I was traveling over the long weekend. It is always good to see old friends, even when it is not so good to see old friends. As you get older, some of your friends get weird for periods and some get really boring for a while. Kids tend to make people boring, but when their kids grow up makes some people get weird. Women often go a little bonkers when their kids outgrow them. Men get weird when the gray hair begins to arrive. Still, it is always good to catch up with old friends, even when they are going through a weird or boring phase.
Travel, of course, has its own rewards. America has not been completely homogenized so there’s plenty of weirdness still left in her. New England, for example, retains its quirky Yankee flavor. Even within New England, there is a lot of diversity still. Boston is not Connecticut. Rhode Island is different from New Hampshire and Maine. Mass media has driven a lot of old weird America into extinction, but a lot of it is still around. This map from American Nations does explain a lot.
Anyway, when you travel to see friends you have not seen in a while it can bring some odd surprises. I’ve let my beard grow over the last month. I have no good reason or it. I just felt like it. If extreme beard growing is the new trend, then I figure I can let my beard grow if I want. Over the weekend, I had at least four people ask me what I use to dye my beard. I don’t dye anything and I have a little grey so that should be obvious. Come to find out, men are now dying their beards and even their whole head. One of my friends is now getting his head dyed on a regular basis.
I asked him about it and he said it bugged him so he figured he would give it a shot. I’m guessing his wife talked him into it. Women have been getting dye jobs forever. The guys getting the beards done are doing it for the same reason and they were casual about it. Maybe it is a Boston thing or just a trend I am just learning about now. Out of curiosity I walked through the hair care section of the local market today and they had a lot of various treatments for gray hair. That suggests I’m the last guy to hear about it.
Now that I have, I can’t imagine ever dying anything. It seems like a lot of work. On the other hand, if it really bugs you I guess it is worth the effort. I’m very conscious of my weight so I torture myself daily to keep the scale happy. Vanity works on all of us differently. I see a lot of old guys huffing and puffing just like me so maybe there are lots of guys at the hair salon getting their beard dyed. It does mean I can no longer mock the young for getting beard transplants and shaving their chests…
Also on the travel agenda was the Tom Petty show at Fenway Park. I have been to Fenway Park for Sox games more times than I can count. I never saw Petty in concert and I did not know what I was missing. He does a great show and Fenway is a great venue for a concert, if you have field seats. I’m not a huge Tom Petty fan, but I highly recommend his show. These old touring pros really know how to do these things.
I wonder if the rock concert is going to be a thing of the past once these guys die off. Starting in the 80’s and 90’s, bands that can play instruments in public have given way to dance shows with lip-syncing and piped in music. A few years ago I saw Madonna on TV doing a show for something and she looked ridiculous. Tom Petty can still play and sing and not look foolish. A fifty year old woman in a cat suit dancing around to her old club tunes is not something you want to see. It’s hard to imagine Justin Beiber touring in his fifties…
One of the things I never get over about New England is the provincialism. Everywhere has some of it, but New England is unique in this regard. I was talking to a woman at the show who wondered where in the south I lived. I was a puzzled and she said she could detect a southern accent. As far as I know, I have no accent, but to the locals, that is an accent. She has a brother living in Tennessee or Kentucky and wanted to talk about the south for what she thought was an authentic southerner.
That’s something you don’t run into elsewhere. Outside of New England, people have a decent understanding of New England. Most of it is gleaned from pop culture. Boston is a trendy place. On the other hand, the typical Yankee still thinks the south is dotted with plantations and fighting the civil rights movement. They think California is a version of Beach Blanket Bingo and the Midwest is just a vase unpopulated zone. The woman I was speaking with was incredulous when I told her life is better for black people in the Old Confederacy than in the north…
On the way home, I passed a group of bikers, member of the Wheels of Soul MC. I’ve always had an interest in gangs and motorcycle gangs in particular. There’s a lot to learn about the human animal from studying criminals. WOSMC is a unique group in the 1%’er world because they are multi-racial. I thought the Feds had put most of them in jail so I looked them up when I got home. The fact that they have a website is pretty funny, when you think about it.
The show Sons of Anarchy has popularized the motorcycle gang again. Hollywood glamorizes crimes and criminals, but that’s to be expected. The reality of life in one of these groups is not good TV. The typical biker is an 85 IQ, randomly violent and completely unpredictable. They live hand to mouth because they usually can’t hold regular jobs. That means they make money in drugs, hookers, strippers, stolen goods and so on. Selling crank retail in the parking lot of a strip club is not going to result in a lot of income. It also makes bad TV.
The message on the membership page of the WOS site reads:
If you are 18 years of age or older, male and own a motorcycle with a minimum displacement of 750cc, you may have what it takes to begin the journey to becoming a Wheels Of Soul Nation, MC member. We have chapters in every region of the United States and representatives who will be happy to discuss your options with you. The Wheels Of Soul Nation, MC is not structured to facilitate all applicant’s success in becoming a member. Our lifestyle is not recommended for everyone. Though it has it’s rewards, The Wheels Of Soul Nation, MC is not about being rewarded….it’s about brotherhood.
That’s the weird thing about bikers. They are the rare criminal organization that is honest with itself. Mobsters used to think they were doing good for the community. Heroin dealers in the 70’s carried on like they were local chieftains. Modern street gangs have no sense of self. Bikers know they are bad people and criminals. They put a lot of effort into making sure new members get this fact and they work hard to screen out people who can’t cope with being outside society. I must admit that I admire that aspect of biker life.
Bikers are the people who put the lie to much of libertarians. Organized barbarians are always a threat to civilization. A group of 500 bikers can hold a city hostage unless the cops get to do things the libertarians hate. RICO has been the main weapon to bring down biker gangs and the Mafia. Surveillance and deal making has been most effective with bikers. Getting them on video doing crimes is then used to get them to roll on their associates, often using the information to extort confessions from other members. Sometimes civilized people have to do bad things to protect civilization from barbarians. Too bad we have never figured out how to do the same against fanatics…