I grew up in an era of .35 cents per gallon gasoline, 500 horsepower engines, and custom cars made by Big Daddy Don Gartlits. I had a Cadillac Calais with a 473 cubic inch engine that was so powerful it could drag a house a quarter mile (O.K. that last one might be a bit of an exaggeration). It was one thing for cars to be fast but another image still sticks with me all these years later…
Anyone who grew up in the 1970s will remember the movie Easy Rider (1969) with Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson. The image of Peter Fonda riding down the highway on the back of a chopped hog motorcycle in a red white and blue helmet and leathers has become iconic. Like many others who grew up in the era I did, I had a burning desire to take to the highways on the back of a “Harley.”
Turn the clock forward decades and cars are measured in miles per gallon instead of horsepower. Responsibilities of job, family and security wear away at the possibility of the “freedom of the highway”. If responsibility doesn’t wear away the dream, tragedies like this one easily scare it away. Still, at least once I have gone up to the local motorcycle dealer with cash in hand.
There are times we end up living the dream vicariously. Perhaps that is part of the fascination with games. In World of Warcraft and Fallen Earth I can still tear down the highways in a motorcycle with no fear of doing a header onto to pavement and testing the tensile strength of my brain bucket.
Perhaps this is also why when the Sons of Anarchy caught my eye recently I found it so fascinating, despite it being fraught with anti-heroes. Casting a Leary eye around the shows I initially found it difficult to really like as it was bereft of many would consider “socially redeeming values.” Eventually though, I began to find characters that were engrossing. Ron Perlman playing a character he said for the first time was “a monster on the inside instead of the outside.” Actor Jackson Nathanial’s portrayal of Jaxx Teller, who spent all of season two struggling with the vision of what his father thought the motorcycle club should be, versus what it had become, pulled me in even further. However, by the time Gemma Teller-Morrow (portrayed by Katey Segal) began struggling with her twisted version of religion in the season two finale I knew there was more to it than interesting character studies. Then a voice from the stop of the stairs, Sister Frances, pointed it out…
…I was watching a soap opera with motorcycles.
You know, I think she’s right. So until the spring comes I will just have to satisfy the need for two wheeled speed by re-watching Sons of Anarchy.
See you online,