Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Man Behind the Horseshoes and the Handgrenades

I was born December 27, 1968 in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. I had an unusual childhood in that my parents were married before I was conceived (it was the sixties...), and they still are. Also, not only did I not move once growing up, but my father bought the house before he and my mom met, and they still live there.

Like most native Southerners, I grew up believing in a literal interpretation of the King James Bible and conservative politics. However, once I left home and joined the Navy, I began to encounter people with different backgrounds and different perspectives. Luckily I opened my mind instead of closing it more tightly. I started to think about things more critically. I slowly began a process of personal evolution which continues to this day. I've stagnated here and there through my life, but I always come back to critical self evaluation. I believe Socrates was right when he said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I try not to take anything on blind faith, but to examine it all with reason and a critical eye. I don't always succeed, but that's okay, too. It gives me more of myself to critique at a later date. 

Family. It's where we come from. It's who came before us, and who will follow us. It can weigh us down, set us free, provide an anchor, or set us adrift. I was originally going to leave my family out of my blog, but as personal as this blog has turned out to be, I've already mentioned them a few times, so I'm adding this paragraph into my bio. My parents are still happily married after forty four years, and as I said before, still happily living in the same house near Atlanta. I have an older half sister on my dad's side. She lives not too far from them. My brother and his wife and two kids live in Iowa. My poor parents have to travel about a thousand miles to see their grandchildren. Sadly, all my grandparents have passed from this life. I have two aunts and two uncles on my mom's side, along with their various spouses and children and grandchildren. I have one aunt on Dad's side, plus her husband and their children and grandkids. I've been married twice, and I have an outstanding son from my second wife. As of this writing, he's twelve years old (born in 1999). I live with a beautiful lady who has given me my second child, an equally beautiful daughter (born 2011). To protect their anonymity, I won't use their names in my blog writing. Because we're not married, and therefore, she's not my wife, but also because she's much more than a girlfriend, I will refer to milady as the Other Half. My son will henceforth be known as the Boy Child, and then there is Baby Girl.
I have what some people call a gift, and it can be. It can also be a curse. This is the ability to nearly always see both sides of an issue. It can be a gift, because it allows one to avoid heated, mean spirited arguments, and can allow for compromise. The good, meet-you-in-the-middle kind of compromise, not the sacrifice-your-standards kind. It can also be a curse, because it makes it hard to make any kind of long term hard stand on an issue. You have to be careful to avoid swaying too much back and forth, much like 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry. But I digress. The point of this is to say that I wound up firmly rooted in the Middle Of The Road. I will, and do, stray to the Left on some issues, and to the Right on others. But those meanderings tend to cancel each other and leave the balance in the Center.

I'm the same way spiritually. I don't see how it could all “just happen”. I believe there must have been some sort of Prime Mover – the Uncaused Cause. I just don't know which, if any, of the multitude of divine beings to whom men have given credit is actually responsible. I don't even claim to know if God is even aware of something as insignificant as we must be, much less care about what we do day to day. Therefore, if and when I'm pressed to proclaim my religious label, I usually will refer to myself as a Deist.

It should come as no shock to you by now that when I listen to music, I like pretty much all of it. '80s Hair Metal, Speed Metal, Southern Rock, Country, Country Rock, Rockabilly, Blues, Classic Rock, Classic Country, Pop, New Wave, Punk, some Rap, even older “Pop Standards”. I could put my iPod on Shuffle, and hear Pantera followed by Hank Williams, Jr followed by Frank Sinatra followed by The Eagles followed by Neil Diamond followed by The Ramones followed by Lightning Hopkins followed by Kid Rock.

I love body art. I'm heavily tattooed. I used to have a lot of piercings, too, but martial arts and body piercing don't always work well together. I'll leave that one to your imagination. The piercings, for the most part, went away. Later, because I'm inherently lazy in physical endeavors and started at a late age, so did the martial arts training. I hate to say it that way, but it is what it is. Ah, self examination, eh?

I love reading. It was my first love, and it's been the only constant in my life outside of family. I'm always reading. There's always at least one book I'm in; sometimes more. What do I read? I know this will surprise you, but it's a little bit of everything. Science fiction, fantasy (yes, there most definitely is a difference), westerns, mainstream fiction, classics, mystery. Actually, it's hard for me to read nonfiction, to be honest. I'll get really interested in a book, and then get just a few chapters in and lose interest. I think for a lot of nonfiction, I'm better off watching the History or Discovery Channel. What I can read from the nonfiction world is Biography, True Crime, and damn near anything motorcycle related. I finally figured out that it needs a narrative; a story to hold my interest. Or to be about bikes. I've actually made a career of books for the last fourteen years. I've worked for the world's largest book retailer that long. I don't want to say the name on this public forum, but let's just say it's the big bookstore company that's not going bankrupt...

My second love, and the other thing that's been a constant for half of my life is motorcycles. My first motorcycle ride was with my uncle, me straddling the gas tank of his Honda Dream. I wanted a motorcycle the whole time I was growing up, and once I'd finished my Navy training, in February 1989, that uncle sold me my first bike. A 1978 Hawk CB400A Hondamatic. Two gears, no clutch. Honda called the color “Tahitian Red”, but everybody else called it orange. I upgraded to a 1985 Shadow 700 later that year. I've been riding ever since – twenty two years and counting. In that time, I've had ten bikes. Well, ten that actually made it onto the road, anyway – there were some projects that just never got completed. Some only lasted a short time, others tens of thousands of miles. A more-than-twenty-year-old 650cc Yamaha took me from San Antonio to Atlanta to north Alabama to Austin and back to San Antonio. An 883 Sportster, not known for being a distance bike, took me on a 1,000 mile loop in 19 1/2 hours once.

I've also been a member of a Motorcycle Club for almost twenty years (with a two and half year “break in service”), so I've been around my share of motorcycles, gear, attitudes, and riding.

I have opinions. I have experiences. I intend to write about them here.

I've already done one product review, and I intend to do more. If I encounter something that's truly awe-inspiring, or truly depressingly poor quality, you'll probably read about it here.

I'll probably write about politics. How crazy I think both extremes can be. Sure, Rush Limbaugh is a nutjob. Michael Moore may be even worse. I probably will write about religious topics, as well. Religion and politics. The two things that go together like matches and gasoline. The two topics you're not supposed to discuss on a first date or at a bar. Hell, yeah! This is gonna be fun!

I may write about tattoos. I don't know what I would have to say, unless I decide to blog about a shop or convention. But you never know; I may do a tattoo autobiography one day.

Maybe I'll write about music, but probably not. I like music, but I really don't know enough about it to write on it. Again – you never know; I may encounter some truly inspirational band.

I most definitely am going to write about motorcycles. I love riding them. I love thinking about them. I love looking at them. I don't care how old or new they are, I don't care what brand they are. Brand loyalty is just waaaaaay too restricting as far as I'm concerned.

I'll be doing product reviews on various pieces of motorcycle and riding gear as I can. Mostly, this will consist of me reflecting on the time I've owned a jacket, helmet, etc. since I can't afford to run out and buy everything I'd like to use. Although I'd love to be one, I'm not a magazine writer, so it's not like manufacturers and accessory companies are sending me free stuff to test. However, if you work for one of said companies, feel free to contact me. I promise a fair and complete report, unjaded by years of having free goodies thrown at me by an editor.

Here's a list of the bikes I've owned that were rideable:

1978 Hondamatic 400
1985 Honda Shadow 700
1972 Yamaha TX650
1985 Kawasaki LTD 454
1981 Suzuki GS550L
1982 Kawasaki KZ1000
1981 Yamaha Maxim 650
1978 Kawasaki KZ1000
1998 HD Sportster 883
2003 Suzuki SV1000

Thanks for reading this. I hope you'll check back in often. Feedback is welcome.


  1. Only -one- goddamned Harley?

    You -suck-!

  2. And how many have you owned, Mark? Hmmm? Riding your dad's or your brother's bike doesn't count, by the way.

  3. Also, for those who know me: I did neglect to mention my children. I figure I'll wait until they're old enough to decide for themselves whether they want a web presence, beyond the photos I post in my more personal social networking profiles.