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GOING THE DISTANCE
"THE WRITER'S CHAIR"
You all know about my passions in life: My Harley of course. Then there's my '72 Chevy Stingray. The third of the trifecta, is street photography. Yet the neglected one, the one passion that should be as obvious to you readers as the electronically produced words you're lookin' at as we speak (well, we're not actually speaking, but that's just a saying, know what I'm saying?), is writing. How do you think what you're reading gets on yer computer screens? Osmosis? Nope. Someone has to actually sit down at a keyboard to string letters together, to form words. Words become comprehensible sentences. The void is filled with needs fulfilled. Needs foster frustration. Frustration leads to action. That action, becomes writing, and writing sometimes soothes. Soothing the savage mind for me, is the ultimate goal, to bring the noise in my head to some semblance of quiescence. A quiet mind is a happy mind. Follow the program, I reach my goal posts---that's the ticket. Touchdown! But before sitting down at the keyboard, I reach a concensus elsewhere, on what to write in an article, sort of like a football coaching staff game planning before the game. The Xs and Os must be previsualized by the brains of the team, prior the implementation of the game plan by the team's muscle.
Interestingly, most of my clearest thinking regarding writing takes place while I'm in the saddle of my Harley 74, "Mabel."The saddle of my bike becomes my writer's chair.
Of course, the process of tranference of previsualized thought to
computer screen occurs at the keyboard, but the inspiration for ideas about what to write about, happens with the scream of Mabel's straight pipes filling my ears as we pile on down the highway at 80 miles-a-freakin-hour....."ROOOOOoooooaaarrrrrrr.....BRRRRRACKKKKAAAA....."....slow down for the curve, lean left, hard on the gas as we accelerate out of the turn.....".RRRROOOOAAAAARRRRRRR...." There's nothing like some extraneous Harley noise and eyeball-shaking vibrations, to stimulate clear thinking in a writer. The Beach Boys described a motorcycle seat as a thinking chair, best:
"I'm picking up good vibrations...
She's giving me excitations..."
Most writers have their own little rituals to come up with ideas for subject matter. Some drink (perhaps my friend Jim Knipfel uses this time-honored methodology). Others go on retreats into the mountains. Others still, may gaze their navels, or contemplate philosophy to get into the mood for coming up with writing ideas. Who knows? There are as many methods to this madness, as there are nuts in the world who think of 'emselves as writers.
Me, I ride.
Nothing clears my head more and starts me-a-thinkin' about what to write, than a righteous romp on my 39 year old Harley-Davidson. The reason is simple. Each and every ride is a mind-blowing experience, no matter how routine it may seem because everything we do is second nature. It never gets old, man. Exhiliration, thy name is Motorcycle. Enthusiasm (or as the Beach Boys term it, "excitations") and ideas go hand in glove, where writing is concerned.
That's why riding is my modality of choice for coming up with ideas for articles.
So, there I was on my "74" bouncing up and down from the potholed surface of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway as we headed east to Long Island. This being just after the breaking of dawn, there wasn't much traffic on the "BQE" slowing us down. Here's what I was thinking as I nestled into my "writer's chair" on my Harley: Man, wotta contrast! What a contrast this pockmaraked road, as pockmarked as Noriega's face, made when compared with the butter-smooth roads I was on in Florida a week ago, when Patty and I went down there for my mother-in-law's funeral. I don't think we encountered even one pothole in Florida during our time there. Riding a Duo Glide type bike in NYC, is like riding a rigid anywhere else. Rear suspension is not a luxury in NYC, but a necessity---a function of the conditions presented.
There is so much traffic in New York, that the constant pounding of the roads naturally leapfrogs the city's repair efforts, rendering those efforts null and void. It's all NYC can do to try to keep up with the destructive forces that millions of vehicles impose on road surfaces. Constant pounding. That's what New York bikers and their bikes are subjected to. Hey man, ya gotta be tough to be a biker in NYC. We're a tough breed, especially in Manhattan where the heaviest vehicle traffic roam. We love our city, and take pride in being NYC bikers. For a biker who writes, having one's vertebrae slammed, rattled and rolled, and losing fillings from one's teeth from jarring hits incurred on the tough streets, provides terrific stimulation to that writer's imagination. It's a simple law of physics. Bike hits bumps. Pain ensues. The brain's pain center is activated, stimulating the writer's imagination center adjacent to it. It's called thought process as collateral damage.
Picture this: You're hustling your motorcycle down the FDR Drive at 60, as you fight to maintain control of the handlebars as the seemingly willful road surface is trying to wrest the grips from your hands, and you hit a bump on the highway that lifts your entire bike off the ground. Then the bike comes crashing down on the ground (Sir Isaac Newton never rode a Harley in New York, as far as I know) so hard that the rear shocks and front end bottom out. Now, that's thought stimulation! That's what makes my motorcycle seat, the ultimate writer's chair.