Shootin' the Breeze


by "Bummer"

 
 
bummer@abate.com

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February 2008

   [This month’s column is gonna be a little different kids…It’s in the form of an Email. Read on and you’ll understand why.]

Please forward this one to EVERYONE ya can!!

   As I mentioned in one of my recent columns for the motorcyclist’s rights publication “Outspokin”, almost every time I open my Email, my mailbox is crammed full of every kind of “forward” from puppy dog stories to tasteless cartoons and idiotic jokes. Sometimes it’s a sad story about individuals suffering tragedies or it might be an uplifting story that appeals to our shared desire to believe in the “Dignity of Mankind”. It might also be an exposure of some dastardly deed that a politician or common citizen has committed. But all of them share one thing: They request that I forward them on to everyone I know.

    Some of these ARE humorous or thought provoking, but then again some of them are just plain stupid and I wonder why in Hell the sender even bothered to send it to me. But they all do share that ONE thing in common: They end with a request to forward them on to others. Sometimes they even include a “curse” that suggests that something bad will happen to me if I “break the chain” or I don’t “keep it going”, as if the most important thing in these people’s lives is a pathetic desire to be a part of some national “sharing” of the aforementioned cartoon or story.

    It occurred to me that if so many people are so eager to share these thoughts with each other, why can’t we in ABATE use this forum to do the one thing that all of us have been trying to accomplish all these long years: To tell people who we are, what we are about and try to expand our membership. There’s so many people out there who don’t even know what ABATE is and some who haven’t even ever heard of us. So, what follows is a very brief, and I hope interesting, story of the history of ABATE, what it tries to accomplish, and what it can mean to be a member.

   ABATE was founded in the early 1970s by Lou Kimsey, the founder and head editor of Easyriders magazine. The original organization’s name was the National Custom Cycle Association [the NCCA], it’s mission being to combat a very real governmental agenda to close down and/or dictate custom cycle construction and usage [the bikes we build and how we ride them. This might include everything from radical choppers to changing our handlebars or exhausts]. Soon it was realized that THAT name couldn’t be used because some corporation was using the initials for THEIR organization, so ABATE was formed, the acronym standing for A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments. Then, years later, THIS name was changed here in Ohio to American Bikers Aimed Towards Education to sorta make it sound less radical for the masses and to further our political causes.

   Originally ABATE was a national organization using the staff and offices of Easyriders. Each issue of the magazine had a page dedicated to ABATE, but soon the organization [notice I keep referring to ABATE as an organization and not a club? That’s because it isn’t a club], soon ABATE grew to the point that it became impractical not to splinter it off into various state organizations, most of whom have kept the name ABATE, as in ABATE of Florida, ABATE of Ohio, etc.

   ABATE of Ohio has thousands of members, each member paying dues of only $25 per year for a single full membership, or you can pay $40 per year for a dual membership entitling you and your spouse or significant other to full membership. These dues entitle the member to a monthly magazine called the “Outspokin” which contains useful motorcycle oriented information, like national motorcycle news, legislative reports and opinions, local bike runs and events, statewide ABATE information, “biker” advertising AND you’ll find tips on everything from suggestions on how to pack your scoot for a long distance road trip, to noteworthy news like where you can find the most scenic roads to ride here in Ohio and elsewhere. An incredibly thought provoking, entertaining and delightful column is also featured every month written by yours truly.

   Legislation has been introduced that could mandate everything from heavy protective clothing at all times to seat belts [yup, that’s what I said]. After-market parts manufacturers are constantly at risk and small shop owners are in peril of being put out of business. Medical insurance legislation has been a recurring issue. Banning off-road riding has been introduced again and again. It’s incredible what ABATE can keep you abreast of; things that the general public never even hears about until it’s too late.

   Members are entitled to a legal assistance plan and our professional legal team answers any questions you might have. Insurance information is given and our professional insurance team answers pertaining questions. ANY concerns of a motorcycling nature can be addressed by phone, mail, Email or directly in person by an appropriate ABATE officer.

   That membership also entitles you to take advantage of discounts given by participating business sponsors listed each month in the magazine for members. This alone could very easily make up for the paltry sum paid in yearly dues.

   Through ABATE you’ll meet other riders and be able to share in the camaraderie, which is to say you’ll meet and hopefully will become friends with, everyone from grubby old bikers like me, to “normal” people and professionals and politicians. In fact this is probably the ONLY way a lot of us will ever be able to actually meet in person and talk on a face to face basis with the politicians we’ve voted for, since we often have local, state, and even national politicians speak at our meetings. They tend to listen to what you’re saying if you’re in their face [respectfully we hope of course]. Of course, ANY participation is entirely up to the individual member. You’ll still receive the magazine, which alone is worth the $25.

    ABATE sponsors events statewide such as local runs and rallies. Our yearly state event, the June Jam, draws thousands each year. Over the years we’ve worked with Easyriders magazine in various capacities and we’ve helped put on the Ohio Bike Week and other big-ticket events throughout the state. ABATE of Ohio is known and respected nationwide and has even been asked to help the Federation of European Motorcyclists in THEIR efforts across the pond.

   Although ABATE does lobby [a bad word, but a necessary one] for individual freedoms, the organization is literally saturated with motorcycle safety at every turn, using our legislative and public relations abilities to promote safety via legislation and public awareness.

   Since we ARE a grassroots, not for profit, organization, we can’t afford to use media to promote ourselves, like television or radio ads. And we rarely are able to even utilize newspapers and magazines, so our numbers fluctuate greatly. Some years we can barely afford to keep the organization solvent. Remember, we only have ONE person who draws any salary whatsoever and this is the part time secretary at our state office who answers the phone and keeps the office organized. And this person is paid minimally indeed. In other words, your dues dollars will be spent very righteously and nothing is ever hidden.

    Now, to the purpose of this communication:

   We need YOU who are reading this to take it upon YOURSELVES to please help us out a little here. WE NEED TO EXPAND our membership. And YOU as motorcyclists NEED us to expand our membership so we can function properly and be able to afford to do all we can regarding what is happening with all motorcycling issues. If all of America can send silly forwards to each other as often as they do, maybe we can put forth the effort to send this to as many people as possible. If we get even a few new members, that alone would be worth this minimal effort.

    So, please show or forward this to EVERYONE you know who rides, has ever ridden, or has any interest whatsoever in motorcycling, whether it be off-road, street riders or heavy cruisers. We have more than a few members who don’t even own, and have NEVER owned a motorcycle, just like there’s plenty of people who have an obsession with aviation and have never actually owned an airplane. We welcome anyone and everyone over the age of 18 who belong to the human species.

    If the person you contact is now already a member of ABATE, we urge them to send it on to others. If the recipient isn’t a member, and even if they decide not to join us, at least they MIGHT send this on to their friends. We ask them to show or forward this to everyone THEY know; their over 18 children who might have an interest, their other relatives, their neighbors, co-workers and especially their riding buddies. Send it to your local newspapers for THEM to run it either as it is or after editing it appropriately. Our state website, located at http://abate.com/ will have a copy of this and other information I know you’ll find of interest. Our office Email address is stateoffice@abate,com and our phone is 1 800 25 biker. Without too much effort you’ll be able to find out how to get in touch with your local ABATE representatives.

   Like I said, normally any forward ends with the admonition that something bad will happen to you if you don’t forward it on. Here, the only thing that MIGHT happen to you is you’ll have to ride your bike the way your government will dictate, that is if you’ll even be able to ride one at all. So PLEASE take a moment to spread this around. Contact us, and someone will tell you when and where a meeting will be held near you. Join us.

    If you’re reading this in a magazine or newspaper, feel free to Email me at abatebummer@aol.com if you like, with a request, and I’ll be glad to reply with an attachment of it for easy forwarding purposes.
[End of Email]

   Well, whatcha think brothers and sisters? Can YOU take just a moment to go to the state website or Email me, Bummer, for a copy of this and then mail/forward it on to everyone ya can? It’s a very cost effective [as in FREE] way to at least let SOME people know who and what we are. Also, we’ve never really had a good press release, and though this IS a bit long, it can serve as one. In it I give permission to edit, which is necessary for newspaper and magazine editors for condensing it [appropriately].

   Sorry about the length, but every time I thought it was ended, something else I thought important would occur to me. Of course I’ve always enjoyed hearing myself talk too.

    Like usual, I’ll be blabbin’ at ya next month,
    Bummer

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