Long Strange Trip: Damn Thankful

It’s nearly November as I type this, and the changing colors of the trees, the snow gathering up high in the mountains and the music playing on my computer are enough to tell me that Thanksgiving and Christmastime are right around the corner. And while winter has a way of limiting the riding season for many, the holidays – and the memories they recall and generate anew – always give me a big-time warm ’n fuzzy.

Thinking about Thanksgiving gets me thinking of all the things I’m thankful for, and since I’m a sentimental fool most of the time, putting pen to paper (how weird is that concept?!) about all of it seems like a damn good exercise.

First off, I’m damn thankful to have been born in this country, where you’re free (for now, anyway) to chase ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ (Go back and read that document one of these days.) I shiver to think I could have been born in Cuba, or Argentina, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or China, or, God forbid, North Korea – where someone else tells you what life choices you can and can’t make. Still, freedoms are eroding here thanks to political and technological forces; allow them to creep and infest at your peril, folks.

malcolm smith, mitch boehm
The author, with good buddy Malcolm Smith. Malc’s 400-page autobiography is damn good and makes a helluva Christmas or birthday gift for the rider in your life. Get yours at www.malcolmsmith.com. Mark Kariya

I’m damn thankful for my parents Al and Elaine, who taught me right and wrong, respect for others, and allowed me to be a kid growing up. That included allowing me to ride motorcycles at an early age, supporting me during my fledgling teenage motocross career and looking the other way when I went crazy on streetbikes during college – all of which helped put me on a post-university path to a career in the motorcycle industry. They’re gone now, but they enriched my life beyond measure.

That last sentence belongs every bit as strongly to my wife Susie and my son Alex. Words cannot express how much I love and respect them…and I’ll just leave it at that.

I’m damn thankful for my small handful of very close friends in northern Ohio, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and around the world. All of you have in one way or another become family over the years, and I value that more than I can say.

Three of those are Nick Ienatsch, Dick Lague and Art Friedman, all of whom had a hand in me coming to Los Angeles from Salt Lake City in mid-1985 to join the staff of Motorcyclist magazine – a move that literally spun my world on its axis at the age of 23. Friedman is especially guilty here, as he not only hired me right out of college (via Ienatsch’s recommendation, and with Publisher Lague’s blessing) but tapped me to be Motorcyclist’s Editor-in-Chief in 1993 (again with Lague’s blessing) when he wanted to step down from magazine management and concentrate on writing stories. Love ya, Art!

I’m damn thankful for motorcycle legend Malcolm Smith and his wife Joyce, too. Back in about 2013 they collared me at Mid-Ohio’s Vintage Motorcycle Days event and asked me to help produce Malcolm’s autobiography, which we released in 2015. It’s an awesome book, 400 pages long and containing 451 images. It’s something every motorcyclist should read given Malcolm’s place in the two-wheeled universe, and it makes a helluva holiday gift, too. Get yours at www.malcolmsmith.com.

It may sound a little funky, and I’m sure I’ll get some emotionally-based shit from some of the brain surgeons out there (bring it on, homies!), but I’m also damn thankful to the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. If you’re a fan of motorcycling, as I know all of you are, you simply can’t ignore the effects and contributions Milwaukee has made over the last century or so to our sport. Yeah, I know…there’s stuff to bitch and whine about, as there is with every company or organization that builds stuff people love and are emotionally connected to. But from 20,000 feet, the footprint the Motor Company has left onto the two-wheeled terra firma over the last 117 years is huge and impressive. 

Polaris and Indian deserve kudos as well for resurrecting a storied brand and helping re-energize things on the flat track racing front– as do companies such as Vance & Hines, S&S, and the vast collection of custom builders, event promoters, shops and aftermarket manufacturers out there who make the stuff we all love to buy, bolt to our bikes and lust after.

Finally, I’m damn thankful to the Thunder Press staff, who have banded together over the last six months to help put the magazine, website and social media efforts back on solid editorial footing. Thanks to every one of you! It hasn’t been easy, but good stuff rarely is, right?

If you dare to go toe-to-toe with Boehm find him at longstrangetrip@thunderpress.net. May your wounds quickly heal.

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