white collar filming

9

That’s not the way you walk in real life, is it? Neal Caffrey is one of the few characters on television where you would remark on the way he walks.

No, my god. I wish I was that kind of peacock. Yeah, I locked myself in our guest room for about – I would say like 2 or 3 weeks working on that. And then I would walk around my block and the house. I only had one suit to my name when I got this job – maybe two. And I would put it on and walk around my block. I’m sure I looked like a complete loon in L.A. But I would walk around just figuring out how he moved through the world. We hadn’t even filmed the pilot, but I knew a lot of it was going to play in masters and us walking around together, so I figured I should figure out that part of his physicality. - Matt Bomer [13:00]

Harley-Davidson vs. Millennials (from the POV of a Millennial)

As of late, there’s been a lot of talk about the scourge of Millennials and how they’re ruining everything from bars of soap to lotto scratchers.

“Millennials aren’t buying diamonds." 

"They don’t eat Big Macs.”

“No of them watch cable.”

And my favorite:
“Millennials are killing Harley-Davidson.”

As a Harley rider born between the years of 1981 and 1997, I feel obligated, no entitled, to lavish the internet with my opinion on the topic. Oh, coveted opinion, the most valid of all arguments.

I’m a new rider and when my bike search began, the choice was clear from the beginning: Harley-Davidson. I don’t know if that decision is attributed to my obsession with Orange County Cycles when I was 13 or if I watched Terminator 2: Judgement Day one too many times as a kid, but nothing said motorcycle to me like a chopper. Long, relaxed, powerful. You had the perfect DNA for a mile-eater. A highway hauler. You had an American classic. 

It was that image - that mysticism of the open road, that promise of freedom - that pushed me toward my nearest Harley-Davidson dealership. And that’s when reality sunk in. For those that don’t know, Harley-Davidson is the antithesis of cheap. Don’t get me wrong, they’re amazing, reliable machines, but when an Ultra Limited costs more than a new Camaro, you need a large quantity of disposable income to justify the purchase. Definitely not a comfort I can claim, so I relegated my options to the smaller models and stayed away from the more ‘luxury’ cruisers.

And when you come to think of it, every item listed at the beginning of the post is considered just that, a luxury. Diamonds, Big Macs, shit, even cable isn’t really considered a necessity for survival - and motorcycles are no exception. 

As a Millennial, I’m a big proponent of minimalism. Belonging to the generation that popularized tiny houses, it’s probably no surprise that I live in a 300 sq ft studio apartment with my girlfriend and our dog. For context, that’s like fitting your kitchen, closet, bath, living room and bed into a master suite. Far from palatial. Along those same lines, I only own a small selection of consumer goods. You can’t own much when you don’t have a place to put it. Due to the fact that I’m limited on quantity, I emphasize quality in the things I choose to buy, which are predominately American-made (Wolverine Boots, Gustin Denim, etc.).  

I grew up in a blue-collar family. My grandfather was a baker, my uncles moved furniture, and my grandmother delivered party supplies for a living. While I’ve only held white collar jobs (film industry), I want to do my part to support that dwindling workforce in this country, to support the communities I came from. I guess my allegiance to the MoCo [1] is based less on nationalism and more on classism. All that to say, when I saw H-D’s prices, I figured, “you’re paying for quality labor,” but that type of purchasing pattern and reasoning isn’t shared among my cost-driven, globally-minded peers. Couple that fact with the influx of urban dwelling in the past decade and you have a perfect storm for Harley sales.

Due to the elevated level of congestion in major cities, Millennials have taken to more nimble, handling-oriented motorcycles that can slither through stagnant streets. In LA traffic, it’s practically impossible to squeeze a big bike between lanes. The other day, I knocked a lady’s side mirror off with my Sportster, and my bars measure 24 inches in width! If I had a Softail, I would have been the meat in a vehicle sandwich. Because of these close quarters, this environment makes perfect sense for an FZ-09 or KTM Duke 690. They’re perfectly suited to the urban landscape with their sleek design, technological controls, and standard ABS, which explains the recent shift toward that streetfighter style.

In the time of the Boomers, the motorcycle field in America was much more limited. Not only were the options minimal, but America was the land of highways, stretching over 2,600 miles, coast-to-coast. With hundreds of miles between cities, choppers were the perfect tool for the job, not to mention the ultimate self-expression on two wheels. 

Nowadays, there are hundreds of brands to choose from and even more classes of motorcycles: Sport, Touring, Electric, Adventure, Scrambler, Literbike, Naked…GROM (just kidding). Back in the day, more people could also afford to live in the suburbs, allowing you to safely store your bike in a covered garage. But in the city, you have to worry about parallel parkers, drunk drivers, and thieves (I’ve seen 3 Softail theft ads in the past month in LA). You almost don’t want to buy anything “too nice”, including large $15,000 motorcycles. 

At the end of the day, it all comes down to price. That’s something on which Millennials, Boomers, and even Gen-Xers can agree. With the death of the Dyna (RIP), Harley has essentially erased the only Big Twin [2] attainable by blue-collared folk, while the new Softail pricing only appeals to those with six-figure jobs without six-figure student loan debt. 

2018 Softail Fat Bob, courtesy of Harley-Davidson

On top of that, I have numerous friends that are entering the most terrifying and financially taxing stage of lives: parenthood. When all is said and done, motorcycles aren’t even the main mode of transport for most people, especially if you have a kid on the way (that’d be something). I know a lot of buddies/peers that expressed wanting a motorcycle after I purchased my Sporty, but unlike me, they don’t lead a careless, Peter Pan-esque lifestyles. Some things in life you just don’t get to plan, certain stages have to take priority over others, and if that means waiting until your midlife crisis to buy that new Road King Special, then the MoCo will have to wait.

All this to say, Harley-Davidson bikes are luxury items. They are, as Blockhead [3] recently referred to them, the Apple of motorcycles. They utilize classic design, adopt technologies later than most, deliver less capable specs than competitors, and upcharge the consumer. They’re a luxury brand selling a lifestyle, a culture, an image. They cram nostalgia into new packages and sell it by the thousands. They charge $40 bucks for a t-shirt, $400 for a quarter fairing, and $600 for a 10K service. They’re as boujee as they come, they just happen to dress up in a greasy mechanic’s shirt.

But with all that off my chest - and damn, it felt good - as long as Harley’s providing blue-collared American jobs, I’m buying. If my peers understood that it’s not just the bike you’re purchasing, it’s the intangibles that come with it, would they do the same? If they realized that there’s an entire community that comes with the motorcycle, would they want one? If they could comprehend the fact that every time I’ve pulled to the side of the road another Harley rider has made sure I don’t need any help with repairing the bike, would they throw a leg over?

I guess, only time will tell, and over the next 10 years, H-D plans to release 100 new models. That means a drastic overhaul of their entire lineup, and if the new Softails are any indication of what’s to come, they’re headed in the right direction. For evidence of that, we need to look no further than the American auto market. In the early 2000s, Chevy, Ford, and Dodge delivered muscle car essence in a modernized package. The fervor around those heritage pieces helped the auto companies recover from the recession and stabilize. 

If the MoCo can cater to the tastes of new riders while developing new technologies, there should be a healthy forecast for their future. With a new electric bike arriving in 2019 and models like the Bronx and Pan-America on the horizon, it feels as if Harley is listening to their fan-base and diversifying their portfolio. 

Project LiveWire, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

America is a large land full of people that buy diamonds or sapphires, that eat Big Macs or arugula, that watch cable or Netflix, and the more Harley branches out, the more people will be able to enjoy it.

[1] Nickname for the Harley-Davidson Motor Company

[2] Nickname for the larger engine bikes in the Harley-Davidson catalog

[3] Motovlogger that owns numerous Harley-Davidsons