Riding Easy, Riding Forever.

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I never wanted to be anybody else.”
Wyatt, Easy Rider

Peter Henry Fonda  •  February 23, 1940 – August 16, 2019

You know who he is.

That’s right, Jane Fonda’s little brother.  The one who changed a chunk of our culture with the film, Easy Rider.  There are going to be a lot of articles about him now that he’s ridden off into the future; maybe Dennis Hopper, too.  I’m doing this one out of simple gratitude, for shaping my long relationship with choppers, and perhaps much more.

I made the long flight back from Vietnam to the CONUS in December of 1969. Poignantly, I moved to “Normal,” Illinois, and got into school on the G.I. bill.  That spring I bought a royal blue 500 cc Triumph twin, and started chopping it immediately.  I, along with thousands and thousands of others, had been introduced to choppers by Easy Rider, a bit of cinema that has influenced the culture in ways both good and bad, for the past fifty years.  And for that, I thank him.  He’ll be resting in peace for a bit, but eventually he’ll be riding easy again, in a brand new world.

Easy Rider 500 cc Triumph Twin

Triumphs used to be called “Trumpers,” but it was slang, not a slur. How things change.  It made a sweet sound, but you’d literally get your ass blown all over the road. Notice the aluminum bar struts; seriously; you had to really hold on.

Back in this world tho, it’s a time to take a look back at where we’ve been.  Easy Rider has had more of an influence over my artistic style than I may understand, and with Fonda’s passing, it’s an opportunity to take another look at just what that is.

I can easily trace the origins of my desire to mess with bikes to my desire to mess with cars; I was an early adapter to drag strip culture and tho my early trial and error days were mostly bolt-on projects, with the help of a couple friends I swapped out the six banger in my first car with a full race v-8.

Easy Rider 500 cc Triump Twin

See? It looks Normal, don’t it?

1966 XLCH Sportster

Rear fender already chopped off; new leather seat, risers with pullback bars, no mirror yet; front brake unhooked. Otherwise a stock 1966 XLCH. Photo by TPK circa 1971

Bikes are a different animal. Handlebars were the first thing I changed on my bike.  “Z” bars were new in the early seventies, at least in Normal.  The aluminum bar struts that replaced the shocks were intended to lower the bike and look tough, but they damn near broke my butt and maybe my lower spine.  I hand-painted the stars with a brush, because well, blue tank.  And my rep; I was an art major. And off to school we go.

I might have looked this way in 1972 even if Easy Rider had never been a thing. Who knows. Yes, I needed those glasses; I rode in my father’s WWII flight jacket. I swear, that was the last pocket tee I ever owned.

The following spring, someone made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  I sold the bike, and a green ’63 Volkswagen beetle with Big Daddy Roth slicks and Cragar mags on the back, to a guy who said he had to have them both.  I grinned and took his cash, but by the end of the week I had forked it all over for a low-mileage ’66 XLCH.

That was 1971.  And that was a crazy summer.  “You know I smoked a lotta grass. Oh Lord!  I popped a lot of pills. But I never touched nothin’ that my spirit could kill.”  (Got to know several women who liked to ride on choppers as much as I did, too.)  Hell, you could pay the rent, buy food, drugs and beer, and still afford to build a chopper and date a girl— all on a decent factory summer job paycheck. Huzzaaa.

“You know, this used to be a hell of a good country.”
—George Hansen, Easy Rider

Meanwhile, towards the end of that June, Senator Mike Mansfield‘s amendment was adopted by Congress. It urged withdrawing American troops from South Vietnam at “the earliest practical date.”  It was the first time in U.S. history that Congress had actually called for the end of a fucking war.

The 8″ over fork tubes came next, with a new spooly spoke wheel; cause, we doan’ need no stinkin’ front brake; we lookin’ cool and we be indestructible.  That winter, I painted the tank and fender in the basement, with a cheap badger airbrush running off a CO2 bottle.

I really wasn’t into God then.  I hadn’t even learned how many of my high school buddies had been killed in Vietnam yet.  But I greatly respected and admired Michelangelo’s work, especially his face of God from the Sistine Chapel.  I drew the panels on either side of the tank with pencil, one in black and white, the other in psychedelic purples.

It turned out that a guy that would one day become the best man at my wedding became a roommate about then, and he rode a sweet little XLH with an emerald green paint job.  There’s nothing but corn and soybeans for miles in every direction around Normal, but we rode the shit outa that restless tar. . .

Easy Rider God Tank Right

So the bike reminiscence is for some historic perspective on my personal two-wheeler journey.  But. It’s really never been about choppers, Easy Rider, or even Peter Fonda.  It’s about the journey— and making the journey last— forever.

It took me decades to learn that all that matters is the experience of living this life, and that relationships with people are ends in themselves.  The rest is mostly just scaffolding.  If you aren’t continuing the eternal journey, you got nothin’.  It’s a choice we all get to make.

Sure, I love riding a chopper on a fresh morning with perfect air, warm sunshine; watching the headlight bounce down the night highway with a thousand points of light overhead. Even the periodic bug in the face. And my curiosity is always on fire for whatever the next iteration of all that is, farther down eternity road.  I’m all in.

In October, 1971, Australia and New Zealand decided to withdraw their troops from Vietnam. And by the end of October, the total number of American troops still in Vietnam dropped to a record low of 196,700.  By December of the following year, my whole world would change forever; but that’s a blog about as long as book, a book that. . . well.

Easy Rider God Tank left

The face of God from the Sistine Chapel.

So.  Peter Fonda launched a cultural shift that has made it into the 21st century, although it is hardly recognizable.  You can still watch Easy Rider as way to at least partially reboot your brain, as I did before I started this blog.  But it didn’t really work the way I thought it would, as so many things stuck out as weird or time-worn;  except he seemed to get religion during his acid trip.. . but you really can’t go back.  Time marches on, bla bla bla. But there’s really something to that; we keep moving forward, ever forward, some kickin’ and screamin’, some resigned to it;  some just taken off the planet without so much as a second’s warning.

This time we’re in now, now. . .  now— so often lacks that spark of spirit, that knowing deep inside where you have to find the courage to look before you can see— a recognition that life goes on forever, if you want it, really want it;  no half-assing it.  And Peter Fonda’s passing into the great beyond, the next world of reawakening, is a perfect time to wake to your trip— following eternity road.  Saddle up.

Easy Rider Reflectivity

My chopper evolution landed here:  Reflectivity    2003 — current.  This will do me until I can get my hands on the throttle of whatever replaces it in the next world.

 

The President’s Cup Runneth Over

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Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria

Jose Garcia Vicente points to the pile of rubble, compliments of Hurricane Maria, that used to be his home. Notice too, located in what used to be his kitchen, is The President’s Cup, which is annually awarded to the winners of a fucking golf tournament;  this year the trophy did double duty, also being dedicated to “all the people of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico” who “have been affected” by recent hurricanes. Well played, sir;  well fucking played.¹

 

AIBONITO, PUERTO RICO —  President and fulltime game show host, Donald J. TRump, was spotted while not tweeting on Sunday as he prepared to award some losers winners in striped shirts, The President’s Cup trophy— a nasty looking gold-plated spitoon-like thing, nearly big enough to fit on TRump’s head.
Here’s a little bit of his salad, my emphasis:

“On behalf of all of the people of Texas, of all of the people of — if you look today, if you see what’s happening, how horrible it is, but we have it under really great control, Puerto Rico, and the people of Florida, who are really suffering, over this last short period of time, with hurricanes.  I want to just remember them, and we are going to dedicate this trophy, to all of those people, that went through so much.  That I can tell you.

“And, I tell you what!  I’ve been watching this, from the beginning, and I have to say, our Team USA, wow, did you play,  well.”

 

Just then, a skinny white man near the back of the crowd, dressed all in black with a scrawny ponytail, began vociferously yelling at the president.

 

Golf courses!  Just what we need!  plenty of good land in nice neighborhoods, land that is currently being wasted on a meaningless, mindless activity, engaged in primarily by white well-to-do male businessmen, who use the game to get together to make deals to carve this country up into finer chunks among themselves.  I am getting tired… realllly gettinnng tired of these golfing cocksuckers in their green pants, and their yellow pants, and their orange pants, and their precious little hats, and their cute little golf carts, to cart their fat asses around!
“It’s time to reclaim the golf courses from the wealthy and turn them over to the homeless!  Golf is an arrogant, elitist game and it takes up entirely too much room in this country.
WHAT DO THESE PIN-HEADED PRICKS NEED WITH ALL THAT LAND?!!!  There are over 17,000 golf courses in America, they average over 150 acres apiece, that’s 3 million plus acres, 4,820 square miles—  you could build two Rhode Island’s and a Delaware for the homeless on the land currently being wasted on this meaningless, mindless, arrogant, elitist, racist — there’s another thing:  the only blacks you’ll find in country clubs are carrying trays — and it’s a borrring game… boring game for borrring people.
You ever watch golf on television while you’re fucking twittering, Mr. President!?   It’s like watching flies fuck!   It’s such a mindless game, mmmmmmindless!   Think of how much intellect it must take to draw pleasure from this… activity:  Hitting a tiny fucking ball with a crooked little stick… and then… walking after it… and then… HITTING IT AGAIN!!!   I SAY, PICK IT UP, ASSHOLE!!!   YOU’RE LUCKY YOU FOUND THE FUCKING THING!!!   PUT IT IN YOUR POCKET AND GO-THE-FUCK HOME!!!   YOU FOUND IT!!!  YOU’RE A WINNER!!!  YOU’RE A WINNER!!!
Aren’t you tired of  “WINNING” YET?!? 
I say let these rich cocksuckers play miniature golf!  Let ‘em fuck with a windmill for an hour or so…  see if there’s really any skill among these people.   Now, I know some of ‘you people‘— people who play golf, but don’t consider themselves rich…   FUCK ‘EM!!!   And SHAME on them for engaging in this arrogant, elitist, meaningless, mindless, and racist pastime!”

 

Many of you will recognize that is mostly the ebullient golf screed of the late, great George Carlin.  We caught up with the fellow that delivered it, who actually looks a lot like Carlin— turns out to be Stephen A. Heckler, an amateur Carlin impersonator.
“Yeah, I know, I know” he explains.  “My dad, Dick— thought it would be just hysterical if I had to say to everyone I meet,
‘Hi, I’m Steve, A Heckler.’  But my high school principal did not think it was funny, “that I can tell you.”

That I can tell you—  That’s a, you know, a TRump euphemism for ‘I just lied.'”

The President's Cup

Stephen “Steve” A. Heckler at The President’s Cup ceremony.



Well, I can tell you, that A. Heckler was carefully but politely escorted by the Secret Service out of the golf club, where they chatted with him amiably a few moments, shook his hand, and sent him on his way.  LOLz

 

GolfWeek, who was also covering the event, had some interesting comments from their uh, let’s call it a, “pro-golf” perspective:

“Unlike several NFL players before games on Sunday, none of the United States President’s Cup players took a knee during the closing ceremony.  That was no surprise because, on Tuesday, Stricker* said, ‘We’ve had a discussion already, and none of my players want to do that.’  There was also no sign of any anti-Trump sentiment among the fans.”

 

Teh President's Cup

USA! USA! Just a few of what the president of the United States candidly refers to as “Everyday Americans.”  No one we spoke with would speak with us, let alone about this frivolity that took place with the cup TRump dedicated to “…all the people of Texas, Florida, and, what’s that third one? —What?  Right— Porta Ricah [sic]”

 

* Some golfer named “Stricker.”

¹ Original AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

 

 

 

HOUSE OF TURDS

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HOUSE of TURDS

“You are going to be so tired of winning.”
—Donald Trump

 

TEEVEE LAND, WASHINGTON D.C. —  Murderous rat and fictional television President, Francis Underwood, exists in a world of make-believe, fake news, and lies.  Or does he.  “Power is a lot like real estate,” says Frank.  “It’s all about location, location, location;  the closer you are to the source, the higher your property value.”  More on powerful real estate in a bit.

In the Netflix Original Series HOUSE of CARDS, Frank and Claire Underwood and Team Underwood wield power in sixty-five carefully crafted episodes spanning five seasons, and they do it with the kind of ruthless teevee amorality TRUMP’merikan© zombies have come to expect from their mostly elected leaders.  But if you binged-watched season five, then you’re all done with their political intrigues for another year.

Yeah;  fuck that,  in the twenty-first century after Christ, entertainment is a daily must-have experience.  

So real Americans binge watch the nation’s hottest new series, HOUSE OF TURDS, airing 24/7 on at least three news networks— and there have already been more than 135 unforgettable episodes!  What’s more, there are exciting new episodes every freakin’ day of the week, with bombshell after bombshell events.  Now that’s some real reality television for yooz TRUMP’merikans© who wanted to “shake things up.”

 

You’ll remember last year — yeah, just last year — there was a lot of media rubber-lipping about Trump starting a propaganda news channel after he lost the election. . . (assuming he’s not locked up). . .  Weh – heh – hell.  It sure as shit seems like he has co-opted some endless coverage on all three news channels, and, he’s making someone else pay. NO, not Mexico, dumbass.  All of US.

 

“The road to power is paved with hypocrisy, and casualties.”
—Francis Underwood

 

But back to Frank’s real estate metaphor.  Some people say President Trump knows something about real estate, too, even international real estate.  And thanks to an increasingly clear confluence of events and forces beyond our meager teevee land knowing, he has laid claim to the most sought after real estate in our entire nation, the White House.

 

“Democracy is highly overrated.”
Frank Underwood  —Donald Trump

“I think I can’t do much better, right?”
—Donald Trump

 

The question so many Americans have about that particular acquisition is, just how did he actually swing that deal?

Well.  If you want the answer to that question and a hundred more, you are going to have to keep both eyes on HOUSE of TURDS.  And watch your back while you’re at it.

 

GROPING THE APOCALYPSE

Herr TwitlerHERR TWITLER:  NO MERCY

White people bought this bullshit,
but we all get to pay for it.

 

The greatest book of all time,* the  “Art Of The Deal,” has no advice to help us with the rapidly mutating calamity of the choosing of a mentally ill narcissist to play president.  President-elect Trump has already resumed his mini-rants on Twittit™, even as the dolts who obstructed the Obama presidency for two entire terms are squealing at Trump protesters to “get over it.”  They don’t yet realize or care that the national psyche has only begun to feel the consequences of a concussion that could prove fatal to our democracy.

EUGENE ROBINSON

The people chose Hillary Clinton. But it’s the electoral vote that counts, not the popular vote, so Donald Trump will be president. And no, I’m not over it.

No one should be over it. No one should pretend that Trump will be a normal president. No one should forget the bigotry and racism of his campaign, the naked appeals to white grievance, the stigmatizing of Mexicans and Muslims. No one should forget the jaw-dropping ignorance he showed about government policy both foreign and domestic. No one should forget the vile misogyny. No one should forget the mendacity, the vulgarity, the ugliness, the insanity. None of this should ever be normalized in our politics.

The big protests that have followed Trump’s election should be no surprise. You can’t spend all those months trashing our nation’s values and then expect everyone to join you in a group hug. Trump made the bed in which he now must lie.

If a normal Republican had been elected, I could say the polite and socially acceptable thing, something like “I didn’t support So-and-So, but he will be my president, too, and I wish him success.” But I cannot wish Trump success in rounding up and deporting millions of people or banning Muslims from entering the country or reinstituting torture as an instrument of U.S. policy. In these and other divisive, cruel, unwise initiatives, I wish him failure.
(my emphasis)

But not to worry, mon.  Erry ting goann be awwiet.  Perhaps.  In a few dozen decades.

Meanwhile.  The citizens (not the corporations) of most of the great powers are taxed, regulated, and controlled almost oppressively.  Economic injustice is out of control.  And the curtailment of individual liberties promises to continue around the world.  Many Americans, and indeed, many of the world’s citizens are increasingly frightened and apprehensive about their future in Trump World.  The fear and anger that drove a majority of whites in the U.S. to take a blunt instrument to their craniums just to “shake things up,” will now begin paying the price for their paroxysm of vengeance.

Part of that unforeseen price is going to be the painful ruination of our democracy, at the stunted little hands of a B-grade reality teevee star, tweeting his tiny tantrums from the midnight oval office.

THE DANGERS OF DEMOCRACY
Many Americans seem to have the notion that “democracy” is baked into our reality like cherries are in a pie.  But our democracy is a product of civilization, not of organic evolution, and that makes it both fragile and volatile. There are several clear dangers that threaten democracy;  here they are:

Glorification of mediocrity.  Check.  Do you really need examples? 

Choice of base and ignorant rulers.  Check.  Trump isn’t the first or the worst; (yet).  George Bush set a new low; now the question is how low can we go.

Failure to recognize the basic facts of social evolution.  Check.  Yes, we’re talking about economic injustice, and the failure to recognize and achieve human brotherhood. 

Danger of universal suffrage in the hands of uneducated and indolent majorities.  Check.  Nothing in our history makes this point like our most recent presidential election.

Slavery to public opinion.  (The majority is not always right.)  Check.  We have made a fetish of democracy, through the exaltation of the common man’s ideas which we collectively call “public opinion.”  One man’s opinion, by itself, is not regarded as worth much. But when many men are collectively functioning as a democracy, this same mediocre judgment is held to be the arbiter of justice and the standard of righteousness.

Education of public opinion is still the only safe and true method of accelerating our civilization.  Force is only temporary.  Public opinion, the mores, is the elemental energy in social evolution, but it must be nonviolent in expression.  Civilized government arrived when public opinion was clothed with the power of personal franchise.  Now more than ever, we know that elections may not always decide things rightly; they just happen to represent the right way even to do a wrong thing.  

WHO WOULD JESUS BOMB
Meanwhile, some free advice.  All you earnest Evangenitals¹ should answer this question:  Who should Jesus “bomb the hell out of”  first?  Maybe you reflexively thought to yourself, “Jesus wouldn’t bomb anybody.”  But hold that thought.

After this election, it’s safe to say that the order of progressive evolution is occasionally subjected to sudden and unexpected changes in both the material and the spiritual worlds.

. . .no state is going to transcend the moral values of its citizenry as exemplified in their chosen leaders. . .

Jesus alluded to a “phase of the kingdom” in the future, and did, on numerous occasions, intimate that such an event might appear as a part of a world crisis.  What sort of change is hard to speculate;  but how about a nuclear exchange over. . .   a hand gesture?  Just a guess.  

Our political or administrative form of a government is actually of little consequence, provided it affords the people with the essentials of civil progress:  liberty, security, education, and social coordination.  It’s not so much what a nation is, as what it does that determines the course of social evolution.  But no state is going to transcend the moral values of its citizenry as exemplified in their chosen leaders.  Ignorance and selfishness will insure the downfall of even the highest type of government.  Bombs away.

WHITE NATIONALISM
As much as we regret it — and we must — America’s white national egotism has been essential to our social survival.  The chosen people doctrine was a prime factor in building the nation.  But our nation will never attain ideal levels of functioning until every form of intolerance is mastered;  it is inimical to human progress. 

How should our nation — even the world — function ideally in the 21st century?  There are at least three powerful and all-encompassing drives we can use to set out upon a progressively ideal course:

1. Intelligent patriotism — based on wise ideals.

2. Love — derived from the realization of human brotherhood.

3. Cosmic insight — interpreted in terms of planetary facts, needs, and goals.

Un-American measures such as a Muslim registry is certainly not the answer;  it would quickly make matters horrendously worse.  Intolerance— fear and hatred of the other— is always best combated through a wise combination of science, commerce, play, and real religion.  But only a truly ethical consciousness can unmask the immorality of human intolerance.  What’s your honest estimate of the number of Trump supporters the poorly educated with a “truly ethical consciousness”?   Only a moral conscience will condemn the evils of national envy and racial jealousy.  Only truly moral beings will ever seek for that spiritual insight which is essential to living the golden rule.

THE PROGRESSIVE AGENDA
Okay then.  Here are a dozen bullet points true progressives should be willing and able to agree on and work to implement.  No pressure.

1. Preservation of individual liberties.

2. Protection of the home.

3. Promotion of economic security.

4. Prevention of disease.

5. Compulsory education.

6. Compulsory employment.

7. Profitable utilization of leisure.

8. Care of the unfortunate.

9. Race improvement.

10. Promotion of science and art.

11. Promotion of philosophy — wisdom.

12. Augmentation of cosmic insight — spirituality.

SO ARE WE DOOMED?
I hear you.  You’re exhausted, confused, outraged, stuck in traffic, etc., and already don’t have enough time or means to take care of your essentials.  Gee times are tough.  And let’s be honest, looks like they’re going to get exponentially tougher, at least short term;  even after the impeachment.

But yes, there was number nine up there:  Race “improvement.”  And yes you heard right, Trump thinks he has superior genes.  Whatever he has, he is absolutely the worst spokesperson for eugenics you could possibly find.   Huff-Po put it like this:

This May Be The Most Horrible Thing That Donald Trump Believes


Most unfortunate.  Do you believe in evolution?  Yes?  Then you probably know that simple farmers have known for centuries that the “crossbreeding” of plants and animals could favor more desirable traits; but when it comes to humans, animal-origin humans— eugenics becomes evil, because, Hitler!  Yes, imagine it:  there’s a wrong way to do a right thing!
But.  If you’ve never actually met an amoral criminal-type who would just as soon cut your throat as bomb a children’s hospital, I can understand some of your apprehension.  But after this election??

It’s time you got over it.

* LOL;  NO.

¹ Christian nutballs

 

Huge Hot Dog Recall Affects GOPPER RNC Convention

GOP CONVENTION HOT DOG RECALLDenial is not just a huge piles of dick-like thingies onstage at the RNC Convention.

CLEVELAND — Shocking to no one, Tuesday night’s RNC tRumpus Room fadoodle had a few glitches.  In a two hour “elephant in the room” moment, Arizona state senator Kimberly Lee was obliged to speak while ignoring the really HUGE pile of orange-ish huge “hot dogs” immediately behind the mainstage speaker’s podium.

But sharp-eyed attendees were not thus obligated.  “Thazza huuuge pile ah dicks!” mansplained Wade Wrightin, a Rubio delegate from, yes, Dogtown, Florida.  Margie Rinn, a Trump delegate from Sanitorium, Mississippi, (you can’t make this up), was quick to correct Mr. Wrightin: “Thazz no pile a dicks, you cracker!  Those’r giant dealdoes the librul haters dumped on Trump!  They should be killt!”

Ms Lee soldiered on, seemingly oblivious to the several hundred pounds worth of flaccid silicone silently punning away behind her. Of course, nobody in the room remembered Trump’s ballsy defense of the size of his huge hot dog:

I mean come on; that was five months ago.

 

In a related story:  As a little crane hoisted off the offending phalluses one by fricking one, excited Trumpeters began circulating a message;  it seems all the concession stands were out of, mmyeah, hot dogs.  And what’s more, nation-wide, upwards of 370,000 pounds of chicken and pork hot dogs and corn dogs— and that includes “Honey Batter Dipped Franks On A Stick”— could be “adulterated” with Listeria monocytogenes,¹ according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, or. you know, (FSIS).*

So guess how long it took the crowd to not only blame the hot dog shortage on “ISIS,” but also the pile of pricks on the stage. . .

¹ Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, persons outside these risk groups are affected.  Oh, and there’s this:  Norovirus Outbreak Confirmed Among Republican Convention Staffers

* Oops.  Sorry, hot dog eaters, but 29.4% of the sentences above contain more than 20 words, which is slightly more than the recommended maximum of 25% for imbeciles.