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GOING THE DISTANCE
"STRONG SENSE OF HOME"
PHOTO BY GENGHIS
ST. MARKS PLACE WHERE THE ELECTRIC CIRCUS USED TO BE
I am a rooted person. This is the key to why I'm so attached to my Harley 74. I recently took the photo that you see above. It is on St. Marks Place directly in front of where the Electric Circus stood forty years ago. The Electric Circus was a small club in the Lower East Side of New York City where rock concerts were held in the late '60s.
It was at the Electric Circus that I first saw the Grateful Dead in person and witnessed Jerry Garcia's amazingly intricate and mesmerizing guitar solo in the Grateful Dead's song, "Alligator" 42 years ago. Those were the days before the Dead played in stadiums. In fact, I stood at the foot of the Electric Circus' stage as Garcia spun out those gorgeous riffs on his Gibson Les Paul. I can still see, hear and smell the atmosphere of that concert. I've retained a faithful memory of Garcia's "Alligator" solo. I can still hear the golden tones of his Les Paul.
Nostalgia is the heartbeat of a rooted person, and the sense of home that one feels about one's home neighborhood and city is the spine of the loyalty that one feels toward one's environs. This also extends as you will see, to one's motorcycle.
The fact that I'm a rooted person, is in part, why I'm such a nostalgic person. The reason that I'm such a rooted person is because I have such a finely developed sense of home. As an extremely rooted person, I have an attachment to the Lower East Side as "home." By extension, I have a great emotional attachment to streets like St. Marks Place where the Electric Circus once stood. It is this incredible sense of home that causes me to feel rooted to New York. Others from around the country often ask me why I live and ride in New York City, because NYC seems like such a hostile environment to live in, let alone ride motorcycles in.
Now you know why. Because this is my home, man. Just like my bike Mabel is "home" too. Non-bikers ask me why I continue to ride Mabel. The answer is really the same as to why I live where I live.
Because my Harley is "home", too. Home is where the heart is . My heart's in NYC and on my Harley.
Yesterday I drove my '72 Vette "Mary" out to Jackson Heights in Queens, New York where I grew up. Up until as recently as a couple of years ago, I felt rooted to Jackson Heights, and had always experienced a strong sense of nostalgia whenever I visited the old neighborhood. It still felt like "home" even though I haven't lived there since 1969. Yesterday as I blasted around those familiar Queens streets in Mary, I was amazed to observe that my sense of home that filled me whenever I was there was strangely absent yesterday. That sense of "home" in Jackson Heights had finally faded from my emotional banks. Data has been lost and it took four decades, for the deletion process to take place.
Frankly, I was astonished. Now, realize that I haven't lived in Queens for 41 years. I have now lived in Manhattan for far longer than I ever lived in Queens, yet my sense of home that made me feel rooted to Queens lasted four decades. My sense of loyalty to Queens lasted more than forty years.
On my return to Manhattan with Mary, this tremendous feeling of "home" flooded into me, as I came off the Willamsburg Bridge onto Delancey Street. Man, I was "home" again! You may ask yourself what this sense of home has to do with motorcycles. Hang in there, Loyal Reader---you'll get your answer.
Patience is a virtue and by God, bikers are virtuous to a fault!
My dominating sense of home makes me extremely attached to my city, my borough, my neighborhood, my block and my apartment. That's why I've lived in this apartment in the Lower East Side for the past 37 years. This pad's my home, man! But wait a minute. This feeling of home also permeates my being whenever I straddle my stroker shovelhead Mabel, too. I also feel this overwhelming sense of "home" whenever I'm in my Vette Mary and in our Ford F-150 pick-up "Amy." My sense of home extends itself to my vehicles.
They represent psychological comfort to me, just like my home does, just like my city does. This is my house! NYC's my house, and my Harley is a comfort zone extension of home. That is why I'm attached to Mabel, and why I wouldn't want any other bike but her. It's why I'm attached to my 38 year old Chevy Vette and why I wouldn't want any other car but her. And our F-150? Man, she's the best pick-up in the world, bar none! I wouldn't want any other.
This is directly linked to the unbreakable loyalty that I feel to my vehicles, and why they live. They are living enitities with souls because they are an extension of "home" as my mind perceives the concecpt. Home is where the heart is, and my heart resides in my house, my Harley, my Chevy, our Ford and our city. It just feels right when I hop on my Harley, or into the cocoon of my Vette's cockpit, or when I'm ensonced in Amy's familar cab. That's the homefield advantage. Life is good, life is worth living and my Harley lives. You live life to the fullest when you know that your Harley lives.
Other people can represent "home" too. My wife Patty had to go out of town recently for five days, because her mother became ill. I'll tell ya what, home didn't feel like "home" when she was gone. Life and home aren't the same when my lover, best friend and side-kick isn't with me. Those five days apart felt like a month to me, I missed her so much. I was in a perpetually pissed off mood when Patty was gone. A co-worker said to me..."You look lost without her...."
I believe that there is a direct correlation between the way certain people are rooted to their homes, home towns and home cities, and the way that they relate to their motorcycles. I've noticed that bikers that aren't particularly rooted geographically are likewise not especially attached to their motorcycles. People that have a strong sense of home regarding where they live, will inevitably exhibit a strong sense of loyalty to their bikes and will show a strong emotional attachment to said bikes.
People that feel less rooted geographically will feel less attachments to their bikes, and will feel a weaker sense of loyalty to their motorcycles, leading to frequent changes of bikes througout the years. These people with a weaker sense of attachment to their motorcycles are also less likely to see their bikes as alive. Motorcycles are perceived as more disposable and less valuable in a real life sense. For those who are less emotional about their bikes, a sense of home is not achieved on their motorcycles. Home is where the heart is. Later.