You bet, it pays....


A Collection of Articles from the Archives of

Harry G. Pellegrin

Novelist and Musician


Read on, my man!

Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx





It Pays to Advertise...

Maybe half a year ago, I discussed "No Fear" in one column or another.  Ducatista also had quite an enlightening bit to say on the subject as well.  If you will recall, we both questioned whether or not simply wearing a tee shirt that professed "No Fear"  led the wearer to believe that he either feared nothing or that he thought he was drawing others to that conclusion, that he was indeed fearless.

Of course, most humans over the age of, say, fifteen, couldn't possibly believe that the mere possession of a tee shirt could make you anything, other than a consumer.   Any of my closer associates will tell you that, while I am often quick to form an opinion, I am also of the type that will ruminate the subject for months thereafter until something else is said or occurs that either further enhances or eliminates all validity vis a vis my opinion.  Of course, the No Fear issue was never truly buried that deep as I still see those silly looking stickers plastered all over the back windows of every turquoise S-10 pickup with chrome wheels and heavily tinted windows that I pass.  Oh, and with fuscia pinstripes to boot!  One of my favorite motorcycle journalists penned a piece recently on how he is going to eliminate all brand names from every piece of clothing, gear, and vehicle that he owns.  He feels that by slathering his body and his possessions with logos and trademarks, he is cheapening his own self-worth.  You see, he becomes secondary to the impact of the brand-name impact he is making.  Sort of like the Michael J. Fox character in Back to the Future was called Calvin by at least one of the other characters in a few scenes because that's just what it said all over the waistband of his underwear -- Calvin Klein, this man feels that something of himself is lost with every alligator, HD wing or Tony Lama label in his possession.

About a year ago I came to a very similar conclusion.  With every jet kit, air filter, tire, etc. that I have purchased for my bikes, I have always received a little (or big in some cases) sticker that colorfully proclaims that manufacturer's product.Of course, I slathered my fairings with these little baubles until I too had that Grand Prix mystique -- a rolling billboard.Not a soul ever confused me with Kevin Schwantz.  Maybe it was because his RGV never carried quite so many stickers!  My father once told me he'd never wear a Harley shirt unless they gave him a bike and paid him to advertise for them.  Being seventeen and without a bike of any sort, I figured that the next best thing to arriving on a Harley was to at least arrive in a Harley shirt.  I was young, forgive me.  I later held firm to the belief that one should have to prove ownership of any brand of bike before they'd allow you to purchase a logo-ed article of clothing.  Sort of like buying beer, they'd card you -- make you produce a registration -- before you could make the purchase.  I figured this would eliminate all those dudes on the sidewalk who sneer at your Sportster but when questioned, inform you that they don't even own a bike.  One guy (resplendent in a 'Legends Live Where Legends Roam...' tee shirt) once said yeah, he had had one, but he sold it -- his pride 'n' joy -- a 1982 panhead!  But that's another story.  I've finally come to the conclusion that the only way to get a motorcycle tee shirt should be that if you actually buy a bike, the dealer should GIVE you a shirt.  Then, if you like the way he has treated you, and as a courtesy to that dealer, you can wear the shirt to boost his business.   Stickers have even less going for them than tee shirts.  At least a shirt is useful.  All a sticker can do is gum up your paint.

So about a year ago, I crept out to the garage late one evening with my wife's hair dryer in one hand as  I now had a free hand since I'd decided to stop yanking my dork for a dozen different manufacturers.  That's not to say their products were bad or that I have some problem with them, I was just not going to pimp them anymore to my friends or anyone else who would notice  for gratis.  It pays to advertise, but why should it always be at my expense?  Besides that, why should the cops know what modifications I've done to my machine?  Let 'em guess!  With every sticker I peeled (carefully) a bit more of the beautiful cranberry and pearl paint on my bike became visible.  Ah, so that's what my bike looks like!  It would have amazed you to see the bike again the way I did that night, it was like a new machine.

Why would a person wish to wallpaper a perfectly good looking motorcycle with a bunch of tacky stickers?  That's a pretty easy question to answer.  The wallpaperer has seen his favorite racer's bike in numerous advertisements, on the toob, and maybe even in the paddock at an actual race.  In a feeble act of emulation or hero worship, the wallpaperer goes home and finds all the stickers that came with the performance products and accessories he's bought over the years and creates his own rolling billboard.  Or worse, he finds his mail-order catalog and actually BUYS stickers to destroy the appearance of his bike.  That to me is the most lame bit of consumerism yet; paying for manufacturer's product stickers so that you can advertise their products for them for nothing.  I don't feel so bad about my sticker fetish because I got them WITH the products.  I guess I actually did pay for them, I'm sure the manufacturers figure the cost of the packaging, etc., into their list price, but at least I didn't pay extra -- outright -- for them.

My next undertaking will be to remove the neat little embroidered Corbin tag from my gunfighter saddle.  I won't be able to tell the difference from where I'm seated.  It's not that I don't like Corbin's product nor do I have any animosity towards the company or it's product -- it's a damn fine saddle.  However, there are two great reasons for keeping the saddle incognito. For one thing, Mike didn't send me the thing for free, and for another, my butt can't read anyway.


Harry G. Pellegrin


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

ISBN 1-58982-074-6

LOW ENDCopyright 2003 Harry G. Pellegrin

In God We Trust


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