“HEART OF THE BIKER SUBCULTURE”

June 4, 2016

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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



ONLY UNIFORM WE NEED: The bike.

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.

FINITO

“THE TEAM NEEDS A SPARK”

May 28, 2016

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Photos by Genghis


H-D NUMBER 3 PLUGS: Old plugs for an old girl.

Before I took Mabel (my 1971 Shovelhead Stroker) out this morning, I decided to change her plugs. Not that there was anything wrong with the old spark plugs. Every couple of years, I change to new plugs just for the hell of it, and because the ‘ole girl deserves ’em. My Harley is the Queen of The Highway, and like all royalty, she deserves to be pampered.

I’m extravagant that way.

All I’ve ever used in Mabel for the past three decades, are Champion J12YC plugs. There’s nothing wrong with other brands of plugs. I am just a creature of habit. It’s just part of my personality, that I feel a comfort level in using the same things, that I’ve always used. I hate change.



CHAMPION J12YC: The spark plug I always use.

When I rummaged around the tool box this morning, I found something that I totally forgot about. There, ensconced in an orange package, were two pristine Harley-Davidson Number 3 spark plugs! Holy shit! What relics! I must have bought these at the Harley dealer around 1985. Hey man, why not? Thirty-one year old spark plugs for a forty-five year old Harley!



FOUND 31 YEAR OLD PLUGS: H-D Number 3 spark plugs.

There’s nothing dramatic to report about what transpired, when I started Mabel up with her 31 year old Harley plugs. Just the same as always, that exhilarating roar and rumble, that never gets old. That’s okay, man. I hate change, remember? I would have expected nothing but the same sound and musical fury, that I always hear when I start my bike up.

Doesn’t matter. What I had in my bike, were rebranded Champion plugs, and this did make me think about the Champion-Harley connection, a connection that began with The Firm’s introduction of the J Series bikes in 1915.



1925 CHAMPION AD: Made plugs for H-D since the 1920s.

Champion was a company founded in 1908, that has made specialty spark plugs for Harley-Davidson since the J series bikes of the 1920s. In 1948, Harley switched to the standard size 14mm (from the previous 18mm) spark plug, with the 1948 introduction of the Panhead. Champion continues to make spark plugs for The Firm.



CHAMPION’S “HARLEY” PLUGS: 14mm H-D plugs from the ’60s and ’70s.

I have a great appreciation for the spark plug. It is amazing how such a small item can bring great joy and satisfaction, when our bikes are firing fine with a pair of clean plugs—and conversely, how miserable we are when these miniscule items are dirty. Electrodes rule, man! A Biker’s Happiness Quotient, is directly related the the spark plugs’ Cleanliness Index. Change to new Champion plugs man, and you’ll happy. Later.

FINITO

“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

“MY CHRISTMAS VILLAGE–JACKSON HEIGHTS”

December 24, 2015

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Photo by Genghis

CHRISTMAS MAGIC: Just for the young?

Christmas was magic for me when I was a kid, and the reason has nothing to do with Harleys. This phenomenon predated my obsession with motorcycles by two decades, and had to do more with where I grew up.

I grew up in my Christmas Village.

My Christmas Village consisted of my town—okay, so it was my neighborhood—of Jackson Heights, in Queens, New York. But make no mistake about it—neighborhoods in Queens were perceived by its residents, as small towns with their own autonomy and individualistic charms, that set them apart from neighboring “towns.” Being from Jackson Heights, whenever I visited Steinway Street in neighboring Astoria—it felt to me like I was visiting a whole other town. A town that was familiar, yet slightly less close to my core as a Jackson Heightser.

My town of Jackson Heights took on a mythical, magical quality to it at Christmas. With Northern Boulevard—also known as New York State Route 25A—covered in a silent and majestic coat of pure, driven snow, hushing the tires of cars driving on Northern Boulevard, to a “Shee…shee…shee…” as the bias ply tires pushed snow aside, Jackson Heights became magical. It became my Christmas Village. One could easily picture Santa and his sleigh, being pulled by powerful reinder, shooshing down Northern Boulevard through the snow.

The effect was especially vivid at night, when the street lamps illuminating the boulevard, cast a blue tint on the white snow. The houses on adjacent streets in those days, were gloriously and abundantly decorated with Christmas lights, more so than now.

Of course, youth played a big part in this perception of Jackson Heights as a Christmas Village. That whole secular/Santa Claus/presents on Christmas morning thing, was big to me as a kid. Watching movies on Christmas Eve, like “Silent Night”—that was special to me as a kid.

My parents fed into the Santa thing, big time. I used to draw pictures of Santa’s sleigh, with reindeer, with a little note for Santa, and yes, I did leave cookies for Santa.

The beginning of the end, began with Food Fair, which was our local supermarket at Northern Boulevard and 86th Street. That Food fair, is now a Rite Aid.



BEGINNING OF THE END: The Rite Aid that was Food Fair.

It was typical in the 1950s, for supermarkets to sell encyclopedias. When I was about 8 or 9, my parents bought me an encyclopedia from the Food Fair in Jackson Heights. Of particular interest to me, was the Santa Claus section.

When I read that Santa was a mythical figure, and that he didn’t exist, I went straight to my parents with the evidence. Man, the jig was up! Admittedly, I had my childish suspicions up to that time, but here was hard evidence!

Some of the Magic was wearing off of Christmas, starting with that encyclopedic revelation. However, those wonderful memories of Jackson Heights as my Christmas Village, remains vivid in my mind. And isn’t Christmas very much about good memories?



IT’S STILL MAGIC: Remember your Christmas Village.

I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and hope that you have treasured memories, of your Christmas Village! Later.

FINITO

“SUCH A SIMPLE PLEASURE”

November 27, 2015

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Photos by Genghis


TOO COOL FOR WORK: Just hop on and ride, baby!

It’s the Day After. The day after Thanksgiving, that is. Man, it’s great not to have to work today, and harkens back to a day—a long ago day when I was in my 20s, and not yet gainfully employed. That was a distant day when I could just get on the bike, and ride! Today was like that.

Such a simple pleasure.

I’ll tell ya, it’s like I in my 20s again. I was twenty-one years old, when I bought my first Harley (best thing I ever did), and in those halcyon days when I didn’t have to work monday through friday, were so great. Why were they so great? Because I could just hop on the bike, and ride! It’s no wonder so many hardcores are unemployed, so they can enjoy this simple pleasure, all of their lives.

Problem is, I can’t do that, just because I want to be able to keep my Harley 74 the rest of my life. There are also some minor details, such as having a roof over my head, and food to eat. That requires work, man. Besides that, I have a great work ethic, inherited from, and ground into my, by my parents.



22 YEARS OLD AND NO JOB: Hangin’ out on St. Marks place with other bikers.

Today reminded me of when I was 22 years old, and hangin’ out on Second Avenue and St. Marks Place, in the East Village. No responsibilities, except havin’ enough gas money for the day—and shootin’ the shit with other bikers. What a life, man! If my name was Riley, today would’ve been The Life of Riley!

The draw of THE BIKE is always strong. Today, I was able to answer that siren call, with no worries, the day after Thanksgiving. The only thing that’s changed in the intervening years since I was 22, is the bike. Now, instead of hopping on my ’68 XLCH “Sally The Bitch,” I hop on my ’71 Stroker Shovel, Mabel. Me and Mabel, carefree and patrolling the highways, on a moment’s notice! How cool is that? Later.

FINITO

“THANKSGIVING DAY MESSAGE 2015”

November 26, 2015

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Photo by Genghis

WHAT TO BE THANKFUL FOR: What else?

You know the platitudes.

“I’m thankful for world peace.”

“I’m thankful for the love of my fellow man.”

Yet, on this Thanksgiving in The Year of The Lord 2015, there is only one thing to be grateful for, if you’re a biker. And that is…..

THE BIKE!

Let’s get serious here and call a spade a spade. We bikers all know, that underneath it all, we’re all just a bunch of kids, a bunch of kids who have been infatuated and totally involved with our motorcycles, since we were kids.

How else to explain—and if I have to explain, then you wouldn’t understand—that a 68 year old man like me, goes on and on about his Harley 74 as if The Bike were the answer to the world’s problems as far as we’re concerned, and that everything else is of little to no importance?

Sure, we’re just a bunch of kids, no matter how old we get, that flat out love our motorized toys. Yet, when we step into our office that consists of that low seat above those gleaming twin barrels—it feels like an experience of great note. Why is that?

Why is it, that 80 years of the Biker Subculture, begun and continued by our cultural forebears, feels like something to revere, to almost worship?

Man, that heavy rumble when our bikes start up, that lumpy and hypnotic idle, that BLAST! of the pipes when we bury the throttle at 70 per on the highway…..what does it mean?

To the outside world, we’re outlaws of the worst kind. We’re the outlaws that actually think that our motorcycles, are far more important than how well one does on the golf course. We’re the type of outlaws that like givin’ citizens of loud blast of what life is literally like, out in the open air, feet inches from the blacktop.

We’re the carefree, risk-taking, ho-hum-averse boys that girls’ parents warned ’em about, when we were young. We still are, except that we married those girls who were warned by their moms and dads, when they were young.

So, bros and sisses, on this Thanksgiving Day of the Year of The Lord 2015—be thankful for THE BIKE! Later.

FINITO

“BLOCKHEAD OR EVO?”

November 1, 2015

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Photos by Genghis


THE EVOLUTION MOTOR: I call it the Blockhead.

RACEPRES COMMENTING ON “WHAT IS THAT, A SPORTSTER?”

“Making a point of folks not knowing their history, and terminology. and then using the term “blockhead” are very contradictory…Nobody that I ever knew who owned a Harley called the Evolution anything but EVO’s…Blockhead as a Term for the EVO was being pushed by a different School. I don’t think it is nearly mandatory to know any history…on anything…but, I make it a point to stay a bit up on it. I do agree that people who don’t know, shouldn’t act like they do know. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open yer mouth and Prove it!!!”

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Recently, a biker at the SEEDY X-BAR & GRILL said to me, after I referred to the Blockhead….

“I haven’t heard anyone call it Blockhead in a very long time.”

When The Firm came out with the Evolution engine in 1984, many bikers called it the “Blockhead.” The fact that “Blockhead” fell out of favor, to the point of disusage, says a lot about the biker subculture’s lack of love toward the Evolution motor. However, I’ve continued to used the rarely used nomenclature of Blockhead, as a nod of respect to the motor. Certain designations of nicknames, signify the positive perception of motors in the biker subculture.

I wouldn’t know anything about a “different school” pushing “Blockhead” as a nickname for the Evo, but I do know that when the Evo came out, I started using “Blockhead” and continue to do so, as a matter of habit. I also admit to liking being somewhat different from everyone else, who calls the motor an “Evo.” Call it the crazy rebel in me, man….

“Hey Genghis, what are ya rebelling against?”

ME: “Whatta ya got?”

I believe that “Blockhead” was reflexive usage by bikers in the beginning (beginning of the Evolution motor), to include the Evolution, as a familial continuation of the other three classic “-heads”—the Knuck, Pan and Shovel. So, I guess in that sense, this is the “school” of bikers, who have always called the Knucklehead, Panhead and Shovel—“Knucklehead,” “Panhead” and “Shovelhead”—traditional bikers. This triad of righteous Harley mills, proudly carry the “-head” suffix, as a show of respect by bikers for these revered motors. So, as a member of the traditional “school” of bikers—full disclosure—I dig using the term.

Bikers believe in tradition. The fact that “Blockhead” didn’t continue in common usage in the culture, but in fact fell into almost total disuse, unlike Knucklehead, Panhead and Shovelhead did—demonstrates that many in the culture simply did not elevate the Evolution to the same status of it’s three “-head” predecessors—the Knucklehead, Panhead and Shovelhead. If the Evolution motor did reach the same rarefied air as the Knuck, Pan and Shovel—believe me, we ‘d talking about the quartet of classic motors, that were made from 1936 until 1999.

But—I continue to call it the Blockhead, simply as a matter of habit and traditional respect. It also shows, that I just have a very long memory! Thanks for your comment.

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DAVID SNOW COMMENTING ON “WHAT IS THAT, A SPORTSTER?”

“Really nice, Scott. I, too, just give up on the clueless— trying to explain Harley history is casting pearls before swine. Just a waste. I, too, just rely on, “It just an old Harley…” Before I finally got my first HD, I spent years reading about Harleys, going to dealers & bike shows. It’s telling that most newbies are all about form over substance. Twas ever thus.”

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Hey David, great minds think alike, huh? Ha! Later.

FINITO

“ANIMAL MOTHER’S NEW BOOTY MAKEOVER”

October 31, 2015

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by DAVID SNOW

Photos by Snow

ANIMAL MOTHER: With the new wheel.

I’ve always said that a Sportster is like a hotass skinny chick— small, light & tight with big jugs and a bad attitude. The final hurdle to stuffing AniMo into that 66 short frame has been the issue of the rear wheel. I hate a 16 on Sportsters & after hanging with JR and admiring his pair of racing KRs as well as drooling over pics of KR flattrackers over the years, I’ve been resolved to run a 19 on the rear.

I’d anticipated an ongoing project— looking at getting some high dollar dirt bike rim, spokes, ironhead hub, brake drum & plate— but I found exactly what I wanted on ebay. Someone, at some point, had laced a 19″ aluminum front XL wheel to a rear hub/drum/plate. It even came with a Dunlop with good tread, all for $250. Much much less than the time & money I though I’d have to expend.

I don’t have more than a couple of miles on her, but she sure feels racy— much more nimble and agile. I cut a little off the rear fender and am experimenting with the right angle— then the grinding will begin. No more fender light. I made notes of good sidemounts that forum members recommended, but have since lost ‘em. Anyone refresh my memory?

So I’m damn close to the frame swap. Just need oil tank mounts welded on & some powdercoating. Then the logostics to insure the least amount of down time….

FINITO