so David Byrne is the worst public speaker in the world

hey gaaaaang

I went to see David Byrne speak at barnes and nobles on 17th yesterday, 9-22-09, after a friend mentioned that he might be signing stuff. I went to other music, bought the ONLY David Byrne album they had (which was the relatively uneventful soundtrack to “young adam” entitled “lead us not into temptation”) and did a one-two step to the b&n 4th floor. unbeknownst to me, Byrne has just finished writing a book entitled “Bicycle Diaries,” which I guess is about his touring around the world with a bike, the best bike in the world. I guess that’s not a bad premise and there has been worse CNF, but it’s not exactly on the top of my reading list for two reasons:

1. they only had it in hardback for like 28 bucks, way too poor for that
2. David Byrne is a surprisingly bad speaker and didn’t motivate me to buy the book

it’s not entirely his fault though, considering that the event wasn’t so much for his book as it was a call-to-arms for people to continue biking. or that bumper car jetpacks are on the way. let me explain.

when my friend and I arrived, we sat down and waited a very, very long time for a speaker to step to the mic and remind the audience that david byrne was here to talk about bikes, and not about music. dang. but I mean whatever, the dude made the talking heads, let’s listen to his bike spiel, eh? so twenty more minutes whizz by like a lackadaisical zeppelin and then david comes to the mic. after some technical issues, he uhs and ums his way through an introduction, the product of which is a slideshow.

he proceeds to talk for about half an hour about the slides, not really using them to enhance his speech, but just sort of commenting. an example:

(a picture of grass underneath an elevated highway)
byrne: so this is a picture of… it’s… like there’s just no culture under here, and–but in seattle, they built a skatepark (Burnside) underneath one of these, but that’s the exception. you can’t really talk to people under–or, meet people, I mean–when you have these monoliths over top of you and… it’s just fucking surreal, right?

and this is supposed to be how biking will bring a city “back to its roots.” just fyi dudes, that’s the way to do it.

it seemed like every slide started the same. David would look at it, kind of surprised, and stumble his way through his thoughts on the matter. it was as if a mild acquaintance of his had interrupted his first sip of coffee in the morning to ask him his opinion on a very broad topic. like, “hey david, what do you think about punk rock?” I’d be pretty shaky too.

but I think the main issue here is, is pushing biking really going to improve everything? don’t get me wrong, I like bikes and green transportation movements, but the message I got is that if we all rode bikes, we would constantly be having interesting experiences and we’d make friends all day and the local economy would grow into a beautiful old elm tree, but that can’t be the case. and it shouldn’t be the case! I don’t want to know everybody, and I’m pretty sure not everyone wants to stop at every roadside stand or attraction simply “because it looks interesting.” we’ve things to do, mr. byrne!

his support was a totally wackjob… I don’t actually know what his title would be. he comes up with preposterous inventions that would never catch on, such as a jetpack encased in air bladders so that the user would never be hurt, and he presents them in I guess meetings like this. and he gets laughed at, by everybody, because he tries to make a house out of meat cells to make a bio-efficient house. it’s things like this that make me realize that I might not be as liberal and left as I once thought I was, but it doesn’t matter now because I’m apathetic. towards everything. STAUNCHLY.

the other two supporting folks were just political… wait for it… TALKING HEADS. OH YEAHHHHHHHHHHH

needless to say, I won’t be seeking out mr. byrne in a non-musical fashion any time soon, but I do hope that one guy’s jetpack idea gets off the ground somehow. I wants me a jetpack.


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