The Bearded Lady Motorcycle Freakshow: Part II

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Just a couple of decent (for N.E. Minneapolis) citizens out for a stroll…

Meet Jamie and Megan. Just your average Nordeast couple, dressed up in their party clothes for the Bearded Lady Freakshow.

Sure. Nice young folks, just rambling around, until they find a dark secluded corner somewhere… Then I’ll bet they flash-mate like a pair of weasels in heat!

What!? Motorcycles, you say? Oh, yeah… now that you mention it, there were a few motorbikes buzzing and rumbling about!

Focus, Gary… focus. Okay.

Scott Montour rode in on his brilliant green Kawasaki, for instance. There seems to be a movement afoot to put these old Mad Max bikes back on the street, with some modern hardware to bring them up-to-date.

Scott’s bike sports a ZX6 front end, and a Dyna 2000 ignition, among other mods, and he just finished the paint job in time for the show.

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Scott’s 1977 Kawasaki KZ1000 was one of the nicest I’ve seen.

Scooters showed up in abundance, as well. There were some really nice examples of well-ridden vintage Vespas.

Kevin Kocur, from Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly, was rockin’ his old P200. Now I know where they got the “Vintage Red” color for my own GTS.

But, I thought Mods were supposed to be stylish! What happened, Kevin? Have you been camping out in the parking lot long? You should really ask Victor for a raise…

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Kevin, roused from his box behind the dumpster, joins in the festivities.

Music was provided by a band called “The Brass Kings”. They really helped set the tone of the event, and played from an extensive repertoire.

I was most impressed with that old-school washtub bass and… what kind of guitar is that, anyway? Haven’t I seen that on an old LP cover somewhere?

These guys rocked, in their own subtle way, without overpowering the conversations taking place all over the lot. Some bands try to make up in volume what they lack in talent. Not the Brass Kings. These guys are a class act, all the way.

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Accoustic atmosphere provided by the Brass Kings band.

Rose and I had arrived early, while the crowd and the amount of bikes were relatively manageable. I can only imagine what it was like as the day wore on. Bikes were pouring in the whole time we were there. I was wondering if any of the vintage Cafe Racers were going to show up.

Then I spotted Elmer.

This guy rode up on his immaculate 1976 Triumph Bonneville. But the way he was dressed was all wrong. Wearing my Ace Cafe jacket, I would have looked more at home on his bike, and he on my scooter. Then I realized we have something very profound in common.

Stay with me here…

You see, I have become more and more amused lately by how seriously people in the various moto-tribes take their respective “images”. If you ride bike X, then you have to dress in the Bike X Uniform. And you have to live the Bike X Lifestyle ™.

It’s all about playing the part of some kind of fictional hero, during your so-called freetime, to make up for the banality of Real Life in the Modern World. But the more I see of all this posing and pretense, the less seriously I take it.

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Elmer gets it…

During our very short conversation, I had an epiphany: I dress like a Rocker, but was riding a scooter, like a Mod. Elmer was dressed as a Mod, but was riding a Rocker bike.

Rocker-Mods? Mod-Rockers? Split the difference… call us “Mockers”!

We ride what we want, dress how we like, and laugh at those who scowl. Why not? Life is too short to live by arbitrary rules dreamed up by strangers.

Laws are different… they have Teeth.

But nobody is going to tell me what to wear or what to ride, just so I can come and hang out with them. The Marine Corps burned all that conformity crap right out of me, many years ago. Nowadays, I do what I want.

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The only “normal” bike in this frame is… MINE!
Better do something about that. Or not.

That was when the whole spirit of this Bearded Lady thing started to sink in. Of course! This was a Mocker’s paradise, where stereotypes are shattered, and rules are broken. In this little space, on the edge of a Midwestern Metropolis, all the motorbike freaks could blend with all the other freaks and everybody would just get along, somehow.

What a wonderful concept.

21 Responses to “The Bearded Lady Motorcycle Freakshow: Part II”

  1. Jason Says:

    Gary-

    Great write up. I have been having dreams about building a vintage standard into something special and that KZ1000 is one special bike. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Triumph and Ducati have brought back some beautiful vintage looking bikes with modern components, but it is the one of a kinds that do it for me. Something about brining a bike back from the dead and breathing some new life into it. That being said, that 78 GS1000 was bought by a friend and may just make it to the SIr Ben’s (Bring Out your Dead).

    We are the Mocks, we are the Mocks, we are, we are. we are the Mocks, repeat…..

    Great writing Gary.

    Jason

  2. Mad Says:

    “But nobody is going to tell me what to wear or what to ride”

    Indeed! Ride whatever floats your boat and wear whatever feels right to ride in. Although in this country right now that would be scuba gear.

  3. AZ Lucky Says:

    The guitar is a Dobro (or other aluminum-bodied resonator). People use them for that old-school sound – they were designed to be LOUD before electric amplifiers.

    Man, I wish stuff like that happened here in AZ. We’ve got 2 kinds of biker gatherings – sportbike or hawg. Both involve too much posing, and not enough sweet, sweet bikes.

  4. conchscooter Says:

    I never wanted to join a club that wanted me for a member. What’s the process to become a Mocker? Does even asking disqualify me?
    Oh and by the way please don’t show any more pictures of peculiar people- your neighbors are making Key Weird look boringly pedestrian.

  5. Scott Says:

    Dude,

    I was wondering how long you were going to go before you braoched the Rocker on a scooter episode. All us lurkers sure were interested in how you files that away in the old cranium.

    I agree with the ride what you want and dress like you want instead of what “everybody” tells you you are supposed to do.

    However this kind of thinking is contrary to the Applebee’sization of the US. No good old diners that have varied (often inspired or bogus) menus, just the same old General Mills freeze pack heat and serve chain restaraunts. If you can’t go to every major, and minor city in this country and get the same mediocre/bad product then how the hell can we push the economy of scale into our food. Economy of scale is good for TVs, Cars, and Bikes etc but dang it I like the special liver and onions in Falfurrius, TX.

    Ta ta Mocker.

  6. Buster Brown Says:

    The Bearded Lady is a kind of a successor to the old TCNOC Concours, which moved to Diamonds’ parking lot after it left its old venue at Jeff Weissbach’s house in the shadow of the Schlitz brewery. A lot of the same faces (Dave Rademacher, and Tom Jones’s Willie), as well as a lot of new ones. A kind of Moto Mutz sensibility has supplanted the highbrow drollery of Smisek, Meyers and Gray.

    Sorry I had to miss it; one of those weekends I wish I could TIVO.

  7. KzzIcan Says:

    Great Pics! is there any chance you could email them or start an archive of the photos. Oh yeah, this is Scott.

  8. Steve Williams Says:

    Just a fantastic series of posts and pictures. I generally avoid any kind of social gatherings like this but your stories have me wondering if I am just being an old hermetic coot….

    We have a show coming up soon and maybe I should go.

    The Mod-Rocker styles I suppose are just like the leather biker looks now—more look than community substance. At least the communities that spawned them years ago. When I see your leather jacket in pictures I don’t thick Rocker, I think Gary….

  9. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Jason: I’ve always been intrigued by the big four-cylinder musclebikes made by Suzuki and Kawasaki in the late 70s and early 80s. Somehow, the Hondas of the same period seemed more refined, and less menacing. The Yamahas of that period were just… different.

    Drag-racing of that era proves me out, I think. Didn’t Suz’ and Kaw’ dominate back then? Anyway, because of their heavy weight, I was never tempted to own one. I came close, with the GS1100E, and the first Katanas, but never close enough to sell what I had at the time and take the plunge.

    One major reason was complexity. When you do all your own maintenance, you don’t want a bike with four carbs and all those valves to adjust. You also don’t want a bike that eats rear tires like these were reputed to. They sure are nice to look at though.

    Mad: Folks from Seattle are constantly telling everybody that it rains all the time there, too. But that’s just so people don’t flock there and ruin the good thing they have going on. Still, Great Britain does have that same, rainy reputation.

    In your guesstimation, what percentage of days does it rain over there?

    AZLucky: I suspected it was a Dobro, but didn’t have the time to research it thoroughly. All I know comes from `Skynyrd’s “The Ballad of Curtis Lowe” (sp?), and an old (I think) Dire Straights LP.

    As for the most excellent rallies we have, I believe that is due to the short riding season most people have up here. If you can ride year-round, that has to breed a certain amount of apathy. People really get excited about their rallies up here. You should come on back up here for a visit. I’m sure we could show you a good time… (You still have my email, right?)

    Conch: Mocker is a state of mind. It is an evolution beyond belonging to any brand, club, or tribe. You will know when you have become one of us. (Wow, is that like, totally Zen, or what?)

    Scott: Yes, we Mockers are fighting the Good Fight, undercover and behind the lines, as it were. All of the other “counter-culture” forces are easily identified by their uniforms, and thus, easily targetted. You can’t stand against The System with any hope of Victory. You must fight it from within.

    Remember the immortal words of Clint Eastwood: “Improvise, adapt, overcome…”.

    Buster: We missed you there. That’s why I had to go lookin’ for you, to make sure you knew about it. Hence Manning’s…

    KzzIcan: Thanks! I’ve already sent copies of the clown pics to Megan. The rest of my weekend is going to be filled with bike maintenance. Maybe next week we can come up with something. Andy Goldfine had mentioned something about archiving photographs when I was up there a couple weeks back.

    You do know that you can left-click on any image to get a larger ~800×600 or so version, right? The next step is to right-click and select “Save picture as…”, and send it to your own hard-drive. But yes, right now, if you want a larger image, I will have to email it to you.

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  10. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Steve: Your blog has achieved remarkable success with your solitary ruminations and beautiful landscape photography. But it would be interesting to see what you come up with attending rallies.

    Right now, we both have our own unique styles. I wonder what a little bit of overlap will be like… Won’t know until we try, I guess.

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  11. Bro Shagg Says:

    Excellent post, Gary. I always knew that this Blog had a different feel somehow, and that’s why you have such a loyal following. So many blogs are either too broadly written, or are written with blinders on- writing about too tightly about their subject. One of your talents is that you stay on-subject (Focus, Gary… focus. Okay.) and yet still bring it around to real life and expanding horizons.

    I often think what an interesting gathering it would be if all your regulars gathered for some sort of “reunion” to meet each other and hang out for a couple days.

    Life IS too short to spend impressing others. I try to live my life purpose-built for me. I suspect you have been this way much of your life too, but are beginning to “realize” it! Welcome to “mocking”. I suspect you would like the Conch Republic (Key West) for its individualism and laid-back attitude, though as ConchScooter says, things are becoming pedestrian- a lot of poseurs go there to be different for a weekend… Ah well, we can’t all be different- if we were, then we’d be the same.

    Bro Shagg

  12. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Bro Shagg: Nice deconstruction… and thanks for the compliment.

    I have often wondered about this “blog rally” / reunion idea of yours, but I think the realities of “meatspace”, and the distances involved, are the very reason something like this blog works so well in cyberspace. People of similar interests, from all over the globe, can gather here to share a common experience.

    Unless you wanted to get together in Vegas, baby… ;^P

    The Keys are definitely on my list of places I must ride to someday.

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  13. AZ Lucky Says:

    Gary – I think I have your email address. I sent you a link to some historic photos a while back, did you get it? If not, something ain’t right. :D

    BTW, Lady Luck and I will be up in the Twin Cities just before Labor Day.

  14. shaun Says:

    NICE>>> I havent pulled up the blog in a while…… the after party was killer.

  15. Gary Charpentier Says:

    AZLucky: You have my yahoo address, which has become a spam-bucket. I had to sort and search to find your message, good thing I haven’t deleted in awhile.

    I’ll send you an email from my Top Secret account today. Thanks for the heads-up on your visit. More on email…

    shaun: Glad you had a good time. I’m an old married man, and can’t indulge in such nocturnal frivolity.

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  16. ct Says:

    Thanks for all the good words. I’d like to say thank you to all the people that showed up up to the Beardedlady that day. When I get to see bikes that I haven’t seen before, I know it was worth the effort. I have a fun doing it. Although without my partners Amie, Lindsay, and Jimmy, we wouldn’t have had a show to begin with.
    It is kind of like the Concours, yes. I love that show and have two dog tags (trophies) to prove it. It’s my favorite show to go to.
    I have some plans for next year. I’d love to tell you about them, but I won’t.

    Best regards,

    CT

  17. Gary Charpentier Says:

    ct: The Concours was a great event, but I think that Bearded Lady has picked up the torch admirably. Well done.

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  18. Harvey Binder Says:

    I rode my Harley in full black tux’ for the 95th anniversary when I lived in Milwaukee. Right down to the shoes. It was the only thing to do.

    Made it into a few mags for that one lol. Of course the bike is black so it it worked.

    Harv

  19. DancingBob Says:

    Gary,
    I think the first time I heard that “Mocker” being coined out of Mod and Rocker was when a reporter asked George Harrison “Are you a Mod, or a Rocker?” … and, of course, he answer was “I’m a Mocker!”

    Been here reading … great writing … not much to say.

    Dallas had no more bikes on the road 8 days ago for ride to work day than usual, and my workplace had less than the usual eight or so.

    Glad you persevere …

    Love, light, & laughter … Dancing Bob

  20. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Harv: “The name’s Binder… Harvey Binder.” – Nah, it just doesn’t flow.

    D-Bob: Oh, fer cryin’ out loud! Don’t you just hate it when some boomer comes along and tells you that this wonderful new thing you think you’ve invented has been DONE already?

    I guess that’s why the kids today are recycling all of the styles and icons of the past four decades. Sure, they put a new spin on most of it, but it’s still the same old stuff coming back around.

    There really IS nothing new under the sun. Thanks a lot, D-Bob. ;^P

    Ride well,
    =gc=

  21. ct Says:

    Gary-

    Would it be possible to get some of your photos of the event? I’d like to post some photos on our website and our Myspace page as well. With your permission of couse. Hope your ride to work was good today. Yes, see you Sunday.

    -ct