A Good 40mm Spanner

Adjusts an attitude--when applied between the eyes.


A Collection of Articles from the Archives of

Harry G. Pellegrin

Novelist and Musician


Read on, my man!

Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx






On Decades and Attitude...

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 sixties?

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 speech!

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 country forward. 

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and moral revolutions lasted until June of 1975 when the last American troops (not including the POW's and MIA's) were withdrawn from Saigon.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 there.

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 wrong.

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 place.

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 had arrived.

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, wh

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 push-'em-out-regardless-of-if-they-run mentality 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.


Harry G. Pellegrin



  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...



ISBN 1-58982-074-6

LOW END Copyright 2003 Harry G. Pellegrin

In God We Trust

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