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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Guest Post: Matthew Biberman on Jay Leno

It's time for my regular drum beating for my favorite book this year. If you're a new-ish reader, I'm talking about the wonderful book Big Sid's Vincati by Matthew Biberman. (You can see my review here, and also a bit of information about how Jay Leno and the Vincati became acquainted here.)

Jay Leno filmed the Vincati for his website and the video is going up tomorrow, Monday, Sept. 7th. Be sure to check it out, Leno's garage has the coolest site, where he talks about the bikes, cars, etc in his collection and usually culminates each episode with driving whatever he's talking about. I'm not much of a car or motorcycle person, but I have a huge appreciation for the beautiful old vehicles in his collection. And I can't wait to see his thoughts about Matt and Big Sid's hybrid motorcycle!

Matthew Biberman, being an author and Shakespearean professor is a much better writer than I'll ever be, so rather than go on and on, let's let Matt tell us about Jay Leno and the Vincati:

Countdown to the Vincati's Appearance on Leno's Garage
by Matthew Biberman

September 4, 2009

With promotion, everything comes down to the writer. Agents, editors, massive publishing houses, publicists—in this day and age, none of that really matters. Its you and your book, so if you believe, then at least once in your life, you got to go for broke.

The shot seems staged and yet it really wasn’t. The film crew had left and Leno had turned his attention to other tasks, principally loading up the Bugatti he was taking to show at the Pebble Beach councours, an event 350 miles north that started the following day. Yet somehow, one of my accomplices in Vincati crime realized there was still some unfinished business and succeeded in rounding us all up for this hastily taken group shot.

I don’t even know who took the picture, one of Leno’s garage crew, certainly, but was it John, or Bob, or Bernard?

And so who are you looking at? That’s Stephen standing by the front wheel. The owner of Restoration Werks in Chicago. I christened him the driver of the bus, in homage to Neil Cassidy, the famed Beat icon who served as Kerouac’s inspiration for On the Road, and who drove Kesey’s bus, Further, on its epic journey across America back at the start of the 60’s. And funny enough, Stephen is currently restoring another famous bus, the bus that served as house and workshop to Von Dutch, the American folk artist who popularized pin striping on hot rods.

Next to him stands the ever ebullient Jacqui Van Ham, the slash 5 girl, whose exploits on her 1972 BMW R75/5 in Europe have thrilled many motorcyclists. She hooked a ride on the Vincati express, wide eyed, and ready to chronicle this adventure. We will see what she cranks out.

Next to her stands my dad, Big Sid, looking pretty good—if drained and dazed from what just transpired.

And there in the middle, the man of the hour, Mr. Lantern Jaw himself. He has selected a pose and assumed it and yet something else radiates from him. Absent is the irony. He is not trying to sell you crap and he knows it. He's just had fun and somehow standing next to Big Sid means more to him than I will ever know.

I see now he has his front hand in his pocket. Stand offish? Perhaps. But everyone wants a piece of him and yet he has stood his ground better than most would in his position. There was no phalanx of lawyers surrounding him. There was no tech inspection or preliminary ride before he wacked the throttle open on the 101 and hit 90 on a bike built in a cinderblock garage in Kentucky by an old man who has forgotten too much and his son, an ink scribbler, who never quite learned all that much about motors.

And there I am, my face a crafted expression of triumph. Somehow, I had pulled it off—but what? I am still not sure. It was fun, though and totally irrational. And it may not help me sell one additional book. But at that moment, I didn’t care, and truth be told, I was thinking about reality tv and Shakespeare.

Just what would the Bard have made of the YOUTUBE phenomenon? I’ll tell you one thing: when Leno looked at me and quoted my book: “Matthew, you may not have written the great American novel” PAUSE, SHAKES BOOK, “But this is pretty good!” I felt like it was more real than reality TV, more real than reality, even.

Finally, on the end, my buddy Scott Van Houten. Shepard to the Vincati on its trip in the Van while I flew out with Sid. A fantastic drummer who told me, more than once, that if you want to make it big, you got to leave Louisville—you got to take it on the road and leave what you got on the floor, for the fans. Well, we did, hauling the Vincati all the way to waters of the Pacific Ocean.

And Leno’s hand stretched out to the viewer, a gesture that says . . . what? Go, little book, go.


NOTES

Look for the Vincati footage on jaylenosgarage.com starting this Monday.

For a better view of the snap go here:
Leno and the Vincati

Okay--y'all know I'm just gonna keep nagging you until you read this book, right??? What are you waiting for???? Go get the darned thing.....

2 comments:

Sassy Brit said...

Great guest post! Yes, I would love to read his book! :))

And I have to say I adore your little cutie of a dog pictures.

She is SO sweet.

Sassy
:)

Laughing Stars said...

What a terrific guest post. :-) Thanks for the heads up about this book and author.