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GOING THE DISTANCE
"THANKSGIVING MESSAGE 2014"
Photo by Genghis
ST. MARK'S PLACE 2014:
My Harley "Mabel."
The Thanksgiving message for this year, can be encapsulated in a thought that I often have with every accumulated year:
"I'm grateful that I'm still riding."
Translated into a message for hardcore bikers everywhere, this Thanksgiving Message is as follows:
Be thankful that you're riding.
This Thanksgiving Message is about the story of, "Me and My Motorcycle, Against the World." Every story has a beginning and an ending, and hopefully, the picture above of my Harley "Mabel," was taken somewhere in the middle of the story, for the ending of this story is a long, long away. The location of the photograph however, is the important point. I took this photo this summer, on St. Mark's Place, in the East Village---where the story began 45 years ago. Technically, the story began before that, in Jackson Heights in Queens, but the story didn't acquire true meaning until I made the East Village my new home. Before I was attenuated, now I can see. My identity took on a fullness in The City.
It can legitimately be stated, that I grew up on St. Mark's Place, and the surrounding East Village 'hood. I was just a kid before I moved to the East Village. My maturation process as a man and as A Biker, accelerated after I left the cocoon of Queens. My Person was hardened and formed in the cauldron of The City. My instincts came to a sharper and more meaningful point, after first hanging around the East Village, and then moving there. My principles as a biker, became clearer, made unambiguous by the process of living in my own space, and living by my own wits and initiative. What began in Jackson Heights---my germination as a biker---leaped forward by bounds, in the environs of The City. In the East Village, I learned what it truly meant, to be thankful for my bike, and for the privilege of riding my bike.
ST. MARK'S PLACE 1969: Where the story began.
The second picture was also taken on St. Mark's Place on Second Avenue, in 1969 shortly after my story began. There are a Million Stories in the Naked City, but this is the only one that counts in this Thanksgiving Message. I didn't really begin to feel Like a Biker unitl I started hanging around St. Mark's Place in The City. I started hangin' there in '68, the year I bought my Harley Sportster, "Sally The Bitch." In 1968, I was still living in Jackson Heights, Queens, where I was born and raised. While I was grateful for my Harley when I lived in Queens, I hadn't yet convincingly fulfilled my identity as A Biker, to fully appreciate how uncompromisingly important my Harley was to me. I hadn't yet reached the stage as a biker, where I could say to myself, "I will never be without a Harley, and I will ride forever."
In 1968, I started riding to The City to meet and hang with other bikers, predominantly St. Mark's Place and its streets. For those of you not familiar with St. Mark's Place and Second Avenue, for context, it was only a couple of blocks away from the famed Fillmore East. Until I mentally made the East Village "my home" before I physically moved there, in my mind, I was more of a "kid with a Harley" more than A Biker. I morphed into A Biker, after The City became My Home. Anybody can buy a Harley. Not many can and do take the step, of becoming A Biker. It is this commitment, that we should be thankful for, this Thanksgiving.
It was mingling in the Biker World of The City, that made me, finally, feel like A Biker, for I had those other bikers around me to justify and ultimately ratify those feelings. At that time of my life, I hungered for that interaction with other bikers. Ironically now, I'm more reclusive, more of a loner. Back then though, I instinctively knew that I needed the interaction. St. Mark's Place and the East Village, was the nexus for that interaction. My personality cried out for it. I believe that I'm more of a loner now, secure in the acknowledgement that I have My Harley and that riding her forever, Going the Distance with her, is all I need. I am The Compleat Biker now.
Something inside of me, knew that I needed this place and these people, for meaning. It was a subconscious prescience that brought me to it. I never had a conscious thought like, "Gee, I need this to be fulfilled." It was destiny, in the guise of unformed thoughts, barely acknowledged emotions beneath the surface. Almost suddenly, my identity as A Biker took form and substance, like a lonely cast mold, that rapidly filled with meaning. Yes! I was Them and They were Me! Finally, a "Me" with a capital "M!"
It was then, that I began to feel that my journey with my Harley began. It was Me and My Harley Against The World! FTW, man! In the beginning, it was My Harley, Sally The Bitch. Now and forever, it is and will be My Harley, Mabel, my ever-lovin' '71 Shovelhead Rosabilt Stroker. The other cast member has changed, but not the feeling:
I'm thankful for my Harley, and grateful that I'm riding.
In a larger sense, I'm thankful that I'm a biker, for it's only hardcore bikers that feel that True Gratitude for having their bikes. A motorcycle to a biker, is more than a possession. To bikers, their motorcycles possess them, and vice versa. It is a symbiotic relationship between a biker and his bike. Each of them needs the other, to have their existences validated. Each of them, gives meaning to the other, and gives meaning to the other's life. Make no mistake about it, our motorcycles are living, breathing (you can tell from their loud straight pipes' exhalation of breath), sentient beings.
Photo by Genghis
THE STORY CONTINUES:
Mabel in front of where the Electric Circus used to be, on St. Mark's Place.
The story continues, where it began. With a forceful 43 year old Harley-Davidson full of grace, in repose on St. Mark's Place in the Lower Beast Side of New York City. The moral of the story is, be grateful for what you have, for what you can do---ride. On this Thanksgiving 2014, be thankful for your motorcycle, for this is your story. It is the story of, You and Your Motorcycle Against the World. FTW, and FTF, man. Happy Thanksgiving, bros and sisses! Later.