The Biker Code

I’m a biker.  That doesn’t mean I’m a thug or uneducated.  It means I choose to ride a motorcycle.  And I choose to live life a little more fully and little more dangerously. My friend Raven sent this Biker’s Code to me and I liked it.  So I’m going to republish it here.  I think it’s pretty solid advice.  Try to follow it.

The Bikers Code:

It used to be that all bikers shared a common bond, an unspoken code of ethics and behavior that transcended words and was built on actions. There was never a bible written on this Biker’s Code of the West and there was no need for such to me.  But the times are a-changin’ and there seems to be a lot of new riders out there. These days the riders you see blastin’ down the tarmac are just as likely to be clad in shorts and sneakers as jeans and engineer boots. And the roughest, toughest-looking biker you pull up next to could be your doctor or lawyer and may be wearin’ a Rolex watch under his leathers. There’s nothing wrong with that, so long as these new riders learn the Code of the West just as we old-timers did. 

Being a biker used to be about using your creativity to take a basket case old hawg and using only grit and ingenuity, turning it into a one of a kind eye dazzler, then risking your life on the asphalt on a bike you made yourself out of pride. Bikers wore leather and grease because they knew cagers would just as soon run them down as look at them, so they had to be intimidating. We were a breed unto ourselves with no union, no support group, and in many cases, no family (they threw us out). We had to make it in the world of our own, against all rules, against mainstream society, and against all odds. You know, we survived and prospered because of the Biker Code of the West and we never took shit from anybody. As an old scooter tramp named Jug once said, “It’s every tramp’s job to school the young. How else are they gonna know a Panhead from a bed pan?” With that in mind, we bring you a primer on the basic two-wheeled Code of the West. Take heed, brothers and sisters, for our Code is a hallowed one filled with honor and loyalty, the likes of which have not been since the days of knighthood. 

The Biker Commandments

* Don’t take any shit.  This is an essential part of being a biker. It has to do with respect and honor. Anyone can be a brash, quick- tempered lout. Be cool, stand tall and backup what you say with action. 

* Never lie, cheat or steal. Another way of saying this is to always tell the truth. Bikers are always the greasy bad guys in the movies, but every real biker knows that his word is his bond. Your word is all you have in life that is truly yours.

* Don’t Snivel. Absolutely no one likes or respects a sniveler.  Another way to think of it is, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Most of life’s little inconveniences work themselves out whether you snivel or not. 

* Never say die and never give up. Whether it’s in a fight, a debate, or a business deal, no matter how bad it gets, a biker never gives up. That’s why you see a lot of wealthy bikers these days, ’cause they don’t know how to quit in any element of their lives. In the biker world of rugged individualists, only the strong survive. 

* Help others.  Even moral support, if that is all you can give, is better than riding on by. Remember life is about the journey, the ride, not getting there. You already are there.  And don’t just help bikers, show the world that we are better than our image portrays us. Courtesy costs you nothing and gives you everything. 

* Stick to your guns. Do what you say you’ll do, be there when you say you will. This is called integrity. 

* Life is not a drill. Yeah, this ain’t no dress rehearsal. This is life-go out and take big bites of it. You’ve got no time to lose and bikers don’t stand around waiting for the party to come to them. You only go around once. Tomorrow you could be road kill, thanks to a chain smoker asleep at the wheel of his Caddy. Live life now, make the most of each moment.

– Author Unknown

A Hero or Two

A few months ago I saw two shows that reminded me that it’s good to have heroes.  Not the Superman kind of hero.  Someone famous or semi-famous that you can look towards to find an example of traits you’d like to nurture in yourself.  I know they’re undoubtedly flawed human beings too, but there’s still something about them that inspires something in me.  Maybe we can call them Squirrelhunters.

The first was David Alan Coe. If you don’t know who he is, find out.  He’s written  an incredible number of hit songs over the last 40 years.  Everyone from Loggins and Messina to Kid Rock record his songs.  He’s also been singing and performing for almost as long.  Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings are/were his best friends.  Enough said.  It was a great show filled with dozens of songs you knew played by an accomplished performer.  It was also in a tiny theater/community center in Petaluma.  There’s a tremendous disconnect between his level of accomplishment and the level of his fame.  Half way through the show he addressed this directly.  He said how proud he was that David Alan Coe would never be seen on MTV because David Alan Coe was never going to stop saying ‘Motherfucker’.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I like it.  It is a wonderful way of saying that he was not going to make himself bland just to make himself acceptable to the corporate masses.  Creative people tend to be ornery.  Interesting people tend to be a little rough around the edges.  Smart people sometimes don’t play well with others.  But the squirrels in society want everybody to be homogenous and easily controlled.  It was really inspiring for me to see somebody who gave up fame and undoubtedly fortune in order to keep saying ‘motherfucker’.  Would you rather be yourself or would you rather be rich?  This might be the question of our time.

The second show I saw was Henry Rollins.  I’d seen him before and I’m never disappointed.  He’s the last singer of Black Flag, a sometime actor, world traveler, and monologuist.  He’s another person who does his own thinking, in his own way.  He’s mad.  A lot.  It was a great reminder that there are a lot of crappy things in this world to get mad about.  The squirrels would like to take your anger because it gives you the power to try to change things.  So go ahead, find an injustice and get pissed off.  The squirrels hate it.

Are you strong enough to be yourself?  Am I?  Seeing these two guys helped.

Prop 8

Prop 8

Like everybody else I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the election, and like many people I was thrilled by the sight of a man with African heritage leading a country that once enslaved his people.  Great and heady stuff.  I’ve been voting since Carter/Reagan, and this was the first time I cast a presidential vote for someone I actually wanted to win.  I am a little tired with the constant theorizing about why and how he won.  How about this- he was just the better candidate?  It could happen you know.  The better guy wins.  That alone would be a reason to hope.  And I think he’ll be one hell of a president.  If it matters.  But we’ll get to that on some other day.

Having said this, election day made me profoundly sad.  The State of CA decided to amend it’s constitution to specifically discriminate against a minority by voting for prop 8.  The squirrels were busy that day.  I’m going to spend today’s post venting my spleen over this incredibly mean spirited turn of events.  It is exactly the kind of topic I get worked up about most.

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a straight man of northern European heritage.  I have no political party and belong to no organized religion.  In short, I have no personal horse in this race.  But I do have some strong opinions and observations, in no particular order.

Bigotry is always ugly.  And bigots always claim that they aren’t bigots, they’re just voicing a concern or “more conservative view” of the world.  Bullshit.  The arguments against gay marriage are word for word, line for line, lie for lie, the exact same arguments heard against interracial marriage.  It was hateful then, it is hateful now.  The only correct response is to stand up, put aside your politically correct social relativism, and call a bigot a bigot.  The racial and sexual disparity in this country didn’t really begin to change until good people refused to let bigots have their say without heaping shame upon them.  If you voted yes on prop 8 you are a bigot.  BIGOT- n.   One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.  End of discussion.

Next I’d like to address the question of the law.  How is this amendment possibly legal in this day in age?  I thought the purpose of the constitution was to protect the rights of all the people who live here.  The original framers of our national constitution used it to limit the power of the government.  This whole fucking country is founded on the idea that constitutions protect rights from greedy assholes who would like to take them from you.  So how can you amend a constitution to specifically deny rights to some members of your society?  All right, I get it.  A lot of people don’t like gays.  They’re uncomfortable with any group that might acknowledge that they have sex and they’re scared shitless of anything that doesn’t happen on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’.  So here’s an idea- go back into your narrow little world and ignore gay people.  Hate them in your heart if you think that’s necessary but be an American and keep the government out of it.

There are a couple parts of this bigotry that really get me worked up, and no, you haven’t seen me worked up yet.  Be patient, I’m getting there.  Can we all stop this bullshit about ‘protecting the children’?  As soon as you hear this phrase you know the person talking is full of shit.  I’ve actually worked with kids.  They have fairly simple needs; love, food, shelter, support, and education.  Many many children don’t have these things.  If you really want to ‘protect the children’ then make sure these bases are covered.  Otherwise, shut the hell up.  The real fear behind this obsession is that little Tommy might grow up to be smarter, wiser, or emotionally healthier than mama and papa.  Lord knows you better protect them from that.  Keep them stupid, repressed, and scared since that’s how the parents lives.  God, I hate people.

There are 2 more points I’m going to expound upon before moving on.  One is marriage in general.  Maybe the lesson in this is that marriage as an institution needs to be abolished.  Maybe we’re becoming too sophisticated a society to have such a narrow legal contract rule us.  Polyamory, alternative life styles, serial monogamy, the high divorce rate, women’s equal rights, etc might all be signs that we need a new model.  I understand that logistically there needs to be a way for the government to define who has legal rights in certain situations.  Perhaps some sort of expandable domestic agreement along with child rearing contracts would work better.  I haven’t thought much about this, but it is worth exploring by the more progressive minds in the legal community.

The last thing I’d like to say directly about prop 8 is how depressing it was to see large groups of African Americans campaigning for it in Oakland,  The irony of electing the first black skinned president while members of his community voted to strip rights from another group was almost top thick to bear.  Nietzsche once said that slaves don’t want to be free, they want to own slaves.  How sad to think that in this case that might be true.

Hate and intolerance have no place in the law and no place in human society.  Let’s get ready to man the barricades and lawyer up.  Choose love and joy instead.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion!

-Archbishop Angus