In HOG heaven and feeling cool

I’m no easy rider, but for a little while on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I strolled through Brady Street and felt cool.

Paced by the celebratory hum of idling hogs, we made our way through packed sidewalks all decked out for the Harley Davidson 110th anniversary, which brought more than 100,000 bikers to Milwaukee, including a contingent of more than 100 from Australia.

Though I wore a prissy summer dress and inappropriate sandals, I felt at one with my generally bearded and somewhat scruffy co-celebrants. I don’t actually own a Harley, but I did ride on the back of one once and the spontaneous spin around our neighborhood thrilled me.

Even though I sport not a single tattoo and generally limit the leather I wear to my shoes, I love a beautiful bike and Harley Davidson consistently and globally turns out the best.  Those bikes – hard candy custom voodoo purple flake, volcanic orange, candy apple red, custom blue – proudly lined the curbs Saturday as summer rays glinted off buffed chrome.

Delighted by the spectacle, we moseyed and I noted that the Harley effect transformed more than just east-side neighborhoods and middle-aged bloggers.  The entire city stands a little taller thanks to Wisconsin’s own Harley-Davidson, whose universally recognized orange and black brand stands for freedom, quality and, in the face of economic struggles that felled lesser industry brands, success.

The smell of hops still hovers over downtown Milwaukee, a city that owes its schmiel, schlimazel reputation to a well-intentioned Garry Marshall and a homespun charm. But, thanks to a couple of Wisconsin boys named William and Arthur and the sophisticated brand they launched more than a century ago, Milwaukee also remains the epicenter of motorcycle chic.

Here’s a little clip of the parade, courtesy of my sister Kathy Finley.

Blatz beer and an orange bike
I love the Blatz sign across the street. Old Milwaukee meets a sleek new Harley.
Australian flag
Some of the Harley Australian contingent flew to LA, rented bikes, and enjoyed a 19-day road trip to get to the celebration. That’s my sister Kathy holding up the flag for me while simultaneously ordering me to keep her out of the picture. Ooops.
Chinese restaurant
For some reason this Chinese restaurant, all decked out for the Harley-Davidson reunion, made me chuckle.
Here’s another Milwaukee institution, Glorioso’s Italian Market. Note the sausages on this tribute sign. I thought it was pretty cute.
This patriotic display got plenty of applause during the Harley Parade. (photo courtesy Kathy Finley)
This patriotic display got plenty of applause during the Harley Parade. (photo courtesy of my sister, Kathy Finley)
This is another Kathy Finley photo from the actual parade, which I am definitely attending next time.
Kathy's birthday and Harley Fest 141
I saw these guys tooling down I-43 with a big Mexican Flag on the back of their bike. It took some doing, with me hanging out the passenger window, to get this shot. I thought they were irritated with me and then…
Kathy's birthday and Harley Fest 142
…they gave me a thumbs up. I spent 15 minutes on the back of a Harley once, and I think they sensed a connection. Harley lovers, unite!
Motorcycle parking only
There was only room for the motorcycles Saturday afternoon on Brady Street.
Here’s a vintage POW M.I.A. bike.
I loved the snazi side car and the license plate.
Sleepy rider
Here’s a sleepy rider. I saw a lot of Harley families, which was pretty cool.
I liked the way the sun glinted off this beautiful yellow bike.

3 thoughts on “In HOG heaven and feeling cool

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