Why I Don’t Want the Open Editor Position at Cycle World

by Ed Milich

Back in 2005, Brian Catterson left Cycle World Magazine after a long career there. To fill the resulting open position, the magazine held an essay contest in which prospective staffers had to answer the question "Why I want the open position at Cycle World". Here's the response I sent in.

Needless to say, I didn't get the job.

After your appeal for submissions to fill the open Editor position at Cycle World, I’m sure that your septic tank will be overflowing with responses from slicksters, social climbers and suckups who want to advance to the next rung of moto celebrite’. Allow me to interrupt your approving chourus of Aerostitched BMW dweebs, mullet-headed minimum-wage-earning Harley devotees, and assorted brown nosers singing Glorias to your editorial prowess, with a lone dissenting voice. To the few motorcycle riders whose vision is not permanently desensitized by the shiny turdmeat that the manufacturers pound down the big plastic funnel that is your fine journal, the following statement is glaringly obvious. The Cycle World Editorial Staff, far from the bastions of moto coolness, are as lame and limp wrested as the entire male cast of “America’s Next Top Model”.

It’s not that I blame you entirely for your journalistic flaccidity. You have to be so goddamn nice to the readership or people will instantly send whining “Please cancel my subscription” letters whizzing past your head like a handful of marbles thrown into a ceiling fan. On top of that, you have to graciously kiss the weenie of the major bike manufacturers on a monthly basis or they’ll withdraw ads faster than a Viagra-emboldened, love-starved Britbike codger would pull out of Jessica Simpson. Don’t kid yourselves. You’re not journalists. You’re a magazine full of monkeys on a monthly deadline to crank out corporate copy. You’re a bunch of editorial circus clowns who dance around the fine array of products as they’re presented to the public like Bob Barker’s Price is Right bimbos.

I mean, when you can’t even make a disparaging comment about mid 80’s Yamaha UJM’s, (obviously the noblest of nineteen-eighties Nipponese landfill rides, judging by the heartfelt response that their criticism elicited) without offending the “Visionaries” or whatever the internet- organized group of socipoaths dedicated to the glorious Yamaha Vision call themselves (Dec 2005 issue). Yeah, better tone down your criticism, there, Ambrose. Offend the wrong group of model worshipers and the Hells Ascots will be circling your Westwood apartment, ready to stomp you to death under their steel-toed brown loafers. Show some backbone, for crissakes. A mere $1000 would cover budget for a story on the “Best High Los Angeles Vantage Points to Drop a Yamaha Vision Off Of, Part 1: Rooftops, Cliffs and Freeway Overpasses”. Some aspects of motorcycling are screaming to be made fun of, prime among those are any group of people who get excited enough about 1980’s UJM’s to form an internet social group. Other examples include: 1. Anyone who bought into the latest Honda Helix, Burgman big bore scooter “craze”. Big bore, indeed. 2. Anyone who has a CB radio, cup holder, or air compressor on a two wheeled vehicle. 3. Anyone who pays full retail price for a motorcycle 4. Any American national or other non-Limey who uses the phrase “cheers”. 5. Anyone who spends more than $5000 annually in the Riders Warehouse catalog, the 100+ page biannual compendium of crap that motorcyclists don’t really need. 6. Anyone who makes reference to themselves as an “Adventure Tourer”. 7. Anyone who has worn fingerless gloves. I could go on.

OK. Allow me to get personal. Peter Egan’s been writing the same farking column for the sum of my recent memory. His columns usually start off with him having his morning cup of coffee and describing how has to go out to the garage and look at his latest overpriced British pile every couple of days in the winter when there’s 4 feet of snow on the ground up there in Idaho or whichever wretched flyover state he lives. He then relates that he bought it from his good buddy Bif Schwadersky, who was a retired from the meat rendering plant, and whose garage is decorated with 1/5 scale models of Harley Davidson Septic Service Servicars built entirely from Fudgecicle sticks and blahdy, blahdy, blah. That Egan is just so goddamned pleasant and personable and Middle American. If I ever see him in traffic, it’ll take all my willpower to not cut him off in order to get a rise out of him. He apparently pictures himself as an everyman, a piece of Americana, a two-wheeled Hemingway who surely expects the world to produce have faux Peter Egan- essay writing contests by the end of the decade. I wonder out loud if he has Papa’s penchant for pink frilly underwear, too, but I digress.

Then there’s Cameron. He loves his motorcycles, and especially motorcycle technology. In fact, he’s so busy lecturing on the vibration modes of speedometer cables that he probably hasn’t ridden one of the damn things for years. Here’s a bit of advice. For your next April 1 issue, have Cameron write Egan’s column and vice versa. Don’t tell anyone. See if anyone notices Egan’s fractured technicalese [“muffler bearings are an integral part of your exhaust system’s dynamic efficiency”] or Cameron’s bench seat philosophizing [“the comforting torsional mode of my Triumph’s windshield at idle is an indication that if there is a God, he probably has gnarlier teeth than Mr. Ed and rides a ’67 Bonneville]. Hilarity Ensues.

As an American Moto journalissimo, there’s so much that you can’t say. You can’t say that the newest “Power Cruiser” yuppie toy is basically an overweight, underpowered pavement pounding sloppy turd that, coincidentally, sounds like an oscillating Whoppee Cushion once Joe Middle America “opens up the exhaust” in order to “let it breathe better”. You also can’t say that the airbag safety feature on the new Honda Goldwing looks like a big, pink, puckered ass (much like that of the common, corpulent, buffet-barraging Goldwing rider) ready to embrace your half-helmet-wearin kisser at the first indication of a frontal impact. You can’t say that ride quality of every single “custom chopper” is such that riding one for more than 10 city blocks gives the impression that your butthole is being battered up into the back of your throat every time you run over so much as a pebble.

Realize that as a foot soldier of the mainstream American media, your appeal to the mean is directly responsible for the dumbing of the American motorcycling public. You reinforce the same agreeable middle American perspectives responsible for rescuing the Teutels from the trailer park they were inhabiting and putting them on Slurpee cups, Slim Jim wrappers and a variety of other fine products available at better truck stops everywhere. “Gee”, Mr. Middle America sez empathetically, “I ‘m like old man Teutel. He don’t take no shit. I wish my family was as hilariously dysfunctional as his is…”. THANK YOU, CYCLE WORLD MOTOJOURNALISTS.

I have an idea for an exciting story- have a 10 bike shoot out. Take 10 of the latest Jap widowmakers out to the desert…and shoot them. With large caliper weaponry. I further offer you the following ideas, free of charge and royalty, to facilitate your recovery from journalistic mediocrity.

Develop stories based upon the following headlines:
-Jap Rice Rockets: They’re All Basically the Same Bike!
-Harley Davidson- Will the 2006 Models be as Slow, Heavy and Expensive as the 2005’s?
-Buell: Why Do These Guys Even Try?
-Spend Your Kids’ Inheritance on a Big Overpriced, Rapidly Depreciating Cruiser Buyer’s Guide 2006!
- BMW Motorcycles: Now You can be a Buffoonish Snob on Two Wheels, Too!
-Reactions From Showing up to Hell’s Angels Rally with Harley Davidson Tank Badges Epoxied Onto the Tank of Your Yamaha XS1100: A Photo Essay.

Since even the most butcherous edit of this manifesto would be entirely unpublishable in your magazine, I intend it as a simple indication that the remaining cadre of motorcycle illuminati is not amused by your monthly marketing manifesto. In conclusion, I would rather dig for intact peanuts in a pile of elephant poo than fill an open position in such an organization.