Topic: As American as Boss Hogg
Notes from Pine Hill
As American as Boss Hogg
If you think navigating D.C. during inauguration was difficult, try moving through Lake George during Americade. The cause celebre is neither a person nor an historical first; the 28th occasion of this event is a ritual that unites the motorcycle subculture, a tribe imprinted with distinct character.
This slice of Americana, a.k.a. known in northern New York state as Bike Week, attracts thousands of aficionados and die-hards to the great northwoods. This village, a fusion of shop-lined streets set amid glorious lakeside beauty, is mere hours from congested city life and minutes from horse breeders in Saratoga Springs. Today it's transformed by the presence of the new horsepower. The bikes are ranged by the hundreds per block-chrome shined in the spectrum of colors, striped, decorated, detailed, individualized. The bikers by and large sport uniform black leather, black tees, contrasting sharply as Bike takes center stage. Bike is silver, gold, teal, purple, red, blue, and more-some with sidecars, one built to accommodate a wheelchair. Many carry a couple. Gray-haired experience and excitable teenage meet here, along with the straight and gay, the braided and bald, the fashionistas and the punked out, the fit and the fat who have made the trek.
I wonder if some came early, pre-week, for the Elvis festival, scoping out the dozens of Elvi performing at local hotspots. That tribe, smaller in number and impact but growing, descended on the village with its country ‘hams' making each classic tune his own. The men in purple finery, white shock, black velvet meandered with the untamed big hair through the streets like proud drag queens. I tried to spot the female incognito in her love me tender pose, but all seemed manly, elvissed, to me. Maybe next year I'll Elvis-up to this game.
Americade speaks humanity, shouts America, or at least Americana. It's there in the love of freedom, the draw of the open road. It's there in the admiring or awestruck eyes of the audience, the watchers who poised lawn chairs along Canada Street to view the endless parade.
The bikers have driven the country rides to pig roasts, band concerts, fireworks, and clothing sales designed to keep them entertained and spending their travel dollars in the numerous clubs, shops, and bars.The license plates from thousands of miles distant as Tennessee and Virginia, or closer to home in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, witness the cost in money, energy, time.
Just enough for the saddle bags, space for the souvenirs. The cops, the dentists, the lawyers, the musicians, the mechanics, the homemakers, the servers among them all need a souvenir tee shirt and something from the frontier store. This is, after all, movers on the edge of the mainstream. Yet this week they form the main current welcomed by everyone in its path.
6/5/09 Lake George