Fast Eddie

Fast Eddie

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Have you ever wondered how you can have a strong connection with someone, that you’ve only met for the first time or how you can lose a friendship or bond with someone that you’ve known for years? Some would say it’s a simple matter of growing apart, others would say it’s a matter of never really knowing somebody until you find out what their true colors are. I know for myself, it’s a matter of someone’s values. Who they are, what they live for and what they would be willing to die for; that’s where my values lie and I still want to believe that’s what we look for in people.

I first met Fast Eddie at a car show about 12 years ago. If you’ve never been to a rat rod show or a motorcycle event, most of the people you meet are genuinely good people, but for an outsider, one might be intimidated by the tattoos, greasy hair and PBR’s being thrown back. Don’t get me wrong, if you were to look at me you’d probably think the same thing, and I’ve come to terms with that long ago. Anyway, I was at a car show with my 27 Model T, just sitting on the back, somewhat minding my own business, when a taller guy with a thick New York accent, cuffed jeans and a plain black shirt, and his young daughter in tow, came to check out my rat rod. He kind of looked like he could play an Irish gangster in a Scorsese film. Usually when someone at a car or bike show wants to talk about your car or bike, there’s two responses, one being “whatever dude, you’re not in the scene” or the second being the response of giving a college style lecture, on every detail of the build, until you bore the person into leaving. I usually chose to be cordial and try to explain the build without sounding like a know it all jerk; after all, I was one of those clueless kids at one point. Eddie and I talked about my car for a few minutes, but I couldn’t help but to notice there was a difference from Eddie and some of the other car guys; he was very humble and his young daughter was by his side the entire time. What was also evident was that his daughter was more important to him than any of these cars. Every once in a while, he would look at a car but his focus would always remain on his daughter. I guess after being teachers for so many years, I seldom see that sort of devotion anymore, that kind of love and focus. I would later come to find out that Eddie was one of the most prestigious fabricators in the country and an even better father.

It’s 6 years later, around 9 o’clock in the morning and I’m riding my bobber down to Eddie’s shop, which is close to downtown Albuquerque. It’s only a 15 minute ride from my house, but in early November, that means it’s a brisk morning, so the ride feels refreshing. As I pull into the shop, I’m still wondering why one of the best fabricators I’ve seen, would be willing to work with me, customizing my bike. At any other shop, I would be paying upwards of a couple hundred bucks, but with Eddie, it’s a few hours of your time to lend a hand with the build. As we work and talk, something tells me he gets it. He understands that there’s a few of us left, a few guys that enjoy working with their hands, and building something from nothing. It’s somewhat reminiscent of our grandfathers’ generation. Perhaps I’m more the nostalgic type but I’d like to think there was once a generation that took pride in their work and their families. A time when a man’s word was good for something. Even though I’ve only hung out with Eddie a few times, I can tell we share that same understanding. Over the next few hours of cutting metal, shaping, welding, and grinding, I have a custom seat pan and fender; all it cost me was a bit of my time and a little work.

 

Eddie makes metal working look effortless, like a master painter or sculptor working on a piece of artwork. The gears are turning in his head and he is relaxed the whole time. If I were to do this fab work on my own, I would’ve already punched the wall or thrown a tool. When we are all finished, it’s more than obvious that this man takes a lot of pride in his work, never skipping over the details, but more than that is the pride he has for his daughter, always throwing her in the conversation.

As we finish fabricating my seat, I’m dirty, smell like metal, and it feels rewarding. I give Eddie a firm handshake and offer a couple bucks that he doesn’t take. I proceed to throw on my gloves, helmet, and put on some old folk songs, to remind me of a time when music had soul. As I ride off, the sun is setting and my mind once again is wandering. To be honest, it’s a miracle I haven’t swerved off the rode as I daydream on my bike. I guess it’s relaxing for me, but I’m pondering why Eddie would be willing to help me and how many people are left like this in the world today, how many people are still alive, that work tirelessly day in day out, for their family and how many people can say they do it with pride. Again, I am also wondering, if I were given the opportunity, would I fill those shoes of our grandfathers or would I be another deadbeat father. I would like to think I would be a great dad; however, it’s probably for the best that it wasn’t in my cards. For Eddie, building is his job and raising his daughter is his life-long profession. For every piece of metal he shapes and for every custom part he makes, it is really a part that has been made for his daughter. I like to say any guy can make a child but it takes a real man to raise one. So thank you to all of my friends like Eddie, for being real men for your children.

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Rusty Rocker

Rocker Rondo, a true brother:

To tell Rondo’s story, I have to tell my own encounter with the madman first. You know how you often hear that a person’s eyes are the gateway to their soul? Well, every once in awhile, those old sayings are true. I happened to meet Rondo in the warm, Albuquerque summer of 2010. At the time, I was just a young hot-rodder with the model T, a 72 Bonneville and a broken heart. Like all old country songs, she had just taken my dog, most of our friends, and a small piece of my soul.

I had found, a little bit of solace in my  garage, wrenching and listening to old Hank Williams records. There was the occasional late-night motorcycle adventures with no real destination but a decent night’s rest. I had heard grumbles from a few amigos, that there was a couple of rockers in the Duke City, but no real scene. These rockers, however, hosted a weekly ride on Sundays, from a coffee shop to the mountains. So on one Sunday morning, with nothing particularly to do, I decided to wake up early, throw on my old 501s, lace up my chucks, and pump my old Amal carbs to scout out the scene. Little did I know, that morning would be a true turning point in my life.

As I rolled into the coffee shop parking lot, I saw a few vintage bikes lined up and a couple guys shooting the breeze around their old machines. I got off my Bonnie, took off my lid, and was greeted by a few the guys. As we proceeded to talk shop, we waited around for another half an hour or so, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and having laugh or two. As we waited for a few more bikes to rolI in, I discretely made my way to a patch of grass, to the side and proceeded to take a seat and contemplate my recent break up, and dwell on the past, like an old record not ready to be turned over just yet.

Within a minute or so, a short, older fellow in his 60s with grey hair, grease stained jeans, and a old leather vest covered in motorcycle patches sat down next to me. At first glance, you could not only sense the wisdom of this man, but you could see it in his eyes. In a low raspy voice, he simply said “don’t worry about it kid, we’ve got vintage motorcycles and an open road ahead of us.” He was right; when the tides of life pull you in and out, as long as you have brothers to ride motorcycles with those tides don’t pull down so damn hard.

That was nearly 6 years ago and not a day goes by that I still don’t enjoy that feeling of brotherhood through motorcycles. It was after that Sunday morning, that Rondo also became somewhat of a mentor to me. He would invite me to his garage and into his family, and that invite has always stayed open. Over the years we’ve painted a few bikes together, worked on a couple dozen more,  drank a ton of beer, and shared many miles of open road. Rondo has seen me at my best and my worst. More gals have come and gone, but my extended family has always stayed. More so, Rondo was always there to lend an ear, and hand me a beer and a wrench when I needed it the most.
I’m a firm believer that everyone needs a mentor in their life, a real mentor, someone you can go to for advice, an ear, and a hand. In this day and age, when people are often thought of as disposable and we are more concerned with how many Facebook or Instagram friends we have, the need for real brotherhood and bonds are more of a necessity now than ever. So, for that I say thank you Rondo, thank you for being a mentor a brother and a rocker.

True Love

True Love

The other half of my business,will consist of a short blog of my picks, travels and such. I hope not to bore you but here’s a post I made awhile back that has stuck with me. I hope you enjoy. After many years of being into the custom culture of hot-rods, bikes, rockabilly, tattoos and every other stereotype, I’ve become more interested in the story of the build than the scene itself.

  For instance this is Margaret from Texas. She and her late husband spent countless hours and many enjoyable years building this Hudson from the ground up. After their build was close to complete, Margaret’s husband unfortunately passed on, leaving the rest of the build for Margaret and their family friends to finish. She as a tribute to him, has continually worked on their project and even had a buffalo pinstriped on the trunk with a matching tattoo on her forearm to remember that he will always be with her and their Hudson. So, If you happen to be on the east Texas highways, you might be lucky enough to see Margaret with her pedal to the floor opening those carbs at 100 mph passing you on the left, because that is the way her husband would’ve wanted it. Story’s like theirs, will slowly diminish, as the spirit of custom culture fades off into the crimson horizon but perhaps that’s the way it was intended to play out. In the end, I’m just lucky enough to have been a small part of this culture and watch it throughout my years.