Growing up, Harley Davidson, symbolized the modern outlaw in my meaningless book of characters. The name struck a rebel chord in me, that just settled perfectly in my psyche. Driving around the States, you’d pull up along a cluster of riders and they all looked mean, unkept, probably hungover and smelly, and that was just the women. I knew I found something that I could connect with; I liked their brazen attitude and short-term goals: booze, birds and bees. I felt solid in the 9th grade wearing my black classic harness steel toe boots with my school uniform.. I wanted a fatboy, in fact I was hoping to one day to visit the Harley Davidson head office, show them akira, the manga, and have them design me a Harley fatboy based on the bike in Akira.. the dog’s bullocks I tell you, the dog’s bullocks..
I couldn’t help but admire the carefree attitude and mischief as a group of hogs would ride through a narrow street setting all off the alarms on all the parked cars.. And then, you’d see them crack a smile as they were ready to rumble with anyone who crossed their path.. I had friends that used to ride all the way up to New Hampshire just to ditch the helmet laws and live free and maybe even die.. Stories about biker beaches bullying the Japanese super bikes off their turf made me respect their authority.. All these traits, and keeping up with my fascination for Captain America (reference, look it up), really had me sold.. On the weekends, you’d see the now-reformed ex-bikers, current VPs of large corporations who’s faces showed the scars of their illustrious bar fights and scary substance abuse, still getting in touch with their previous life.
And then, I moved back to the Middle East..
I spent a weekend with my beloved at a secluded mountain resort. Well it was us and a local Harley Chapter, who I’m sorry to say were the saddest bunch of outlaws my eyes have ever laid on.. I’m not going to interfere with the whole thrill of being on a bike and riding - that’s a special bond everyone makes between their machine and the road.. but for me, the persona was completely lost. The Rock of Foghat was replaced by the high pitched ballads of Air Supply, painful, very painful.. my qualms are as follows..
These folk not only were trying too hard to look like they were part of a biker gang, but they actually sat there and bought every single piece of Harley Davidson merchandise they could get their hands on.. with all the little badges and patches and dumb stickers.. I can’t stand these little bumper stickers people put on their helmets. I’d normally give you the one finger salute but I’m on my ride (WHAT?? that’s the best you can come up with? That’s the sticker you’ve got on your helmet? That’s your level of how badass you are?? Why couldn’t it have been something like I call this hog your mother, she loves getting between my legs for a ride. At least I can respect that) Stickers are ok for a gag, but for your bad ass ride with your biker gang? Doesn’t say much about your biker gang Wyatt.. and what’s with the patches, what the hell are we the boy scouts?
And the merchandise… Que paso hombre? Did you lose your balls to the QVC channel? I can understand, the boots, the padded jacket, and maybe a couple of knick knacks.. but zippo lighters, t-shirts, jeans, socks, shot glasses, bed spreads, hanging racks.. I partially blame the Harley Davidson organization for this merchandising.. They created such a die hard loyal customer base, that they could sell bottled water and a lot of these bikers would buy cases of it.. don’t deny it..
Ohh and deary, those leather pants and bandana might have looked good on you when you were 23, but those days are long gone.. just cause Samantha Fox pulled the look off in the 80s, doesn’t mean you can too.. my poor retinas have been scarred for life..
This just didn’t settle right with me.. first off you’re a biker gang, albeit a tame biker gang, but for this weekend, you’re abiding by the rules of the road, live them.. Upon checkout, I was stranded at the front desk with a couple of these “ruffians”.. All joking about, ready for a laugh – they seemed like a jovial bunch, no one complaining about their headaches, but everyone talking about how much alcohol they consumed and who got a little frisky with who.. now I’ve had to make my fair share of late checkouts because of wild antics the night before, I have never in my life looked as fresh and just ready as this bunch..
The icing on my cake was when a couple of the crew were arguing with the hotel staff how they didn’t have anything from the minibar.. wait what? and might I add that these complaints were coming from the one guy who looked like the baddest of the bunch.. Vehemently denying how he touched the minibar – needless to say, I was shocked, you’re all talking about how boozed up you got, but everyone looked fresh to me.. you all talked about how pissed up you got, but no one reeked of alcohol. And then no one had a mishap with the minibar? Vivid imagery of some burly biker lifting up the minibar over his head and letting all the little plastic bottles fall into his mouth were quickly dispelled.. shame.. I was hoping at least the Harley crew would cause a little trouble.. just a bit would’ve been fine..
Disney World is a family vacation, a picnic out in the desert is a family vacation, a water park – family vacation.. bringing your annoying like snot of a kid with you on your ride? What are you thinking? A bunch of these people there need to just unwind, get boozed up, maybe a little promiscuous casual roll between the sheets, that’s all part of a weekend away.. but bring your child? This must have been the most annoying little 4 year old I had ever seen.. high on what looked like a little much sugar this brat decided to run around and give everyone a makeshift raspberry, including me, the casual bystander just looking to close out his bill.. I was ready to punt the little git, before I saw his mother attempting to discipline her son.. Come to think of it, the son’s disrespect for authority was probably the only real bad ass thing about that crew – and it had to come from a 4 year old.. tisk tisk..
To Harley Davidson, I’m disappointed in how you’ve managed to merchandise everything and turn your customers into walking adverts..
To real bikers, there’s a bunch of people giving you a bad rep, a really bad rep..
I’m off to drool over a Triumph, at least their branding and customer loyalty is still at an early stage..