May 2012

"Easy Rider" Movie Review: Biker Freedom on the Open Road?

Can anyone really be free of the constraints of society? Iconic motorcycle riders Wyatt and Billy sure give it a try in the 1969 film “Easy Rider”. Coming out of, or perhaps as backlash against, the bikesploitation films of the ‘60s, “Easy Rider” isn’t a biker gang movie so much as it is a tribute to the outsider, to one who searches for a new path through life. We follow the journey of Wyatt (played by Peter Fonda) and Billy (played by Dennis Hopper) as they travel from California towards Florida where they plan to retire after a final, very lucrative cocaine deal. Let the hazy, hippie adventures ensue.

 Easy Rider Movie Poster

The film is a perennial fixture on lists of the top biker movies, but younger audiences are likely to be more confused than inspired by the main characters’ beat generation sensibilities. I mean, are Wyatt and Billy really so okay watching a crowd of rednecks punch and kick their friend to death that they don’t even seem upset the next day while dropping acid and having orgies? It’s one thing to be laid back, but come on.

Let me rewind a little first. The movie opens outside of La Contenta Bar where the protagonists pick up and test out a new shipment of cocaine. They then deliver it to the distributor for a large wad of cash and hide the money in Wyatt’s star-spangled gas tank. Whether you love or hate this movie, you’ve got to appreciate the scene where they take off across the desert as “Born to Be Wild” is playing, letting the audience taste the thrill of a cross-country motorcycle trip.

American Chopper May 7 “Malaysian Adventure”

This week on American Chopper Sr. gets a little too comfortable wearing the local fashions of Malaysia, Jr. stays home and has a serious chat with Mikey and Jason decides that “alligators are punks.”

The episode begins with about five minutes of final assembly on the One Malaysia Bike complete with an air intake shaped like the Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur. The white framed chopper that OCC began building last week for the Malaysia Tourism Board is decked out in the yellow, blue and red of the Malaysian flag.

Sr. rubs it in to the employees’ who won’t be joining him on the OCC trip to Malaysia to deliver the bike to the Malaysian Prime Minister. He then hops on the completed bike for the standard pre-delivery test ride. Sr. has to reach for the handle bars, which makes me doubt they took into account that the Malaysian Prime Minister is only about 5’2’’.

Meanwhile Mikey visits Paul Jr. to discuss the news he dropped on last week’s episode. He’s decided that he’s maybe, possibly, considering, thinking about quitting the show. Though his plans are always qualified by “If I do”’s and “I’m thinking about”’s, he still seems convinced that his life would be better out of the spotlight. His main rationale being that the cameras are coming between his and his father’s reconciliation. I don’t know, but I think the text Mikey sent saying “You lie, stay away from me” a few weeks ago is more of an obstacle than the show. But what do I know.

American Chopper May 21 "Change of Heart Part 1 and 2": Season Finale

On the final two weeks of American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior Season Three, OCC is asked to build an Italian sports car-themed chopper for a mysterious foreigner who wishes to remain anonymous (we’re thinking either Enzo Ferrari’s son, Piero, or maybe one of the Bond villains), and PJD attempts to build a saw-themed bike without using any saw blades.

At OCC we get our first glimpse of the Italian sports car bike in the design phase because Jason finally learned how to provide mechanical drawings with a proper three section view. Rick asks the question we and everyone else has come to expect. He wants to know if this a rideable bike? Is it? It is one of their more ambitious undertakings with extensive sheet metal and body styling, so despite working on the bike for an entire episode there is still a lot to complete.

At PJD, Dave Howard, director of brand management for Skil Power Tools wants an iconic American chopper for an iconic American brand. Apparently iconic is the word of the day, boys and girls. Skilsaw Inc. made a name for themselves in the 1920s when their saws became the standard. The chopper was commissioned to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the 77. The worm drive 77 is a type of drive that moves slowly but can produce a lot of torque.

Originally an iconic American brand, Skil was sold to Bosch in 1996, and their offices are now in Breda, Netherlands.