Indian Lookout Country Club
1142 Batter Street
Pattersonville, NY 12137
Phone (518) 864-5659
Fax (518) 864-5917
Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Year of Living Rendezvouslessly

By Colorado T. Sky

"Was it something I did in another life? I try an' try, but nothin' turns out right ... for me Bad Karma... killin' me by degrees" --Warren Zevon, "Bad Karma"

"...but I've never been so broke that I couldn't leave town." --Jim Morrison, "The Changeling"

I understand from a number of reliable sources that this year's edition of the immortal Harley Rendezvous Classic was the best ever, or, at least, "so far."

That, of course, only makes me feel worse about missin' it.

I suppose I could go into all the reasons for my not bein' there, but they'd just probably sound like bitchin' and, bein' as that's a trait and practice I find particularly distasteful in other people, it's one I go well out of my way to avoid.

Just yesterday, when one of the friendlier (and more articulate) local FlatLanders asked me "hi yawl doon?" I replied, "Better than dead," and pretty much believed it.

On the other hand, the account of this past year or so is altogether too weird to be anything but true. And Ironic. Truly ironic. And you know what they say about irony: "Irony is always funny, but it's always funnier when it happens to somebody else."

I could go all the way back to the beginning, but it wouldn't be worth it. I started out as a child... I may look young to you, but I was born that way. My life didn't really start to go to Hell until That Infamous Day when I crossed "the line" and owned more shit than I could cram into my saddlebags.

If you were to listen to my latest ex-ol' lady (not to be confused with my latest ex-wife), it's all my fault. I was askin' for it; enticing, inviting, ... or maybe I just had the misfortune to be born with a target-shaped ass.

I left New Hampshire a year and a half ago (March of '08) following my latest marriage goin' down in flames and up in smoke (check out "Wedding From Hell," Rendezvous Express, Oct '07. Shoulda knowed). I had an' ol' bud out in Ohio who'd just recently retired and, evidently tired of trippin' over himself, had bought a small-town weekly newspaper and needed somebody who knew how to write to fill his pages. Right up my alley! He needed help and I needed out an' it was a match made at Woolworth's. We struck a deal for short money plus room and board (I don't need much, and can get by on less, and he didn't have any of anything anyway). I spent part of my "severance pay" from the Franklin Pierce fiasco on a '95 Dodge Ran crip van (which my mother, in her sweet sarcastic way, christened the "QE-3"), complete with a raised roof (no lift, though) and proceeded to load up my tools, my three-and-a-half bikes and a mess of books that I figured would come in handy when (if) I went back to teaching.

As they say, "smack that horse in the ass" an' it was Westward Ho! and back to the FlatLands of southwest Ohio (just north of Dayton) where I had gone to grad school and had originally met the New Newspaper Owner (some of you might've actually met him at Camp Creek over the past few years. Don't look for him in the future; his new, formerly ex, Ol' Lady --not to be confused with his ex-wife-- don't let him come an' play no more). I had lived with him and his three sons before, on and off during school for two years, and he and I got along like two apes in a thunderstorm, but that was before he re-hooked up with his ex-Ol' Lady (not to be confused with his ex-wife).

Ironically, (don't ya just love it!) I made last year's Rendezvous (with my "Bald-headed bitch") named Spike. He even managed to get a Staff slot, then he vanished. Haven't seen much of him lately, either, although my latest ex-ol' lady (not to be confused with my latest ex-wife) told me that he had called her a while back. She didn't say 'bout what. and Camp Creek (with my latest ex-ol' lady, not to be confused with my latest ex-wife) and her Idiot Dawg (a loyal and affectionate but mind-numbingly dumb Australian Shepherd), who rode all the way out just to get boarded just down the road (the dawg, not the ol' lady).

It was her plan (or lack thereof). I don't know; I just drive the bus.

Of course, I was workin' and makin' money last year.

One of these years I'm gonna camp out at ILCC all summer long an' make it to everything! And put it all out On The Air!

Maybe next year...

Back to business: as much as Investigative Journalism isn't my specialty, I actually liked workin' at the paper, I almost started to enjoy minding other people's business, and my asking of what I deemed "pertinent" questions during City Council meetings undoubtedly ruined more than one pair of BVDs. A lot of 'em found out I wasn't kidding when I said I was an Anarchist.

I particularly liked working the "late shift" at the paper. I'd show up at about the crack of noon, answer some of my messages, check my email, try to ignore the gossip of the office bimbos (two of whom were guys), type my notes, proofread the rest of the paper, join in on the Four O'Clock Staff Meeting and Beer Break, have lunch for dinner, take in whatever meetings I had to, then pop over to the American Legion (where I was the Historian) or the VFW (where I was the Chaplain. Ironic, huh?) for a few, and eventually drift back in between nine and eleven at night and work 'til I was done, anywhere between midnight and three.

All was well for the first few weeks, until that Fateful Night when I got Pulled Over while swingin' through the local Speedway station on the way home. I'd left the "V" some time before and had put in a few hours of diligent work after closing time, so I wasn't really "drunk" (regardless of what I smelled like) and I sang their little song and did their little dance and was already to Keep On Truckin' on my merry way homeward when Sergeant Sherlock Shitehead asked me for my insurance card.

I rummaged around in my wallet for a while, hemmin' an' hawin' 'bout how I "just saw it," but we both knew I'd come up empty. The bike (the little Honda 350/4 which I had just gotten running right a couple of days earlier) was still validly registered in New Hampshire (to my latest ex-wife, not to be confused with my latest ex-ol' lady). I do appreciate their not impounding it; it was still in the parkin' lot of the Food City when a runnin' mate of mine went to get it the next day.

Needless to say, when the day of my appearance arrived and I still couldn't produce an insurance card, His Honor took it pretty seriously (can't imagine why... I'd never written anything too derogatory about him). I was actually amazed as exactly how seriously he took it: a second offense of Driving Without Insurance in Ohio is considered a felony. First offense, you (or "I," actually) just endure a mandatory one-year Loss Of License. Yeah, I 'bout shit, too. "Pedestrian" is not my best thing.

Almost as bad as listenin' to Hizzonner ranting about Financial resposibili-titty (qu-est que c'est, eh? I'm the one on the bike! Like I'm gonna do anybody any damage...) was listenin' to my soon-to-be-ex-boss's (soon to be my ex-roommate's) Ol' Lady deliver a lecture on the evils of Drunken Motorcycling. It didn't matter to her that I was hadn't been charged with DWI, and the lecture was especially Ironic (doncha just love Irony?) coming, as it did, from somebody who drinks wine -lots of wine-- out a cardboard box.

I spent last summer walking to work.

Finally, in August of '08 -with several months to go before I could get my license back-- I got a teaching job.

Freshman English. Okay.... Community College. It had a lot of potential, but very little "kinetic." It also came with as screwed-up a schedule as you could possibly imagine (at two campuses, with twenty-five minutes to make the half-hour ride between them), and a forty-mile commute (more than fifty once I moved in with my latest ex-ol' lady, not to be confused with my latest ex-wife). Still and all, with two part-time jobs, I could almost make the ends come together.

Then I got laid off from the paper.

I finally figured that out when I hadn't gotten paid for a month.

And, don't ya know that when I got "laid off" (although I still wrote -and "donated"--my Trivia column for another few months, just 'cuz I like writing), I not only lost my job, but my room and board as well. Nonetheless, the Boss was pretty good about it; he promised that he'd tell Unemployment that I'd been laid off, not fired (he'd threatened a couple of times, but I knew he didn't mean it).

So off I trod to the Unemployment office.

Remember that old axiom about "no good deed ever going unpunished"?

Believe it.

Room and board don't count as wages: it's In God We Trust Ulysses S. Greenback frogskin cash and cash only (it's the American Way!).

Claim Denied (and denied again on appeal). Reason? I didn't make enough often enough to qualify.

I spent the winter living in the basement of a machine shop.

It wasn't bad; hot an' cold runnin', 220 to run the welder, indoor plumbing and, when it got real cold, I fired up my little 3,000 watt space heater and sealed myself in the small -but easily heat-able-bathroom.

In February, the guy who owned the machine shop had a stroke. He turned out all right; pretty much, anyway. He was home in a few days but it hit him a lot harder than he realized. It started when his rambling Glory Days stories got longer, more rambling, and less comprehensible. Sometimes illogical, and later, even contradictory. Then he got paranoid, accusing me of all kinds of shit (including stealing his tools) and evicted me.

Back to the van.

The latest ex-ol' lady (not to be confused with my latest ex-wife) and I, having been dating since just before last year's 'Vous, decided that we ought to move in together. It sounded like an idea. What can I say? It seemed like the thing to do at the time. Little did I suspect that she would settle for nothing less than a pale-beige, Levittown-ish, suburban yuppie Hell. I did it anyway. Ah, the things we do for love.

This was not one of Ford's better ideas. Then things really started gettin' weird.

It was on a Monday, late in March, and I was just starting to dread the upcoming move, when the li'l ol' Mamaw from across the way came shamblin' on in the local American Legion post (where I was serving as Historian) askin' the fateful question:

"Hey, any a'y'all got a van out thar? I heard that an' knew it was All Over. An' all over me. I copped to it. "Well, ya best get out thar," she drawled, " 'cuz it's on far!" An', sure as shit, on "far" it was.

The local EMT Chief is a fellow Legionnaire an' a bit of a ballbreaker in his own sweet way: he's been callin' me "Smokey" since he dragged me out of the blazin' wreckage. I was pullin' out two briefcases full of my students' collective semi-literate offerings. The blisters have deflated, the serious burns healed pretty clean and the beard's recovered nicely.

Okay, so it wasn't any great kind of ride; a '95 Ram 1-ton with a quarter-mil on the clock, but it would still start and run and stop and steer and was more comfortable -an' cheaper, seein' how it was paid for-- than a lot of places I've been stuck in over the years. Seems to have been an electrical problem in or around the fuse block, 'cause it started -evidently-in or around the glove box.

I didn't scream too much. I learned years ago that screamin' don't help, an' just gives away y'r position.

I did manage to salvage my '73 Honda 350/4 out of it, needing only a little trim an' tunin'-up of the semi-scorched wirin' an' fuel lines before it was ready to run (if not safe, then at least roadworthy). What the hell; the license don't make it go any faster.

That was my daily driver for the next three weeks. Three of the rainiest April weeks that anybody I talked to could ever remember Ohio ever having.

Nonetheless, that tough-as-nails little dog-piss-green ricegrinder showed boo-koo class as my Daily Driver -a hundred miles a day-- for three long and wet weeks. The rain actually worked to my advantage, I suspect (when it wasn't trying to kill me). These OSP Troopers hate gettin' their Smokey The Bear hats wet, so they seemed really reluctant to pull me over.

Until it vanished.

Disappeared, like a fart in a whirlwind, along with my Sporty an' a whole mess of my tools (they left my books. Figures).

The cop who took the report asked if they were insured. I informed him that, seein' how I didn't have the money to register 'em, I damn sure didn't have any jing to drop on insurance (and if I had, it would only have been liability anyway). It took three visits to the local PeeDee to try to get the numbers out on the wire. Why should anything work the way it's designed to?

Shortly thereafter, I became the only hitchhiking professor in the neighborhood. It got so that a couple of folks were actually looking for me to give me a lift up to campus, and one guy was so accommodating as to drop me right outside my classroom on five or six occasions.

The next five weeks were spent trying to come up with a plan to get to the Rendezvous. I came up with some great ones; only problem was that they were lacking some critical feature, like money or wheels.

I didn't really mind gettin' "laid off" at the end of the spring semester. The full-timers had gobbled up all the summer courses (with all their potential income). I figured that the month or so it'd take the backpedaling paperpushers down at Unemployment to get my poop in a group and get me some jing be just in time for the 'Vous. I didn't exactly have a plan on how to get there (as my bikes had been rustled a month earlier), but I figured I'd come up with something. After all, "ugly" ain't the same thing as "stupid."

Much to my acute surprise, I was informed that part-time professors in the Ohio State College system (at least the ones with my screwed-up schedule) don't make enough often enough to qualify for unemployment! Sweet, eh? I bet they worked it out that way to keep government expenses down so they'd have more for legislative pay raises. They, did, of course, manage to slice 10% off the top of each and every check for my participation in the Ohio State Teachers' Retirement System.

Like I'm ever gonna be able to afford to be able to retire. At this rate, I'll still be payin' fines and fees out of my Socialist Security.

The worst news of the summer was yet to come.

One of my "best mates," one of the featured 'Vous Crew, a fellow Radio Rendezvous broadcaster, a Musician Extraordinaire who plays in about half a dozen bands, and a general all-around ace, was took a spill off a Spanish stage and broke half his ribs and a couple of bones in his skull. Sad but true, the legendary Eamon Cronin, while performing with the Riders On The Storm during their '09 European tour, spent weeks in and out of hospitals on two continents. According to the latest reports, he's gonna die; but not soon, and not of any of his injuries. He came out of that one with a rose in each hand and another in his teeth. Even if I'd have made it to the 'Vous, I wouldn't have seen him.

By Father's Day, with the prospect of missin' the 'Vous looming large in my mind, I'd actually thought about hopping a freight train (something I haven't done since the Carter Administration) but, with my sense of direction, I probably would've ended up in Alamogordo or Ypsilanti or Pascagoula and would have missed the 'Vous anyway.

The good thing about Father's Day was that I heard from both of my kids, one of whom is a Fellow Staffer and (I'm particularly proud to say) just picked up his Five-Year Pin at Staff Meeting. I wish I could've been there to see it, but I'll be there for his "dime," you can bet on it.

That same day my lovely daughter informed me that I was going to be grandfather come this October.

Sometimes Stuff makes up for Shit.

I spent Rendezvous Weekend drinking the local diluted (21 Proof) bourbon in a one-car garage in the middle of a beige suburban Hell. I live here. It's not much, but it's mine. As long as the rent is in on time. I've been here since I split up with my last ex-ol' lady (not to be confused with my last ex-wife). She's also my landlord, which means --according to her-- she gets free mechanical work and household repairs (and I only have to pay her three times what she pays the management company. It's the American Way!).

On Rendezvous Weekend it rained here, too.

We had a really great thunderstorm on Saturday night-a genuine Indian Lookout-style after-midnight Predawn Rumbler with lightning that I could feel in the steel toes of my recently-repaired (by me) orthopedic engineer boots. I put on my last year's Staff shirt and my duster and went out and stood in it for a while as my word processor (which does to words what a food processor does to food) blared all the weird music I had downloaded (intended for play on Radio Rendezvous) and, in the wet wee hours when all the yuppies, guppies and Platt Rats were asleep in their beige, I was out in the parking lot, meandering in half-drunken circles, directing the traffic that wasn't passing by while chatting with fellow Staffers who weren't there. I didn't even get struck by lightning or nothin'.

Of course, I got all kinds of messages from many of my fellow Staffers (email, snail mail, carrier pigeon, y'know, the usual). They would've called, but I don't have a phone (well, I have one, but there's no time on it. It's kind of like a keyboard pocketwatch when I remember to charge it. Or carry it.). I don't miss it. Nobody was callin' anyway.

July got really bleak, and just when I was down to my last three cheap brown cigarettes ("little cigars" they call 'em, just to beat the white-paper tax) one of My Beloved Brothers since Way Back When stormed me out a parcel of tobacco; a pound of some excellent deep, dark mixture and a tin of a very sweet Vanilla. It probably saved a number of lives (including my own); I can go without eating, but I gotta have my caffeine and my nicotine. Alcohol, too, but, sadly, that was the first thing off the menu.

As of this writing, I've been hung over for more than three weeks and I don't remember my last cigarette. Luckily, my old tin percolator still works just fine (no moving parts- nothin' to wear out), so, by wakin' up an' reachin' over to crank on my hotplate, it'll perk until it sets off the smoke detector, an' I can get my eye open and my ass up in the morning, just in case something happens. Nothing has yet.

Yeah, this summer could have been worse (It can always get worse. Some days I take great consolation in that fact). I just haven't figured how. And, seein' how it ain't snowed yet, "this summer" -technically-- isn't over yet...

On the "up" side, the Scooter Rustlers left me my old Honda 750 and my hardtail frame (mostly because they looked like a pile of junk parts) so I've almost got my trusty FLXCB back together and may even get some time on it this year (if I can figure out how to register it with no license). I wonder how a 400-pound chopped dresser (dressed chopper?) would handle towing 900 pounds of tools and books on a trailer I haven't built yet from "hee-ah" to "they-ah." I wonder where I'll get the gas. It's only $2.79 out here.

Now with our Esteemed Chief Executive's "Cash for Clunkers" program (where was he and his program when my van went off for $100 a ton?), the Glorious Days of the Twenty Dollar Beater Box are gone. Even if I should be able to pull down enough payin' work to break even with my scant bills an' put a few bucks ahead, Obama's out-bidding me on anything I could even remotely afford.

I suppose it ain't all his fault; what can you expect? He's a politician, so he don't know from nothin' except kissin' ass and screwin' up, and I'm plenty proficient at that myself. Except the kissin' ass part.

Lookin' at it philosophically (as if it had happened to somebody else. Somebody I didn't like), "The Year of Living Rendezvouslessly" wasn't a total washout (97% maybe, but not total). I've managed to shed a few of the excess pounds that I wasn't really using anyway. I've been hung over for three weeks and haven't had a cigarette in ten days. Some would say that that's heading in the right direction, but they don't say to where.

Personally and professionally, I enjoy being a hedonist. A man with no vices is not to be trusted.

My bud's newspaper, by the way, has -pardon the pun-"folded." Just goes to show that good writing can't overcome bad management.

I'll be gettin' my license back as soon as I can cough up their exorbitant fees (providing I don't get caught driving without it in the meantime, which'll probably be easy, seein' as how I don't own anything that runs).

And I just got a letter from Pittstown (NY, for you Outer Staters) wanting $180 for an overdue Seat Belt Violation ticket I got going home from the '06 Rendezvous. I'll put it in the pile with the others.

Aaaah, life... it might not be much, but it beats the alternative.

What "The Year of Living Rendezvouslessly" did accomplish was to drive home a lesson that I'm sure that most of us -especially the Olde Tymers-have learned over the course of however many years we've -individually and collectively-- been coming to our Beloved Country Club; a lesson that revolves around the knowledge that this would merely be a particularly spectacular piece of land with a breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside were it not for the people -the Staffers and the attendees-who come together every year to make this the greatest motorcycle event -the greatest party of any kind-- in the Northeast, the En-Tire Country, the Whole Freakin' World, an' probably the ever-expanding Cosmos.

It's a lesson in Appreciation of our collective yet singular vision of brothers and sisters ditching their day jobs (those who've got 'em) and sliding down from the road to climb that long, meandering hill, of warmin' up in the Holding Pen an' waitin' for The Gate to rattle open and The Rush to begin, of rattlin' their fillings loose along White Knuckle Way and bursting through the trees just past Mid-gate into the brilliant light of the Best Bash Ever, Staffed and attended by the greatest people on the road.

I'm proud to be among 'em, even when I'm not exactly "among" 'em.

It kinda makes ya wonder what is it about this place, this event, these people, that generate this kind of energy, this kind of magic, this kind of Coming Together.

It's The Spirit That Never Dies, and this is Where It Lives.

Missin' this year's Rendezvous was dismal; deeply an' darkly dismal. Semi-suicidal dismal.

But the merit in missin' it occurred to me, as I sat half-drunk half-in and half-out of my half-abode about half-past noon on Rendezvous Sunday; that missing it as badly as I did -and still do-- is just the other side of appreciatin' it as much as I do, as so many of us do, which is why we keep comin' back year after year, decade after decade and, eventually, century after century (c'mon, we're almost a third of the way there now!).

So I'll see you next year...

Meanwhile, I gotta go practice my train-hopping, just in case I'm still so broke that I can't leave town...

P.S.: For those of you who see a lot of passin' scooters --those of you workin' in shops, dealerships, or just out an' about-- I'd appreciate you keepin' an eye out for my rides. I suspect that these machines were parted out months ago, but ya never know. The missing bikes are a factory-green 1973 Honda 350 4-cylinder, stock (virtually original, 15K miles), with a longitudinal tear in its seat. VIN: CB 350 1043032, and a flat-black '99 Sportster 1200 (9800+ miles on the electric odo) with a solo saddle and a 1-piece fatbob, missing its rear fender and taillight (I was chasing a short and figured I'd paint it while it was off). VIN: 1HD1CAP10XK140577.

Thanks much, Sky.

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