Sunday, August 21, 2005

Daytona Beach motorcycling as metaphor

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in Daytona Beach, Florida, which would appear to be the dark neutron heart of the motorcycle universe. There are about eleventy-bazillion motorcycles there, and that’s not during Bike Week or Biketoberfest or BikesGiving or Bikemas or the Bikth of July or Bikennukah or any of the other motorcycle-related events the city is known for.
Being a motorcyclist in Florida doesn't seem to require much; the bar is set pretty low and everyone who has a mind to ride seems to clear the threshold without difficulty. The climate is mild, dipping in the dead of winter down to what most of us expect to ride in from about October to mid-May. The sun always shines except for the twenty minutes a day it is raining. The rain--which is a given--is brief, intense and warm, and gone promptly. Three hundred and fifty nine days of the year are suitable for riding; the other week is best spent either in a shelter or going to the Home Depot to buy blue tarps. The roads are flat and straight. Helmets are optional, and when you see a rider with a helmet, it is usually strapped to some part of the bike’s frame—handy just in case the rider decides to have a use for it. It will typically be decorated with highly opinionated stickers, and may in fact be borrowed from a Halloween (…excuse me, Bikeoween) costume. The rare riders who wear riding gear—helmet, gloves, boots, protective jacket or even full leathers or riding suits—stick out like sore thumbs. The oppressive heat and humidity during much of the year makes full gear somewhat onerous; the standard kit is sunglasses, shorts, sneakers and cigarette; everything else is optional. Even the heavily tattooed--and they are legion--ride with their precious acreage of pain-won art exposed to the sky, the rain, the pavement, without a second thought. I actually saw one rider in Speedo, flip-flops, shades and cigarette, tooling down A1A without a worry in the world. Yikes.
What this brings to mind is that being a motorcyclist in Florida is a lot like being “patriotic” in the United States right now. There is nothing expected from you, no shared sacrifice, to price to pay, no burden to carry, no threshold to cross, no effort to be expended. All you need to do is shut up, don’t question anything, slap a magnetic ribbon sticker on your SUV (wow, there’s a commitment for you—a magnetic sticker) saying you support our troops, and get your pre-digested, preapproved news from the Foxpaganda News Network. We need to get back to the point where talkng honestly and openly about what we are doing is not considered treasonous or treacherous. Dissent is the backbone of patriotism.
By the way, for those of you who might be unclear on the concept, it’s not “supporting the troops” when you drive an SUV--it’s supporting the terrorists. "Supporting the Troops" would mean getting their asses out of the shithole we've abandoned them in and getting them back to their families right away.
War is Peace.
Freedom is Slavery.
Ignorance is Strength.
And if you don’t believe this,

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