Is It Art?

Not having been wise enough in my teens to dream of being a TV writer or a cabbie, this is the Big Apple I've bitten into regularly since 1985…

Welcome to Taichung: capital to the global high-performance bicycle industrial complex. They make more bikes in India and cheaper ones in China, but nobody makes them better than right here.

I'm working on one of my own this week, and it's a keeper. I'm hoping the Crenshaw Project MTB will do for SNAFU what the Menace did for Mongoose when I developed that bike in '89: Mainly, to put the reliable if slightly recalcitrant BMX brand in good stead with a new breed of rider.

I love the technology in bikes built for urban freeriding and dirt jumping, which is the terrain SNAFU's first complete bike is designed to target. Basically, the Crenshaw Project is an enormous BMX bike with 26-inch wheels, front suspension to take the sting out of harsh landings and powerful disk brakes to make tricks and trails more manageable. My earliest and most abiding passions for two wheels were borne in the dirt, so I can relate to these riders and this scene, and I sincerely hope they will relate to our new bike. I'm biased, but I think we nailed it. I can't wait to flesh out the rest of this bike's specifications and colors on this trip.

First prototype of the SNAFU Crenshaw Project UDJ frame. Available at better bike shops worldwide spring 2010

When I come to Taiwan my #1 mission is always to manage and development new products for our various clients and alliances. Secondarily, I try to make some small thing in my personal life stick. One time it was sit-ups and push-ups. I told myself if I could do 50 every morning for two weeks, when I returned home I'd be committed to the ritual for life. That ruse lasted about a month. Other failed attempts at Taiwan-built self-betterment have included jogging, reading, eating fruit, drinking tomato juice, and meditation.

One ritual I have managed to sustain—at least on Taiwan soil—is my daily walk around the Taiwan National Musuem of Art.

I'm not alone in this pursuit. Hundreds of local people join me on the grounds surrounding this modern, attractively landscaped facility every day.

Their physical activities vary, but the gyrations of the mostly elderly folk who practice Ta'i chi, tennis, badminton and ballroom dancing make both me and their American peers look moribund by comparison.

One such gentleman is Mr. Wu, my badminton partner. Yesterday at 6:00 a.m. Mr. Wu and I played doubles with his friends on a court they've erected on the cobblestone sidewalk in the middle of Taichung's central park. We split victories, and Mr. Wu taught me (again) how to keep score and do service rotation in this fast-paced game.

Taiwanese people pride themselves on their respect for feng shui, the study of nature's place and impact on man-made environments. Feng shui is evident in the details surrounding the museum grounds, and care was taken to bring as much nature as possible into this urban landscape.

I have to admit, I never paid much attention to the verdant bridge between Man and Machine until I visited Taiwan. I knew houses needed lawns and homes needed houseplants, but that was about it.

Today I try to see beauty—and some of it not always beautiful—everywhere. Is it art? I'm not sure. Did somebody think it was art when they made it? Absolutely.

I realize the commercial pursuit of a cheaper backpack or a lighter bicycle frame isn't art, but I truly love the process. If that makes me a con artist, I'll take it.


Green Laker said...

Looks like a nice DJ frame there, McGoo. And the Taiwan Museum of Art is also appealing. Safe travels.

BCM said...

Not a Bad place to be.

Fashion Serial Killer with Glasses said...

nice! you are def a con artist! conceptual artist, that is..