An amazing collection of incredible photography from an almost undocumented era in American motorcycling. Powerful, moving, deeply authentic.
Throughout history, there have always been people who felt that they had nothing left to lose. People who had come to the conclusion that polite society was just a whitewash over something that was rotten to the core. Often, they decided this during very hard childhoods, as they found themselves betrayed by parents who were themselves just too screwed up to love their children.
Arriving at 18, mad at the world, a fast bike and a wide-open horizon look pretty good to these people; and if you don't care whether you live or die, you ride that bike fast and crazy and you grab whatever goodies life has to offer, legal or not.
I was deeply saddened and powerfully moved by the images in this book. Again and again I got the impression that these are people who are riding away from something as fast as they can, in the ultimately futile hope of outrunning whatever it is. I'd be willing to bet that the pirates of 300 years ago had a similar look in their eyes; a look of sadness and desperation, mixed with the ferocity of an incurable anger.
The photographs are works of high art, and from the perspective of a lifelong motorcyclist, it is wonderful to see choppers that were actually built by their owners rather than bought out of a catalog by people who are "squares" 5 days a week. These images remind us of why we motorcyclists got the reputation we're trying to live down; and despite my sadness for the messed up lives I see here, like everyone else I have to look at this book. Nothing is quite as fascinating as the freedom, the tragedy, the passion and the sadness that comes from having nothing to lose in a society that judged mercilessly without wanting to know what they were judging.
Give a copy of this book to your white-collar buddy with the store-bought $35,000 bar bike; it might give him a little more understanding of who he thinks he's trying to be.