AS MENTIONED a time or two in the past, I’ve been hankering for a motorcycle. This hankering started last year, and I wrote about it in the appropriately titled Geezer Dreams.
I came perilously close to buying a bike, but common sense prevailed. I’m no spring chicken, and I’m enjoying life too much to jeopardize it for a few cheap thrills.
The dream still erupts occasionally, and I tamp it down.
I considered Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki, all of which are sold in Mexico. There are dealers for the three makes down the mountainside in the capital city.
I also seriously considered Italika, which is the largest-selling motorcycle in Mexico. It’s not sold above the border. It does export to a few other Latin American nations.
Italika is 100 percent Mexican in spite of its name, and the bikes are made in a factory in Toluca. You can buy one online, and it’s delivered directly to your front gate.
A crash helmet is included!
You see Italikas everywhere. They don’t make big bikes, just small to what once was considered mid-size. They very recently added a new bike that is their beefiest at 300 cc.
It’s called the Vort-X 300,* and there’s no price yet.
The first motorcycle I ever drove on a regular basis was my Air Force roommate’s 305-cc Honda Hawk.
I barreled it 100 mph down a California freeway one black night, and I wasn’t even drunk, just young and nuts.
Italika bikes are pretty, and I think I would look quite sporty astride one. They are remarkably affordable.
This likely will remain an unfulfilled desire.
But maybe I could start a biker gang, the Gringo Geezers. We could terrorize anthills and roof dogs.
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* In the course of my “extensive research” for this piece, I discovered there is also an Italika Vort-X 650. It debuted last year. However, it is nowhere to be seen on the Italika website, and it is not made in Toluca. It is made in China, imported, and has a BMW design although BMW plays no part in its manufacture. It’s something of a mystery.
(California was a magic spot when I lived there a spell in the early 1960s. But no more. Today’s post is written by Victor Davis Hanson, a historian with the Hoover Institution.)
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MORE THAN 60 percent of California voters went for Hillary Clinton — a margin of more than 4 million votes over Donald Trump.
Since Mrs. Clinton’s defeat, the state seems to have become unhinged over President Trump’s unexpected election.
“Calexit” supporters brag that they will have enough signatures to qualify for a ballot measure calling for California’s secession from the United States.
Some California officials have talked of the state not remitting its legally obligated tax dollars to the federal government. They talk of expanding its sanctuary cities into an entire sanctuary state that would nullify federal immigration law.
Californians also now talk about the value of the old Confederate idea of “states’ rights.”
They whine that their state gives far too much revenue to Washington and gets too little back.
Residents boast about how their cool culture has little in common with the rest of the U.S. Some Californians claim the state could easily go it alone, divorced from the United States.
Sound a bit familiar?
In December 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union in furor over the election of Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln did not receive 50 percent of the popular vote. He espoused values the state insisted did not reflect its own.
In eerie irony, liberal California is now mirror-imaging the arguments of reactionary South Carolina and other Southern states that vowed to go it alone in 1860 and 1861.
Like California, South Carolina insisted it could nullify federal laws within its state borders.
Like California, South Carolina promised to withhold federal revenues.
Like California, South Carolina and other Confederate states bragged that their unique economies did not need the Union.
They boasted that “King Cotton” had created the wealthiest class in the United States. Silicon Valley now often assumes that Google, Facebook, Apple and others are near-trillion-dollar companies that are a world unto their own.
Slavery and the extravagant income from cotton warped the Southern economy and culture. A wealthy plantation elite, with its millions of exploited slaves, ensured that there would be virtually no middle-, working- or small-business class.
Huge estates were surrounded by the impoverished shacks of servants. Hardscrabble farmers or small businessmen often fled westward to escape the shackles of wealth disparity.
The export-dependent Southern elite demanded unfettered free trade. It offered bitter resistance to Northern protectionism.
South Carolina elites were opposed to federal infrastructure projects such as the building of roads, canals, bridges and reservoirs, and other such unwelcome “progress.”
Confederates boasted that their antebellum culture was more romantic, natural, pristine, healthy and moral than was the bustle, grime and hyper-capitalism of Northern industrialism.
Southern aristocrats believed that they were culturally superior — in terms of music, art and literature — to other Americans.
Of course, this is 2017, not 1860, and California is superliberal, not an antebellum slave-owning society.
Nonetheless, what is driving California’s current efforts to nullify federal law and the state’s vows to secede from the United States are some deeper — and creepy — similarities to the arrogant and blinkered Old South.
California is likewise becoming a winner-take-all society. It hosts the largest numbers of impoverished and the greatest number of rich people of any state in the country.
Eager for cheap service labor, California has welcomed in nearly a quarter of the nation’s undocumented immigrants.*
California has more residents living in poverty than any other state. It is home to one-third of all the nation’s welfare recipients.
The income of California’s wealthy seems to make them immune from the effects of the highest basket of sales, income and gas taxes in the nation. The poor look to subsidies and social services to get by. Over the last 30 years, California’s middle classes have increasingly fled the state.
“Gone With the Wind”-like wealth disparity in California is shocking to the naked eye.
Mostly poor Redwood City looks like it’s on a different planet from tony nearby Atherton or Woodside.
The California elite, wishing to keep the natural environment unchanged, opposes internal improvements and sues to stop pipelines, aqueducts, reservoirs, freeways and affordable housing for the coastal poor.
California’s crumbling roads and bridges sometimes resemble those of the old rural South. The state’s public schools remain among the nation’s poorest. Private academies are booming for the offspring of the coastal privileged, just as they did among the plantation class of the South.
California, for all its braggadocio, cannot leave the U.S. or continue its states’-rights violations of federal law. It will eventually see that the new president is not its sickness, nor are secession and nullification its cures.
Instead, California is becoming a reactionary two-tier state of masters and serfs whose culture is as peculiar and out of step with the rest of the country as was the antebellum South’s.
No wonder the state lashes out at the rest of the nation with threatened updated versions of the Old Confederacy’s secession and nullification.
But such reactionary Confederate obstructionism is still quite an irony given California’s self-righteous liberal preening.
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* Old Felipe prefers “illegal aliens.” He also continues what appears to be a one-man war against the use of “liberal” and “progressive” when referring to leftists.
WE MAY HAVE iPods and iPads and iTunes and even flaming Samsungs today, but we do not have trains. Freight trains are nice, but passenger trains are lovely.
One advantage of being vintage is that you had trains in your life, and now you have trains in your mind.
A railroad track passes directly behind the house across our street. Freights thunder by day and night. My favorite is the 5:45 a.m. Who needs an alarm clock?
Most passenger trains are gone, and we’re left with the occasional line that transports tourists. Alas.
As a child I boarded trains at the huge station in Jacksonville, Florida, and rode 200-plus miles northwest to Sylvester, Georgia, where I stepped down onto dirt.
Grandparents picked me up in an old Ford, and we drove to the farm on rutted, red-clay roads.
One evening in 1962 a staff sergeant deposited me at the station in San Antonio, Texas, handing me a ticket and ordering me aboard.
The Air Force paid for a solo sleeper to Rantoul, Illinois. I woke the next morning and watched a forest of white-barked birch trees passing. I’d never seen birches.
Also courtesy of the Air Force, a few months later, I railed from Rantoul to the San Joaquin Valley of California, via Chicago. All the way across much of America.
From New Orleans I would ride the elegant Southern Railway to Atlanta to visit my parents. “Southern Railway Serves the South.” It surely did. But not anymore.
Traveling solo with two bottles of tequila, I rode in a sleeper from Mexico City to Ciudad Juárez. I stood outside on the bucking platform between cars and watched the desert mountains in the distance, which was romantic.
With the woman who’s now my second ex-wife, I took a train from the English Channel to Paris, and a few days later an overnight sleeper to Barcelona.
The following year found me on a train alone from Edinburgh to Inverness and a few days later, with a new traveling companion in the form of a lovely American anthropologist, aboard a train from Inverness to the craggy coast of Scotland.
From there we ferried to the Isle of Skye.
I stood outside, six days later, as my traveling companion, leaned out the train window (just like in the movies) as it pulled from the station in Chester, England, taking her to Wales. My ride, an hour later, went to London.
I never saw her again.
Again with my second ex-wife, I took a train from Los Mochis, Mexico, to Chihuahua with an overnight at the Copper Canyon. After a following night in a Chihuahua hotel, we took a jammed, third-class train to Ciudad Juárez.
That was in the 1980s, and it was my last train ride.
Were they all tossed in Paddy Wagons and hauled off to jail as good sense would suggest? Of course not. Not in today’s America and certainly not in left-wing California.
In Mexico, it is against the law for foreigners to get involved in politics. I don’t know what would happen to foreigners who do that because foreigners here are not that stupid.
I imagine deportation would take place even if the foreigner were in Mexico legally as, I wager, most are. Well, those from up north. Those from down south, likely not. They’re just passing through anyway, headed to where the easy cash is.
Make America Mexico Again. Don’t that beat all? And in many zones of the United States, it’s already taking place.