Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘CA’

Easy Rider Poster at Sunset Gower Studio

Easy Rider Poster at Sunset Gower Studio

Last spring I happen to be in Hollywood on a work gig and got a Sunset Gower Studio tour.  Sunset Gower has been part of the Hollywood film history since there was a Hollywood.

While wandering through the writers’ suites and the studio lot I walked down this hallway and came across an Easy Rider poster.  The Sunset Gower sound stages were used for the movie.

No one could have predicted that Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda’s small budget film, fueled by motorcycles and amazing music would redefine pop culture.

In fact, it’s impossible to even think about this film without the opening riff of Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” echoing in your head.  In the movie industry, it’s rare that a film and its soundtrack break through to the masses.  Easy Rider was an incredible success commercially and culturally (it inspired an entire genre and a hundred knockoffs), and the impact of the soundtrack was revolutionary.

“The idea was to have the music which accompanies the cross-country cycling scenes reflect current times,” Peter Fonda told Rolling Stone in 1969. By compiling prerecorded tracks and music specifically created for the film to make a “musical commentary” and companion to the movie.

IMG_2785Additionally, the Easy Rider soundtrack laid the groundwork for Michelangelo Antonioni’s Pink Floyd-led Zabriske Point the following year and nearly every classic film soundtrack of the next four decades, from Singles to Forrest Gump to Drive.

The soundtrack paints a picture of the counterculture on the brink of the Seventies.   Steppenwolf’s get-on-your-bike-and-ride anthem along with the bluesy dealer epic “The Pusher,” and the classic cuts from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Holy Modal Rounders and the Byrds (whose Roger McGuinn also scored the film) makes an epic film.

As the story goes, Bob Dylan was recruited by Peter Fonda to pen the film’s theme “Ballad of Easy Rider,” (soundtrack) and after jotting out a few lines, told the actor to give the lyrics to McGuinn to flesh out.

Photos taken by author and courtesy of Sunset Gower Studio and Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Pony Express2It was a 10-day, 1,900-mile motorcycle journey across seven western states from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, and took place September 15-24, 2009.

The Pony Express occupies a disproportionate part of the history of the American West.  Cruel hours, terrible weather, life-threatening hostility in every direction, and poor prospects for retirement.   Yet folks lined up to ride uncertainly through trackless and forbidding territory, to sleep on a hard, cold dirt pile and be awakened by the sound of gunfire.

The H.O.G. touring rally retraced the historic route that the original Pony Express riders followed in 1860-61 as they moved mail through America’s Wild West.  Points of interest included various museums tracing the history of the famous ride, and actual Pony Express Station facilities and monuments as well as the opportunity to stand on the original Pony Express trail in several locations.  Ride activities included seven dealer-sponsored events along the route.  Rally attendees covered territory that tested the endurance skills of Pony Express riders on horseback nearly 150 years ago.

 

Pony Express Ride Map

Pony Express Ride Map

There were a number of special events to highlight on this ride.

The first was at Flaming Gorge Harley-Davidson in Green River WY., where Willie G and his wife Nancy participated in a Friendship Dance with the Native American dancers from the Wind River Indian Reservation.

There was also a 500–mile riding stint from Salt Lake City to Carson City, Nev., that was recognized with a unique “500-mile” pin commemorating that segment of the rally.

In addition, all the riders and HOG general manager Benny Suggs along with Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons visited the Northwest Territorial Mint in Dayton, NV on September 23, 2009.  They presented Suggs with a silver medallion along and approximately 500 HOG members also received a version of the national HOG challenge coin which featured the official Harley Owners Group logo on one side and the HOG shield on the other.  Each was uniquely edgemarked with the text, “Pony Express Ride 2009” for the event.  No other HOG challenge coins have been edgemarked, making them prized Harley-Davidson collectibles.

There are a number of ways to enjoy the Pony Express National Historic Trail these days, but not many can say they rode with Willie G on the Pony Express ride!

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Near Blackwell Hill

Near Blackwell Hill

Just 4 days into the New Year for the first motorcyclist arrest.

Patrick Whalen Parks, age 21 was taken into custody on I-5 at mile post 38 southbound on Blackwell Hill, just south of Gold Hill for reckless driving, driving while suspended—violation, driving uninsured and expired vehicle registration.

How’s that defiance thing working out for you Patrick?

Mr. Parks, who is from El Sobrante, CA and was taken into custody by OSP troopers, was riding a Suzuki motorcycle weaving in and out of traffic in a dangerous manner at over 100 MPH.  At one point passing vehicles on the inside median and almost caused a crash.

Even though motorcycling is a respectable form of recreation we continue to see isolated incidents each year by bad actors that generate negative press and mare the motorcycling image.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Hat-On-High“A little piece of you,
The little piece in me
Will Die
For this is not America”

It’s a song (HERE) by jazz fusion band Pat Metheny Group, Lyle Mays and rock singer David Bowie.

The song is profound and meaningful – and absolutely perfect for today’s circumstances.  But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

I’m an avid HDTV watcher.  The last few days I’ve spent time on the RETRO (RetroPlex) channel.  Interestingly there’s been an increase of movies about disillusioned civilian contractors working in the U.S. Government on the line-up.  Covert operations complete with code names, spy camera’s that even Bond would be envious.

someone-talkedIn the 1970’s it was called the “black vault” (classified communications center).  Move forward 30+ years and it’s a data center called PRISM which serves as a communication facility to vacuum up information on millions of private citizens in contradiction to the 4th amendment.

And while we’re on the topic, I was under the impression that the NSA hired Ph.D’s with military service, but now we learn that Edward Snowden, a low-level IT technician making $200K a year – only in America could a civilian contractor who didn’t graduate high school or complete college make $200K – used a banned USB thumb drive to smuggle documents.

I just don’t understand the lack of outrage about his salary, but I’m off point.

Mr. Snowden stated that he justified smuggling documents because the intelligence community had become the United Stasi of America – a reference of the surveillance powers over their own citizens that the East German Stasi – the secret police in the former Democratic Republic of East Germany.

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR)

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR)

Is this déjà vu all over again?

You might recall that back in 1979, journalist Robert Lindsey chronicled the true story of Andrew Daulton Lee and Christopher John Boyce.  Two high school buddies from good families who were tried and convicted of espionage.  Boyce’s FBI agent father landed the floundering 21-year-old a job at TRW who developed and manufactured satellites for the CIA.  Boyce became disillusioned after learning about the CIA activity to remove Australia’s Prime Minister Gough Whitlam because he wanted to close U.S. military bases.  With Lee’s help, Boyce set out to sell government secrets to the Soviets.

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR) - Radar

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Radar – “Prairie Pyramid”

In 1985, the book was turned into a film called The Falcon and the Snowman.

As I watched the movie on RETRO, I was reminded of my employment at ITT/Federal Electric Corporation.  I worked at the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR) or as the locals called it, the “prairie pyramid.”  It was the only operational ABM (Anti-ballistic Missile) defense system.  It’s mission was to defend the continental U.S. from a ballistic missile attack from the USSR or China.  And similar to the movie, security requirements of any installation housing nuclear weapons are specific and extensive.  There were 30 Spartans (long-range intercepts) and 70 Sprint (close-in intercepts) missiles on the complex.  I initially worked at the MSR (Missile Site Radar) facility for about a year prior to receiving a restricted access clearance.  I was then moved to the RSL (Remote Site Launch) facilities which housed the close-in intercept missiles and on many occasions had access to “exclusion areas” (nuclear missile field) in the facility.  The RSL’s were hardened against nuclear blast and were capable of operating autonomously while “buttoned up” during an attack.

RSL (Remote Site Launch) #2

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex – RSL (Remote Site Launch) #2

After all these years the Edward Snowden story speaks to me, both at a national level and from the mundane working world.

Christopher Boyce justified his actions by claiming he was selling information in the hopes of fostering peace between the Soviet Union and the U.S.  Or there was Daniel Ellsberg who in 1971, as a leading Vietnam War strategist concluded that America’s role in the war was based on decades of lies so he leaked 7,000 pages of top-secret documents to the New York Times.  It was a daring act that ultimately helped lead to Watergate, President Nixon’s resignation and the end of the war.  Do you recall when Nixon stated: “Quit making national hero’s out of those who steal secrets and publish them in the newspaper.”

Spartan commemorative plaque in Langdon, N.D.

Spartan commemorative plaque in Langdon, N.D.

Unfortunately in 2013 this all sounds similar.

Then in Oregon we have the “slippery slimy” Senator Ron Wyden who tried to cast himself in a positive light.  Being on the Intelligence Committee, he had been briefed and knew the answer, but ask the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, “do you collect telephone data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”  Mr. Clapper should have duck the question – neither confirm or deny here in open session – but instead he provided the least “untruthful answer” – or LIED.

Hey, I want to defeat the terrorists as much as the next guy, but harvesting data on millions of innocent American’s…  I don’t recall signing up for that or empowering a despotic government here in the U.S.

And long before PRISM there was Good Will Hunting.  Why shouldn’t I join the NSA?  It’s a classic!

You might wonder where Christopher Boyce is now?  In 1977 he was convicted of espionage and spent time in various federal prisons.  In 1980, he made headlines when he escaped from Lompoc, CA., and remained on the run for 19 months while supporting himself by robbing banks in the Pacific Northwest.  In 1997, he was released from the medium-security prison in Sheridan, OR., and sent to a halfway house in San Francisco.  He married Cait Boyce, the woman who helped him fight for parole.  In 2003 at the age of 50 years old, he was released from the halfway house.  He remains free, but on parole until 2046, his original release date.  Mr. Lee was paroled in 1998.

Photos courtesy of U.S. Army, some taken by author at the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR) – near Nekoma, and Langdon, N.D.   Note: On the Falcon & the Snowman soundtrack the name of the song – This Is Not America is “Chris.”

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Thomas “Gypsy” Quinn – Laffing Devils Motorcycle Club

Pardon me, but your character is showing…

Companies that support reality programming are a bell weather of the culture.  Reality TV programming is an expansive industry label, and runs the gamut from Michael “Mike” Rowe (Dirty Jobs), Adam Savage (MythBusters), Jake Harris (Deadliest Catch) to Thomas Quinn (The Devil’s Ride).  The one consistent characteristic of these type of TV shows is the dramatization of “real” events and occupations.

And in The Devils Ride dramatization, there includes an element of criminality and deviance which is posed as “entertainment” and is a constant factor in their so-called everyday motorcycle club life.

Speaking of lifestyles and the failure to realize the impact on other people…  Thomas “Gypsy” Quinn (age 43 ), ex-president of the Laffing Devils Motorcycle Club (now disbanded) and star of Discovery’s – The Devil’s Ride, was arrested August 28th on suspicion of committing a lewd act with a minor.  Specifically he was arrested on suspicion of having oral sex with his minor stepdaughter.  Mr. Quinn was arrested at 10am outside Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, CA. and bailed out the next day.  I don’t have independent confirmation, but it’s been reported in motorcycle forums that the stepdaughter is a child of his ex-wife and that she was 10 years old at the alleged time of this event.

As all the facts come to light and if the arrest results in a conviction – I point this out because Mr. Quinn and his ex-wife have been in a contentious battle for custody of children (different children than the alleged victim), and this could be an attempt to pit one parent against the other through the kids “crying wolf” prompted by the ex-wife.  Crazier things have happened and as of Sept 5th Mr. Quinn still has not been charged. He was supposed to be arraigned on that day, however San Diego’s District Attorney is still mulling over charging him.  So, it’s prudent to maintain the innocent until proven guilty theme.

But, speaking of guilt — when a publically traded company Discovery Communications (DISCA) maintains tacit support (by its silence) of a reality TV actor accused of child molestation – its sending a powerful message.  I’m not cutting Discovery Channel any slack on this.  It’s my viewpoint that David Zaslav, CEO Discovery Communications or David Pritikin, Discovery Channel Executive Producer of The Devils Ride missed the opportunity to build a meaningful and authentic connection with its viewers.  The company should have released a formal response about the arrest/allegations, but as is often the situation the economic incentive, and publicity has them instead remaining silent.  SILENCE from the very same company who just released an award winning documentary, “Sin By Silence” to raise awareness of domestic abuse!  In this post-Sandusky era of saying nothing to avoid bad publicity… that is shameful.

The lines between culture and commerce mean companies, their Reality TV programs and the actors often blur the lines between reality and representation, where the ability to determine what is real and what is not is increasingly brought under question.  There have been a lot of critics about whether the Laffing Devils Motorcycle Club is real.

Child sexual exploitation be it fabricated or real is serious.   I don’t know how this will ultimately play out for Mr. Quinn, but clearly it’s a sad family tragedy.

References: Sin By Silence movie trailer; Fox 5 San Diego; Channel 10 News;  Channel 6 news

Photo courtesy of Discovery and Quiet Little Place Productions.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

I was in L.A. last week driving down part of Route 66 towards the Santa Monica pier and through Beverly Hills enjoying the nice California  weather.

There were more yet-to-be licensed Benzes, Ferraris and Porsches over a three-mile stretch than I’ve seen in the past year.  And here I was in an ultra-cool Nissan Cube rental, arm out the window and for a few blocks co-mingling with the rich and famous.

Speaking of… did you read that the Harley-Davidson president and CEO, Keith Wandell, opted not to have his base salary increased in 2011, according to a proxy statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

On the surface this – “we’re all in it together” – grand gesture would make a person believe that a CEO who accepts a ZERO increase in salary is saying they’re a team player who wants to make a sacrifice for the good of the company.  After all wasn’t it Harley-Davidson management that laid-off hundreds of workers, closed plants and obtained impressive union concessions in a new multi-tiered workforce structure for the survival of the company?

Call me cynical, but when I hear about these it seems more like “camouflage” to deflect scrutiny off the extraordinary set of CEO benefits or at minimum to get publicity and produce significant positive short-term market reaction.

In fact, there are a number of reports which suggest these type of salary tactics are nothing but a ruse or smokescreen as a number of CEOs have adopted these pay schemes.  It’s the kind of opportunistic behavior from those wealthier, more confident, influential CEO’s rather than sacrificial acts they are ‘projected’ out to be.

I certainly don’t know if or what Mr. Wandell’s intent was, but we do know his total compensation in 2011 rose nearly 13% to about $7.2 million, compared with $6.4 million in 2010.  We also know the motor company paid Mr. Wandell a bonus of $365,639 in 2011.  He also received a base salary of $975,037 in 2011, equal to his salary in 2010.

And to be clear this post isn’t about wealth envy or whining about how it must be nice to be rich.  We all know that rich people and bankers are beating the system.  They’re writing off multi-thousand dollar meals with rare wines at places with unlisted phone numbers that you/I can’t get into.  Unless you just woke up in North Korea, then you know that in America, if you don’t like what you earn, where you work or what you do for a living then you’re entitled to leave (quit) and go start a company, further your education or do whatever the hell you want.  It’s clear that company’s exist to make a profit for their shareholders and if the shareholders don’t like what the CEO is doing, or earning then they can fire the board of directors to include the CEO.

But wait there’s even more.  Mr. Wandell received total cash bonus payments, both discretionary and performance-based, totaling more than $2.8 million in 2011, compared with cash bonus payments of about $2.3 million in 2010.  His stock awards were valued at $1.5 million, compared with $1.4 million in 2010, while his option awards were valued at $1.7 million, compared with $1.6 million the previous year.  He also received “other” compensation totaling about $175,000 in 2011, compared with about $84,000 in 2010. The payments included $29,600 in lieu of receiving certain perquisites and personal benefits, nonqualified deferred compensation plan contributions of $68,466, 401(k) plan contributions of $31,850, and life insurance premiums of $13,727. He also received additional benefits that totaled $25,478 consisting of financial planning services, personal use of company aircraft and clothing.

What’s the punch line?

Well given that Mr. Wandell has made things happen, meaning that as “Head Honcho” he made moves that H-D insiders historically shied away from.  He played hardball with dealers, shed crappy brands, cut labor contracts, made major job cuts and closed plants. Some folks were let go just prior to Christmas, but unfazed he continued to trim the fat and raised cash by selling some old investments, like Harley’s semi-secret test track in the Everglades.  He also challenged Harley’s own traditional norms by altering its marketing strategy to attract non-traditional segments, like women and minorities.  He also embarked on an international growth strategy that will eventually bring the all the products, the parts, the lifestyle, and the American V-Twin to enthusiasts worldwide.  The financial numbers speak for themselves.

All this from a guy who came to the Motor Company and did not even ride any kind of motorcycle!  He’s earned a raise.  How hard is it to understand… Harley success = Industry success.

Photo taken by author’s iPhone and post-processed in Snapseed (Nik Software).

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Riding Down A Dirt Road

This is a sea change.  It’s some of the highest quality and best video story telling I believe Harley-Davidson has ever created – bar none.  Props to the marketing group and more importantly the agency, Campfire NYC, who are the creative storytelling folks behind this marketing experience.

The motor company has taken a unique and interesting approach on the motorcycle culture through the lens of its new “Harley-Davidson: The Ridebook.”

“The Ridebook” takes a look at the different people within the Harley culture.

The first video (HERE) in the series is about the Tomcats Barbershop in Brooklyn, NY.  Tomcats is co-owned by Joey Covington and Alex Melnichenko and has become the go-to place for motorcyclists to get 1950s-era haircuts.

Harley-Davidson plans to release a new video in “The Ridebook” series every week for the next five weeks.  The motor company described the “Ridebook” as:

“A riding manual from the voice of those few who cherish the search for a new scenery with the wind in their face. A glimpse into a stripped down lifestyle, free of the clutter and filled with style, quality, and the essentials.”

The next video in the “Ridebook” is called the HD Archive (By The Selvedge Yard), which will explore the Harley’s home in Milwaukee. Future videos include Bike Anatomy, Ghost Town U.S.A., H-D Vintage Fashion, and Open Air Playlist.

Watch the videos and be enlightened!

Dirt Road photo courtesy Hog Killers, Hawaiian Gardens, CA., Ridebook courtesy of H-D.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: