Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Since there’s a tropical storm rolling in and there’s shit else to do at the moment, I figured I’d go ahead and get this little confession out of the way.
Since I was eighteen, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted in the way of a motorcycle. Simplicity was the goal; an engine, a frame, two wheels. Ape hangers, forwards, and of course, loud assed pipes.
My first bike was a Yamaha V-Star 650. I’d never even considered Harley because I always speculated their prices were too high. A good friend of mine had already owned a 650 for several years and it had proved a reliable steed for him, so why the fuck not. Not long after rolling off the showroom floor, the bike underwent an extensive process commonly known as “lowering resale value.” I cut the turn signals off the bike the very night I bought it. Shortly after that, I threw away all the bull shit reflectors glued to it. The back fender was cut down, the bike was disassembled and rattle-canned flat black, a set of Nash “gimp hangers” crowned the forks, and a home-spun side mount license plate rig was fabbed up and slapped on the side. Pipes and a little carb work made it my pride and joy for a while.
The sad reality of the matter is that I am a fickle, fickle whore of a man who loses interest in his machines when he realizes he can’t make them any more offensive to the general riding community. A couple of bikes later found me on a similarly cut Sportster; a bike at the time I felt was the quintessential embodiment of telling the general riding community to eat shit and choke on it. Flat black paint, sparto repop tail light, narrow glide apes from Burly, Biltwell struts, ammo-can tool box, peanut tank, drag pipes, and a smattering of other minor modifications- tits!
After about a year and a half of motoring around town on her, I began to realize two things. Firstly, a hard-tail Sporty is not an ideal two-up machine; especially when one’s smokin’ hot wife typically only rides with him out of guilt. Indeed, my wife was not keen on having a rear fender grind against her tailbone every time I rode over a pebble.
Secondly, at nearly thirty years of age, I discovered getting old sucks. I felt like a beat-to-shit sailor (interpret it however you’d like) after a mere hundred mile ride.
This left me with two options- either put the shocks back on the bike or else find something new to fuck with.
Anyone in their right mind would have searched the catalogs and popped some progressives on the mother fucker, but not ho-assed Hungus, no SIR. Trade that shit in on something new, I thought. And find yourself something the wife won’t mind climbing aboard while you’re at it.
So after ten years of firm resolve and five years of riding stripped down freedom machines, I bought something I vowed I would NEVER touch. A goddamned bagger with a windshield and faring.
The dealership had a stable of ex-police motorcycles which were retailing for roughly the price of a brand new Sportster. Each one had a bored out 103” cop motor with (depending upon who you ask) police cams, compression release heads, an oil cooler, and an auxiliary engine fan for motorvating in hell (also known as south Texas in any month that’s not called February).
So a deal was struck and I signed on the line. Curiously enough, the dealership did not appreciate the modifications I’d made to my old bike. I pointed out the fact the factory seemed to be “lowering the resale value” on their new dark customs but were still charging the same prices and should therefore give me about twenty thousand dollars for my trade. This argument was naturally ill received; and I rode out figuratively “upside down” on my almost new FLHTP.
About a week later, I suffered an identity crisis during which I came to terms with the fact I’d sold out and bought a bagger. Too late for that shit, I was now forty million dollars upside down. HOORAY!
Which pretty much brings us up to date and sets up the real purpose of this entry: justifying my purchase of everything I stand against in the way of a motorcycle. Honestly, if you have something better to do, you can probably go ahead and stop reading this. This is designed to convince myself I’ve found a worthy endeavor more than anything else; and there’s no point in reading this unless you too have sold out and traded in your garage built suicide machine for a bloated road barge. Seriously, you’ve been warned against further reading. There’s not even a fucking climax to this entry. It’s just a rolling internal monologue about my current plight which deserves about as much sympathy as an SS death-camp guard.
So I traded my outlaw bike for a garbage wagon. Perhaps, but the FLHTP is not your typical garbage wagon. While it’s true the bike has a faring and a windshield like its electra glide brethren, it is utterly devoid of all of the extraneous bullshit that typically fills the faring (i.e. cruise control, heated seats, margarita machine, etc.). It is further devoid of useless shit like air dams and heat shields.
What the FLHTP DOES have is a hopped up mill. Does it pull like a stripped down XL1200? No. But it DOES pull better than a bloated bone-stock FLHTCU. The fucker rolls off the assembly line with a heavy duty clutch, bored out jugs, and mystery cams. A stock garbage wagon will cost you ten grand more and comes equipped with a third of the aforementioned assets. Throw in an external oil cooler and the engine fan and POW- you’ve got yerself a very streetable hot-rod big block.
Tuned-up and turned out: the H-D 103" Cop Motor
Additionally, legend prevails that the police bikes are largely assembled by hand to ensure quality. Like most legends, that notion is likely bullshit; but I LIKE the idea some foul-mouthed alcoholic blue collar union card-carrying motherfucker in Pennsylvania turned some wrenches by hand on my ‘sickle before he split the factory for an ice-cold Pabst. My conception of the FLTHP’s assembly is something remnant of a Springsteen song; thus I will make no efforts to either prove or disprove that conception. My version of the truth works just fine for me.
Now before we go further, I realize one can saunter into a dealership and buy himself a CVO barge with a 110 inch mill for an obscene amount of money; but what the fuck? The police bikes allegedly offer comparable output for a third of the price. Sure they’re ugly and full of holes, but so am I.
I also realize, were I a qualified mechanic or the owner of a goose that shat gold, I could build a ground up barn-burner for half the price of the FLHTP. The truth of the matter is that I am neither a qualified mechanic, nor do I own a gold bullion-shitting water fowl. I know how to cut shit off. I also know that when you turn things to the right, they typically tighten. That’s it. That’s pretty much where my mechanical prowess ends. Hence, factory hot rod engines work best for me.
So back to the FLHTP. Despite an obvious lack of the typical garbage wagon accouterments, there are some items that probably need to go. Take the fender bumpers, for example. Useless. That little strip of rubber is not going to stop a nine hundred pound motorcycle from caving in its front fender when it collides with another mass. The excessive amount of rails on the bike also detract from what I traditionally look for in a ‘cycle; nevertheless I can appreciate the utility of bag guards and a crash bar. Judging by the gouges on either side of my faring, it’s safe to say these bars probably serve a purpose in the world of law enforcement.
Speaking of utility, much as I abhor the aesthetics of a windshield and faring, they certainly facilitate prolonged ninety-five mile per hour cruising; headwind be damned- and who DOESN'T enjoy riding ninety-five into a headwind?
The turn signals on this bike are fucking hideous; but they appear to be a necessary evil if I want to maintain the obnoxious passing lamps up front. Again, a purely utilitarian feature. I’m tempted to leave them because when you’re running ninety down a back woods two lane at two in the morning, the added light helps you see the elk in dazzling clarity just before it decapitates you on impact.
The most frustrating thing about the FLHTP is that I have absolutely no fucking clue what to do with it. Stretched bags are tits on a boarhog for my riding style. I’ve managed to file my floorboards and kickstand down to razors in a matter of months and I’d undoubtedly grind holes in stretched saddle bags on my first turn.
I’ve always enjoyed a low-slung outlaw stance, but I don’t see it as an option for this bike. The way I see it, the only way to freak out the squares on a garbage wagon is to ride it like a banshee. Unlike the majority of its fat-assed civilian counter parts, the FLHTP has the wherewithal to accommodate this goal; and lowering its stance would drastically fuck up its cornering capabilities.
Rattle-canning the FLHTP is out. When the motor company starts turning out flat black touring bikes (the street glide), you know it’s time to move on to a new method of lowering your bike’s resale value. Five years ago, you’d have to be a fucking degenerate to buy a brand new bike and spray paint it flat black. Even my meth-head drag-racing metric mechanic was amazed at this. I’d always explain the utilitarian principles behind this technique to the naysayers with a smug sense of satisfaction that I’d successfully mind fucked them. Now a flat black bike has become a fashion statement; and you’ve actually got suckers paying the motor company extra money for paint jobs that would cost them about five bucks if they did it in their friend’s garage.
Million dollar billet rims are out. They’ve always been out for me. Fuck million dollar billet. And fuck billet, for that matter.
So what to do? Shit if I know.
I’ve already outfitted the bike with a two into one Thunderheader and an Arlen Ness Big Sucker intake. The Thunderheader is ceramic coated in black and is tastefully wrapped in heat-bleached bone-white header wrap for a sophisticated touch of "go fuck yourself." Running the traditional drag pipes would have resulted in lost torque; bot exactly an option when you're riding a half-ton motorbike.
I ditched the air-sprung police seat in favor of a dished-out second hand factory number. I popped a pawn shop amp in one of my bags and hooked it up to some scalped speakers I picked up for twenty bucks from the dealer (some guy was upgrading the sound system on his brand new garbage wagon before taking delivery of it- hooray for the spoils of excess!). There’s definitely something to be said for blasting through traffic as the Rezillos wail about someone getting their head kicked in.
I’ve started a sticker collection on the hard bags promoting independent parts companies, eateries, clothiers, and shops. I consider the hard bags rolling billboards for companies whose shit I’d be buying if I wasn’t currently riding a bagger. I may not be able to pop some struts or gimps on the bastard but I can certainly promote the companies who provided me such kick-ass accouterments in the past.
As far as the paint goes, I think I’m gonna keep the black and white scheme. I’d like to pop the KDMC skull and bolts on the tank and maybe gloss black the sides of the fenders and faring for a bit of depth.
Still on the fence as far as the chicken lights and turn signals go. I’d like to swap the tins out altogether which would pretty much solve the problem, but that would probably run me some money I don’t have.
But who really gives a shit at that. I think this discourse has fulfilled its purpose: convincing me I have a worthwhile challenge in lowering the resale value of my current ‘sickle. If you’ve made it this far into reading this piece, I’m not going to apologize. I told you it was a waste of time three pages ago.
Save yourself the trouble of justifying a bagger and simply buy a used sporty or a dyna wide glide. I'll be the fat bald asshole lane-splitting on a thundering turned-out pack mule with the Sex Pistols blaring; all the while telling himself riding a garbage wagon isn't so bad.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The beast stirs outside my front door; whispers her silent enticements like a metal Harpy, tells me what I want to hear just like a five foot blonde who knows she’s carrying my soul in her hip pocket like a set of shiny keys that crank a mustang ford she’d trade in tomorrow for a hot rod chevy
Days like today when I’m exhausted to the point of physical impairment; shambling through the day like a drunk in a liquor store line; get home, get changed, tune in, drop out; still she purrs that silver song just beyond the castle gate; lets go, c’mon baby let’s just get real gone; swing a leg over me and let’s screw it on
Doesn’t care if I’m sick in my head, doesn’t care if I’m sick in my heart, offers up her burning opiate on the two-lane tarmac of some forgotten stretch of back country where you can buy gasoline and eat a cheeseburger and enjoy a brew and a short square all under the same dilapidated roof and you can hear the locusts as they hum along with her in fenceless fields of cotton
Euphoria rolls over the top of her like the asphalt underneath; It’s alright she coos, just keep going; leads me farther away from home, further from reality and deeper into wherever my imagination fancies like a con man reeling in his mark; the bitch doesn’t care; just wants to run on like that forever; keeps me drunk on petrol promises and lithium sunsets
And I believe her until the light ebbs under the horizon and her highway heroin wanes and I realize I am not nineteen years old anymore and I have to work in the morning and the morning after that
And I force her back to the porch where she sprawls out long and low and curses me; lying all the while her sweet lies until I stumble out into the hot night air against all reason and its back on the road under a moon with lightning to the east; sweating like high school sex in the back seat of a car as the pines slip by into the stifling humidity like a blues riff runs off a slide guitar
Drunk on the past present and future, surreal dreams distorted by wind and sound and smell interrupted by sudden and intense albeit brief moments of sobriety; during which I wonder with a fear that tastes like blood in my mouth if this could be the last time
But what the fuck does she care,
So long as she can seduce she'll live long after I've come and gone.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I’ve ridden a ‘sickle for half a decade now and I’ve managed to miss every single rally that comes along for some odd reason or another. Seems there’s always some sort of extraneous impediment that prevents me from making a pilgrimage to one. Consequently, I’ve always believed a rally to be a gathering of hep cats who knew where it’s at; a celebration of two-wheeled internal combustion.
Tired of missing out on the gatherings in my head, I swapped a few days around at work and made things happen. I was bound for the coups de gras of Texas motorcycle gatherings, The ROT rally.
After nine straight days of work, I threw a couple of T-shirts in a plastic bag and gassed up my motor. From there it was a high-speed burn to San Marcos via Georgetown; a nostalgic trip down the black top I used to frequent at the ripe age of nineteen. I couldn’t help but reminisce of days gone by; days when I sat at the helm of a two-ton hairy-chested 1978 Cadillac Eldorado and the world stretched out beyond a five-foot length of hood.
More exciting times were those, indeed; back when a mid-summer’s day was filled with the anticipation of whatever awaited under the Austin midnight-skyline. As I recollected those nights, I couldn’t help but feel optimistic at the adventure awaiting a hundred miles up the road. This was the ROT rally; the fucking Sodom and Gomorrah of local motorcycle lore. There was sure to be plenty of beer, plenty of debauchery, and plenty of home-built death traps; all fenced in by razor wire and tended by jack-booted State Troopers wearing oily-black .357 magnums. I had absolutely no inkling of The Truth, but the next forty eight hours would take care of that.
I rolled into G-Spot around 1300 hours, the bike smattered in bug. I’m pretty sure an Albatross took a shit on my head somewhere on F.M. 908 because when I rolled into town, I had a large streak of crusted goo running across my left temple. The squares at the Texaco avoided eye-contact as I slugged some high test into my machine. I had originally planned on rolling down memory lane in old-town G-Spot, but I was running behind. I had an obligatory stop to make at the Round Rock H-D dealership and a lame-ass fuck around would leave me stranded in five-O’clock traffic; not an option when you’re piloting a nine-hundred pound bike down the tarmac in mid June. Sitting in a summer traffic jam on I-35 will turn an air-cooled V-twin into a sputtering derelict faster than you can say “Rainman.”
So it was straight to the dealership for me, a man on a mission. I was in the market for a few trinkets and I figured with so many riders in town, the bar and shield might be selling some of their wares at an uncustomary price. I also had hopes of catching a free burger or hotdog in the process. Wrong. The parking lot was chock full of shit-eaters riding bone-stock bikes and the dealership was full of its usual inventory of billet bullshit. To add insult to injury, they were charging money for the food in the parking lot; thus taking away the one consolation prize found at any Harley dealership on any given holiday weekend: free wieners.
Luckily, I was accosted in the usual manner upon walking in the door. I stopped to admire the lines of the only rolling canvas worth a shit in the 2010 line up- the Dyna Wide Glide- and no sooner did I pause than did a sales guy proceed to harangue me about “makin’ a deal.”.
“Why not,” thought I. Let the bugger run my numbers. I’ve got a little time to kill. By the time Harley got around to telling me my current bike was worth seventy eight dollars and I could buy their Dyna for thirty thousand over invoice, an hour had gone by and it was time to hang it back out on the road. I gave the sales manager a taste of the long knuckle and leapt through the storefront window; firing up my half-ton steed and blasting out onto the expressway, cackling like a two hundred and thirty pound bat-shit speed freak as I kicked over a row of “dark custons” on the way out.
Luckily, five O’clock traffic starts at two-thirty in the capital. I had a fine reunion with the I-35 lower deck to the tune of five, count ‘em FIVE miles per hour. Fortunately there were plenty of chances to take in the scenery when traffic came to a COMPLETE FUCKING STOP for no apparent reason whatsoever.
Two hours later, I’d made it to fabulous San Marcos. Despite the feeling I’d just spent three years drudging along the Oregon Trail, I remained optimistic. I planned on meeting up with Vernon at his estate around five-thirty, which left me just enough time to indulge my inner yuppie with an ice cold Frappe. As I sipped my over-priced cup of pretention, I realized I should probably purchase a more comfortable shirt for the evening’s festivities; thus I made my way to the outlet mall where I procured a ten-dollar Dickie’s pearl snap shirt.
Vernon wound up rendezvousing with me at the mall. After a quick inspection of the Van’s outlet (fuck you very much, Vernon), we were caravaning out to Casa Del Vern.
Why do I have a problem with Vans? Because their latest advertising campaign pisses me off. It’s a thirty minute song where the chorus is “I’ve got my Van’s on, but they look like sneakers.” That’s because they are sneakers, you asshat. It’s like saying “I’ve got my jeans on, but they look like pants.” Jeans ARE pants. Vans are fucking sneakers. Fuck Heysoos and his pack.
I digress. After receiving the Casa Del Vern tour, a half hour was spent ogling Vernon’s hot rod and inoperable motorcycle.
From there, it was on to South Congress where “the biggest party in Texas” was allegedly in full swing.
Again, utter disappointment. Congress was indeed lined with bikes; though most were nothing special. Luckily every asshole who popped a set of slip-on drags on his otherwise stock Harley was in attendance. The air was filled with the sound of these fuckers revving their motors with their kickstands down.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m all for noise pollution. I only ask that if I hear you rev your bike, you’d BETTER be showing a little class. I want to see you pulling a burn out at a red light while spewing beer from your mouth and pelvic thrusting at the car next to you. I don’t want to see you sipping a wine cooler and straddling your parked bike as you rev the throttle and high-five your asshole friends. Alas, there was no pelvic thrusting to be seen; nor was there any spewing of lager.
On the slow walk out, Vernon and I were actively lamenting the departure of originality from the custom motorcycle scene when we chanced upon a trio of finger-fucked crotch rockets. Their fairings had been removed and bits and pieces of their frames had been scrapped. We were just in the process of expressing some appreciation for an attempt at individuality when the owner of the bikes strolled over and fucked it up.
This guy walks over to us wearing a white dress shirt, jeans, and sandals; his carbon copies in tow. Grinning like a pederast he asks me “Do you like my bobber?”
For a split second, I contemplated punching him in his face. As I processed his attire and gross misuse of the term “bobber,” I could only assume he was a non-biker type who’d made the scene to get his rocks off. Logically, I surmised his inquiry was an attempt to set up a slew of wise ass-comments; thereby entertaining his frat-daddy date rapist fan club at our expense. I reasoned the only appropriate course of action would be to tell him I had “something he could bob;” at which point I'd punctuate the statement by dealing him a savage pistol whipping.
Fortunately Vernon was able to recognize the group for what they were- stupid. It soon thereafter became apparent this guy was indeed the builder of the bikes we’d been inspecting. Unfortunately, this discovery included a five minute long explanation of the building process; including his explaining that he had painted the black and red bike before us black and red. He also made sure to mention he painted the orange bike orange and the green bike green.
That pretty much capped the night for us. All in all we saw about four bikes that captured the essence of the garage-built death trap. The other four hundred bikes were either bone-stock garbage wagons or bloated billet-clad abortions with two-foot wide rear tires.
Congress certainly did not live up to my expectations. Still, I remained optimistic. We planned on hitting the fairgrounds the next day; and there was sure to be a righteous albeit small presence of riders and machines with true grit.
Up at six a.m., on the road by six thirty. After a delicious McDonald’s breakfast, it was off to the expo center.
The Thunderdome sat perched atop a hill; an island in a sea of trailers spanning for what seemed to be miles in every direction. The whole scene looked like some sort of medieval white trash kingdom; the castle walls towering in the distance amongst a bevy of plague-ridden hovels.
Trucks toting discovery channel-esque atrocities on trailers filled the highways leading to the epicenter of what was sure to be a fucking classic event. I held onto my dream that the counterculture would be present in spite of all the over-raked, over-blinged, fat tire trailer trash I’d seen being carted in the facility’s gates.
The gypsy camps along the outskirts were just starting to wake up as we arrived. The heavy early morning air was buzzing with the sound of muffler-less all-terrain golf carts piloted by obese women with bleached hair; their men sitting drunk in the passenger seat with characteristically squinty eyes, a souvenir courtesy of a long lineage of cousins fucking one another at family reunions.
Every so often one of these machines and its inbred cargo would come rocketing around a corner at high speed; and one would constantly have to be on guard for the tell-tale flatulent rattle of its approach. As we neared the epicenter, I observed one of these machines parked alongside a trailer. A naked inflatable woman was lashed to its stern; a small hole angled outward at the base of its vinyl buttocks. I chuckled at the sight of such degeneracy; but I should have taken the omen for what it was- foreshadowing.
In hindsight, that inflatable strumpet was a harbinger for the figurative and financial ass-raping myself and the studious Mr. Vernon were about to endure. We should have turned back at the sight of that vinyl augury, but we plodded right on in the gates instead; oblivious as a couple of hundred pound cheerleaders on their way to a frat party with bellies full of “X.”
I exchanged sixty dollars cash for entry at the gate; blissfully unawares of what a lame-ass fuckaround the day would be.
The first item of business upon entering was to price take-off fenders and the like. I reasoned that such an event with such a vast amount of vendors would certainly offer a fine selection of random-assed parts for the home builder. I was in the market for a rear fender (among other things); and I had no doubt I’d find one in the dirt streets of ROT city. Wrong again.
What we did find was about two hundred tents selling homemade T-Shirts with clichés and confederate flags printed on them in large graphic designs. These of course were accompanied by racks of cliché patches and cheap helmets. One vendor was selling tennis visors with scraps of shag carpet affixed to the top so as to give the illusion of one having a “wild” hairdo. “Who buys this shit,” I marveled. Sadly, I’d venture to say a third of the attendees were wearing these fucking hats later in the day.
A few builders had their machines on display; though it appeared the bro-rific fat tire craze was starting to gravitate towards the chop-cult-esque style. Narrow front tires, modest rake, stripped and skinny frames, dropped seats, frisco’d tanks- and BAM- a two foot wide billet wheel on the back. It’s like popping a peg leg and a dick on Joan Jett. I’ll let the reader figure that analogy out.
There were a few paint booths on scene; and being the impulsive sonuvabitch that I am, I figured I’d get some quotes for popping some art on my tank. Vern and I find this hillbilly’s booth which has some decent stuff on display, so I tell him what I’ve got and what I want. This amounts to a very simple graphic in the blank teardrop of my police-model Harley. I ask the guy “would that be easy to do?” What I’m really asking is “Are you going to fuck my bank account and leave it for dead in the desert?” Instead of giving me a price quote, this hillbilly says “Yeah, I’ve been waiting my whole life for a job like that. I’ll do it for free.” Sure you will, hillbilly.
I ask him if he’s going to be there on Sunday since I carpooled with Vernon that day. I see Vern about four times a year so caravaning seemed like a waste of quality conversation/bitching. Hillbilly asks me where my bike is and I tell ‘em it’s in San Marcos; to which he replies “Well what is it doing there? Tell ya what, why don’t you drive your golf cart over here and I’ll paint that for ya?” This elicited a baffled look on my part; at which point Hillbilly said “Come on, be honest, you know you’re here on your golf cart.” He was pegging me for a shit-eating weekend warrior.
For those not assimilated in the motor culture, this comment is about the same as this guy telling me he just fucked my wife. The unstated accusation hillbilly made implied I was some sort of moto “poser.” The irony is that I ride my shit nearly every day, weather be damned, unlike many of the mouth-breathing rally attendees who are fair-weather riders at best.
Bewildered, I essentially went into limbic shut down at hillbilly’s accusation. It was far too early in the morning to pistol whip someone; and besides, I’d let my guard down at the prospect of conducting some business. I muttered something with the word “fuck” in it, and Hillbilly got all religious on me and started diddling with something in the back corner of his booth. Apparently further conversation with him was out of the question. Vernon and I meandered away to brood over a ten-dollar chopped beef sandwich.
Things did not improve. Having established the fact I was not going to find any fenders on the premises, I decided to peruse the leather offered up by the vendors. Some of their stuff was reasonably priced and I’m a bit of a jacket whore (a useless obsession in Texas).
Vernon and I wander into a tent and suddenly these two guys come and corner us in the back and just stand there staring. I felt like it was my first shower in prison and was actively planning a firefight and subsequent escape in my head until one of them asked us if we needed any help finding anything. Turned out they were the goddamned vendors.
I told them we were just browsing; which is apparently vendor-speak for “please follow me around and hard-sell me on shit I don’t need.”
This concept was evidently the 2010 ROT rally theme. “Hard-sell me on shit I don’t need.” I eventually relented to the HST standby “nothing, I want nothing.” Every three feet, some asshole would try to sell us a welding machine or a danbanna. It was exhausting. A smattering of righteous builds made the endeavor bearable.
We eventually made our way to the famous Thunderdome. Evidently the dome had been packed to capacity in years prior with bikes from independent builders hailing from all over creation. This year there were four- count ‘em FOUR bikes on the floor at about 1300 hours. Two basic chops and two baggers.
The center of the arena had a makeshift bar in it tended by a pride of skanks. Vernon and I capitalized on the opportunity to sit down in the air-conditioned arena for a moment and take in what we hoped would be a redeeming spectacle. Beer was eight dollars a pop so that was out of the question, but maybe something awesome would happen and the day would be salvaged.
Awesome is subjective. Things happened, but I would scarcely say the happenings were awesome. Vernon and I apparently arrived just in time for the skank show. Several of the bartenders started gyrating their way around the arena floor; which drew a collection of fat white trash out of the stands like a snake charmer drawing cobras out of a wicker basket. Fat, white trash cobras.
The alpha male of the group was a three hundred pound squinty-eyed specimen wearing a Hart and Huntington T-Shirt, cargo shorts, and of course, Crocs.
A word on this- those of you who wear Crocs- unless you’re a diabetic or a toddler, you’re a part of the problem. Throw that ugly-assed shit away and breathe through your nose.
Alpha male was full of hot fist-pumping intensity. He would occasionally run over and gyrate next to a bar skank and fist pump at the people in the stands. His entourage of middle-aged pederast white folk only encouraged this behavior by taking gratuitous photographs of the metaphorical train wreck unfolding on the arena floor.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, the skanks started selling whipped-cream body shots to these degenerates. Ten dollar bills bought the chance to lick whipped cream out of a skank bartender’s naval. Keep in mind, people were lining up to do this. For twenty bucks, a skank bartender would take a mouth full of liquor and feed it to you as if you were a baby bird. I guess the Herpes would kind of take the place of a tiny umbrella or olive in your rocks glass.
After watching this atrocity for half an hour, it was decidedly time to leave. It was apparent things were not going to improve. It was more apparent the ROT rally was not so much a celebration of the motorcycle as it was a celebration of fat, inbred, croc-wearing assholes who also happen to own ugly bikes.
On our way out, we passed the Brett Michaels tour bus caravan as it made its way to the decadent and depraved kingdom on the hill. I wondered if he would purchase a tennis visor with shag carpet affixed to the top.
A contingency plan was put into motion which included red meat, video games, and Coors. The motorcycle mayhem I had envisioned was a complete wash; but red meat and cold beer is never disappointing.
What I’d like to see someday is a gathering of individualists who ride their shit for the joy of riding. A gathering with REAL fucking music (read Black Joe Lewis, Mitch Ryder, The Black Keys, The Reverend Horton Heat, The Meteors, Wolfmother) and REAL fucking bikes designed to blow minds and be ridden with wild abandon. I picture campfires and the presence of vendors like Low Brow Customs and Lick’s. I picture builders making the scene like Biltwell and Nash. And I picture at least one guy hocking a bunch of take-off parts including a goddamned rear fender. Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?
The only redeeming factor of the weekend was the chance to rack up some miles on the bike and do a little time-traveling along the way. I suppose I should be satisfied with that consolation, but what the hell. Like Pip, I've got great expectations; and I'll likely continue to have my dreams shat on by Miss Havisham in spite of myself.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
The hammer is flung down in ecstasy as pretension and litigation
Are left to hesitate at angry red stop signs;
Vain Newtonian Equations stifle the weak,
While twin quartets moan in lustful rapturous pain;
And the cerebral tide flows backward as the future surges behind it,
And sweet madness fogs reason and sharpens the eye;
And pigs and mothers scowl from glass houses in crippled sick envy;
(Anxious to stone you with Moses Rocks and Paper Bulls);
And a leer stretches over clenched teeth,
As Satan the Hood slides behind the wheel;
His hot hands running up the taught thighs of
Cadillac, Ford, Pontiac, Chevrolet
Pushing further up the skirt, heart racing sweat dripping muscles tightening
And the RESTLESS DAMNED
Stir momentarily from roadside graves,
Peer from crude white crosses, anxious;
To watch the prophet glimmer past,
To hear the long lean howl chase behind;
And Death watches.
and hopes and waits and laughs and sighs
but mostly waits.
After all, this is Marlboro Country.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
What is it about two wheeled hooliganism that soothes the soul?
“Open All Night” might have been a Springsteen ode to white trash roadrunners, but the spirit of the song translates nicely to anyone with an affinity for motorcycles. Not a mere interest, not an occasional fling, but an affinity; a full on lust for the perils that accompany a two wheeled pilgrimage anywhere past the driveway or apartment parking lot.
Today’s society demands the common man spend the majority of his life toiling away at some sort of soul-sucking insignificant task until he eventually is forced to retire and die of something he never knew existed. Alternatively, a person always has the option of slugging it out over a dream; and if he’s lucky, the bourgeois-sons of bitches who run Corporate Amerika won’t choke the hope out of him with high-interest loans.
Make no mistake about it sports fans, these are Hard Times we’re living in. The stock market’s falling faster than a suicide jumper and people’s savings accounts are disappearing like good ol’ fashioned rock n’ roll. Someone once said something about everyone needing some kinda ventilator; and the proletariat is no exception. People need some relief, goddammit!
Some people go fishing and wear shoes with no socks. Some play a round of golf in atrocious clothing, some go for a hike and watch bears fuck, and some of us swing a leg over a two-wheeled, quarter-ton, fire breathing suicide machine. Nothing kicks the work-day blues like executing a precision twenty-foot churning burn out in the workplace parking lot; cackling like a bat-shit speed fiend as you hurdle yourself into 5 O’ clock traffic with all the reckless abandon of a kamikaze pilot.
Fear not; you are not alone. Motorcycle hooligans are everywhere. They lurk in mild-mannered suburban garages, low-rent apartments, and down town tenements; and you can bet your ass you’re going to see a whole lot more of them coming out of the woodwork in these troubled times. Turmoil turns out two-wheeled rebel rousers like a full moon draws out an army of fuckin’ werewolves.
Let’s face it folks, hard times are what started all of this in the first place. The custom motorcycle was born in the hearts of men who had been to hell and back; their departure from conventional cycling was a direct reflection of their new perspective on life. These guys returned from years of unimaginable horror and were expected to trade their blood-stained fatigues for a clean white shirt and their rifles for a briefcase or union card. They were expected to assimilate themselves into a society that could never understand the things they’d seen and done; and by god, that’s what they did.
But with assimilation came the necessary ventilators; be it a highball in a rocks glass or a beer in a bowling alley. Others (read: The Boozefighters) cut loose on finger-fucked Harleys and Triumphs. Now here were some guys who were simply out to have a good time. Historical accounts of the clubs that sprung up after World War Two indicate they were little more than a bunch of vets looking to sew some wild oats and do a little living after kicking the krauts out of France and smacking the shit outta Tojo.
Clubs from all over used to get together for scrambles, hill climbs, and grassroots race events. There were no fights over territory, no bloodshed (save some occasional fisticuffs) over how many fucking patches were on the back of your vest, and no stupid-assed coalitions. Hell, some of the originals even flew different colors on different days. It was all about riding your machine and making some good memories with some good friends- which naturally included freaking out the citizens and AMA jockeys from time to time.
This brief visit upon history begs the question, “What the fuck is going on around here?!”
I came back from Russia five years ago utterly confused; but I knew for sure I was going to buy myself a ‘sickle and I was going to chop the fuck out of it. Not long after I accomplished that, some blue collar buddies and I started our own little motorcycle club, the Knuckle Dusters. The"rules" were absurd and nonsensical at best (i.e., "finish your goddamned beer"), and participation simply dictated you ride a motorcycle and show a little class.
No sooner did we dawn our crudely sewn colors then the shake-downs start rolling in. Some asshole from an “outlaw” club would come wandering up at a gas station in bumblefuck to feel us out. I’d tell ‘em we were a small group who just liked to ride and scare the squares; which would inevitably lead to a monologue about how we should join some sort of coalition for twenty bucks a month so “bad things wouldn’t happen to us.”
The way I see it, if I’ve gotta pay money every month to avoid having my ass kicked, maybe I need to have my ass kicked…
But I digress. We were talking about hard times and the soothing mystique of riding a hand-wrenched death trap.
Hard times might encroach on a man’s ability to put four-thousand dollar billet rims on a motorcycle, but they’re certainly not going to keep him from turning a wrench or firing up a sawz-all on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Desperation pushes people to inexplicable behavior, like chopping the shit out of a perfectly good fender or trading a fine set of shocks for some rigid steel struts. Your average God-fearing citizen will always question the mental health of a man who grinds all the turn signals off a motorcycle in favor of running a taillight the size of a dog’s asshole- but who gives a shit.
The stripped- down, bare- knuckle, death trap murder-‘sickle is a personal expression. Hell, ANY motorcycle can be a personal expression if the rider wills it. In the end, a true custom ‘sickle is one that embodies its rider’s fight against whatever ails him. If your bike stands as a monument to your struggle for freedom, you’ve turned a wrench in the right direction.
And that, mi amigos, is what it all boils down to. Work can get shitty, life can throw us curve balls, the whole world can come to an end- but we’ll be standing there to the bitter end, reeling in the dust and the blood; a noble and proud few who refuse to give up until we’ve been planted in the dirt.
We are savage horsemen, for fuck’s sake; and the custom motorcycle is a tribute to our creed. It’s about not giving up when you’re tits deep in parts on a modification gone awry, it’s about busting your knuckles on a week night spent wrenching up your shit when you’ve got to drag yourself in to work at six. It’s about screwing it on after a soul-sucking day at work and feeling alive- feeling ten and twenty and thirty years younger; feeling free, fearless, and completely in control of your own destiny despite whatever plans the world might have for you. Say what you want about brotherhood and beer joints, what it all comes down to is the machine- your machine- and what it stands for. You can strip away the extraneous bullshit, but you can never take away the feeling that comes with hammering through five O’ clock traffic at ninety miles an hour on a two wheeled suicide stallion you’ve made your own. That’s the living, breathing custom motorcycle. That’s the church of choppers. That’s the heart of the motorcycle hooligan.