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With Thanks To

Aug. 23rd, 2007 | 04:14 pm

I would like to thank a few people, some of who I really would have found things a lot more difficult without them or made the journey lonely and with no purpose.

 

So, In no particular order either of precedence or time:

Manny and Greg of Burnaby Kawasaki in Burnaby, Vancouver for sorting out the chain and correcting the handling.

Richmond Motorsports for the service.

Tim of Red Line Racing in Butte Montana for getting the rubber back on the road.

Matthew for keeping me out of trouble in LA and being such a gracious host.

Lynn, Andy and Desmond for a great time and putting me up in Hoboken

Harris for putting me right on a couple of things and selling me a great book!

Randy for scaring the shit out of me and letting me stay on his site free, also showing me another side of 61.

Bob Wood the hypnotist and magician

Alex and those at CHLS for letting me loose on the airwaves

Leslie for putting me up in Lillooet and giving me the inside track on all the weirdos that live there and all the friends for having such a good laugh

Gibbs and his wife and all the First Nation people who I was honoured to meet.

R Stevie Moore an Krystina for an impromptu evening and sleepover on RSTV’s studio floor.

Greg and Scott of shipmybike.com for looking after me

Mike for rescuing me in Palo Alto

Margaret and Paul for all the love and kindness

Thorsten for meeting up and sharing the Lower East Side with me

Evan for being my Engineer, Brian and all at WFMU for letting me play.

Scott and Miranda for confiding in me,sharing their dreadful experiences  and making me breakfast

Tina and Hans for making me so comfy in Smithers (the place)

Colleen and Ruth and some of the more sane nuns at Humuh monastery for being so kind to me

Todd for selling me a bike that held up

The three police bike cop trainers who did not laugh at me

Rob Simone for hooking up with me and sharing a few jars

Douglas for showing me his car collection and Joyce for a lovely dinner

William English for giving me moral support and the will to live

Maggie and Malcolm, the Gran, Petronella, Jonny, Julian, Kathryn, William, Alexander and Ackers for the love!

All the countless petrol station attendants, chefs, campsite managers lavatory cleaners, Canadian libraries and librarians, restaurant  owners, fellow bikers, festival organizers, blog commenters and everyone who has been so kind to chat and be so friendly over my trip.

Effric, Shiona and Rory for putting up with me.

 

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Last Day

Aug. 23rd, 2007 | 04:08 pm

The driving on Monday morning is remarkably sedate, I drop my bags off at JFK and the bike is instantly transformed into an agile greyhound, eager again to catch miscreants and speeding motorists as it has done for most of its life. However, I have clocked up 11 out of the 50 thousand miles it spent in its working life, all in two months. Well done, Kawasaki KZ1000 – I will reward you with a new set of rings when you get home. 

I meet a vile green Harley Davidson chopper with extended forks at the traffic lights in Valley Stream L.I. I lean over and ask if he was shipping the bike and he said yeah, do you know where Jamaica Ave is? I said I did, as I was there three days ago. I roar up the street, the chopper struggles to turn the 90 street corners.

Greg, the boss of Berklay Inc. shipmybike.com meets me, we do the paperwork and I hand him the sacred title document – without which I could not sell or export the bike. I tape up the battery leads and we remove the petrol from the tank. He takes me in his car to get a spare key cut but we fail to get one made as the blanks are unusual so we make do, Greg will Fedex the key to me at home so I can pick it up next Monday, all being well. Greg tell me the only reliable carrier is Air France. No one ships this type of freight to Heathrow, Lufthansa, SAS are useless he tell me. Air France will put the bike on the Eurotunnel train and it will end up in Heathrow by rail.

 

He also tells me that he is the only person freighting motorcycles.; a signed Orange County Choppers poster on the wall next to me, countless dusty plastic models of bikes, all sizes grace the scruffy little office, running so smoothly and efficiently. Only one other guy is doing this, from Moscow, he only does 50 bikes a year, I do many more. He owns his aircraft, a mafia guy allegedly. He does a lot of cars, the new Dodge and Mercedes for example – they are cheaper in the US than Europe so he ships them straight into Russia.

Greg takes me to Valley Stream  station , the lon Island Railroad train takes me into Penn Station and I wander like everyone else looking for happiness but not finding it. I decide to text and ring the kids and Mrs Jtreg and then ring my daughter to check what her wishes are in my brief time in Manhattan. Urban Outfitters is tracked down sweatily, I feel sick and tired and everything tales on a hallucinatory appearance, edgy and mad. I am thirsty, hungry and tired, dive into a forbidden place and order forbidden food. Wendys. Eurggh, I feel I am getting a heart attack and barge into the single rest room, sign on the wall: dining room for patrons: 20 minutes allowed.

Staggering out of Wendys, I wipe my greasy beard. I look down at my filthy sneakers, unkempt hair holding my plastic bags. A man with a mountainous polythene bag filled with drink cans  nods agreeably at me, recognising me as his peer. I cant face another ride on the subway, even though logic would tell me to use the last day of the 7 day pass I purchased. I jump into a pristine air conditioned cab driven by a young Indian who is murmuring into his Bluetooth headset as we weave through the back streets, avoiding the jams along the main avenues. Take me to a good multiplex. Sure, I will take you to one off 42nd St. I thank him for saving me for the bizarre psychological onslaught of the streets, I have no strength left and fall asleep bathed in the panororamic violence of The Bourne Ultimatum

I have no strength left so I hail a cab on 42nd to find a cheap motel near JFK – A Palestinian English professor takes me there, we have an interesting discussion on the way and he reverses up the freeway to get into the motel entrance, all is well and I am almost home.

If you have been reading about my journey over the last 10 or so weeks I hope you have been enjoying it, if so, thank you – I enjoyed writing it and am grateful to have made it back unscathed – I will now have to adjust back into the old routines but something tells me it will not be the same, just as well, really.

I am no Ted Simon (Jupiters Travels)  but what it has done is to reveal a little more inside and out and also inspired me to see a little more as well if I can manage that. It also inspires me that most people, wherever they are, are wonderful, really.

photos later

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Sunday (with Luck)

Aug. 23rd, 2007 | 03:54 pm

After a night in a motel on the 1 and 9 highway north – my room had no windows but I did not care because I was so grateful to find a refuge from the lunatic driving, lack of road signs and enormous potholes that typifies the New York and New Jersey area. Lynn sends me an email confirming that she is expecting me that day to come over and spend the day. I give her a call, using up the last 5 minutes of my 7/11 phone card (amazing value) –  she gives me clear directions and I pack my bags, heading over to Lynn and Andy’s house not far from the Red Carpet Motel.


When I was clear of the 1/9 highway, it was so much better, up the steep hill, past the assortment of houses, some with sidings, some faux stone. I stop and buy a plant and wind up the leaves and flowers up in stretchy plastic so that I can strap it to the mountain of luggage on the back of the bike.

I arrive sooner than expected and find Andy watering the front garden. I meet Desmond and Lynn and we have a relaxed lunch and wibble about Newport Museum to take a closer look at the great collection of Tibetan art on display. I am struck how quiet the museum was, so near New York City. So empty because most of humanity ignores Newark, rushing into the Holland Tunnel so they can wander aimlessly around Times Square in a daze.

 Desmond, Lynn and Andy and I keep setting off the fragile alarm systems near the display cabinets and it becomes a running joke as to who would set the next one off.

 We set off home again to play crazy 8s  while Lynn, with her boundless energy braves the supermarket and Andy barbeques meat vegetables and peaches for our meal. Desmond off to bed, his brain now shut down from its intense days work we are left to listen to some records before we turn in. Andy, like Lynn has encyclopaedic knowledge of music. His speciality is Jazz, Lynn champions women musicians and vocalists on her radio show alongside many new finds. It was the end of a lovely day – it was great to see them again – time passes so quickly.


Absurd beard and a certain DJ with her son


 We all start yawning and I realise how tired I have become and remember the next day I have to take my bike to Long Island, sadly the last day of my 11,000 mile journey. I sleep a dreamless sleep in Lynn's studio and next day hug my friends goodbye to face the grizzly drizzle and the Monday morning commuters.

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Its been a Long Day

Aug. 19th, 2007 | 12:02 am

1. Did the show on WFMU after a hearty breakfast at the Flamingo cafe next door.
My waistline is expanding again <sigh>

2. Watched girls playing baseball in a park on the lower east side, very good game

3. Sat around and then discussed life with an ex punk called Harris

4. Joined a 1500 bike demo that had travelled up from Pennsylvania at the site of the 911 crash then via Washington DC and on into New York at ground zero. People cheered us all the way in, it was most odd

5. Mooched around lowriders parked up on Broadway until I went back onto the highway 1 and 9 to find a room


in a motel without a window.

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Sleepover with Stevie

Aug. 17th, 2007 | 09:36 pm


‘King Of the Underground’ as Outsider Musician R Stevie Mooore describes himself. Undoubtedly a pioneer in DIY pop with his groundbreaking cassette tape club which has been going since the end of the seventies. I struggled to find the RSTV castle – I was three hours late to see the legendary man and his partner Krys (Krystine). They both live in the bohemian town of Bloomfield New Jersey in Orange County.


On the way, I was pulled over on the freeway by a terrifying NYC highway patrol car. We pulled over in the centre lane and onto the hard shoulder. He started off quite aggressively, telling me that I should not be white-lining through the traffic. I have already spoken of this in the blog, Jersey and California allow motorcycles to filter between cars, in the rest of the US it is an offence. I explained that I thought that was in New Jersey but it did not wash with the patrolman. Show me your insurance drivers licence , if and ownership. I stammered that I had the electronic copy of the US insurance on my laptop, he was not amused. He opened the scrappy piece of paper that was my UK driving license and started to say that this was not valid to drive in the US. I did not argue and let him sit in his car to look me up on the computer, possibly to check on the insured vehicles listings and stolen vehicles listings. “Where do you actually live, sir?” I told him London and I was very sorry and will not filter in NYC. He gave me my papers and said I will lead you back onto the freeway. My hands trembled as I did up my bags back onto the bike and drove away. Phew. I thnk it was too much hassle to book a foreigner who was going home in a few days. Oh, and the story of 10,000 miles on a police bike did not impress him either.


I eventually found Bloomfield. Krys welcomed me and offered some dinner. It was great to see them both. We chatted, I asked RSTV to play something (Goodbye, Halo off Zeitgeist) but my infernal minidisk has packed up. I did manage a small bit of chat – its not that good, I may upload it later. I was hoping to include the recording on tomorrows show on WFMU. I will use something on his site instead.

Every inch of RSTV’s studio is jammed packed with vinyl and machines, gadgets. He eats works and – I was later to find, sleeps in there as well. I found him to be a very complex man, venerable, like a college professor. Perhaps this was the psyche of Philip K Dick, certainly was as how I imagine PKD to have been.

Krys and Stevie did not let me get back on the bike and offered me to sleep in the studio with Stevie. So I did. We talked on, like a couple of kids at a sleepover and Stevie switched on his white noise CD to play on through the night on repeat. It was the only way he could get any sleep, so he said. It did lull us both off. I hope it drowned out my snoring, which is notoriously bad.

Steve is the son of a Nashville bass player who worked with Elvis for ten years. Steve’s unconventional approach to music did not sit well with his father and I will just say they did not see eye to eye. The early days, I tried seesion work, I could do it in my sleep, I went home and did my stuff. I could not stand doing what my father did.

Krys and Steve have both been WFMU Djs since the early days when it was at Uppsala College, back in 1986. Krys did three shows a week, including a 4AM spot but it all became too much and she does not do it anymore. I hope they listen to my little offering.

In the morning, Krys had left for work, leaving Steve and myself to have a cup of tea – I could see Steve was not used to visitors, but he did tell me he enjoyed my visit. We hung out a bit more, I packed up my stuff, hugged him goodbye and left.

Thank you Krys and Stevie for being such gracious hosts and letting me sleep over, it was great meeting you both!

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Nassau County

Aug. 15th, 2007 | 11:31 pm

On the way to NY I stop at Whistering Pines in Rhode Island.


New York New, New Jersey, Newark, Rhway, Long Island.
Double A rating on wall street for Nassau County but still the MS13 gangs go on killing sprees. The $4 million mansions sit next to neighbourhoods where the unempployed and uninsured roam, a single policeman is posted to patrol the divide on a 24 hpour basis. The roads have potholes the size of dustbin lids and 3 foot deep. The drivers maintain speeds easily 20% above the speed limit. This is the same in Rahway where chicano motorcycle gangs hang out not far from Merck pharmaceuticals where I visited as a wide eyed advertising executive 25 years ago.

Last night I stayed in a truckers motel with channel 60 tuned into animated scenes from a butchers shop. No free breakfast or internet but $54 a night.

Heart attack before breakfast.

I paid a visit to WFMU where I will be doing a little show for one hour on Saturday at 12:00 GMT. I am reassured by small but perfectly formed DJ Scott Williams that all is in place and my engineer Evan (Funk) Davies texted me to reassure me that he is ready for the event. However he could not find 'Im going out with a Mountain but Im only 5'3"'by Spike Milligan in the FMU record library. I am amazed how WFMU sits like the tiny restaurant in Shanghai who refused to sell up to the property developers - as seen in the news earlier this year, refusing to sell to the big property developers. On 43 Montgomery St in Jersey City, surrounded by huge Hotels, offices and must-have one and two bedroom buy to let investment opportunities. It is incredible how the little radio station has survived, I wonder for how much longer? Long live WFMU!


Back to school shopping and Labor Day - coming up; you better put your money down on that Chevrolet (ignore that they consume the most gasoline). I am pleased to hear on the local news is that Long Island is due to get free internet access in all parks and beaches, it will increase the quality of life by far, whout costing a penny more for the taxpayers. Free Internet access for all those living below the poverty line! Hooray!

I am tired after 10,150 miles, I am in rehab tonight in a better establishment after weeks of subsistence level survival. Tomorrow I am entering Manhattan to meet up with a friend. I am terrified by the inept confrontational driving of the New Yorkers, truly the most dangerous and unpleasant drivers I have ever met in my 36 years of driving. The roads are unsafe. I think I will take the train.

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Rhode Island

Aug. 13th, 2007 | 05:53 pm

Buzzing through from Mass. and on into Providence Rhode Island. Rhode Island has a long name but it is the smallest state. I had brunch just outside the state line and my neighbour suggested I make my way to Newport. The trange think is that I have not seen a single foreign tourist, possibly because all the hire cars have US license plates so it is harder to distinguish them. However I had a lovely time as a fake US tourist whiling the day away eating ice cream and staring at the peeps.

I did make some friends, here they are

Found a place to stay on the 138 heading out of Newport over the tallest scariest bridge that took me past Jamestown.
The tent  was up and I went to get in range of the wifi and then it chucked it down. Lucky I pulled in early tonight.

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Another Review By My Daughter

Aug. 13th, 2007 | 04:57 pm

I have just got round to reading the review on the Kennedy family 'The Importance of Being Kennedy' in the Guardian by my daughter: see here
It makes me want to read it! Well done, S.


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Quest For Truth

Aug. 12th, 2007 | 08:38 pm

A very nice run through Vermont on highway 7 heading south, along the corner of New Hampshire and into Massachusetts. All went really well until I ran into Worcester.
Nearly all day I floated past almost perfect shaker style houses of Vermont, manuicured villages of Mass. It lulled me into a false alternate reality, to be slapped in the face when  confronted with the housing blocks of North Worcester - no windows, lost people sitting around on the steps, shuffling up and down the grimy streets. Creativity bursting out all over the graffiti walls, girls walk out in front of the motorcycle, attempting to stop me, angry that I dared to drive through their district. The bike wallowed along the worn highway and poorly signposted route - eventually I escaped back to the make-believe world of the southern outskirts.
Worcester Mass. -  not Montreal, where the rich tourists outnumbers the poor sitting on the park benches.

Back up onto the motorway and we are back to $199 a night hotel rooms.

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Scott

Aug. 12th, 2007 | 07:37 pm


This really deserves a whole chapter to itself. Scott appeared as I was parking my bike in the pace I stayed in Vermont. He told me he was in the Marine Corps as a Gunnery Sergeant and was in chage of 44 men after he had returned injured from shrapnel wounds having been in Iraq for 4 years. His job: lone sharpshooter.

He showed me his uniform; he had been decorated with 3 purple hearts and one silver star, the silver star was given to him by George W. We got some heavy drinking done and I recorded some of the evening. As the alcohol consumption wore on his mood got darker and darker, revealing to me how he operated: “if I had to kill you, I’d do it in a heartbeat… in a war situation, of course” He showed me his rifle which he has used to kill in the field, proud of its smooth action “fast is slow, smooth is fast”….


The Home he lives in with his wife Miranda, it cost $2,400. It snows and is very cold in Vermont winters.


We went up to the service station and I bought us a case of the pissy beer he liked and some of other bits and pieces, On our return we met Harry, a Vietnam war Vet, who did one tour of duty in 1964 and another in 1968. Harry was pretty much blind, a victim of poisioning by agent orange. He could hardly walk but Scott pointed out to me after he left that he had a great disability pension. Harry did not want to talk about the war except to tell me that the had to eat out of their helmet which was used to wash their hands then their feet and then to piss in. Scott added that he often had to crap in his trousers in the field of battle, if you had to stay put. I thought, lucky I have already eaten an hour ago.

"Aim 40 feet above the target, allow for windage, curvature of the earth, turning momentum of the earth. The shell will literally  be lobbed down onto the target. It will hit will the force of a car crash and land on top of the enemy's head, probably split the whole body in two, blow the limbs right off. Its not like in the films when they get a neat bullet hole in the middle of the forehead. The arms get thrown off several feet with the force. You only get one pop."

His wife Miranda turned up quite late and he expounded on the life of Billy The Kid, his hero. There was not much he did not know about Billy the Kid. I staggered back into my sleeping bag, exhausted but still a little nervous about that rifle in the trailer and a very drunk Scott. Gosh. Anyway he made me breakfast which was very kind.


Two pictures taken today further south in Vermont.

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