Saturday, June 02, 2007

What am I rebelling against?.......... Whaddaya got?

I don't own a motorcycle. I never have, and probably never will. Why? Because I'm pretty sure I'd kill myself. If I didn't do something stupid on my own...I can always depend on a deer to jump out or of you. Motorists sometimes don't realize the size, weight and speed of a bike coming down the highway somehing ....not too bright. I've been on both sides of that equation and the guy on the bike always gets the worst of it.

I was a junior in high school when a car pulled out from a stop sign and side swiped a friend of mine. His foot went through the guy's headlight and and a whole lot of ouch ensued. The worst part was he was the keyboard player in my high school band and we had a gig that weekend. Try playing "Light My Fire" with no keys. It ain't happenin'! Well, he made it. Cast and all. And did pretty well with the sympathy thing.

I was around twenty three...twenty four......when local boy Bobby Lella lost control of his bike after going over a railroad track and went airborne head first into a tree. Gone. I didn't know him too well. He was a little older. But he hung out at the local pub and the older guys were becoming less the older guys and just...the guys. Being in the local band always expedited the breaking down of barriers. Still.... it just seemed .....unfair.

Somehow I learned to "ride." Another friend had a bike and we'd ride out to this old construction site near a local college. Lots of hills and dips and...surprises. I was trying to climb this stubborn hill one day, gunned it, froze and went flying off the ridge on the other side. Came to on the ground with no shoe, no helmet and the bike on top of me. And... get this.... no injuries. My shoe was mangled and the helmet was scraped up and my buddies were scared s.....less. But no real harm. It was as if a message had been sent...and received. I'd contine to ride anytime anyone was foolish enough to let me get on their bike.
My friend Tom....gone but not forgotten.....would let me tool around on his Harley Sportster when he came around. That thing had a ton of giddyap. My nephew'd always let me take out his Kawasaki anytime I dropped over. Ah... a ride through the hills of Hunterdon County. Peaceful.
Probably the most interesting motorcycle experience I ever had was on the back seat of an Electra Glide out to Denver, Colo. Bob (not the earlier Bob) and his friend were heading out to watch Evel Kneivel jump the Snake River Canyon in Utah. Remember that scam? Well, I had a girlfriend? Ex girlfriend? Soon to be? Denver, and a car with a frozen transmission, so I hopped aboard. It was October and it rained from Jersey to St Louis. I did a lot of the driving and it was a hoot. But I've never been so cold or wet in my life. And man, did the sun feel warm and did the Coors taste smooth when we finally crossed the Colorado border.( Those were the days when you could only get Coors west of the Mississippi.) The flight home seemed like pure luxury. Oh...uh.... it didn't work out with the girl. That band thing again.

I've played at a lot of motorcycle rallies...outlaw and otherwise. Always a hoot! And always full of surprises. As long as "Born To Be Wild" is on the's a party. I remember one rally I played in southern Jersey. We were a little late and as we were pulling in the guy watchin the gate proclaimed, "Hey, the band's here...we don't have to kill 'em." Thank you.

Remember the opening credits to "Easy Rider" when Fonda and Hopper are cruisin' down the highway and "Born to Follow" is playing and America's passing by and we were passing puberty and.......other things? Freedom. That's what the motorcycle is. Be it cross country or down to the corner grocery for a quart of milk. Freedom. Girls like guys on bikes. They won't always admit it. That danger factor. Girls like guys with guitars. I found that out when I was twelve.' bout a guitar strapped to a bike. Hmmmmm. I didn't say I'd NEVER own a bike. Whoa...what's that coming at me....look' mid life crisis!!!!!!! safe. In the words of James Dean, "The life you save could be mine."

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