By Ed Blair
America has always had a love affair with motorcycles. “In a car you’re always in a compartment, and, because you’re used to it, you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer, and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle, the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.” So said Robert Pirsig in his book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values.” Dan Aykroyd stated the case more simply: “You do not need a therapist if you own a motorcycle.”
Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, James Dean. Clint Eastwood, Buddy Holly, Peter Fonda. Hijinks from Evel Knieval and Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzerelli. There is no doubt that the motorcycle occupies a unique and intriguing niche in both the national culture and the counterculture, and it is the subject of an absorbing local offering.
Following on the success of last year’s summer exhibit, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization will present The Love Affair with Motorcycles Continues! opening July 11. On view are more than 30 motorcycles, as well as motorcycle memorabilia, artwork and sculptures.
Speakers will be on hand to talk about a number of motorcycle-related topics, and visitors can view an outdoor car showcase in the WMHO Center’s parking lot and also participate in a scavenger hunt. Stony Brook Village restaurants will feature exhibit-related dishes on their menus, such as the Hog Hero, the Harley Hoagie, the BMW Burger, Knucklehead Chili, and the Screamin’ Eagle.
The evolution of the motorcycle can be traced from Mike Wolf’s restored 1912 Indian TT Racer through to a 1975 Ducati 750 Sport from 20th Century Cycles of Oyster Bay. Also on display are bikes from the private collection of Joe Buzzetta, such as his 1977 Moto Guzzi Le Mans 850, and, courtesy of Peter Nettesheim, an unrestored 1928 BMW R52.
Also on view: a 1903 Indian (the only one known to exist), courtesy of Jim Giorgio; a 1955 Pan Head Billy Bike, (Gerry Duff); a 1970 Rupp Mini Bike (Joe Amendolia); a 1975 Norton Commando (Michael Racz); a 1975 FLH Harley (Douglas Johnston); a 1975 Honda Goldwing 1000 (Bill Mabanta); a 1973 Harley “Steampunk” (Copper Mike); and a replica of a motorcycle that appeared in the iconic biker movie “Easy Rider.” Besides getting up-close looks at the Harley Davidsons, Kawasakis, Suzukis, Triumphs, Hondas and other motorcycles, enthusiasts can give vent to their fascination with motorized two-wheelers by checking out the artwork of David Uhl.
Scheduled speakers and their topics are Pete Nettesheim — Restored vs. Unrestored Bikes (Sunday, July 12); John Petsche — Biodiesel Bikes (Saturday, July 18); Steve Linden — History of Motorcycle Brands and Emblems (Saturday, July 25); and Jeffrey James — Music and Motorcycles (Saturday, Aug. 8); and Movies and Motorcycles (Saturday, Aug. 22). All talks begin at 2 p.m.
The Ward Melville Heritage Organization will present America’s Love Affair with the Motorcycle Continues! July 11 through September 7 at its Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook Village. The exhibit, partially sponsored by Astoria Bank, is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children under 12. For a full schedule of exhibit events, 631-689-5888, or visit www.stonybrookvillage.com.