Book Parties. Marilyn Monroe. Groundhogs. Love Deals.

January 31st, 2012

February is an utterly unique month. It is singular for having the shortest number of days, even with Leap Year (Feb. 29), but also for the unusual and diverse events and holidays. What other month opens with something as humorous as Groundhog Day (Feb. 2) and works its way through to the pious Presidents Day (Feb. 20) and includes the erotic and romantic Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) and later Fat Tuesday (Feb. 21), known more commonly as Mardi Gras, a day to gorge and indulge before Lent for Catholics (Feb. 22 – April 5).

We have some new products and special deals for this month that are also noteworthy. Our Valentine’s Special includes our most popular gifts and there are some other special events of our own, including a Hollywood Rides a Bike: Cycling with the Stars book signing by author, Steven Rea that might be worth putting on your calendar (Feb. 24) if you are in the Bay Area. This is a great warm up event to the Oscars which also occurs in this special month (Feb. 26). Check out Marilyn Monroe riding alongside playwright Arthur Miller in the photo above.

Maira Kalman and Michael Pollan
Book Party in Berkeley
If you live in the Bay Area chances are you are probably familiar with the restaurant Chez Panisse and author Michael Pollan.  You may not know that Maira Kalman illustrated Pollan’s book, Food Rules and that Alice Waters supports it through a special Edible School Yard Project in Berkeley. Maira is a longtime friend and we have been supporters of the Edible School Yard Project dating back to the 90’s. Reserve an autographed copy of the recently released hard cover edition, meet Maira Kalman, and have a glass of wine and nibbles at Chez Panisse this Sunday from 12-3.
Valentines Day. Anywhere.
Forget about taking your sweetie to an overcrowded restaurant decked out in red and pink. Take him or her on bike ride to some romantic destination with a picnic lunch or dinner. We have a few special items on sale for the holiday also.
Hollywood Rides a Bike
Book Party at PUBLIC Store in San Francisco
Over a year ago a friend sent me a link to a cool blog called Rides a Bike. It has fantastic vintage photos of all types of movie stars on bicycles. It has the same people interest as the Sartorialist in many ways but with old Hollywood charm.  The blog is the work of Philadelphia film critic Steven Rea, and this led to his recently released book. We are delighted to have Rea in our store on Friday night Feb. 24 from 6-8 pm for a talk and book signing.  Space is limited and we expect a large crowd for this. Please RSVP for a seat and a book.

Feb 24 PUBLIC Pre-Oscar Party: Hollywood Rides a Bike

January 27th, 2012

As a prelude to the Oscars, PUBLIC is pleased to host author Steven Rea who will share photos and discuss his new book Hollywood Rides a Bike. Hollywood Rides a Bike shows classic stars from Shirley Temple to Brigitte Bardot and Humphrey Bogart to Kevin Bacon all on the best bikes Hollywood has to offer. This book is inspired by Rea’s popular movie star and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike. You can read our interview with Rea here.

Friday, February 24
6:00pm – 8:00pm
PUBLIC HQ in 123 South Park
San Francisco, CA

General Admission: $10 (Pre-registration guarantees seat for you. $10 will be credited with purchase of book if available)
General Admission + Signed Book: $25 (Pre-registration guarantees book & seat for you)

Use this Pre-Registration link

Hollywood Rides a Bike includes candid backlot shots, taken by publicity lensers who happened across stars as they wheeled around the Burbank, Culver City, Universal City, and Hollywood lots; the production stills from movies where the actor, in character, rides a bike (Jane Fonda made her screen debut crashing a Rollfast into two of her co-stars; Julie Andrews and her towheaded charges were singing “Do-Re-Mi” as they took to the alpine blacktop); the staged studio portraits—a lot of cheesecake (Deborah Kerr and Veronica Lake and Rita Hayworth, oh my!) and beefcake; and then just real-life photos of the likes of Kim Novak, Cicely Tyson, and Julie Christie riding along on palisades paths, Central Park byways, and English country lanes.

Retro bike fiends will note the streamlined angles, artful detail, and old-school craftsmanship on the cruisers and roadsters, folders and tandems, English lightweights and the occasional trike, triple- and high-wheeler pictured herein. They mark a time and place when things were built to last, when design and function dovetailed neatly—well, perfectly, in fact.

For bike aficionados there’s a special index just about the cycles! And another index is made for movie fans–full of Hollywood facts.

Author Steven Rea has been a movie critic with the Philadelphia Inquirer since 1992.




Name That City. Win Big Bucks.

January 23rd, 2012

You can often identify a city by the everyday goods seen on the streets: the people themselves, clothing style, food stands, taxis, architecture, sidewalk materials, mailboxes, doorstops, etc. If we looked closely most of us could infer from these three photos, which came from Austin, Milan, or Copenhagen.

Can you identity a city by the bikes found on the streets?
We took photos of bikes in a city we visited recently. Each bike has a some clue to the city. Identify the city and send your response to We’ll randomly pick from all the right answers and award a $100 merchandise credit.

Richard Risemberg won our Greenest City Contest because of his persuasive argument that NYC is the greenest city today. “There are various metrics that can be used to evaluate the greenesss of city. Because NYC has the lowest carbon emissions per capita, NYC deserves to be at the top of the ratings."

Wheels Are Not Square

January 6th, 2012

A friend sent me a photo of a bike with square wheels. It may sacrifice a little in the area of smoothness of ride, but its absurdity made me laugh. Just when you think you’ve seen the last art bike, another one comes along. We believe this bike hails from Marfa, Texas where Donald Judd reigns supreme and where right angles dot the landscape, walls, buildings, and psyche.

We take the wheel for granted, but it may be the most impressive invention humanity has ever created.

The wheel has been around a lot longer than the light bulb or wifi or the abacus or toaster waffles.  It dates back to about 4000 BC and all the while it has stayed true to its original form. Look at the wheels on ancient chariot carts – they are almost identical to those that move goods around in modern day Cartagena, Colombia. I spent a day photographing all kinds of wheels, stationary and in motion.  Life there essentially revolves around the wheel. Without them there would be no commerce or trade.  The basic human exchange of goods and communications is enabled by vehicles and their wheels. The same holds for most of the modern world.

Wheels of Cartagena from PUBLIC Bikes on Vimeo.

We acknowledge the ingenious internal combustion engine, but what would cars and trucks be without wheels? OK, airplanes don’t need wheels in flight, but many insist that a safe landing is an important part of their flight. The bike is really just two wheels made animate – though that doesn’t keep us from obsessing over elegant frame architecture or getting geeky about gears, weight, and all.  Wheels are everywhere – cranes, trains, pulleys, scooters, skateboards – even those gears we get geeky about.

In a place like Cartagena the diversity, character, and ubiquity of the wheel is extraordinary. You notice them more when they are not shrouded or incased by metal as they are often with cars.  It was easy to get carried away with an appreciation of the aesthetics as I walked around taking photos.  And the wheel as an object or symbol has been adored by artists as diverse as Marcel Duchamp and Ai WeiWei. And then someone rolled by in a wheelchair and I realized how dependent we are on the wheel for our basic needs of independence and survival.  The wheel is too cool to be square.


Parklets, Prizes, & Promos

January 4th, 2012

Our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, rarely elevates issues of design and architecture to the front page. But last week (December 29th), that’s where you could find Urban Design Critic John King’s Streetscapes column (photos above). Billed as “a mini tour of tiny parks” around the city, the article is more than just a guide – it even gives information on how to get your own parklet approved and built in San Francisco. Our friend Deep pioneered the first residential parklet on Valencia Street in the Mission District.

John King is probably best known for his book Cityscapes, a compact guide to 49 buildings in San Francisco, many of which are eclectic and unique and not to be found in standard tourist guides. King delights in the unexpected, which we think is a pretty good way to approach buildings, streets, people, food, and life in general.

You would expect to see coverage of this topic here in our newsletter, PUBLIC Opinion, where we have featured parklets in the past. But the fact that King is getting front-page attention is not only a tribute to his journalistic chops but also proof that the question of how to make our cities more livable and sustainable has become a mainstream issue. The Chronicle and the many activists, like Deep, that expose the broader public to these “pedestrian” issues deserve a thank you for educating us about issues relevant to a city’s modernity, civility, and sustainability. It got us thinking about this issue:

What is the greenest city in the US and what makes it so?
San Francisco, like many US cities, likes to toot its green horn and would love to be considered the most sustainable city in the US. We might be the recognized national leader in “parklets,” but parklets alone do not make a city green. What does make a city sustainable? How do we measure it? That’s a heated and somewhat elusive question, and there are lots of opinions. We’d like to hear yours.  A $100 merchandise credit will go to the best response.

P.S. Congratulations to Deep & Kimberly, who graced our catalog as a PUBLIC model, on their New Year’s Eve engagement. We wish them many years of happiness together on and off a bicycle.

P.P.S. John King has numerous excellent articles on urban design that are archived on SFGate.  He occasionally lectures around town and you can follow him on Twitter.