Tuesday, January 31, 2012

#100 (July 2010)

It’s hard to put into words exactly how momentous reaching issue #100 is, for me at least. I clearly remember picking up issue #100 of “Iron Horse” and, after reading it, resolving never to miss another issue... which I didn’t... until after David Snow left and Chris Pfouts came in, and the content went downhill faster than George’s health after the last Smoke out. #100 of the old IH featured the first encounter with Genghis, the Shovelhead-loving martial arts type, whose writings were instrumental in me acquiring my first (and only) American V-Twin powered machine. A couple of times back then, I sent in stuff for “Back Talk” and remember how cool it felt when I’d open my favorite magazine and see something I’d written in there. Never, in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined I’d be doing what I do for a living now.

Yeah, after Snow left and the infamous “Fish Bike” Triumph was featured, I figured it was the end of an era. There was no longer any point in searching the truck stops for the magazine. It felt like I’d lost part of the family. Then, one day I caught sight of the first issue that Hammer was editing.. the cutline read “The Boys are Back,” saying that JT Nesbitt, Flynch and Genghis were back on board. This was a huge relief to me. It’s like everything was okay with the world once again. As a bonus, Genghis mentioned in his column that he was frequenting internet bulletin boards...which was a strange concept at the time and prompted me to search around to see if I could find a reference to it anywhere. This led me to a message board entitled “The Seedy X-Bar and Grill” where, indeed, Scott Wong was chatting to us mere mortals on the ‘net. It was here that I first encountered other staff members of the magazine, notably Hammer and a couple of other local guys. It was cool that there was a Michigan connection, and I even got to meet a couple of them at a local swap meet. This was when I decided to try and send in my first submission, featuring the Shovelhead I had built from the ground up, mainly in my basement and a friend’s barn. It looked pretty much like a stock four speed swingarm Shovel, complete with electric start, blinkers and FatBob® tanks. To my delight, this article was published in Iron Horse #163, and even though the dummy laying it out cut the top of my head off in the picture, it certainly inspired me to do more.

I wrote a follow up piece entitled “Caveat Emptor” which detailed how much fun it was to discover that part of your new project came from a stolen vehicle, and how humorous it was to see it rolling into the impound lot. But then the unthinkable happened. Princeton Publishing went belly-up and took dozens of titles... including Iron Horse... with it. Dammit...so much for my aspiring writing career. My only comfort was the plans that Hammer and his associates had for continuing the magazine. I was lucky enough to be included in a lot of the goings on. They had Loon, some Canadian guy, set up a website for them, including the first iteration of the “Back Talk” message board. There was a lot of crossed fingers going on regarding the launch of the brand new magazine. As Hammer mentions elsewhere in this issue, the first issue of The Horse was #165 in an effort to show continuity, but that never made it to issue #2. Right about issue #3, “Loon”, the webmaster, suddenly disappeared without a trace. This led to concern about the website, as it needed to be updated with the latest issue. This led to a posting on Back Talk:
“Anyone here know HTML?”
I thought for about a nanosecond about this, and then replied “Sure, I can do that.” This was what we in the publishing world call: A Big Fat Lie. Hey, I thought, how hard could it be? They gave me the post of provisional webmaster, and I spent the next few sleepless nights researching how the HELL I was going to pull this off. Luckily, I found a “wysiwyg” (what you see is what you get) freebie program and was able to fake it until I made it.

So that, eleven years of loyalty and a lot of grunt work later, here I sit with the best job on the face of the planet. By the time you read this, you’ll know that Edge has talked me, Sean, Steve Broyles and Chuck Palumbo into playing a couple of tunes onstage at the Smoke Out XI. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything I’ve just written other than the best part of this job is getting feedback about the magazine in person from you guys, and frankly, I can’t wait.

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