Abraham Lincoln Rides a Bike to the Oscars

Funny thing about Abraham Lincoln (as others have pointed out) is that he is a magnet for the One of Us phenomenon — whether based in fact, conjecture, or only in the imaginations of those who want to claim some Abe cred for themselves.

But did you know Abraham Lincoln was a cyclist?

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln Bikes to the Oscars
Anachronisms be damned | Illustration: Matthew Henry Hall

Last year about this time I was doing what I could (without completely shirking my job responsibilities) to cajole a nominee or a presenter at the Academy Awards to show up by bike. It was the second year I tried this.

My efforts got mentioned in a few mainstream publications, thanks largely to this syndicated article by Steven Rea of Philly.com.

The closest I got was when I spoke with the publicist for Zach Galafianakis. The publicist asked Zach, and Zach said no.

This year I couldn’t spare the time.

But have you seen the film Lincoln? It’s a darn good movie.

Matthew Henry Hall sent me an illustration imagining nominee Daniel Day-Lewis arriving at the ceremony dressed as Lincoln, and riding a penny farthing. (It was also Matt who illustrated my original post in 2011 appealing to celebrities to bike to the Oscars.)

It’s not that far fetched. Day-Lewis is a cyclist. He’s been quoted as saying he’d “like to make a film about cycling.

He’s one of us! He’s one of us! Told you so!

James Spader, who plays lobbyist William Bilbo in the film, is also a cyclist. During the filming of the movie on location in Richmond, Tom Bowden bumped into Spader, and the two talked bikes the way only real bike nerds can. Here is a photo of Spader’s sweet custom bike made by Ant Bicycles. Maybe he’ll bike to the Oscars on that.

I’m not counting on it.

If it’s ever going to happen, it’ll take a coordinated and sustained effort — like Spader’s portrayal of William Bilbo, who tenaciously pursued Democratic votes for the Thirteenth Amendment, using questionable and corrupt methods.

The Academy will need to be infiltrated and co-opted so that cycling arrivals on the red carpet can be facilitated. Entertainers will need to be bribed with money and fancy bikes — as they are bribed now with designer dresses and jewelery. It will have to be more than one nominee or presenter who will arrive; it will have to become the thing to do. I may even need to stop trash-talking celebrity culture.

Who is with me?



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6 thoughts on “Abraham Lincoln Rides a Bike to the Oscars”

  1. Graham says:

    I don’t know… making fun of celebrities is pretty fun. I mean, what if they show up on a bike but don’t really know how to ride and flub the dismount? How can you expect us NOT to make fun of that?!

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      Making fun of celebrities may be fun, but…

      Okay, there’s no but.

      You raise a good point, though. An entertainer who can’t ride and dismount elegantly probably ought to pass.

      And the more I think about it, perhaps this should not be a big everyone-is-doing-it project — because anyone who doesn’t do it will feel like a schmuck, and we know how fragile the feelings of celebrities can be.

      I like to imagine it as a low-key thing. So-and-so arrives bike bike, and an Academy bike valet steps forward to take their bike from them and walk it away — like it’s no big deal, and not deserving of much fanfare.

      Wait. But these narcissists want nothing more than fanfare.

      I’m really confused now.

      Clearly this project will need a consultant anthropologist.

  2. BluesCat says:

    Naw, ain’t gonna happen; not this year at least.

    With the greatest American celebrity bicyclist of all time morally crashing and burning in front of Oprah and millions of viewers, ALL of the celebrities are gonna avoid ANYTHING bicycle like the proverbial plague!

    Too bad, really, because “bicyclist” Lance Armstrong has about as much in common with “bicyclist” BluesCat as “driver” Dale Earnhardt Jr. has in common with “driver” Ralph Kramden!

  3. Don Pollack says:

    Hey, I am all for the Abe Lincoln bike ride! I bicycled Abe’s Inaugural train route from Springfield, IL to Washington D.C. and it took me 34 days- self supported. Also raised some money for Cancer Research…”a mile for your penny”! Anyways, I am having an art exhibition about all of this at Perimeter Gallery in Chicago in April…come one come all….to the better angels of our nature!

  4. Graham says:

    Exactly the point I tried to make to co-workers weeks ago. Because I bike commute, they thought that I would care one way or the other about Armstrong.

    I totally should have used the NASCAR example. People would have instantly understood here in NC!

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