It's been a hell of a summer. A twisted journey
I could have never imagined,
a series of sky highs and surreal lows. For
those out there who read my
articles on Bikernet and in The Horse and see
only a person who does high
profile paintwork, goes to bike events, and
gets magazine covers, believe
me, it was not always like that.
There were many years of
I say, horrific
because, to live each day with your stomach in
knots because worry is eating you alive feels
horrific. Worry about what?
Mainly about paying bills, the rent, gas, phone,
and then trying to keep a
business alive. Much of it was my own fault.
Bad decisions, screwed up
It was no picnic. 13 years ago,
all I wanted was to get a "real"
job, doing welding or parts inspection, some
kind of manufacturing job that
would give me the security of a weekly
paycheck. A successful painting
career was a far off pipe dream.
wasn't all hell. There were
adventures mixed in, breaks from the reality of
what my life had become.
There were those rare moments when
I'd be able to see clearly through the
haze and see the beauty of life in this world.
The two men who had hoped I
would achieve some kind of stability or
success in my life both died before
it finally happened.
as I tried, I began to think it would never
I would get close
and then an event in my personal life would
the momentum and I was forced to start over
again and again and again. And
up until last year, it was like that. In the middle
of some crisis, I would
think back to the few years of steady
employment, basking in the memory of
working a set amount of hours each week,
then doing whatever I wanted,
whether it be riding motorcycles, hiking or
cleaning the house.
Sturgis 2003 happened and it all changed.
Suddenly all the pieces began to
fall into place and all those years in hell began
to mean something.
That's how it happens. For some
fortunate people, it happens early in life.
But for others, it happens late. And that's
how it happened for Indian Larry.
Most people, including me had never heard of
him prior to The Motorcycle
Mania Show on Discovery. I was completely
blown away by the bikes he built.
But to him it was always a team effort. I
especially admired the paintwork
on his bikes and he was quick to give Robert
Pradke the credit. "He just
comes up with this stuff," Larry said. "It blows
I only met Larry a little over
a year ago at the Smoke Out. But I was just
another face in the crowd. It
wasn't until Myrtle Beach of this year, that
Larry became someone who gave
me a hug each time I saw him. I was staying
with Sam Morgan and the Thrill
Arena stunt riding crew. Looking back on that
sunny, quiet morning when he
showed up at the drome, I knew then what a
treasure that time was. In fact
that whole weekend trip was priceless. But
then that's what Larry tried to
tell me a few months later in Sturgis.
Sturgis wore on
Larry hard. He'd been mobbed wherever
he went. So he began to take breaks at
American Motordrome Company's
compound. It was a relaxing hideout where he
could sit back and BS with Jay, Sam and the
rest of the crew. I know he had
a few good talks with Sam. She and I are very
similar in our backgrounds. I
was fortunate enough to see him there a few
times as I had been using it as
a refuge too.
Located on Main St, it was perfectly
situated. I could ride
down the back streets, bang a left into an alley
and park my bike right at
the drome. I never waited in traffic. You never
knew who'd you'd run
into there. I'd pull up and see certain
bikes parked and could tell
who was hanging out.
It was at Michael Lichter's bobber
bike show that I
spent the most time with Larry. I knew he was
busy but wanted to tell
him something and next thing I knew, it was a
half hour later that our
conversation finally ended. I felt bad for taking
up so much of his precious time but
he was on a roll, asking me questions,
explaining things to me. It was the
kind of advice a father gives.
My dad has
been gone nearly ten years. I had
not bothered to take his advice seriously when
he gave it, as I was younger
and "knew more than him." And now that I am
older, I sorely miss his
words. So it was with great interest that I
listened to Larry, trying to
file each and every word away, so I could
remember it forever.
"Never take a moment for
granted no matter how bad it feels. Life is so
precious and it goes by so fast," Larry
He explained that the
days I had spent in
hell made me into the person I am now.
"Without going through that, you
wouldn't be who you are. You had to go
through that to get here, where you're
standing right now," He said.
"But," I explained, "I'd probably
wouldn't have such a bad attitude."
He looked at me with a slight smile on his
face, shaking his head. "And all
that makes you a survivor. You can handle
situations a lot of people couldn't deal
with. I know, believe me, I know," Larry said.
His words that day will stay with me
forever. I will honor Larry by trying
to live by that advice. I'll try and be more
patient with people. I won't
take a single moment of life for granted,
wishing things had gone different.
That's just a waste. Instead I'll put
my emotions, dreams, and wishes into
my writing and painting. And if I succeed in my
career, that's great. If
not, I gave it a hell of a try and it was an
awesome ride that let me meet
incredible people and took me to fantastic
places. Hopefully Larry met my dad. I know my
dad would have loved Larry's bikes.
he can tell him that I didn't turn out to be
such a hopeless mess after all.
Crazy Horse Painting