Archive for January, 2016

“RIDING IN ANGER”

January 13, 2016

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Photos by Genghis

MABEL: Silent for five months.

I hadn’t heard it since November. Man, that’s five months since I’ve ridden Mabel, my ever-lovin’ Stroker Harley. Today was the first day in 2016, when I got to hear that HARLEY BLAST of Mabel’s, that distinctive and unforgettable sound of a Harley-Davidson used in anger.

And anger it was that motorvated me today. Anger about two consecutive, lingering colds since late December, that delayed my first ride of the year.

We’ve all heard this from our very sensible female companions, emphatically stated with an accompanying sneer:

“But it’s only a cold!”

SPOUSAL SCIENCE: Colds are worse for men!

A scientific double-blind study of 346 couples in which both partners had colds at the same time, shows that invariably, the men suffered more severe symptoms, as well as having those symptoms last four times as long as their spouses.

It was also demonstrated, that the men complained ten times as much as their fair partners! Of course, the scientists who conducted this highly questionable study were male. (*COUGH*)

And so it was with me. With both colds—the second cold rapidly following in the footsteps of the recovery from the first cold—the actual virus left my personage within a week. However, what lingered for weeks on end, were a cough. (*HACK*)

Could I have ridden while I had the residual effects of the colds? Yes. Did I feel like riding during that time—no. Okay, I admit it. I was a wussy. These days though, since I’m not 20 years old anymore, I tend to wallow and follow my adult instincts with regard to doing nothing. If I don’t feel like doing something—whatever that something may be, then I don’t do it.

Riding the bike has always been a compulsion with me, but age has a way of softening compulsive urges. In other words, I’m more lazy than I used to be. Okay, so I’m a sissy! You gotta problem with that? Huh? Whaddayou lookin’ at?

Another example of this post-viral lethargy, is this week was the first time that I’ve taken pictures outside since late December. Ordinarily, I carry my camera with me all-year round. Since my colds started in December however, I just didn’t feel like it. So I didn’t. Hey man, looks like the common cold won the contest!

SCORE

COLD BUG: 2

LETHARGIC HUMAN: 0

So, the common cold virus wins this round. Big deal, man. Who’s still standing, huh? Who’s the last organism standing after this battle, ya damn bug? ME! That’s who. Ha! It’s not over till the fat lady sings, baby!

I AM THE ALPHA ORGANISM!

Hear me cough!

Not riding until today this year, was bad enough, but what made it worse is the fact that this winter has been one of the mildest in recorded history. There have been days within the last month, when temperatures in NYC flirted with 70 degrees fahrenheit. It has been a very spring-like winter. A benefit recipient of the very warm winter, was Mabel’s battery.



BATTERY STRONG: She cranked right over.

Man, Mabel cranked right over today, as if we’d ridden yesterday! Outstanding! R-R-Rrrrrr….Waaaackaaa…… Love that sound, man. There isn’t a sound as exhilirating as a Harley-Davidson starting up from a drowsy winter sleep–and the sound of a biker riding his Harley in anger! But it’s a righteous anger. Hey Mabel, we’re back and we’re bad! Later!

 

FINITO

“THE LOSS OF INNOCENCE”

January 12, 2016

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1898: A Malamute in Alaska.

I first created the ALASKAN MALAMUTE: THE MAHLEMUT DOG group, with the intention of celebrating our wonderful Alaskan Malamutes, these affectionate beasts of burden that aided and indeed, enabled the Mahlemut Inupiat Natives of Kotzebue Sound, to subsist. We all know the story of Mahlemut dogs, who came across the Bering Sea Bridge with their Mahlemut masters from Asia to the Kotzebue Sound of Alaska—where this dog remained a genetically pure strain of Arctic dog—or so I thought..

I was an innocent in these matters when I created this group, fully believing the romantic story of how the Alaskan Malamute stayed “pure” until the demand of the gold rush for great numbers of working dogs, sullied the purity of the breed, by the interbreeding with other breeds from the lower 48 states of America.

The Malamute in Alaska shown, who was photographed in 1898, by God—looked just like the Malamutes we have on our contemporary leashes! This photo constituted to me, proof that the early breeders of our Malamutes like Eva Seeley, rebuilt the lines directly from the bloodlines found in Kotzebue Sound.

Then a funny thing happened. More information filtered into our group, as wiser (but not older) heads than mine in the breed joined, and graced us with their wisdom and knowledge.

We found out that the foundation parents of our modern Malamute line—Yukon Jad and Bessie who Eva Seeley mated to start the replenishment process—may not have been directly linked to Mahlemut dog bloodlines in Kotzebue. Documents show that Bessie was on the roster of one of Robert Peary’s expeditions, and she was apparently shipped from Labrador, in eastern Canada. Yukon Jad’s origin is less well known, but some individuals have said that he originated from Dawson City in the Yukon.

Was the “romance” of the Mahlemut dog morphing into our contemporary Malamutes, beginnimg to crumble?

Not at all!

If we accept the likely premise that the Mahlemut dog was simply one member, one specialized type of a family of northern dogs spread throughout the Arctic, then like many things in life, the Malamute comes full circle.

I do accept the premise that the Mahlemut type dog—familiar to all of us because of his exceptional and distinctive looks—is merely one part of the greater whole of THE ARCTIC DOG. It doesn’t really matter whether Jad’s and Bessie’s hailed from Kotzebue, Alaska or not. They may or may not have.

Because Arctic dogs adapted to their regional environments, to develop into a physical “type,” then the Malamute “type” of our modern Malamutes is exactly like the “types” of Arctic dogs, that the Mahlemut Inupiat in Kotzebue bred and raised for the last 4,000 years. That is what matters. Type is everything, baby!

This one observation, from a definitely older and wiser head than anyone involved in the Malamute breed today, has given me comfort, and has restored that sense of wonder at the Mahlemut Type Dog I had, before my “loss of innocence.” This observation about the Malamute, comes from a long-departed Arctic explorer, Hudson Stuck. It is excerpted from his legendary 1914, “Ten Thousand Miles With a Dog Sled”:

“THE MALAMUTE, THE ALASKAN ESQUIMAUX DOG, IS PRECISELY THE SAME DOG AS THAT FOUND AMONGST THE NATIVES OF BAFFIN’S BAY AND GREENLAND. KNUD RASMUSSEN AND AMUNDSEN TOGETHER HAVE ESTABLISHED THE ONENESS OF THE ESQUIMAUX FROM THE EAST COASTS OF GREENLAND ALL AROUND TO ST. MICHAEL; THEY ARE ONE PEOPLE, VIRTUALLY SPEAKING ONE LANGUAGE. AND THE MALAMUTE IS ONE DOG. A PHOTOGRAPH THAT ADMIRAL PEARY PRINTS OF ONE OF THE SMITH SOUND DOGS THAT PULLED HIS SLED TO THE NORTH POLE WOULD PASS FOR A PHOTOGRAPH OF ONE OF THE PRESENT WRITER’S TEAM, BRED ON THE KOYUKUK RIVER, THE PARENTS COMING FROM KOTZEBUE SOUND.”

Here’s the thing: Our Malamutes, all descended from Jad and Bessie, look like that dog of Admiral Peary’s. Our Malamutes also look like that sled dog of Hudson Stuck’s from the early 1900s. Our present-day Malamute, is also of an Arctic dog “type” that causes it to look like the Malamute in Alaska, shown in this 1898 photo.

We may have lost our innocence, but we have regained the romance of our Malamutes, linked back to the past Mahlemut dogs, because everything comes full circle. Our Malamutes of are of a specific geographic “type” of Arctic dog—the Arctic dog found in Kotzebue Sound.

FINITO

“RAT PACK M.C.—A LATE NEW YEAR’S MESSAGE”

January 2, 2016

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RAT PACK M.C. IN 1969: Where are they now?

For years now, I’ve felt compelled to write an annual “New Year’s Message,” probably prompted by a deep-seated narcissism, and an inflated false sense of self-importance. But ya know what folks, deal with it America. It is what it is, and here it is—but a day late in 2016.

Whatever the underlying reason for my writing these things year after year, there they are, like a broken clock that’s right at least twice a day. This year, however, that New Year’s Message was delayed by a bad cold I’ve had for the past several days, a good enough reason for you treasured readers to forgive my lateness in presenting you with this year’s message. But as Patty just said to me…..

“That’s not a reason, it’s an excuse.”

Hey, mebbe, mebbe not. Doesn’t matter. The cold has been especially resilient, making me think that it might be the flu. Oh, well—life goes on, then we write.

The tardiness of this New Year’s Message, like a crescent wrench thrown into the space-time continuum as one travels in a time machine, has landed us not into an inspiring screed about looking forward deeper into 2016, but a look backward into the distant past.

While researching the ‘Net for photos to post at THE SEEDY X-BAR & GRILL, I came across this photo of the Rat Pack M.C. taken in the 1960s. This happens to be a photo of my friend Steppenwolf (real name Arthur Sellers), and his Panhead. Arthur is on the right in the photo, holding the handlebars. Iron Horse Magazine readers will remember my mentioning Steppenwolf and his club, in the magazine. This was the very first picture, I’ve ever seen of the club.

Another former Rat Pack M.C. member, whose name might be more familiar to you, is that of Spade George, who is shown in this photo taken around the last time I saw George in 1970, in front of his house in Daly City in California.

SPADE GEORGE: I last saw him in Daly City.

George and his motorcycle shop, have become somewhat of an icon on the West Coast. Few there however, will remember him as a member of the Rat Pack M.C. in New York City in the 1960s.

The Rat Pack Motorcycle Club, was one of those “second-tier” MCs in the NYC area, in the 1960s. The club, which had its clubhouse in Brooklyn, was well represented in Manhattan. In fact, my friend Steppenwolf, lived on East 6th Street in the East Village, only three blocks from the Hell’s Angels’ clubhouse on 3rd Street.

There was a time when Steppenwolf had the rolling chassis of his Panhead, stored in my parents’ Chinese laundry in Queens, while he had his Panhead motor being rebuilt.

The Rat Pack M.C. had a good relationship with the other area clubs, including the HAMC. The Rat Pack M.C. was also well-respected in NYC in the 1960s, until a particularly nasty event took place in 1969.

Photo by Genghis



MITCH “HIPPIE” DIAMOND: A biker friend killed by a Rat Packer.

Mitch Diamond was a good friend of mine, who I met in 1968. Mitch was the guy by the way, who gave me my nickname of Genghis, When he said one day, “Hey, you look like Genghis Khan on a Harley!”

I first met Mitch–that is, the first time I saw Mitch—was when I saw Mitch riding past me on Northern Boulevard in Long Island City, on his gold Panhead rigid. I was riding east, coming from The City (Manhattan), and he was riding west to take the 59th Street Bridge back to the city. He waved at me. I was on my ’68 Sportster, “Sally The Bitch.”

I didn’t meet him proper, until we were both hanging out in front of Gem Spa on Second Avenue and St. Marks Place in The City. But I recalled seeing Mitch in Queens, when I finally met Mitch in The City, because believe me, Mitch was an unforgettable presence on his gold rigid Panhead.

IN FRONT OF GEM SPA: Me on Sally The Bitch in 1969

When I met Mitch face to face in front of Gem Spa, we introduced ourselves, after I told Mitch that I remembered seeing him riding his Harley in Queens. Gem Spa is an iconic candy store that sold reams of magazine, the greatest assortment of magazines in the New York City Area. It is still open today. Back in the 1960s, its was a local hangout for bikers, who parked their Harleys in front.

Mitch lived in a long railroad apartment on 2nd Street in The City. When you did a walk-through in Mitch’s house (“house” is used universally in New York City to refer to a home, whether it’s an apartment or a house), you had Harleys and Harley parts as an obstacle course, strewn among glass tanks housing his snakes. Some of the Harleys there, belonged to others who paid Mitch for garaging their bikes there.

One of these bikers who kept his bike in Mitch’s house, was a member of the Rat Pack M.C. This club member had a dispute with Mitch, when Mitch wouldn’t let this guy have his Harley, until the Rat Packer paid Mitch the money he owed him.

A fight ensued, resulting in the biker stabbing Mitch to death. It was a grisly scene ( as I was told), with blood stretching from one end of the railroad apartment, to the other end. It must have been quite a struggle.

Shortly after that, The Rat Pack M.C, disbanded. Rumors abounded on the street, that the club had to break up, because another club in the area who was tight with Mitch, was after the Rat Pack because of Mitch’s murder. The photo I found of the club, was taken—as they say—in a happier time, when harmony reigned between certain clubs in NYC, and Mitch was still alive and riding his Pan.

This tale is hardly an inspiring message of hope for the New Year. However, let me say that in order to look forward with hope and optimism to the future, one must view the past with an appreciative and thoughtful eye. Happy New Year! Later.

FINITO