Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
A few weeks back, we’re all heading home from a ride downtown. It was a night ride and traffic on the freeway was not too bad. CC and his lady, Mi, was riding tail gunner when a car came too close for comfort. Most of us at the front were not aware of the situation. CC decided to change lane and speed up to see if trouble would follow. Sure enough, as he passed us in the next lane, the car was right on his tail. He veered in an out of traffic and the cager would not let up. That’s when Mi lost her cool and communicated the international sign language with the car. By this time, most of us were on board with what’s up. Of course, Crazy Horse was right up alongside that car and Mountain Man was also riding wing man. Pops had the rear and CC was still in front of the guy but slowing down and forcing the cage to a stop. With everyone bunched up, I went on ahead with my eyes glued to the rear view mirror. Before you know it, the bikes had come to a stop “right on the freeway” and so was the cager. By the time I got off my bike and ran down towards the scene, the car had somehow maneuvered around the bikes and hauled off. Lil’ Sonny also pulled over and followed me towards the car ready for action though, somehow, he was unaware what was going on or why we’d pulled over. The boys informed me that the driver was drinking and actually was still holding his bottle in one hand with the other on the wheel. The passenger had freaked that we’d actually boxed in and stopped their car and had both his hands raised and shaking his head signaling they wanted no trouble. Funny thing is, neither did we. But when you’re in a two ton automobile and tailgating someone on two wheels, it’s not a joke. You’re playing with someone’s life and the car truly becomes a deadly weapon. Though it was all very serious, we did manage to laugh it off later at the café when we learned that Mi reached down for her sandals and was going to throw it at the car when she remembered how much it had cost her. That’s when she changed her mind and threw them the “bird” instead….women, the things they think about in times as such truly amazes me.
Not but a few nights later, we’re heading to the Southside when an SUV pulls the same stunt with Lil’ Sonny. This time, Louie took the lead and we once again boxed in the cager. However, rather than pull him to a stop, we all just slowed down to about 58 miles per hour and escorted the SUV that way for a good 5 miles. This royally pissed the guy off being that it was a 70 mile per hour speed limit highway. We’d have probably paced him that way for many more miles but we eventually passed five-O parked on the shoulder and shook the SUV loose before the law had a chance to figure out what was going on.
With all this talk about boxing in a cager, I don’t wish it misconstrued that this is a smart or proper thing to do. Using your motorcycle to hold down a car is no different than using your body to stop a raging bull at high speed and if push comes to shove, it’s a no win situation for the rider, that’s for sure. Other than balls and skills, you “must” know how to assess the situation and leave yourself an out should the cager go “off” and decide to ram you off the road. Regardless though, though it’s happened from time to time, it’s not something I’d ever suggest riders do. The smartest thing to do when a car tailgates you or cuts you off is to just steer away and keep as far from it as possible. This is exactly what we do most of the time. The two scenarios above only occurred because the rider’s attempt to move out of the auto’s way did not deter the car from continuing the too close for comfort tailgating…..in which case, if you’re going to go down, you may as well go out swinging.
Friday, June 6, 2008
The last few of rides we had were, unfortunately, filled with drama.
On a ride to the beach one weekend (I was not on this ride), the crew ran into a little road rage from a cager. He was changing lanes and did not spot one of the riders. This must've spooked him out holy and rattled his nuggets cause as soon as he was exited off the freeway and onto the feeder road (nice and far away), he proceeded to waive his gun, yes his gun, out the windows at the guys, who were all still caught up in the bumper to bumper traffic on the interstate. Fortunately for the a-hole, he was just having a kiddy tandrum and really had no balls to approach them close up. He eventually came to his senses and realized that they weren't running scared, but had pulled over on the shoulder...just waiting for him to make his move.
I have to honestly say that I was relieved to hear that nothing heavy went down. After all, we're cruising to have a good time, not to make trouble. I wished one of the boys would've gotten this guy's plates, I'd definitely report his sorry ass to the police. Here in Texas, if you have a CHL (conceal handgun license), you can carry protection, however, pulling out your piece and waving it around in public for no apparent reason is a "no no" and he would've found himself in a real bind with the law. More than that, any fool who pulls out his gun just to try and intimidate people are just idiots with a death wish. Had he started heading towards the guys in the same threatening manner, waving his gun and all, his family would be mourning his demise by now. I don't say that arrogantly, not at all, but he was out gunned, out manned, and in his irrational state, probably couldn't hit a cow 20 feet away let alone calm collective people watching his every move.
Then, about three weeks back, 9 of us got together for a run up to the NW side where some nice curvy roads run between lots of shady trees awaited...wouldn've been great...except Little Big Man's chop wouldn't start up at the gas station where we were all topping off for our ride. Somehow, the starter, cables and all, were fried.
I tell ya, though we love the custom bikes/choppers, they're pretty much just for show. I can't tell you how many rides have been ruined because those "pretty little things" decide to clunk out. You like good long rides, you really want to ride and not "just for show", you need to stick with a cruiser, not necessarily are Harley, but a cruiser, any make, will prove more reliable than any "show boat" chopper. Trust me, I personally know at least a dozen dudes with a custom bike and not one of them can't honestly tell you they're more of a pain in the ass than they're worth.
Then, this past weekend, 7 of us went on a night cruise downtown, just a neon nite run. Well, halfway into our cruise and look who's company we encountered,yep, five-O, johnny law, the fuzz, jellies, what have you. Crazy Horse was riding tail gunner and got pulled over for supposedly running a red. Our friendly local law enforcement officer immediately began preaching about how Crazy Horse's pipes were "too" loud, that his radio (yeah, he's got a hell of a jam system with 6 speakers, amps and all) was blasting, that the led lights on his bike was a distraction to the cagers, blah blah blah.
The good news is, other than being a little bit of a public nuissance, CH was not breaking any laws or even committed the traffic violation he was pulled over for. So, after some expected harassment and threats to have us all towed in for pulling over (well over 100 feet from where Crazy Horse was pulled over), CH was allowed to mount his iron horse and proceed with a "firm" warning. All in all, I guess we can't complain since the last time we encountered the law, two of us were awarded nice invites for donations to the courts.
Oh well, I guess it all comes with the territory. Anyways, once again, as you know, Asian Bikers are a definite minority amongst minorities, we're a rare breed...but that's part of the appeal, know what I mean.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
And, as usual, the further we go out of the city limits, the more rural the communities, the harder the stares become…actually, a lot of times, it’s more like a sneer. The simple sense of amusement, amazement, or curiosity is not so much present any longer. No, the stares seem to exhibit resentment, distaste, and sometimes even hostility. Apparently, Asians, or perhaps, minorities in general, aren’t good enough to ride Harleys/cruisers. The “look” screams out, “Oh No, Not the bikes, Not the Harleys!”. It’s as if we were taking over one of the final frontiers left where the average white man can still call his own.
Bikers are a very special group of people. I’m not referring to just the outlaw outfits, but all bike riders in general. Though they’re often clad in black leather, denim jackets, bandanas, adorn facial hair, tattoos, etc., they have a very special relationship with most town folks. Many country diners and local bars welcome motorcyclists. They symbolize a time gone past, modern day cowboys, they’re simply Americana. It’s a very unique subculture that to this day, remains almost exclusively white. Having to accept Asians as fellow bikers is probably as jagged a pill as the one the ‘upper crust’ had to swallow when Tiger Woods first walked out on the green.
My fellow Americans/Bikers, don’t take it so hard or personal, the winds of change has been blowing for years. Remember when basketball was a white man’s game, then African Americans took over…well, meet Yao Ming. Remember when baseball had but a handful of Latin Americans…now, we got Asians playing professional baseball, …. right-handed pitcher Akinori Otsuka, Japan, first baseman Hee-Seop Choi, Korean, closer Danny Grave, Vietnamese American, and on and on. Need we talk of Hollywood; Jet Li, Jacky Chan, Lucy Liu, John Wu…and so many more. That’s just sports and entertainment, how about real contributions to government, science, art, military, etc.. “What have Asians contributed to this country, the U.S. of A., that makes them feel they have the right to claim themselves Americans?” you may be asking. I’ll just point out a very few examples;
Did you know or were you aware –
- Who was the chief architect of the USA Patriot Act? Former Assistant Attorney General of the United States, Viet D. Dinh
- Who the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. was designed by? Sculpture and landscape artist, Maya Ying Lin
- That one of the astronauts that died during the Shuttle Columbia’s tragedy was an Asian woman? Aerospace engineer, Kalpana Chawla
- In 2001, who was in charge and assisted in creating an urgently needed…. Thermobaric weapon……to effectively defeat tunnels and caves being used as terrorists hideouts, in order to spare United States Armed Forces from the bloody prospect of tunnel-to-tunnel combat against the Taliban in Afghanistan? Nguyet Anh, Director of Science and Technology of Naval Surface Warfare Center
- Who was the second woman to ever anchor a national news program? Connie Chung, journalist
- That one of the first Black Panther Party members, who eventually was promoted to Field Marshall was Asian? Richard Aoki, civil rights activist
- Who the Mission Specialist who lost his life as one of the astronauts on the Shuttle Challenger was? Astronaut, Ellison Shoji Onizuka.
- Who Ford Motor Company’s Chief Program Engineer on the 2005 model year Ford Mustang program was? Hau Thai-Tang, chief engineer
- Who the co-founder of the world's most frequently visited Web site is? Jerry Yang, chairman and CEO of Yahoo
- That as of 2006, Asians/Pacific Islanders make up around 4.5% of the U.S. population. Yet, 6.3% of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks were Asians/Pacific Islanders.
- The 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army was an Asian American unit composed of mostly Japanese Americans who fought in Europe during the Second World War. The families of many of its soldiers were subject to internment camps. The 442nd was a self-sufficient fighting force, and fought with uncommon distinction in Italy, southern France, and Germany. The unit became the most highly decorated military unit in the history of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients.
- And…did you know, Bruce Lee, was born in San Francisco, CA. Though he grew up back in Hong Kong, he was back in the States by the time he was 19 years old. Bruce died in Hong Kong at the age of 32, but his body was brought back and buried here in the U.S., his birth place. Martial artist, philosopher, instructor, actor, cultural icon.
There are just too many examples of Asian Americans and their achievements and contributions in our government, politics, science, education, art, entertainment, businesses, etc., to mention (just google it sometimes, you’ll be surprised at what you learn). Just like the many nameless Chinese whose contribution to the transcontinental railroad would not be acknowledged until only recent times, the many past and current contributions of Asian Americans have made and are making everyday to every aspect of American life will likely not be acknowledged by their fellow Americans.
For some inexplicable reason, the color of our skin (the yellow man), our facial features, our physical appearance is too much of a barrier for other Americans to accept. Whether you are black, white, or brown, when was the last time someone walked up and asked you, “where are you from?”…and they don’t mean what side of town or what state, but “what country?”. Yet, Asians get it all the time even though many of us are 2nd, 3rd, even 4th generation Asian Americans. It’s as if, unlike other ethnic groups who by simply being born here has earned their birthright as an American, Asians remain outsiders, foreigners in the eyes of their own countrymen.
A prime example would be my son, nieces, and nephews. They were all born here, have been raised here, and will probably continue to live out their lives right here. They don’t even speak their parent’s native tongue. English is their first language. When and if they travel anywhere outside the U.S., they consider themselves visitors on vacation, not expats coming home. They will have families here, raise their children here, pay their taxes, and most likely breath their last breath here….what makes them any “less” American than anyone else?
Look at the current presidential candidate, Barack Obama. He’s an African American (yes, I’m aware his mother is white, but the child automatically inherits the race of the minority parent) who’s father was from Kenya. That nearly makes him a first generation American. I bet Mr Obama doesn’t have people asking him, “where are you from?” in reference to his country of origin. Yet, my nephew’s daughter, Laura, who was born here as her father was, will probably still hear that question raised more than once in her lifetime…..aahhhh, assimilation is not the same for all.
But hey, with a woman and an African American running for the 2008 presidency, who knows, maybe our nation is growing with the winds of change and there will come a time when being an American will no longer be associated with someone’s skin color, but rather their commitment, loyalty, contribution, respect, and support for their country and their fellow countrymen.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
"It's a story no one on earth could have made up.
Four young men experiment with internal combustion
in a tiny wooden shed. Not only did the shed not
burn down, but the motorcycle they build goes on
to serve for over 100,000 miles, under five owners.
And that's just the beginning."
Harley Davidson history
In 1917, the United States entered World War I and the military demanded motorcycles for the war effort. Harleys had already been used by the military in border skirmishes with Pancho Villa but World War I was the first time the motorcycle had been adopted for combat service. Harley-Davidson provided over 20,000 machines to the military forces during World War I.
Harley-Davidson again produced large numbers of motorcycles for the US Army in World War II .....Over 90,000 military motorcycles.....would be produced, many to be provided to allies..
Harley Davidson has come to symbolize the free spirit of the open road, not only here at home, but across the globe. It's made its impact in Europe, Asia, and even Africa. In fact, in 2005, sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles grew 15 percent internationally over the prior year with the International markets accounting for about 20 percent of the Company's annual motorcycle unit sales.
Believe it or not, Harleys' had a long presence in Asia, especially in the South Pacific regions. Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and others have had a steady and growing big bike following. There are HOG Chapters in Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, even Korea.
In April, 2006, in another move into Asia, Harley-Davidson opened a dealership in Beijing -- the Company's first dealership in mainland China since at least prior to World War II. And the Company has long been a major force in the motorcycle market in Japan, where Harley-Davidson retailed more than 11,000 motorcycles in 2005.
In April 2006, Harley opened its first dealership in Beijing, mainland China.
"All around the world, it's been synonymous with freedom, open roads, raw power and good times, and we expect the same things (here)," said David Foley, managing director of the China division for Harley-Davidson Asia.
"Harley-Davidson has succeeded for 100 years. We hope China will continue that trend for another 100 years," said Hollis Zhao, general manager of the Beijing dealership.
Outside the store, dozens of motorcycle enthusiasts roared into parking spots on their bikes, many with long hair, beat-up leather jackets and caps or headscarves.
Dong Fang, a 40-year-old artist, painted an eagle on his Harley Road King. "It brings freedom to my spirit," said Dong, who sported a black cap pulled low over his sunglasses. "Harley's represent the tears of a man. Men can be happy, they can be sad. When men are sad and they want to cry, they get on the bike and ride off."
Harley-Davidson Applauds U.S. Trade Agreement With Vietnam
"Harley-Davidson applauds the agreement that USTR reached with the Government of Vietnam," said Harley-Davidson Vice President of Government Affairs Timothy Hoelter. "The bilateral WTO Accession Agreement opens up important new opportunities for Harley-Davidson in the important Asian region.
"Harley-Davidson has proven time and again that an American company, American workers and a great American product can compete abroad...."
The auto channel
Though Harley Davidson has not announced any immediate intention of setting up shop in Vietnam, the recent Beijing dealership in China shows the company’s interest in doing business in Asia. For those of us old enough to remember that little altercation between our two countries, this is pretty amazing. Times do change.
The Knee Slider
Harley Davidson has finally been allowed to export the American Legend to India...2008
But the love affair between India and Harley Davidson isn't new....... In fact, during World War II Harley-Davidsons came into India by the thousands, intended to transport men and deliver mail in the eastern Assam state of India.....First appearing on the streets as long ago as the late 1940s...
No matter what part of the world, when young enthusiasm is mixed with the passion of riding, creativity isn't far behind
Harley Davidson plans to tap into the huge Indian market by importing their product instead of building factories in the country. Other major motorcycle manufacturers such as Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda are not only looking to sell more bikes to India's consumers but have invested considerably into existing factories within the country.
As with most things in life as well as with business, timing can be everything. When Harley-Davidson first pursued selling its Hogs in India, the motorcycle market was growing at double-digit rates. Recently, even that market has slowed leaving many other manufacturers who had invested heavily in factories and dealership networks across India scrambling to retain market share.
However, the Milwaukee motorcycle company has a marketing advantage over other manufacturers that can't be bought or created. They have the Harley-Davidson mystique and brand recognition that has managed to carry quite a premium in every foreign market the company has entered. Harley-Davidson has the financial fall-back of merchandising and selling it's brand, giving it resources beyond any competitors.
It seems Harley-Davidson is facing the same uncertainty every rider faces when going on any road trip of any length, never really knowing what's coming around the next corner.
Clutch and Chrome
Friday, February 22, 2008
While fishing around the web, I stumbled on a blog by a Westerner currently living in Korea. In this particular post, the subject is Korean Motorcycle Culture. As I scanned through the text, it dawned on me that this fella (a rider himself I believe) must be of the “upper crust” of riding society. This conclusion came to me since his views, experience, knowledge, and understanding of the biker world, of bikers in general, were very limited. All the things he found “amusing…and completely different from …American culture” are actually quite common and “normal” here in the States. Anyone who’s ever been to a rally, bike show, poker run, etc. would have to agree with that. However, it was not what seemed like a limited understanding of the biker culture that got to me, it was the underlying cause of his bias, the belief behind his perception. I believe it was his prejudice that confined his view and clouded his understanding…his prejudice only permitted his eyes to see what his mind had already perceived. Below is the part of his post that struck me as most bias;
“Being a biker in America is the ultimate form of individuality and self-expression. Each bike is unique, and each rider is unique in his physical appearance, dress, style, and attitude. Although many may wear the same motorcycle club patch, each rider is a distinct individual..…….Like American bikers, Korean bikers are individuals outside of societal norms. However, in contrast to American bikers, who are separate from society and different from one another, Korean bikers tend to be separate from society and different in exactly the same way.”
And…of course, I had to “comment” his post. Here’s some of what I wrote;
“I’m not sure why you “see” an open vest, hairy chested, beer gut hanging, bearded rider here and “feel” his individuality though his looks are about as stereotypical as stereotypes are gonna get as far as bikers go. On the other hand, you seem to “assume” that just because the Koreans may dress similar, they are just being clones and surrendering their individuality…
Bottom line Jeff….they look funny and out or place, in your eyes, because they are Asians and you’ve been programmed all your life, directly or unconsciously, to associate Harleys/Cruisers/Bikers as an American “thing”.”
You can check on the blog posting yourself –
I hope the few pics I’ve posted helps this guy expand his horizons a little. I mean, honestly, the whole issue of understanding and identifying with the “uniqueness” of the American Biker and the complete opposite feelings and lack of acceptance for the Korean Biker “clones” is just a LOAD OF SHIT! ....by the way, yes, I know not all bikers are dressed this way.
“same shit, different guy”
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Does this mean that Asians are naturally “bad” drivers? That Asians behind the wheel are callous and even rude? Do Asian drivers naturally think they “own” the road? For those of you who’ve been subjected to the Asian driving experience, as depicted above, I’m sure the accusations have crossed your mind and maybe even escaped your lips. Before we all jump at the opportunity to slam ‘those bad driving Asians’ with another stereotypical trait…let’s give the situation a closer look.
SEE VIDEO CLIPS >>>>>
Now, by no means do I propose that this is some sophisticated scientific study that produces substantial and indisputable facts…not at all. I’m just trying show a different perspective. Maybe, just maybe, some of these folks, especially the ones old enough to have lived a good part of their lives, up to this point, on foreign shores, are driving the only way they’ve known how. The clips clearly show rules of the road are quite different elsewhere…more like a survival of the fittest regiment.
True, true…they live here now and must learn to adhere to our laws and regulations. I agree wholeheartedly. However, until you’ve been placed in a foreign place, with foreign rules, foreign customs, and foreign peoples, assimilation is “just” a word, and as with most words, always easier said than done. Once again, I’m not looking to make excuses for these folks, I’m just trying to account for the “nature” vs “nurture” theory. The clips show that, if anything, Asians are pretty “good” drivers…to maneuver around all "that" and make it from point A to point B deserves a little recognition…no?
Here's another Utube clip to check out -
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Celebrated in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had a strong influence on the new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors, as well as cultures with whom the Chinese have had extensive interaction. These include Koreans, Mongolians, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, and formerly the Japanese before 1873. In Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and other countries with significant Chinese populations, Chinese New Year is also celebrated, largely by overseas Chinese, but it is not part of the traditional culture of these countries.
The history of the Dragon Dance can be dated back to the Han Dynasty (180-230 AD) in ancient China and, like the lion dance, plays an important part in Chinese culture. The Dragon itself has always been regarded as a Sacred creature, symbolizing power, courage, righteousness and dignity amongst others. For this reason, the Chinese show great respect towards the dragon, and have always referred themselves as being Descendants of the Dragon as a sign of ethnic identity.
Dragons of the South
check out the lion/dragon international competion;
"may the sun shine on your face and the wind be at your back all through the year"
Thursday, January 31, 2008
However, if you love riding your iron horse, there’s a spark of rebel somewhere inside you. Hell, for many of us, it’s more than a spark, it’s more like a “controlled” fire raging inside. We have a general distaste for conformity, confinement, and restraint. Our hearts yearn to be free, if only for a while, from the routine of daily life. Unfortunately and ironically, it’s our own insatiable want for more, more, more…more toys, more material possessions, more money and power, that tightens the grip on the very constraints we grow weary of...kinda like struggling when you're wearing 'crazy 8s'.
Just a little reminder boys and girls, sis and bros, “the winner of the rat race is still a rat”
Nomads, Gypsies, Outlaws, Bandits, Mongols, Pirates, etc. are all terms that describe groups throughout the history of man who’ve lived outside of society’s realm, defying society’s rules and standards, rebels against conformity….men who raged against the machine. It’s no wonder many of these terms are now used to represent many MCs throughout the world today.
While on a rant about MCs and all, check out some of the motorcycle clubs from the far East. I checked out some of their sites and as with other MCs around the world, they are all different from one another. We’re not just talking geography here, you can just check out their sites and see that they vary, just as any other ethnic groups of MCs, in their structure, purpose, and culture. Some seem definitely more on the fringe and others seem more social and family oriented.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I have stripped of all but pride
So in her I do confide
And she keeps me satisfied
Gives me all I need
And with dust in throat I crave
Only knowledge will I save
To the game you stay a slave
Roamer, wanderer, Nomad, vagabond
Call me what you will
But I'll take my time anywhere
Free to speak my mind anywhere
And I'll redefine anywhere
Anywhere I roam
Where I lay my head is home
And the earth becomes my throne
I adapt to the unknown
Under wandering stars I've grown
By myself but not alone
I ask no one
And my ties are severed clean
Less I have the more I gain
Off the beaten path I reign
Roamer, wanderer, Nomad, vagabond
Call me what you will
But I'll take my time anywhere
I'm free to speak my mind anywhere
and I'll never mind anywhere
Anywhere I roam
Where I lay my head is home
Carved upon my stone
My body lies, but still I roam,Yeah yeah!
Friday, January 25, 2008
However, here in the good ol' U.S. of A., where motorcycling in general is limited to sporting and recreational use, Asians on wheels are a rarity. This is less true with sportbike riders. But as far as cruisers...an Asian on a Harley Davidson for example, is definitely "not" a common site.
I was born in Southeast Asia but I've been here since I was a child, over three decades ago. I along with my older brother both ride Harleys. I have ridden with many riders but know of only about a dozen who are Asians.
I'm a friend to all riders who are friendly to me. Same goes with respect as it's always mutual. I just thought to create this blog to share my experiences and perspective. Who knows, it may help someone understand that beneath the skin, all riders have at least one thing in common, we all love the freedom of the road. At the same time, maybe somewhere out there, others like myself, will find it reassuring that though they may feel lonely, they are not alone.
Thunder from the East