The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power

The Immortal Class Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power Travis Hugh Culley went to Chicago to make his name in its thriving theater scene yet found in his day job a sense of community and fulfillment and a brotherhood of like minded individualists that he

  • Title: The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power
  • Author: Travis Hugh Culley
  • ISBN: 9780375760242
  • Page: 192
  • Format: Paperback
  • Travis Hugh Culley went to Chicago to make his name in its thriving theater scene, yet found in his day job a sense of community and fulfillment and a brotherhood of like minded individualists that he encountered nowhere else In The Immortal Class, Culley takes us inside the heart and soul of an American urban icon the bicycle messenger In describing his own history andTravis Hugh Culley went to Chicago to make his name in its thriving theater scene, yet found in his day job a sense of community and fulfillment and a brotherhood of like minded individualists that he encountered nowhere else In The Immortal Class, Culley takes us inside the heart and soul of an American urban icon the bicycle messenger In describing his own history and those of his peers, he evokes a classic American maverick, deeply woven into the fabric of society from the pits of squalor to the highest reaches of power and privilege yet always resolutely, exuberantly outside Culley s voice is at once earthy and soaringly poetic a Gen X Tom Joad at hyperspeed The Immortal Class is a unique personal and political narrative of a cyclist s life on the street.

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      Published :2020-06-14T17:58:48+00:00

    About “Travis Hugh Culley

    • Travis Hugh Culley

      He came from a town whose two major industries were hospitals and car racing His father, a marketing guy for Texaco before the oil scare of the 1970s, had two boys Travis was the loud one.Author of A Comedy A Tragedy A Memoir of Learning to Read Write, Ballantine Books, 2015.Booklist calls it A starkly unusual and unusually compelling story.

    536 thoughts on “The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power

    • This is a fascinating look not only into the world of bike messengers, but also into the history of large cities like Chicago that were originally designed to be pedestrian and bicycle friendly. As an avid cyclist myself, this was a superb book.


    • There is a funny personal story behind this book for me. I met the author- twice. I purchased my copy from a small new/used bookstore on Broadway in Chicago called Afterwords. It's still my favorite bookstore. My copy happened to be autographed- apparently Travis would come in every so often and autograph some books for them. They would up the price slightly and he'd let them keep the difference. For a store like Afterwords every little bit helps if you're to keep a Barnes & Noble or Borders [...]


    • This is a book that has never been written before about a subcultural part of a larger revolution. I love reading books about things that have never been written about before.Every asshole driver who won't share the road should be strapped down and forced to read this. Having said this, bike couriers, like most bikers, obey their own laws--selectively citing the rules of the road when it is to their favor and flouting them similarly--yet all based on a defensive survivalism steeped in the realit [...]


    • This is an amazing read. Culley doesn't just tell us what it's like being a bike messenger and its attendant dangers and pain, although he does do that. But, he writes lyrically and passionately about his Umwelt, the personal space surrounding him: art, architecture, justice, city planning, the politics of creating a culture, the psychology, sociology, and anthropology of the clashing cultures of car vs. bike riders. It opened a whole new world for me, a way of looking at street I had never done [...]


    • Here is what i learned from this book: that no matter how shallow, no matter how hideous the hours, how pandering to The Man it is, i will do whatever it takes to have a job with health insurance because Travis tells you xactly what it is like to NOT have it and need to have stitches. Yes, you install them on yourself. As long as i have a bike to ride, i iwll sell my soul for health care if this is the alternative. A fun read, no too macho and decent, if not good at times, writing.


    • I'm sad I didn't make it into this book, as probably the worst messenger ever for Service First I met the author several times throughout the late 90's. My girlfriend at the time (an amazing messenger) worked for Velo (Velocity) and was just an awesome tech messenger. Brings back memories for me, some good , some not so clear. Long live Tuman's and the Fireside crew (Scott Anna you really do know everybody in the world!)


    • fantastic book, very interesting read. Just as the book starts to get monotonous, he takes you on an exciting trip to a different aspect of the life of a bike courier. It was a quick read and amazing


    • There is something about becoming one with your Wheel. The freedom, the power. It can become an obsession. And when you find your group, others who share this life, well You don't have to agree with ANYTHING in this book. But it will give insight into one bicyclists heart.Recommended to those who like bicycling books.


    • Culley uses his time working as a bike messenger in Chicago to weave together several narratives: the worklife of a messenger, the dysfunction of an automobile-based urban architecture, the people and ideas behind bicycle activism, his own growing up, and even a bit about Chicago’s architectural history.The book’s vibrant center is the tale of his adventures working as a bike messenger. In Culley’s impressionistic telling, it’s frantic work from morning to night: dodging cars, attempting [...]


    • The author, Travis Culley, is obsessive, ecstatic, compulsive - in general just nuts. He's in Chicago, writing through the night, broke and just about to be evicted so takes a job as a bike messenger. The Immortal Class is Culley's narrative of his weeks? months? in the job, riding so hard and so often that he blows out his knee.The Immortal Class is a series of essays that span Culley's time as a bike messenger. The essays are wide ranging, thoughtful and beautifully written and they shine with [...]


    • My bike club went camping this weekend. I love bikes and I love camping, so it was excruciating knowing I had a pre-Halloween event at my store, bills to pay, and a general inability to leave my husband and child to go on a frivolous trip that would inevitably involve a lot of drinking and riding.I love books more than anything, and I adore Chris Rogers (the author we had in the store Saturday), but my mind was off in the distance with my new friends – family really – their tents, their bike [...]


    • THE IMMORTAL CLASS: BIKE MESSENGERS AND THE CULT OF HUMAN POWER by Travis Hugh Culley. The immortal class is the bicycle messengers who must have immortal confidence to rationalize the danger they face every time they venture out on the traffic pack street of major cities. I enjoyed this book. While reading I could easily imagine being the messenger floating through the Chicago traffic and skitching rides off the bumpers of taxis. In addition to the gritty cycling story is thought provoking comm [...]


    • I was looking to enter a world totally foreign to me. I was looking for likable characters with great stories and unique personalities. I found this author to be a arrogant and one-sided. I know, I know. He's been fighting the fight against conventionality and conformity all his life and gets nothing but grief for it. He's all alone out there with only his talent and anger (and his U-lock) to protect him against everyone who wants to hurt him and rob him of his disdainful way of life. He's an an [...]


    • A fascinating insider view of the bicycle messenger subculture. Bicycle messengers are like musicians and gypsies. They occupy a unique social niche outside the normal class hierarchy.The author was a bicycle messenger in Chicago in the 1990s, delivering packages to high-rise business suites in the Loop. To deliver packages, he routinely boarded elevators in his spandex, surrounded by "suits." I was one of those suits. We might have felt smug, looking at the spandex man and his package, but we w [...]


    • “Just because I don’t have an automobile doesn’t mean I have to suffer the arrogant disregard of every four-wheeled prick who thinks he owns the road! Just because I am poor doesn’t mean I am without my rights! Does it?”--Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and The Cult of Human Power by Travis Hugh CulleyThe quote by an ex-bike messenger from Chicago drives the point that automobile drivers don’t have the rights to abuse their privilege to use the roads. Furthermore, bicyclist have the [...]


    • Teton Co Library Call No: must be ILLedMarisa's rating: 2 starsThis book came recommended and I can see why - the topic is very interesting (the bike messenger life in Chitown), the author comes from a theatrical background, and the book seemed to be divided interestingly. However, I couldn't help but not really like the aithor and since the book was all about him it was tough. When Travis was actually talking about the bike messenger world, the book was great - so fast paced, it became a love l [...]


    • What an incredible view into a world that I see every day, but have no idea about!The narrative was fantastic with an amazingly descriptive prose style. One of the cover quotes summed it up well, equating this to "zen & the art of motorcycle maintenance" but the author's relation of a zen feeling to bicycle messengering, bicycles impact on society, and society's treatment of bicycles was incredibly insightful and sad. This is a great read that makes you want to get out and pedal for your rig [...]


    • A quick but inspiring read that has provoked a lot of thought during bike commutes to work. Also an enjoyable study of the subculture of bike messengers. Culley comes off more as an anthropologist than a true insider, but he clearly spent enough time as a messenger to capture the authentic experience and lifestyle. His take on car vs. bicycle ranges from interesting and informative to bombastic and one-dimensional. At a distance, he seems to the reader as adamant about doing away with cars as he [...]


    • What was the publisher thinking? A 320+ memoir from a bike messenger in his 20s? I got about 80 or so page through it but then put it aside and after I realized that I had read three other books while it sat on the bedside table, I took it back to the library.There were a few amusing bike messenger anecdotes buried in it, but there was far more about the author's various problems, which aren't that compelling as a story line. And his writing style seemed over the top, attempting to make it absol [...]


    • I was sort of hot and cold on this book. There were some very nice, well-written bits where he was describing the bike messenger life. I was less enthralled by the bike/anti-car activism material, but on the other hand, I live in a fairly small town and telecommute, so maybe I'm just not relating. There's moments in the book where he's totally got me, but then he's off on some flight of rhetorical fancy, and after a bit I found myself losing interest and skimming to get back to the narrative mom [...]


    • This blew me away. I saw it while lounging around in the the Portland Coffee House on Belmont, one of my favorite haunts. I thought it sounded intriguing, but it turned out to be so much more than just a tribute to the profession. It's a moving and deep examination of how cars are eroding our communities. As far as the job goes, I can relate on so many levels, it will speak to you too if you have a stressful, time-sensitive job (measure that in minutes, not hours!).


    • I loved this book. Part memoir, part rant, part love-story to a city and to the bicycle. Culley's style is engaging and gives readers an inside glimpse into the unique subculture of bicycle messengers. I've read that his account of his time as a messenger may have been, errr, embellished, but I don't care. He's a good writer and his passion for his subject matter is compelling. There are different kinds of truth and Culley captures the essence of a subculture to share with a larger audience.


    • Oh, injustice! When I read those words, I went "Oh, please!" and decided I wasn't gonna be able to get thru this drival by someone who takes himself way, way, to seriously. That being said, I think the bike messanger subculture is a great insight into the inner-workings of the American city so I hope someone will write about it much better than this kid.


    • Great insight into the world of the Bicycle Messenger. As a cyclist I have always envied these free spirits with the amazing bike skills and ability to make a living putting themselves in constant danger from the motorized vehicle. The musings on the answers to the challenge of riding a bike in the modern city isn't that successful but it does raise some excellent points of view. Well written!


    • primo: Uscito in italiano come Il messaggero, sottotitolo Come è nata Massa Critica;non è la storia di critical masssecondo: pochi pregi letterari, ma parecchi spunti "politici" interessanti (nota del 2018: se magari li annotavo brevemente, adesso non serviva rileggere tutto il libro, testina)terzo: forse meriterebbe tre stellequarto: non è detto che cambi idea riguardo al punto terzo


    • Interesting memoir if a bike messenger in Chicago in the late 90s. The latter chapters that extol bringing the bike into the spotlight as the savior of modern, urban America are tedious and not very well thought-through.


    • Self-indulgent autobiography detailing thoughts a Chicago messenger has about himself and his city. I liked the elements the book reminded me of my own experiences but the author doesn't describe his friends or his customers very much.


    • Extremely interesting concept, however the author was so pompous and pretentious that I had a hard time reading past his obnoxious point of view to get to the point. He had great stories but not a great way of telling them.


    • Expecting this to be a contemporary-sociology-of-obscure-subculture thing, I was disappointed to find it to be a personal memoir, written by a 25yo, no less. The Chicago stuff was fun, but wow, 25yos should not write memoirs.


    • His descriptions of riding bikes through Chicago traffic are so exciting that I had a physical reaction to them. I read it quite a while ago, but remembered it as a coming of age story with redeeming revelations.


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