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Angel Pavement

I park my car on the pier at the end of Houston St.  I live on Chambers St.  This is the route that the truck took that mowed down the bicyclists and strollers in Manhattan, yesterday at about 3pm.  I walk this same greenway to get my car.  It’s about a mile.  At 6pm I would have been on that walk to get the car for a planned trip to Boston.  No access today, so I’m on a bus.

When the World Trade Center was hit, also four blocks from my home, it was too overwhelming to have much time to think.  This is different.  I couldn’t sleep.  I feel sick.  Beyond the normal reaction (It could have been me or someone I love), abstract sympathy (these are valuable lives gone forever) or stray thoughts (imagine being bombed every day for 20 years in Iraq), it was the repeated images of mangled bikes that lingers.

The Desperate Bicycles took their name from J.B. Priestley’s  novel Angel Pavement.  The line, “Turning into angel pavement from that crazy jumble of buses, lorries, drays, private cars, and desperate bicycles…”  The band’s first single, “Handelbars” was a touchstone for the DIY music movement in the late 70s.  It encouraged kids to operate independently of any structure and stop feeling helpless.  The band also offered screeds against the UK’s National Front, an extreme right wing movement.  There’s ignorance, there’s evil, there’s tedium, there’s helplessness.   Inspiration gone haywire when I think about yesterday, the song chants, “It was easy, it was cheap – go and do it.”


Also published on Medium.


2 comments

  1. Stephen M.H. Braitman, ASA

    One of the best bands of the era. The primitive recording quality only adds to the power of the strong melodies and pungent lyics.