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Author: J. Joshua Placa

In Search of Los Angeles

It never rains in Southern California, except for today, and yesterday. It’s been pouring, turning streets to rivers. Seems like the better part of valor is to live to ride another day. In my case, that’s the “temporarily” purloined Indian Super Chief Limited. It is, however, a lovely time to have a beer can regatta in my alley. The water is flowing at about two knots so conditions are pretty good, but that’s another story for another pub.

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Indian Motorcycle Gear For Wind And Road

Like most manufacturers, Indian offers a long lineup of motorcycle gear for men and women, from bandanas to T-shirts, jackets, helmets and gloves, among other offerings. Leading off our selection is what I would like to think is Indian’s flagship men’s moto-wear, the Horsehide Liberty Jacket. Made from genuine horsehide, it is tougher than cow leather, and more abrasion resistant. The Liberty is thick, warm, heavy and very serious. It is the Cadillac of motorcycle jackets.

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Haunted Highways, Part 3

Valerie and I had ridden through Old West towns infested with spirits fun and foul. We galloped east near the New Mexico border and the stunning Chiricahua wilderness, a great place to hike or camp or eat a Bologna sandwich. It was a beautiful, sightseeing day, until deep and dark clouds, pregnant with rain, dumped their water on us. We got monsooned. If this has never happened to you, it’s a lot like somebody dumping a swimming pool on your head. Visibility zero, soaked to the bone in milliseconds, eyes filling with stinging sunblock runoff. Yes, it rains in Arizona, sometimes supernaturally so.

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Haunted Highways, Part 2

Tombstone remains a living monument to a romantic if murderous era. Its clapboard buildings and wooden sidewalks stir up images of cowboy heroes and villains, the likes of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo, as well as the Clanton and McLaury clans, now taking up permanent residence on Boot Hill, where moldering graves are marked by rotting wooden tombstones. Their historic shootout near the OK Corral is known around the world. The Wild West is preserved in the town’s original 1880s’ buildings. The celluloid stuff you saw on TV is here to experience, live and undead.

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Haunted Highways

Tales of the haunted abound. They’re everywhere; they surround us; they know us. Restless spirits seem to have infested our world no matter where we try to run or hide. What are they trying to tell us? What do they want? Are they simply echoes, a kind of resonance from the afterlife, the last sound of a soul as it departs this earth? Or is it something else, something more menacing? Could these be lost souls searching for a warm body? Your body?

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The Budget Biker: Eat Right, Ride Cheap

Does it sometimes feel like a foreclosure sign has been hung on your head?  Everyone seems in a funk, and just too poor to spare any fun. Or maybe just the fiscal fear of fun is enough to keep you home, where there’s free TV and a nice, cushy couch to nap away your troubles.

Like everybody else, motorcyclists have been suffering through this plague and sputtering economy. But this does not mean we have to cry like a bunch of babies, stay home, and mumble about the days we could afford food and gas. We just need to be a little more creative, tighten our chains and use our brains. There are ways, my broke friend, to stretch nothing into something.
Wily veterans have long used sneaky, well-kept secrets and crafty tricks to get the most out of what’s left of their last oily, tattered dollar. Riding relieves stress and puts miles between you and the revenuers and bill collectors. The plan is so simple you’ll wonder why you’ve been moping around like a sissy who lost his lollipop.

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The Curious Tale of a Lost Indian

This is a story of questionable family heritage, grime and time and grit-encrusted motorcycle bits from the Big Band era, and one Renaissance man of sorts, a modern mix of urban adventurer and enlightened rogue. At one time or another he ran a machine shop, had a new convertible in the street, a Harley chained to his Queens, NY porch and a cigarette boat in Flushing Bay, or more accurately, under it. He skied, scuba dived, wrenched, built a wooden boat from the mud up, owned a ramshackle boarding house and later small apartment houses. He was the direct descendant of New York City bootleggers and other characters colorful and strange. But mainly, at least to me, he was the cool guy who rode motorcycles; big, bad, chuffing, puffing, skirt turning, bad-to-the-bone post-war Harleys. He was Uncle Johnnie, my own personal action hero in leather and rolled up Levis, and right out of a graphic novel.

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Bridge Runner

Not far from the quasi-bohemian Arts District of downtown Los Angeles, the defeated remains of a beloved bridge are mourned. The Sixth Street Bridge’s mighty 30-foot reinforced concrete pylons stood as sentinels of the city gates. This area of Downtown LA remains a kind of urban frontier, the frayed edge of a city that seems neither alive nor dead, a shadowy place that draws motorcyclists and adventurers to its wild concrete canyons. Some long-abandoned brick warehouses and factories are now living spaces, bars and no one is quite sure what else; others house only past lives and bad dreams. If you like riding on the edge, this is home.

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American Pickers: Of Mice & Motorcycles

Somewhere in the dark garage of our motoring minds is the enduring idea that tucked behind one of those clapboard walls and buried under decades of dust and neglect, is an ancient motorcycle of great worth. All it needs is a fresh battery, maybe a little oil and a good, solid kick and it will roar back to life.

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