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Photo by Genghis

The late 1960s: The last time I was able to regularly ride daily.


We Ride Every Day and We Are Righteous!
We're Righteous and You're Not!

We all have fantasies about not having any responsibilities, no matter what age we are. This is normal, and the daydream usually goes something like this:

(Heavy sigh)
"I wish I didn't have to work.
I wish I didn't have to pay for food.
I wish I didn't have to pay for a roof over my head.
I wish I didn't have to support people.
I wish I was back in a time when I was able to ride my bike every day.
I wish I could sleep until noon."

I was actually in a situation like that daydream, but it wasn't a dream, but a reality. I didn't have to work. I didn't have to pay for food or rent. I didn't have to get up early to go to work. Thing is, that was when I was the guy in the picture you see above, over forty years ago. That guy, was living with mommy and daddy. It was great. Rode every day, after gettin' up at noon. Didn't have a care in the world, and isn't that what we all want?

That all changed however, when I moved out of mommy's and daddy's house, in 1969. Mommy and daddy gave me the opportunity to loaf, sleep, eat and ride my bike whenever I wanted, but that's not all mommy and daddy gave me. They also gave me their work ethic. My parents landed in this great land of ours as children in the 1910s, and their belief in hard work to provide the American Dream of freedom and self-sufficiency, was what drove them and sustained them. They worked long hours in their work, usually 12 hours a day, six days a week, for the self-sufficiency they craved. This, they passed onto me.

This work ethic is the diametric opposite, of the Bum Ethic. As far as the biker subculture goes, there are bikers who adhere to the work ethic, and those who stumble along in life with the "bum ethic." The public's view of the stereotypical biker, probably falls into the bum ethic category. I'm here to tell ya, that there are significant numbers of bikers who have strong work ethics, like me. I have very little respect for bikers who take pride in being lazy. By extension, I have little respect for bikers who boast that they can ride every day, unless they ride to work as a matter of necessity, as dictated by gegraphic realities, such as the great distances between home and work and where walking to work is not feasible. Unless they ride to work as dictated by distance, they're able to ride every day because they're bums, living the life of teenagers on someone else's dime.

As a result, my parents' work ethic has been ingrained in me. How do you think I was able to save enough money from an off-the-books after school job starting at the age of 13, to be able to buy a used Vette six years later? Hey man, if ya want something badly enough, you will work hard and get it. In 1969 when I still lived with mommy and daddy, was the last time I was able to ride daily in a carefree fashion, without the reality of meeting responsibilities biting and gettin' a toothhold on my person. Ya know what? I ain't complainin'.

Some people are made to work. I'm one of 'em. I'll probably never retire. There is a segment of the biker subculture, in which these bikers are proud to work, and indeed, take pride in their performance in their work. Photography has supported me for the past 44 years. The type of photography I do though, is a nine-to-five, monday-though-friday deal. I ain't one these high falutin' shutterbugs who travels the world on his own schedule, shooting supermodels at outrageous fees. Nope. Salaries pay my way, always have always will. But I'm proud to work, and proud that I'm one of the best at what I do.

Pride in performance, baby!

I have it. I take pride in my performance, whether it's in how I operate my Harley on the highway, or in how I work. An example: In my last job at Columbia-Presbteryian Medical Center between 1973 and 1991, I had four sick days. That's four days out, in 18 years. Since I've work at my current job for the last 20 years, the only reason I had to break this incredible record of attendance, was in 1994 when my wreck on my faithful Harely 74, Mabel, laid me up in the hosipital with a broken leg for several weeks. If it weren't for that period in the hosiptal, I would've had zero sick days in the last 20 years. To me, that's no different than a professional football player taking prtide in not missing games for nagging pains and injuries. Pride in performance, man. That's where it's at.

I recognize that although there are bikers who think like me and are built like me psychologically, and that there are also bikers who take a more casual approach to life, working and riding. To these bikers, life's a hammock and they're forever young. The latter are usually comprised of trustfund babies, lottery winners, bikers on some sort of government dole (deserved and otherwise), bikers who are supported by family members, or just plain bums. These bikers don't work 9 to 5. They don't have a monday to friday schedule. They are carefree, and can ride every day. I call 'em the Professional Bikers M.C.

What gets me about the Professional BIkers M.C is, they adopt an elitist attitude toward the rest of us poor slobs who have to work for a living, who have to toil in 9 to 5 gigs, just for the privilege of being able to keep and support our Harley-Davidsons. The Professional Bikers M.C. have a supercilious, nose in the air, chest-puffed-out aura when they brag.....

"Hey! We ride every day, why can't you? What are ya, sum kinda weekend warrior?"

I'm surprised that they don't take next logical step, and boast that they ride 24 hours a day. Maybe they should change their name to the "24/7 Bikers M.C." Their colors can feature a picture of a welfare check between the rockers. Hey man, each to his own. If you wanna just scrape by, and barely make the payments on your bike, rent and bills, than more power to ya. Just don't pull out yer holier-than-thou sneering about being deft enough to skirt 9 to 5 work, and then boast of being able to ride every day. Unless you're still 22, then yer a bum, man.

As I said, there is a segment of bikers who must ride to work. These guys ride every day just to get to work, no more, no less. They are not members of the Professional Bikers M.C. They're merely average street bikers who are gettin' along just like me, with the circumstances and logistics they were dealt. To these guys, their Harleys aren't ego props to prove how special they are by riding to work every, but just viable transportation to the job. They are far cry from the Professional Bikers M.C. who brag about riding every day, just to bolster their lame and fragile egos. Relax girls, nobody's paying attention. These guys are just playing a role, in a play whose script is all about identifying themselves as hardcores. Screw that noise, because that's all it is---noise. I know, everbody's a critic, but this play's a flop.

Bikers who by necessity ride to work, have jobs long distances from home in the suburbs or rural areas where riding to work is feasible, which it isn't in the urban jungles like NYC. Riding to work in cities like NYC isn't sustainable. In inner cities, the realities for bikers are different. The lay of the land dictates travel modality, simple as that. If the Professional Bikers M.C. have a gripe about how we city bikers go to work, shuff tiff. Mind yer own goddamn business, girls. Pay attention to yer profilin', instead.

The last time I rode my Harley to work, was when I was a 22 year old kid who rode his Sportster out to a construction job on Long Island, Since that time a lifetime ago, I've lived and worked in Manhattan, where I take a subway or walk to work. Unless yer rich, riding to work in Manhattan entails mucho dinero. This is the reality of the world, biker or otherwise. Those who would deny this and would rather engage in the "seven-days-a-week-rider" fantasy, either live outside of cities where motorized commuting is the necessary method, are rich or are unemployed. For those who have no jobs or responsibilities, just take yer time and attend your motorcycle rallies with the rest of the kids. You can join the kids on their hacked-up Hondas and Yamahas at the summer camp for kids without jobs. Just make sure that mommy does your laundry before you go.

In the mean streets of NYC, there's no place to park unless ya wanna pay a fortune for parking garages five days a week (which sort of defeats the purpose of working, making money--beating feet to work beats wasting a salary on usurious garage fees--walking is free), these are the realities of being a biker in a place like NYC. Another not so attractive NYC option is taking a chance that you can find a parking meter, but that carries its own burdens: Running out to the meter every couple of hours or so to feed the meter, which would actually end costing more than a parking garage for the day.

So, if you're member of the Professional BIkers M.C.---keep your outwardly superior attitude to yourself, and hide that weak ego that needs to be fed. Bikers who work hard for a living on 9 to 5 gigs, don't wanna hear it. If you have to ask then you truly wouldn't understand. I'd rather have my sister in a whorehouse, than my brother be a bum. I'd rather push my job than ride a free check. You know the platitudes, and they apply.

Here's my honest opinion about that segment of the biker subculture who complain about work and responsibility: I think many of 'em are just plain immature. Men step up and meet their responsibiltities, to 'emselves and people they should be supporting. The tired and cliched starving artist mentality, does not apply to bikers. Bikers are men and women who have grown up, and there's no excuse for bikers in their fourth, fifth and sixth decades of life, acting and feeling like twenty-somethings. You no longer live with mommy and daddy, so cease and desist acting like it. This phenomenon of immature bikers might explain why they play those stupid games at motorcyle rallies. They just need the peer-reinforcement from others in the Professional Bikers M.C , to convince themsleves that they're no merely immature bums. Later.