Let me get this out of the way: As a business owner, I'm delighted that tens of thousands of Harley riders are rolling up on Milwaukee right now. These leather-clad, genuine (and faux) bad-asses are stoking our local economy, and in fact, are helping my own venture, OnMilwaukee.com.
We've seen increased advertising from businesses wanting to reach riders, as well as a bump in readership -- and the party has given us plenty of fodder about which to write.
But from a personal standpoint, I have to admit, I'm somewhat underwhelmed by the event. As much as I was into the 100th anniversary in 2003, this time around, I find myself disinterested, and even a little put off by the hoopla.
Maybe it's because 105 isn't a terribly significant anniversary, and while the company's longevity is a great testament to its people and its brand, at a certain point, it just becomes a number. At the 90th and 95th, it was clear the celebrations were leading up to the centennial. But with that come and gone, it's hard (as a non Harley enthusiast) to get really fired up for all the shenanigans and headaches that come with such a bombastic event.
I mean, I feel like I just did this.
I went to all the block parties. I sat patiently and smiled through rumbling traffic jams. I didn't go ballistic when some jack ass did a burn out in front of my house at 2 a.m. -- for the third time that night.
I even got to Veterans' Park hours early to watch the debacle unfold between Dan Aykroyd's drunken ramblings and Elton John's numerous, ridiculous costume changes.
My colleague Drew Olson told me this morning that I'm Milwaukee's youngest curmudgeon. I hope that's not the vibe I'm exuding, but I've gotta say, this time, I'm not so into the Harley thing.
Am I alone?
I almost feel guilty writing this, but I don't think I'm the only one feeling a little nonplussed. In fact, I'm hearing the same thing from a lot of Milwaukeeans this week. We all think that it's cool that Harley is bringing in Springsteen and the Foo Fighters -- but where was this in 2003?
It's sort of like when Bud Selig ended the All-Star Game in a tie -- making the game count for home-field advantage the next year was little consolation.
Maybe I just have other things on my mind, like that baby that could come any day now. Maybe I'm just less intrigued by block parties full of buttless chaps, black T-shirts and over-the-hill boobs being tossed about with reckless abandon.
Or maybe, to mix a metaphor of both Fonzie and motorcycles, these Harley reunions have jumped the shark.
In 2003, I declared to no one in particular that by 2008, I'd be driving my own Harley to this party. Honestly, I have no interest in joining the ranks of the biker enthusiasts. I do appreciate the notion of driving cycles instead of gigantic SUVs -- even these hogs get admirable gas mileage. But now, I try to drive cars that sound quiet when they idle -- and if they're growling, it's only when I'm passing someone on the highway -- not sitting at stoplights making an ass of myself.
I'm not asking these Harley riders to leave. I'm genuinely appreciative that they want to come to Milwaukee every five years. Please enjoy your time here, support our local businesses and get to know our wonderful city. We're happy to have you.
But this weekend, please don't be offended when I steer clear of the celebration. This is your party, Harley riders, not mine. I'll just sit quietly on the curb.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.