Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"...leaving her in the street for dead."

I'm just outside the passenger window, in the bike lane, and watching the drivers head - not one glance my way, not a hint of considering it... I unclip the right shoe - preparing to frog leap with my bike up onto the curb. Before I can make the slightest "rrribbit", muchless hop, the rear truck wheel is coming my way -
S#@&TTTTT! Holy MdG (Madonna del Ghisallo) where are you??

That was some time ago, I survived the near encounter with a bruised wrist (my frog hops aren't apparently what they use to be) and an increased distrust for 'right-turner' - that was before Portland began the green bikebox-no-right-turn project, hopefully that will increase awareness.

Others, have not been so lucky. Bikes and collisions with cars seem to be crisscrossing my life lately - earlier in the year it was "Moose", nearly killed by a driver turning across him (he is alive and recovering - not the bike); then it was Brian with the sequel to Moose's collision (different place and driver, same result); then the fall saga of Dr. Death-to-Cyclists hit the webwaves (available in painful detail on VeloNews), then Portland got its own sanctuary of the Madonna del Ghisallo, protector of cyclists and those not so lucky - kinda cool and ominous at the same time.

They say these things come in threes, or sevens, ...or elevens, I don't know. But whatever their fractally define frequency is, at some point they begin to coalesce into something that resonates, is meaningful; the critical bit for a cyclist is you just need to be listening for the music. I just finished this afternoons ride (safely) and I'm listening to the World on PRI and hear the story of
Melody Gardot and damn if it isn't another one! Errrrrrgh!! This last one struck a cord - several beautiful cords - reminding me not every bike-car encounter ends in the erection of a ghostbike. It's about Gadot's collision with bad judgment and her musical rise from death's door (thank you again MdG).

As I sat there listening to the story and her sultry jazz-infused voice wafting from the speakers I was struck by conflicting images - her lifeless body and bike splayed across the Philly pavement and this incredible living voice I had never heard. Increasingly we are living in a shared world - incumbent on our ability to learn and accept sharing - of resources, religions, rights, and roads. "All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at primary school." I also learned how to ride my bike in primary school - and nobody got hurt doing it.

In addition to the World's version of Melody Gadot's story, here's Michael Nastos' summation of events and musical outcomes:
The story of vocalist Melody Gardot is as remarkable as any who perseveres against abject adversity. Born in New Jersey in 1985, she took up piano and played as a youngster on the nightclub scene of Philadelphia, influenced by jazz, folk, rock and pop musics. At age 19 she was a fashion student at the Community College of Philadelphia. But, on a fateful day, while riding her bicycle, the driver of a Jeep made an illegal turn, hurdling into Gardot and leaving her in the street for dead. Hospitalized for months with multiple head injuries and pelvic fractures, her love for music was the best therapy she could receive. While in her hospital bed, she wrote and recorded songs that would become the EP Some Lessons. Upon her eventual release from intensive care, Gardot found the strength and determination to further her career as an artist. Blessed with a beautiful voice and grand insight as a songwriter, her cognitive powers slowly but surely became pronounced, leading to the independent recording and release of her debut CD, Worrisome Heart, which was reissued in 2007 by Verve records. Gardot is hypersensitive to light and noise, thus she wears dark glasses, and uses a cane to walk. On-stage she requires a special seating unit, and wears a Transcutaneous Electro-Nerve Stimulator, a TENS device, to assist in alleviating her neuralgic muscle pain. As amazing as her story is, what is more evident is that she possesses a blue style and persona that reflects not only her afflictions, but conversely the hope and joy of making personalized music that marks her as an individual and original. Though touring is difficult, she has been performing in major cities [in Europe and in the US] on the East Coast to support her recordings. In 2009, Gardot followed up her Verve debut with My One and Only Thrill."

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