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Photo by Genghis

HEART OF THE CULTURE: Not the biker.

I just read a treatise on the biker subculture, a long-winded screed by a Dartmouth college professor. It made my hair hurt. This college professor qualifies himself as an authority on the culture, by declaring….

“I ride a Harley….it’s a Road King….I have drawers of Harley t-shrts, and a garage full of leather jackets, leather pants, bandanas, wrap-around sunglasses, helmets, boots, knives and skull rings. And on my favorite motorcycle jacket (it’s black, orange and white: Harley colors) I have a patch that says: ‘I RODE MINE, STURGIS ’08’…..”

Is your hair hurting yet? I was actually relieved when I read this tedious piece of officious crap, because I don’t own a single Harley t-shirt, any leather pants and haven’t worn a “motorcycle jacket” for decades. Thank God that I’m in a different sociological classification than this obviously, hardcore outlaw biker with all of his approved accessories.

I ask ya, why would I want to be in the same subcultural boat as this loser? I’d rather be a Loner With A Harley, than a mindless clone who follows all the accepted dress codes, of what this college professor describes in his scholarly essay as, “A sustainable subculture model.” He also classifies his type of bikers, as members of “A new type of subculture–the Super-Subculture.”

At first, there was the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The Biker Subculture began over a century ago, when ordinary citizens who loved machines on wheels, walked into their Harley-Davidson dealerships, and inquired about the price of the Harley cycles they were interested in.

Then, if these ordinary citizens who loved machines on wheels had enough cash to meet the price of the Harley cycles they coveted, they forked over the bread to make their purchases. They then managed to learn just enough on the showroom floor, about the operational intricacies of their new machines, to ride them home.

A BIKER: Taking his new Harley home in the summer.

These citizens who went to buy their Harley motorcycles, wore what was season-appropriate. It all depended on what the respective weather conditions were, at the time. Nobody showed up at the dealership, wearing motorcycle jackets, leather pants, and wrap-around sunglasses. There simply was no need to. They merely had to wear what was appropriately comfortable, for the task at hand: Riding their motorcycles home.

Then, decades later, motorcycle clubs formed after World War II, with the clubs adopting uniforms that identified them as members of their respective clubs. Colors were adopted (we don’t call ’em “cuts”–that’s TV bullshit), and away we go. The Uniform Race was on.

Fast-forward a half a century, and we now have Dartmouth college professors, replete with their black, orange and white motorcycle jackets, leather pants, and pirate bandanas, parading around on their Road Kings, declaring themselves as members of this “Super-Subculture,” an attempt to replicate the uniformity of one-percenters in their colors—but looking foolish and stupid in their Me-Tooism.

Photo by Genghis


So, did the century since the First Bikers walked into their Harley dealers and brought their Harley cycles home, witness an evolution of our biker species—or a devolution into a miasma of mindless copycatism?

We’ll just ask that self-satisfied college professor in his biker uniform, and I’m sure that he’ll tell you with wordy arrogance, that his Super-Subculture of Bikers, represents the highest development of our kind. My hair still hurts. Does yours? What this college professor fails to grasp, is that The Motorcycle has been, and always will be, the heart of the biker subculture, not his sartorial accessorizing. Later.


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