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  • Guns and the Grateful Dead (Up And Down With The Grateful Dead Scene III)

    2009 - 01.03

    For a while when I was a Deadhead back in the early 1980’s I was hanging out with both the band and the Oakland Chapter Hell’s Angels. It was a strange very, very strange time in my life, I had started to follow the band unceasingly and that took me and my motorcycle all over the state following this band that had saved me from the punk scene in San Francisco. The problem was that I had not yet gotten clean of the perpetual haze and it made me older surly, unafraid. I had many dangerous adventures in this state of mind until I met a beautiful woman who forced me clean.

    I had been hanging around bikers for a long time and knew how to ride real well, camp and otherwise enjoy the road more than the cagers. We bikers, (usually kids my age on rice burners) would stick together in packs going to shows. There was nothing like the rush of riding with maybe 10 guys all looking forward to the same thing you were. A little bit of Heaven for the price of a ticket and maybe mix it up with the Betty’s while we were at it too.

    Hanging with the Angels and keeping them well supplied with the things they liked so much had made a tough little guy out of me. I packed a 357 magnum in my saddlebag (protection purposes only). It was this one day gentle reader that I wanted to tell you of.

    I was at the end of a string of bikes, we were strung out in a line, mostly college kids on some journey between Here and Dad’s factory. I was looking far up the road when it straightened enough to do so and I saw big trouble ahead. A couple of rednecks were taking swipes at the two leaders with their farm truck and these two kids recovery from that abuse didn’t make it seem as if they rode with much experience. I had to do something, it was the bravest and stupidest thing I’d done in a long time.

    I down shifted and had about a mile and a half to catch up with the commotion which was getting out of hand, these jerks intended to run these two off the road. Of course they were just ornery enough that they just didn’t brake and pull over, they tried to outrun the truck. One of the bikes went into a high speed wobble a couple of times. This is an indication that the rider is not controlling the gyroscopic effect of the bike and could lose it. Fortunately that didn’t happen.

    I looked at my speedometer and as I rapidly came onto the truck it read 140 miles per hour. I already had a plan. a passive drive by shooting. About 100 feet from behind the truck I reached into my saddlebags and pulled my pistol. I had never shot anything from a moving vehicle and was busy making psuedo-newtonian calculations as to how this was going to work. I planned to shoot out the tires as I passed the truck at high speed. I knew as soon as I took aim I’d have to let go of the throttle and the bike would slow down, therfore I kept it at 140 and as I passed I didn’t even look at the driver, I shot the front tire as I passed the truck. The truck veered into the right side (Thank God) of the road and I down shifted until  could bring myself to a stop and pull over. I was panting, sweating and I quickly put the pistol away as the two bikers pulled up. “Wow thanks man you saved our ass! Those guys could have killed us. Where did you learn to shoot and ride like that?

    “Nowhere” I replied, “I did that solely because you were gonna’ die if I didn’t”. ” I have never fired my pistol from my bike”.

    Soon the rest of the bikers pulled up and wanted to know what happened. Those two idiots tried to make me look like a hero and a gunslinger and a master bike rider all at once. Finally I said ” There is a lake about 30 miles up the road, let’s try to get there and set camp before sundown”. We had a pretty wild party that night.




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