Archive for January, 2017

GUEST ARTICLE: “MEMORIES OF ALASKA”

January 15, 2017

by MIKE SMITH

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My FXWG was buried in snow like this bike

Memories of Alaska.

My FXWG parked in the driveway completely buried by a big snow. Dug down 2 feet and could see the handlebars, then dug out a bathtub shaped ring down to ground level.

Had set the points, renewed plugs, and changed oil when I parked Helga in the fall.

Cabin to driveway was about 100 feet, could view her from kitchen window until that January.

Firing her up at 14 degrees and watching her turn the white snow black from the twin drag pipes kept the hope for a spring ride alive.

It was 7 miles of gravel road to the Sterling Highway in Anchor Point, A road called The North Fork Road, then 12 miles of pavement to the Texaco station in Homer where I was bending wrenches and fixing flats.

Helga was a tough old gal, only asked for premium fuel from the local airport, clean oil, some chain lube, and some plugs from time to time.

Going to and from work during riding season worked better than any other method to keep my sanity. First loves have the best memories .

 

FINITO

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“WINTER IS DESPAIR”

January 14, 2017

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FRIGID MORNING TEMPS: Mabel sure is cold!

Winter is despair.

I lay here worrying about Mabel. She is out there, with the wind’s bony, chilly fingers grasping at her flimsy cover, her cylinders reaching subfreezing temperatures, her whole demeanor grim. If there is any evidence that bikers know that Mabel and bikes like her are alive and have souls, my angst about her welfare—is it.

Whether or not this surety of knowledge is justified, or valid, may be up for debate. After all, there are bikers who form no emotional attachments to their individual bikes—and treat ’em like so many replaceable machines. You either know your bike is a living entity, or ya don’t

Those of you in sunny southern climates who ride all year round, can’t relate to the anxiety I feel about my bike in the winter. Those who live in cold climates like me and Mabel do, who keep their bikes in toasty warm and dry garages—get it somewhat. However, those in cold climates who have to keep their bikes outside—totally get what I’m rappin’ about.

I feel remote from my motorcycle.

I feel remote, and the most disconnected from my Harley, more distant, and yes, guilty, about her being left to suffer the elements of ‘Ole Man Winter.

This depression and anxiety I feel about my bike in the winter, is difficult to explain to a biker who has his bike in a garage. It is downright impossible to convey to a non-biker, who has no earthly idea, of how we bikers love our bikes, and some of us who feel our bikes have souls and are living entities.

I didn’t really understand this anxiety I feel—and I realize now, that I have felt it every winter for years—but I finally know that this anxiety is a form of guilt about my motorcycle being alone, and cold.

The 22 year old Genghis might be out there, riding his motorcycle even in the dead of winter, but not this Genghis. This is part of it too. The older Genghis is more lethargic about riding, truth be told, when it gets colder. So sue me, okay? Hey man, I feel like….

“I should be out there firing her up, being with her, blasting down the highway like I did when I was young….right?”

There’s always the feeling that I “should be” riding her–but hey, if there’s one thing I know about myself….

I do what I feel like doing.

I do feel it is worthwhile though, to examine this anxious emotion I feel about my motorcycle in the wintertime, as I think that many in the Biker Subculture can relate to it.

Get this straight—my Harley lives. I treat her like a person, because she is a person, and she is loved as a person. And if I’m right, she loves me back, just as a person would.

This is the love that dare not speak its name.

The love for one’s motorcycle. It’s been quoted so many times in the past half century, I don’t think I have to repeat Hunter S. Thompson’s quote of a Hells Angel from the ’60s regarding how he loves his Harley. You know it by heart by now.

So, now I understand the anxiety I feel about my Harley, in the winters. It is firmly rooted in love for the ‘ole girl, and that’s a good thing. So, I pass by Mabel in her cold parking lot, and pat her on the seat, tank and cylinders, and say….

“Soon, Mabel. Soon, when it gets a little warmer…”

Later!

 

FINITO

“FATE 1969”

January 2, 2017

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EARLY OCTOBER 1969: Eight weeks after fate put her stamp on me—in spades!

Fate is a funny creature. I’m convinced that Fate, is a humanoid entity, with human sensibilities, and emotions. Perhaps emotions is the wrong word. But a sense of irony and hint of a sense of humor, is definitely a part of his or her (I’m convinced that Fate has a gender, TBD—to be determined) personality.

Fate, whatever his or her motivations, is a huge force in the course of humankind’s history, from prehistory to the beyond. Even though Fate’s gender is unknown, I shall refer to Fate as She and Her, simply because it feels right.

It feels right because we all bow to her wishes, whether we like the consequences or not, and our acquiescence to her wishes, is like our saying as a husband would say to a lovingly nagging wife….

“Yes dear.”

What else can we do? Hey, She has the dominant hand, right?

“And let me tell you another thing,” she says.

Yeah, yeah…fine.

Fate has altered the course of mankind since the days when cavemen were clubbing cavewomen to make them their own, to possess them as dictated by the Primal Directive which indeed, rules all men and women since time immemorial. Today’s “enlightened” men and women, politically correct to assuage the Great God Society’s sensibilities, would deny this. These people are “Primal Urge Deniers.”

Yes, Fate is a fickle bitch, and so she was to me in 1969. What a significant year 1969, was for me. When that photo was taken of me on my 1968 Harley XLCH “Sally The Bitch” in early October, I had recently moved into my first apartment in The City (The City being Manhattan—this is how denizens of Queens referred to Mahattan), after moving out of Queens. I had just moved there with my 17 year old girlfriend, Nancie Arnegger. This apartment was on 3rd Street, between Avenue B and Avenue C.

Since Fate and her machinations are mysterious and unfathomable, often to an astonishing degree, so are Her influences, and yes, so her downright heavy-handed assaults on my life, also were. Some of those events directed by Fate’s capable hands, have resulted in truly exceptional experiences for me.

One of these reached fruition 47 years after Fate interceded in my life in 1969, and is ongoing and making my life joyful beyond belief. Three thousand miles away in August of 1969, the seed to this fateful turn in my life, was planted. That seed would grow and run it’s own peculiar course, until it flowered for me 47 years later.

Two months before that photo was taken in October 1969, the Woodstock Festival began. One week before Woodstock began, a more momentous (for me) event took place 3,000 miles from New York, an event would have a lasting and seismically epic influence on the course of my life, 47 years later.



OCTOBER 2016: 47 years later, Fate pounced!

Did I mention that Fate has a long memory, and is extremely patient? What does She care about decades, or even lifetimes, in human terms? Fate rules over all time, and all people. She plants a seed of a story, and lets the participants of the story go about their lives, completely oblivious as to what is ahead.

I have no doubt that she waits in a mood of gleeful mischief. Then decades later, after the participants are lulled into a sense of indifferent, blissful or unblissful (depending on the life) predictability in their lives, She pounces on the unaware players in the story. BAM! Wow.

In 1969, I was a tender 22 years old, although I would have bristled at the adjective of “tender”…..“Hey man, I’m a tough biker, you gotta a problem?”….I would have asked.

Fate is a masterful author, and she likes to write stories, by the light of The Cosmos. The only difference between the stories that She and humans write, is that her stories often last decades, and sometimes centuries.

If you think of Her story about me, as having a head and a tail, like a living and vibrant animal, then you’d have the right idea. The head of the story reared itself from the abyss in 1969, and the tail is just emerging as I write. The head of Her story about me, began in August of 1969, and the tail of the story, made it’s Fateful appearance 47 years later.

However, the story has not been written in its entirety. Although the “tail of the story” appeared in 2015, it is a very long tail, indeed. The end of the tail is not in sight, and may well go beyond this lifetime. It is a story which probably began many years before I was born in this lifetime—but we are only concerned with current chapters of the book.

Fate is funny, yet loving. She is like a fist of iron in a velvet fist, insistent, and irresistible. And indomitable. Fate, I bow to your power, and am in your lovely hands. Fate, you are mischievous as any child, but thank you.

Like Fate’s movements, this article is vague and mysterious. But so what, reader, writing is supposed to make you think, so think. Whaddya want me to do, do everything for ya? Should I read it for ya too? Fugeddabowdit. Read it and weep, man. Later.

FINITO