April 23, 2013

Beemer Memories Pt. 1 ~ the end & the beginning

 1972 BMW R60/5 motorcycle
photo by Styrous®

I sold my BMW bike today! I watched with a pang of panic (but not sadness for some reason) as the new owner rode off down the street on it happy with his new dream, leaving me with my old memories. Yes, I sold my beautiful Beemer but not the wonderful memories of over 40 years of happy (well, sometimes not so happy) adventures.  

This is the order of the memories that popped into my brain as I watched my old buddy vanish forever into the new life that lay ahead.       

Before the helmet law went into effect I only wore mine on the freeways. On highways or back roads I strapped it to the buddy bars. I remembered riding along the roads in the Sierra foothills during fantastically hot summers with the exciting visual of the rush of the road under my feet on the foot pegs; the warm wind blowing through my hair; the strobe effect on my face and sunglasses as the sun filtered down through the trees overhanging the road, and the throbbing of my hardy steed between my legs sending pulsating rhythms from my crotch to my brain. A very erotic sensation, to be honest.

Next I remembered the year when the motorcycle helmet law went into effect. A couple of hours or so before midnight, on New Year's Eve, I rode around and around and around the figure 8 of Twin Peaks without my helmet for the last time. It was freezing cold but I was not going to pass up the last opportunity to be free of a cocooned existence on what should be a liberating, exhilarating and even ecstatic experience.   

And last, I recalled the first time I rode my Beemer. I had never driven a bike in my life. I had dreamed of having one ever since I saw the 1953 film, The Wild One, when I was thirteen.  

The Wild One movie poster

The film featured an impossibly handsome and incredibly young Marlon Brando as biker Johnny Strabler. Brando's acting and Strabler's image made cynicism, hoodlumizm (is there such a word?) and disrespect attitudes well worth emulating. 

still from the film, The Wild One

What hot-blooded, 13-year-old, American boy didn't aspire to an image like this one? The film featured a jazz score by Leith Stevens and it was my first exposure to jazz as well. 

The Wild One album cover
photographer unknown
photo of album cover by Styrous®

The film was banned in England for decades and was the first to depict teen rebellion, dissatisfaction and alienation. At one point during the film, Brando and Mary Murphy ride on his bike along the highway with the moonlight flickering through the leaves of the trees while the velvety-smooth jazz trumpet of Shorty Rogers gently serenades them as they dreamily glide along; a night-time prediction of my summer idylls to come two decades later. I would always hear that theme, Windswept, from the movie, when I rode down a road or highway with trees overhead and the strobe of the sunlight coming through them.  


But I digress. In case you forgot, I was talking about my first ride on my Beemer. I had never even driven a bike before (I'd ridden as a buddy on the back of one two or three times); I only knew I had to have one. The salesman at Dave Golden Motorcycles who sold it to me took me out to the parking lot, gave me a five minute lesson in how to drive it then scooted me out into the rush hour traffic of Valencia Street. I don't think I've ever been so terrified in my life. It was only seven blocks from the dealership to my studio but I thought the ride would never end. I was so frightened by my first ride it took me two or three days before I could muster up the courage to get on it again. 

My, oh my; that was over 40 years ago!

I wish the new owner a tenth of the joy I had from my old Beemer buddy. He will be deliriously happy for the rest of his life.  

Surely, to be continued . . . 

Styrous® - April 23, 2013


1 comment:

  1. My Dearest Uncle Max,
    I came to Grandma's in San Francisco in February of 1972 at the age of 19 with my 1 year old baby Michael. You came and picked me up to take me for a day's long journey on your new baby BMW. We went through Golden Gate as well as the Cliff House and along the Beach. You also introduced me to the infamous Corn Dog and after telling you I never had one you said. "What? You haven't lived until you've had a Corn Dog!" and insisted it had to be eaten with Mustard ;} We then went along the Beach and through many, many hills before going home at the end of our day. It was a wonderful Memory on your bike that day and I thought {and still do} you were absolutely the best Uncle ever! I've been on many Motorcycles {as we've always owned one as well} but the day on your bike is the best memory I have on any bike...I wish we took a picture {though I want to say I think we did :} THANK YOU!

    I Love You, Conni


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