Sunday, November 27, 2011

For shame

With the onset of winter (and a certain degree of media fatigue) the Occupy movement has either cooled off, gone into hibernation, or is entering a new phase; pick one, depending on your point of view. But, before winter set in, I watched video footage of what might have been the movement's defining moment.

I write of the pepper-spraying of UC Davis students. The clip below begins with a striking image, of a portly cop casually spraying mace, with about as much apparent emotional involvement as you'd expect to see if he was spraying his roses for aphids. When it gets really compelling though, is when a large group of students surround the UC Davis police chanting "Shame on you!" The students first surround and then put the cops to rout armed with... camera phones.

As defining moments go, getting pepper sprayed while at an Occupy sit-in doesn't really compare with being shot at Kent State, but in today's far-more-mediated culture, that may be all it takes.

Moron helmet-cams. Oops, I meant 'More on' helmet cams

That footage, a recent op-ed piece from the L.A. Times, and the funny clip I posted the other day of the wild turkey attacking a motorcyclist, reminded me that I've been meaning to write about Anthony Graber, a Maryland motorcyclist who was busted for speeding by a gun-wielding off-duty cop. Whatever punishment Graber actually got for speeding and reckless driving was probably justified, because he certainly was riding like a fucking moron.


It would not have made the news but for one thing: he was wearing a helmet camera, which recorded the bust. When he posted the video on YouTube, Maryland prostitutes, oops, I meant 'prosecutors' obtained a grand jury indictment against Graber on felony wiretap charges. He could go to jail for up to 16 years.

Here's (some of) Graber's video, which is still available on YouTube...

There's a lot that I find interesting about this. First, let me say again, Graber (who, at least prior to this incident was a U.S. military serviceman) was riding like a complete moron. Did he deserve to get pulled over? Hell yes. Did he deserve a monster ticket and/or loss of license? Definitely.

But what else is happening in the video? Enough to keep Sigmund Freud busy for a second career. First we see Graber speeding and wheelying through traffic. Let's be honest about motorcycles as phallic symbols; maybe that's not always the case but the whole wheelying-in-traffic thing... "Look at what I have between my legs, LOOK AT ME, WATCH, I can make it STAND UP."

God damn it, that's tiring.

When he takes that off ramp after his speeding and wheelying session and comes to stopped traffic, he just stops too even though he clearly had space on the shoulder to filter forward. Really?!? After breaking every traffic law you can think of, you just stop when you reach the first congestion point? Graber wasn't just riding like a moron, he obviously actually is a moron because one of the cars he passed was the off-duty cop we later see busting him, and it's obvious that on-duty cops were also on his tail, because there's a marked car visible a minute or two into the stop.

So far into the video, the universe is unfolding about as it should, but let's now dissect the behavior of the second moron to make an appearance in Graber's video, the off-duty cop who busts him.

Freud himself once apparently said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," and I guess sometimes a motorcycle's just a motorcycle, but pulling a big wheely as you pass a cop is basically challenging a guy who is more than likely an ex playground bully to a pissing contest (and let's not get into the high probability that the cop's already on a hair trigger thanks to 'roid rage' - an investigation into one New Jersey doctor found that he'd prescribed steroids and HGH to two thousand cops.)

The cop, who was just effectively cuckolded while driving his anonymous, effeminate car jumps out to confront Graber, who is still straddling his own giant, powerful substitute dick.

So what does the cop do? He pulls out his own substitute dick! Yes, he draws his gun on Graber.

OK, let's think this through for a second. Cops and the media have gone to great lengths to convince us all that they operate in a deadly maelstrom of violence almost all the time, and that amongst other things any traffic stop can become a life-and-death confrontation at any moment. Nothing could be further from the truth, in point of fact. Being a cop is nowhere near as dangerous as, for example, being a farmer. By far the largest danger in a traffic stop is, in fact, simply traffic -- something we motorcyclists deal with every time we ride.

But even if you grant cops the infinitesimally small chance the guy they're pulling over might pull a gun on them, IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN THE GUY'S ON A FUCKING SPORT BIKE!!!

This is not the first time I've heard of stunters being arrested by cops with drawn guns, and it's total bullshit. Have you looked at a modern sport bike? They're so densely packaged you'd be hard pressed to find a spot to carry a pen-knife, and if you could find one, it would take 10 minutes and, probably, an allen wrench to get to it. There was absolutely no chance Graber was sitting on a .45.

So what was the message sent by the drawn gun, if it wasn't a dick comparison? Was it, "If you pop the clutch and take off, I'll put one in your back"?

If all this wasn't pathetic - two morons who deserve each other - it would be pretty funny. I love the moment where the cop says, "Show me your hands." Hey, idiot, he's on a motorcycle. You can SEE his hands. He's not rooting around in the dark recesses of his car. Graber, hilariously, responds by taking off his gloves.

"My hands. Uh, sure, you can see my hands."

And now, the third moron enters the picture (figuratively speaking.) Yes, the Maryland prosecutor who charged Graber with operating an illegal wiretap.

You're fucking kidding, right? Wrong.

So what are the facts here?

1.) Graber's camera was ON HIS HELMET, IN PLAIN SIGHT
2.) He was videotaping in a public place
3.) U.S. courts have, over and over, upheld citizens' rights to videotape police actions
4.) You can be sure the Maryland prosecutors will happily use Graber's tape as evidence against HIM.

As Jonathan Turley, the law professor who wrote that L.A. Times op-ed piece noted, without a videotape Rodney King would have been just another guy with a prior record claiming that the LAPD had abused him. Cameras have become the public's best weapon against police excess.

To Graber, and that idiot cop, and the Maryland prosecutors who maliciously persecuted Graber in order to deflect criticism of the gun-wielding arrest, to all three I have this to say...

Shame on you.
Shame on you.
Shame on you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving wrap-up, Part 1

For those Backmarker readers who think turkeys and motorcycles don't mix, I offer up this video to confirm the feelings you already have...

This helmet-cam footage reminds me that I've been meaning to write about another issue that involves helmet cam use -- the incident in which a U.S. serviceman living in Maryland was pulled over by the cops for speeding. When he posted helmet-cam footage of his arrest on YouTube, he was charged under state wiretap laws, which is total bullshit but not something I've got time to go into in the 15 minutes I have at the computer before I must head back into work. (Yes, in retail, Thanksgiving is a one-day holiday... at best.)

In the meantime though, I noted another vidclip of motorcycles playing a role in the continuing 'Arab Spring' uprisings... This one shows motorcycles being used as makeshift ambulances to transfer the injured from Tahrir Square in Egypt, when things turned violent there again (earlier this week.) While I doubt motorcycle transport is the best way to move anyone severely injured, bikes are what they have at their disposal, and can maneuver better in crowded quarters.

That at least shows motorcycles being used by the side in the right. It can be contrasted by this video from the Denver Occupy Wall Street scene, in which a motorcycle cop gets pushed over by a protester.

It didn't take much of a shove to bring this hog to its knees, which suggests that a.) a thousand-pound Harley may not be the best bike to ride on wet grass, or that b.) this cop is probably not the one who the Denver PD should send to represent its motor pool at this competition...

Oops, gotta' go. I've got much more to write, but you might have to wait until Sunday to find out what I did on my own Thanksgiving, or to read the text of a speech, which was leaked to me, that President Obama will be making in a rare 'do-over' of a Presidential Thanksgiving Address...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reading the 'E' leaves...

There was quite a buzz around the all-electric KTM Freeride trail bike launched at the recent EICMA show. I'm sure, given the high level of resolution displayed in most KTM products (and given KTM's long heritage in off-road motorcycling) that the Freeride will enter the market as the best thought-out and put-together entry in the nascent EV-dirtbike category. That said, in pursuit of light weight they've admitted that battery life could be as short as 20 minutes, under an expert rider. This puts the Freeride into the 'backyard use' category. There's not enough battery life to ride even a few miles to your off-road rec area, nor is there enough battery life to justify transporting the bike any distance.

By contrast, the 300cc ICE-powered Freeride will, I think, turn out to be a gangbusting success; I bet it will offer far superior off-road capability than competing bikes like the Yamaha 250, and it will really be that machine you can ride to the trails and back. It will be five or ten years before improvements in battery energy density give us a 200-pound motorcycle with that kind of range, so ICE it is. But surely taking the pickup truck out of the equation not only makes this a far more affordable solution, but a greener one, too?

EICMA's thunder (or should I write 'lightning'?) was stolen on the EV side though, by the release of pics of a Honda electric sport bike, the RC-E which will be unveiled to the public at the Tokyo show.

Wow, eh?

Months back, my friend James Parker, who designed the latest iteration of the Mission electric sport bike, told me that soon, a major OEM was going to enter the electric sphere, and when they did, it would be with amachine that no upstart company could compete with.

That was in a conversation in which I suggested that Mission really had backed away from its initial strategy to actually become a motorcycle manufacturer. At the time we talked, Mission had already done some work on a Honda-backed R&D project involving a hybrid race car. I interpreted James' comment as meaning that in his opinion, small companies like Mission, Brammo, or MotoCzysz were about to be steamrolled by Honda.

I wondered, "Does James know, or has he seen, a Honda project involving some of Mission's technology?" I didn't ask him, because I knew that if he had seen it, he'd have been sworn to secrecy, and I didn't want to put him on the spot. Anyway, we'll presumably learn more at the Tokyo show, about how close the RC-E is to turning a wheel.

Which brings me to my last point...

Another thing you read here first was that there would be no TT Zero race in 2012. Well, that was wrong. My friend Steve Hodgson recently cited (on his Facebook page) a Manx Radio report that there will be a race for EV bikes at the 2012 TT.

In my limited defense, I wrote that there would not be another TT Zero race unless and/or until a major OEM showed interest. Now, I wonder if Honda looked at last year's disappointing results and realized it has a chance to introduce the RC-E with a historic first, by lapping the TT course at over 100 miles an hour. Amateur Honda historians, like me, will already have noted that the 'RC' nomenclature assigned to this bike is what Honda gives to a 'homologation' bike -- a bike built for racing purposes, and then minimally adapted for road use.

Is this the first zero-emissions vehicle to lap the TT course at over 100 miles an hour? Uh-huh.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wrapping up #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday

Well, it's Friday and a work week's come and gone since #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday. That's not very long, but it is already quite a bit longer than the amount of time it took motorcyclists all over the world to conceive of a global event, carry it out, and move on.

Almost ten thousand people read the post in which I originally suggested that not just MotoGP riders but all of us should rev our bikes as a way of both commemorating Marco Simoncelli and drawing our community together. That was, by a wide margin, the most-read post ever on Backmarker.

I originally posted that suggestion last Tuesday. Overnight, someone re-tweeting a link to that post created our Twitter hashtag, and late last week we got some support from motorcycle media (including the Cycle World and Ultimate Motorcycling web sites,, and even some mainstream media (The Daily Mail newspaper in the U.K.)

The #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday Facebook page drew nearly 1000 members in just a few days, and now dozens of people have uploaded videos of themselves, alone and in groups, revving their bikes. #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday -- a search term that didn't exist at all on Google until last week, now brings up many pages of links related to the event.

In the end, it didn't matter that the MotoGP riders just stood by their bikes and watched fireworks. What was important was that ordinary motorcyclists all over the world had a way of showing their own solidarity with a fallen comrade.

So here's one more Note from the Dept. of Modest Suggestions: let's make 10:30 in the morning on the first Sunday in November the official day of mourning for fallen motorcyclists. It's well timed for it. It's the end of most racing seasons, the date's about half-way between the Day of the Dead and Rembrance Day (in the Commonwealth) or Veteran's Day (here in the U.S.) In much of the Northern Hemisphere, it's about the time bikes are put up for the winter.

Sure whenever May 20 rolls around, someone writes an essay about the crash that killed Jarno Saarinen and Renzo Pasolini in one fell swoop; we remember Joey Dunlop on the anniversary of his death; those guys will never be forgotten. But as a group, we tend to acknowledge the deaths of other riders but briefly and then move on, usually after concocting some story about how that can't happen to us.

But I'll keep saying this: While we don't ride or race motorcycles in order to take risks, risk gives the decision to ride or race meaning. If it was completely safe, or even pretty safe, it would be a completely different sport.

When I was a club racer, I was at some social function where someone introduced me to a stranger by saying, "This is my friend Mark. He's a motorcycle racer."

The guy shook my hand and said, "So you're a motorcycle racer. Golf's my game."

I smiled and said, "That's nice."

But what I thought was, "You idiot; do you really think those two things can be equated? Imagine the most intense pressure situation in all of golf. What would that be? A playoff hole at the Masters, and you can hole a 6 foot putt for the win? A putt you should make, right? But just long enough that you might not. You'd get some pretty bad butterflies alright. And you know what? If you missed it, you might -- for a moment -- wish you were dead. But you wouldn't ever actually be dead. As a motorcycle racer, you live with the realization that cost of any error in judgement can be catastrophic."

So yes, risk gives our sport meaning. That's why most people don't do it; why no matter how many people ever watch MotoGP, motorcycle racing will never be a mass-participation pastime. And why despite the fact that the risks are obvious, every now and then, we have to be reminded that even with continuous improvements in track safety and gear, and all the precautions we take to avoid tragedy, tragedy lurks around every corner. If it didn't; if the sport of motorcycle racing could ever be made completely safe, it would just be another game.

So when a Simoncelli dies out there on the track, his death gives your sport a depth that a mere game will never have.

Shakespeare (as usual) totally got the idea that risk imparts meaning to reward. He makes a great case for this idea in Henry V's epic "Crispen's Day" speech.

We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'

The strangest thing happened as I finished up this post. I thought I'd look up the day of St. Crispian's feast. It's October 25. Marco Simoncelli died on the 23rd -- the closest race day to Saint Crispian's.

All for now, MG

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Her diary, his diary

Kudos to whoever wrote this! Thanks for making me laugh, and I hope you don't mind me sharing it -- Mark

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday morning crew chief: Hayes' shot? Not. But, he gets the job done

In a tumultuous couple of weeks in MotoGP racing, one of the bright spots was Josh Hayes' job subbing for Colin Edwards.

The final race of the 2011 season could have been a non-event for Yamaha. Lorenzo was scrubbed -- still nursing a flayed finger, and there had to have been a question mark about Spies' health, after he was withdrawn in Sepang. Colin Edwards would not be racing for Tech 3, either; he proved to have been more injured than he'd looked at first, after the Simoncelli incident. And the whole weekend was, of course, colored by the fact that it was the first one after #58's death. All in all, the cold and rainy weather was apropos.

Cue Josh Hayes, who had been scheduled to 'test' a Yamaha M1 after the race at Valencia. This started out as a lark, really -- just a way for Yamaha USA to eke out a little more publicity from their AMA Superbike Championship. Suddenly, though, with not one but two riders out of commission, Hayes was invited to actually race.

There are those who described Hayes' opportunity as 'his shot' which, sadly, it was not. At 36, no one is seriously going to consider hiring Hayes as a MotoGP regular. People hoped that maybe Hayes would set the cat amongst the pigeons, the way Troy Bayliss did at the end of the '06 season. That was not going to happen because Bayliss had three big advantages over Hayes: he'd already ridden the track, he'd already tested the bike, and he was, after all, Troy Bayliss.

The powers-that-be in MotoGP don't want to give fans the impression that there are a bunch of guys pushing 40, languishing in national series around the world, who are just as fast as 'real' MotoGP riders. When a national rider like Josh Hayes is parachuted into the World Championship, they want to see him right at the bottom of the time sheets. Will they bring him back for a few more (U.S.) races in 2012? They'll be balancing the risk of embarrassment if he does too well, against Hayes' popularity in the U.S. 
People set, as a goal for Hayes, at a minimum finishing above Cal Crutchlow; that would have been totally unrealistic under the circumstances -- unless, maybe, it had snowed. In fact, over the course of the race, Crutchlow eked out an advantage of about one second per lap.

That's no insult to Hayes, who handled his first MotoGP race weekend perfectly. In shitty practice conditions, he kept the bike rubber-side-down and put in plenty of laps. Just not wrecking the equipment is a huge first step in building a rapport with any new team, and not taking anybody else out helps to build acceptance in the wider paddock. He seized an opportunity to top the time-sheets in the morning warm-up (a fluke, but still pretty cool) and then kept his head in the race, avoiding trouble with Katsuyuki Nakasuga, and passing series regulars when he got the chance. He finished ahead of Loris Capirossi and Tony Elias, who aren't exactly chumps. By any realistic standard, the goal for a first MotoGP weekend -- especially at the end of a season when you're the only newbie out there -- isn't to do something great, it's to avoid doing something stupid.

At the end of the day, seventh place in a MotoGP debut is eyebrow-raising, no matter who didn't start or who was taken out in the first lap. There will be those who'll say that Hayes got a gift last weekend, but that's not true. There's no such thing as being gifted positions in motorcycle racing. If Hayes had ridden over his head in the U.S. series, he'd be the one home recuperating from some injury. When someone crashes out in front of you, you beat them just as surely as if you'd stuffed them in Turn 1 and pulled off a nasty block pass.

Motorcycle racing is all about concentration, confidence, and focus; new stimuli (to say nothing of an unfamiliar bike, tires, and track!) are all concentration and confidence sappers. Hayes is now far more familiar with the M1 in particular, and MotoGP in general; getting that first race under his belt without a mishap sets him up to do even better next time, when he'll know what to expect.

What I'd like to see happen now is, I'd like to see Yamaha decide to enter an extra bike for him in the  U.S. MotoGP rounds next season. And give Hayes at least a couple more testing opportunities. I think that if they did that, by the time he was in his third or fourth MotoGP race, he'd be mixing it up in top half of the field, even at races with a full grid and all the 'names' healthy and up on two wheels. Note that that is what I'd like to see, not necessarily what MotoGP wants to see (read photo caption for more on this.)

Would even that earn him 'a shot'? No. No chance. He's old enough to the father of the riders who'll get their shots at MotoGP stardom in the next couple of years. Is that unfair? Yes, totally. But motorcycle racing's become another youth cult. Get used to it. Josh Hayes will retire from motorcycle racing before he's ever seriously considered for a contract in the world's premiere series.


What Hayes would earn from that kind of showing -- and he's really almost earned it already -- is the right to say, "If I'd been given the right breaks, I could have raced with those guys."

I once read a mainstream media sportswriter describe Hayes as, "the nicest professional athlete I've ever met," but every racer has to have a massive ego. The racer's ego in Josh Hayes already knows he could'a been a contendah, but the chance to prove that to a wider public would almost be as valuable, to him, as a legitimate shot.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

We made noise for Marco Sunday

When I got home from work on Saturday night, the first videos had already been uploaded to the #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday Facebook group, by bikers in Australia. I worked late into the night last night, and had to get up early this morning to go back into work.

Commuting by motorcycle, in Kansas City, in November, is chilly business. So instead of spending any time checking stats or responding to postings on #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday, I had to put on extra layers, go downstairs and take the cover off the bike (and hope that it would start at these temperatures.)

It did start, and as I rode off, my thoughts were of the race in Valencia, which had yet to happen -- and of the on-track tribute to Marco, which by then had already taken place. In the end, they didn't rev the bikes on the track; I suppose the MotoGP organizers never had actually agreed to that suggestion. But they had a ceremony in which most of the bikes in all three world championship classes did a slow lap of the track on a cold and rainy day, then stopped at the start-finish line.

I suppose it was just too much trouble to rev the bikes; God knows what it would cost if you blew one up. So, in Valencia, they shot off fireworks. Which, if you've been to a MotoGP race in Spain you know they shoot quite a lot of fireworks off anyway. There was some sincere mourning to be done, but as far as the people who actually run MotoGP are concerned, the purpose of this display is to help get back to business as normal. A really meaningful tribute would be to say, for one race everyone will run their bikes without any logos at all; just race numbers and the base paint color. That would remind us that what is important are the things we do for love, not money.

As I left my neighborhood heading towards the highway I take to work, I turned a corner that's always wet. There must be a broken water main there. This morning, as I took that bend, the Triumph stepped out. That was nice; it did something to my mood, because I rode to work at quite a spirited pace. I was passing cars on the highway as if they were pylons in a slalom.

At 10:25, I looked out the window of the grocery store and there was another motorcyclist parked beside my bike. It was Kansas City sustainable architecture guru Jim Van Eman, on his Ducati. I pressed another [NAME OF EMPLOYER REDACTED] employee into service as a videographer (thanks Lindsay!) and clocked off for five minutes to run out and rev my bike with Jim. Since the store's a zoo on the weekend, I had no time to chat with my friend; I literally ran out, revved the bike, and ran back in. The rest of the day was a bit of a blur; as you'll hear when I get my video posted, I had a murderous head cold.

I got off work at four p.m., and since last night was the night we turned our clocks back from daylight savings time, the sun was already low in the sky. All the way home up highway 71, I raced my own shadow. Neither of us could eke out an advantage. I didn't have to stop until I got to the bottom of the off-ramp near my house. There was a guy there, holding a cardboard sign that read
Anything helps
God Bless

He looked at me and called out, "Nice bike!"

I have almost no voice, thanks to this cold, so I just nodded and gave him the thumbs-up. When I finally pulled into my parking spot, I turned the bike east and my shadow fell behind.

Despite the fact that it was cold; despite the fact that I have a cold; despite the homeless guy's comment that the Triumph is a nice bike even though it's actually a piece of crap... Despite all that, it was a good day to be a motorcyclist and to be alive. That's something that #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday has helped many of us to remember.

Ciao, Marco

Saturday, November 5, 2011

#MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday is a go!

The first video has already been uploaded to the #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday Facebook group's page -- by Jason Rogers. No, he wasn't cheating, it was already 10:30 on Sunday morning in Australia.

Pascal Bompard, another Aussie, recorded this video, too.

I worked an afternoon shift in the grocery store, and I work Sunday morning, too. So I'll be out in the parking lot of the [NAME OF EMPLOYER REDACTED] store on Ward Parkway in Kansas City at 10:30 CST.

As for what all this means... It's been a long day for me, I'm sick with a terrible cold, and I have to get some sleep because I have a long day of work at my day job ahead of me tomorrow. Yes, organizing global events is just a hobby for me.

So figuring out what #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday really means is a task for another day, when it's had time to sink in. In the meantime, many of you will read this before it's 10:30 on Sunday where you live. Make a plan to get out and rev your bike for 58 seconds -- preferably with other motorcyclists. Whether you do it alone or in a group, please video it if you can, and upload it to our Facebook group page. Even if you don't video yourself, add your comment, tell us what you did and where, and how it felt.

OK, I've gotta' go. It's T-11 hours here in Kansas City.

#MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday -- update Saturday at 1430 GMT

Well, the number of people who plan to make noise for Marco Sunday is increasing. People have joined the #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday Facebook group from all over the world.

On Sunday morning at 1030h, motorcyclists will stop what they're doing, and rev up their bikes for 58 seconds to honor the memory of Marco Simoncelli. Hopefully, lots of them will do it in groups, and I hope that many of them will upload their video tributes to the #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday Facebook group page.

As I'm writing this post, it will be 10:30 on Sunday morning in Auckland NZ in about seven hours. That will be one of the first places motorcyclists will make noise for Marco. Motorcyclists in Moscow will get their chance in 16 hours; Mexicans in 26 hours, and finally, motorcyclists on Maui will make noise for Marco in 30 hours.

Over the course of the 24 hours, our wave of sound will travel around the world. We'll literally wave good-bye.

People have already asked, "How do we make this an annual event?" The timing is about right; smack in the middle of the two-week period that begins with the Day of the Dead and ends with Remembrance Day.  At the end of the racing season, and the riding season in many countries. Maybe this should be the day and time, henceforth, when motorcyclists honor their dead.

There's a part of me that wishes that #MonsterEnergy and #IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) to say nothing of Honda, would get behind the #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday group, since they have the media clout to really help to spread the word.

I guess that, despite the fact that those businesses have whole departments devoted to marketing & communications, and have employees with titles like 'Director of New Media', etc, they can't be expected to respond to a movement that will be conceived, grow up, and stage it's demonstration in less than a week. In any case, maybe it's just as well if this is a truly grassroots effort, with no hint of commercialization.

Anyway, #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday is less than a day away for most of us now. Check your battery; if you've put your bike away for winter, gas it up again. If you make a video, please try to title it, or hold up a sign telling us where you are.

Ciao, Marco!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Memorializing Simoncelli, in a way he'd appreciate - Updated

OK, we've got a hashtag #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday. I guess that's proof, along with thousands of blog hits overnight, that my idea of a round-the-world wave good-bye is resonating.

A blogger in Valencia, ISA (link to her site in comments below) says the time is set for 1030h. So 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning it is. Valencia is almost exactly half-way around the world from the International Date Line, so #MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday will begin in the western Pacific about 12 hours earlier and end in Hawaii about 12 hours later. The big noise in Valencia will be right in the middle of the 24-hour wave. That's perfect.

#MakeNoiseForMarcoSunday = 58 seconds of revving your bike in memory of #58, at 1030h Sunday, November 6. keep checking this blog for details.

Original post follows...

I read that the FIM proposed a minute of silence on the grid at Valencia, as a way of memorializing Marco Simoncelli. Marco's dad Paolo suggested, instead, that all the riders rev up their bikes -- that would be something Marco would have preferred.

So, here's a note from the Dept. of Modest Proposals: Let's all do that.

I propose that we find out from the FIM when, exactly, they plan to rev up the MotoGP bikes for Marco. Then I suggest that at that time on Sunday, in each time zone around the world, motorcyclists stop what they're doing, and rev up their bikes.

The effect of this will be to create a wave of revving motorcycles that will travel around the globe, beginning in the western pacific and circling the globe, back to the International Date Line, over the 24 hours of next Sunday. We'll literally wave good-bye to Marco. We can rev up our bikes for a little under a minute -- say, 58 seconds.

Even a few years ago, organizing a global farewell would have been impossible on such short notice. But in this day and age of Twitter and Facebook, it might just be possible.

I think it would be great if motorcyclists took a short video of the bike-revving, and posted it to YouTube. Then, if they post the YouTube link in the 'Comments' section of this post, I'll embed all the videos on a page devoted to "58 for 58, times 24".

If I pick up RTs and reposts of this entry over the next day or so, I'll post more detailed instructions, and contact the FIM to find out when, exactly, the Valencia moment will happen.