Do they itch more than others???

 




A Collection of Articles from the Archives of

Harry G. Pellegrin

Novelist and Musician






 

Read on, my man!


Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx



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Excerpt from The Monkey Butt Essays

It would seem that the weather has made a liar out of me.   Back in October when I wrote the November Bump Start, I thought that riding season would be history by the time that issue hit the streets on November 15th.  Well, here it is November 17th, and I’ve just gotten into the office after a beautiful ride on the old Crotch Rocket.

I’d taken the bike to work and over to the Post Office to collect the Pony mail, so I got two rides in before finally sitting down and attempting to get something done.  Among the usual flotsam and jetsam stuffing P.O. Box 2316 was a real gem.  No, not another Wal-Mart flyer, it was a letter from a reader and new subscriber from Watervliet.  He took the time to write a lengthy letter to me to compliment the Pony and, even better, to offer some good information.  This really beats the shite mail as Seagull has dubbed it.  (I usually let him answer it too, because he’s so excitable and argumentative!)

This reader, Norman Gignac is a serious long distance rider who found our magazine on the counter at Herba Honda in Perth.  His letter appears in The Mailbag and is worth reading.  Besides causing me to stop, think and write a response, this letter also gave rise to many musings.  Memories that had long been placed at the back of the lowest file-drawer of my mind were brought up, dusted off and savored.

Daytona '93 is still a fresh and wonderful memory.  Not counting a million weekend trips into the Adirondacks and up to Boonville for a Saturday night Poker game here and there, Daytona was the last major overnighter I’ve done.  At Daytona, we stayed in a house, had a Crash Truck just in case, and basically pampered ourselves.  This wasn’t the way we used to undertake a road trip.

My first year at college was highlighted by a near-magic summer.  Many of my friends had been drafted and were serving in Southeast Asia.  I was registered, but not currently eligible as I was in school.  However, the threat of wartime duty was a very real and ever-present concern.  That summer always shines in my mind with a delicate, crystal-like fragility.  There but for the grace of God...  Each moment was savored.  My riding buddy (at the time) and I undertook many long motorcycle camping expeditions. 

Back in those days, camping gear could not be slipped into tank bags, tail trunks, or other motorcycle-specific luggage.  One purchased surplus duffel bags, ammo bags, A.L.I.C.E. sacks, etc. and bungeed them to the bike as best as one could.  The main concern was maintaining a center of balance and not having any straps, strings or entire bags lunch themselves in the sprockets and chain.  Sleeping bags were strapped to the handlebars ala Bronson -- purely for style.  This did wonders(!) for the bike’s handling as well as blocking off much of the light emanating from a Lucas headlamp.  And they called Lucas The Prince of Darkness even without a sleeping bag!

We couldn’t afford Bell Star helmets -- the only full-faced model offered at the time -- so we ate our share of bugs.  We always said “Never try to get the thing back out, its better to swallow than to see what you’ caught!” All that extra protein! Yum!

Support vehicles were unheard of.  Once I lunched a piston in Loch Sheldrake, near Ellenville.  When I called home, my Dad said “Gee that’s tough, call me again after you’ve fixed it.”  That’s what I get for using “Mexican Overdrive” (clutch lever pulled) going down a long hill well over 100 mph -- and then over-revving when I tried to engage fourth gear again!  What a sound!  So any repairs for crash damage or abuse were made at the side of the road.  Back when pay-phones had telephone books attached to them, one could always find the appropriate dealer for tech support and parts.  I think some of the best memories came from those times when the machine was busted by the side of some unknown road.  That’s when we met interesting people, saw neat stuff and learned about living.

Sometimes I think back to those days of hard riding, eating dust, rough camping and wonder if a little of the magic has been lost through our quest for convenience.  Somehow I don’t think comfort is as important to the riding experience as some would like to think.  We don’t go riding to be comfortable (otherwise we’d all have Goldwings or, more likely, cars.  Face it, a car is more comfortable on a sixteen below day -- especially in the snow.

Simply by our fixation with sportbikes we already display a healthy disdain for comfort and convenience.  The sportbike, by definition, is more severe, austere, and uncompromising than any other type of street-going motorcycle.  They must, by heritage, be so.  The modern sportbike is a thinly veiled rendition of a factory Works race bike.  That’ what makes ‘m so much fun -- and so unforgiving to those who would haughtily show them disrespect and ride them above their own abilities.  (These are the people who supply all those non riders with their “My friend Fred...” stories!)

Somehow I know that riding is an act of defiance.  We defy nature.  We embrace her without any self-imposed barriers.  We are there for her to love or to scorn -- and she usually scorns with punishment!  We defy the boundaries of society’s “common sense.”  The mainstream would rather see us all conform and drive Volvo wagons.  In an odd sort of way, we embrace mainstream society.  By placing ourselves, vulnerable, at their mercy, we inadvertently show our faith and trust, no matter how misplaced.  You only open up your weaknesses to your nearest and dearest, don’t you?  That last bit was tongue-in-cheek, just in case you thought I was serious... The nature bit stands, though.

Anyway, I think that the next time I go on an extended road trip, I’m going to pack a sleeping bag rather than reservations at the Quality Inn.  If I’m with a group on a long trip,  I’ll try to veto a crash truck.  When I think of those bygone days when we laughed and shared friendship over a hopelessly clogged carburetor or struggled and sweated trying to mend a tube on a ninety degree day on a dusty, lonely shoulder of a two lane blacktop highway from Nowhere to Land’s End, I realize that maybe a bit of the excitement and adventure that drew me to biking may have been lost over the course of time.

Riding is all about preparing for risk, formulating a plan, then executing that plan.  Unfortunately, some of us have become a little too far-reaching in the risk management field.  Yes, our riding should be smooth, controlled, devoid of excessive risk-taking.  However, risk management shouldn’t keep an individual from facing a problem or imposing challenge and allowing him or her the sweet taste of victory when he or she has thought out and remedied the situation.  That feeling, one of overcoming a difficult obstacle, is the basis of all great human achievement.  I, for one, want to keep that feeling in my life!

 

Harry G. Pellegrin

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  LOW END  By Harry George Pellegrin.  The first in the Gary Morrissey series of mysteries.  Dealing with modern subject matter in the classic style of the 1940's Mystery Noire masters--think Raymond Chandler in New York in the 1980's...  LOW END is the story of a drug addict who is murdered after he believes he has found evidence of a major government conspiracy.  Is it only drug-induced paranoia?  Might be, except his paranoia could be considered justified: he was murdered, after all.  Friend Gary Morrissey takes it upon himself to find out just what happened and lands himself in the crosshairs.
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Classic Guitar Method  Composed, written, transcribed, edited and arranged by Harry G. Pellegrin: Now in one volume, much of what the novice classical guitarist will need to know to lead him or her to the recital stage. From proper instrument care and maintenance to the necessary technical skills, musical mind-set, and the standard repertoire—all exposed and explored with enough detail and insight that the student will wish to keep this book handy years to come as a ready reference source.
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DEEP END: The Wreck of the Eddie Fitz  By Harry George Pellegrin. A mystery novel. Involving a semi-professional musician and a Kreyol death cult, DEEP END takes the reader from the bottom of Long Island Sound to the steamy streets and Blues clubs of New Orleans. Alternative spirituality does battle with the common working man.  Published by PAB Entertainment Group in association with LULU.com.
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Reflecting Pools    Original Music by Harry G. Pellegrin:
Reflecting Pools is a departure for me as it is totally keyboard. Well, the guitar did show up on one track...

"...Reflecting Pools is a notable first album [for Mr. Pellegrin]. A dramatic sense of tonality and mood are propelled by exemplary musicianship and exciting compositional exploits."

Available through www.BATHTUBMUSIC.com...

...And containing nine tracks that are relaxing, inspirational -- sounds like a snooze. Not really, this is great stuff to listen to on a rainy afternoon, while with your significant other (nudge, nudge, know what I mean?) Please visit the Reflecting Pools page on this site or www.bathtubmusic.com.

In That Zone, is now out! Please visit www.bathtubmusic.com for details and to order.

See the info page on this site...

 

LOW END is Published by Bedside Books, an imprint of American Book Publishing.

ISBN 1-58982-074-6

LOW END Copyright 2003 Harry G. Pellegrin

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