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Bikes, Cancer, Blogs, Photos.
May 19, 2013 9:40 PM   Subscribe

"That was sort of a triumphant, 'fuck you,' to build a bike with no seat and keep riding." The experience of custom bike-builder Ezra Caldwell is chronicled in a 12 minute documentary by the folks at This Is Made By Hand, and also on Ezra's own blog, teaching cancer to cry. This Is Made By Hand, previously.

The Photographic Journal interviews Ezra.
posted by MoonOrb (15 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was wonderful. I thought for a moment that the final message was implying that Ezra had passed ("In November of 2012, Ezra was diagnosed with recurrent stage IV cancer... He was given six to eight months to live"), but thankfully he's still here.
posted by mokin at 10:10 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


9:32 -- And yet, so what do you do? Buy a motorcycle and a large format camera and go ride around and take photographs? And two years later you haven't died yet and have no money? It's the kind of thing like... "oh yeah, live like you're going to die tomorrow!" Well yeah, but what happens if you don't? You know, that's the reality -- I haven't died yet! So I think that's the biggest challenge. Figuring out how to reconcile the notion that I'm very aware that anything could happen... I have to kind of behave as though I 'm not going to die next year. I have to behave as though this is something that actually has a future.
posted by the jam at 10:12 PM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Brutal to read the Photographic Journal interview to the end. Talented, cool guy doing his best to find his way through with dignity and love.
posted by letitrain at 10:23 PM on May 19, 2013


Oh man. What an incredible interview, what an incredible individual. I was really blown away by the ending of the Photographic Journal interview. Brutal indeed.
posted by dubold at 3:22 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought we mutually decided to Fuck Cancer, not to make it cry.
posted by C.A.S. at 3:26 AM on May 20, 2013


I love hearing how people navigated through their own life stories, but it hit like a ton of bricks, that final paragraph in the Photographic Journal piece.
posted by xingcat at 6:43 AM on May 20, 2013


damn. powerful stuff. thanks for posting.
posted by photoslob at 7:05 AM on May 20, 2013


You know, that's the reality -- I haven't died yet! So I think that's the biggest challenge. Figuring out how to reconcile the notion that I'm very aware that anything could happen... I have to kind of behave as though I 'm not going to die next year. I have to behave as though this is something that actually has a future.

This works for pretty much everyone, really.
posted by curious nu at 7:40 AM on May 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Photographic Journal interview is terrific. And sad. I love the short video with Ezra and his dog at the end.

His bike artistry is awesome too. I love his own assless bike, but also the one for the person in Wisconsin that has the wood fenders and the wood basket on front and the wood handle bar.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:09 AM on May 20, 2013


C.A.S.: "I thought we mutually decided to Fuck Cancer, not to make it cry."

In the PJ interview, he refers to a friend who also has cancer as a "fellow cancer-fucker," which I thought was great. So much better than "patient" or "survivor."
posted by mokin at 9:20 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


C.A.S.: I thought we mutually decided to Fuck Cancer, not to make it cry.
The vote was inconclusive, with some calling for a recount.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:17 AM on May 20, 2013


At my age some of this is just a little more real than I wish--but if I have 1/4 of the forthrightness and grace to manage what ever lay ahead I will be blessed. Thanks for posting
posted by rmhsinc at 2:32 PM on May 20, 2013


From the NPR Picture Show: Cancer, 'Fixies,' and Flickr Friendships.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:23 PM on May 20, 2013


(Teaching Cancer to Cry, Ezra Caldwell, December 8, 2012)
You would all do me an amazing service if you would entertain the notion that the fight metaphor may not be the most helpful one. Or maybe it’s not as helpful now as it was in earlier stages. It’s difficult to change the language around something when it is so engrained. “Fighting cancer..” “died after a long battle with cancer..” etc. But this implies that there are winners and losers. That if we die we have lost. But we ALL die. No one makes it out alive. That shouldn’t make us all losers. The most pernicious part of the fight metaphor for me is the notion that if someone dies young from cancer they simply didn’t fight hard enough. That if someone decides to forgo treatment, they have “thrown in the towel.”

I don’t see any grace in the desperate clinging to life that we call fighting in this metaphor.

Maybe instead I’m having a slow dance with a handsome and charming mad man who has made it quite clear that eventually he’ll have to USE the straight razor that he’s holding to my throat. I believe him. He doesn’t seem like a guy who lies. Why he has to cut my throat isn’t clear. In the mean time, it’s a warm embrace. I’m holding him, he’s holding me. He’s whispering the most beautiful and insane shit to me, all wise, all true. I’m trying to enjoy the dance as much as I can, trying to learn as much as I can, trying to stay present despite the knife at my throat. And now he’s starting to cry. You dig?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fighter all right. I have been from the start. Walking around barefoot with fists cocked. But this isn’t a fight.
posted by gingerest at 7:14 PM on May 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ezra is now posting photographs here.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:23 AM on June 14, 2013


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