June 7, 2013

Consumerism and Motorcycling in Kansas

Real-Biker-ChickDodge City is filled with history. One name that stands above all the rest is Wyatt Earp, former Marshall, Sheriff and famous buffalo hunter of the frontier. It seems every historical character I read of in Kansas was a buffalo hunter. I can think of no group of people more heinously wasteful than the buffalo hunters, so I wander around Dodge City simply nauseous with the thought. 3 million buffalo were slaughtered for their hides over a 3 year period throughout this territory, carcasses left to rot on the frontier, crippling the way of life for the American Indians who had persevered here for centuries. Waste, greed, and the race for wealth, fueled by Manifest Destiny, nearly wiped out my ancestors. So yeah, fuck your buffalo hunters. You bastards make me sick.

But that rampant consumerism still exists today. It feeds on our insecurities and is bred in every media outlet possible. I have no issue with buying something one needs and uses. It's more than that. To me it is more than just consumerism, it is matter of the wasting of excessive disposable resources. We buy more because we can throw away the old and get new so easily that we continue to absorb, consume and destroy. Who gives a shit about using something for life when you can use it for a year and then buy a new one?

I'm as guilty as anyone. New shoes, new handbags, new clothes, etc. I love to adorn myself with pretty things. Because women attach themselves emotionally to items they purchase, "things" become more about the feeling one gets from having them than their practicality. So we consume, buy, amass, collect and hoard. I have 80 pairs of shoes. Since I left on my Road Pickle trip I've been using 4 pair and I find I'm pretty happy with just the 4. Even I have a hard time believing it.

The Road Pickle trip has taught me so much about the difference between what I need and what I want, and why I want things. I love my Kawasaki Ninja 500. We chose that motorcycle due to it's weight, seat height, reliability, and affordability. The brand name was a non-issue for us. What shocked me, and still shocks me, is that the brand name of a motorcycle means a great deal to others. In fact, it's a great big mother fucking deal to many, many riders.

In the comments of a post of another blog, Lucky recently wrote, "Also, short guys are the ones who need to compensate with an over-chromed, overly-loud, over-hyped piece of butt jewelry."

I have another friend who remarked, "Call me a conspirator, but I think Harley Davidson was actually invented by women as an early alert system for douchebags."

I'm not knocking Harley, my girlfriend was. And there's no need for me to go into it, because anyone who's ever slapped their ass on the seat of a motorcycle knows that part of the fun is being seen on one. The ratio of being-seen-fun to riding-fun is determined differently for each person. For me, being seen is a small part of the equation. For the most part, I don't give a fuck what other people think of me and the way I look. I like the way I look. If you don't like the way I look, go fuck yourself. But don't bore me with your opinion because I truly just don't fucking care.

But for others, being seen is everything. And because being seen on the brand name is everything, putting around on a brand of bike that doesn't stroke one's ego is a waste.  If it doesn't make your dick hard just to look at it, it won't make the chicks come a'running or the Jones' jealous that you're a step ahead of them when you pull into your driveway.

For me it's really ALL about riding. It's about going from one place to another on two wheels. It's about the feeling I get pulling back on that throttle and shifting into high gear after winding 4th and 5th gear out to a scream. It's the lurch forward as I slam into 6th and launch past the cars trying to keep me behind them. It's about riding behind my lover and rolling through open land that begs to be photographed, admired and loved, if only for a moment.

The lesson of Road Pickling has been realizing I don't need a bunch of shit to be happy. It's realizing I only need my two wheels, my best friend and a source of income. Now that I've pared down to pretty much just that and a few items to keep me safe when I ride and clothed in public, I have found a sense of serenity I find hard to explain.

I guess you'll have to get rid of all of your belongings, including your home, convince your spouse to ride a motorcycle with you for 6 months, and mount up to understand. Regardless, I don't think I'm changing society by getting rid of my shit. If I only change myself, well then, that's all I have to be concerned with.

So all of you buffalo hunters and your brand name shit and expensive butt jewelry, you keep the wheels of commerce rolling. I'll focus on just the two under my sweet ass.


  1. Well said ! Your on two wheels and riding that's all that matters!!!

  2. to quote a popular anthem...

    "You gotta roll, roll, roll
    You gotta thrill my soul, all right...

    Let it roll, baby, roll
    Let it roll, all night long."

    Things just don't matter... people and relationships do.

  3. Great post Sash.

    So does this mean you are selling some shoes when you get home?

    I am firmly in the camp of who cares what you ride as long as it has two wheels and you like it. Chrome don't get you home - as the saying goes.

    I've had a Honda, Triumph, Kawasaki, and now a Suzuki. As long as I can thumb the starter and go, life is good.

  4. Due to the way my entire life has unfolded, I've always had sort of a tenuous relationship with stuff. I'll be the first to admit that my feelings about stuff are a little different from most folks. I like what I like, I enjoy my stuff while I have it, and I don't particularly get upset when it's gone.

    I guess I'd say I see myself as a caretaker or foster person taking care of stuff until it moves on to it's next home. It's not "mine." And, of course, I'd prefer that it eventually go to someone who needs it more than me.

    My life circumstances recently left me with not much more than my clothes and my motorcycle. A few people have reacted strongly to my lack of concern about my stuff. The way I see it, it can all be replaced. And, besides, I've still got my motorcycle. :)

  5. LOVE this blog. Just absolutely perfect as I set of day after tomorrow for a two wheeled adventure around Sub Saharan Africa :) Will giggle for weeks over the butt-jewelry comment! It is so about riding behind my lover into a beautiful unknown and riding long trips certainly has a way of bring out the best and the worst in me. The true journey is self discovery. Or should I say self-fucking-discovery? :) Thanks for the blog...


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