(homage to Motorcycle Nomad Gypsies legacy)
A teenage kid pumping gas at his dad's independent shop on outskirts of a little town looked up as sound of a motorcycle zapped him,and a lone rider on a big black Harley chopper bent into wind ''''rain, left an impression on him that would haunt him even when he'd got his own bike and chopped it in expressioin of his own individuality, as he'd do in the future.
The Biker was solely obsessed with finding a cheap motel,like,real goddam quick, as he was cold,wet,and dangerously numb and tired from eight hard hours rollin' down twisty,screwed up backroads.
He spotted a neon motel sign,turned in 'n' dismounted in front of the office. His eyes scouted out the place quickly,appreciatin' funkiness of the cabins,apparent scarcity of customers.
The proprietor,a guy in his thirties,stared at the bedraggled Biker as he came into the office,shook his head,said,"From the looks of you,you been havin' a tough go of it on that motorcycle of yours in that there shitty weather?"
"Y'got that right,mister. It's miserable out there! I'm beat 'n' cold,wet 'n' in serious need o' a hot shower 'n' a bed. Do be hopin' y'can help me out?"
"That's my business. Where y'comin' from?"
"Been doin' some house paintin' up in West Virginia…"
"Headin' somewhere particular or just goin'?"
"You with one of them outlaw clubs?"
"No sir,not me. Jes me 'n' m'machine…Ah,how much y'get for a night? Like I said,
I'm bone weary 'n'…"
"Aw,sure,sure,sorry t'be talkin' at you and bugging you with all these questions.It's just kind of lonely around here…"
"Hey,I understand, Ain't n'problem."
"$25.00'll do her."
"That's fine. Anywhere nearby I could get some chow?"
"Yup, about two miles down the road there's a honky tonk,they got burgers 'n'
ribs and all that kind of thing."
He walked into the cabin,threw down his gearbag,pulled off his old scarred
leather jacket 'n' cutoff made into his own personal colors,yanked off his boots,
fired up a cig,turned on the tube and slumped down on the bed,feeling the road weariness beginning to seep out of his pores.
He stripped,took a long,hot,euphoric shower,shaved,brushed his teeth,came
back into the room naked and stared at his hard,scarred,tattooed 48 year old body
In the mirror. His arms thick from years of hard work,be it wrenching on bikes,construction,house painting,welding,he'd done it all at one time or another.
His gallery of tattoos,all of his own design,although not full sleeves,were many and blended together to reflect his highly individualistic personal style and
perspective. His thick mahogany-colored hair hung down to his waist. His Face ruggedly handsome,burnt by wind and sun to a dark leathery swarthiness.
His Zapata mustache,unlike his hair,laced with silvery-gray.
He pulled out his other pair of Levis and a clean T-shirt. He'd hit a laund-
ramat in the morning and clean up the jeans,T-shirt and flannel shirt he'd been wearing.
He looked outside and dug that it was raining even harder,said,"Fuck it!"
He figured he'd cop a hearty breakfast in the morning. It wasn't as if he'd never gone hungry before. Over the twenty-four years he'd been a motorcycle nomad,there'd been many a time he'd gone hungry for one reason or another. Been many a night when he'd ended up sleeping like a wild dog in the bush or a ditch on side of the road for lack of anything else. That was part of the dues you paid in the life.
Wandering had always been integral to his experience. His granddad had given his dad an Indian Scout motorcycle for his sixteenth birthday. When WW II came his dad joined the Army,went to Airborne,and eventually worked for Military Intelligence
and usually got around on a Harley servi-car trike. At war's end,he bought a '45 Harley Knuckle and became a Motorcycle Gypsy just as his father had been,riding all over the American continent,drinking hard,fighting hard,blowing weed,making a living by any means. He was epitome of kind of Hipster Marlon Brando had wanted to depict in the legendary original Biker film "The Wild One". While cruising through
El Paso,he'd met Juanita Castananza; she'd climbed on his iron horse,after riding his bones,without a second thought and they roared off into the unknown future together.
He'd been born while his dad was doing a stint as a construction worker in Alburquerque. He'd grown up digging beBop and rock 'n' roll,weed,chicks,and his outraegeously Hip parents.
They'd live in a place for about 6 months,renting a po' trash trailer or shack, then they'd up and move on,his dad on his bike,his mom and him and his sister In their woody station wagon.
Like many of his generation and that of his mom and dad,after seeing Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin in "The Wild One",and mostly being his dad was a genuine Motorcycle Gypsy,as were all his closest friends,he was obsessed with motorcycles and Biker Mystique. At 14,he had a dirt bike that he rode into the ground. At 16.his dad gave him a Triumph and helped him chop it to his own personal taste.
He got drafted,did a tour in 'nam,came back irrevocably convinced the world was hopelessly fucked up and his only hope was to be in the wind,on a chopped hog,going his own individualistic way,avoiding and evading as much as possible all the ludicrous laws,greedy Robopathic people,that whole goddam sick societus,and carrying on the motorcycle Gypsy legacy that his dad had brought him up to love and respect as their own unique other culture.
He eventually sold his Triumph and copped a '69 XLCH Harley Sportster. He stretched the front downtubes of the frame 3 1/2",put a 10" over Springer front end with a 21" wheel;added a King Sportster gas tank;high chopper pullback handlebars mounted on 3" dogbone risers;a rolled aluminum oil tank;a solo saddle;and a 22" sissybar.
He'd work awhile,not very long,just enough to save a stash to get in the wind once again. Touring from Laconia to Daytona,to New Orleans,Seattle,Old
Orchard beach,coast to coast,north to south,making it as best he could,he lived and worked to maintain his machine and his motorcycle Gypsy lifestyle.Many of the friends he'd meet,fellow Bikers,shop owners and wrenches,remained friends for life,therefore,he never lacked places to go and folks to see.
He'd sort of tried settling down once. Passing through Tucson,he'd stopped in a saloon to down to down a few cold ones,and before long was rapping to a
very beautiful Apache Indian girl who lived on a commune. He gave her a ride there,checked out the scene and dug it,so ended up staying for two years.
They had a kid together,but drifted apart eventually.
He rented a trailer on the outskirts of Tucson,worrking at this and that.
Morning Star and their son T-Bird came down for awhile and they tried to get it together again but it just didn't work out.Wasn't like he didn't love the
woman and child,he did in his own peculiar way. Nor did he abuse them in any way. If he was rowdy and needed to get out his aggression,there were all
too many lowlife asshole men he could seek out and stomp. Bottom line was, his only real loyalty was to his machine and his motorcycle Gypsy lifestyle.
Actually,he probably wasn't really all that different from those first motorcycle Gypsies at the beginning of the century when they were riding
Harleys,Indians,Excelciors,Hendersons and other innovations on the emerging art of what is a motorcycle:a sculpture of iron that a person can mount and
ride everywhere in the world if so inclined.Like them,he was an adventurous and and restless man in what still remains the "Wild West".The motorcycle Gypsies, like their brothers the Hoboes,were a unique subculture bred of American soil,a nomadic subculture as profound in its folklore and lifeways as the Romany Gypsies and the nomadic Native American tribes,as well as the other nomadic cultures throughout the world.Being the kind of creative and intelligent individual he was,he was thoroughly aware of this.He felt he was part of and a participant in this continuing tradition,living it every moment.
Eventually he cut out of Tucson and headed south of the border into Mexico.
He loved Mexico.He ate plenty of chow,drank too much Mescal,smoked primo weed constantly,ate Teo Noncaital Sacred Mushrooms,geezed plenty of crystal, made the love with many fine brownskinned women.
He lived in San Felipe Pueblo in Oaxaca for awhile,then wandered over to Yucatan,up to Veracruz,and then further up through Texas,Oklahoma,Missouri,and then on East.
He ended up working as a wrench in a bike shop with an outlaw bro,Danny,in Connecticut.He'd go on runs with the clubs,but wouldn't join any even though he was more than welcome to.He'd make it with a chick for awhile,but it never lasted.It was as if he were cursed with the enigmatic brand of the lobo solo:
the lone wolf.
Then one night Danny went over the high side and died when his chopper went out of control on a rain slick I-95.He got in the wind once again.
His last period of downtime,which is what he considered those times when he was sedentary for awhile,had been in Misty Creek,in West Virginia.He'd gotten a gig as a house painter and had rented a dilapidated derelict house,amidst broken cars,washing machines,refrigerators,mutilated furniture,weeds growing densely, on the outskirts of town.
His decision to leave all that behind and be in the wind once again had started one dismal day,rain pounding down in torrents,howling banshee winds shrieking, whipping telephone lines,clothes hanging on backyard rigs.
His newest bike,a Knuckle chopper he and Danny had built,gleamed on the porch.
Inside the house,illuminated by kerosene lamps and huge candles,he'd been sitting in the remnants of a once stuffed chair,reading Lee Gutkind's "Bike Fever", a book that had become for him like a sacred text.It was especially on stormy days like that one,he'd read yet again the chapter on the history of motorcycle Gypsies,and it'd reaffirm his personal vision of how he and his life must be.
He'd taken a long hit on the thick joint,drawing the sweet pungent smoke deep into his lungs,down into his abdomen:the center of human willpower,digging it no end as it permeated his genitals and began to arouse the Kundalini Serpent which began to mystically writhe up his spinal column seeking release through the Magikal door of his crown chakra at the top of his skull,in other words,he was getting loaded,like,crazy!
He laid the book down,gazed out the window,his intense brown eyes piercing the veils of rain,the dark fog,experiencing visions of the Four Horsemen
of the Apocalypse riding past,only they looked like out of "Road Warrior" on their fierce sleek Harley choppers.
He slid a Warlock tape into the GB,giggling to "Kiss of Death" as he twisted another stick of weed.
He crashed for awhile,waking up hungry,horny amd restless.The rain still pounded down so he jumped in his pick up,cut into town to the Office Saloon,a
hard core Biker bar.He gulped down a shot of Corvaissier cognac and a bottle of Bud,wolfed down two bowls of Mama lee's chili.Another shot of cognac and a Bud and then he was into a game of pool with one of his bros,Johnny,from the Biker owned and operated house painting/construction business he worked for.
He punched Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" on the jukebox and slouched like Brando in "The Wild One",a Camel hanging from his lips,his eyes hooded and dreamy.He dropped the 8 ball,downed the shot and beer Johnny bought him.
"Wanna blow some weed,Gypsy,man?" Johnny asked.
"Sure thing,bro,"Gypsy answered in his rough muted nuances with a slight
They cut out back,squatted on the riverbank neath the shelter of a huge old weeping willow tree,passing a joint.
"S'what's the happenings wi' y',man?"Johnny asked.
"Nada mucho,hombre…I was hangin' in m'pad getting' fucked up 'n' crashed, woke up,had t' cut in here 'n' reassure m'self there be a life outside m'own lonely skin,y'dig?Thinkin' I'm due t' be in the wind again,like,real pronto."
"No shit?You ain't been here that long!"
"I'm never nowhere too long,bro.Dig it,I'm gonna be big 50 years old.I don't know how long I got left 'n' see,I'm feelin' like Jim Morrison laid it down,like,'I
wanna get m'kicks before this whole shithouse goes up in flames!' Thinkin' of cuttin' down to Mardi Gras 'n' maybe West again…maybe even back down to Mexico 'n' points south…I dunno…wanna be ridin' m'scoot all the time,kickback,Jack,thems the facts,y'dig?Time I saw m'folks again too…"
"Y'really are a Gypsy ain't you,man?"
"Y'got that right,bro.It's like,y'know that book I'm always rappin' about."Bike Fever" by this righteous bro Lee Gutkind?Well,man,anyways,in beginning he talks about the history of motorcycle Gypsies,hardcore nomad scooter trash,mostly older cats,who started out back in the '20s 'n' '30s when there was a shitload o' 'em roamin' around on their Harleys 'n' Indians 'n' all them other big ass first bikes,but it wasn't jes depression,dig,cause they'd been doin' it before 'n' after it,'n' they're doin' it now,man,they're the cats who've stayed free 'n' are pioneers o' this whole wild international Biker Subculture.
I relate t' that s'fuckin' much,man!I mean,fact is,I am a fuckin' third generation motorcycle Gypsy for real!It's in m'blood same as any nomad Romany Gypsy anywhere in this world!…That's why I gotta get in the wind again,bro,cause I really need independence 'n' self-respect…'n' like this other primo book"The Complete Motorcycle Nomad" says,like,Bikers are the last o' a breed,in tradition o' Apaches 'n' Sioux 'n' all other nomad Native Americans 'n' Romany Gypsies,Bedouin Arabs,all them tribes…Dig,for me,that's where it lives,'n' that's where I gotta be…"
The decision had been made while he was talking to johnny.The next day he'd sold the pick up to one of the guys he painted with,packed up his gear,and got in the wind.
He crashed and slept deep,and dreamed the interesting dreams he always had.He woke up refreshed and ready for more hard riding.He was ecstatic when he stepped outside and the sun was shining,the sky a deep turquoise blue,the air scented sweet.
He kicked the Knuckle into life and headed down the Road.A couple of hours later,Gypsy geared down and pulled into the parking area of a truckstop café.All eyes were on him as he entered,but he smiled and nodded and as usual with him, the citizens got the vibe that this was a good ol' boy even if he was a longhaired saddle tramp.He slid onto a stool,fluttered his eyes and clutched his heart historonically as the pretty young waitress came over and asked if she could help him.her face lightened up and she laughed as she studied the handsome leather-skinned Biker.
"Where you coming from?"She asked.
"Well,now,sister,do you mean that philosophically or literally?'
"Sorry.Right now I'm comin' outta West Virginia."
"Going out West?"
"Must be great…well,you want coffee or something?"
"Coffee for sure 'n' a steak dinner."
"Sure thing.What do you want with your steak and how do you want it?"
"Mash potatoes wi' gravy,carrots 'n' peas 'n' hot buttered corn bread…
"Hang in there.I'll tell the cook to fix you up with a trucker's hungry man special,OK?"
"You're a lady 'n' a scholar."
It didn't take Gypsy very long to wolf down the delicious hearty meal,and then he kicked back smoking,drinking coffee,and rapping to Janie,the waitress.
Then reluctantly sort of,he paid,told her he'd make sure he came by that way again sometime in the future,cut out and mounted up.He turned and waved to her before he kicked his ride into life and cut back onto the long black snake of highway.
Janie watched him disappear and felt a restlessness she'd never known before gnawing at her.
Gypsy didn't have the foggiest notion what his destination was.All he really knew was that he was truly of that rare breed,the motorcycle Gypsies.
He had his sunrise in the morning and his Moon at night.He stopped when he felt for it,and set up camp.He stopped when he needed to work as a painter,welder,a Wrench,or one of his various skills,to make enough bread to journey on.He was even putting together a book of photos and his writing,a kind of celebration of the nomad Biker lifestyle. He was a free man in a world progressively more complex and self-destructive and incarceratory.He felt that fantasy and reality had merged finally for him into a lifestyle permeated with legacy.He was like a troupadour during medieval times,bringing the Word to those who'd bend an ear and listen.
Like a weird kind of Johnny Appleseed,only he was planting the seeds of a survivalist nex millennium lifestyle.He was a self-made man who had the courage and conviction to make his stand.
And he was laughing as he screwed it on and raced toward the always elusive horizon…