My Warhol Fifteen

10 December, 2005 Temperature: 23 degrees F

Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it? I’m talking to those of you who actually saw me on the news yesterday. For those who didn’t, you can find it here:

You have to sit through the 15 second ad before the video starts. Thanks for the link, Brad.

I liked that piece better than the early-morning live interview out in the cold on Nicollet Mall. That was interesting in a different way, but I’ll tell you about that in a moment….

First, I want to thank Tony Peterson for the great camera work, and Karen Leigh for her sympathetic, positive slant on the story. WCCO has long been known as “Minnesota’s Good Neighbor”, and now I know why.

Yesterday morning was a cold one. I don’t recall what the temperature was, exactly, but it was somewhere around zero degrees F. The Baron and I rolled down the driveway at 5:15 a.m., and headed for the heart of downtown Minneapolis. This is a cold, concrete jungle of one-way streets and tall buildings, thankfully devoid of traffic so early in the morning. The directions I had to the studio were kind of sketchy, so I had to ad-lib a little bit once I got into downtown. I could see the big WCCO sign on the side of the building, but all the streets were going the wrong way for me to get there. Instead of stopping and devising a logical route to the target, I did the Marine thing and attacked the sidewalk.

These are wide and full of all sorts of funky terrain features around the Nicollet Mall area. I noticed a bunch of large trucks with satellite dishes from all the local networks parked around the Hilton hotel. Strange. Then I noticed two large gentlemen in long black overcoats watching me from near the hotel entrance, and it clicked: Dubya is coming to sell $1,000-a-plate lunches for his pal Mark Kennedy. I’m dressed like a storm trooper and riding a sporty little motorscooter on the sidewalk, like some sort of minion out of a James Bond film. I could feel the laser sights settling on my helmet as I turned around and headed the other way. This was no time to be detained by the Secret Service. I’m sure it’s nice and warm down in Guantanamo Bay this time of year, but I’m just starting to make friends with Minnesota winter.

There was a fellow standing in front of the studio, waving at me. He was next to a camera and bright lights. Those government thugs wouldn’t try anything in front of the media, would they? I twisted the throttle hard and sped down the sidewalk towards salvation.

Brian Gotter is a tall, skinny galoot. He is the morning weather guy, a member in good standing of the Wind Sock and Crystal Ball Guild. Standing next to him, I looked like a stocky troll, with weird red lines inscribed in my balding head from the seams in my balaclava. I had just taken my headgear off, and they were going to start the interview right away. “Makeup!”…? Nope. This is Live News, bubba. They take you as you are, and shoot you where you stand.

It makes sense to have the Weather Wizard do the interview with the Weather Victim, I guess. I don’t remember much of what we said, but I reckon it was good enough. Of course, they asked “Why?” again. They always do that. What did I say this time? Oh yeah, it was that thing about not wanting to drag two tons of tin around with me everywhere I go. Gas prices. Traffic. You folks already know this stuff.

Since it was live, and they couldn’t stop me, I managed to get in plugs for two of my sponsors: Aerostich and Bob’s Cycle Supply. But then they quickly asked another question and I couldn’t work Baron Scooters or Kenda Tires into the act. These people are quick and savvy, with little patience for media amateurs like myself. Sorry Lev. Sorry John and Laura. I’ll keep working on this.

After it was over, I shook hands with Gotter and the camera guy, and it was time to go to work. Huh. I hadn’t Mapquested that one. I didn’t even have a compass, and the sun wasn’t up yet. So I picked the nearest one-way street, and we went that way until we crossed a street I recognized. Hennepin Avenue. Of course, I went the wrong way on Hennepin at first, but that was quickly solved with a U-turn. I love the agility of this little scooter.

Nobody at work had seen me on the live shot. They were in their cages, in traffic, on their own boring commute when it aired. That was fine with me, however. Andy Warhol once said, “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” Since he said that in the past, I guess today qualifies as the future. From this experience, I figure that fifteen minutes is more than enough. Feeding this modern media beast is hard work. It’s rough on the nerves. I mean, yeah, it’s a big thrill to see yourself on TV, but it’s also a great big technicolor reminder of your real or perceived shortcomings. I’m glad I experienced it, but once was enough.

Now I can get back to having fun.

8 Responses to “My Warhol Fifteen”

  1. Robb Miemietz Says:

    I’m a former Minnesotan living in Paris and I have a scooter too. There is nothing more economical or easie in a city like this. The nice thin here is that you can go between all of the cars at lights and weave through any traffic jam. I get to work quicker than anyone in a car. And parking is easy also. Here you can park on the sidewalk.

  2. Dan Says:

    Gary, just watched your interview, Couldn’t help but notice you took my advice about the milk crate carrier. Great job on the blog!

  3. mnscooter Says:

    Hello Robb,

    You must tell us all about Paris. What do you do for a living there? Learning French and visiting the country of my ancestors are high on my “Things to do before I die” list. Filtering through traffic on a motorbike is common practice in all CIVILIZED places. Unfortunately, there are only a few enlightened places in the USA that allow this.

    Hi again, Dan. Yes, the milk crate was the obvious choice for this mission. Didn’t you catch my reply back on “Battle Damage”? It’s not elegant, but it sure works a treat. Thanks again.

    Ride well,

  4. Mad Says:

    That was great! I really enjoyed watching the vid, you are hardcore man. Only two things missing, you didn’t wheelie or stoppie for the cameras! :p
    Oh yeah and filtering’s legal here too! My favourite part of the day is cruising past the rush hour traffic jams…

  5. Larry in Phoenix, AZ Says:

    My less than one mile commute this morning was 100% warmer when I thought of you commuting in the midst of a Minnesota winter. To think I complained recently about scootering in the early morning cold of 49 degrees and the afternoon return home at 70 degrees! I will never complain again.

  6. mnscooter Says:

    Hey Mad, I think it is beneath the Baron’s dignity to perform stunts in front of the camera. We must remember our place as arctic aristocrats, and set a good example in public.

    Hey Larry, these are the easy days where you live. Maybe you can blog your commute in July or August.

    Ride well,

  7. Bigburlybaldbeardedbiker Says:

    Gary, I have not been able to view the video clip. I’ve tried 3 or 4 times, both from the URL here and the same one you posted on the KLR forum. I’d like to see it.


  8. mnscooter Says:

    Hey Paul,

    It sounds like either a bandwidth or driver problem. I’m not an expert at these things, but I have had similar problems in the past. I have it on VHS tape, and can loan that to you, if you like.

    Ride well,

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