Milwaukee,WI, aug 28 th 2013
America engendered quite a few iconic symbols, that people around the world loathe or love: the Jeep, Levi’s jeans, Coca Cola , the Marlboro Cowboy, the Ford T, to name but a few.
Few of them however trigger such strong feelings as the Harley Davidson motorbike. A Harley is a way of life, a philosophy, a love story, a roaring music, an orgastic vibration, a smell, a tribe, a sect, a world in itself. And what a world! Only those who have ridden a Harley Davidson know that to try it is to adopt it, and that once you get hooked, you never quit.
The cradle of Harley Davidson is Milwaukee, Wisconsin, usually associated with beer, but also womb of the infernal brat which became an absolute icon of Americana: the Harley.
On this Labor Day week end, hordes of nomadic pacific warriors are coming from all over the US, and even farther, to celebrate the 110 th anniversary of their icon.
They are everywhere, the “hogs” as they call themselves, they descend in swarms on Milwaukee like clouds of locust descended on the Midwest in 1874. They drink beer like the locust ate crops. The vibration of their engine rambles through your rib cage like a country music, the smell of their leather makes you feel dizzy like a Guerlain Shalimar fragrance, the roar of their engine sounds like a Beethoven symphony.
The ” Hog”, the Harley Davidson biker, is a rolling contradiction: he is at the same time an annal retentive, a control freak for his bike, who cannot bear the slightest stain of oil on his jewel, and spends his week ends polishing his dominant maitresse with a Q tip and a tooth brush. But at the same time he is a libertarian refusing any kind of authority, eager to enjoy absolute freedom and wild spaces that he rides without wearing a helmet. Two generations ago in the 60s he was a modern cow boy, an “Easy rider” symbolized by Pete Fonda. Today he is a grandfather, bearing the physical and psychological scars of the Vietnam war and the illusions of the “beat” generation. He grew a mustache and a beer paunch, his hair is now grey and his pecs are sagging. But he is a nice guy, very friendly and social, very independent, and he belongs to a family, a caring family, the most united family, the Harley family!
We cyclists, we know what it means, because we are also a brotherhood on wheels, sharing values and solidarity. Long life to Harley Davidson!