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GOING THE DISTANCE
"BIKER LIT CRIT:
OCCUPY H-D STREET"
Photo by Genghis
PARKING FOR H-Ds ONLY:
Where's that old-time allegiance to Harleys?.
"Iron Horse was always the better magazine. The Horse BSC is as if someone gelded Snow's Iron Horse. It's all trash now. As for EZ, I found it unreadable after '85. I loved IH from the beginning, all the way up until the Piss Peas split. BSC is just a lame imitation of Iron Horse. It's unbelievable that there are no writers with the intelligence to write a hardcore biker rag."
"I wish Snow would write a book. His knowledge and engaging style should be enjoyed by a wider audience than just those of us from the IH days. I bought THBC a few times, then looked at the pictures without buying, then stopped doing even that. The overall product Ralph produces seems pretty canned to me."
"There is no real biker rag out there anymore. Nada. I pick up Street Chopper sometimes. Easyriders has been unreadable since 1993, if not earlier. What came after Snow's IH with Chris Pfouts at the helm was a joke. After that, Ralphie took on, then screwed the remnants of the Piss Peas. Then we are left with THBC, nothing but a bunch of hacked-up japbikes, with zero intelligent commentary whatsoever, not even worth reading in the mag aisle."
When David Snow stated that he wanted Iron Horse magazine to be a sociological chronicle of the biker subculture, this represented the gold standard that biker publications could aspire to. Iron Horse was unusual in its lofty goals, as was evidenced in IH's intellectual approach to depicting the biker subculture. In other words, Iron Horse did not treat bikers as if they were blithering idiots who could only respond to the lowest literary formula, punctuated with gangster attitude.
IH delved deep with probing and sophisticated questions regarding, who was truly a biker? Bikers were revealed to be a subculture rich with tradition, history and righteous loyalties. The Neanderthal Ethic that is so identified with the stereotype of bikers with low brains, low foreheads and a high degree of dirt on the rest of us, was smashed to smithereens by the Mighty Iron Horse Hammer. Sure, we had grease on our hands, but they did get washed, in case nobody noticed, but we bikers were finally pictured in IH as a special breed who thought as well as fought, who felt as well as belted when provoked.
The biker rags that followed in Iron Horse's large footsteps, wore small boot sizes by comparison. There was a return to the Biker-Rag-By-Rote formula, bringing down the demographic intelligence quotients of the biker readership by several tens of points. It was not quite a return to the Neanderthal Ethic, but the requisite diminished estimate of biker IQ was there by default. Part of the problem was the deficiency of the staff of these magazines, as competent and interesting writers. More at fault was the lowering of the goals of biker magazines, since the 1997 demise of Iron Horse. Biker rags aimed low, once again.
However, there was a far more important element missing in these later biker rags.
What was missing from these recent biker rags, was more visceral, more inherent in the biker subculture. It was and is the heartbeat of the biker subculture. This heartbeat of the culture, which beats hard and strong in every true biker, is the Absolute Allegiance to the Harley-Davidson brand. This loyalty to the brand, which ran rich and pulsatingly strong in old school biker rags like the Easyriders of the '70s, has been virtually eradicated in today's biker rags where Yamaha XS650s and Honda CB750s are given parity with righteous Knuckles, Pans and Shovels. Hacked-up UJMs are given precious copy space in today's rags, pages that hardcore Sportsters once occupied as Kings of the Street. Occupy H-D Street!
This unquestioned loyalty to H-Ds, which was and is the Unstated Obvious within the subculture, has been beaten by a baseball bat like a baby seal, hauled away from the public eye, and labeled "unimportant" by the editorial boards of today's biker rags.
This is actually a greater loss than the lack of intelligent commentary in today's biker rags, because this allegiance to the Black & Orange is such a Basic Instinct in the subcullture, with such deep historical roots. It is the Gut Feeling that drives every one of us true bikers, but it is not represented in the biker rags on the magazine stands. Its is a more glaring deficiency, this lack of respect for the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, because it ignores decades of bikers' loyalty to their Harleys, which is the real glue that holds the biker subculture together. Today's magazines ignore the role of Harley cycles, as the spine that supports the rest of the body of the culture. Can you imagine a subculture where the members of major clubs rode Yamahas, as well as Harley-Davidsons? Such a subculture would warrant scant attention. It would be diluted, watered-down to the point of subexistence.
This change in the editorial stance toward Harley-Davidsons has been so gradual, so insidious in it's incremental introduction in the journalistic discourse in biker rags, that hardly anybody has noticed, except eagle-eyed readers of the now defunct Iron Horse. Carefully examine how the Harley brand is commented on by editors and writers of today's biker rags, and you will see this lack of Righteous Allegiance to the Black & Orange brand. Where is the righteous indignation, shouting to the world....
"HARLEY'S BEST, SCREW THE REST!"
It just isn't there. This righteous pride in Harleys, has been hacked-up, and hacked-out of the pages of today's biker rags. Not a cross word is said about the inferiority of foreign brands, handing 'em page space and undeserved praise as worthy steeds in this manufactured, fictitious and more ecunemcial culture. It is the Anything Goes BIker Subculture, where the squid on his Suzuki next to you on your Harley at the stoplight, has been Grandfathered In by the powers that be at editorial boards of magazines. Bikers, once identified by their pride in their hogs, have been artificially absorbed by the Borg of Anything Goes Biker Journalism, and the editors of these rags surreptitiously inserted hacked-up Hondas under our virtual asses. The picture doesn't match the reality, folks.
So you see, it isn't just intellectual heft that's missing in the magazines that followed Iron Horse, it's also intellectual honesty with respect to the role of Harley-Davidsons in the biker subculture, and this may be more damaging than the lack of literary talent and intent. This is because it hits at the very heart of the biker subculture, which is the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The importance of the role of the Harley motorcycle has intentionally been lessened and distorted, thereby distorting the biker subculture as we know it.
True bikers live on H-D Street, but this important address is being ignored by the chopper media. H-D Street is the capitol of the subculture, but it's been wiped off the map. Later.