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Cooler Than the Other Side of the Pillow: The Bicycle Drive-In

8:23 AM PDT on August 8, 2013

The Bicycle Drive-In occurs this Saturday from 6 pm to 10 pm at Park(d) Plaza, located on 4th Street between Linden and Elm Avenues. The event is free.

Oftentimes, we forget to intermingle things in favor of focusing on one thing in particular: music stays at concerts, bikes stay on roads, film stays inside a theatre, park space remains in the realm of play. Money plays a role. Planning plays a role. Everything plays a role. And though we are seeing events that provide a hodgepodge version of everything-cultural, these events usually lack focus and theme.

Enter Bicycle Drive-In, part of the annual Summer and Music series of events throughout Long Beach, which has seemingly woven bicycling, film, music, and space into an event where one immediately links with the other.

This brilliant little shindig began as a seed between Rand Foster--the always-cool owner of Fingerprints-- and Micael Pradon--the songwriter-singer-bassist-producer-pop guru behind the Long Beach-based acoustic outlet Matteran Ghost. Pradon had been doing shows that, in true postmodern fashion, intertwined music and video, which ultimately led to a conversation about The Triplets of Belleville, the 2003 animated French film told almost entirely through song and pantomime.

The film entirely eschews Disney or anime-style animation in favor of a style that resembles something Jacques Tati would create were he to do animation and, even more Tati-like, tells the tale of a bicyclist kidnapped while competing in the Tour de France by the Mafia and his grandmother's quest to rescue him. The Mafia then drugs those they've kidnapped and use them to ride stationary bikes in front of a screen mimicking the Tour de France so that Mafia members can partake in gambling

Given the film's own weaving of road racing bicycle culture and music--the kind of music that Josephine Baker would tackle at the Folies Bergères--Foster and Pradon thought, "Why not actually create something like that?"

"Everything has a budget," Foster said, hinting at the fact that, for the first time, one of Summer and Music's events--Funk Fest--charged for entry this year. "[The Bicycle Drive-In] was an opportunity to be respectful of the budget and at the same time provided us a different anecdote to play with--mainly the marriage of music, film, bicycling, and space."

Bicyclists are encouraged to wheel themselves over to Park(d) Plaza, the parking lot appropriated by City Fabrick and turned into a public space, and listen to three bands--the aforementioned Matteran Ghost, the harmonic Dovelles, and Belleville-style band Hedgehog Swing--that all echo the gypsy swing-style music of the film. Following that will be the screening of the film itself. And during the entire event, bicyclists are encouraged to mow down on crepes and pedal around the East Village.

The repurposing of a repurposed space is not the only diamond-in-the-rough of this perfectly themed event. It is a larger echo of Foster's deep-held belief in the power of pedestrian and bicycle access.

"Get yourself out of your car and you become much more engaged," Foster said. "Whether it is taking a glance at a business you never noticed and stepping in or being more aware of activities like crime… People have to see that [having events like this] is a win."

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