Miscellaneous 09.18

Dear friends,

It’s September, a month we will always associate with heading back to school after long, sun-kissed summers. After August’s atmosphere of vacation (in the truest sense of the word, as in “vacating” the task-master part of our brains), we come to re-inhabit ourselves anew—refreshed, rested, and a bit tanned. September means diving back into projects with a renewed sense of purpose and focus. It means welcoming cool evenings and crisp mornings, and pulling sweaters out of storage.

The September edition of Miscellaneous—Athletics’ no-frills round-up of the cultural items that inspire us each month—will help you start off fall on the right foot. From a blockbuster exhibition of compositions by the French master, Delacroix, at The Met Fifth Avenue, to the latest intricate sonic composition by the Cornish master, Aphex Twin, Miscellaneous September spans centuries and genres, offering some varied sensory stimuli to draw us back into the rhythm of working life.

Finally, in our most recent installment of Questionnaire—in which a member of the Athletics team offers a few thoughts on a design they love—Athletics Creative Director Malcolm Buick waxes poetic on his father’s beloved 1959 BSA A10 motorcycle.

Stay tuned for more editions of Miscellaneous in the coming months.
Interested in contributing? Send us an email!

Delacroix @ The Met
Joan Miró @ Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona
Brancusi @ The Guggenheim

Preston Bus Station — Jamie Hawkesworth (2013)
T69 Collapse — Aphex Twin and Weirdcore (2018)
First Reformed (2018)

Playboy Interview with Marshall McLuhan, 1969
Love of Country: A Journey Through the Hebrides — Madeleine Bunting, 2017
The Bloody Family History of the Guillotine, Paris Review, 2018

Qualm — Helena Hauff
Book of Life — Masayoshi Fujita
re:member — Ólafur Arnalds

Malcolm Buick, Creative Director at Athletics, loves his dad’s 1959 BSA A10 motorcycle.

Why he loves it.
I’ve always felt like I should have been born mid-century (the last one, that is). The music, super-heroes, art, and design of the 50s and 60s represents such an adventurous time in history, a time when aliens could descend upon us from outer space, a time when every musical and aesthetic convention and stereotype was challenged—think Elvis, The Beatles, John Coltrane, Twiggy, and the whole cast of counter-cultural renegades. I would include my father in this list, whom I always knew was a bad-ass due to his love of motorcycles—as well as anything fast and slightly dangerous.

The BSA A10, commonly referred to as the Gold Flash, was a 646 cc (39.4 cubic inch) air-cooled parallel twin motorcycle designed by Bert Hopwood and produced by Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) at Small Heath, Birmingham. To note, Birmingham is the home of heavy metal (Birmingham’s Black Sabbath brought this to the forefront), as well as the location of the notorious Shelby family of Peaky Blinders fame.

Bikes today are fast and work wonderfully, but they almost work too well. That era of British engineering—specifically bikes—leaked, spat, guzzled, and rattled. When you ride the A10 you really feel like you’re riding something alive. And let’s be honest: they are simply so much cooler looking than today’s bike design ubiquity. Design, of course, was not the only distinction. The brands that came with these motorcycles were truly distinct, exuding a very exciting and dangerous tone, as evidenced by the names of some of my favorite bikes of this era: Matchless Silver Hawk, Velocette Viper, Norton Commando, Vincent Black Shadow, Royal Enfield Bullet, Panther Model 100. The list goes on…

How it works.
It’s simple. You fill it up, turn they key, prime the kickstart, kick it, pray that it starts, rev the throttle, put it into gear, and you’re off!

What it can teach us.
Sometimes the simplest things are the best, and a certain amount of charm can be found in them—even if they don’t necessarily work perfectly.

Who can argue with a classic Brit BSA bike when they had such strong marketing slogans:

“All the way with a BSA.”
“All the nice people ride BSA.”
“BSA covers the world.”
“Add spice to your life with a BSA.”
“No sensation like riding a BSA.”
“Listen to that sound, it’s a BSA.”

Poetic Fragment

— 1959 BSA A10 Motorcycle

Header Image: “Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California” by Albert Bierstadt, 1868