I’m cutting off Feedburner, it used to be a great service, but since Google bought it, I haven’t even been able to see my stats, and the help forum was apparently abandoned months ago. I have no idea how many subscribers I have, or if my feeds are working correctly, So this is the last RSS feed you’ll see, and the last email you’ll get for a while.

Cutting this cord will force me to set up a better service, and I will post that info prominently on the site when it’s all working, hopefully over the weekend. Sorry for the inconvenience, but it just needed to be done. It sucks to have to start from scratch with RSS and newsletter subscribers, but I need to re-take control of my feeds.

New hope for Indian Italjets?

Remember Kinetic Motors and their plan to produce seven Italjet models in India? Only one (The Italjet Millennium, renamed the Kinetic “Blaze”) ever came to market, and Kinetic was bought out a year ago by Mahindra & Mahindra. Now M&M is reconsidering Kinetic’s Italjet plan. If you’ve been pining for a new Velocifero or Dragster for the past decade, you’ve seen your dreams crushed by Italjet, Italjet’s various US importers, Kinetic, Italjet again, and Diamo/LS Motorsports, so we don’t see how your luck is going to change, but maybe this will give you false hope again.

VVV: David Bowie “That’s Motivation”

Last week’s Vespa Vednesday VIdeo was David Bowie’s “Absolute Beginners”, the title track from the Julien Temple film. This week’s video also features Bowie, but this time it’s a clip from the film itself:

Artist: David Bowie
Song: “That’s Motivation”
Album: Absolute Beginners film soundtrack (1986)
Scooter(s): Vespa GS
Scooter content: 20 seconds
Jump to the good parts: 3:56 to end

There’s not much to add to last week’s rant about “Absolute Beginners,” the musical. Great book, sort-of-embarassing film. As much as I love Bowie, his performance (or is it his character, Vendice Partners?) is a bit stilted and creepy. His Busby-Berkeley-inspired paean to advertising was probably meant to be the film’s centerpiece, but as far as overblown showtune production pieces go, Ray Davies’ Music-Hall romp “Quiet Life” steals the show and somehow seems to fit the story better. And Edward Tudor-Pole’s “song” isn’t on YouTube, but there’s a Vespa billboard in the background. If all this makes you want to see the film, I’m doing it wrong. OK, fine, it’s a guilty pleasure. But the book is a must!

But hey, back to the point, there’s a scooter in Bowie’s number. And it’s not really so bad as I remembered it. And another VVV is written and posted, on an actual Vednesday. That’s Motivation!

You meet the weirdest people
on a Kukuxumusu

kukuxumusuBradford says, “Thank God we don’t have the Kukuxumusu.” Actually he said that like four months ago while I was on vacation, but I just rediscovered his email. I’m an atheist, so I’ll just thank the NHTSA and the EPA.

Even so, something along those lines could really help a somewhat-respectable-but-painfully-indistinct brand of scooters in the U.S. market. I’m looking at you, TGB.

Take the Kymco

Toronto’s Kymco dealer ran transit ads on Toronto’s TTC system imploring riders to “Take The Kymco,” (TTK). A clever idea, too bad they flagrantly copied the TTC trademark and TTC removed the ads. Whatever your feelings about scooters’ impact on ecological, economical, and traffic impact, public transportation is surely better, but that said, public transportation riders are probably a wise target market for scooter dealers!

Innovative Honda for U.S.—sans innovation

01The whiz-bang new Thailand-made Honda PCX 125 is a pretty good-looking scooter, and features new technology that actually stops the engine at idle to save gas. The story mentions a 2010 U.S. model, but only to say it won’t feature the “stop-and-start” idle technology. It will feature fuel injection and linked brakes.

Will new Chinese tire tariff affect scooters?

The Obama administration has approved a 35% tariff on Chinese-made tires, effective in two weeks. The tariff will decrease to 25% over the next two years. Before you start stockpiling Cheng Shin and Maxxis tires, note that the tariff appears to only target automobile and light truck tires, and it’s unclear if it will include Taiwanese tires. So even if it does include scooter tires, it may turn out to be good news, because it’ll probably only hurt the cheapo importers.

The Chinese tire industry has ballooned in recent years, and U.S. tire industry officials blame China for lost jobs and sales. But as of 2008, only two U.S. tire companies were among the world’s top ten (#2 Goodyear and #9 Cooper) so it seems strange to single out China when Bridgestone, Michelin, Continental, Hankook, Kumho, Pirelli, and Yokohama are all more direct competitors, and sell OEM tires for cars sold in the U.S. (Perhaps they’re all manufacturing in China, but if that’s the case, it seems impossible that Goodyear and Cooper aren’t.) Now’s your chance, Coker, how about some scooter-size gumwalls?

(Thanks for the link, Eric.)

VVV: David Bowie “Absolute Beginners”

Did we just post two videos? and did we just miss two weeks of Vespa Video Vednesday? Never fear, we didn’t forget you. Today we have another clip from David’s list that just so happens to be one of my favorite songs:

Artist: David Bowie
Song: “Absolute Beginners”
Album: Absolute Beginners film soundtrack (1986)
Scooter(s): Vespa GS
Scooter content: 5 seconds
Jump to the good parts: 2:19, 2:22, 2:36

David Bowie, of course, is a genius. As Jon Langford would put it, he’s the “Chameleon of Rock.” And Colin MacInnes’ Absolute Beginners, is definitely one of my favorite books. So what could be better than a film version directed by Great Rock and Roll Swindle director Julien Temple, featuring David Bowie AND Ray Davies (AND Edward Tudor-Pole)!?

Well, the film turned out to be nothing but a marginally entertaining (at best) musical (no!) love story that nearly ignored the book’s rich drama of gentrification, race relations, and the rise of the English teenager. The Fifties setting was overwhelmed by the Eighties set design, and today it looks dated and campy. The soundtrack holds up a little better, featuring songs from Jerry Dammers (of the Specials), the Style Council*, and rare proof that Sade was a promising talent back when she had a last name. Even Ray Davies’ subtle nostalgic song is pretty good. But the gem was this David Bowie track.

Julien Temple directed Bowie’s epic “Jazzin’ for Blue Jean” video in 1984, and Bowie was chosen to appear in the film as shady advertising magnate Vendice Partners. The single was recorded in June 1985 but delayed to wait for the film’s release. The video is nothing special, a Duran Duran-inspired parody of British “Strand” cigarette commercials with awkwardly-chromakeyed film footage worked in. The scooter footage is minimal, and all from the film (a Vespa GS graces the soundtrack album cover and makes a few appearances in the film).

But, oh, the song is so great. It strikes me as the anti-“Uptown Girl,” showing Billy Joel that Eighties arena pop could actually be fused with doo-wop without disastrous results, and thus proving David Bowie is actually capable of anything. The lyrics are beautifully vague and can make me cry if I’ve had a couple beers and I pretend it’s about whatever dramatic situation is troubling me at the moment. Even the obligatory Eighties sax solo is magnificent. It’s perhaps a bit long, though it’s available in several remixes of varying lengths across CD, CD3(!) LP, 7″, 12″ releases. The film was massively hyped before release, then panned by critics and fans, but the single reached #2 in England and nearly cracked the top 50 in the U.S.

There, it’s ten minutes until midnight, and VVV lives. All that for five seconds of secondhand scooter footage. See you next Vednesday.

*Speaking of Paul Weller, The Jam’s “Absolute Beginners,” (#4 UK charts in 1981) is surely also inspired (though equally subtly) by MacInnes’ book. It’s really a must-read novel, and in this age of remakes and re-hashed ideas, hopefully another filmmaker has a go at it, but it’s going to be hard to top the two great songs it’s already inspired.

Wisconsin’s Majesty

2SB reader Mark Neustadt shot and edited a series of road-trip videos on his Yamaha Majesty 400. You’d think nine-minute clips of a dude riding a scooter might get boring, but it’s shot pretty well and his Wisconsin roads sure look like a lot more fun than my Chicago commute. In fact, these might really help us all get through the winter.

Thanks Mark! Now stop fidgeting with the camera and mind the road, we don’t want to watch you lowside on YouTube!

Corazzo’s “Ramp Test”

Corazzo has released a technical/snuff film showing some very unscientific tests of their jackets. Surely, it’s mostly for entertainment value (it’s listed as “comedy” on YouTube), but there’s probably something educational buried in there. Corazzo’s “Shop” is my usual riding jacket, so in the sequel, I wanna see how the “Shop/UnderHoody” combo compares to the “Transparent Vinyl Raincoat/Naked Bradford Duval” combo.