Courier Culture

“The bicycle messenger has been a fixture of the Washington DC landscape for decades. This mini-documentary explores a handful of the present day road warriors as they battle traffic and technology in pursuit of a fair wage and a freewheeling style of life. This is a preliminary cut, currently in post-production wrap up. Produced as part of the Corcoran School of Art + Design New Media Photojournalism Masters Program by Fixed Focus Productions. Fixed Focus is Maria Helena Carey, Dakota Fine, Reyna Levine, and Colby Waller.”

15 Comment

  • They should have made this doc well over ten years ago.

  • Awesome. In the first minute, we see people smoking up, swearing, flipping the bird, and generally acting like assholes. Along with some deep philosophical musings about what makes somebody happy.

  • brookland_rez

    I’ve had friends over the years that either were messengers at the time or at a prior time.

    Everybody I knew was super cool. But it’s a dangerous line of work for not a lot of money. The health benefits of a lifetime of being active on a bicycle all day could easily be negated in an instant like the guys in the video pointed out, what with their accidents and all, especially with the way a lot of them ride.

    • I went ahead and watched the whole thing. Why the 20-something guys interviewed would choose this as a profession knowing how much business has gone down over the past few years is beyond me. There are probably a handful of laws regarding original signatures that are keeping these guys in business. Once those laws change to allow electronic signature, that’s the end.

      • brookland_rez

        I agree. The ones I knew were mostly just moved out of mom and dad’s house in the burbs and didn’t have any college aspirations. They just wanted to get out on their own and make a little money to be independent. A lot came from broken homes and saw adventure in getting to the city and being free. Almost like bicycle hippies.

      • Would any other profession employ them?

        • brookland_rez

          Other professions that this crowd gets into include bar tending, tatoo shop, really any retail like Smash Records, skateboard shops, etc. I’ve known some to get into IT fields, but more on the artistic side, like web design or graphic arts. There are lots of career paths that don’t require a polo shirt and khakis or a suit.

  • Does the documentary show the dozen of ’em that loiter outside the Potbelly on 17th Street NW and drink alcohol and sexually harass passers-by all afternoon, Monday through Friday?

  • Thanks for posting our video Greg!

  • I’ll never get those 10 minutes back.

  • Things I’ve learned from this video:

    If you have a job that pays you a steady income and benefits, but may or may not require you to wear a tie and/or work in an office, you are not “free.” If you have a job that pays $4-$7 an hour, can get you hurt, maimed, or killed, and provides no insurance, you are “free.”

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