The purpose of cave paintings remains a highly disputed and volatile subject among archeologists today, nearly 32,000 years after the oldest of these have been discovered. It is academia’s dirty little secret that determining the “meaning of cave paintings” is the number two cause of death among boozed-up archeologists, who attempt to settle the issue with knives and point-blank gunfire — often within feet of primitive artwork that has been undisturbed throughout the millennia. (The number one cause of death among half-bagged archeologists in the field is knife-wounds and shotgun blasts sustained in attempts to impress tanned, well-racked coeds, who hang around about digs and excavations wearing only thongs, sweat, and Indiana Jones hats.)
One of the most famous cave paintings is in the French town of Merde De Chèvre. It depicts a single individual, most likely a hunter, walled up in a cave, squatting next to a fire, eating a roasted haunch, and drinking something (a fermented hop and yeast beverage no doubt) from a gourd, while a large female dog (evident by three sets of parallel teats) and another man, who is wearing a more formalized set of hides, stand outside — about to be eaten by a tyrannosaurus rex. The loosely-interpreted title of the image is “The Bitch and A Lawyer Get The Settlement They Deserve.”
While it seems truly impossible to determine the exact nature and purpose of cave paintings (either religious or as a kind of chronicle), it cannot be argued that many of these are of women in odd positions of repose, with oversize breasts being a primary element of the image. “What could these guys have been thinking,” I thought to myself, as I fastened centerfolds gleaned from 1970’s Playboy magazines, and calendars from the same era on the walls of my “man-cave,” otherwise known as the garage. The “Man-cave” had become the tomb of the beast for nearly all of this winter, as temperatures plummeted close to 0º degrees outside, and weren’t much higher inside.
The imperfect seal of the bay doors (a double, full-sized one for the two SUV’s and a smaller compact one initially for an Audi TT) let in some gray light, the odd confetti celebration of powdery snow, and concentrated blasts of frigid air off the tarmac of the upper driveway. In the small bay my 1995 BMW K75 sits on the center stand, with the reflection of the green LED of the battery tender making a peculiar “eye” in the curved windscreen of its Parabellum “Scout” fairing.
With the overhead florescent lights off, the man-cave is a gloomy place. For weeks, snow-caked fir trees have kept the sunlight from the eastern windows. There is only light from the western ones, and it is weak at the end of the day. I had the overhead lights installed 5 years ago. The three-bay garage was originally illuminated by two bare 55-watt bulbs dangling from the ceiling. The effect was to recreate the cozy atmosphere of a non-union copper mine a mile under the Andes. (This garage was designed and built by the famous contracting firm of Three Assholes Who Fled). The place is cold and my attempts to heat it have not been successful.
What seemed to work best was an old kerosene heater... But there was something in the way of a jet-engine scented exhaust, which filtered into the kitchen. Then a small, electric, ceramic disc “furnace” (heater) warmed something placed within three feet of its grill, but gave up the ghost when pointed at anything else. Two glowing propane-fired funnels did even less while effectively going through $27 bucks worth of gas. I had envisioned myself sitting out here in a Kermit chair, smoking a stogie the size of a Ducati muffler, sipping a huge mug of Irish coffee, while fiddling with odds and ends on the bike. My vision just didn’t seem to be. And for a second or so, I felt I may have been the cause of this endless winter, as I had purchased winter riding gear, to make the best of cold, dry, salt-free roads. (The motorcycle gods despise hubris.)
My Gerbings electric gear...!
The last garage-oriented purchase I made for this winter was a 5 amp AC to DC converter. It was $35 bucks and it is made in friggin’ China. The Gerbings Nubuck gloves plug into the jacket liner and the jacket liner plugs into the converter. The converter plugs into the wall and suddenly, it is July in February — and I am as warm as French toast, sitting in my Kermit chair. And when the mechanical odds and ends prove to be less than inspiring, I look up at my man-cave paintings, which have been primarily harvested and repurposed from the 1976 July Issue of Playboy Magazine. (This issue had the hottest centerfold since Barbie Benton and an insanely steamy pictorial of Kris Kristofferson and Sarah Miles). I am reminded that I was riding a Kawasaki H2 750 in 1976, and routinely did the kind of stuff Kristofferson is doing in this pictorial. And I would have scoffed at the idea of electrically heated gear back then — let alone wearing it in the garage.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2011