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Photo courtesy of David Snow

MY OLD BUCKLE ON SNOW’S BELT: A powerful talisman?

“Genghis sent this to me at my tattoo shop—the ancient XLCH belt buckle he wore when he owned his 1968 XLCH, Sally The Bitch. He bought Sally new from Manhattan H-D and mentioned to me after I got Animal Mother (my 1969 Sportster XLCH) that he thought he’d long ago lost the buckle. It’s an object of power, a talisman against evil, a priceless memento from a true friend, and I wear it with pride. I rode the 60 miles home from the shop at midnight, freezing through the dark hills. But I was fortified, knowing that no deer could harm me, no owl could break my face, no drunk driver could touch me and Animal Mother now shared a link through the miles and years with Sally The Bitch. If I have to explain…..”



Okay, I’ll explain. There’s definitely something to this. These aren’t the mad ravings of a biker gone off his rocker, slipped off the deep end, or a Happy Meal short of a giveaway toy. Snow speaks the truth, man. Yeah, you read the right. This is the Gospel Truth. Some might categorize the belief in “objects of power” at the cruel and cynical end of the opinion spectrum, as a manifestation of the obsessive compulsive disorder. On the kinder and more amenable end of the opinion spectrum, people might merely allude to superstitious tendencies. No matter. Admit the truth, for the truth shall set you free.

Who among us hasn’t internally said to ourselves, “Riding doesn’t feel right today. It just doesn’t feel right. Mebbe I should just hang today…” I have, man. I’m a firm believer in following one’s intincts. I’ve been a firm adherent of the principle that instincts are a finely honed sixth sense, ever since my martial arts teaching days. One tenet I always stressed to my students was, to always follow their instincts in potentially adverse situations. The more this sixth sense is used, the more finely developed and tuned it becomes. There is no doubt that humans, because of their more highly involved intelligence, have a duller sense of instinct than animals. From internet sites:

“In 1974…scientists began to receive reports of snakes coming out of hibernation…this activity was followed by minor tremors. The snakes had sensed the oncoming danger. Hours before a tsunami, working elephants broke their chains…and ran for higher ground. Dogs can sense a natural disaster before it happens. Their senses are much more acute than ours. They might go outside, they might stay in an unususal place for a long time….The role of instincts in determining…behavior…varies from species to species. The more complex the neural system of an animal, the greater is the role of the cerebral cortex and social learning, and instincts play a lesser role….”

We homo sapiens may take pride in being the most developed of all animal species, but we have a long way to go to unlearning all that has for all intents and purposes, diminished our instinct sense. That tradeoff is the price we have to pay, for being more highly evolved than dogs, snakes and elephants. We may smugly and unsuspectingly sit at home watchin’ “Sons of Anarchy” on TV, while that earthquake measuring 9.9 on the Richter scale is gettin’ ready to demolish the house, but the dogs, snakes and elephants will have the last laugh, while they safely and serenely survive the disaster, from an undisclosed location.

A little about the buckle that I sent to David. When I picked up my Sportster XLCH, “Sally The Bitch” from Harley-Davidson of Manhattan in 1968, I spotted this neat XLCH belt buckle in a display case in this narrow, little dealership. I bought it and slapped it onto my belt, before kickin’ Sally over and taking her home to Queens. It was like it was meant to be, this buckle that emanted the power of the love that I had for my XLCH. Wearing it amounted to shouting to the world (“STTW!”), “Hey, I ride the baddest bike on the planet, man…,” for that’s how Sportster ‘CHs were perceived back then. Before they undeservedly became “half-a-Harleys” and “girls’ bikes” in lamebrains’ minds, XLCHs were feared and revered. They were the ones kicking asses and takin’ names.

I wore this buckle for eighteen years, while I rode Sally. Then it went awol somewhere in my apartment for the next 28 years. It wasn’t until I switched to my everlovin’ Shovel, Mabel, that I stopped wearing this buckle. I didn’t give the buckle much thought until Snow got his ’69 XLCH, “Animal Mother.” It was then that I looked for the buckle, and couldn’t find it. Then last week, I was rummaging around a dresser holding socks and t-shirts, that I found it nestled in a corner under some Ace bandages. Voila! I had to send it to David. It just seemed fated that he should have it, since he loves his XLCH so much, and appreciates her for what she is: An historically significant and righteous Harley-Davidson, the likes of which you can’t find in the model lineup of The Firm these days.

Patty said to me, “I’m suprised that you’d part with it.” I told Patty that the buckle now feels as if it belonged to Snow and Animal Mother, that my wardship of it has come to an end. It now belongs to, and on Snow. My guardianshp of the buckle has been transferred to it’s legitimate owner. That’s the way traditions in the Biker Subculture work. They pass from hand to hand, and mind to mind. There are many “Objects of Power” in the subculture. The motorcycles are the greatest, but lesser examples survive. like this XLCH buckle. It truly is talismanic. later.


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