Thursday, January 31, 2008

Some REAL Adventure Riding

This has got to be the ultimate in adventure riding, and in motorcycle films. Gaurav Jani's Film Riding Solo To The Top Of The World, documents his trip on a 350cc Royal Enfield from Delhi to the Changthang Plateau in Ladakh, bordering China.

As a one-man film unit, he astonishes you, filming the landscape he passes by and the people he interacts with, capturing moments of beauty, pain, love, hardship, self doubt and spiritual triumphs.

The trailer above is just amazing. I'm just blown away by this whole project.
I can't wait to get my grubby little paws on a copy of the DVD. Adventure riding is of course, a big fantasy of mine. And I've wanted to explore this part of the world for as long as I can remember.
Just the trailer is breathtaking and inspiring, and it is no surprise this film has won a bushel of awards.
You can buy a DVD here.

Thanks to John M. Stafford on the ScooterBBS

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Hummer I'd actually consider...

A 400cc Hummer scooter?!?
What?! What!?

OK, so it's just a Design exercise, but it has some interesting features, and I know I'm not the only freak out there dreaming of a dual-purpose scooter. I also like the fixed front fender, which looks like it could be made to sport quite a front rack. But come on folks, a scooter is supposed to be step-through! Step-Through! Not just some lame indentation in the middle like some sway-backed nag.

This blog, Scooter Design is going to be one of my new favorites. It's in Italian, but who cares, when the pictures are so pretty! Like this gorgeous concept for an electric update to the classic Moto Guzzi Galleto. It's electric and it looks very DieselPunk!

via Sethwas and Badpenguin on Modern Vespa

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sexy Vespa Messenger Bag

So one of the things I'm doing at Vespa Ridgefield, is going through some of the inventory that has been hanging around too long, or worse yet, has been stuck in a corner of a basement. There are definitely some strange artifacts, and rifling through them has been kinda fun.

Some items I'm putting on ebay. And I promise I won't be blogging about every obscure nut and bolt I list, but when I come across some scooter specific items... well I just might mention them here.

Vespa Ridgefield, was one of the first ten Vespa dealers in the US, back when Piaggio brought the brand back stateside. We still have a lot of strange "Boutique" products, like Vespa soaps and bath salts. This messenger bag is one of the coolest items from that era.

What really interests me about the bag is that I have been unable to find it anywhere but in our inventory, and a five year old catalog of Vespa "lifestyle"merchandise. Google can't even turn up evidence of its existence, which in my world is almost the same as not existing.

And that's a shame, because of all the strange fashion accessories and toiletries being stamped with an official Vespa logo from the time, this is one of the coolest. Made in Italy of very high quality supple leather, this bag is nice. It's a bit on the small side as far as messenger bags, and a bit more metrosexual than is my style, so I don't really want one for myself. But they are nice bags, and it puzzles me that we still have some, and that I can find no mention of them online.
I guess back in the day these were available in colors to match the paint schemes of Vespa ET2s and ET4s. We sold out of the colored bags, but still have a couple of the black ones. Which again is weird to me, I can't see wanting one of these in "Vintage Green," and every hipster and fashionista knows, black goes with everything.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Asterix-Punk Computing

Retro-Futurists take note:
Neatorama has a great post up on the history of computing. Examples go from flint-napping-punk, stone age calculating devices inscribed on baboon fibula, to transistor-punk, Eniac, the first room-filling digital computer.
Of course my favorites are somewhere in between technologically, if not chronologically.
Witness the beauty that is Blaise Pascal's Pascaline:

The second mechanical calculator, called the Pascaline or the Arithmetique, was invented in 1645 by Blaise Pascal. Pascal started working on his calculator when he was just 19 years old, out of boredom. He created a device to help his father, a tax collector, to crunch numbers... The basic mechanism of the Pascaline is a series of gears - when the first gear with ten teeth made one rotation (one to ten), it shifts a second gear until it rotated ten times (one hundred). The second gear shifted a third one (thousands) and so on. This mechanism is still in use today in car odometers, electricity meters and at the gas pumps.

And supporting character from Stephenson's Baroque Trilogy, Liebniz's Stepped Reckoner:

Leibniz’s design used a special type of gear called the Stepped Drum or Leibniz wheel, a cylinder with nine bar-shaped teeth along its length. He named his machine the Staffelwalze or the Stepped Reckoner.
The machine was a marked improvement from Pascal’s design and could add, subtract, multiply, divide, and even evaluate square roots by a series of additions.

Both of these are gorgeous artifacts which give me some ideas for further embellishments upon my steampunk scooter...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Michael Franti and Spearhead

That last video I posted got me thinking about Spearhead.
They played at my Alma Mater during the later half of my freshman year, and my roomate Sparky had one of their posters up for the remainder of the year. The next year, when I'd cook up five gallons of my infamous Cajun Dragon's Breath red beans and rice, at least one of my room mates would start into the chorus of "Beans and Rice." There's only one vid for this song I can find online, and the sound quality isn't great, but if you choose to watch it, the lyrics are here.
Most people on the planet/ eat beans and rice
Some can’t afford beef or they think cows are nice
If you talk table manners don’t believe all they
Told ya I eat with my fingers like an african soldier
I don’t know which fork is for meat or for salad
I haven’t got a clue when they say "whet your palate"
Eat a lot a prunes it’ll keep you loose
Skin’ll turn orange if you drink carrot juice
I think beef jerky tastes like a boot
When I’m on the street I chew a licorice root
And if I have a soar throat /then I eat ginger
And I will break bread /with those who are strangers
So come into my cave / tonight I will show you
Food is for life / and life I will show you.
If you’re havin’ problems/ I invite you here
Step into my kitchen /we will cook away your fears

Now the Dragon is the furthest thing from a vegetarian. I'll meat in any color of the rainbow, but this song comes the closest to capturing my attitudes towards food and fellowship.

But as important as nutrition and cuisine are, Mr. Franti turns his exceptional songwriting and singing skills to other vital topics such as Iraq. For instance, turn your eyes and ears towards "Time to Go Home."

Definitely one of the best Iraq protest songs I've heard... at least until the end of this post.

And it speaks to Franti's great talent, that his darker songs make the hairs on the back of your neck, while at the same time he crafts light hearted ditties like "Hello, Bonjour" which still contain heavy nuggets of wisdom, but tickle your heart with effervescent bubbles of joy.

Michael Franti is an interesting cat. His Wikipedia entry has such eyebrow raising facts as he goes through most of life shoeless. And there is huge internet archive of free Spearhead live performances, following a taping policy first originated by the Grateful Dead. I guess I'll just have to forgive such blatant acts of hippiness, on account of what a badass he is.

Do you remember "Hole in the Bucket," which got some airplay back in halcyon days of the mid-nineties, the last time radio was worth a damn?
Spearhead, yup, that's right.

Seriously though, after four years at Evergreen, and seven years in Oly, I have a low tolerance for the outer trappings of wannabe hippies and trustifarians. I can't stand reggae, or most jam bands. But Spearhead still cuts through these prejudices, managing despite all my cynicism to surprise and inspire me. Finding out that Franti began in the punk scene was interesting. To me , punk was always much more an attitude, one of questioning and exploring, born of the harsh facts of how life really is for too many, and propelled by the concept that outrage and indignation can be cleansing. Somewhere along the line it seems this has reached a disconnect, and contemporary punk seems to be more about anger as an end, as a style. Still, I guess there are a few old punks out there still using anger as a means. Still willing to "Yell Fire" in a crowded abattoir.

Some MP3/Fuoco Updates

OR: The Day Late and a Dollar Short Scooter Report

Over several months, I've let scooter news items slide with the rationalization that Brian over at 2StrokeBuzz, Steve at The Scooter Scoop, and Dave at Scooter Cast, were covering this type of stuff earlier and better than I. Plus I get a lot of my scoops from the scooter forums, and feel a bit the leech if I repost stuff from there too often.

But there are several things which I've tempted to post lately, but haven't for these, and a variety of other reasons. These tidbits have congealed into such Sisyphean blockage, that I figured I might as well muscle 'em up that hill in one fell swoop. Like our old buddy Camus says, "One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

First off, Phil from Pride of Cleveland Scooters posted a doc from the Motorcycle safety Foundation about the use of MP3's in their classes, over on Modern Vespa's MP3 forum. It gets a little technical, but their final findings seem pretty solid and fair... certainly more understanding of the technology than various state legislatures (California, for instance, only requires a car license to operate the MP3, where Washington State requires a Trike endorsement in addition to a Motorcycle endorsement. Both of which miss the point, and basic functionality of the vehicle.)
Here's the bit I found most interesting from their study:

The only additional detail noted by the review team and specific to the PIAGGIO MP3, was that the RiderCoach should be aware of the twinned front wheel track when a student is negotiating an exercise with a boundary such as the U-turn box or the swerve. The twinned wheels, slightly over 1.5 feet apart overall, should represent one distinct path of travel for the coach to “watch” while evaluating a boundary cross. For purposes of evaluating, RiderCoaches should consider the twinned wheels as a single path of travel. Thus, for example, the criterion for deducting points would be stated by the RiderCoach as “Crossing a boundary is scored if the contact patch of both front tires clearly crosses completely over any of the solid painted or dashed lines, or if either tire hits or 'skips' an entry or exit cone or if the cone passes through the gap in the twinned wheels.”

Speaking of the Modern Vespa MP3 Forum, if you are hungry for news and rumors about Piaggio's three-wheeled wonder, it's definitely a place you should be frequenting. Whether you're seeking info on fabricating your own footpegs, a source for winter tires, or information on Piaggio's roof-accessory and killer trailer (seen below) for MP3 family, this forum has become THE place to go for information.

Dang that's hot! A PAV for the 21st century.

Also check out this video, posted by Dudel which shows the MP5/ MP3 500/ Fuoco being put through a variety of paces.
Or my favorite MP5 / Fuoco video thus far, this Israeli review from the Hebrew show Fullgaz. Unfortunately, it's in Hebrew, but it has rocking background music (by Spearhead, I believe, at least it sure sounds like Michael Franti) and the shots of my favorite scoot off-roading in the Holy Land are pretty inspiring. What would Elijah ride?, eh? Oh, yeah this excellent vid comes to you thanks of JFredrik.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The Mp3 500 has even officially hit our backwards Yankee shores, but already I have copies of the parts book and shop manual, thanks to the MP3 forum's resident Brit curmudgeon, JimC. (You can find similar documents for the MP3 250, as well as a slew of other Piaggio and Vespa automatic scoots here, thanks to Modern Vespa's Patron Saint Jess.)

I'd like to spend a special thanks out to Jess, the founder of Modern Vespa, and kind soul who created a special sandbox there for those of us obsessed with these fantastic three-wheelers to play in. Jess has an MP3 250 himself, and his review of the bike is still the best and most indepth I've seen.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Beatle Bailey Scoots (and Bikes!)

One of the things I'm adjusting to with this move, is just how many extremely talented folks live hereabouts.
Keith Richards and Jose Feliciano both have been known to show up at a local saloon's open mic, for instance.
Or, these cool ads for our shop, that were tweaked by legendary cartoonist Mort Walker, creator of Beatle Bailey and Hi and Lois.
We had a drawing for an original comic by Mr. Walker, at the store recently, which afforded me the opportunity to chat with him a little. He is a sharp and congenial fellow, I must say.
Anyway, these ads with Beatle on a Vespa scooter, and a Triumph T100 motorcycle never fail to make me smile, so I thought I'd share them with you.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Breaking Bad: The Dragon's New Favorite Show

So, we have cable now, in our new house, and even before the writer's strike hit, I was underwhelmed with plethora options it offered me. Aside from Food Network offerings, there wasn't much that I felt I couldn't get on the internet or DVD.
But the ads for Breaking Bad on AMC definitely intrigued me. The idea of a drama based around a High School Chemistry teacher going to the dark side and cooking meth was just twisted enough to grab me. So I'd been anxiously awaiting the premiere.
Now that I've seen it, I've got to say that it exceeded my expectations, unlike the nearest thing to it, HBO's Weeds, which while it might be challenging and edgy to your average suburban viewer, was just kinda lame to this road-house dwelling reptilian. But Breaking Bad, at least the first episode, is smart and understated, adult drama, in the best definition of the term. There is adult language, but it is realistic, not incorporated for shock value; sexual content, but it moves the plot and character development, and is anything but sensationalistic or lurid; and adult situations, which are just that, adult, meaning complex and lost in shades of gray.
I'd be surprised by how much I like this series, if I hadn't watched the credits closely. Vince Gilligan who was behind some of my favorite X-Files episodes, as well as being the executive producer on The Lone Gunmen, is the executive producer, writer, and director of the series. Add to that the presence of Bryan Cranston, who I first remember putting in a craftsman like performance in an episode of the X-Files, and who later did a bang up job as the dad on Malcolm in the Middle, and you have the recipe for something special.
And it is special. Even before Walt White (what a great name, bringing up images of Disneyesque WASPness) "breaks bad", he portrays a realistic image of the besieged modern father figure. Neither the typical TV bumbling father, nor a stoic patriarch of either the malevolent or benevolent variety, he is simply an average joe family man, trying to make it in an indifferent world. Early in the premiere episode he is described by his DEA agent brother-in-law as looking like "Keith Richards with a glass of warm milk," when he is holding the former's service weapon.
I don't want to give too much of the story line away, because thankfully the plot is very driven by character development. But I do feel safe in giving you some details about Walt White, before he breaks bad.
There is a scene, early on, where Mr. White is addressing a High School Chemistry class, and he says, "Chemistry is the study of change... that's all of life," and as he speaks of chemistry, life, growth, decay, and transformation, he sounds like more of an alchemist than a scientist. And the Dragon, who has a soft spot for alchemists, was halfway sold on the character.
Later, when his teen-aged handicapped son is being mocked from sidelines while trying on jeans, and he... um... stands up for him... Well let's just say that was the point at which I was hooked.

Really, I don't wanna say too much more, other than you should check out Breaking Bad. It's on AMC Sundays @ 10pm EST. It's also available on iTunes, and (at least my cable company says) as a free on-demand selection, so you should still be able to catch the premiere. In the wasteland that is TV during the writer's strike, Breaking Bad, is a genuine draft clean pure water.

As Pinkman says to White, I'd say to Gilligan and Cranston:
"This is glass-grade... you're a damn artist!"

(Just as an aside, methamphetamines are potentially very dangerous, much study needs to be done on their effects, before I'd recommend their usage by anyone, particularly children.)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Paying Dues, or Jimmy Olsen's Blues

Well, I've progressed to working at Vespa Ridgefield full-time, and am basically loving it.
I add the qualifier to that statement, because at the tender age of 36, it kinda feels like I'm starting all over again. While I enjoy everyday at work, everyday is also a reminder of how much I have to learn. The concept of the aspiring journalist starting out in a newspaper's mail room comes to mind.
Which of course brings to mind, Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen:

Though the Spin Doctors were basically a hippie-jam band disguised as 90's alternative, I have always been quite fond of this song. I can not think of a better example of geeky white boy blues that actually has some funk to it.
Perhaps that fondness stems from the fact that, when the song initially came out, I was starting my longest running to date career, a job which paid me entry level wages, yet required me to wear a tie, while I lived downtown in metropolitan area, and rode a scooter work. It was hard not to feel an affinity to Jimmy Olsen, the every-boy construct so obviously thrown into the Superman Mythos so that the perceived average reader would have a sympathetic character to relate to.
Of course, in American Super-Hero Mythos, Jimmy Olsen was eventually replaced by Peter Parker. In Petey, we have a character who is a stand-in for the geeky reader (and, ***ahem*** rides a moped in the latest film interpretations) while also being the hero/ wish fulfillment vehicle of the story. But Spiderman could never provide us with the beautiful tension, that is Jimmy Olsen's Blues. The genius of Spiderman is that this tension is integrated into the character, which disallows the potential of the emotion of "I can't believe my dilemma is real, I'm competing with the man of steel." Spiderman's tension is more post-modern, one of competing with oneself.
Anyway, these points are academic. As the Dragon's humble alter-ego already HAS his Lois Lane, his MJ, and is quite content with her.
Still, professionally, here I am paying dues all over again. It is a strange feeling, humbling, yet invigorating at the same time.
While, officially, my job at Vespa Ridgefield is supposedly something along the lines of Office Manager, in reality it is do whatever I am able to. And right now, due to some obstacles beyond my control, I am unable to do a lot of the duties I was hired for. Instead, I am doing a lot of gopher work. And, honestly, I don't have a problem with that. I'm learning the business from the ground up, or basically, paying dues.
Today, for instance, I spent a lot of time cleaning and detailing bikes on the showroom. Now, it would be easy to see this task as a tedious and thankless one, yet I quite enjoyed it. Bikes are quite sensuous, easily an example of the kind of erotic technology which Cronenberg explores in many of his films. I guess that is why I am so attracted to painting on them. Painting is a sensuous, erotic experience, and painting on the sweeping curves of a bike exponentiates that sensation in way which canvas, paper, or pixels never could. So to me, detailing a bike is almost like foreplay.
Like Jimmy Olsen giving Lois Lane a back rub.

Oh, and if somehow, you didn't play the video, because you were carried away with my purple prose, well, you should. It's a student film (paying dues, again) that gives a visual narrative to the song. It hasn't had a lot of hits on Youtube, which is a shame, as I think it is a far superior music video for the song than the official one.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Scooter Scoop Sells Out!

Of course I kid!
I kid because I love!
The Dragon wishes extreme congratulations to Steve Guzman of the Scooter Scoop for his new job as US front man for Italjet scooters.
While it has been mentioned in the scooter blogsphere that Steve is putting his credibility on the line with this development, and even Steve himself has said that he may stop reviewing other scooter manufacturer's products because of a possible perceived conflict of interest, I don't see it. Steve has always been enthusiastic without being fanboy blind in his reviews, and I really doubt that will change.
The main advice the Dragon can give to him is, Damn it, Steve! Make those Italians bring a Dragster stateside, ASAP!
But really, friends, as a new employee of a Vespa dealership, I gotta say, be very discerning in your critiques of the the stateside dealers and importers of scooters. Despite our passion for this particular form of conveyance, most international scooter manufacturers view the US market as an afterthought.
So if Steve is forced to deliver us bad news, don't blame the messenger. You know as well as I, that he is doing the best he can.

Scootercast Update

So, since moving I've been playing catch up on a lot of aspects of my life, in particular, my online life. One of my most shameful procrastinations has been the pile up of Scootercasts in my podcast subscriptions.
I have been trying to catch up for sometime, but quite honestly, it felt like a never ending battle. Dave is so diligent with his podcasting duties, that listening to a couple a month, when I got the chance, was like treading water. Today, though, I had the opportunity to get up to date with Dave's podcasts, and I gotta tell ya, if you haven't been checking out Scootercast religiously, you have been missing out. It seems like each show is better than the last, and in each one Dave's easy going, mellow, scooterist-next-door, personality just shines through.
In particular I recommend his latest installment, where he talks about Steve Guzman of the Scooter Scoop's latest coup of becoming the US contact for Italijet. Congratulations, by the way, Steve, and kick those guys into gear! We wanna see a 250cc Dragster stateside, stat!
I also got a big kick outta the extended length interview with Bobo of Cannonball fame about scootertouring.
In a way it is hard to believe that it's been a year since Dave started the ScooterCast. But listening to the latest installments, and the increase in confidence and professionalism that Dave exudes in his interviews, soundmixing, and editing, it's obvious that he has been putting alot into this project.
The Dragon lifts a mead horn to hoping that 2008 is as entertaining and educational for Scootercast as 2007. Thanks for all the great listens, Dave!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Flying Car (ver)

Long time readers know I've got a soft-spot for the Carver and it's green Yank cousin the Venture One.
While we are still waiting to see these fantastic toys.... er, uh, I mean engineering marvels stateside, another Dutch company has taken the basic Carver design, and well...
The only way I can think to explain it, is the designers were in an Amsterdam "coffee" house and they took the Venture One's tagline of "Fly the Road" a little too literally. Because the PAL-V has rotors which unfold and turn it into a small autogyro.

That's right kids, it's the 21st century, and HERE is your flying car.

For many decades people have been dreaming of a flying car to enable fast and easy door to door transportation. Until 2004/2005 this has not been possible because of the following reasons:

  1. Flying regulations sofar did not allow certification of standard technology, resulting in a cost price which is far too high to make a solution affordable.

  2. Flying regulations sofar made licensing complicated.

  3. To make a flying vehicle its body needs to be narrow but narrow vehicles are unstable in the corners while driving.

  4. Governmental bodies in many countries were not in favor of personal flying.

But this is now solved:

  1. New certification rules in the US (2004) and in Europe (2005) allow for easy certification with standard components enabling a drastic cost breakthrough for airplanes under 600kg.

  2. Since 2004 (US) and 2005 (Europe) new licensing rules enable easy and affordable access to personal flying.

  3. This stability problem has recently been solved by Carver Engineering (see by using the unique DVC(TM) technology for which patents have been granted. PAL-V Europe BV has an exclusive right to apply this technology for their application."

  4. In the US the “High-way In The Sky” (HITS) -program is being developed to allow extensive personal air traffic. In Europe initiatives have been initiated to develop a copy of this system. Air regulation and certification bodies in Europe have been reorganized to change into enabling bodies instead of blocking bodies.

-from the PAL-V "why is this possible now" page.

image © 2006 Spark Design Engineering
via Glowguy on ModernVespa

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Quicksilver: The Dieselpunk Honda Elite.

Nemo Gould has completed his exceedingly lovely and original Retro-Futurist Scooter, which I have previously mentioned. Even better he has posted an instructables page with step-by-step details of the project!
Wow, Nemo, that is one sexy scoot! Maybe my dreams of an Anachronistic Scooter Society (or A.S.S. for short) aren't so far fetched after all.


Gaslight Justice League

There is something just right about he pairing of retro futurism or Alternative Histories with action figure modding. Especially, superhero action figures. Alternative History, while long a staple of science fiction, was first introduced to me through the Hiesenbergian multi-verses of comic book mythologies. It seems a hair's breadth away from fan-fiction in the realm of reappropriating pop icons for individual purposes. Action figure modding, seems like fan-fiction made tangible. So these Steampunk renditions of the Justice League feel particularly apropos. Of course the artistry with which they are executed doesn't hurt.

My favorites are the Flash, and Hawkgirl, but you should check out all of them.

via Brass Goggles

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Beugler Pinstriper

A bike show is nothing if not a display of toys for children who refuse to grow up. The toy that I returned most desirous of, is pictured above, the Beugler Pinstriper, a sort of technical pen for paint. It takes One-Shot enamel, unthinned, and rolls it down without the drips and stops you might wrestle with using traditional pinstriping brushes. Judging from the patent, this puppy has been around for awhile, and I vaguely remember discussing it with a former landlord who did a lot of automotive restoration. But it wasn't until I saw it being used last week end that I really appreciated it.
Now, don't get me wrong, I have heaping loads of respect for traditional pinstripers,, and would even like to learn that craft some day. But as an artiste with aspirations to do custom scooters, this puppy would sure come in handy. There have even been a few fine-art paintings I've worked on where I wished for a technical pen which would accept paint.
There are many sized heads, or more accurately wheels available for this, including double line wheels. It's a little spendy for the initial investment, but if you are doing even a little custom painting on the side, it would quickly pay for itself. Actually, considering what a traditional pinstripper charges, it would pay for itself just in one job for yourself.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Biker Charities and Causes

Among the booths at the NYC Int. MC Show were several with humanitarian goals.

Now if you've never known personally a stereotypical "Outlaw" biker, or any motorcyclists for that matter, this might surprise you. On the other hand, perhaps you've seen an annual parade of leather, chrome, tattoos, and baby dolls, otherwise known as a toy-ride and wondered at the surreality of the vision. Having spent alot of time around grizzled Vietnam era vets who looked like Charles Manson on steroids in my youth, such images cause the Dragon no cognitive dissonance. I'll share a secret known only to the initiated, a lot of those intimidating blokes with frightening monikers such as Snake and Blade, are just big teddy bears. Sure you don't want to cross them, by why would you? Most of these guys have hearts bigger than a 100 cubic inch V-twin.

One of the most crowded booths at the NYC show was manned by Dee Snider, front man for the metal group, Twisted Sister. I have to admit on my first pass, I was a little star-struck and didn't notice what the booth was for, which was Dee Snider's Bikers for Babies, an annual fundraising ride for the March of Dimes. You can find a video about the ride here. It's really touching stuff.

We discovered another worthy cause when Jes was drawn into the Women in Motorcycling booth. This group told us about the Pony Express Riders, who organize annual rides to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Check 'em out, cool ladies doing good things, and of course the fellas are welcome, too.

You might be noticing a trend, in that these biker's charities tend to use rides as their fund raisers. Heck, why just talk the talk and throw some money at an issue, when you can get a group a together and ride. Nothing captures folks attention like a large group of bikers, and you were gonna be riding anyway, right?

The last ride-for-a-cause we were exposed to at the show, and the one I would most like participate in (though I'm not sure about doing it on a 200cc two-stroke) is the MLK Memorial Million Motorcyclists Motorcade March on Washington. There is a $100 million goal to build a Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C., to date $84 million has been raised, ten years after the beginning of fund-raising. This is a slightly more political cause than the others, but it is one I believe is more relevant than ever. The last two presidential elections were marked by what can most optimistically be called irregularities at polling places, and these irregularities were most deeply displayed in African-American neighborhoods. Despite how you feel about the outcome of those elections, you should be enraged not just that a community whose political enfranchisement came at the cost of their blood, and the blood of concerned others, is having their democratic voice slowly and insidiously silenced. No, you should be most enraged, positively livid, that so little has been said about this smothering of liberty.

Stepping down off the soap box now.

NYC International Motorcycle Show

So last Sunday, Jes and I got to go the International MC Show in NYC. I got free tickets through work, though I had to work the Piaggio/Vespa/Moto Guzzi booth for a while.
The Piaggio booth was right in front of the main entrance, so the first bike I saw upon arrival was the one I'd come to see. That's right the Gilera Fuoco 500ie... er ah, the Piaggio MP3 500...
Dang that's hot! Fuoco is the better name for it, 'cause it is so freaking hot.
Gotta get me one! Gonna have to start promoting my airbrushing some, cause the $8900 price tag ain't pocket change.

Of course there were a lot of examples of custom airbrushing at the show.

Above was one of my favorites. Not the most showy as far as airbrush technique goes, but an original concept which fit the bike well. Plus a Star Wars theme always has geek appeal.

The above two paint jobs are indicative of the better examples of airbrushing we saw. Technically accomplished, but well, kind of adolescent in subject matter. Not that I'd have any reservations about painting such things, just that I wouldn't want to do them on my bike. I mean it's a Custom bike. You're spending thousands of dollars to get a unique expression of your personality, and you get flames and dead things just like everyone else. Still the knotwork on the green skull bike is pretty cool, I suppose I wouldn't kick it out of the garage for dripping a little oil.

I quite liked the above paint job. Almost a Cyberpunk feel to it. An abstraction of mechanized power. I'm probably a year or two away from being able to afford my coveted MP3 500, but of course I'm already contemplating how to custom paint one. Right now I'm kind of leaning towards something like that, but more Steampunk than Cyber, if you know what I mean.
What would a bike show be with out some classic beauties? Of course there weren't any cherry Vespa GSs, but there was the above 1953 Vincent Black Lightning.
Pardon me a moment, while I wipe the drool off my keyboard.

An of course there were classic Harleys. This former speed record holder was pretty interesting.
And while it wasn't vintage, or a record holder, I quite liked the looks of this new Harley. That semi-gloss metallic paint was quite the canine's mammarys.
Ah, now we are talking! Got a glimpse of this classic Lambretta parked outside surrounded by 1200cc monstrosities. Reminding me what I love about two-wheeling.

Of course there were all kinds of oddities at the show, besides your humble narrator. Check this Argo amphibious vehicle. Available for sportspeople and law enforcement.
You'll notice that I've been vague at best in identifying most of the motorcycles I've shown. Well I'm a scooterist, the details often get lost on me. This puppy certainly made an impression though. It's the BMW R1200GS Adventure, and it's the kind of bike that makes you feel like adolescent dreams of touring to Tibet just might be attainable...

Well that's about it for my decent photos from the show. In the next few days I'll try and post some details about some of the other discoveries I made on the exposition floor.

Babies Are Evil!

I always new babies were evil, but Neatorama has the proof... videos of infants and toddlers giving out the hairy eyeball, and cackling like Dr. Frankenstein on the set of a Cheech and Chong film. The evil eye vid, which has been circulating around for a bit is the winner in my book. I mean anyone can chortle maniacally whilst contemplating future misdeeds, but it takes a special kind nefariousness to inspire and fear and obedience in one's minions while wearing a poopy diaper.

Oh and if you are expecting an evil genius prodigy of your own soon, Neatorama also has a link to a service that creates birth announcements in the vein of rock show flyers. Mommy's Little Monster, indeed!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Wood Airbrush Stand

Airbrush artist Sascha Gast crafted this lovely airbrush rack/stand which accomodates 9 airguns, a manifold, bottles of paint, and some traditional brushes. Man this beautiful thing would look great standing next to any easel.

Via Kustom Kulture Lounge

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Day Hangover...

Surprisingly, your humble narrator hasn't got one, but if you do... and even if you don't, I have quite the thing for you.
A heaping helping of Richard E. Grant, perhaps best known as Withnail from the cult film Withnail and I. The film is the most touching portrayal of drunken bohemian squalor filled friendship I can think of, alternating between hilarious and sad. You can view it in bite-sized chunks by clicking the title link, where you will also find interviews with the cast and crew, and instructions on a drinking game for the film. Though, I must warn you that the drinking game followed exactly is recipe for disaster, if not actual fatality through alcohol poisoning.

We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now.

If the misadventures of wasted youth are not your cup of tea, you might be more entertained by Posh Nosh, in which Grant plays Simon Marchmont, a soused and snobby gourmand.

If click through the above video and go to Youtube, you'll find several more of these great shorts, which originally aired on the BBC.

Well, Happy New Year to you. I'm off to scare up some victuals.
So, does anyone know what wine goes best with black-eyed peas?