Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Unkillable Human, Great Rack,Trail Bait

The Unkillable Human

Riding along the Northshore trail this morning, I stopped at a piece of public art that I must have ridden past hundreds of times before. It had never especially grabbed me.  It was just a decoration on the edge of the trail.  Half hidden by greenery this time of year, it's nothing very complicated.  Just the silhouette of a man cut out of a sheet of metal.  Both the cut-out shape and the metal sheet it was removed from are displayed here.  They stand maybe 20 feet apart.

(The second piece of the sculpture is highlighted so you could find it in this photo.)

The title of this piece is "The Unkillable Human" by Frederick Franck.  Franck visited Hiroshima where he saw the image of a man left on a concrete wall after the nuclear explosion.  This image inspired him to use a blowtorch to cut out the shape of a human from a sheet of steel, leaving both the positive and negative images.  He is quoted on the Dayspring Church (who has another copy of this sculpture) website as saying: "I placed both components so that through the empty negative the HUMAN IMAGE can be seen rising, like a phoenix from it's ashes..."


So, ideally you view this piece by looking through the cut out to see the silhouette.  Until the shrubs lose their leaves you really can't do that here.  Still, the sculpture takes on a haunting presence when you understand what inspired it.  What I once viewed as a simple, trailside decoration now evokes sadness.

I rode on toward Millvale and noticed a pedestrian crossing sign that made me think again of this artwork.

That made me think of pedestrians being killed, which led me to remember all the cyclists that have been killed in and around Pittsburgh over the past year.  This train of thought was getting depressing.  I started to imagine the silhouette of a bicycle cut out of a sheet of metal positioned along the road in lieu of a ghost bike and wondered if that (being something different) would get more drivers attention.  I somehow doubt it.  I shook off the thought and started to appreciate the beautiful day and decided to enjoy the repetitive up-down of the pedals.  The comforting motion a bit of a zen-thing.

Later in the day I arrived at one of my favorite zen spots in the 'Burgh.  It sometimes surprises me how many people that I talk with have never seen this place.  Located underneath the convention center, this covered walkway connects the upper level by 10th St to the lower level along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.  It's a serpentine sidewalk with waterfalls cascading down on both sides, surrounding you with splashing water.

Riding through here when the water is on is one of my favorite things in the city.  As you walk or ride along, subtle, colored lights slowly cycle through various shades creating a wonderful, peaceful experience.  

Ahhh.  I enjoy this spot as much (or more) than the fountain at the Point - and I really enjoy that fountain.  For the past four years it was closed up for repairs and renovations, and was only restarted again two months ago.  It's so nice to have it back.  The city definitely felt like it was missing it's heart without it.  Last week they had an algae issue though, and had to shut it off again in order to drain and clean it thoroughly.

It still wasn't running today, but I talked with a park ranger and he said that they hope to have it running again by tonight. They were in the process of refilling it this afternoon.

Great Rack!

A few months ago Bike-Pgh moved into new offices in Lawrenceville.  I stopped by there today and got to see their brand new bike racks and bike repair station.

I did the inaugural lock-up to the freshly installed rack and checked out the new maintenance station located right outside Bike-Pgh's front door.  Nice.

It would be awesome to have this available at the trailheads around the city too.

Inside the office I snagged a couple of copies of the brand new, hot off the presses, version 5 of the Pittsburgh Bike Map.

Trail Bait

On the way back to the trailhead I discovered that someone had baited the trail...
Just waiting for some unsuspecting biker, walker or jogger to come along and bite (literally).  The lure was a new cafe/cakery located about a block away.

I rode over to have a quick look.  Coffees, teas, home made cupcakes and cookies and a small menu with salads, sandwiches and wraps.

I tried some black forest cookies and they were pretty good.  Chocolate with dark chocolate pieces and a hint of cherry.  A nice finish to the ride.

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