Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Riding up the Hill

Hell’s Coconuts

Motorcycle clubs don’t have the best reputations. What with sex and violence biker movies starting in the fifties and hitting a real stride in the seventies and continuing to today is it any wonder that popular culture sees the Harley rider as an anti social and even criminal element. In these films, and there have been scores of them, nomadic groups of
armed thugs do drugs, commit serious crimes and indulge in wanton revelry at every turn.

There may well be (or once have been) groups that deserved such a reputation but today’s biker, individually or in groups tends to exhibit a quite different persona. At the annual gathering of the Harley tribe in Sturgis, South Dakota you are far more likely to encounter a high dollar lawyer or a successful middle aged businessman robed in that biker jacket than you are to find a wandering misfit with a rap sheet. This year’s rally to celebrate the Harley riding lifestyle is the 68th annual event and will play host to about a half million aficionados (as opposed to desperados).

Part of the reason for the move to ‘upscale’ bikers is cost. These motorcycles don’t come cheap and by the time you have bought one, customized it and outfitted it with the latest geegaws you have ten’s of thousands invested. While 15 thousand might buy you a basic model it takes 10 times that amount, 150 thousand, to ride one of the themed customs that come out of the top design shops around the country. For a hundred miles and more surrounding Sturgis the air resounds with the ring of cash registers working overtime during rally week. Riders spend literally millions on entertainment, lodging, bike stuff and biker stuff. It takes a fair amount of cash to attend the rally and it takes a lot of the green stuff to ride a Harley as a hobby, even if you stay in your own hometown.

Here on Saipan we have a group called the Taga Riders, composed of motorcyclists from an array of different backgrounds. The club is small as biker groups go numbering maybe 20 or so. Don’t expect to see them ravaging a local malt shop, terrorizing the womenfolk or robbing the Bank of Guam, however. These guys and gals will be found gathering toys for an annual toys for tots Christmas event, or securing donations for the needy at the CHC hospital, helping the man’amko or doing lots of other positive community services they volunteer for each year. You will see them riding proudly at the Liberation day parade and you will see them around the island from time to time just riding for fun.

The Taga Riders spend part of their Sundays cruising up the sun dappled shady roads in Marpi or gliding the curves on Isa Drive (cross island road). You can see them stopped to enjoy a cold refreshment at one or more local watering holes on any given Sunday afternoon. You can hear the distinctive sound as their Harleys rumble past your Village on their way to enjoy the day with the wind blowing their hair and the sights, sounds and smells of Saipan Island droning past them.

They say you can always tell a happy Harley rider by the bugs on their teeth. This year from August 4th through the 10th in Sturgis there will be plenty of need for toothpicks if the joyous gatherings of years past are any indication. While our club members here on Saipan won’t have the opportunity to ride to Sturgis (unless they are sporting around on the new submarine version of the Electra Glide) they will be there in spirit, I’m sure.

So smile, honk and wave at the Bikers you see as they burble past your windshield. Even if they are off to work instead of riding for fun, you will probably see a great big smile on their faces as they ride the roads of Saipan Island. There are a couple of places to rent bikes, big and small, in Garapan so that rider you smile and wave at just might be a tourist enjoying our fair island by touring on two wheels. They like to be waved at too, so indulge yourself in a friendly gesture of welcome if you please.
* * * *
A cut above
I see where Washington Rep Pete Tenorio and Senator Louis Crisostimo both turned in their petitions and other paperwork to be certified candidates for the watching-but-unable-to-vote position of Non Voting Delegate to the US Congress last Friday. I also noticed that neither man resigned their current elected office. The ranks of those coveting the $170,000 per year job are swelling and now include the above two plus John Gonzales, Juan Lizama, Chong Won, David Cing, John Davis and Gregorio Sablan. The others who held public office or government jobs have resigned as the law stipulates. Are Messrs Tenorio and Crisostimo above the law or are they reading a different rulebook?

There is still a bit of time before the August 6th deadline for turning the official documents in to the Election Commission office on Capital Hill so don’t be surprised if another candidate or two shows up on the doorstep wanting to get in on the largesse available to congressional delegates. Can we get to 10?
* * * *

Quote of the Week:
Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law. -Louis D. Brandeis, lawyer, judge, and writer (1856-1941)

No comments: