Friday, December 4, 2009

The Parkour and Freerunning Handbook, by Dan Edwardes

Every once in awhile, this blog must be forgiven if it takes a break from writing up books of a high literary character and indulges in its author's odd private obsessions. This post is one of them.

What are parkour and freerunning? Well, fans of the recent film Casino Royale are probably already familiar with the opening sequence that made this gymnastic way of moving through the urban landscape famous. For those who haven't seen the film, you can think of this as a whole new way of getting around and relating to your city or town.

Okay--I am not really the ideal candidate to practice this discipline. I don't think I'll be doing backflips off three story buildings any time soon, for instance. But of course the primal place for all of us is always our imagination, and whether we can practice this in the urban landscape itself, or only in the far frontiers of our imaginations, this stuff is really cool. It's a shift in our thinking about city streets, city railings and city buildings to imagine owning these impersonal public structures with our personal stunts and feats. If you're young and athletic, you may be able to duplicate some of the moves demonstrated in this book. But even if you're not, and I believe this is actually the important part, you too can imagine the streets you live on in an entirely new way. Take a look at this book, or the movie Casino Royale for that matter, and try to picture yourself doing such stunts on the streets where you live. You will inhabit your own space on earth in an entirely new way if you do.


  1. I like Parkour. I found several Parkour videos on YouTube years ago. Very impressive stuff. I thought I alone had found this Parisian subculture but then Bond came along and then they even had a Parkour skit on the office.

    It was sad, like the way only I had heard of and appreciated Cormac McCarthy until suddenly everyone else jumped on board.

  2. Santa Cruz would seem to be a prime place for this sport to take hold, being non-competitive, individualistic and largely outdoors, but so far it hasn't seemed to have taken hold.I suppose if it did, I'd only be annoyed by its practitioners.

    As impressed as Cormac should be by your early fandom, I'm sure in the long run it's better for his bank account that he's added a few more followers since then.

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  4. Its like when I saw Jeff Buckley sing Hallelujah at CBGB's. Now its every where and its ruined.

  5. I feel the same way about that Hawaiian guy Iz's version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

    Although it's funny to think back now to when my sister brought back his CD from Hawaii how we had to fight with the kids, whose favorite song on the CD was about Maui, the "Hawaiian Superman". Funny how that one isn't too overplayed yet.


    I guess it's good that things that are worthy of attention have this capacity to go viral now, but it's almost like they become a little suspect because you figure they somehow have too easy a handle. Sentimentality or a very straightforward surface, or something.

    I'm betting that a lot of people have read The Road and that All the Pretty Horses trilogy, for instance, but I wonder how many went back and read Suttree or Blood Meridian--or what they would have thought of them if they did. (I haven't, but then, I'm not a huge fan. One of my old friends was a big fan of the earlier ones, though.)

  6. Seana,

    Great post. I'm as enamored with this sport/style (what does one call it?) as you and Adrian are. And I love how you describe it in your post: it's not just physical prowess that makes it so interesting, it's that it requires seeing the world differently. Seems you need to be both physically adept and extremely creative to do this sort of thing.