Come the revolution, we'll all be riding bicycles cobbled together from the spare parts of other bicycles--playful contraptions that will combine form and function into a middle-finger salute to that great engine of progress, the automobile. Anyway, that's the strangely comforting message I took away from Brian Standing's 35-minute documentary Pedalphiles, which will have its world premiere this weekend at the Esquire Theater (Friday and Saturday, April 14 and 15, 11:30 p.m.). Standing, who's the Thursday-night host of WORT's "In Our Backyard" program, takes us inside the world of S.C.A.B. (Skids Creating Apocalyptic Bicycles), a group of "bicyclist-artist-philosophers" who can often be seen cruising around town, their "Easy Rider" hogs serving as rather anarchic calling cards. Who knew that this rag-tag team of two-wheelers had dreams of stripping the gears inside our heads? There's a great moment when, posing as fellow travelers at a Bike to Work Week rally, the members of S.C.A.B. overhear a guy in a bike helmet (they don't believe in helmets, as far as I can tell) sing the praises of pedaling to the office. S.C.A.B.'s Michael Spelman, speaking under his breath, puts the event in context. "Why go to work?" he asks. "That's the thing I don't understand." Why indeed. There's another great moment when Isthmus gets called "a crap-ass newspaper" after we've run a favorable profile of the group; flattery will get us nowhere, apparently. Rolling down the mean streets of Madison, S.C.A.B. may look like the gang from Mad Max on a day when Max isn't all that mad, but just try cutting them off in traffic, say, or imposing a label on them. Spelman, who has a whopper scar snaking along the side of his shaved head (bike accident?), calls the group "an experiment in phenomenology" and cites Heidegger to back up his claim. I'd call it the answer to many of our transportation problems, the very opposite of a well-oiled machine.
Also showing on the Esquire program: Matt Ehling's Access, about the wild and wacky world of cable-access television, and Laura Miller's brief photo diary Snapshots of Two Capitols.