I’m a motorcycle guy. Nope, don’t own one right now. Haven’t in decades. Minnesota drivers scare the snot out of me. With the advent of cell phones and texting, I’m even less likely to buy a bike.
But once upon a time, I didn’t even own a car. Nothing but a bike for five years. Yes, it was a “rice-burner” – a Yamaha 850 Venture. But it was a rocket with huge capacity for miles and cargo. Rode that thing all over the United States and Spain. Sadly it did not come back with me for a variety of reasons. One of which was the local criminals trying to steal it while I was out at sea. The poor thing got pretty beat up and trashed from the constant negative attention.
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During that era, Harley-Davidson products didn’t have the greatest reputation. I won’t bore you with my personal prejudices from that era, nor will I recount my reasons for buying a Japanese bike. But I still loved to ride, and have ridden the odd Harley-Davidson in a television commercial. Nice bike to say the least.
Wow. If you like bikes, or even remotely wonder about bike culture, go watch this thing as they air it on line or repeat it on cable. Absolutely fantastic six hour commercial for all that is motorcycling. I mean that in a positive sense: I want a new bike now. (Don’t worry, Ma: your boy is sticking with four wheels. Until spring anyway…)
Covering the company’s history from inception to the late 1930’s, it is a glorious window into the soul of a company. I can’t honestly say what part is mythology and what part is history, but it doesn’t matter: the show is great. Vintage motorcycles abound. Great acting and makeup. Pretty girls. Beer. Racing. Name it and it’s probably in the show.
I especially liked the fact that they just tapped on the cultural foundations of modern motorcycling without beating the drum and flashing lights. If you know anything about riding, and what Harley-Davidson is famous for (culture, taking care of it’s customers, being a big club) you will delight in the way they go about exposing the origins.
There is some violence, some drinking, some – well, don’t watch it if you’re a nervous Nancy. But not many Nervous Nancy types have ever roared down the freeway at over 100 mph on a motorcycle while wearing a leather jacket, smoking a cigarette, and grinning like an idiot. I have. (Kids, don’t attempt that stunt at home. Or, ever. It was dumb and I’m glad I didn’t wreck.) It (the show) made me long for that part of my youth.
Now, as if coronary disease wasn’t enough incentive (no, I don’t have it), I’ve got a reason to lose some weight: fit back into that amazing jacket I wore for years. It’s free of road rash, so I suspect it’ll do just fine if I can get the zipper closed again.
And, if I can get the jacket to fit, maybe just rent a Harley-Davidson for a trip to Green Bay…
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