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On Decades and
Have you ever noticed that decades rarely end
on time? Sometimes they don't start on time
either. They never span ten years. Do
you think I did too many drugs back in the
I know that that was probably the most bizarre
statement you have ever heard outside of a
political speech, but I can clarify the intent --
something that no politician can do with a
I always consider (although I wasn't born yet)
that the 1930's ended on December 7, 1942. Sure,
the forties had begun January 1, 1940, but
America's attitude was still firmly
depression-era. The 1920's had ended in
September of 1929 when the "Roaring
Twenties" gave way to the Depression Era.
Anyway, the 1940's were the "War Years"
and although the war ended in '45, the attitude
was prolonged by the war crimes trials in
Nuremburg, the Berlin Airlift, and finally by our
intervention in Korea in the early fifties.
The fifties began with Bill Haley's Rock
Around the Clock and Elvis Presley. Once
again, a new attitude was born. The War
Years were behind America, it was time to play
and enjoy our new prosperity -- a prosperity the
likes of which had not been seen since 1929.
That shiny, happy fifties attitude lasted until
November 23, 1963 when President Kennedy was
assassinated by "who knows." Once
again, a major sociopolitical event cast the
The Sixties remained as turbulent as the
decade's send-off had been violent. War
once again filled the American consciousness.
This time though, the media had crafted a
dissenting voice into the hearts and minds of
many. War was never pretty, now all could
view the latest horrors on the evening news.
This decade, with all its horrors, social
upheaval, and moral revolutions lasted until June
of 1975 when the last American troops (not
including the POW's and MIA's) were withdrawn
from Saigon. One of the most
heart-wrenching scenes I have ever beheld was the
last few hours of the fall of Saigon, with
American helicopters desperately evacuating
people from the roof of the CIA headquarters
The 1970's, all polyester lime green leisure
suits and gold chains, was once again the
absolute opposite to the 1960's as far as
attitude is concerned. While sixties
mentality delved into the inner self, looking for
answers to complex moral issues, the seventies
were an intellectual wasteland inhabited by a
lost generation of hedonists. Before you
throw any stones at me, that's my generation.
I was a teenager and in my early twenties --
those formative years -- during the seventies.
This was the short decade that almost ended on
time. Some feel the election of Ronald
Reagan in November of 1980 closed that confused
peacock we called the seventies. Personally,
the seventies ended for me when Mark Chapman
pulled the trigger a few weeks later. A
childhood Icon was smashed, along with any
vestiges of my innocence.
The eighties didn't end until well after the
Gulf War. So far, I don't feel that any one
event, attitude or thing epitomizes the nineties
just yet. It will probably take ten years
of hindsight to mark their beginning. Somehow,
I don't think the nineties will be remembered for
anything we can all be proud of -- I hope I'm
Motorcycling too goes through
"decades" with attitudes and
philosophies that clearly delineate and define
the times.Of course, even going back seventy five
years, you can still see motorcycle factions for
whom the decades and attitudes did not
necessarily correspond. The nineties may
well be remembered as the decade in which we all
came together, but more about that later.
Up until the 1920's, motorcycles were
considered more for their utilitarian assets than
their 'cool' appeal. Generally speaking,
that is. One could consider from 1903 to
1929 as the last great united motorcyclist era --
a decade if you will. Although many brands
of bike were available and their merits contested
by the factories and consumers alike, I believe
all riders were more or less coming from the same
During the prohibition years though, the first
schism appeared. Bootleggers used Harley
74's as quick and easily hidden vehicles for
illegal activities. They could, even
pulling a side-hack of hooch, outrun a prowl car.
Many law-enforcement agencies began using the big
74's for their pursuit of the 'leggers. That
famous cops and outlaws split had been created.
The late fifties and early sixties were a
motorcycling decade in regard to attitude. British
bikes, lightweight and offering comparable
horsepower to the HD's became more commonplace on
the American highways. Its funny how the
British motorcycle invasion gave out as the
British musical invasion really got started.
Along with the Beatles, America became conscious
of smaller, cheaper motorcycles from Japan.
You meet the nicest people on a Honda. That
advertising slogan implied that you didn't meet
the nicest people elsewhere. Although Brit
bikes enjoyed a few more years of gradually
diminishing sales and popularity, the Japanese
Soon after Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki
all descended. Kawasaki became known as the
horsepower king -- as well as embodying all that
could be said for poor handling. Suicide
machines dubbed H-1 with three cylinders, no
brakes and flexible frames. Honda
became known as a paragon of mechanical
perfection and dependability. Yamaha placed
great emphasis on winning road races and
succeeded quite nicely, although precious little
of their street line truly represented their
track hardware. The RD series were
quite quick, but their XS line was just that --
XS-ive! Suzuki remained at the fringe of
American consciousness through the 'UJM' period,
In 1985, the seventies, as far as motorcycles
are concerned, finally ended. People had
had just about enough of the Universal Japanese
Motorcycle. But now hardware as well as attitude
changed. Harley, now some two years out
from under the
of AMF, had released their Evo motor. The
Evolution was just that. It retained the
qualities that make Harleys so desirable but
backed up this character with few oil leaks, even
fewer breakdowns, and, some would say, greater
potential for power increases.
Kawasaki released the Ninja 900, the benchmark
by which all open-class sportbikes would be
measured for the next five years. Suzuki
was one year away from releasing their GSX-R750,
probably the one bike that epitomizes
track-refugee sportbikes. A thinly
disguised version of their team endurance mount,
the GSXR would forever change attitudes (riders,
insurance companies and law enforcement agencies)
as to the performance capabilities of a three
quarter liter bike.
The eighties, which have lasted from 1985
until now, may have ended with the CBR900RR.
I say this because I personally feel that
performance figures will probably never get much
better than they are now, but weight will be
dropped. Legislation and insurance
companies seem to be locked into the
horsepower/displacement mindset. They see a
four hundred pound/hundred horse bike as equal to
a two hundred pound/hundred horse bike. Which
would you find quicker though?
Some Harley riders may think the nineties
arrived when the Motor Company decided that the
consumers that bailed them out, the real hardcore
bikers, was a group to be shunned and minimized.
Harley would rather have the general public
believe that doctors and executives are those who
have been riding Harleys all along. Yeah,
right. In five or six years when the next
big Yuppie craze comes along, Harley Davidson
will find out who had supported them through
their lean years. Hopefully they will be
more appreciative of the outlaw influence.
Whether motorcycling's eighties decade has
ended or has yet to be altered by some new
phenomenon is not really clear. I hope we
can all unite as motorcyclists or bikers or
whatever we call ourselves before the bureaucracy
eliminates us while we are divided and weak.
I think it can happen. We all just have to
put away our attitudes.
READ THE PRESS
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
See more info...
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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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
"...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
...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
LOW END Copyright
2003 Harry G. Pellegrin
God We Trust
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