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SFGate advice to beginners

August 29, 2008

SFgate’s short-but-sweet primer for new scooterists and motorcyclists.

The birth of a PiaggioUSA PR blitz

August 29, 2008

PiaggioUSA is awesome, according to a story written by a PR guy who’s written other stories about Piaggio for several PR magazines. This story will be be re-written (with a few token quotes from the local Vespa dealer) and published as “news” by all major news outlets in the next week or so.

Will Hoge writes about his scooter accident

August 29, 2008

Nashville musician Will Hoge was struck by a van on his way home from a recording session earlier this week. The officer’s description of the accident upset a lot of scooterists, and Hoges’ blog post is a beautifully-written first-person account of the confusion and pain and drama of a serious accident.

I don’t want to put words in Will’s mouth (he’s clearly much better with words than I am, even in his hospital bed), and we look forward to reading more of his perspective on the accident, which he’s promised to post, but his story drives home a point that seems obvious on the surface, but that most people forget from time to time:

A top priority in motorcycle and scooter safety (even above protective gear in my estimation) is giving your undivided attention to your surroundings. Anything can happen at any time, and it pays to be 100% aware and prepared for anything, always. I’ve posted before about how foolish it is to ride when you’re riled up after a near-accident or confrontation with a driver, but there are many other kinds of distractions, and the good (A good day at work, love, lust, or, in this case, the chance to work with Bruce Springsteen) can distract you just as much as the bad. I’ve had plenty of near-misses, most were avoided because I was carefully watching the road. Other near-misses were caused by lapses in my attention, and I was luckily saved by the other driver reacting quickly. Most accidents can be avoided if someone’s being careful, but it’s not smart to leave it up to the other guy. In most situations, it’s up to you to control your destiny, and you can never take another drivers’ actions for granted. It’s likely that Will was watching the road carefully and got creamed anyway, it happens all the time (and that’s where good protective gear sure doesn’t hurt), but he implies that he had a lot on his mind, and that the collision was a total surprise.

Get well fast, Will, The Boss will still be around when you’re ready. Our wishes are with you.

British Woodies

August 29, 2008

We just got an email announcing Veloce’s new book British Woodies (ahem!), which reminds me we haven’t reviewed the last two books they kindly sent us. So keep an eye out for reviews of Veloce’s new-ish The Lambretta Bible and Scooter Lifestyle, soon.

Top Five of the 90s

August 28, 2008

Thinking about my sad role as the only idiot to have attended all fourteen Slaughterhouse rallies, and having a little free time since I barely lifted a finger to help this year (Thanks Kathy!), i started thinking about how rallies have changed. I don’t want to get all misty-eyed or retro or elitist, and I definitely enjoy the current scene, scooters, and people just the way they are. I just thought it’d be fun to come up with a list of five things I miss from the early 90s, and five things I don’t.
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Colaninno to helm Alitalia

August 28, 2008

Piaggio SpA chairman Roberto Colaninno, will head a new privatized Alitalia, and the weird Italian business cycle of salvation, success, abandonment, failure, government intervention, more failure, more government intervention and more salvation begins anew. Since Piaggio went public, press announcements from Pontadera have slowed considerably, this new pet project will likely divert even more of Colaninno’s attention away from Piaggio.

Slaughterhouse on Fox News Chicago

August 28, 2008

Here’s one of David Viggiano’s Slaughterhouse bits from Fox News this morning. There were more gags and adventures, hopefully someone can convert Tivo to Youtube. All in all it was fun, and loads better than this. As I was leaving, I heard MadTV’s Michael McDonald was on his way over to try out the Gymkhana. Thanks to Johnny of Motoworks for putting it together. Slaughterhouse starts tonight, of course. Be there!

UPDATE: Thanks to Thanks to Fox, Gapers Block, Time Out Chicago, and Love, Chicago for hyping the rally!

Slaughterhouse Thursday

August 27, 2008

Slaughterhouse is once again, almost upon us, and for the first time since Slaughterhouse 1, I had nothing to do with planning it. If you’re in the rally mood early (very early), come to Motoworks at 7am Thursday for a live gymkhana telecast on FOX News Chicago, who will be the first television news outlet to cover Slaughterhouse before it happens, which makes a lot more sense than running a story afterwards, when you think about it. Here’s some video of last year’s gymkhana for reference. Thursday night, the official Slaughterhouse party is Delilah’s 15th anniversary party* with DJ Chuck Wren of Jump Up! Records, or check out The Organization’s “Hard Mod” night at Holiday Club**.

* Oh, Crash Palace, how I still miss you, but Delilah’s has certainly grown on me, especially after Mike let me DJ once, back when he was desperate for customers, an unforgettable night when some wag asked me “Do you have anything good?” Sure, I brought a dude nearly to tears by playing the long version of Throwing Muses’ “Soul Soldier,” so you win some and you lose some. Anyway, congrats on 15 years Mike and Delilahs, and good luck with the new Bottom Lounge, which I haven’t checked out yet but it sounds like a great venue.

** Once at Holiday (well, at the old location, ten years ago, ha) a waitress snidely refused to take my friend’s ten dimes as a tip on a $1.50 glass of soda. Sure, he may have been short on paper currency at the moment, but a 66% tip is is a 66% tip. I liked the DJs (Kristine DJed my wedding!) and some of my friends were bartenders there, but that was lame and I kinda stopped going there after that.

UPDATE! Ryan will be shuttling people (on his BV200) between the two bars for the low price of one british pound sterling. Phil has offered a rival service priced at 15oz of any liquid. That name again is Mr. Plow.

Salzman on Scooters

August 26, 2008

A great general look at scooters and scootering from fellow (maybe ex-?) Blur rider Nathaniel Salzman. Very well written and covers just about everything I’d say.

My only minor quibble: He says (in bold, thankfully), “Riding a scooter is 100% as dangerous as riding a motorcycle. Period.” I agree completely, the similarities of scooters and motorcycles are more important than the differences, so the first section about the differences, while well-written, is given too much prominence in its placement. But as I said, that’s a minor quibble. Definitely bookmark this one to mail to friends looking for their first scooter.

More fun justice

August 26, 2008

On Craigslist: “To the lady arrested riding my stolen scooter.” Warning: adult content. (Thanks, Gymnation)

The End of the PX?

August 26, 2008

Every few months, there’s an “End of the Vespa PX” story, even though I’ve read that Piaggio officially ceased production in December, 2006. They’ve offered a few “limited editions” since then, and the standard PX has been available from European shops, so who knows? In any case, this story isn’t winning any awards for implying that manual-transmission scooters are illegal in Europe, or for ignoring the fact that Eddy Bullet and other importers sell a fair number of PX-clone LML Stars in Europe, though perhaps that will come to an end, too. Which may be why LML is perpetually rumored to be working on a 4-stroke automatic helium-powered 8000cc PX-style scooter.

Vespa Vino Vici 2008

August 22, 2008

Oh, almost forgot, the subject of my Googlestalking yesterday was the organizer of a scooter tour of the Michigan wine country on September 13-14, 2008. As I suspected from the handsome site and the Brookfield meet-up location, it’s Alana, an old friend I haven’t seen around in a while. The ride sounds great, hopefully 2sb will be there, at least for the drinking and ferrying part.

A test

August 22, 2008

Don’t mess with Texas plates

August 22, 2008

From Chad: Texas, with the lowest percentage of custom license plates in the U.S., has contracted a private company to offer a wide variety of cutomizable plates. And yes, they offer motorcycle plates. Some states seem to be making their standard plates ugly on purpose to sell more special plates, but Texas’ standard plates are actually more attractive than the somewhat generic plates offered by MyPlates (They’re not even embossed, which sadly seems to be a trend in plate design).

“Hamara Bajaj” commercial

August 21, 2008

I was just Googlestalking someone (more about that link in a minute) and found the famous “Hamara Bajaj” commercial in her YouTube favorites. I’ve always heard how great this commercial is, but never seen it until now. Assuming the swastika at :28 holds a different meaning in Indian culture than it does in Western culture (I’m pretty sure it does), it is a very touching tribute. Now MAKE SOME, Bajaj! I stand by my assertion that Bajaj will unveil the perfect scooter exactly one month after the worldwide scooter boom comes to an end.

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