Sunday, March 16, 2008

Best Of: September 2007.

Yes I'm fully aware that it's... pretentious (and perhaps lazy) to post some of your own work and call it a "best of". It's also compounded that it's only a few months old. But when I was re-reading this, I thought to myself "Jesus, this is good. I wish I could write an article like this every time..." So here, now, is a re-issue if you will, of an article called "Sunday Morning Thunder" off my old blog. It originally ran on September 23, 2007, shortly before I would leave for boot camp.

I hope you enjoy.

I'm woken up from a strange dream this morning by the buzzing of my cell phone on my desk. The dream I was having involved a family trip to Washington DC where I was sitting in on some White House Tour and President George W. Bush showed up and spoke to us. He was wearing super casual clothes, but nothing that I would be too surprised in seeing him in. Not like he was wearing a mustard stained SPAM t shirt and little blue running shorts with flip-flops.

Anyway, in the dream I confront G-Dub about the shitty condition our country is in, and when I look into his eyes, I see that he's got the mind of a child. He has this unknowing innocence behind his eyes, and instantly takes on a "I know you are, but what am I" disposition when I bring up how I've been unemployed for two months and how for every tank of gas I buy, two soldiers die in Iraq.

Then I wake up, to the sound of my phone buzzing.

I crawl out of bed, grab my phone and flip it open. I yawn and say hello.

"Hey Jim, it's your dad!" Says a muffeled version of my father's unmistakable voice backed by what sounds like highway traffic. I figure he's broken down someplace.

"No kidding..." I say back and sit myself down in my computer chair, turning on my laptop, wishing it were a coffee machine.

"You wanna see something pretty fuckin' cool?" He yells. I pause, wondering in my mind what could be so "fuckin' cool" this early on a Sunday. At that point too I look at my cable box and see it's 9 am. I think to myself it'd better be a dead body.

"I guess..." I say instead.

"I'm on the South Street Bridge over the turnpike, get down here, bring your camera too!" And he disconnects. So I pull on a pair of jeans, a t shirt, grab my keys, sunglasses, gun, camera, and throw my M67 field jacket on and ride down. My father's parked his motorcycle along the side of the bridge and is standing looking down at the turnpike in his black leather jacket and sunglasses.

I jog up to him and look over the edge at the rushing cars. I look up at him he smiles at me.

"What the hell am I doing here?"

"Any minute now, there's going to be roughly two thousand motorcycles heading towards Augusta for the Vietnam Memorial Ride, it's going to be awesome!" He says, excitably. I nod along, and scratch my head. I rushed down here for this?

Dad goes on to report to me that he watched about fifty bikes head south just a few minutes after he called me and got some video on his camera. He tries to show it to me, but the batteries are dead and he curses. He tells me he's going to run down to the corner store and buy some batteries and he'll be right back.

I'm left alone on the bridge looking down at the passing cars early on a Sunday morning, crap still in my eyes, etc. I let out a yawn and wonder how long it'll be before some one passing over the bridge calls the cops because they think there's a jumper about to off himself. A visit from the local gestapos of Biddeford would pretty much fuck up my morning, and I look around nervously, feeling very conspicuous. A glance to my right and I see a guy about my dad's age approaching with a coffee cup and an American flag over his shoulder.

It turns out his name is Curt and he lives in one of the houses on the other side of the bridge. He hangs his flag over the side of the bridge and then goes on to explain to me that he wanted to hang a rather large banner that said "The Maine Turnpike Authority Has No Class" in reference to the MTA making the bikers pay the toll to ride up to Augusta today and not giving them a free pass. We chat idly about the volume of bikes and motorists passing by are already honking at the Stars and Stripes hanging off the bridge.

Soon my dad returns and he shows both Curt and I the video of the bikes. He's right when he says it's impressive. An endless caravan of motorcycles traveling southbound pass under him. There's no sound on his camera, so there's no throaty rumble, but none-the-less we're stunned.

So the waiting begins.

We three stand by the flag and wave to supportive patriotic motorists who flick their lights and honk their horns at us. A few good natured truckers blast their air horns. This fills me with a strange sense of pride I'm unfamiliar with. Maybe three out of every five cars toots their horn, gives a peace sign or some how acknowledges our presence on the bridge with the flag. It probably helps the situation that I'm adorned in an OD-Green jacket, which people seem to more freely associate with a protester than a military member. I stop and think about the sense of irony the whole idea envokes.

It's not the politics or the war or even the troops people are supporting, I come to think as I stand on the over pass. It's the idea of America; the American Dream is still strong in most people despite the black eye lady liberty has been sporting the past few years. People see the colors and don't think about our international status or a wayward and corrupt administration. They don't think about how our freedoms are slowly being witteled away by the closest thing to a totalitarian regime our nation has ever had. They see red white and blue and instantly stand behind those colors. I don't think they're thinking of Ground Zero or 9/11 or the war on terror. I think they're thinking about how we as Americans are all brothers and sisters under one flag, one idea.

We sit and talk, we three, for the next two and a half hours. We're all wondering if maybe the bikers took Rt 1 instead. I call my mom to see if she can use the computer to find anything out, and flirt with the idea of sending her out to bring us Dunkin' Donuts while we wait.

By now a few other people have arrived on the bridge, each has a different story to tell. Collectively we all stand by the flag and wave to honking cars. Mom calls me back and says she has a webcam feed from the Kennebunk exit and it shows what she says as "thousands" of motorcycles heading up the road. I pass the word to everyone and we all wait.

By noon, we can see them coming over the southern horizon, two powder blue Crown Victorias with blue lights flashing leading a tightly formed group of about ten police motorcycles from different departments with lights and sirens, leading a never ending cavalcade of iron horses booming, gut shaking exhaust sounds on parade. Chrome and black paint, a real-life manifestation of Eric Burden lyrics in two-by-two formation, pumping their fists towards us, saluting their flag, honking their horns. Leather-clad modern day nomadic barbarians in search of the next village to raze.

We all stand silently, maybe passing a comment between the person next to us, but mostly rigid with the awesome sight of so much machinery in formation. A classless idea showing much more than solidarity and confederation. Total unification for the common good, not protesting or revolting against any establishment, but just simply saying "here we are, and this is why we're here."

Their messages gets across to us on the bridge loud and clear.

I spend most of the time getting pictures and videos (if not up by the time you're reading this, they will be shortly. The video will be in my "my video" section, pics in the "random things..." folder. After about fifteen minutes the stragglers have passed and we all depart silently. I climb on to the back of my dad's bike and he gives me a lift down to the other side of the bridge, some 200 feet where I parked my truck. Curt breaks down the flag, but I still feel the surge under my skin regardless.

1 comment:

Jake said...

It is pretentious, but you are that guy.

This is still one of your best though.