Next ride: Friday, February 27

SAVE THE SPINDLE! [report+video]

SAVE THE SPINDLE! [report+video]

Report from the July, 2007 Ride:

June's Mass was so much fun, I was wondering how July might live up to the Joy that was June. However, early in July, news of the untimely demise of Berwyn's beloved 'Car-Kabob' ignited the Chicago Critical Mass community. The car-kabob is a public sculpture titled 'Spindle', which has eight cars skewered on a 50 foot spike right in the middle of Cermak Plaza. Walgreens already has one of their convenience stores in the mall, but they want to put a new store right where the Spindle lives. You know how it goes in America, corporations always get their way, so the Spindle is scheduled to be executed. Petitions were being circulated to save the Spindle, but we thought a good old-fashioned bike riot was in order.

Part 1 of 4: Sculpture to Sculpture to Save Culture! [watch video]
Critical Mass rides from the Chicago Picasso to the Berwyn Spindle. Why would a group of cyclists care about a monument to car culture? Perhaps we see the Spindle as a prophetic symbol of a future where cars are reduced to fossil remains as they go the way of the dinosaurs that fueled them. We know the car spike will become more meaningful and infinitely more valuable when America finally closes this dark chapter of unsustainable living and ecological destruction. It is an Ozymandias for the industrial age, mocking the moral insanity of planned obsolescence and providing a deliciously twisted look into our throw away junk culture.

When the Spindle is torn down and replaced by a Walgreens store, part of Berwyn dies and a sacred community space will look no different from any other stripmall in any other town. The participants of Chicago's Critical Mass will not quietly pedal by as corporations deface our communities transforming the world into a characterless monoculture.

To give you a better idea of how Critical Mass riders pull together to organize street spectacles, I read from rider's emails surrounding July's Mass. Chicago Critical Mass is greatly aided by an email listserve that allows cyclists to communicate and collaborate; how else could we get 1500 bike people to haul it 14 miles to the burbs?

Part 2 of 4: Bienvenidos A Little Village [watch video]
Riding through Pilsen and Little Village pedaling our way to Cermak Plaza to catch the first glimpse of the Spindle. Not many of the CCM participants that helped organize July's ride thought we could get everyone to bike to Berwyn from Daley Plaza, but it was a lovely evening and over a thousand cyclists made the 14 mile trip. I didn't get video of the assault on the Mass at 18th and Loomis (see part 4 for recap). Except for that moment, the ride was positive and peaceful.

Berwyn's Mayor Michael O'Conner met us in Cermak Plaza, along with other locals that have formed SAVE THE SPINDLE! action groups that are organizing to raise funds to preserve the beloved Car-Kabob.

Part 3 of 4: The Bohemian Rhapsody Scene [watch video]
Todd Allen delivers once again with his mobile soundsystem. Even Wayne Campbell came out from Aurora to watch us go round and round the Spindle. WE WILL NOT LET YOU GO! WE WILL NOT LET YOU GO!

Freddie Mercury never sounded so good with a chorus of 2,000 Critical Mass cyclists and some odd Berwynites singing along to the song that Wayne's World rekindled, as we praise the sculpture that was also catapulted to pop icon status when Wayne and Garth leaned back on the hood of their Mirth Mobile to stare up at the Spindle and contemplate the future.

What will become of all of us living in a world without these simple joys?

PS. Wayne, thanks for the autograph!
Come downtown to ride with us in the Chicago Critical Mass 10th Anniversary Ride, Friday September 28 2007 - it will be a bike party of epic proportions!

Part 4 of 4: Vehicular Violence Strikes the Mass [watch video]
Unfortunately, not all of us made it to SAVE THE SPINDLE! A drunk psycho driving a rusty red cadillac was fleeing the scene of car-on-car violence and drove up to Loomis and 18th Street.

You would think a police blockade would have been enough to halt this drunk, but he drove around the cops and gunned it towards a wall of cyclists. Most everyone got out of the way as the maniac drove over abandoned bikes lying on the pavement like so many cicadas.

10 year old Will Healy was still on his bike when he took a direct hit as the drunk driver gained speed thinking he was gonna some how evade responsibility from his murderous rampage. Will was lucky to wind up on top of the hood, instead of getting crushed underneath the car. He bounced off the hood and flew through the air cartwheel style while his bike would get ground into a mangled mess and left six blocks away.

The police caught the derelict, and Will's mom is gonna make the legal system drag this scum bag six long years through the penal system: real jail time for this 4 count felon. You hot heads behind the wheel better wise up, cause your all driving killer cars, and unless you're all Hollywood, killers do time.

"Cars are probably the most dangerous thing you deal with in your life every day as an American, and I thought they would make good grist for the mill as Art."
- Spindle artist Dustin Shuler interviewed on NPR

Dustin is right, cars are extremely dangerous. The death toll for 2006 is finally in: 42,642 Americans killed due to vehicular violence (245,000 Americans killed by cars since 9/11) KNOW YOUR ENEMY!

Steven Lane