Friday, April 15, 2016


You know the drill - you buy a Harley-Davidson and set out on the open road. A few days later you grow a beard and buy a leather jacket. Within a few weeks you have it pasted with all sorts of patches proclaiming your loyalty to your fellow bikers. You begin a quest to assess how many tattoos will fit on your body and go about filling the available space. You acquire a nickname - the badder the better. Snake, Blade, Pneumonia, Tapeworm and/or Liquid Plumber are all good choices. You hang out with other like-minded individuals at bars where many thousands of dollars of chrome and steel dominate the parking lots.*

*Note that these are not places with signs out front proclaiming "kids eat free".

A number of years ago, numerous affluent professionals became infatuated with the biker lifestyle and took to the roads in their shiny new Harleys for which they spent mega-bucks. They tried desperately to fit in with the biker establishment but failed miserably. I guess that this failure was inevitable, as biker talk centered around the advantages of carburetion vs. fuel injection while the nouveau-riders were more conversant in lattes vs. capuccinos.

It was truly (and literally) an oil and water mixture which was bound to fail.

Even Hollywood got into the act, producing a fun but readily forgettable movie entitled "Wild Hogs" starring John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy. The plot was pretty predictable - guys buy Harleys, leave their jobs, ride to New Mexico, get the crap kicked out of them by Ray Liotta and his motorcycle gang, yadda, yadda, yadda. From my standpoint, the movie's only saving grace was my being able to ogle at Marisa Tomei for two hours.


Fast forward to the present day. Remember all of those high-end Harleys that were bought by those affluent professionals? If you've ever wondered what happened to them, just check out your local Craigslist ads. Look under "Harley" and marvel at the virtual scrap heap of castaway chrome and steel that were once dreams of the freedom of the open road.

As with anything, this freedom has a price.

While freedom is but a romanticized notion, the reality of the world of dedicated motorcyclists is one of hot pavement, the smell of oil and gasoline, the noise and bone-jarring rattle of a 45-degree V-Twin engine, lousy food and cheap beer, dodging the occasional re-treadded tire cast aside by an 18-wheeler, catching large insects on your forehead at 70 miles per hour...

...and not a cappuccino or latte in sight.

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


We just got back from a wonderful week in Mexico. If there's anything that Mexican people love it's food and music. Indeed, you cannot walk a half-block without experiencing the sounds of Mexican music or the smell of fantastic Mexican food.

The food speaks for itself but the music is an aquired taste. In Mexican music, the singers pour their hearts into the songs they are singing. (Imagine "The Voice" without the screaming or vocal gymnastics.)

One night last week we listened to an excellent Mariachi band. Every Mariachi band that I've ever seen has been of the "strolling" variety. I think that I finally solved the mystery as to why they stroll. It gives them the opportunity to play for different micro-audiences and thereby generate more opportunities for "propinas" (tips).

At the end of one of our favorite Mexican melodies ("Des Colores") I cornered the lead trumpet player and asked if he knew a popular American-Mexican song entitiled "A little bit is better than nada". For those of you who are not familiar with it, it was recorded by "The Texas Tornadoes" and was the opening song for the movie "Tin Cup" starring Kevin Costner. With credentials as strong as these I figured that any respectable Mariachi band would (at very least) be able to bluff their way through a few bars of the song, if, for nothing else, to generate a little more propina revenue.

Alas, they were not familiar with the song. In utter desperation, I sang the chorus for them (all of the band members leaning in to hear the off-tune gringo). And so it went:

A little bit is better than nada
Sometimes you want the whole enchilada
A little bit is better than nada
A little bit or nothing at all.

If the mariachis thought I was loco at the outset of this exercise, they were certainly convinced of it by now.

So, it was with great disappointment that I was not to hear my requested song played by this excellent Mariachi band. I mean, really. How hard would it have been to play a few lines of the song? It's not as if I was asking for Beethoven's Fifth symphony. All I was asking for was a token small portion of the song.

Because, as we all know, a little bit is better than nada.

Readers, enjoy your day.