(Example: Framebuilders:Chris Pauley)

From: <dbrk@mail.rochester.edu>
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2005 08:42:32 -0500
cc: josephstarck@yahoo.com
Subject: [CR]None

Mr Starck writes: "I've made frames to the best of my ability, and you know, I didn't do it for myself; I did it for the frames. Where is my work now?"

I have two Rivendells that Joe Starck built, one of which may be "rare" inasmuch as it has centerpull braze-ons and the headtube lugs, I believe, started out from the Atlantis style. I don't often contribute to this conversation, only occasionally read but to suggest that the work on these bikes is in anyway "sterile" or "soul-less" strikes me as nothing short of ludicrous. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I personally regard these two frames among the most beautiful, soulful, and darn-near-everything a lugged bike has _ever_ been. I care not to compare the work because I have only an amateur eye for what lies in the depth of the craft, but I can say honestly that I've owned and spent hours looking at some of the renowned frames that have come down to us---and what I have not owned I've been fortunate enough to see in the hands of friends like Mike Barry whose collection is nothing short of breathtaking and an accomplishment of a lifetime of loving bicycles. To this conversation I can add that I so treasure the Starck-built frames that I can say straight-faced that I believe they will never be surpassed. I think Joe Starck may have (and have had) peers in his craft but the attention to detail and refinement has only peers, no betters.

As for Japanese notions of perfection and the like, we might add others such as those of certain Hindus (who indirectly contribute, btw). I know something about these, more than I know about framebuilding since they are part of my profession. There is an irony to perfection because it is far more process than result, not only held out as the "thing" done but the soul invested in the doing. In this both Joe and e-richie have something valuable to contribute to such conversation, the frames not being the issue but the conception. To wit, perfection is on-going, achieveable, and filled with aspiration for its accomplishment. (A glib comparison would be the ordinary way "we" use perfect to mean something that cannot be achieved (as in "nobody's perfect" or "only God is perfect").) It is not so much the imperfection of perfection that is revered in Japanese Buddhism (or certain segments of Hinduism) but the notion that the person who provided the relic (or craft or item) was a perfect heart no matter their personal flaws or those flaws found in the craft. And yet there is work "more perfect" than others done even by the same hand and no one much disputes this. Too much said here about too little, apologies.

Bicycles are more like art in the way reputation and taste plays into them but in the long run the genius of the work will outlast all of us. My hope is that the Rivendells I own that Joe Starck made will also be remembered as Joe's work and insofar as I can contribute to segment of that history, I will.

A somewhat unrelated idea: Sometimes the genius of the bike is less in the refinement of, say, the lugs or the filing than it is in the design solution, say for things like lighting, carriers, fender lines, all taken as a whole. Just a thought.

Douglas Brooks
Bristol, NY