GO AHEAD MAKE MY DAY: A cop gave us a thumbs up.
We were stopped at a red light in Times Square. My machine’s motor was burbling that distinctive idle, the one that makes my heart syncopate in time with it, that pitter patter of little combustion cycles. You know the one. The sound of her song through the straight pipes, is so organic, that you know that she’s a living, breathing being. Who says that machines don’t have souls, and aren’t afraid to express those souls through their exhaustive expulsions? I know that she doesn’t. Then I hear it. Someone from the sidewalk is shouting at me. I look over.
“Hey! Nice! Very nice!”
I look to our left, and I see two NYC cops staring at us. The one with a big smile on his face, is giving us a thumbs up. I wave back at ’em, and reciprocate with my own thumbs up, as I shout back, “Thanks!”
Photo by Genghis
THROW YOUR HANDS UP AND SHOUT: Was the cop diggin’ on my Harley?
If you’re thinking that the cop was showing appreciation for my ever-lovin’ Harley Stroker, Mabel, you’d be wrong. Truthfully, my Harley Shovel has never gotten that type of positive reaction from cops. Mabel has gotten such enthusiastic responses from bikers, some citizens, but no cops. No, what turned this cop on, was my ’72 Vette, Mary.
Photo by Genghis
ALL AMERICAN BEAUTY: Everyone loves Mary.
The last strong reaction I got from an NYC cop to my Harley 74, was on Avenue B in Alphabet City a few years ago, when I inadvertently passed an unmarked car with the beautiful racket from Mabel’s straight pipes, breaking the cop’s left eardrum. He’s got two ears, what’s the problem? Hey, how could anyone not love the sound of a straight piped Harley 74, huh? So I crossed the double solid yellow line to pass him, so what? On came the internal flashing lights in the unmarked, and to court I went for a misdemeanor count of reckless driving. That cost me $1500 in lawyers’ fees to get the case dismissed.
My ’72 Stingray Mary, on the other hand, is a Princess in people collective eyes and consciousness. It wasn’t always this way with Vettes of this age. Back in the ’60s, when I had a stunning ’64 Vette, I call “Unnamed Vette” (read about Unnamed Vette Here), riding around in her guaranteed at the very least, dirty looks from the local constabulary. Back then when I went blasting around in Unnamed Vette, she was a cop magnet, and believe me, they weren’t giving us any thumbs up.
Photo by Genghis
OUTLAW MACHINE: Cops don’t applaud my Harley 74.
These days, Mabel and I get as much negative attention from cops, as I did with Unnamed Vette. It’s just the opposite with Mary, my ’72 Vette. When I drive Mary, people turn in their car seats if we’re on the highway, and gesticulate wildly, giving us thumbs us. Cops, construction workers, kids on the street—you name ’em—they all get wry necks just swiveling around to see Mary blast by, the sound from her straight-through glass packs no longer antisocial like it was in the ’60s, but now representing a nostalgia for Chevy V-8s, the way they sounded 40 years ago—and the way they should sound.
The passage of time has rendered a Vette like Mary from an antisocial machine back in the day, to a nostalgic icon worthy of note and appreciation by polite society. I can’t tell you how often this happens to Mary and me. It happens every time I take her out. I also get, “Hey, what year?” yelled at us. I tell ya what. I dig it.
There is something so profoundly American about Mary and Vettes like her, that tugs at people subconsciously (me included), that makes ’em lose their minds and their composure. Men in their 60s and 70s swivel their necks like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” just to get a good look, mouths agape. Hey man, doan hurt yourselves, okay?
Of course, that’ll never happen with old Harleys. A stripped-down old Harley, will always appear as an Outlaw Machine, ready to rape, pillage and plunder the citizens. Mabel will never be grin creator—except from others of our own kind. That’s okay. It is profoundly gratifying to ride in either of my machines, a true expression of my motorvatin’ soul as I wind ’em out on the blacktop. The trick to obtaining true motorvatin’ happiness, is not to expect it from the grins on other peoples’ face, s that machines may or may not cause, but the internal grin they generate inside of me. Later.