- This Week
The Fossil Fool pushes bicycle advocacy in the direction of music, art and parties
05.10.11 - 6:02 pm | Steven T. Jones |
Freedman, who studied at Harvard, has designed innovative sound and lighting systems for his art bikes.PHOTO BY ADAM AUFDENCAMP
FF It's having cooler bike and being able to use it and not have to step into the stress of car culture if you can avoid it.
SFBG What's your next step?
FF One of the really positive things for me has been the Rock the Bike community, with its roadies, performers, musicians — all types of people who are on our e-mail list. So I can just say, I need three roadies for a three-hour performance slot and there's going to be a jam at the end, so bring your instruments. That's an awesome thing and it's just going to improve, so I think the community will grow as we continue do gigs where we have fun and the people have fun.
In terms of my own art, this tree [gesturing to his El Arbol bike] has been my focus for the last year or two, and it's not done yet. It has to look undeniably like a tree. It looks like a tree, but with a light green bark that you really don't see in nature, so that has to change. I want it to have brown bark, but I still want it to do beautiful things at night with translucency. And I want it to have a true canopy of leaves, so that when you're far away from it at Sunday Streets and you're wondering whether to go over there, you'll see a tree. Not just a representation of a tree, but I want them to be like, how the hell did he ride a tree over here?
SFBG Why a tree?
FF I don't know. You get these ideas, and you start drawing them and can't shake them. There are all sorts of reasons why trees are interesting. They are gathering points.
SFBG And you're doing some very innovative design work on this bike, such as the landing gear.
FF The roots. Yeah, that's never been done before. Through the course of doing the project, people would send me tips and interesting things, and one guy sent me a link to a photo of tall bikes being used in Chicago in the early 1900s as gas lamp lighting tools, and they were very tall. I'd say 10 to 12 feet tall, and they were tandems, so there was a guy on top and a stoker on the bottom providing extra power, and they didn't have landing gears. So they would ride from one lamp to another and hold the lamp as they refilled it. And I just love that story because if you were growing up in Chicago, and you saw these gas lamp people coming by in the early evening to turn the lights on, and if you were a little kid trying to fall asleep or whatever, that would have an indelible mark on your childhood, and that whimsical quality is what I'm going for. That should be part of what it's like to grow up in the Mission District in 2011.
SFBG How does that fit into the other cultural stuff that you're also bringing to the bike movement, the music you're writing, design work, the style, and the events that you're creating?
FF Sometimes I wish it wasn't so multipronged. I would clearly be a better performer and musician if it was the only thing I did, so I apologize to all my fans for not putting 100 percent into the music. But I put 100 percent into the whole thing, including creating bikes and running Rock the Bike, which is a business.
SFBG But are you doing all these things because you find a synergy among them?
FF It's the fullest expression of who I am.
SFBG Where do you see this headed? What will Rock the Bike be like five years from now?