Saturday, October 14, 2006

You Need More Power


It never seems to end - more power, bigger, more expensive, faster, shinier, more devices, more features, more, more, and more. And it's not just with motorcycles (and scooters). It's cars, it's trucks, "I need four-wheel drive and power to pass..." Homes, TVs, stereos, cameras, our entire culture. Growth. Big. Grow or die. I don't want to spend any time on the economics, culture, or politics of consumption now but I did see a picture on Ben Armstrong's Honky-Tonk Dragon blog that had a picture of John Wayne and a Vespa. Doesn't get much more macho than that. Maybe Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood....

I posted this mostly out of an ongoing curiosity as to why so many men have such a problem with a Vespa. I have met many who seem actively annoyed by its very existence. They seemed threatened at a deep level as if to look too long at one might irreparably harm them. The Vespa is small. It doesn't have a lot of power. Or chrome. And it is quiet. Sitting on it doesn't make you bigger, stronger or more powerful. Riding it can make you at times an object or derision or the butt of jokes. You better feel confident in yourself before starting one up. No compensation available astride a Vespa LX150.

So I smiled when I saw the Duke on the Vespa. And wearing a beret. Damn. I don't think men need more power, they need more guts.

12 comments:

KC said...

Steve:

It's been 4 months since I posted a comment on your blog contemplating whether to buy a LX150 or PX150-- I opted for the former (well, actually a used ET4 but you get the idea!) and haven't regretted a moment of it.

More to the point, I've fallen in love with my Vespa. It's an honest ride. It gets me where I need to go with a minimum of fuss and a lot of style. I can carry more grocery bags than I ever thought I could. My youngest daughter begs me to take her to school on it and my older daughter's friends think it's cool. My gas consumption has fallen dramatically and I feel that I'm doing something positive to reduce my energy consumption.

Just as important is that I enjoy planning even the shortest trips and the sense that I'm engaging all my senses when I ride.

Now if that makes me less of a man I'll gladly accept that. I don't need an Escalade to escalate my masculinity.

Keep riding and writing!

punkelf said...

Right on Steve!
Thanks for the link, but thanks even more for the thoughtfulness of your approach to this post. I really admire your eloquence, and think you have probably the best written scooter-blog.

KC: gee I'd say living according to your personal values, makes you more of a man not less.

punkelf said...

Right on Steve!
Thanks for the link, but thanks even more for the thoughtfulness of your approach to this post. I really admire your eloquence, and think you have probably the best written scooter-blog.

KC: gee I'd say living according to your personal values, makes you more of a man not less.

punkelf said...

Right on Steve!
Thanks for the link, but thanks even more for the thoughtfulness of your approach to this post. I really admire your eloquence, and think you have probably the best written scooter-blog.

KC: gee I'd say living according to your personal values, makes you more of a man not less.

DD-I Love My LX50 said...

I rode Vespas when backpacking in Europe 25 years ago - and wanted to recreate that experience. I did that this summer when I bought an LX50. I'm a big guy (250 lbs.) and yet the LX50 is fast enough for me. It's certainly faster than my bicycle and I think that I'm confident enough in my masculinity to ride it.

I, too, absolutely love riding my Vespa - I love the way it looks, the way it handles, the freedom (somewhere on a blog, someone described it as a cross between driving and flying) - and my daughters, both teenagers, appreciate the coolness factor enough to enjoy getting a ride to their friends' houses!

When I see some guy in a huge, jacked up truck - clearly annoyed that I'm not going as fast as his 5 litres of engine can take him - I just smile and think - who's really more confident - the guy driving a huge truck that sucks gas and is disconnected from the world around him, or the guy on the stylish scooter who merely sips gas and is a lot more connected to what is going on.

And I definitely agree with punkelf, standing up for your beliefs (or riding for your beliefs) certainly is more manly, not less!

Steve: Really enjoy your blog - you strike a chord with me almost every entry.

Anonymous said...

I can't remember the John Wayne movie but it was one of his later movies and set in the West. John told someone, "If you are going to do this, you gotta have grit." Grit or guts....maybe the same thing. Mmm....was the movie name "True Grit"?

I'm not planning on getting a Vespa, it is your writing and photography that keep me coming back. You are good, my friend, you are good.

Steve Williams said...

Thanks to all of you for you comments and feedback on this. After I wrote this post I was concerned that it sounded as if people should not ride or drive the vehicles that they desired. I am not concerned if someone rides a Harley Davidson VROD or drives a Ford Excursion to work. Each of us has the opportunity to make choices in our lives and how we transport ourselves is one of them.

What I do find interesting is when the choices are removed from the table by ourselves. Power seems so necessary that I feel thinking gets clouded, my own included. Anyways, the issue is complicated and probably not something that is readily dealt with here. Thanks for your patience in listening to this.

kc: It sounds as if you're having a great time with your ET4! Riding is just amazing.

punkelf: Thanks for your kind words about my blog. I don't know how eloquent I am but I do know that riding and writing have provided me with a useful tool to think about things beyond just the scooter.

dd: I have to admire a guy who rides an LX50. They would really challenge me to accept another level of riding. At our last scooter rally I spoke to a man who rode his LX50 to the rally----100 miles over and through the ridge and valley region of Pennsylvania. He described riding as being in that transition area between bicycle and motor vehicle. That is a challenging place to be! Congratulations on your adventure.

billie: Thanks! I am struggling to get my photography reignited. Still searching for the next project. Stay tuned though, I have the feeling something is about to happen.

Lucky said...

I think there is a movement, finally, away from all things overpowered.

Motorcyclists are starting to remember that a 600cc bike is plenty fast for most situations, and easier to handle than a liter bike as well.

Guitarists are starting to realize that a 100 watt stack is too much for almost any situation, and is only two times as loud as a proper 10 watt amp.

Personally, I think scooters are awesome. I don't mind being seen on one. Truly, who is tougher: the tank, or the unarmed person standing up to it?

When I feel like I have to prove something, instead of getting a bigger vehicle I just deck the S.O.B. that made fun of the scooter. There's nothing like getting one's ass kicked by someone riding a scooter to teach one humility. :D

irondad said...

Power. It's a nice thing depending upon why we want it. If we're not enough without it, we'll never be enough with it.

Dan

Steve Williams said...

irondad: Power is just power. What we do with it and why we want it are the interesting questions for me.

Those "why" questions can really trip you up though....

Anonymous said...

Steve I couldnt find your email address, so I hope this will work. I have created some software that I would like you to test. The software is available to download for free at http://www.gasdandy.com GasDandy is a mileage calculator program that keeps track of your average mpg, oil changes, tire rotations, business mileage and has a place for notes. If you are interested in testing it and sending me some feedback I would post your link and a photo. Please see http://www.gasdandy.com/links.html for an example. Thanks, James

Kent said...

I bought a Genuine Scooter Company Buddy 125 right after our Tulsa State Fair. I ride it 16 miles back and forth to work if the weather isn't wet. I retired from the Army after 20 years and have ridden motorcycles from an old Honda CL125 to a BMW R50 to a 1956 Harley Hydraglide. I like riding the Buddy on the back roads and streets and staying off the highways. I also like the 80 mpg I get with the Buddy. I think we "scootists" see more.