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GOING THE DISTANCE
Photo by Genghis
Mitch "Hippie" Diamond, circa 1969
I've been legit since 1984, and that's no wry commentary on an Orwellian control-freak bureacracy. It hadn't been that way for fifteen years prior to that. For fifteen years, my '68 XLCH "Sally The Bitch" belonged to my cousin, Dewlipt Wong. Dewlipt did not exist. Dewlipt was a demented figment of my fertile imagination. However, paperwork was filed away in Alabama's state government offices that provided proof-positive, that Dewlipt---"Dewey" to his redneck friends, did exist. And Thrive. And ride. He rode in Andalusia, Alabama. Specifically, Dewey rode a cherry '68 Sportster that had a molded frame, and was painted candy apple red. This bike had a Frisco-mounted tank, Smith Brothers & Fetrow rear fender struts with a cut-down fender. It had five inch risers topped off by drag bars. Wheels fore and aft, had chromed rims and black spokes. Curiously, the drag bars on that bike, are one and the same drag bars that now sit atop my '71 Shovelhead Stroker, "Mabel." Very strange, indeed.
Even stranger, good 'ole cousin Dewlipt never sat foot, front 19 or rear 18 on Alabaman soil. Dewey only knew the mean streets of the East Village and environs of the New York area. Dewey, was me. Shortly after I got my '68 Sportster, I met a Panhead rider named Mitch "Hippie" Diamond. Snake owner, known associate of the NYC HA and generally well-known colorful character in the East Village, Mitch became my riding buddy. In fact, Mitch was the only real riding buddy I ever had in this life. I used to ride occasionally with Arthur "Steppenwolf" Sellers of the Rat Pack MC, but Mitch was my true bud. Mitch lived in a railroad apartment on 2nd Street between First and Second Avenues, a block away from the NYC Hells Angels. Mitch was the first to nickname me "Genghis." He was also extremely resourceful. He was also friends with Arthur and Spade George of the Rat Pack MC. The biker community of the East Village of the '60s and '70s was an extremely soap operatic scene, with dramatic interactions, ranging from the funny to the tragic. Mitch would ultimately be murdered by another Rat pack member, butchered in his pad until his blood spattered throughout the length, of his railroad apartment.
Another significant friend of Mitch's, was a probate judge in Andalusia, Alabama named Leland. Leland was able to register Mitch's Harley in Alabama (under a different name of course), which saved Mitch the cost of insuring his Panhead in New York.
That's how Dewlipt Wong came to be. Dewey was a useful incognito identifier, who saved me bread that would've gone to insurance premiums, for fiteen years. There were distinct disadvantages to this arrangement, chief among them was the attention that the Alabama plates got from astute cops. Dewey's Sportster got stopped frequently by the gendarmes in New York City. As suspicious as Dewey's bike appeared to the cops, they could never give me a citation for anything, as I was protected by this simple statement:
"Officer, this bike belongs to my cousin Dewlipt who's visiting and he lets me use it...."
I'll tell ya what, though. It got to be a drag to be pulled over because of that conspicuous Alabama plate. I know that I wasn't the only New Yorker to take advantage of this ability to register in Alabama. One time a cop who stopped me said, "I know this is a phony plate and I can't do anything about it....you guys around here doin' this are gonna get busted someday..."
By 1984, I'd had my fill with being questioned about my Alabama plate, and registered the bike in New York State and insured her, just like any God-fearing, law-abiding citizen in good standing would do. Hey man, I became a real person!
My Harley was legit now!
Through two Harleys spread over a forty-one year time span, I haven't been stopped by cops much after I began registering my bikes legitimately. In fact, I was only stopped once since 1984, and that occurred in 2003.
On that day six years ago, I was riding my Stroker Shovel Mabel down Avenue B in "Alphabet City" in the Village when I was stopped by the cops. I was in fact, stopped not far from where I had my first apartment in Alphabet City, on 3rd Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. I like seeing the old neighborhood on Mabel.
Avenue B is an extremely narrow two way, one lane each way street, whose design parameters date back to the colonial era. The width of the street is better suited to horses, than to today's cars. I was trailing a sedan crawling along at about five miles per---I thought it was some slob lookin' for a parking space. I grabbed a handful of Stroker throttle and blasted past the car, carrying me across the double solid dividing lines to do this, because of the cramped constriction of the lane. I'll tell ya what, Mabel's screaming exhaust was a beautiful thing to contemplate. Trouble was, I didn't have much time to revel in the sound, as the next sound I heard was the urgency of a cop car siren, wailing its little metal heart out. Thhe sound was directly behind us.
It was coming from....the car that I passed. The car contained two uniformed cops in the front, and a police sergeant in the back. Long story short, I got tickets for reckless driving, lane-changing without using a turn signal and driving the wrong way on the other side of the street. Long story shorter, these misdemeanor charges were dismissed in court, but at the cost of $1,500 that I had to shell out to my lawyer. In this instance, my cousin Dewlipt's name on an Alabaman registration for my Harley, would've been as useful as owning a Honda 550 as a prerequisite, when applying for membership in an one percenter club. Decades without a citation until this one, and this time it was my fault for not recognizing an unmarked car when I should've known better.
Aside from that bogus citation six years ago, life on a Legit Harley has been as peaceful as a convention of doves on quaaludes. Around here in the New York area, guys on Harleys don't get a second look from cops, even Harleys with twelve million decibel straight pipes.
That's always been the case, as far back as I remember, although that may not be the case now, if you're sporting an Alabama plate. New York is relatively benign as far as treatment from cops is concerned for bikers. New York cops just don't care that much to bother. I'm not rappin' about RICO arrests here, I'm referring to everyday traffic circumstances.
It's been twenty-five years since I gave my buddy Leland, the probate judge in Alabama---any business. I can't remember what he used to charge for a registration and plate, it might've been seventy-five bucks. That's pretty cheap compared to insurance premiums. I wonder if the good judge is still kickin' around in Andalusia.
I was curious enough to do a Google search for Leland. Well, whaddya know! Lo and behold, Google reveals he's still around and kickin'. If you're curious, go to Google and type in "Leland Enzor." I did notice that this Enzor was listed as "Leland Enzor Jr." I wonder if this is the offspring of the man who sold me my Alabama plates. If so, is Junior carrying on the proud tradition of helping down-on-their-luck bikers stay in the wind? Should I? Nah. My bike's a Legit Harley now, and she's a-gonna stay that way. Later.