OK, so what if the sky has fallen?
Street fair stands in for canceled tradition
Glendale, Calif., Oct. 23–25—The rumors began over a year ago. People were asking, “Is this the last Love Ride?” I dismissed it all as heresy coming from nay-sayers who hate the event or Nervous Nellies listening to those sky-is-falling rumors. Gee, guess they were right. Did I jinx the ride by declaring the Love Ride had reached near perfection in my article last year? Lots of things killed the LR, the biggest culprit being the economy. When I asked for a statement from Oliver Shokouh, Love Ride Founder and Chairman, all he could request was, “Send a donation to the Love Ride Foundation.”
In its place was a street fair beginning Friday afternoon with an appearance by Peter Fonda who graciously signed anything and everything set before him. Being third in line, I patiently waited with the others and was rewarded with autographs on both my 30th and 35th Special Edition Easy Rider DVDs (I left the Beta and VHS at home) plus a commemorative 40th T-shirt. I wish they had the Blu-Ray videos there for purchase, though. When the signing session began to run long, the autographing had to be limited to just one item. Those who purchased Fonda’s Captain America leather vest or jackets moved to the head of the line. But it all went smoothly and when Peter introduced his seminal film Easy Rider on its 40th Anniversary Blu-Ray version, he proclaimed it, “Better than when I filmed it in 3-D!”
Having seen Easy Rider in its original theatrical release in 1969 and in its cultural context, I was surprised that several people in the audience laughed at the “No Vacancy” scene when Wayne and Billy are refused lodging because they were hippies and on bikes (i.e. Harleys). At the time, this was not a funny scenario but a blatant example of the social shift that began in the ’60s: The Baby Boomers were challenging the status quo of older Americans, creating the infamous Generation Gap (“Don’t trust anybody over 30”). And as depicted in the final scene, we could expect assassination based on the fact we were just different. This was especially shocking to me and those who identified with the lead characters, because this was white-on-white, middle-class American-on-American, not the historical lynchings of the not-too-distant past. American society had just endured the social upheaval of 1968 and the deaths of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Guess ya had to be there. These prejudices continued into the ’80s and I was on the receiving end many times. This was a catalyst for Oliver to create the Love Ride to change the public’s view of bikers. And I know for a fact that’s why a lot of you are riding Harleys today.
The street fair allowed riders to come and go as they pleased. They could enjoy music from several bands (Burbank Music Academy, Harvey Drive, and Skin), free grilled corn-on-the-cob and vitamin water, and samples from Macanudo Premium Cigars. They could also check out riding gear from Western Power Sports, synthetic oil from AMS and wheat grass tea from the ladies in pink at Lipstick Bail Bonds (“Kiss Jail Good-Bye”); eat tri-tip from Iron Horse Grill Pit BBQ, shop for vintage Love Ride merchandise, or just kick back under the dappled shade of the trees. Raffles were held every half hour for shirts (including several from Oliver’s private vault), goodie bags (Sam Dannevik rode 980 miles down from Eugene, Oregon, just to win a pink bag of girlie stuff) and Blu-Ray DVDs. Classic biker films were being shown inside at the customer lobby with viewers delighting in the details of the vintage bikes while ignoring the story lines.
Emilio Rivera, Theo Rossi and Dayton Calley wandered about the street fair, providing exciting photo ops for those who recognized them from the series Sons of Anarchy. Biker movies have now come full circle.
A poignant moment occurred when the audience was told about the generous donation by Patti Vincent of her husband Bob’s 2000 Heritage Softail when she heard of the cancellation of this year’s ride. Bob died suddenly this past June and because he so loved this event, Patti decided it should be used by the Love Ride Foundation to raise funds in his memory.
The Love Ride may have taken a huge hit, but it’s not eliminated. We will just begin again. Perhaps we’ll return to Calamigos Ranch in the Malibu hills with a couple of hundred bikers. I was there then, I’m here now, and I will continue to support Oliver and wherever the Love Ride takes me. And you’re all invited along next year. Stay tuned!