Friday, March 6, 2009

Give Me The Proletariat Every Time...

This is old news but it made me laugh to read again, so I decided to share it with all of you. I used to make my living some years back routinely writing book and movie reviews. I occasionally still get the urge to do so, generally when some stinker of a flick or a novel motivates my sense of editorial revenge. For example, it is widely held that Harrison Ford has never made a bad movie. He broke his winning streak with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. This movie sucked so badly that it would stick to the surface of a waterfall. And we are talking about a really impressive waterfall, like Angel Falls in Venezuela. I never wrote about it here as it held very little moto content, other than in the opening scene.

Angel Falls in Venezuela. Corrosive waterfall mist dissolves clothing, 
which makes things tough for young mothers accompanying class trips to the site.
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -- Click to enlarge)

Yet the exploits of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman were making the rounds in the book “The Long Way Round” back in 2005 and I felt compelled to read it. Not quite a review, I did comment on a particular aspect of the book on a BMW list three and half years ago. That comment is repeated today at the request of Bruce Furnival, a dedicated reader of Twisted Roads and a friend of a friend (Jim Ellenberg).

Absolutely starved for motorcycle adventure, I went from page to page in the "Long Way Round" with the same expectations I had when reading "Kon Tiki" nearly 40 years ago. I found myself getting a little annoyed. For one thing, I thought it took balls for the authors to ask for free motorcycles that they planned planned to ride into the ground.

No one ever gave me a free BMW to ride around the world. And it's not because I haven't been asking. Both of these guys were supposed to be big deal actors. Can't big deal actors (one of whom had just come back from singing "Until The Day I Die" at Nicole Kidman) just write a $20,000 check for a GS? (Author’s note -- I have since learned that Charley Boorman was hanging cabinets in London for a living at that time.)

Believe me, if I was a famous writer like these guys were stars I wouldn't walk around with my hand out looking for a motorcycle. I might try and get sponsors to mention in a book... But I'd be more interested in getting out on the road if I had cash of my own. This is probably why I will never have any real money.

The accomplishment of their ride cannot be disputed. However, MacGregor's constant pissing and moaning about getting out among the proletariat got tiresome fast. I have imagined myself in similar circumstances.

The proletariat are swell, but I don’t feel compelled to sweat alongside them in a ditch at the end of a long day in the saddle, hoping they’ll share a bowl of goat’s eye soup... Not if there’s an alternative close by.

The Scenario: 

I come roaring into a town festooned with yak shit. The aroma of yak shit is a pleasant diversion from my mesh jacket, which has been percolating like an aquarium filter for the past nine days, channeling a torrent of my sweat into the arid earth. The jacket now adheres to me like a tattoo. An eerie silence hangs over the town, as the proletariat stare at me like extras from the original "Night of the Living Dead" movie. Five seconds later, their ranks stagger toward me as the instinct for robbery temporarily overpowers their reflex for murder. It appears I will be the subject of a brief ethnic cleansing, though "cleansing" appears to be a lost art in this part of the world.

Suddenly, a battered sedan of the Kazakhstan secret police pulls up. Two goons in leather trench coats get out and spray the crowd with automatic weapons. They gesture for me to follow, and we trace a winding road through a community of rusting sheet metal and cracked cinder block wattles, barely held together by conspiracy. The townsfolk are gathering for their evening meal of entrails and dirt in broken pottery. But our little tour ends in a walled compound, where a 24-year-old woman, wearing a diaphanous thong, cuts the clothes from my body and rubs me down with cool cloths. Her twin sister  hands me a Tom Collins, and leads me to a suite lined with pleasure silk. They make it clear they know I am a writer on a 1986 K75 with a Sprint fairing, and therefore, they will do whatever it is I want.

"Screw this," I scream in rage. "I want to be out there in the yak excrement with the zombies. I can find naked twins who think I'm a deity in a free deluxe hotel suite just about anyplace."

That sounds like me doesn't it.

©Copyright Jack Riepe 2006
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- Perdition’s Socks (With A Shrug)


bobskoot said...


You are such a master of words. I stumbled twice; once on that picture of "Angel" in front of Angel Falls and second, on "diaphanous", . Only a writer of your statuture would have such an extensive vocabulary to draw upon.

And if it were in my power, I would give you a new beemer

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

cpa3485 said...

Another true classic!!

Your legend lives on.

Woody said...

Aren't we all full of ourself using big, fancy words. I had to google diaphanous. The first link was this one:

which was kind enough to give a definition:

"In case you were wondering, diaphanous means extremely sheer, almost transparent, dapper means neat, trim, or small, and drawers is sometimes used to describe underwear."

BTW, the second google link was to your blog. You and your fancy words.

Douche bag.

Fondly yours,

Tena said...

jack, you ever make it out here, I'll make a big bowl of goat's eye soup just for you! I'll even use BOTH eyes!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Scoot:

If it were in your power to give my a new Beemer, I'd take it.

I heard WC Fields use the word "diaphanous" in the movie classic "The Bank Dick." I liked it so much, that I trot it out on special occasions. It's very kind of you to describe me as a writer of stature. My riding partner Dick Bregstein referred to the same thing as "fatitude" yesterday.

Always a pleasure.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3485:

You're too kind. Like I said, sometimes I am motivated by all the wrong things. I got tired of Ewan McGregar complaining of getting first class treatment all the time.

Thank you for reading my blog and for for writing in.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Woody:

You are just throwing spitballs at a battleship. Using le mot juste is smply one of my many trademarks. Sticking Bregstein with a bar bill is yet another. I hope to be riding with Dick in two weeks.

I once met a dowager in a hotel bar late one night. She had 20 years on me but was perfectly willing t disregard that. At one point, she knocke back another whisky and said, "I travel light. My suitcase has a fifth of Scotch and a douche bag in it."

It was the funniest thing I have ever heard as a travel writer.

Thanks for reading my crap and writing in.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Tena:

I met a woman from a backwater in Eastern Europe once. She made me goat's eye soup and it winked at me.

I'll remind you of that offer. How is Mr. Cupcake?

Thank you for tking the time to read my blog tonight. We at Twisted Roads know you have a choice of many blogs to read and appreciate that you've selected ours as your current source of editorial disillusionment.

Fondest regards,

Cantwell said...

"...She made me goat's eye soup and it winked at me. "

Winked at ya eh? You didn't happen to use the battered harp seal look on it did you?


Charlie6 said...


great posting.

re the corrosive waterfall mist dissolving clothing...sure that's ok for young mothers but what about the rosie odonell look-alikes? ick.

I agree, as probably do most riders, about Mcgregor's whining and lack of perspective. Still, they managed to do the rides at someone else's expense....not that the donation of two GSAs didn't hurt BMW's bottom line either in terms of selling that model of motorcycle.

I still love mcgregor's line in "Long Way Down", when they met up with the bicyclist riding his way around the world. Mcgregor looks at Boorman, both of them astride their overloaded go-anywhere beemers in full gear.....the bicyclist rolling away just on a bike and small trailer....and Ewan says to Charley: "so how much of a pussy do you feel like now?" hah!

When you become an even more famous motorcycling travels writer, and become accustomed to having sponsors ply you with free motorcycles and you have umbrella girls swooning in lust at the very sight of you, don't forget us early fans and send some of those our way!


Conchscooter said...

Why did you read the book when there is a movie? Oh the intellectual pretensions of the lumpen proletariat. Come the revolution I will find a stout lamp post and hang you from it alongside the banksters and insurance touts and doctors and architects and whoever else is left.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conch:

The book went a lot further in depicting the relationship between the two riders, Ewan and Charley. I found it interesting when they began to quarrel.

I did see the movie... In fact, I own it. I also saw their other one, "The Long Way Down," which was thoroughly reviewed by me somewhere in the bowels of this blog. And I came away thinking, "Charlie's wife is a hell of a lot hotter than Ewan's." It probably pisses Ewan that Charlie is the better rider too.

As to my literary pretensions, I am not the one attempting to curry favor with the scooter crowd by putting my wife's bike at the head of my column, while almost exclusively riding a motorcycle. (And I am not the first one to notice. Don't turn your back on the scooter crowd, pal. Just ask Irondad.)

Thank God few among my riding group ever read my blog or the comments section. Otherwise, they would advise you as to the scarsity of finding anything strong enough to hang me from.

Thank you for writing in.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Michael Cantwell:

I was about to advise you that I have never used the "battered baby seal look" on anything I would eat, except that isn't quite true.

The rubber is going to meet the road around here in three more weeks. I hope to run into you shortly thereafter. I am inclined to say that "if you want this extra tank bag, you should ride down here and claim it."

But that would be too cruel.

Hey, I'm sorry I missed your call yesterday. I should be around tomorrow. It is 67ยบ degrees out now. There are just traces of snow left here on the ground. If thre snow on the ground melted now, it wouldn't make a good beer piss.

Thanks for writing in.

Fondest regards,

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

You mock and tantilize me now (as does Conch) but the time will come when something I've done involving motorcycles will hit the big screen, and all you guys will be part of it. I can assure you.

Man, if my ship came in a bunch of us would be retiring so we could all ride together -- indefinitely.

If anything, I am always amazed at the ramshackle bridges Charley and Ewan had to use when crossing rivers... That or just recklessly riding an unknown torrent of water.

I have a dream of roding the spice route, as soon as it is paved from one end to the other and managed by the Holiday Inn.

Thanks for reading this stuff and for writing in.

Fondest regards,

Tena said...

Actually, Jack, since there's a housing development where the goat field was, I'm not sure where to get goat eyes....I could try substituting leftover h\Halloween candy. I still have a couple of chocolate covered peanut better "eyeballs"...

Tena said...

WOW! The typos abounded in my last note! But I think you get the picture...

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Tena:

Leslie and I live in a crossroads of exotic culinary delight. You can get the most authentic ethnic meals within a five-mile range of the house. I was in a Chinese restaurant with my daughter last month, where many of the items on the menu included the entrails of various animals, ranging from pig to pidgeons. We ended up eating hacked hare cooked in a dry pot with red (hot) chilies.

The meal was absolutely delicious, though somewhat challenging as it appeared to have been hacked by an ax murderer, and small pieces of bone had to be picked through.

Goats eyes (and sometimes cow's eyes too) are regarded as delicacies in the Middle East, though I have not seen them on the menu around here anyplace. I avoid eating brain material for fear of catching any one of a dozen diseases.

But some of the better supermarkets carry a product called "head cheese," which are pork ears, snouts, and cheek meat suspended in aspic. I am very fond of this stuff. It is tough to find outside of Manhattan. In some parts of Pennsylvania, it is called "souse."

Thanking you for writing in. Al always, it is a pleasure to hear from you.

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

Just noted your note on ? about an Alaskan blogger in which you said you might ride your bike there. Reminded me that my grandfather rode his bike from DC to Alaska in 1918. Actually to California, where he sold it then hopped a freighter to Alaska.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Anonymous:

Give me details? Scan in some pictures, if you have them. I'll work them into a story.

Fondest regards,

Anonymous said...

There must be alcohol in that there waterfall.

Ride on,

John said...


I had the exact same reaction to the actors not being able to get the precious KTMs that they wanted and having to "settle" for the free BMWs. The gaul of these two just seriously ticked me off. I enjoyed the riding portions, but was soured by the pissing and moaning. I suggest you read Ghost Rider and Traveling Show by Neil Peart the drummer for the band Rush and a serious rider. The first can be little depressing, but once you are through the first part its not so bad. I can lend you both if you would like.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Torch:

If that watefall was made of rum, I'd be under it with a bucket, regardless of what it did to my clothes.

Fondest regards, and thank you for writing in.


DC said...

Dear Jack,

The racy pics in this latest installment of your blog are a staunch reminder that we should ALL be traveling with Big Jim more often.