Monday, February 04, 2008

2: Nerves of Steel: Bike Messengers in the United States, Rebecca "Lambchop" Reilly

I've been looking for this thing for about five years. Used copies were going for $200 on until last month, when autographed copies, direct from the publisher, appeared. Mine is numbered "0966". I suspect the run wasn't much larger than 1,000.

Rebecca spent several years traveling through the U.S., stopping in cities with large messenger communities and spending months, or years, in each, riding her bike and barely making a living as a messenger.

So this book is the real deal: written by a real messenger, not by some fair-weather wannabe (*cough*TravisCulley*cough*).

That's good, right? Well, yes, and no.

Yes, it's direct from the lines and Rebecca managed to interview some of the most prominent messengers in the U.S. It gives an accurate, if subjective, picture of bike messenger culture in the United States in the late nineties.

No, the writing and editing are truly hideous. Forget the fact that it's a very subjective work—that's to be expected. Forget also that sentences are missing words and entire clauses, pictures are small and unlabeled, and the author's name is misspelled on the flyleaf. The writing is simply poor. Much of it is a listing of messengers: "Matt has been a messenger for four years. He started at Fast 'n' Furious and moved on to Spinning Wheels. He thinks the best part of the job is the freedom to be outside and his philosophy of life is reflected in the many stickers on his bike." So I made that bit up, but it's what half the book reads like.

It makes me want to ride my fixie again, though.

It also scares the hell out of me and makes me angry at the &*(# drivers pull.

But it still makes me want to ride my fixie again, so overall it's a win.


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