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GOING THE DISTANCE
"LIVING IN THE PAST"
Photo by Genghis
Country Joe & The Fish, Tompkins Square Park 1969
"I think the whole Seedy thing is kind of odd....a lot of living in the past here...."
This was Hacksaw's comment at the Seedy X-Bar & Grill. The Seedy is a true reflection of its host----me. Like my life, the Seedy is sparsely inhabited, with just a few select regulars who call themselves "Goons" who drop by once in a while. All of the Goons that come by once in a while tend to live in the past too. Like me, they ride old Harleys, being content with their old hogs---never gettin' the itch to constantly trade in for new rides every few years. To the Goons, their old Harley-Davidsons represent something permanent and righteous in their existences. The term "going the distance" has real meaning to 'em. Hey man, their bikes are like their old ladies, irreplaceable soulmates---but in iron instead of flesh and blood. The blood of their Harleymates is sixty weight, and the flesh and bones of their bikewives is the metal that surrounds the bikes' hearts that consist of their motors.
Lemme tell ya about the flesh and bones that give my girl Mabel her mobility and life. Her skeleton is a venerable four speed swingarm frame that has seen street duty in its many iterations beginning in 1958, since it was intro'ed with a panhead heart. It has given movement and speed to three generations of classic motors---the panhead, shovelhead and blockhead powerplants. The mills may have changed during three decades of service, but the classically low-slung conformation of the four speed frame has remained a highway icon to this day, more than twenty years after its discontinuation by The Firm. No matter that the last of the classic four speeds rolled off the assembly line in the '80s. Well maintained four speed framed Harleys ride proud and loud in 2009, if the fortunate owners have lavished the deserved love and attention on their bikes. For my part, I can tell you this: My 1971 Harley-Davidson is not only as good as new, it is actually better than new. This comes from a dedication to my Harley that goes unmatched in passion by other avocations in this world.
That's what the Goons have in common. A respect for their bikes like no other. In this day of transient ownership fostered by the bike-building craze that witnesses younger bikers who seem to change bikes every year due to boredom, our righteous old Harleys are the anchors and mainstays in our lives. They nourish us and sustain us. They give us new life and old memories. They replenish our souls. They are deep, man!
Yet, I can't say that callow youth in the biker subculture is responsible for this non-attentiveness and dedication to one bike. Just ask yourself this. How many bikers have you known through the years that you've been riding your Harley, who have strayed from their Harleys that they once professed to have loved and cherished? How many today, are not even riding anymore? How many who have continued to ride, but have moved on to Harley clones or Limeys? One thing will never change for me. The only brand of bike that I considered, and continue to consider the true backbone of biker culture, is the Harley-Davidson. Harley is The One. Old principles rule, man.
It actually ticks me off when I think of guys that I know who have abandoned the Harley World. Once Upon A TIme In A Galaxy Far, Far Way---these dudes said all the right things about diggin' their Harleys to the end only to end up without a Harley-Davidson. Rap is cheap, acts are irrefutable. Harley Righteousness is a tribal thing, man. I may be a loner and I may not want to see other bikers, but more sociable bikers who Stand By Their Harleys can be sure of thing about me---I'll will always have a Harley. That was true twenty years ago, and it will be true twenty years from now. In this modern day of disposable "lifestyles", we guys that stick with our Harleys belong to the same close tribe, even if ya never see me. There's nothing wrong with living in the past, and living with the past. In my case, my past is a 38 year old Harley-Davidson. She is my past, my present and my future. Later.