old bikes i used to ride

I must have hated myself riding these temperamental Brit bikes all those years with their horrible Lucas electrical systems (Lucas had three settings, dim, flicker, off) that always failed you … often when riding down a dark, winding highway at high speed …  the lights would go out..




mid 50’s Vincent Blackshadow


Vincent power land speed record holder Rollie Free featured in one of the most iconic photographs in motorcycling history.

Rolland “Rollie” Free (November 11, 1900 – October 11, 1984) was a motorcycle racer best known for breaking the American motorcycle land speed record in 1948 on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. The picture of Free, prone and wearing a bathing suit, has been described as the most famous picture in motorcycling [28] and Russell Wright won another World Land Speed Record at Swannanoa with a Vincent HRD motorcycle in 1955 at 184.83 mph (297.46 km/h).



late 60’s Norton Commando 750


1969 Triumph Bonneville 650


bsa_lightning_cropped.jpg1968 BSA 650 Lightning



Dr. Hunter S. Thompson on his BSA while riding with the Hells Angels, just prior to getting his ass kicked.


Song of the Sausage Creature (Cycle World magazine, March 1995)

Of course. You want to cripple the bastard? Send him a 130-mph café racer. And include some license plates, so he’ll think it’s a streetbike. He’s queer for anything fast.

Which is true. I have been a connoisseur of fast motorcycles all my life. I bought a brand-new 650 BSA Lightning when it was billed as “the fastest motorcycle ever tested by Hot Rod magazine.” I have ridden a 500-pound Vincent through traffic on the Ventura Freeway with burning oil on my legs and run the Kawa 750 triple through Beverly Hills at night with a head full of acid…. I have ridden with Sonny Barger and smoked weed in biker bars with Jack Nicholson, Grace Slick, Ron Zigler, and my infamous old friend, Ken Kesey, a legendary Café Racer.



Or maybe not: The Ducati 900 is so finely engineered and balanced and torqued that you can do 90 mph in fifth through a 35-mph zone and get away with it. The bike is not just fast — it is extremely quick and responsive, and it will do amazing things…. It is a little like riding the original Vincent Black Shadow, which would outrun an F-86 jet fighter on the takeoff runway, but at the end, the F-86 would go airborne and the Vincent would not, and there was no point in trying to turn it. WHAMO! The Sausage Creature strikes again.

There is a fundamental difference, however, between the old Vincents and the new bred of superbikes. If you rode the Black Shadow at top speed for any length of time, you would almost certainly die. That is why there are not many life members of the Vincent Black Shadow Society. The Vincent was like a bullet that went straight; the Ducati is like the magic bullet that went sideways and hit JFK and the Governor of Texas at the same time. It was impossible. But so was my terrifying sideways leap across railroad tracks on the 900SP. The bike did it easily with the grace of a fleeing tomcat. The landing was so easy I remember thinking, goddamnit, if I had screwed it on a little more I could have gone a lot further.

Maybe this is the new Café Racer macho. My bike is so much faster than yours that I dare you to ride it, you lame little turd. Do you have the balls to ride this BOTTOMLESS PIT OF TORQUE?

That is the attitude of the New Age superbike freak, and I am one of them. On some days they are about the most fun you can have with your clothes on. The Vincent just killed you a lot faster than a superbike will. A fool couldn’t ride the Vincent Black Shadow more than once, but a fool can ride a Ducati 900 many times, and it will always be bloodcurdling kind of fun. That is the Curse of Speed which has plagued me all my life. I am a slave to it. On my tombstone they will carve, “IT NEVER GOT FAST ENOUGH FOR ME.”

Not so peaceful Buddhists ~ NYT


Screen Shot 2019-07-08 at 1.14.40 PM.pngThousands of Buddhists listening to Sitagu Sayadaw, one of Myanmar’s most revered Buddhist leaders, also known by his monastic name Ashin Nyanissara, in Paleik, Myanmar, in November 2017Credit Minzayar Oo for The New York Times

By Hannah Beech


GINTOTA, Sri Lanka — The Buddhist abbot was sitting cross-legged in his monastery, fulminating against the evils of Islam, when the petrol bomb exploded within earshot.

But the abbot, the Venerable Ambalangoda Sumedhananda Thero, barely registered the blast. Waving away the mosquitoes swarming the night air in the southern Sri Lankan town of Gintota, he continued his tirade: Muslims were violent, he said, Muslims were rapacious.

“The aim of Muslims is to take over all our land and everything we value,” he said. “Think of what used to be Buddhist lands: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Indonesia. They have all been destroyed by Islam.”

Minutes later, a monastic aide rushed in and confirmed that someone had thrown a Molotov cocktail at a nearby mosque. The abbot flicked his fingers in the air and shrugged.

The Legend of Moe’s Books

It remains a landmark in Berkeley, one of America’s very best bookstores and worth an epic detour to visit.

The San Francisco Chronicle once put it this way: “India has the Taj Mahal. Berkeley has Moe’s.”
Credit Carlos Chavarría for The New York Times



By Dwight Garner



Moe Moskowitz, the co-founder of Moe’s Books in Berkeley, was known for a lot of things: his omnipresent cigars; his appalling dancing (sometimes to Cab Calloway on the store’s turntable); his political activism; and especially the way he held court at the cash register, riffing like Jackie Mason at a Friars Club podium.

The more you know about Moskowitz (1921-1997), who opened the store in 1959, the Beatnik era, with his wife, Barbara, the more you want to know. He was brusque and a bit of a slob. He drove his sports car like a maniac. One of his former employees has written about his “famous flatulence.”

He was a natural-born agitator. Born in New York City, he realized he missed certain eats while out West. He’s been given credit for bringing real bagels into Berkeley after founding SAWBABA, the Society for the Advancement of Water Bagels in the Bay Area, in 1962.



I spent a fair amount of time in Moe’s looking through his bargain, used books. Snyder, Patchen, Borges, Ram Das, LeGuin, Heinlein, Trungpa, ceramics. I’d go up the block to Cody’s to sit on the floor & page through their fine selection of out-of-my-reach art books.

The one photo of Moe pricing a stack of tomes, always in light pencil, cigar in mouth is how I remember him. I was always a little intimidated coming up to the counter.
It’s hard to believe now that a place like Berzerkeley in that crazy time actually existed. Across Telegraph from Moe’s was the headquarters of Messiah’s World Crusade. Through their satellite commune in the Sierra, with the aid of LSD, they were able to communicate  with Martian residents. 
How’s a kid growing up at the mall going to hear the good news “Acid, speed, mescaline”.
Go Bears.
Jerry Oyama