Thursday, November 21, 2013
Maybe it is old school to think that. I read the other day that while people of my generation expected to have a few different jobs in our careers, that new college graduates can expect to have many many more different jobs over a lifetime--sometimes with only a few years in each.
I had read that, of course, but I am not sure it registered. When I started editing knife magazines I was the youngest man in the game, and everyone in the knife business was older, it seemed. I founded the National Knife Collector Magazine, and when I left it, it was as one of the owners of Blade Magazine. Upon selling Blade, The Blade Show, and the book publishing wing, I worked off a 5-year non-compete, consulting with them for 3 years, and in the final 2 of the non-compete starting the auction company.
Only weeks after my non-compete was up Knives Illustrated's editor walked out without notice, and I got a call. A few days later I once again had my soapbox inside the back cover that I had so missed. I was back editing knife magazines, and after that five-year absence away from the editing game it felt good to be in an editor's position. I realized it was what I really enjoyed doing.
In today's modern world having an editing job with bosses in California while I worked in Tennessee was little different than sitting in a California office--thanks to the wonders of email, digital photos, and the internet. I could go to Myrtle Beach and work there just as easy as I worked from home. Like I said, much of it was very good. It was a job that I had said I expected to be doing until the day I died. I never planned to retire (having tried that for five years after selling Blade and not enjoying it very much).
I worked at Knives Illustrated under many different bosses, several different owners, and changed per the direction of each owner, as each wanted to put their own influence and stamp on how we did things.
One day I looked up and realized that I had been there longer than just about anyone else at the company (they published many other magazines in addition to KI). And my supervisors were younger, and... well I'll just leave it at that--they were younger.
And a few months ago the day following a review of the company and their various magazines, I received a call that summed up 14 years of never missing a deadline and what I considered extreme loyalty.
The words, "Your supervisor wanted to be here but he can't make so I will go ahead without him. We are going to make some changes and your position has be eliminated."
What would you say then? I stammered out an, "OK."
"Thank you for your work."
"You will have the paperwork tomorrow."
"OK" I said again.
I hung the phone up.
On a positive side this turn of events now allows me much more time to devote to knife auctions, and my new sideline, as Consulting Executive Director of the National Knife Museum.
It's all good.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I hate motorcycles.
I didn’t always hate them. This hate has evolved over the years.
Some of it is frustration in knowing I would be a poor motorcycle rider. Only recently I came to the epiphany that the reason I would be a poor motorcycle rider was evidenced by the way I rode a bicycle in my youth. I was skinned up all the time from bicycle accidents. I do not think that a slowed down reaction time and an additional 50 miles an hours of speed, plus the physics of a a few hundred pounds of weight in momentum on which I have straddled will make me any safer than I was in my pre-teens on that old Murry bicycle.
A friend of my Dad’s was my first ride on a bike. In the sidecar of an old, big Indian cycle. I wanted one of my own after that, but it was years before that lust revived.
When the small Honda’s came out, I yearned for one. “Little Honda” by the Hondells was my favorite song. I sang it in a school talent contest. I devoured the Honda catalogs. I begged, I pleaded, my parents even indulged me in a visit to a motorcycle shop. But they put the motorcycle in the same class as a pony. Something I didn’t need. I didn’t understand the logic at the time. A pony and a motorcycle were the only two things my parents ever denied me. They were so much wiser than I gave them credit for at the time.
The evolution of my hate for motorcycles began with Claude Postell. He was the drummer in my first band. When the band broke up, he traded his drums for a Honda 90.
Before the summer was over he was riding it on a gravel road, without a helmet, and rode into a tree. He survived. He made medical history for the repair job on some of his internal organs. And for months he was in the hospital with a broken neck.
I visited him in the hospital. He had bolts in the top of his head, connected to weights, and he was strapped into a horizontal apparatus that was turned periodically so he was either looking face up or face down. The doctors placed a huge amount of wire in his neck to hold his head without endangering his spine. And he walked again, stiffly.
In my teens our local hero was a
My cousin bought a bigger bike, a 650cc Triumph, and his Dad got on it, revved it up, popped the clutch, and was thrown through a fence and hospitalized. It didn’t register on me at the time.
And the local hero? After surviving a war, he was riding a trail bike in the mountains, flipped it, and was paralyzed from the waist down. It took a lot of steam out of my desire for a motorcycle, and that desire went dormant.
In a later band, the new drummer and the rhythm guitar player each had 300cc Hondas.
After practice on a sunny Saturday, we decided to go to
We left the bike where it lay, loaded him on the bed of the pickup, and drove him to the hospital. He had only broken his foot.
That ended most of my desire for a motorcycle. But when a lot of my fellow middle aged friends started buying Harleys, I gave it some thought. It became a social outlet.
I considered buying one, forgetting all the lessons I had witnessed in my past.
A couple in our Sunday School class had a pair of bikes. The school-teacher wife rode her own. We talked about it after chuch once. Shortly after we talked, they were at a four-way stop, waited their turn, and when that turn came they pulled into the center of the intersection, and an old lady in a Crown Vic didn’t see them and ran over top of the teacher and her bike and killed her.
I lost my desire to own a motorcycle. I gave up. But there was still a lesson or two to learn.
One of my knife trading buddies, who was very knowledgeable about a large variety of things, commented that the insurance probability tables that if you rode a motorcycle that you would file a claim at some point—was 100%. If you had not had an accident, that mean some other poor guy had had two accidents. It was something to consider.
During a lunch with Paul Basch and another knife dealer I heard them compare their biker stories. Paul had ridden with the Hell’s Angels near
“Why?” I asked.
“I knew my reaction time was slowing, and I was tired of going to so many funerals.”
The other dealer, who had also been a biker who had ridden with the Pagans in New York at one time, said he had gotten off his two wheeler about the same time—for the same reason.
“What about these 45-year-olds buying Harley’s now for the first time?” I asked.
Paul looked at me solemnly, “There are an accident that has already happened, just looking for a place for it to happen.”
Shortly after that knife dealer Jim Sargent was bringing his new bike home from the dealership, with his daughter following in her car, and he crashed it in front of her. He didn’t restore the crashed bike. Jim’s pre-knife business career was he had been a pilot of helicopters and small planes for a large government agency. If anyone had the reactions to ride a motorcycle it should have been him.
That was enough for me. I wasn’t even going to be a passenger on a motorcycle.
A couple of years ago I was asked to accompany Bob Neal to Dan Winkler’s place in Blowing Rock, NC. Bob was going to buy Dan’s Harley and trailer. So Debbie and I went along.
As we drove I now had a missionary zeal of the evils of motorcycles. And I debated the subject with Bob much of the way there. I cited the instances you’re just read about. His response was, “I used to race motorcycles. I know what I’m doing.”
We hung out at Dan’s for the evening, and the next morning Dan and Bob hooked the trailer up to Bob’s vehicle, and we left, taking a side trip to go by Blue Ridge Knives to look at a knife collection Tommy Clark had recently purchased.
Tommy saw the motorcycle and advised Bob, “You need to get rid of that thing right now.” Tommy then went on to related how he had broken his foot on a motorcycle years before, and how recently he had flipped a friend’s bike off an embankment, into some trees, and how now, after extensive medical treatment, he would never be able to fully extend his left arm again. “And I never owned a motorcycle of my own,” Tommy said.
A month or so after that trip Bob called. He’d been in intensive care after a motorcycle crash. “Well I hope you learned your lesson,” I preached, “and now you’ll get rid of that thing.”
“I’m getting it fixed,” Bob said.
“Then you’re crazy,” I told him.
Bob did get the bike fixed, rode it for a couple of years, and a few months ago sold it and bought a new Harley-Davidson Electra Glide.
He was on it when he crashed into a Dodge Ram truck a few weeks ago. He lost his leg at the scene. In the following days has been on a ventilator, developed sepsis, caught pneumonia, and hung on. He came off the ventilator, but was talking nonsense. They did some tests. A few days ago a CT scan revealed fluid on one side of his head, so they drilled to relieve the pressure.
And a day or so later his heart gave out. That day was last night.
I hate motorcycles.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Where were you on September 11, nine years ago today?
I was in
I had met her earlier at the New York Custom Knife Show. Among the drab, dressed-down, dark-clad New Yorkers here came this vivacious cute Southern girl in a bright red dress. It was a striking comparison.
Dave Culpepper was guiding a group of friends, makers and their families around
After that night I would usually ask the knifemaker’s wife how her daughter was doing, and from her I learned her daughter had graduated, gotten a job, and advanced her career until she was an anchorwoman in
So on Sept. 10 I was able to watch her on the 11 p.m. news.
It was still on that station the next morning. I walked into the room a few moments after the newsfeed started showing the smoke coming from the first tower.
I remember remarking, “That’s no accident, I’ve read too many Tom Clancy books to not know that this is some kind of attack.”
I was still watching when the second plane hit the building—and never left that room except to be sure we all topped off our auto gas tanks, just in case.
And as I sat there I recalled to everyone in the room about that long ago night in
And it did. As I watched those burning buildings on TV I recalled the night Dave had led us—to the observation deck—of the