The League of American Wheelmen was founded by Kirk Munroe and Charles Pratt right here in Newport on May 30, 1880. It was founded to promote bicycle safety and sponsored rallies and races as well. They were also involved in the Good Roads Movement, created to promote the paving and maintenance of roads throughout the US, well before the advent of the automobile. Now known as the League of American Bicyclists, it keeps a list of bicycle-friendly cities and towns, and promotes the idea of turning unused railroad tracks to bicycle paths. There's a small 3-feet-high granite memorial to the LAW in Touro Park facing Bellevue Ave.
For today's video and musical enjoyment, my first pick just had to be Queen's "Bicycle Race", also known as "I Want to Ride My Bicycle". There were a lot of choices on YouTube for this song; I picked this one because the slides used were just right for this week's theme.
Now the next bit is a little more history. Remember the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, and especially near the end when Dave disables HAL's memory? HAL ended up "singing" "Daisy, Daisy" (also known as "A Bicycle Built for Two"), part of his start-up sales pitch program. Well, Kubrick borrowed that from Bell Labs' Max V. Mathews, who in 1961 created the program to make the Bell Labs' big IBM 704 computer sing the song. Being the electronic/computer music geek that I am, I actually have a copy of that historic recording; here it is:
Max is still with us, and he's one of my heroes. He now teaches at Stanford University, one of the hotbeds of computer and electro-acoustic music, and was Scientific Advisor with IRCAM (Institute de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) in Paris. His focus is on performance, i.e. creating programs to allow the performer to use the computer in live performances. He's been a huge influence on people like Donald Buchla (synthesizer and digital interface inventor) and Thomas Dolby. Which brings me to the final video: Max himself in 2007 improvising over the original program for "Daisy, Daisy", this time on the much more convenient laptop computer rather than a room-sized IBM 704. Enjoy!
Photos & text © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger