Photo by Genghis
ONE OF FOUR: Rise of the machines.
IN MACHINES WE TRUST.
I’m in the process of renewing my New York City gun license, which expires every three years. I had this thought while taking care of the routine paperwork involved: “I have entrusted my life to machines.” It’s true. In this case, I’ve wrapped my life around a delivery device that will send a 230 grain ball of lead, poste haste at a velocity of 900 feet per second at whatever that delivery device happens to be smartly aimed at.
The two devices that I depend on for the timely delivery of said lead, are a stainless Colt Government Model, and a blued Colt Commander. I admit, I love the hefty reliability of the .45 ACP caliber round. It’s comforting. I dig machines that carve large holes in the air, like .45 ACP bullets and stripped-down Harley 74s.
When I was a kid, my “delivery devices” were slingshots cut from tree branches, “Y” shaped devices cut below the bifurcations of branches, to form perfect rock-delivery machines. So it goes, man. I guess I’m obsessed with machines, whether they’re made of wood, metal or fiberglass. I have indeed, made my life around machines, with these mechanical animals as its centerpiece. The four machines I’ve configured my life around in chronlogical order, are Nikons, Corvettes, Harley-Davidsons and Colts.
Notice that I’m brand-specific when categorizing the Machines In My Life. That’s because of my well-known brand loyalty. I believe in brand loyalty, usually to the exclusion of other non-primary brands in each category of machine. I happen to believe that brand loyalty, is a test of character.
For those in the biker subculture, I hold the belief that loyalty to the Harley-Davidson brand, is a litmus test. Hey man, if you don't ride a Harley you ain't shit. Of course, that's a double negative that runs counter to my argument, but what the hey. Times may have changed over the last few decades, but an XS 650 is still scrap metal, or an effective boat anchor when nothing better is available.
All of the machines that I’ve fallen in love with, exhibit speed. My Nikon is capable of shooting six frames per second. My Harley Shovelhead stroker shows muscular arrogance on highways at 80 miles per hour, without breaking a Harley 60 weight sweat. My Vette can do a tire-smoking zero to sixty before you can say “Chevrolet.” The lead spit from my Colt pistols can traverse the length of three footbal fields in one second.
Speed kills, baby!
There is a larger point here beyond the mindless braggadocio about My Machines. It is this: For me, and people like me (chief among ’em are bikers), our machines define us. They give us identity. that’s why machines are so important to people like us. They make us “Bikers.” They also make us “Photographers.” They make us “Car Guys.” With regard to guns, they make us “Americans,” for gun ownership is uniquely American because of the Second Amendment.
Now, I’m going to demonstrate to you how we bikers are of one-mind. How often when you were blasting along in fourth gear on your Harley, have you screwed your machine’s thottle to wide-open, the bike suddenly and thrillingly leaping forward at 90 past the cars on each side, with her straight pipes howling all pleasure and power, did you feel like you were aiming your bike out of the barrel of a gun toward the horizon, the tears welling up in your eyes from the stinging wind and just the, extreme joy of it?
You hang on for life itself on the handlebars, as your bike tries to leave you behind. She’s so excited that she’s being allowed to run like she can. Once in a while under the right circumstances, you can let her off the leash. I find these moments as often as possible while riding, and it is so rewarding for me, and her. Partners on the road, partners in life. See? Great minds think alike, man. You are one of us, man. Is there any doubt?
How terrible life would be without machines, and all that they mean to us, amd make us. It would be an experience as empty as the ubiquitous hotel room, without beloved machines in the folds of our lives. That they provide identity, there is no doubt. We are tribal animals, you and I. We must belong. Belonging brings order to our chaotic lives, offering a comforting framework of familiarity, conquest and success as sturdy and resilient as a four-speed swingram chassis. The things we do with our machines as partners, give our lives purpose beyond mere existence. That’s why people call you a “gearhead.” Maybe “pistonhead” would be more appropriate. Later.