Archive for March, 2013

David Pritikin

David Pritikin Posing

The Devils Ride executive producer, David Pritikin of Discovery Channel has a new diet and exercise regime for motorcycle club reality TV.  It’s call apply more pressure to capture increasingly more dramatic footage.

Could anyone be happier than Eric Bishoff who offered to present viewers with an “inside look” of a Dago MC, but is really selling us counterfeit merchandise?  The last episode of robbing a street corner drug dealer to keep the “heat” off the club house.  Really?

Spoiler Alert:  In case you didn’t know, the show actually employs screenwriters whose job is to feed the character dialogue or create a general storyline arc in hopes that the audience will not tire of the show when the real sequence of events seems too boring.  This occurs on each show to preserve the illusion of unscripted reality TV.

The Devils Ride is a whole cascade of negligence and one has to wonder if the autopsies are pending?

And speaking of autopsies, a recent report by the L.A. Times showed that some reality TV programs cut corners on safety, exposing cast and crew to hazardous working conditions.  A combination of tight budgets, lack of trained safety personnel and pressure to capture dramatic footage has caused serious and in some cases fatal incidents.


The Real Life Sons of Anarchy. Really?!

I’m not implying that The Devils Ride cuts safety corners, but in February an unnamed TV show being filmed for Discovery Channel resulted in a helicopter crash that killed three people.  It was one of the worst film set accidents in recent years.  It’s not clear what caused the crash and it’s being investigated by the FAA and NTSB.  And then last June, Terry Flanell was killed while shooting a pilot for Discovery Channel called “Brothers in Arms” at a Colorado shooting range when two smoke bombs detonated sending a metal pipe toward Flanell.

I see a trend.

Sons of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy

Of course the Discovery Channel is well insulated from the specific filming activity.  The shows are produced by a separate company (example: Eyeworks USA) and they use Film L.A. Inc., to obtain film permits/permission and to pass filming code the L.A. County Fire Department assigns an advisor to the site to provide guidance on any issues.  But, it’s well known in the industry that many incidents go unreported because crew members sign non-disclosure agreements, and many in the show are non-union workers or are classified as independent contractors.


The Channel

The Devils Ride self-promoters are rampant, but what’s stunning is a TV show that most everyone from “clubbers” to motorcycle enthusiasts vehemently dislike is averaging about 1.2M viewers a week (Nielsen Media Research).  The show is capturing about 800K a week for the prime 18-49 adult demographic.  Although the show ranking is typically in the bottom 10% of the cable shows and where both Teen Mom II on MTV and Dinners, Drive Ins and Dives on the Food Network outperform there is obviously a number of people who think it’s the best show on Monday night TV.

This is my FINAL blog post on the TV show.  I’m providing “oxygen” to something that should be pulled off life support.  For those begging to see more, below is additional information I’ve researched on the various cast members and producers.  Twitter accounts are flooded with “fan boy” comments wanting to get closer to the 15 minutes of shame.

Executive Producers
Jason Hervey
Eric Bischoff –  or web site
Bischoff-Hervey Entertainment
David Pritikin (Discovery) –  or David Pritikin Filmography

Motorcycle Clubs
Sinister Mob Syndicate MC Club (Sin Mob MC)
Laughing Devils MC

Sin Mob (Sinister Mob Syndicate MC Club)
RRKnockout –  Ralph “Rockem” Randolph

Laughing Devils
Danny Boy (Prez) – Facebook
MadMax (VP)
Slider (Tres)
Spyder – or Facebook page
Chris Boultinghouse (WhiteBoi) –  Facebook page  or web site

TV Show MC Women
Melis – Sandman’s ex-wife.
Laughing Devils Ol Ladies – Group of women related to members of the LDMC

Other Notable Bits Of Info
Howard “Rusty” Irvine Coones –  Twitter; Guest star on first season also appeared in episode 509 of SOA.  Previously President of Orange County HAMC chapter.
Attika 7 – Rusty Coones Band; In Oregon prison he picked up the guitar again.
Illusion Motorsports –   Company run by: Rusty Coones, Rodrigo Requejo, Katherine “KO” Coones.
Knockout Motorcycles –  Company run by: Ralph “Rockem” Randolph); former HAMC member.

Reality TV Research
Levin, Gary. “Simple Economics: More Reality TV.” Usatoday.com. USA Today. 09 May 2007.  Web. 2 Nov. 2009.
Booth, William. “Reality Is Only An Illusion, Writers Say.” The Washington Post. Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2004. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.
Ventre, Michael. “Just how real are reality TV shows?” Msnbc.msn.com. MSN. 14 April 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.

Photos courtesy of Discovery.

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Purpose-2012With a cocktail of high-strength steel, aluminum, magnesium, rubber and plastic Harley-Davidson adds flexibility, functionality and refreshed paint schemes to their model lineup each year.

By the numbers, 2012 was a pivotal year for Harley-Davidson.  Earnings per share up 16.7%, revenue growth up 6%, $280M annual savings from restructuring, sales outreach with the 18-34 demographic grew at twice the rate of core customers, but in the first ever Consumer Reports’ motorcycle reliability survey, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center about 1-in-4 owners of Harley-Davidson motorcycles reported experiencing a major problem with the motorcycle in the previous four years.

Twenty-five percent had a major problem!

H-D Executive Leadership Team

H-D Executive Leadership Team

It turns out that BMW motorcycles were even less reliable than a Harley-Davidson with about 1-in-3 owners reporting problems in the previous four years.  How did the Japanese manufactures perform?  Only about 1-in-10 Yamaha owners experienced issues during that time, followed closely by Kawasaki and Honda.

However, reliability problems don’t seem to affect the satisfaction scores of owners and their bikes.  When asked whether, considering everything, they would buy their bike again if they had to do it over, 75% of Harley-Davidson owners said definitely yes, closely followed by 74% of BMW owners and 72% of Honda owners.  In contrast, only 63 and 60% of Yamaha and Kawasaki owners, respectively, would buy their bike again.

Both BMW and Harley-Davidson riders have segments that skew more toward the enthusiast and hardcore, meaning they tend to keep bikes longer and I wonder if this says something about the riders than the bikes.  Could H-D riders be more critical about problems?

AZ Proving Grounds Video

AZ Proving Grounds Video

In 2012, the average U.S. retail purchaser of a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle had a median household income of approximately $89,500. The Company defined its U.S. core customer base as Caucasian men over the age of 35 and its U.S. outreach customers as women, young adults, African-American adults, and Latino adults. (Sources: 2012 Company 10K and 2012 Annual Review)  The motor company no longer provides data on age demographics which had been rising in recent years.

Reliability is only one of several factors buyers consider when purchasing a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  Among the bikes that needed repairs, survey respondents reporting having the most trouble with accessories, such as lights, instruments, switches, and radios (21 percent), brakes (20 percent), the electrical system (16 percent), and the fuel system (15 percent).  Most of the repairs were fairly inexpensive, but for a company whose reputation relies heavily on the quality of its products the 1-in-4 number is perplexing.

The survey results can be viewed by subscribers at the ConsumerReports.org web site and in the May issue of Consumer Reports.

Photos courtesy of H-D.  

H-D Executive Leadership Team photo: (Left to Right — Tonit Calaway (VP, Human Resources); John Olin (Sr. VP and CFO); Keith Wandell (Chairman, President and CEO); Lawrence Hund (President and COO HDFS); John Baker (GM, Corp Strategy and Business Development); Joanne Bischmann (VP, Communications); Paul Jones (VP, General Counsel))

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Firestone-Tire-SafetyIn Oregon, support for a ban on smoking in cars with kids is well on its way to the Governor.   Senate Bill 444 which passed the Oregon Senate last week would allow police to ticket drivers who were caught smoking in their car if anyone under 18 was present after they were pulled over for another offense.

It’s another example in a long list of arbitrary and capricious “nanny state” regulations, but it passed easily.

The action is no different than what the “Soda Jerk” – NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg – has attempted by imposing his will for the sheer sake of being a true believer in the lifesaving consequences of HIS health agenda.  It would be similar to – and I hate to even provide the idea – the Portland Mayor forcing top-shelf restaurants such as Andina and The Chart House to no longer serve bottles of wine as a way to fight alcoholism.

Independent of what I think about this second-hand cigarette smoking measure, I’m unapologetically against “nanny state” regulation and government highhanded scolding through regulation.  These so-called “substantive bills” seem to have no limit to the government imposing their will for the sheer sake of it.

But, I’m not blogging to rail about poor parenting skills, or scold people for excessive Cherry Coke consumption or promote a car smoking ban.  Rather, once the regulators keep kids safe from second hand smoke where do their idle hands focus next?  Likely on our bedrooms with unmanned vehicles spying monitoring from the back yard patio?!

According to this report (.pdf) only nine % of Oregonians think the government spends money wisely.  The fact that state legislators spent any time on a second-hand smoke issue – which isn’t on anyone’s top 10 list – just amplifies the point.

If a mental break is needed from addressing big issues like PERS reform, streamlining the tax code or fixing the corrections budget, take some time to ponder the number of Oregonians who are effected by road conditions.

As regulators race to Salem complaining about drivers on their cell phones “parked” in the left lane… slow down and look at the poor conditions of the pavement.  I invite you to check out the pavement on OR 217, where fewer than 100K+ vehicles travel daily.  It’s so severely rutted that sections are dangerous for motorcycle travel.  Automobiles changing lanes pepper cars with loose asphalt from the rutted right side to the rutted left lane and bounce around until they settle into the ruts.  It’s worse during the rain… which is 300 days of the year!  The last time major repaving occurred on OR 217 was back in 2006.  Prior to ‘06 it was repaved in 1994.

There are sections of OR 217 that should be classified as “structurally deficient” and signs should be erected in places similar to the “Motorcycles Use Extreme Caution” in Washington State.

The funding and road repair priorities in the state are a big issue.  The second-hand smoke while driving bill is nothing but a distraction and disguised to make voters believe regulators are doing something in the capital.

Hey Salem… we’re watching!

UPDATE: March 28, 2013 – The Oregon Legislature tried to pass a similar smoking bill (HB 2385) in the 2009 session.   And according to this report seven states currently ban smoking in automobiles with children under the age of 18 years old.  Interestingly, there are currently 17 states which ban smoking in vehicles while transporting foster children, including the state of Oregon.  The report provides a number of reasons to support smoke-free vehicles when children are present.

UPDATE: June 4, 2013 – The Oregon House yesterday passed Senate Bill 444 in 43-15 vote against the objections of some lawmakers who groused about it as a “nanny state” provision.  The bill will allow police to ticket smokers if the were pulled over for another offense.  The violation would cost $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.  The bill now heads to Gov. Kitzhaber, who has said he will sign it. 

Photo courtesy of Firestone.  Full Disclosure: As an aging blogger and survivor of smoking parents and lifelong non-smoker myself I’m sure the Smithsonian will be looking for a location to display my corpse.

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UFC-HD2Could be you in the Milwaukee Octagon® on August 31st!

To be the “rage in the cage” and break into the UFC, you’ll need to network with industry insiders, gain a solid knowledge of backstage politics, hope for a little luck, have thick skin and prove that your fighting skills are the best in the world.

Or you could just enter the Harley-Davidson contest for an epic UFC throwdown to celebrate the 110th anniversary.  It looks like they’ve borrowed a lot of ideas from All Japan Pro Wrestling and flushed out a script with WWE “jobbers” to create an “anything can happen” entertainment show called the Harley-Davidson Hometown Throwdown event.  Clearly no sponsor of combat sports has done more by supporting a punch, a grab or a shin kick to the skull than Harley-Davidson.  You’ll want to thank Dino Bernacchi, Harley-Davidson Marketing Director.

Maybe you’re an active proponent in the effort to keep Wrestling in the Olympics?  Or maybe you just like refreshments and the ringgirls?!  Whatever the case may be, you can enter the contest for a chance to win a Street Bob motorcycle and in addition the winner gets a VIP pass to the Harley-Davidson Hometown Throwdown event at UFC 164 at the Bradley Center on August 31st.  If you win you’ll also receive the highly valued fight training time with Cain Velasquez.

When you enter the site don’t forget to create your own gnarly custom designed 110th anniversary logo.  Because it will be painted in the Octagon for all the blood “sport” fans to see if you are worthy.

Photo courtesy of H-D and UFC

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2013 H-D FXSB Breakout

2013 H-D FXSB Breakout

Introduced last week at the 72nd Daytona Bike Week,  the latest Softail model is called the 2013 FXSB Breakout (MSRP $17,899).

It has gloss black Gasser cast aluminum wheels on a 130mm wide and 21-inches high front while a 240mm chunk of Dunlop rubber on the rear. It comes equipped with 1.25-inch drag bars that sit atop a beefy fork, the bars are mounted atop a four-inch riser with a speedo incorporated into the chrome risers. The wide front fork kicks out at a 37-degree angle while the front fender has been cut down about as much as legally possible.  There is the Twin Cam 103B engine and its machined fins and chrome covers contrasting the black powder-coated cylinders.

2013 Honda Fury

2013 Honda Fury

If the name is familiar it’s because the motor company released a CVO version of the motorcycle back in August of last year.  The production version receives the same long and low stance with the sinister looking disposition.  Someone in marketing didn’t get the memo that factory custom chopper manufacturers have been dropping like flies!

The Breakout is the first CVO model to be “reverse” adapted into a production model.  You might recall that CVOs are typically “juiced” up motorcycles taken off the production line and layered with chrome.  Up until 2009 they were all hand-built, but these days you’ll find them rolling along on the standard production line in York.  And, if imitation is the highest form of flattery then this year’s “breakout” is proof that the copy kat’s are alive and well.  But, who is copying who?

Take the 2013 Honda Fury (MSRP $13,390) which continues to sport a fuel tank with distinctive lines mounted high on the backbone, opening up the space above the engine and the tubular frame. It rolls with a 21-inch tall front wheel that is kicked out at a 38-degree angle and the chopper-ish dimensions balanced out by the 200mm wide rear.   It’s powered by a liquid-cooled 1312cc V-Twin.  Since the Fury’s introduction in 2010 the entry price point has jumped only $391.

2014 Star Bolt

2014 Star Bolt

And then there’s Yamaha’s Star Motorcycles who recently unveiled the 2014 Star Bolt (MSRP $7,990), a simple and stripped-down performance bobber ready for personalization.  A direct competitor for the minimalist H-D Sportster crowd.  The Bolt is powered by a 60-degree, 950cc (58ci) air-cooled V-Twin with fuel injection. A five-speed transmission provides the power via belt drive to the cast-aluminum rear wheel. A double-cradle frame, using the engine as a stressed member, along with a 540-pound curb weight will make this motorcycle easy to handle.   There are some nice touches such as a smoked-lens digital meter, wave brake rotors and LED tail lights to bring home some modern performance to the Bolt.

Whenever I hear about copy kat merch, I almost always think of China knock-offs.  It’s not completely undeserved, given all the fake DVDs, designer clothing and copy Rolex watches.  But, on the motorcycle front Harley-Davidson looks at minimum liked they rolled out a recalibrated Rocker C version or worse is complicit in “breaking out” a Raider/Stryker copy.

Photos courtesy of H-D, Honda and Yamaha.

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hd-ride-on_aotwWhat confidence can give, lack of confidence can just as suddenly take away when it comes to financial conditions.

And that couldn’t be more true for Harley-Davidson’s international sales.  The international sales for the motor company primarily come from Europe, but its contribution to the total sales has been consistently declining.  Europe accounted for about 15% of unit sales last quarter, and the macro-economic conditions are so weak in Europe that there is very little Harley-Davidson can do to boost sales.

As a result, the “red phone” rang in the marketing department and Harley-Davidson worked with an advertising agency, Big Communications in London, to whip up a call-to-arms and encourage bikers to RIDE ON through the economic storm. Unless you lived under the proverbial rock, you may recall that back in 2008 at the height of the deep recession in the U.S., Harley-Davidson rolled out the “We don’t do fear”… “Screw it, let’s ride” campaign.

airplane-HD-AdThere was a time not so long ago in the U.S. that most economic indicators showed it was being hollowed out and the only economic activity that remained was food, power and undertakers.  The press wrote daily about how an economic doomsday was coming.  Those with expertise in economics told us that, without a doubt, the world is heading for financial Armageddon, or an economic ice age.  Basically the world’s gone to pot… and they weren’t talking about Washington state!

It now appears that the road ahead for motorcycle riders on the European continent (with apologies to science fiction writers everywhere) have just passed the “point of no return.”  Metaphorically, they don’t have enough fuel to return to the point of origin, and they just discovered they don’t have enough fuel to reach a planned destination.  The economy and society could very well end up in ashes.

In plain English and in the Harley-Davidson parlance of our time: You’re screwed so, why not whistle while you RIDE ON through the storm and enjoy the view until the fuel runs out!

Yawn…  Harley-Davidson has inspired so much more in interesting ads like the empty road version above.  It’s not clear to me why the marketing group thinks they need to go back to an old call-to-arms ad style like “Ride On.”

Photo courtesy of Big Communications and H-D.

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HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTOR COMPANY REBEL SOULI was flipping channels on XM and landed on Deep Tracks listening to “See The Changes”, a song by Crosby, Stills & Nash about how surviving is difficult.

Speaking of music and with a twist of irony, just a few days after large sums of money were exchanged for the Kid Rock endorsement and music performance at the 110th  Anniversary celebration, Harley-Davidson management reversed a long standing music policy (John Dansby II, V.P. Manufacturing, memo HERE) for manufacturing workers stating they can only rock out to the sound of humming machinery on the plant floor.  Remove the headphones.  Remove the radios. That new sound you’re listening to is the sweet sound of manufacturing productivity.

Having worked several years in a manufacturing plant back in the day I could relate to both sides.  Does music on the plant floor lead to greater productivity and job satisfaction or does it cause distractions and kill creativity.  It’s the age old debate.

It would seem the grand “Music Experiment” — the role that music played in the motor companies evolution — and provided relief to Harley-Davidson workers doing monotonous tasks were now the cause of lapses in concentration and those distractions would potentially effect product quality.  Even worse, there were music hazards lurking everywhere in the workplace with the potential for injuries and as a result there was no longer a role for music in the workplace at Harley-Davidson.

Clearly I don’t work there, but on the surface this action doesn’t seem to be about building the foundation to help release the innovative juices in workers and provide the best environment to do the best possible job.  To be candid, it smells like a short-sighted decision from an outcome driven employer flexing management muscle when they have the economic upper hand and demanding that 8 to 5 workers step-it-up to get things done quicker and better.

I would anticipate that the younger H-D workers in particular would meet this decision with a wall of criticism and demand that management not lead the workforce back to the last century by banning music.  Given that technology exists today to provide multiple streams of different music channels wirelessly to large numbers of headsets it seems to be a backward decision.

We were all once young too, with an answer for everything.   But, if I knew this plant job was my one and only go-round and not wanting to make a career mistake I’d likely display some patience on any demands because we often fall into something and do our best to get ahead, and know it’s hard to rearrange when things go sideways.

And that’s when you hear “See The Changes” on the radio.

I tuned into the sound of Stephen Stills… telling me he experienced the same thing… it gets harder as you get older, and farther away as you get closer.

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson

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