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Il Ciclista Dolce: Michael Musto

Village Voice entertainment columnist Michael Musto has been riding a bike in New York City for over 25 years, long before it was fashionable or there were bike lanes and cycletracks.

Musto, who has never had a driver's license, says the bicycle is an advantage in his profession. And although he has had many bikes stolen over that time period  (he recommends newbies buy a used, cheap bike to get about) he has nothing but positivity and praise for the velocipede:

"I go everywhere on my bicycle.  I go to work.  I'll go to my screenings, my Broadway shows, my nightclubs - and I'll ride it for recreation too, to Central Park....there's no downside that I can think of."

Incidentally, this is my second interview with Musto. The first came in 1999, when I was a volunteer at Transportation Alternatives. Musto was TA magazine's  Cyclist of the Month, a feature I got to write!  I guess that means sometime in 2021 we'll be shooting something in 3D or whatever....

<blockquote class="speaker_1_text"> <cite class="speaker_1" >Michael:</cite> [0:01] Musto: I'm Michael Musto. I write La Dolce Musto, the entertainment column in the "Daily Voice." I've done it for 25 years. I've also ridden my bike for at least 25 years. I live in Murray Hill. I go everywhere on my bike; I'm lost without this thing. I'm going to take it to work right now. And it's going to take only about 10 minutes. It's going to give me great exercise. When I get there, I'm just going to be glowing. [music] </blockquote> <blockquote class="speaker_1_text"> <cite class="speaker_1" >Michael:</cite> [0:29] My bicycle enables my lifestyle. For me, it's the only way to get around. I cannot stand waiting for a cab, finally getting one, and then having to pay all that money. And it takes so much longer in a cab than on a bike. I get so frustrated. [0:41] The bike has actually helped my job because, first of all, it's relaxing. Whenever I'm too tense, I ride on the bike. You automatically, physically feel better. It releases endorphins in your system or something. I don't know. Look it up.</p><p>[0:53] But also, I get to see the changes in the city. If you're in a cab or a subway, you don't necessarily look around and see, "Oh, this neighborhood is evolving, " or "There's a new restaurant, " "There's a new nightclub." And then I check them out later at night for my column.</p><p>[1:07] I really recommend that everyone who rides a bike gets one that looks really, really bad, like this one. This is a shoddy, old, Earl's bike, used. It cost $75. No one's going to touch it. No one wants to steal it. Nobody wants it. I want it.</p><p>[1:21] I make a big faux pas by putting a rubber band around my pants, [laughs] to make sure that they don't get caught in the chain. They actually make straps, which I have at home, but I like to do things the hard way.</p><p>[1:32] There used to be maybe five days out of the whole year that I would not go out on my bike because of the weather. This year there was not a single day, including the biggest blizzards. I was riding through mountains of snow.</p><p>[1:42] I've never had a driver's license. I've never gone to driving school. I never had any desire to do that. And besides that, a bicycle is equivalent to driving.</p><p>I do get noticed a lot, and it's become part of my persona: [1:50] "Oh, there's Musto on the bike again." That's fine. I see people on their bikes--Bill Cunningham from "The New York Times, " Alan Cumming, Liev Schreiber--all riding around New York, very un-self-consciously.</p><p>[music] </blockquote> <blockquote class="speaker_1_text"> <cite class="speaker_1" >Michael:</cite> [2:12] Nobody used to ride a bike in New York. It was just me. First of all, the economy went down, and people aren't willing to spend a lot of money on transportation, and they realize a bike is really a cheap way to get around. Also, the environment became an issue. I don't care about that, but I'm glad somebody does. [2:27] And you started seeing the city becoming more bike-friendly. There are bike lanes all over the place. That's nice.</p><p>[2:33] It's becoming a little too banal for me now. It's a little too mainstream. People are always saying, "Oh, it's so dangerous. I'm so scared." It isn't, really. And you know what? Most accidents happen in the home. So get out of your house, get yourself a cheap bike, and take it slowly. Ride carefully, stop at the red lights, even if other people don't, and you're going to find that it's an enjoyable, invigorating, and educational experience. It's going to save you a lot of money, it's going to get you a lot of exercise, and you're going to be OK.</p><p>[music] </p><p>[3:02] </blockquote> <br/><br/> <!--close content-->
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  • Lee Goode

    Inspiring to see somebody biking around the Big Apple. Especially like the beater bike in fashion conscious NYC. Great film!

  • Amy Walker

    I love Michael Musto's attitude, and that he described other writers he knows, "riding unselfconsciously."

    Nice interview Clarence!
    Sweet & simple!



  • This is Totally Awesome

    More profiles like Musto! MORE, PLEASE?! Maybe do one per week during Bike Month?

  • http://www.transportgooru.com Transportgooru

    Awesome work.  This should inspire more people to explore the city on bikes. 

  • Ed Pino

    We need to see more of this.

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/Stacy Stacy

    Yes!! Yes!! More more!! Great profile.

  • http://www.greenidea.eu Todd Edelman

    I loved it how he said he didn't care about the environment but is glad someone else does.

  • ke

    Ha - love it. "And you know what, most accidents happen in the home, so get outta your house, get yourself a cheap bike... And you're gonna be OK."

  • Lola

    Great video! And by the way, where's his HELMET??? And also, he's got great hair! (perhaps due to the fact that he doesn't wear a helmet??)

  • Andy Schotz

    Very cool. Nice job, Clarence.

    I love the idea of never having a car, but it's a foreign world to the one I've known and lived in. Chalk one up for city life.

  • David Runco

    Sweet Clarence! You are amazing at making these videos. Now all you have to do is dress in drag and then Musto can write about you in his column.

  • Paul Tay

    Yo, Musto, yer way too close to da car doors.  MOVE over mo' to da left.  Yer gonna git DOORED.  It would be HORRIBLE pr if ya nail a door.

  • TC

    LOVE HIM! And how bike riding relaxes him. Great piece, Clarence!

  • Gwin

    Is this some sort of joke??

    Michael Musto may be representative of BAD cyclists in the city, but nothing more than that. He once almost hit me at Astor Place because he was riding down the street the wrong way... another time he and I were both at a film screening on 57th Street and he'd locked his bike on the same post as mine... when he unlocked his he knocked mine over and I yelled at him from across 57th street to pick it back up, and he didn't -- he merely rode away on his bike, the wrong way down 57th Street.

    Hey Michael - learn some bike etiquette!

  • http://lightrailblogger.com Tony Arranaga

    I love how every time I watch one of your pieces, I want to visit that location!

    This package is great, and I can relate to what Michael is saying on so many levels. I always making a note of the new businesses/restaruants/etc I see while riding my bike and then writing about them later on my blog.

    Just like Musto, I've also noticed more and more people here in Phoenix buying a bike. While people are still riding for recreation, I'm seeing more people commuting by bike here in the Valley.

  • http://www.shanestar.org shani

    Musto is so admirable, but WHERE IS HIS BIKE HELMET? one fall could make him disabled for life. even if he doesn't wear one normally, I'd advocate for wearing one for this video promoting cycling to others. thanks for the awesome vid!

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/Green_Idea_Factory Todd Edelman

    @Shani: His bike helmet is in the bike helmet garden (a people-free habitat), happily soaking up rays from the sun before it dies and falls off the vine to contentedly dry up and fertilize the soil...

  • eric

    Is it to much to ask that when you profile a cyclist that you get ones who wear helmets all the time? A cyclist I know just showed me a helmet with three major cracks in it from a recent crash. No cracks in his head.

  • Santos

    I really liked this profile. Musto was charming as ever (the name dropping of celebrity bike riders had me cracking up; apparently everything is a gala event with him) and I liked how encouraging he was to non-riders.

    Also, I've seen him on his bike before a few years ago. It was nice to know that even famous NYC columnists ride.

  • Herzog

    Great profile, but the helmet fundamentalism in the comments is sickening.

    People, if you care so much about safety that you are willing to criticize the decisions of others, then at least take the time to educate yourself on the relevant issues.

  • http://www.zirkel.com kickstand

    Awesome in every way. Musto is a great ambassador for cycling, and Eckerson is a great cinematographer. Kudos!

  • http://bryant6solomon.terapad.com/index.cfm?fa=contentNews.newsDetails&newsID=519709&from=list limewire

    wow fun story bro.

  • BillyNYC

    Michael Musto is a ture "fun" New Yorker and should be our next Manhattan Borough President than Mayor!