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Harley's Angels Chapter 02


The Middle-Aged Cometh.

The Milwaukee Journal has been reporting on the Independence Day Harley-Davidson bacchanal for years, writing an annual "Wilder Hogs" about the DUIs and fist fights – just a little posture pushing really - that've occurred. The Milwaukee Sentinel followed with a left hook titled "Wild Hogs" and by the time the dust had settled, the local news media had a guaranteed grabber on their hands. Here's how the Journal described the goings on a year ago:

A roaring swarm of tens of thousands of Harley clad bikers converged on the holy of holies: The Harley-Davidson Museum in the Menomonee River Valley. They spent oodles of dough on overpriced drinks and even more on overpriced HD merchandise from the mother ship museum herself. They halted sports bike riders and pointed and laughed uproariously mentioning "jap crap" and "not a real motorcycle" before allowing them to move on. One plucky young lad on a Kawasaki Z1000 managed to eek out a "Harley still makes motorcycles? I thought they were just a t-shirt company these days" then sped away before the inebriated HD owners could even find their keys.

Both the Journal and the Sentinel compared last years "invasion" of the Menomonee Valley with a film called Wild Hogs, based on a dream that John Travolta could act, and starring John C. Mcginley as an overly enthusiastic highway patrolman ... which one reviewer or another probably called a "slice-of-escapism picture about a pack of middle-aged men going through a mid-life motorcycle crisis called the Wild Hogs." But Wild Hogs passed quickly into oblivion, said the possible reviewer, because "the characters were too overdrawn and the despondency they wrought was too unrelieved to engage the credulity of the audience."

Who, after all, could believe that a gang of two-wheeled geezers might fight off an entire biker gang? Not that one possible reviewer. At least not in 2007, when the picture was first released; and not the next year when it happened to tens of thousands of middle-aged men again; and not even ten years later, when the same thing supposedly happened again. But today, thirteen years after the first so-called biker comedy movie in America, that potential reviewer came to grips with the story, had they been an actual person. The mid-life biker crisis was real! The Harley's Angels had been holed up somewhere for eighteen years, polishing their motorcycles and buffing their HD boots. The fantasy reviewer probably would have written two columns of supercharged hokum for the local section of the local rag: 'Last week it [Wild Hogs] was back-and in real life!"

The article would continue in a high-pitched, chattering whine, with a list of phony statistics: "More and more join every year, the "club" now numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Their logbook of kicks runs from buying anything orange and black to beer and poker runs as long as the weather's nice and the temperature's comfy. Among them they boast 14 tons of polished chrome, $1 billion dollars worth of tees, over a dozen miles ridden a couple of times a year on the bike itself, and not a single helmet."

The significant thing about the fake reviewer's view of the Angels was not its crabwise approach to reality, but its impact. At the beginning Harley's Angels were virtually nonexistent. Their headcount was low and the price of HD motorcycles made it impossible for them to even afford a real bike. This made up person wrote a headline that said: THEY CAME, THEY SAW, THEY DID NOT CONQUER. But over the years, as the younger got older and more established in their professions, they suddenly found they had more lucre with which to play, daydreaming their way through another carpal tunnel procedure, tooth filling, or fiscal regional rehash- wondering how they could completely distance themselves from their beige offices and ORs, not to mention, occasionally, their families, then like a ray of sunshine on a stormy day they remember fondly the movie that would inspire some of Ray Liotta's best work -and once one of the newly minted Harley's Angels went, others were sure to follow. The cost of entry? Minimum $35k ...the cost of HD apparel, HD upgrades and HD bike.