Thursday, September 30, 2010


Last Saturday night the artist's collective Comune held their second annual 'Karlson Tea Party' (no relation to the political entity) in Costa Mesa, CA.  The point of the exercise, beyond attracting the hippest crowd in Orange County that night, was a display of photographs by Adam Wright ('Hauler' and 'Road Course' photo 'zines) and skate/motorcycle photographer Scott Pommier, plus a curated selection of motorcycles, all but one customized, by Cole Foster, Ian Barry, Trevelen Rabanal, Kiyo, Kutty Notebloom, and John Edwards (the non-custom bike was a Harley KRTT racer, provided by Yoshi Kosaka of the Garage Company).

Set up in a large parking lot bordered by the Comune store and a converted shipping container which served as the art gallery, the bikes on display were dramatically lit in the dark outdoor space, making them the center of attention, while about 60 ride-in bikes were parked nearby, some of them as interesting as the display machines...surely a hallmark of any worthy bike event.

The aesthetics of the display machines ranged from an 'old school/old paint' Knucklehead bobber, exotic 60s-style art creations (the 'Plum Smuggler'), super clean and minimal contemporary customs (Cole Foster), classic extended-fork choppers, and a pair of Ian Barry's tour-de-force Falcons.

Bikes in the parking corral were half Harley-based with a range of styles, plus a large British custom contingent, and a few modified Japanese machines, including the brilliant street-scrambler which never was but looks like it ought to have been, the Yamaha CT175/XS650 hybrid below, created by Sabrina Azam and Michael Cook.

I've attended motorcycle events of every stripe, all around the world, for decades now, and the heady mix of well-executed motorcycles, talented photographers, plus a crowd which, beyond the core of bike lovers, included a swelling throng of the young, beautiful, and über hip, were proof that motorcycles are just about the hottest fashion accessory around in 2010.

Thus, amongst the attendees, I would estimate more than half were motorcyclists, while a very visible contingent could be termed 'motorcycle-friendly' - gorgeous young women and men from the 'OC' and beyond. Throw in half a dozen Hell's Angels, and the scene harkened back to the heady days of the late 1960s, when the HA were considered 'outlaw brothers of the counterculture', and accessorized the parties of chic society.  The wheel goes 'round, as they say.

The difference today, 40 years later, is a lack of crazed drugginess...which gives me hope we can avoid another Altamont.

Thanks to the Comune for inviting me to their party; the music was great!  (For a short video from the event, click here).