Tuesday, September 11, 2012

O'er the land of the free, and home of the brave.

The star spangled banner.   America's most beloved (and highly misquoted) national anthem.  Go ahead.  Try to sing the whole thing without looking up the lyrics.  Bet you'll mess up somewhere in the middle.  Why?  Because it was originally written as a poem, not song lyrics, by this man -- a lawyer.

Sir Francis Scott Key.  The original lawyer joke.

While he may have penned a very wordy anthem, he did so straight from the heart.  And that's what truly matters.  Actions from the heart may not always be neatly wrapped in a pretty box, but they have meaning.  They are genuine, honest and true -- three things we all want. For our anthem.  For our country.  For our world.

The scene that inspired the song.

Now, Sir Francis was clearly a very patriotic man, as were most people during that time period.  It was the war of 1812, after all.  If you weren't patriotic, you probably weren't living in a country during its infancy. You know what other group is highly patriotic?  I'll give you one guess.

Come on, you've got this!

That's right!  Bikers. The patriotism bikers display is as heartfelt as the national anthem itself.  And like the anthem, bikers aren't always neatly wrapped in a bow. They may be a little rough around the edges, but their loyalty to America never falters.  Whether through patches that honor fallen heroes, or via rides that support our men and women in uniform, one thing is clear.  Bikers respect those who fight for and have fought for freedom.  This is important to remember today, on September 11th, and every day.

You'll be hard pressed to find a biker that doesn't have a patch like this.

Here in NY, there were a dozen or so rides honoring those who gave their lives 11 year ago.  The same holds true all over the country... and all over the world, for that matter.  You see,  freedom isn't just an American thing.  It's a human thing.  It's what binds us as a species.  It's our common thread.  Bikers know this.  And one day in the not so distance future, everyone else on the planet will know this too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Compassion is the radicalism of our time

Say the word compassion out loud (or say it to yourself if you are reading this at a coffee shop, at work or any other place where people would give you that look for talking to yourself.)  Now, close your eyes and see what image comes to mind.   Did you picture His Holiness The Dalai Lama?

A true radical. Just look at him.

If you did, you're in good company.  George Lucas did too.  He was so taken aback by HH The Dalai Lama's compassion and wisdom that he based his most beloved character on the world's most beloved monk. And by world I mean everywhere but China.

Can't you see the resemblance? 

Don't believe me?  Look it up.  Or better yet, watch any documentary or YouTube clip of HH The Dalai Lama and listen to his vocal intonations.  Do the same thing with Yoda. Believe me then, you will.

Now repeat this exercise again, either with or without the speaking out loud and closing your eyes part (especially if you have already gotten that look from the uber creepy guy sitting at the other end of the coffee shop.)  What do you see now?  A group of bikers riding down the street?

No, bikers don't really ride in a row.  

If you answered a resounding yes,  congratulations! You are most likely already involved in the biker community in some way shape or form.  Go give yourself a cookie, a medal or a biscuit.  Your choice.

A cookie medal is the way to go.

Everyone else, prepare to be amazed.  You see, despite what the media says, most bikers aren't out to rape, kill and maim you.  Nor are they out to steal your babies and take them to Ireland (I'm looking at you, Sons of Anarchy!) What they are out to do is....wait for it.... help others.  And how do they do that, you ask?  It's simple.  They ride.

Bikers on a charity ride.  It's a common thing.

Sick children, pet adoptions, the homeless - you name, there's been a ride for it.  Most bikers don't really care who sponsors the ride.  If they can participate in the ride and give back to the community, they will.  In fact, there have been so many rides for so many charities where I live that I've lost count.  And I live in New York, a state that only has a 6-7 month riding season.  Just imagine how many rides there are in states like California, where every season is riding season.  

So next time you see a group of bikers riding down the street, don't give them the death stare.  Instead, simply smile in their direction. Odds are they just raised a crap load of money for someone in need.  And that is truly something worth smiling about.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wind in my hair, I feel part of everywhere.

Ah, Eddie Vedder.  He really knows how to poetically explain just about everything.   Bullying?  Check. Greed?  Check.  Feeling the wind in your hair while you ride a motorcycle?  Check.

Anyone who has ever been on a boat knows this feeling very well.   You really do feel part of everywhere, that is, until the hair gets in your face and you can't see.  Then everything goes black and you feel part of nothing.  And then you hit a tree and become a part of everything.  Literally.

This is what riding with the wind in your
hair would look like.

So, how do bikers avoid this?  It's simple.  They put their hair back.   Whether it's in a ponytail, pigtails, a braid, or a biker's braid - all that matters is that it's pulled back in some fashion.  Otherwise it will get in your face, distract you, and well, we all know what happens next.

My boyfriend taught me this lesson the first time I rode his fender.  He has very long hair, but he doesn't have wispies or baby hair or any other rogue pieces of hair that can get in his face even when his hair is secured.  I, on the other hand, had little bald spots on the side of my head until I was 14, when by the sheer grace of God some baby hairs finally decided to sprout.  I waited patiently for them to mature.  It's been 16 years. I'm still waiting.

Now, before you state the obvious, I have a child-sized head, which means wearing a du-rag (or bandana, for those of you not raised in the inner city) is out of the question.   Cue my friend Jess, who is a biker, has a small head like me AND has those cute but highly annoying hair wispies.

This is Jess.  Biker babe and domestic goddess.

Now, Jess isn't just a biker. Oh no.  She's also a computer whiz, techie and all around domestic goddess.    Basically she's all sorts of awesome. When I mentioned how frustrated I was with my little wispies - which can be tolerable as a passenger, but not as as an actual rider - she suggested I get a headband.  And then she offered to make me one out of some scrap pieces of fabrics she had lying around the house.  Told you she was awesome.

Within a week of our conversation, I received her gift: a lovely headband with a black and white flower print on one side and a multicolored striped pattern on the other side.  A dream come true for a girl who doesn't really have a favorite color.

The kickass headband Jess made me.

Because I've never actually used this type of headband before, I was a little confused.  Does it wrap around my head? Is it supposed to hang low?  Can I tie it in a knot?  Can I tie it in a bow?

After talking to Jess, I found out the obvious answer.  Apparently you tie it around your head and then tie the ends around your ponytail to make sure it stays in place.   Sounds simple enough.  And when you take your helmet off, you won't look like you just got electrocuted.  Not like I would know what that is like....

So, thank you Jess, for making me this beautiful headband, shipping it to me across the country, and explaining to me how to use it.  I will wear it with pride, assuming of course I can actually follow your instructions.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Force Is Strong With This One

Lady riders- guess what?!  Today is our day!  Ok, it's not really my day just yet because I'm still learning to ride, but it IS a day celebrating women riders.  So to all my lovely biker-chic friends, Happy International Female Ride Day! (not to be confused with international ride female day, which is a whole other "holiday" entirely.)

I don't ride with lipstick on, btw

And if that wasn't enough excitement for you, today is also Star Wars Day!  Now, if only my Princess Leia outfit was made of riding grade fabrics...

Get it?

Speaking of female riders, I recently met an awesome woman named Ann who is about 70 years old and rides just about every day.  And not just to the grocery store.  This gal rides from her home in the Bronx to Niagara Falls and back.  She calls that Sunday. I call that awe-inspiring.

Ann in all her glory. Told you she was awesome.

When I told Ann that I recently got my motorcycle permit and was  learning to ride, her entire face lit up. She proceeded to tell me that when she was younger "only bad girls rode motorcycles."  Because of that stigma, Ann didn't learn to ride until she was 50.  It's hard to believe a woman who literally lives to ride spent the vast majority of her life not riding.  She even offered to ride with me once I get my license.  All because I'm a fellow lady rider.  Well, not quite yet, but I will be...soon.  And it was that concept - the mere idea that I'm even attempting to join her club - that made her smile. You would have thought I just gave her a present.

Come to think of it, perhaps I did.