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GOING THE DISTANCE
"THE MIND OF THE BIKE RIDER"
PHOTO BY GENGHIS
John from Florida (#714 at the Seedy) mailed me a magazine called "Garage." This is a good magazine. Garage is a magazine centered around cars and bikes, and is edited by Jesse James. It's a highly polished looking publication, almost high end in its paper quality and presentation. I've gotta say that I was surprised to find myself enjoying reading it. Issue number 18 had some interesting content. One interesting piece was about a now down and out artist and cartoonist who specialized in punk culture and cars. This artist's name is Shawn Kerri. This interesting article was written by Paul Grushkin. Shawn Kerri was a young and extremely talented illustrator who wrote and drew for CARtoons magazine, a hotrod publication. Grushkin really hooks the reader in his first paragraph. See if you agree.....
"Somewhere in the streets of Pacific Beach, just north of Madison bay in San Diego, said to be wandering homeless, nameless, and kept alive by the kindness of strangers, is Punk's greatest illustrator and one of automotive culture's most promising cartoonists. Even a close friend might not recognize Shawn Kerri in her present state."
Does that not compel you to try to find this magazine to finish reading this article? Guaranteed that it does, man. Also of interest---and great personal interest to me, was an article about an old acquaintance of mine, Spade George. It was intriguing to read George's recall of events in the biker subculture of New York's East Village of the 1960s. This was of great interest to me, since this was the scene that I shared with George. On the opening pages of this article, was a picture of the last place where I laid eyes on George. This was in 1971, at his old house in Daly City. You've all read my rememberances of this last encounter with George in California. Coincidentally, I was living in Pacific Beach in San Diego at that time, the same place where Shawn Kerri now purportedly wanders the streets homeless and destitute. My ex-wife Nancie and I lived in a house that we called "The Alligator" because it had these green, corrugated shingles on its roof that made it look crocodilian.
Garage is a good magazine, a magazine that I would buy on a regular basis if I can find it here in NYC. Forget subscriptions, man. I doan do subscriptions. Garage is much more fulfilling than reading the usual crap found in the mainstream chopper rags. It gets real old and tedious to read the same tired bromides and rote platitudes about "hardcore choppers" over, and over again, which is mindmush meant to satisfy the sensibilities of readers with IQs lower than their boot sizes. I suspect that's what attracted so many intelligent bikers to favor Snow's Iron Horse. IH had heady and creative content, an active ingredient missing from the mainstream chopper media. Bikers need more than a collection of pictures of bikes, punctuated by inadequate pap that poses as prose. Every time I buy one of these mainstream chopper rags and read it, I immediately suffer buyer's remorse. The aftertaste of, "Why did I waste six bucks on that?" wafts through my mind like the stench of rotten meat after wading through one of these rags. Bikers need more than that. Reading serves a useful function for bike riders. Besides the obvious purpose of edification, reading quiets the mind, and disciplines the mind. This from Daniel Belcher, a knowledgeable source on the benefits of reading:
"One of the other main benefits of reading is that it exercises your mind. Your mind begins to bend and flex mentally, It stays lose and limber so to you can flow easier through the course of the day. The regular routine ensures that the reading muscle stays in good shape as well as the mind. Just like physical exercise, there has to be a determination to make reading part of your life. If you understand the many benefits of reading, you will have no trouble adopting a regular habit of reading....Reading has other benefits to the regular reader which is the ability to focus. When the mind is trained and channeled, it begins to pay attention more thoroughly. For example, when you are faced with some of life's difficult and challenging assignments, you will have the ability to stay calm and objectively look at the problem, circumstances or required task. If you continue to read, you continue to stay focused; bottom line.....There is perhaps no greater avenue to learning then through reading. All people, great and small, have learned more things by reading then practically anywhere other way. When we continue to read, we have the ability to expand our minds tremendously. We review the pages of knowledge left by those who came before us. We than begin to add to the knowledge as the cycle of humanity continue. The regular routine reading has positively chanced the course many peoples' lives."
Of course, reading something interesting is the key to reaping the benefits of reading. A good writer is like a lead rider in a pack, spearheading a magical mystery tour on the highways of your mind. The lead rider dicates the speed and rythym of the ride. He directs you past distracting exit ramps which lead nowhere of significance, which is what the usual lousy writing in mainstream chop rags do.
Reading the hack writing you find in the mainstream chopper magazines is like being stuck on a Greyhound bus until the ride ends, with your ass sore from a lack of circulation. At your destination at the end of that unfulfilling bus ride, you get off with your legs and mind cramped up, instead of feeling refreshed and stimulated, as you would after reading writing that holds your interest. The last straw is regretting spending the six dollars for the Bus Ride To Nowhere.
Hey man, dig it. We often describe riding our Harleys as exercising 'em. Is exercising our minds by reading any different than winding out our Harleys in fourth gear on an empty road, with the pipes harmoniously performing the bike's song of freedom and individuality? When we start reading an article, we begin at that first sentence by pulling in the clutch and kicking the tranny into first gear. By the end of the beginning paragraph, we've let out the clutch and are casually approaching the shift-point for transitioning into second gear. Man, by the time you reach the end of the article, your mind's motor is silently screaming....."RRRRRRRoarrrraaaaaarrrrrrrraaa...BRRRRRAACKKKKKKKKKAAAAAaaaaa.....".....as you back off your head's revs at 80 miles per hour. Your mind's eyes are stinging from the wind and your cerebral cortex is generating hormones of pleasure, as your heightened senses of acknowledgement are stimulated. That's what reading something worth reading will do for ya, man. It turns your boring mind into a screaming Harley Stroker. By the same token, reading has a quieting effect on the soul of the bike rider. Reading occupies one's mind in such a way as to diminish anxiety, and promote serenity. Peace be upon you, baby!
After you finish reading a good piece---hopefully like the one your hungry orbs are gliding over right now---your mindset is analogous to sitting by your still-hot bike after a satisfying ride. You stand there in the relative silence of the moment, just lookin' at your Harley 74 and listening to the tics of her motor cooling off. She is like a thoroughbred horse after a good run, and you ruminate about her as she comes down from her run. You can almost detect the sweet smell of Rachel Alexandra's sweat, after her victory at Pimlico. Harley riders do spend qualtiy time just looking at and listening to their bikes as they cool down, steam rising from their cylinders' fins.
This is what it's like for a biker's mind after reading sumpin' interesting. There is a satisfaction to be experienced after reading writing that is roadworthy, that is unattainable by other means. Later.