17 November 2008

Freedom Machines

We desire freedom, that is to say, we dream for every human being the right and the means of doing whatever pleases him, and not doing what does not please him; of satisfying integrally all his needs, with no limit except natural impossiblities or the needs of his neighbours, respected equally. - Peter Kropotkin, 1883

Batty and Steve were the first schoolmates of mine to ride motorcycles. Steve bought a red Kawasaki and ripped up the neighbourhood pavement with it confidently. I remember seeing him speed by a bus I was riding once. I was still saving up for my first motorcycle. A few seconds later came the police in their souped up Ford. I saw Steve at a party soon after the chase. "Did they catch you," I asked him. "Catch me at what?"

I told him I had seen the police hot on his tail. He laughed and told me, "I didn't even know they were chasing me. Fucking pigs."

Going so fast you do not know if you are being chased became a lifestyle choice for me in the years ahead. At the time I was just warming up to what would soon become of the great loves of my life: speed.

Steve is dead now. Only a coffin could slow the motherfucker down.

Batty bought himself a new brown Norton Commando. 850 cc of English power. Batty could ride. He had the knack, the icy nerve and the do not/never will give a shit attitude you have to have to share the road with the immaculately stoned people of Dope City.

I saw Batty pushing his Commando down the road a few times. "Fucking British shit," he would mutter. "How can a country that can build reliable nuclear reactors not make a reliable motorcycle?" I told him, "Their nuclear reactors aren't fucking reliable either." Those breakdowns may have saved him from an early death.

I do not know if Batty is still alive. I kind of doubt it.

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