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GOING THE DISTANCE
"NEW YEAR'S MESSAGE 2012"
THE ORIGINAL IRON HORSE:
The one and only.
ERIC MORTENSON IN THE "GOING THE DISTANCE" GUESTBOOK:
So glad I found you again and so glad it looks like you never stopped writing. Was a big fan of yours back in the 'good old days' of Iron Horse. Although I never spoke to you I really felt like I lost a friend when the Horse changed and I couldn't read your column anymore. You, Snow, and IH in general had a HUGE influence on me.
Can't wait to get up to speed with reading everything I've missed. I see you still have Mabel (at least as of last year's 1st ride column I just read). That's awesome.
To this day when I'm sitting in my garage looking at my shovel and talking to her as if she's a human, I think of the way you used to talk about Mabel and kinda' chuckle to myself.
Ride Safe Genghis, and tell Mabel I said hello."
Eric's guestbook message was a reminder of how long Going The Distance has been on the internet, which is 15 years. This far outstrips the number of years I had my column in Iron Horse magazine. In fact, the fifteen years that GTD has been going on the 'net, is just about triple the span of time in which I wrote for Iron Horse before IH shuttered its horse stable doors in 1997. This gives pause for thought, on this New Year's Day of 2012. It gives pause for thought about the nature of the durability of an idea, and an ideal: The notion that one can maintain a Harley-Davidson with a steady hand and even steadier resolve, over one's lifetime. It gives pause for thought about how such a notion can motivate and inspire, indefinitely. The power of words and ideas can outlast whole publshing companies. The power of ideas and the words and art that are manifested in them, can go on forever. Believe it. I do.
Yet, for all the years that Going The Distance has been and will be written on the internet, it can never be anything but a pale reflection of just a snippet of what Snow's Iron Horse was, and what it meant to bikers who read and followed IH. That "snippet" was my GTD column in IH, but Iron Horse in general? Do not forget that my IH column, was perhaps a mere 5% of what Snow's IH was.
Iron Horse in its entirety was a showcase for the genius and passion of David Snow. The magazine was a True Looking Glass into the soul of David Snow, as channeled into a palpable form filled with paper pages by Snow's imagination.
The originality of Snow's writing, artwork and vision can never be replicated by the IH imitations that followed. They can only be what they are, examples of blatant coattail riding.
Take a look at this Facebook exchange between English Don and Snow:
"Hey Dave, how did they manage to glom charlie horse?"
"They switched around enuff to avoid copyright infringement (after I told 'em to quit using my stuff), but they're still lowdown, unimaginitive, thieving morons. No class, just real stupid. On my jawbreaking list. Their rip-off version always looked very gay with that Village People biker cap instead of a mohawk."
This year's New Year's message is about the integrity of ideas. Attempts can be made to duplicate these ideas, but like remakes of blockbuster movies, the remakes hardly ever meet the high standard that made the original a blockbuster in the first place.
The difference between movie remakes, and what followed Snow's Iron Horse, is that movie remakes don't pretend to be original creations. Neither do they purport to be a continuation of an original movie, as the IH imitation strives to be perceived as a continuation of Iron Horse.
Look at what the copy named its letters section. It happens to be exactly what Snow called it in Iron Horse. Gee, wotta coincidence. What, the copiers weren't imaginitive enough to come up with a descriptive name, different from the original? Or was this a lame try to convince gullible readers that they'd inherited IH's mantle?
Movie remakes are, as they claim to be, hopefully successful copies. What followed Snow's Iron Horse, is but a poor imitation, sort of like Bizarro Superman, hampered by unintended somatic angles and imperfect speech.
An example of poor imitation, is the artwork that David Snow alluded to in his Facebook reply. Incredibly ingenious and beautiful, Snow's horse with his mohawk was rebellious and original. Manifested in this piece of art, was the Spirit of Iron Horse, spawned in the fertile imagination within Snow's brain and refined in his aesthetic sense.
The copy with its Village People cap? Another type of manifestation, not so refined and Freudian in its execution.
The copy of Snow's horse artwork, speaks of a desperate attempt to cash in on an original idea, and a not-so subtle implication that the copy is carrying on IH's tradtion. The copy is nothing of the sort. It might've been better if the copy tried to create its own identity, rather than follow in the draft of the slipstream that iron Horse's momentum created.
Then again, this might've been limited by the creative resources available to the copy.
My New Year's Message 2012, is an unabashed salute to David Snow and his original Iron Horse magazine.
Everything that Snow created that was Iron Horse, still lives. The momentum goes on, and we benefit by slipstreaming in IH's wake.
It still lives in the lives of bikers like Eric Mortenson, and you and me. I can say this, because I am possibly Iron Horse's biggest fan, and it lives with me every time I take a ride on Mabel, my beloved Harley 74. Hey you out there. Happy New Year, and keep on carrying on the Iron Horse tradition by doing what you do every day. Later.