Many people used to say that someday I would learn my place, and stop being so rambunctious. They said that someday I would turn down the music and place my foot lighter on the accelerator. They used to say that once I did some jail time, or paid enough fines that I would “settle down.” That was nearly three decades ago, and those people if they are still alive themselves, have stopped tapping their foot waiting for it to happen. They have had to accept that after all the many, many times that I have stood in front of judges, all the countless times I have had patrol car lights behind me, and even the times that I represented myself in court because my legal representation was incompetent and not able to defend my cases to my satisfaction, that their dreams of defeat would come. People who have stood against me, or wished for me to fall in line with typical human acceptance of authority have had to give up on their dreams of my compliance. What they never figured out was that I learned when I was very young that the American legal system was made up of social looters who were more interested in making money, than justice, and the intent behind law was not the protection of private property—as its supposed to be, but in the rule of a political class over the “common man,” and I have fought that tendency since I was a 5-year-old child with my Big Wheel. And I haven’t kept my opinions to myself over the years. Instead I have taught them to my kids which can be seen in the below video, which is Part 5 of the Making of series chronicling the creation of my latest novel Tail of the Dragon. CLICK HERE TO REVIEW PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS. In the video, my daughter and her husband accompanied my wife and I to the Indie Gathering Film Festival in Cleveland, Ohio to accept an award for a short film I had entered for competition titled The Overman, for the best experimental film category.
Because of my thoughts about speed, and the legal system I had no problem telling the operators of the film festival that I would arrive at 10 AM that morning from Cincinnati. My daughter and her husband wanted to go with us, so we planned a motorcycle trip for the weekend up to Cleveland. I wanted to take a break from the writing of Tail of the Dragon to accept the award, so we decided to leave on a Saturday morning, spend the night at the Holiday Inn at West Lake where the film festival was being held, then return on Sunday. At 5 AM in the morning, we hit the road on my Boulevard motorcycle. My son-in-law rode the GS750 that he bought from me the year before, and my daughter rode their Kawasaki Ninja. However, my daughter had never ridden a motorcycle on her own. Previously she had ridden on the back of the Ninja with my son-in-law, but that was the extent of her motorcycle riding experience. So I promised her we’d take several breaks along the way. Her only real concern at the time was that she only had a temp permit, and was concerned that she’d run into trouble with the law being so far away from home on just a learners permit. This was the way I came up with the plot line in Tail of the Dragon where Rick Stevens gets pulled over by the police while on a learners permit in Tennessee. My daughter was taking a big risk riding a very fast motorcycle as her first real riding experience, and over such a vast distance. But as I’ve always taught her, without risk the rewards are often not very profitable, so she desired to take a risk in hope of rewards and push herself in a way she had never done before. 600 miles over a weekend on a motorcycle at over 80 to 90 MPH the entire time as a beginning rider with only a motorcycle temp license was challenging, and I was proud of her.
We stopped short of Columbus well before the sun came up to get a feel for how she was doing. Early in the game, she was getting used to the bike and the speed, so we were able to move on up the highway making a few fuel stops and a traditional breakfast at the Cracker Barrel—which we tend to do when traveling as a family. Much of the time we were traveling at over 90 MPH as the sun was coming up which was spectacular. It’s the kind of experience that cannot be explained to people who have not participated in that kind of activity. With me the speed is necessary. I was scheduled to arrive in Cleveland at Lake Wood around 10 AM to get my booth set up and report for the screening of my film. But I set such deadlines knowing the pace I typically travel at, which is faster than flight if TSA lines are accounted for. I can often travel to far-flung cities quicker than an airplane can load passengers, takeoff, and land dispatching their customers. So I often take full advantage of that ability.
Many people over the years have told me that my driving tendencies are reckless, but this is based on the perspective of “average” people who desire to be led around like cattle by a political class afraid of their own shadows. Never-the-less, my attitude has put me into a lot of trouble with the law. The goal of these legal altercations has not been justice on behalf of the safety of mankind. The goal is to use the law, which has set speed limits unnecessarily low so that politicians can have the opportunity to have a tax increase against the public in the disguise of “justice.” The point of my new novel was to illustrate this fact based on my many experiences in front of judges and police officers. My editor at American Book at one point challenged one of the confrontations that Rick Stevens, (the protagonist of Tail of the Dragon) had with a police officer—as there were several—and didn’t believe that a cop would behave in the way I described in the novel. I explained to her that I had been in nearly the same exact circumstance in real life which involved a gun, and that Rick Stevens story had its roots more in reality than in fiction.
We arrived in Cleveland to meet the day ahead of the other contestants even though many of them were already staying at the hotel. We were the first to arrive in the networking room, which is the way I like to perform my business. We set up our table and did our work at the festival. I shook hands, signed autographs, posed for pictures and received my awards. When the other filmmakers went to a party at the hotel bar that night, my family was in our hotel room working on philosophy concepts and taking notes from the day. My son-in-law does a lot of thinking of his own and had many thoughts to capture from his observations, and my daughter naturally does as well. She often stays up late every night writing down ideas, editing pictures and doing research, so we don’t attend many parties. We socialize in a festive fashion on VERY rare occasions. I spent many hours after everyone went to bed working on a re-write of the completed Tail of the Dragon manuscript based on some of my observations from the previous day.
The next day, we awoke, had a nice breakfast and said goodbye to everyone in Cleveland. We hit the road with the same fury for which we came. At a fuel stop, my very fatigued daughter let the Ninja fall over as she was extremely tired from the hard riding the previous day and so far during our trip south. The bike’s fall bent the shift shaft that went into the gearbox preventing the Ninja from shifting out of second gear. This essentially halted our progress as it would be impossible to do any highway driving without the ability to shift out of second gear. My son-in-law and I went to fix the bent shaft and get the bike operating again. My daughter felt terrible. She was tired, strained to her limit, and still nearly 200 miles from home. She was caught between the tough spot of wanting to complete the journey and hoping that the motorcycle was broken beyond repair to relieve her of having to ride it back home. For people not used to such long rides, a 90 MPH journey on a crotch rocket over 200 miles of highway is tough. The wind beats at the body in terrible ways and there is no way to shift a seating position to become more comfortable. She was tired, and her legs weren’t working very well from being deprived of movement which is why the bike fell over during a fuel stop.
But she toughed it out once we got the bike operating again. We stopped just above Columbus for dinner after spending most of the afternoon fixing the bike in a parking lot. Once we arrived above Columbus we were close enough to home that she knew she could do the last hour and a half on a full stomach. She swore to me that she’d never ride that far again, and it took her a long time to get back on a motorcycle. She was never so glad to arrive home as she was that day. The first day had been fun, but tiring. The second day had been too much. It did occur to me on the way home to back off the gas, and drop down to 75 MPH or even 65 MPH. But I was worried that if we yielded to the circumstances that my daughter would always feel that the situation had conquered her, instead of her conquering the situation. As a father, I did worry about her blanking out from the strain and crashing all over the highway. But I wanted her to know that I trusted her, and her desire to not let me down was a gift from me to her in delivering her to a conquest that she will know all her life as one she didn’t walk away from.
When my daughter was a little girl, a bully spit on her while she played with her sister and friends at the playground. He had been showing off for his friends and was older by several years. My kids were targeted because I had been known in our neighborhood as the most vicious advocate against marijuana sales anywhere in southern Ohio. I caused such a ruckus over the sale of marijuana in my community that I knew all the cops by name as they came to my house so often. After a while I gave up calling the cops because it was revealed to me that they were involved in the pot sales directly and passively. In fact I had a next door neighbor who was a cop and he fought me viciously as he thought I was a NARC, and made sure everyone knew it, not only in the neighborhood but also on the police force. I gave up on the legal system when it was realized that it was corrupt beyond repair, and my experiences thereafter became my novel The Symposium of Justice. Once it became known that I would not yield to my neighbors who wanted to buy and use marijuana we went into a stalemate since the law was technically on my side. So they sent their children after my children which is how the little boy spit on my little girl. My daughter has always been a very confident person, full of life, and the look on her face when she came home with spittle on the front of her shirt was one of the moments that could have shattered her for the rest of her life. The intention by the boys was to impose their will upon her with force and push her into social compliance. They were bigger and meaner and the message to my kids was that they would have to submit to the thuggish authority of the neighborhood bullies or suffer the consequences. So I packed my kids and their friends into our car and tracked down the bullies at their house where I “forcefully” made the guilty boy apologize to my daughter in front of his father—who had actually encouraged the behavior. About a month later some much older boys, from 18 to 20 years old gathered in front of our house across the street in a mob of about 30 young people and harassed my 9 to 10-year-old children for riding their bicycles on the sidewalk. My wife called me at work, so I rushed home and instantly engaged the boys in “aggressive confrontation.” The police never came, the owner of the house stayed inside looking out their upstairs window hoping that the fight would go their way, but it didn’t. The boys were forced to disperse in retreat. The next morning there was a broken egg at the end of my driveway where some smartass thinking they were tough threw an egg from across the street to land on my driveway behind our family car during the night. They were testing the waters to see if I would let it go. That night when the sun went down, I bought two dozen eggs and lunched them at the home blasting the windows and doors with slimy yoke and broken shells. The homeowners were in their living room watching TV, but never came to the window or even opened the door. And they certainly didn’t call the police, not with the amount of pot they had in their house which nobody wanted to address. The cop next door was friends with the owners of that home, and did not make a move either. Watching all this activity my children learned about justice in life, and what sometimes has to be done to get it. This is why my daughter exhausted from 600 plus miles of riding a motorcycle across the state of Ohio twice in two days struggled to keep the bike upright and conquer her exhaustion to arrive home save and sound. The whole point of riding the bike herself and not just sitting on the back with my son-in-law was so that she could prove to herself that she could achieve the feat. And she did. If I had interfered with her as an adult, I would have done her a disservice. It was my job when she was a child to interfere and kick the crap out of some neighborhood kids that were harassing her because I was teaching her not to give up…….as a father. But coming back from Cleveland, Ohio after a weekend film festival, she had to live up to what she had become as an adult. It was hard, I was worried she might not make it, but I was more worried about what would happen if she didn’t fight through it and conquer a lingering fear.
These thoughts and history are what went into the fearless nature of Rick Stevens in my novel Tail of the Dragon. When we arrived home, I again wrote pages and pages of dialogue and thoughts about what I had witnessed. I was proud of my daughter, and everyone who had traveled those roads with me that weekend. The climax for many would have been getting the award at the film festival. But for me, it was only a footnote. I like getting awards, and enjoy the company of people at those kinds of events. But it was the journey I remembered most from that weekend which is why there isn’t more footage of the actual festival in my video. For me, it was the boldness that my daughter tackled in her challenge of riding a motorcycle to Cleveland and back during a weekend on a learners permit at high-speed that mattered. The experience would have been denied to us if we stayed within the parameters of the law, as concocted by politicians. I have learned over the years such as in the situation with my neighbor and the many trips to court that I have personally endeavored in; that the law is more adequately used to restrict the lives of people more than it is dedicated to justice, or “fairness.” So I typically consider law as a second-hand notion. This attitude is reflected in my characters from Tail of the Dragon exceptionally well. It also makes it a unique work of thought. Readers of Tail of the Dragon get the rare opportunity to climb into the mind of outlaws like Rick and his wife Renée Stevens to discover aspects of themselves that long ago yielded to the parameters of fear that has been imposed upon them tragically. The idea of freedom is as foreign to them as the surface of Jupiter is to a villager in the Congo. It makes me proud when my family goes on trips like the one to the film festival with me and overcomes a number of obstacles to enjoy a fine meal in utter exhaustion just north of Columbus on a hot Sunday afternoon an hour and a half away from home.
Some might read what I’ve said here and think that I am a bad parent for encouraging my daughter to break the speed limit, and drive under improper endorsements. Those are the same type of people who spit on that same child and earned my wrath when the police had conspired with them to clear me from a neighborhood so that marijuana sales could flow without opposition. And it is that type of utter hypocrisy which causes Rick Stevens in Tail of the Dragon to thumb his nose at the government of The United States and take his fight to the death under the mantra “live free or die.” For Rick Stevens, he meant it. And the way to make the words come to paper came from rides like the one to a Cleveland film festival with my daughter who was stepping into her adulthood with the fearless conquest of obstacles that most cower from in trepidation only to punch through the other side in a life of illumination that shines through in virtually every action of human endeavor.
It was never my intention to grow up in a typical fashion to become a nice compliant adult that does whatever a political class determines in their infantile wisdom to be sufficient to the human experience. In that regard, I have always been on a quest for the “super human” experience. I have taught my children nothing short of living their lives as “super humans” themselves. And upon delivering my children into adulthood I am not done with parenting. Only now, the students are not my biological children but the inquiring minds of those who know there is more to life than what they see before them, and lack the faculties to meet that life. For such minds, being an average human will not be enough. They must become more so. For them, I present Rick Stevens and the greatest car chase in the history of the world in the novel Tail of the Dragon.