Howdy all you carnivores (and vegetarians too),
With this month comes one of our most unusual holidays if you really stop to think about it.
Thanksgiving is mostly about eating the flesh of a bird that Ben Franklin thought should have been our national symbol. It’s about having a huge dinner and giving thanks for the survival of a band of grossly unprepared white people who would have starved without the help of the natives they abused the hell out of. It’s about the gathering of family members from afar who come home to be with their kinfolk, many of whom left to get away from those very same kinfolk to begin with.
In olden days when our society and culture was more agrarian (into farming) this holiday celebrated the bounty of our harvests and hunts by feasting on the results of those efforts. In fact the staples for that very first Thanksgiving were probably various vegetables like pumpkins, corn, turnips and other “root” plants, alongside wild game meat such as venison, fish, duck, rabbit, and of course turkey.
When I was married to my first wife Linda (an excellent cook) we invited three friends over for Thanksgiving dinner one year after deciding to provide something different than the obligatory turkey to feast on. We thought it would be cool to be a little bit unusual and serve up some roast duck.
Now, none of us had ever eaten let alone cooked a duck, so she dug out her handy dandy Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and found a recipe. We figured, “This looks easy as pie” (which really isn’t all that easy) and thus began an unforgettable Thanksgiving.
The book suggested we stuff the ducks with a combination of apples, raisins, and bread, which we did. Before you could say, “Pass the potatoes puh-lease!” the ducks were done and they came out looking absolutely fantastic! They were both roasted to a golden brown; the skin on both were crisp and tasty and they had turned out looking exactly like the picture in the cookbook. As she pulled them out of the oven she sliced off a sample for me to taste and it was delicious! She then whipped up some gravy from the drippings as the ducks cooled.
Having been exposed to the aroma of the roasting birds while they cooked, we were all soon drooling in anticipation as we sat in the dining room looking down at our plates loaded up with mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, buttered corn, slabs of roast duck, a pile of stuffing, and glasses of wine with two pumpkin pies waiting on the side. It sure started out great, but from then on it slid horribly downhill.
Soon into the meal she tasted the stuffing and remarked, “Try the stuffing. I think it tastes sort of odd.”
Well all of us did and agreed with her that it WAS odd. To make sure, we all tasted it again. Thinking that it was just a matter of getting used to something new and since we were so hungry, we all just dug right in and pigged out.
Within a few minutes five people collided into each other as we quickly exited the dining room running for the solitary bathroom, the kitchen sink and for the door to the outside. It was all we could do later to clean up the table and throw out the ducks, the gravy, and the stuffing. The ducks could have probably been saved since the meat wasn’t exactly the problem, but just looking at them made all of us even more nauseous.
Our guests eventually left once they were sure they could handle the drive home. In fact the wife and I were so sick we didn’t go anywhere or eat much of anything for the next two days as we found there were continued digestive problems that exited profusely both from the North and the South.
Nowhere in the book did it tell us NOT to eat the stuffing. Later we were told by a duck-hunter’s wife that the stuffing was only there for two reasons: To flavor the meat, and (most importantly) to soak up the grease because duck is VERY greasy unless you first stuff it with lots of bread to soak UP that grease as it roasts. Even that grease is weird because ducks spend most of their time in water with their bodies producing something glandular and odd that repels water, which tends to stay with you when you eat it because it also apparently repels your digestive juices. This all translates into a valuable lesson to learn: When it comes to duck, DO NOT EAT THE STUFFING!
Okay, enough of that...
This month is also when we choose the next President of our United States.
I’ve had a very hard time NOT saying a few things about that to y’all in past months... and I still won’t because I’m single now and getting that way has cost me a lot of money, so I think I have the right to rest assured that I’ll never be bitched at again. Just please go vote. Selecting the candidate of your choice is not just a right, but also an obligation (especially if you’re ever gonna wanna complain about the winner). That is unless you’re NOT voting for the same candidate as I am, then stay home and hoist a few beers instead. Afterwards you can bitch as much as you like because the rest of us won’t care what YOU think if we learn you didn’t vote ... your opinion won’t count (and thank you).
As I write this in mid-September the weather is insanely perfect for riding. The temps are warm enough but not too hot, the sun is shining brightly in deep blue skies, and the humidity is low. If you might remember, for the past month (late August – early September) it’s often been too hot and humid to even ride comfortably (which is hard to explain to non-riders).
Ya know, I’ve never doubted about that climate change stuff. For the past few years here in my neck of the woods we’ve set new record temperatures for the past eleven months straight (according to a local weatherman) which might be scary if you put those two thoughts together. But today all I’m thinking about is riding on this beautiful day.
About a week ago an old friend I haven’t seen for years called and then later dropped by. He’s been out of town for a while and recently settled down back here in our hometown for his retirement. When he called, he asked me if I wanted a large box of old Easyriders magazines he had no room for and of course I said, “You bet, bring ‘em on over!” since I wasn’t sure where he lived now. So for the past few days I’ve been looking them over.
The guy’s name is Kurt and has been an ABATE member for a very long time. I remember one day in the very early 1970’s he and I were riding up to Lake Erie (about an hour away). He rode a beautiful Triumph Trident chopper and I was on a ratty old Triumph Trophy. As we passed through our mid-sized town, Kurt was stung on the nose by a wasp. When he first felt it he smacked at it so hard it was like he punched himself in the face and he almost dumped the scoot. I pulled up beside him at a multi-lane stoplight and when he looked over to me I freaked! His thin face had swollen in places that made it look like he had a “Death’s head”! He turned his face from my direction to an old lady in the lane on the other side of him and she actually screamed out loud! Then she stomped on the gas and almost wrecked into a car as she slid on through the red light!
I asked Kurt if he wanted to go home and he just said, “No I’ll be alright.” But he wasn’t really and we ended up riding straight to the local hospital emergency room.
While we were sitting there waiting a cop walked up to him, pulled out a pad and pen and asked, “Who did this to you son?” Because of the swelling Kurt couldn’t do anything but make weird muffled nasal noises which caused me to about fall out of my chair ‘cause I was laughing so hard! After I explained what happened they soon performed their magic on him and he was on his way home with a pocket of meds. We left the lake for another day.
PS This is Kurt on that Trumpet Trident from about the same time I was talkin’ about.
It is amazing how much our lifestyle has changed in many ways over the years and seeing those old Easyriders issues showed that... everything from bikes and the items that vendors sold at swap-meets, to the way we old timers dressed back then, particularly the ladies.
One noticeable difference regarding ladies apparel (to me of course) is the fact that the “braless” look has sadly been shelved by those who determine what is and is not fashionable and correct. And what’s up with that anyway?? We’re bikers for chrissakes! We’re not supposed to be into fashion or care what is correct! I REALLY, REALLY MISS SEEING A PAIR OF PROUD STARTER BUTTONS THROUGH THE FABRIC OF A THIN, TIGHT, T-SHIRT!!! There I said it. Somebody had to.
And of course I also noticed the bikes LOL.
Over the years bikes have gone from that slim Sportster or Peanut tank and “Narrow glide front end” look with paint jobs of beautifully wild colors and airbrushed graphics (often copied from album covers) to the boringly mild pastels and geometrical designs that we see now. Another thing I noticed was the abundance of “Girders” in the old days.
I’ve mentioned recently that I haven’t seen that super-clean look of a “Girder” front end (a type of fork and triple-tree assembly usually made from square-stock tubing) in a very long time. I’ve never used one, but I’m guessing they must beat the hell outta you. I know I’ve ridden a few “Springers” in my time and the newly designed ones aren’t too bad, but the old ones bounce the front end all over the damned place, so “Girders” must be worse specifically because they don’t bounce at all. If you were to combine a girder front end with a hard tail frame (lacks shock absorbers and swing-arms) ya might as well plan on having back, neck, shoulder, and kidney problems for the rest of your life. In fact wearing a kidney-belt has always been common for regularly riding that kind of chopper whether you use a “girder” or not.
I miss the old style high sissy bars too because we could securely strap all kinds of stuff on them (guitars, blankets, pillows, passed out old ladies, etc.) Most people now just use the short backrest for the passenger seat to tie things to... a luggage rack does give ya some extra space, but not nearly as much.
Another detail I noticed was that those old magazines had many full page ads from aftermarket companies that sold all kinds of inexpensive bolt-on parts to fit your bike. Now we can only deal with “The Company” for most parts, and regarding that most HD dealers don’t even stock parts for older bikes. In that pile was also some other various bike magazines and I noticed how imported bike owners are in the same boat regarding bolt-on or replacement parts now... many different parts used to be available from various sources no matter what you rode.
Finally in many of those old issues I noticed that there used to be a section devoted entirely to ABATE, and I miss seeing that. But when this organization (ABATE) segmented into various state organizations the magazine had to quit doing that, obviously because each state had different specific problems and concerns. The problem is NOW more than ever we need massive exposure to ABATE’s name and what we do due to our dwindling roster (did I just say doo doo?)
Anyhoo, the day is gorgeous, the bike is running great, I have a tank full of gas, and I’m outta here. See ya next month...
Y’all ride safe,
Y’all ride safe,