Unless your heart’s made of Duke coal, you’ve been mourning a fast growing list of dead rock stars in this current year of our Lord 2016. Perhaps they saw a shit storm a’ comin’ by way of our ever-more depressing political prospects this election and decided it was time to migrate to that VIP section of Rock and Roll Heaven in the sky.
Nobody I’m close to hasn’t deeply felt the loss of David Bowie and Prince. Both were utter singularities of popular music, reshaping the sonic landscape of the last 45 years like few artists could ever hope to, much less as solo acts. Both warped genres of music and bended gender stereotypes of what musicians were allowed to create and who men were allowed to be.
Bowie was a tragic loss, but his death didn’t effect me nearly as deeply as losing Prince last week. Maybe it was the fact he was 12 year’s Bowie’s younger, aligning his music into more of my upbringing. Bowie re-entered pop zeitgeist when I was in my early 20’s via art-schlock cinema soundtracks, but Prince shaped my pop sensibilities as a kid, and helped me and millions more learn what real fucking dance music is.
So it was with bitter verve that I skimmed through my archives of thousands of cycling photos, finding hundreds from Bowie vs Prince mobile-music rides, part of Portland’s legendary annual Pedalpalooza festival.
For almost a decade, each half of Bowie vs Prince (numbering in the hundreds of cyclists) would meet up to rock and ride from different points around town, many in costume, many more with bedazzled party lights augmenting their bikes. After an hour or so of owning the streets and eliciting cheers of joy from onlookers, each half would eventually meet and converge into one.
A friendly rivalry would briefly play out in judging which side was larger each year, but then, by our forces combined the party would continue into the Northwest night for more dancing, more drinking, and more riding towards the early June dawn.
The urbanist real estate blog CityLab opined the death of the ride itself last week, announcing organizers felt this coming year would be its last, relegated to serving as a final “memorial ride”.
I had to laugh at this prediction. No single person owns a bike ride. I’ve already talked to other Portlanders who plan to keep it going regardless. All it takes is a sound system, an event page, and maybe a few flyers.
Who knows? Maybe we’ll see off-shoots spring up in other cities now that two immortalized legends of rock have together risen to Valhalla.
Prince and Bowie may be dead, but their music and the bicyclists who adore them shall ride eternal!
See you in the streets.
All photos copyright Rebel Metropolis.