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GOING THE DISTANCE
"KAREN BE GOOD"
KAREN PADGETT GOOD:
We met in front of the Hell's Angels clubhouse.
"You were a senior at Newtown High School when I was a sophomore."
KAREN PADGETT GOOD
Nostalgia is the ability to to forget what was screwed up.
I was once accused by another biker (in a jocular manner), of living in the past. That's why he said, "You ride a 43 year old Harley Shovelhead instead of a newer Harley." That may be true. But listen up, Shovelheads Rule! As far as I'm concerned, Harley Shovelheads are the best iteration of Milwaukee's Finest. However, there's always a seed of truth in even joking accusations. For sure, my love for the past is the reason why I started a Facebook nostalgia group called, JACKSON HEIGHTS, ASTORIA & WOODSIDE NOSTALGIA,. It is the past that informs who and what we are. We are cast in a mold by the past, and out we come, fully formed, the way we are. The group I formed, is devoted to exploring and enjoying our Queens roots, examining the places and times that made us Queens Folk, to the end. Karen Padgett Good is a member of this group.
I love reveling in the past, and exploring the geographical and cultural roots that we came from. For people who grew up in Queens, we have cultural bonds that are almost genetic in nature. Our forbears who settled in our section of Queens, passed on to the younger generations of our families, the distinct characteristics of our Queens personality. Don't think so? Just listen to Fran Drescher tawk or have some cawfee with someone from Queens, and ya know this is true. We know what a "reguluh cawfee" is, something I once asked for in a Dallas coffee shop, that drew a confused look from the counter-person. Queens Folk are a species apart. The same is true with bikers. Bikers have a world view peculiar to ourselves. We really are a breed apart, a genetic anomaly that gifted us with the Harley-Davidson Gene , and destined us to have Harley 60 weight coursing through our veins.
Photo by Genghis
I LOVE THE PAST: That's why I ride my 43 year old Harley, "Mabel."
With Karen Padgett Good and me, these worlds of Queens genetics and biker sensibilities, have collided. Karen's been on my mind lately, because she lost a son and a daughter, both of whom recently passed away. Karen is a spectacularly strong person, who I went to high school with (although I didn't know her then), and has a special friendship with the New York City Hell's Angels. I first met Karen in front of the New York City Hell's Angels clubhouse, just about the time that this picture of Karen was taken. I was talking to my friend Mario (real name, Henry Fenuta) who was a member of the Angels in the '60s and '70s. I've recounted my friendship with Mario numerous times, but for those of you who haven't read it, here's how I met Mario:
Photo by Genghis
MY OLD '68 HARLEY: "Sally The Bitch," the bike I used as a motorcycle messenger in 1969.
In the summer of '69, I was working as a motorcycle messenger for the Quick Trip Messenger Service in The City (for non-New Yorkers, "The City" is NYC shorthand for Manhattan). Quick Trip at that time, was a messenger service run by an ex-cop friend of mine named George Shaw. George passed away a few years ago. The office at that time, was on 25th Street between First and Second Avenues. It was a hot and sunny day, and I had my '68 Sportster, "Sally The Bitch" parked in front of Quick Trip's office. I came out of the office to find a biker, staring intently at Sally.
The biker was about my height and size, and he had a beard and wore colors. His patch read, "Aliens MC." I said to the guy, "What's up?" He said with a smile, and without a hint of self-consciousness, "I was thinkin' about stealing yer bike." That cracked me up! We both laughed about it then, and laughed about it over the years, for we became friends after that. To this day, I don't know if Mario was joking or not, about stealing my Harley.
It was Mario I was rappin' to in front of the Hell's Angels clubhouse on Third Street, when I met Karen Padgett Good. Mario's club, the Aliens, became the NYC chapter of the Hell's Angels, in the late '60s.
NYC HELL'S ANGEL CLUBHOUSE Where I met Karen.
Karen Padgett Good has a special relationship with the NYC Hell's Angels. Around the time that I met Karen at the Hell's Angels clubhouse, she'd introduced the then president of the club, Sandy Alexander, to the Grateful Dead. Sandy organized the Hell's Angel benefit concert that the Dead put on, at the Anderson Theater in the '70s that I went to, the night my father passed away. You can read about that HERE.
It is curious, how Karen I skirted the same existence in Queens, only to meet later in person in The City. Queens for many, if not most, was the springboard for Queens Folk to move in all directions in the country, and around the world. Yet, we remain Queens Folk, unrepentant and brashly aggressive. Hey man, like I told ya, it's in our Queens Genes. Those were heady days in the East Village of the '60s and '70s, when I met Karen. In my Nostalgic Mind's Eye, those times, as well as the times when Karen and I grew up in Jackson Heights in Queens, were magical. However, as I said before, nostalgia is the ability to forget what was screwed up. It is human nature to see the past with rose-colored glasses.
No matter. The past is golden, baby! However, the past and present are inextricably intertwined. When I'm riding my Harley Shovelhead Stroker down the highway, with the incomparable sound of Mabel's exhausts making that special crackling sound as I back off the throttle at 70 per......"RRRrrrrrrrr...BRAaaaaackaaaaa...".......I think of the past. I think of Mario, and of meeting Karen. I think of the Grateful Dead concert the night my father passed away. I think of Queens, and the wonderful years I spent eating White Castle burgers, and pepperoni pies from Pizza Sam in Jackson Heights. It's all good, man. This is special shout-out to Karen. Stay strong! Later.