Sunday, November 16, 2008

G-String’d Cyclist: The Musical

This afternoon I momentarily stepped out of my cave-like studio apartment, and ventured into the harsh Texas sun. As I stood next to my apartment building, I saw a heavyset guy cruise by on a recumbent bike, complete with little-kid-style flag sticking up out of the back wheel. As I watched this guy, amazed that his bike was able to stay upright despite his almost unbelievably slow speed, I was greeted with an even better sight. Just as the first guy passed out of view, heading west, another bicyclist entered my view heading east. This guy was on a regular bicycle, and was moving at normal speed. So what made him awesome, you ask? Well, how about the fact that it was a full grown man, riding his bicycle through my neighborhood, in the middle of a pleasant Sunday afternoon, wearing nothing but a green G-string.

A full grown man. On a bicycle. Riding down the street. In the middle of the day. In nothing but a G-string. Just a G-string.

Not only was this event totally fucking awesome, but it also got me thinking. Not so much about men in G-strings. I mean, I already got to see that today. But more about the character of Austin. While this bicyclist was definitely a noteworthy event (as soon as I went inside, I called my brother to tell him about it – after which he provided this post's title), it's not completely unprecedented. I want to be clear, I'm not a long-time Austinite. I've only been here for about 2 ½ years, and I am not even from Texas (Michigan, what!). So this is all based on my somewhat limited experience in Austin and definitely limited knowledge of Austin history.

Back in the 1960s, Austin was the little liberal, counter-cultural oasis for the South and Southwest. A strange, little hippy haven in the big sea of the conservative south. Over the years, Austin's hippy, counter-cultural past has evolved, leaving an indelible mark all over the city. There is the legendary music scene. The well-respected independent film industry. The abundant art galleries. The numerous experimental theaters. The murals that adorn the side of just about every building. The love of local business, organic food, etc.

And then there are some things that seemingly haven't changed all that much over the years. Hippies are still plentiful. There are a bunch of communes all over the city. There is the nude beach, Hippy Hollow. Apparently a lot of those experimental theaters do weird nude fertility plays. And then there's probably my favorite legacy of Austin's hippy past. The fact that, of all the hippy-type stuff to stick around, one thing that is still going strong in Austin is the good ol' fashioned hippy freak out.

Now, I guess I shouldn't say that these freak outs haven't gone unchanged. They aren't full blown Merry Pranksters-style happenings. More like individual expressions of personal weirdness. They may be a little more self-conscious than simple free expression (there is the ubiquitous "Keep Austin Weird" campaign, after all), but that doesn't make them any less enjoyable. The fact that at any moment you can come across something like a guy riding a bike in a G-string really lends the city a certain playful whimsy.

On top of the G-string'd Cyclist, there was the guy last year who hung out in my neighborhood, dressed in flamboyant clothing and a rainbow afro, dancing on street corners while holding a sign that read, "In the future, you will all look like me." There is Leslie, the city's favorite transvestite homeless guy/girl/perennial mayoral candidate (see picture). Actually, Austin has no shortage of transvestite homeless people, a special little subgenre of Austin weirdness. A friend of mine went to the post office downtown, and the man in line in front of her was inexplicably wearing a Superman costume. On the University of Texas' campus, a cadre of students have taken to riding giant unicycles around.

My G-string'd Cyclist induced musings didn't really lead to any grand conclusions, simply a conscious appreciation for the city of Austin. Sometimes I forget how great of a city Austin Is, and it's nice to have a people around who are willing to ride by my apartment in skimpy underwear to remind me of that.

[Note: After leaving a voicemail for my brother about the G-stringed cyclist he responded with the following series of text messages: "G-String'd Cyclist: The Musical", "starring Josh Hartnett", "and Jamie Lee Curtis", "Christmas 2009". Screenplay is in development, and I am currently in talks with Philip Glass to compose the music, with lyrics by Rod Stewart.]

1 comment:

Brad said...

Do you know the name of the artist that rendered the G-String'd Cyclist?