they are exempt from following any rules of the road, and bicyclists seem also adept at avoiding tourists, who stop wherever the mood strikes to read the campus map.
I didn't miss the special parking set aside for motorcyclists either. Very thoughtful.
He told me that he pays a nominal fee to park on campus but that all street parking is free for motorcyclists. He's able to literally ride to his classroom building. He also introduced me to many of the bike's upgrades, none of which he added, by the way. He got a "great" deal because the previous owner did all the work. He had Givi luggage and rack, Corbin seat, and a "slip-on" exhaust system, which gave his bike a nice, deep throaty sound--definitely not loud. Still, his neighbors complain about it. Their problem, he said, is that they simply don't like motorcycles. They've complained but his landlord, who lives on the premises has sided with him and also contends that the bike's exhaust level is a non-issue. Frankly, I'd add that "slip-on" in heart beat. It wasn't loud at all! It brought to mind a Ducati I once heard...
San Francisco, near Fisherman's Wharf, was a haven for motorcyclists. By then, I'd become less obvious in my glee at seeing and hearing a bike go by. I focused on the riders. Every one I saw wore a helmet--including the passengers. I did notice that many wore the beanie helmets, which I surmise is an attempt to circumvent the mandatory helmet law 'cause those helmets sure didn't look very protective.
I'm not a clothes horse; however, I've become a fashion maven about motorcycle wear. I don't ride comfortably when the jacket I'm donning doesn't fit well and reminds me of being a child trying on her father's coat. I've made too many purchases that initially seem suitable, only to find out later that they don't ride well. One doesn't wear such garments, they sort of just hang on you. So, now I have these two jackets that ride well that I absolutely fancy but can't get professionally cleaned!
Fortunately, I have other jackets and pants that can be handwashed. But I tell you, they are not as much fun. They are functional, yes, but not necessarily fun. I desire and deserve both. For example, I love my FirstGear Kilimanjaro jacket--it's definitely my favorite.
For long trips, I never leave home without it. There are those days, however, when the FirstGear is in the laundry and it's a beautiful day out, where I know I don't need to worry about rain protection or plummeting temps and I want something a bit more stylish.
I bought a silver TourMaster Transition jacket, which I wore around the store for a long time, debating its practicality. I bought silver to match my helmet and the trellis on my bike. Bad idea! The jacket is a dirt magnet! I can stretch three, maybe four outings out of it before desperately needing to toss it in the laundry--that's way too much work. Thus, it hardly gets worn.
The quest for an intrepid cleaners to tackle my jackets and pants continues. But just in case the search fails, the back up gear is clean and raring to go.
It is 22 degrees F this morning. Still, if I take a really deep breath, after the nose hairs thaw a bit, I can smell spring in the air. I really can...
Tuesday, February 5
(Click picture on the right to see the weather-proof scooterist)
Winners will be announced on March 19, 2008.
I’ve nominated Carla King for her amazing contributions in solo motorcycle touring (national and international), her extraordinary “misadventures “ and her wonderful motorcycle blogs and book authorship that keep readers up-to-date on her whereabouts and newsworthy motorcycle information. She's recently partnered with a frequent visitor here, the multi-talented, D. Brent Miller of Sojourner Chronicles, and now offers a Miss Adventuring Podcast series--very cool! I can't hardly wait to dig in there!