Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“HARLEY BATTERY EMPATHY”

May 20, 2017

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MABEL IN HER PARKING LOT: Waiting patiently for her new battery!

MERRIAM-WEBSTER DICTIONARY:

Empathy: The action of vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts or experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

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“I felt this sudden anger as I woke up earlier. It’s gone now though. Yes, real anger! I don’t know! It was about 12:35 PM! It was for awhile. I felt it on and off, all night. It was a wave of anger I felt, and it was not my anger. I wasn’t angry about anything. I knew I felt it from, or around you. I thought, OMG, I know what you are doing! It was your subconscious. I felt that horrible, pulling anger.”

TWINKLEBEAR

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I woke up around 12:30 PM. I started thinking about the fact that I hadn’t put the new battery, into my Harley-Davidson motorcycle, “Mabel” yet. Truth to tell, I felt lazy about doing it for the past few weeks.

This new battery has been sitting at home, on a trickle charger, just waiting for yours truly to get off my lazy ass, and install said new battery. While lying in bed, stirring out of sleep—I began to get angry at myself. I thought….

“What kind of biker am I anyway? Lettin’ laziness get the better of me, so I can’t ride? Man, that’s bullshit!”

I admit, I am an extremely compulsive person. I all of a sudden, will get an idea in my mind, and that idea will gnaw at me like termites eat away at the wooden walls of a house. And so, the saga began!

I’m like a dog with a bone.

I am that is, once I get an idea into my compulsive mind, and let it burrow under my compulsive skin. I laid there in bed for hours, angry and frustrated at myself, planning all the details of how I would get up at dawn’s light, and install Mabel’s (my 1971 Harley Super Glide) new battery.

Part of the frustration and anger I feel, is that I realize that at that time of night, I can’t get up immediately, to do what I burned to do—install that battery!

I hate waiting around the house.

Anyway, this article is only partially about how I eventually did have the patience to wait for daylight (Mabel is in a poorly lit outdoor parking lot) to arrive, and install Mabel’s battery. I did do that, and had a great ride after.

The main point of this memoir, is to discuss Twinklebear, my true Soulmate’s absolutely uncanny and amazing empathy, regarding my feelings. So called “Twin Soul” Soulmates (also known as “twin flame” soulmates) such as Twinklebear and I, have an exclusive, unbreakable connection, where, because we share the same one soul, feel each other’s feelings, and can sense each other’s thoughts contemporaneously. This actually happens with us every day.

Hey, dig it! I woke up at 12:30 PM, and felt that anger and frustration I told you about. At 12:35 PM, Twinklebear felt these intense feelings of anger, that could not be explained, by her own emotions–she was not angry about anything. Furthermore, Twinklebear immediately realized that it was my emotions that she was vicariously feeling and experiencing.

This empathy that true Soulmates feel toward the partner Soulmate, is a well-known, well-documented attribute of Twin Soul Soulmates. This clearly defined and irrefutable episode of Twinklebear’s sensing and feeling my emotions, at exactly the same time I was experiencing them last night—is perhaps the finest and most instructive example of the empathetic abilities of Twin Soul Soulmates, with each other.

 

FINITO

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

“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

“THE AUDIENCE”

December 17, 2016

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SCENE OF THE CRIME: The busy shopping venue of 82nd Street in Jackson Heights.

DAVID SNOW AT THE SEEDY X-BAR & GRILL

“Did Sally ever slip when you had an audience? I always wondered what my face looked like when it happened to me.”

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82nd Street in my old Queens neighborhood of Jackson Heights, is an iconic shopping area revered by residents (shown in the photo in 1963). In fact, if you say to a Jackson Heights resident, “Hey, ya wanna go ta 82nd ta scope out the new releases at Records Spectacular?”—the person you would be posing the question to, would fully comprehend what you were talking about. To answer David Snow’s question, the answer is “Yes,” and that “audience” I accrued after Sally “slipped,” congregated on 82nd Street, on a busy saturday shopping afternoon in 1970.

But allow me to first elucidate the meaning of David’s question. At the time, I was riding my 1968 Harley-Davidson Sportster XLCH, “Sally The Bitch.” Now, Sally was named this way because well….she was a bitch in almost every way. Like a haughty, spoiled tart who was used to having her way, she would refuse to start as requested. Ya see, Sally was a kick-only motorcycle, with no electric start. There were many times, I cursed at and pleaded with her, as I started my 15th or 16th kick, sweat pouring off of my brow, during the process—and she refused to start.

It is a given in the XLCH Annals, that Sportster XLCHs like Sally were hard to start, unless the owner had a secret deal with the devil. Even worse than the recalcitrance to start promptly, was the ugly habit of XLCH’s kick start levers to “slip through,” meaning that they wouldn’t “catch” on the motor, and simply push through, without any resistance.

Imagine yourself suspended in mid-year during kickstarting, ready to plunge all of your weight down on the kickstarter, when this slipping through happened. Hey man, sumpin’s gotta give on your right leg on the way down to Hell, and it ain’t yer thigh or lower leg. It would be that complex and fragile joint in between, known as your knee. Subjected to all of that unexpected force on this little gem of a joint, the results would be devastating: A total tearing and destruction of the joint, with all of the attendant pain and injury that one could imagine.

SUMMER 1970

I was proud of my motorcycle. I was one of the first of my younger generation of Jackson Heights bikers, to get a Harley. Sure, there were older bikers like Big Mike Merurio, and my big brother and biker mentor, Stevie Biondo, who had Harleys for years, but among the younger group, I was the first to get a Harley-Davidson.

On that fine summer day in 1970s, I rode back to Jackson Heights, to hang out with a couple of friends, two brothers named Mike and Eric. Mike and Eric both rode Kawasakis, because they couldn’t afford Harleys. Harleys were the coveted prize, and among the three, I was feeling like the BMOC (big man on campus), because I alone–had the Harley.

In 1970, I was also the only one of us three, to have gotten married, moved to The City (Manhattan), and had a son. I was working at the time, as a medical photographer at the Pack Medical Foundation in the City. So, you could say that I was pretty much feeling on top of the world that day.

Mike, Eric and I were big Grateful Dead fans, and on that day, we decided to ride our bikes to 82nd to take a look-see in one of the two record stores on 82nd Street, for any new Grateful Dead releases. The name of this record store, was Records Spectacular. if you look carefully at that 1963 photo, Records Spectacular is the store with the orange and white sign right after “Sid’s Pants” on the left.

We rode our bikes to Records Spectacular, and parked in front. After going in and checking out the new records, we left to start our bikes up and leave. I got to my Harley Sportster, retarded the spark on the magneto, and turned on the gas. I had gotten quite proficient at starting Sally up, as my big brother Stevie Biondo, taught me proper kickstarting technique.

I prepared to kick ‘er over, by placing my left knee on Sally seat, my hand on the handlebars, as I got ready to hoist myself up in the air, ready to put my full weight onto the kickstart pedal. After a couple of priming kicks with the ignition off, I turned on the ignition, and away we go!: Kick that sucker for all she was worth, to get her motor running.

Then it happened.

The dreaded “slipping through” happened. After that first resistanceless kick, I laid there on the ground on 82nd Street, wondering how in the world how such a little joint such as my knee, could cause so much pain and unhappiness. I’d never felt such agonizing pain before. After laying there on the blacktop, for who knows how long, I attempted to stand up.

I was able to stand, but barely. I could not for the life of me, put any substantial weight on my right leg. After painfully assessing my chances of starting Sally the normal way, I tried to start her with my left leg, to no avail. I simply did not have the technique to be successful, on my opposing leg.

Next, Mike and Eric both took turns in trying start Sally up. No good. They’d had no experience in kickstarting a Harley, and never would be able to, even with my crash-course directions to them on the spot. There was only one thing to do: I called my friend Big Mike, who dutifully came down and helped me out. With Big Mike’s bulk and 260 pound body weight, he started Sally up with one kick.

Before Big Mike got to Records Spectacular however, there was scene that all Harley Sportster riders have become accustomed to:

“The Audience.”

It was quite a spectacle. There must have been a crowd of at least 20 people congregated on the sidewalk, waiting to see what would happen next, to this hairy, uncouth biker. Me writhing on the street, in extreme pain. Then me, a semi-crippled biker, trying to start his bike, with his unaccustomed left leg. Then my hapless friends, who didn’t know what the hell they were doing. Then my behemoth friend Big Mike, coming along like a refugee from the World Wrestling Federation, coming to bounce troublesome opponents off the turnbuckle. Bike Mike’s starting Sally, natch, dispersed the unruly crowd. Goddamn spectators. Always there, when Sally was giving me agita.

“Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. Show’s over!”

Later.

 

FINITO

“PURITAN BIKERS?”

November 12, 2016

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1600s: Puritans in a British colony in America.

FROM WIKIPEDIA:

“Puritanism….was founded by some of the returning clergy exiled under Mary I shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England….Puritans were blocked from changing the established church from within and were severely restricted in England by laws controlling the practice of religion. Their beliefs, however, were transported by the emigration of congregations to….New England in North America. They took on distinctive beliefs about clerical dress and in opposition to the episcopal system….

Consequently, they became a major political force in England and came to power as a result of the First English Civil War (1642–46). Almost all Puritan clergy left the Church of England after the Restoration of 1660 and the 1662 Uniformity Act, some becoming nonconformist ministers….Puritans by definition were dissatisfied with the limited extent of the English Reformation and with the Church of England’s tolerance of practices which they associated with the Catholic Church….

In modern usage, the word “puritan” is often used to describe someone who adheres to strict, joyless moral or religious principles. In this usage, hedonism and puritanism are antonyms. In fact, Puritans embraced sexuality but placed it in the context of marriage.

Peter Gay writes of the Puritans’ standard reputation for “dour prudery” as a “misreading that went unquestioned in the nineteenth century”, commenting how unpuritanical they were in favour of married sexuality, and in opposition to the Catholic veneration of virginity, citing Edward Taylor and John Cotton.

One Puritan settlement in Western Massachusetts banished a husband and sent him into exile because he refused to fulfill his marital duties to his wife….Puritans left for New England, particularly in the years after 1630, supporting the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and other settlements among the northern colonies….

Bounds were not set on enjoying sexuality within the bounds of marriage, as a gift from God. In fact, spouses were disciplined if they did not perform their sexual marital duties, in accordance with 1 Corinthians 7 and other biblical passages. Women and men were equally expected to fulfill marital responsibilities. Women and men could file for divorce based on this issue alone.”

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FULL DISCLOSURE: As a Chinese-American, I’ve often stated that I feel more of a cultural tether to to England, than I do to China. Is this so surprising? In spite of today’s politicallly correct push for cultural “diversity,” going so far in far left corners of American society to eschew English as America’s de factor official language—we must recognize that our foundation culture, crossed the Atlantic on the Mayflower from Britain, in 1620.

We must also recognize, that what we now consider American traditions in every phase of our contemporary lives–stem from England as our “Mother Country.” This is especially believed by bikers of my generation, who were brought up with the all-American concept of “assimilation.”

Simply put, “assimilation” was the tenet that immigrants to America, would quickly and seamlessly adopt American traits quickly. It was “American first” and (fill in the ethnic blank) background second. Yes, we were all American first and foremost, and our ethnic roots went onto the backburner. Believe me, there was no hint of major US cities considering a co-existing Sharia Law, next to civil law. That bullshit didn’t fly, then.

I believe that with the Puritan colonists that emigrated from England, beginning in the 1600s, that Puritanical streaks exist in the Americans of today. I recognize this, in myself.

Here’s an example. I have to admit, that I cringe when bikers use the page-worn expression, “I get a hardon looking at that bike.” The only way I can explain my negative gut reaction to this, is that it’s because of my Puritanical streak that is a residual vestige, of our post-British culture. I mean, hearing that, or that a biker gets a “boner” from looking at painted tin, is not only cringe-worthy, but also ridiculous in the extreme.

Hey man, I love my Shovel “Mabel,” and I do believe that she has a a soul (I really do)–to the extent that I talk to her–but gettin’ a hardon over her? I don’t think so, man. I realize that it’s hyperbole, and “just an expression.” But do I ever cringe, when I hear, “I have a boner from this bike.” Yeesh! It’s enough for me to acknowledge that I’m going the distance with my Harley, for life—without ascribing sexual feelings toward her. Fuck that noise.

Another example of my Puritanical streak, is, although I do use profanity—that when I raised my kids, I discouraged their use of it. At least, in my presence. I find that offensive, coming from my offspring–as my parents found it offensive, coming from me and my siblings. I may say “fuck that,” but I don’t wanna hear it from kids–no matter how old they may be.

I’ll tell you the truth, man. I’m glad that I have this Puritanical streak in me. I’m proud that my parents, along with other parents of their generation, raised me with manners and a sense of propriety. We are all a product of how we were raised, and presents a template for how we raise our kids. It must be because of my “Puritanical roots.”

It is a reminder of a time, when American society, took pride in all people of this great country, being Americans first. After all, that concept of “assimilation” of the 1950s and earlier, did represent Americans’ embracing American culture—and a reminder, that much of American culture, originated in Britain–including Puritanism. Later.

FINITO

“ESSENCE”

July 24, 2016

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Photo by Genghis



BASIC: The motorcycle.

Bangin’ through the gears, man. Mabel’s stoker motor bellowing like an enraged monster between gear changes—that characteristic “clunk” from the four-speed tranny so comforting, as I progress from first to fourth after entering the highway—as I grab a handful of throttle and bury it at its stop at full gas between gears. No thoughts of projects, because I don’t have one. I just have my faithful Shovel, to ride and enjoy. No thoughts of a club, ’cause I don’t belong to one. Always, it’s just the thought of The Moment and The Motorcycle, as I put my 74 through her paces, happy as I get lost in the process and privilege of riding. That’s all there is, man—going for a ride.

Occam was a pretty smart guy. Yeah, just do the simple thing in any situation, it’ll always be the best way. In this case, being a biker when boiled down to its gritty essence, consists of this:

Going for a ride.

I don’t want to label everything else except going for a ride, bullshit, because that would not be fair or logical. But all else besides going for a ride, is superfluous, even relatively unimportant—when compared to going for a ride. The simplest thing is always the most important thing.

“Going for a ride” sounds like something trivial, as it rolls off the tongue—like “goin’ ta get some pizza.” But, consider this. Isn’t going for a ride, what got ya here in the beginning, and ultimately, what keeps ya going the distance in the life? If not, then let me suggest that it should be. Firing up the Harley Girl, and taking off never gets old.

The trip is you and your bike, “going for a ride.” You can enjoy the trappings of being a biker, but don’t let the distractions of those peripheral concerns, trap you into being unmindful of what counts. What counted after you got your first bike when you were 19, 20 or 21—is what counts now—going for a ride. That never changes, man.

It’s just you and her, baby. That’s what the trip boils down to, as the redundant fluids evaporate above and around it—going for a ride. That’s the essence of this thing of ours. Later.

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FINITO

“BIKERS IN THE EAST VILLAGE IN THE ’60s”

July 17, 2016

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SHEEPSKIN JACKET: “Harley-Davidson, huh?”

MAY 1969

I had just moved to The City, from Queens, where I had grown up. This was my first apartment in NYC, and it was on East 3rd Street in the East Village, between Avenues B and C. This area colloquially, was colorfully known as “Alphabet City” because of the letter assigned streets of Avenue A, Avenue B, Avenue C and Avenue D—all of which were sandwiched between the East River in the east, and First Avenue in the west. Alphabet City was sandwiched along the south-north axis,, between Houston (pronounced “how-ston”) in the south, and 14th Street in the north.

Alphabet City in perspective, was a smaller part of the “East Village,” and the East Village was in turn, a smaller part of the “Lower East Side” of NYC.

The East Village in the late 1960s, was known as a ethnically mixed area ridden with drugs and crime, and was considered a low-rent district. Hey man, check it out. The rent for my first house (in New York, “house” is used generically as a synonym for “home,” whether one lived in an apartment or actual house.) was sixty-nine bucks a month. That’s how undesirable the East Village was, which is not the case now. Now, the East Village has been gentrified, with condominiums going for millions of dollars.

But not in 1969. However, in the late ’60s, the area was infused with bohemian luster, as the hippies moved in after the “Summer of Love” in 1967. The East Village in short order, became second only to Haight-Ashbury, as a haven for hippies. Any time counterculturists inhabit an area, there are bikers alongside–primarily because of the low rents of these areas. This was true of the East Village as well. Bikers and hippies coexisted–along with longtime ethnic residents who consisted of Eastern Europeans and Puerto Ricans, in the East Village. Places like Gem Spa on St. Marks Place and 2nd Avenue, became hangouts for hardcore bikers.



CHAIN BANDOLERO: Could not be identified as a deadly weapon by cops.

This was the world I’d moved into, in May of 1969. I too, hung out in front of Gem Spa on St. marks Place. One day, I was walking down St. Marks Place with my ex. I was wearing a sheepskin jacket, and a bandolero of heavy chain from my shoulder to my waist, that I used to chain my Harley up when I parked her. My Harley at the time, was Sally The Bitch, my ’68 XLCH. This heavy chain was useful in another way. It could not be identified as a deadly weapon, unless one was caught in the act of beating someone with the chain.



ARTHUR “STEPPENWOLF” SELLERS: Carried a 12 inch crescent wrench.

One night, my friend Arthur “Steppenwolf” Sellers and I, took a midnight ride up to The Cloisters. Arthur at that time, was a one percenter and member of the Rat Pack MC. We parked our bikes–Arthur had his Pan and I had my Sportster—in the park and were wandering around. A cop came up to us and said that we couldn’t park our bikes in the park, and we were there after closing. The cop then asked me what my chain was for, and I told him that it was for securing my bike. The cop asked Arthur what the 12 inch crescent wrench was for, and Arthur said, “It’s for making repairs on my bike.” Of course Arthur carried it as a bludgeon, but the cop couldn’t arrest him for possession of a deadly weapon, because it was a legitimate tool.



HARLEY PATCH: It was on the back of my jacket.

Back in Queens, I didn’t have any exposure to one percenters. It was when I started to hangout in The City, that I encountered and met one percenters. Shortly after I moved to the East Village, I was walking down St. Marks Place. I was wearing my sheepskin jacket, with a Harley patch on the back. A member of the Hells Angels MC caught up to me, conspicuously looked at the Harley patch and said, in a mocking and humorous tone, “Harley-Davidson, huh.” This biker was older than me. His comment and supercilious tone reminded me of how young I was—I was only 22—and gave me pause, to think about the hierarchy of greater age that confers more experience.

I can remember being in my 20s in the East Village, and wanting to be taken more seriously, as an older man would have been. I also felt this many times in California, as a young man in San Diego, after I moved there. It is quaint now, to think of those times. It is a truism that younger men want to be older, as older men want to be younger again. Later.

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FINITO

“FRIENDLY BIKE”

July 10, 2016

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Photo by Genghis



MABEL THE FRIENDLY BIKE: “User friendly.”

I had this thought the other day, when I was riding my bike:

“Man, I love this bike.”

It seems like I’ve been in love with this motorcycle forever. Then again, I’ve had Mabel, my 1971 Harley Super Glide for 30 years now, and that is a lifetime for some. The overwhelming feeling of loving warmth that I feel for this bike, speaks to Mabel’s friendliness.

AUGUST 1989:

I was on my Harley 74 Mabel, and we were headed to west 4th Street in the West Village in NYC, to meet the Editor of Iron Horse magazine. His name was David Snow. David responded to letters I’d written about my bike to the “Back Talk” section of the rag, by inviting me to have my bike featured in Iron Horse.



IH ISSUE 100: The issue Mabel would be featured in.

We had agreed to meet at a certain time to have my bike photographed by the rag’s staff photog, Rob Sager, and to have Snow get some kind of story idea for the feature article. I however, decided to get there early, to watch a photo shoot that David and Rob were doing on another bike.

I ran into David and Rob at West 4th Street (actually, this section of West 4th street is known as Washington Square South) and Sullivan Street, where David had his Shovelhead parked in front of a grocery store. David’s wife Shawn, was there too.

As Rob was going through his photographic paces with the other feature bike, David began asking me questions about Mabel, trying to get an angle for the feature article he was going to write about her. One question he asked was, “So why did you name her Mabel?” I replied….

“Because it fits her personality. Mabel is a friendly bike, so easy to get along with. Mabel is a friendly name, free of guile.”

If that was 2016, I probably would have used the term “user-friendly” about Mabel’s personality. That’s what she is, user-friendly. I’m not saying there haven’t been moments of adversity and drama with Mabel over the 30 years I’ve had her. But those moments were few and far between. That is to be expected of old motorcycles, but overall, life with Mabel is easygoing—a fluidly enjoyable man-machine relationship. She really is as easygoing and reliable, as any new Harley is.

The primary goal that I’ve set with Mabel, is to keep her as new and reliable possible, and I believe that Mabel and I have met this goal. After all, if one is planning to be Going The Distance with a Harley for the rest of one’s life, one has to be mated with a reliable Harley—and that’s who Mabel is, an easygoing, dependable and friendly motorcyce.

Photo by Genghis



MY MOTORIZED LIFE PARTNER: Strong, sexy and dependable.

It’s not fashionable these days, to declare how much one loves one’s motorcycle. I doubt if you’ll ever see articles in today’s chopper rags, about how much a biker loves his or her bike. But this love for one’s bike, is at the very root of the biker subculture. In Hunter S. Thompson’s book on the Hells Angels, Thompson interviewed a Hells Angel, an interview in which he asked the biker to describe what love meant to that biker. That biker said….

That says it all, doesn’t it? Later.

.

FINITO

“PEOPLE LIKE ME”

July 3, 2016

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BIKERS IN THE 194Os: Made of the same cloth as us.

FOREWORD

You may have noticed, that all of my recent writing has been on this WordPress hosting server, that I have my “BIKER SUBCULTURE” website on. I switched to WordPress a couple of years ago, when it seemed that the Tripod hosting server that I had my “GOING THE DISTANCE” website on, might go out of business. I couldn’t take the chance of losing articles beyond the articles I already had stored at Tripod, if Tripod did not survive. WordPress is a stable platform, that seems like it will survive and thrive in today’s competitive blogging world.

Just last week, all of my “GOING THE DISTANCE” articles disappeared without a trace, and without explanation! There was no notice from Tripod about the company’s disappearance from the ‘net. Chat on the internet for a couple of days after Tripod disappeared, formed the consensus opinion, that the Tripod server finally bit the dust, and suddenly went out of business.

I lamented the loss of my over two hundred GTD articles I had stored at Tripod, but what could I do? After a few days, Tripod was inexplicably restored to the internet (maybe they got bought out, or found a financial backer), along with all of my old GTD articles, which you can once again, find at “GOING THE DISTANCE”. I’m grateful for that, but am still going to err on the side of caution, by confining my writing to this WordPress site. But at least all of those old GTD articles are available for viewing.

PEOPLE LIKE ME

I give a lot of thought to the bikers who preceded us, our forebears who populated the Biker Subculture since the early 1900s. I tend to date the Biker Suculture to 1936, when the first of the “Big Three” (the Big Three being the Knucklehead, Panhead and Shovelhead), the Knucklehead, was introduced to the world. I guess you could say that I’m an OHV chauvinist.

But to be fair, the Biker Subculture should be dated back to 1903, when The Firm first opened it’s doors, of that little Harley-Davidson shack of a factory that materialized out of nowhere. I will say this about the relative significance of brands other than Harley in the culture: I believe that Harley-Davidson motorcycles, have been the very backbone of the Biker Subculture, rendering other brands insignificant by comparison. Which is why I date the true birth year of the subculture, as 1903.

Even though I feel a more intimate familial relationship with bikers who first rode Knucklehead OHVs in the late 1930s, it is undeniable that Harley riders of the 1900s, 1910s and 1920s–displayed the same type of True Biker dedication to their motorcycles, as their descendants who rode the later Big Three bikes. The punched ticket to the membership of the Biker Subculture, is a total and unyielding love, attachment to and riding of one’s bike. Who am I to say, that a Flattie rider of the early 1930s, did not demonstrate this type of dedication to his Harley?

Photo by Genghis



LOVE FOR MY SHOVEL: Replicates earlier bikers’ feelings.

A biker’s placement of his motorcycle as the epicenter of his existence, is what separates the biker from others who may ride motorcycles, but do not venerate their bikes. A biker’s motorcycle is alive in a way that is unfathomable to mere enthusiasts, who view their machines as dispensable and inanimate objects. Bikers’ naming of their motorcycles, is commensurate with how bikers perceive their bikes: as members of their human families.

Bikers of today, have a linkage to the earliest members of the Biker Subculture of the early 1900s. When I look at my venerable 1971 Super Glide “Mabel,” I see what fired up the hearts and minds of bikers who looked lovingly at the Harleys of their era. When bikers today ride their Harleys, they are experiencing the same mystical and magical emotions and thoughts, that bikers felt, when they rode their bikes in the past.

Bikers belong to a vast family, stretching back decades into the distant past. This is a past rich with superlative machinery and a strength of human character that renders bikers as a tribe apart from general society, even though bikers are a part of general society.

This is a familial linkage back to the past that you can feel, when you ride your bike. It is emotional and real. When your bike eats up the blacktop, it harkens back to a time when some Knucklhead rider of the late 1930s, might have traveled over the same territory as you, rejoicing in the sights and sounds, much as the way that you do.

I often have this fantasy, of my bike and me being transported back to 1910 in a time machine. In this fantasy, bikers of the 1910s are blown away by my 1971 Shovelhead Stroker–how she sounds, how she boogies down the roads of the era, and yet—these bikers recognize this Harley sister in a genetic way–and recognize me as a biker brother in the same way—that only a familial linkage can explain. This is because, these bikers are people like me. Later.

FINITO