Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My thoughts on Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

By now everyone knows the story. The government and the people of Myrtle Beach have spoken. There will be no more sponsorship of bike weeks from the city of Myrtle Beach.

I have heard people lamenting this decision; these people of course do not live in or near Myrtle Beach, but instead, are vendors or participators of the yearly event. I know, I’ve heard all the reasons why people who don’t live in the area give for the “plus” or “bonus” that comes from hosting such large events, but from my experience, I stand along side the people of Myrtle Beach, and applaud the balls it took to wean themselves from the fast money teat.

Now, I’ve never been to Myrtle Beach, but I did live less than 75 miles south of Daytona for many….many years. I started going to Daytona for spring bike week in 1978. I stayed at the Cabbage Patch Campground, back when it actually was a cabbage patch. I stayed at the ABATE campground during its infancy. I actually met Big Daddy Roth (I met him back in the early ‘60’s), and I can actually remember a time when you could walk down Main Street without having to weave through the spectators like you were a lava flow making its slow but sure way to the sea…I can remember when I didn’t have to park the bike in order to get around downtown, I could actually ride without fear of major engine damage due to overheating. I remember when the Boot Hill was still nothing but a hole in the wall, and I remember getting drunk and stumbling across the street to the cemetery…just to wander around and be alone. It’s not like that now there, and I’ll bet the fine people of Myrtle Beach have just as many fond memories of their town… how it was before the circus set up their tents…and invited all their rude, drunk, disrespectful friends to town.

Forgive me if you think I’m calling you rude and disrespectful. I imagine that you, just like me, are in general a very fine citizen of your town, your county, your state, and your country. But if you have ever come to Myrtle Beach and rode your bike into town and rapped your pipes at a red light or stop sign, then your were disrespectful. If you ever flashed your tits while riding on the back of your man’s bike…then perhaps the citizens would think that as being disrespectful. If you ever drove through a residential neighborhood late at night, looking for your rental house….with perhaps four of your closest buddies behind you…then it could be construed that you are being disrespectful. If you ever cut somebody off at a light…and chalked it up to being a tourist and not knowing where you were going, then you were being disrespectful.

As for the amount of money events such as these Bike Weeks attract to the area, frankly speaking…sometime money isn’t worth what the community loses or gives up. Let’s think about this for a moment. A community hosting such a large event, eventually loses it’s “small town” feel. It loses it’s friendly attractiveness, not because of any one particular reason, but for a myriad of reasons. But let’s just choose a few for the moment. It’s hard to be friendly to people who come to town for a week, and demand so much from the city and it’s citizens. It’s really hard to feel friendly towards people who think nothing of keeping you up all night with buzz of their machines…cruising the streets 24/7. Clogging the roadways turning getting to work from an affair that should take 15 minutes into an hour of inconvenience and rudeness. Often times finding parking for your everyday activities is out of the question. Why? Because people are now charging 5.00 to 10.00 dollars for parking spaces that are normally free when the circus isn’t in town.

Sometimes, people in these communities start to realize that when such large masses of humanity converges on their towns…no matter how good the community has gotten at serving the masses…they discover the money isn’t worth what they lose with the small town feeling of hospitality they take such great pride in. They see quite a bit of damage to the city once the bikers leave town. Litter, graffiti, and just plain filth left by people with an indifferent attitude. It’s not their town, they are paying for the citizens to put up with their “privileged” attitudes. Quite frankly, I think Myrtle Beach has tried to work with the multitudes of bikers who come each year…but once you grow from an event that attracts hundreds…or even a few thousand, to an event that attracts nearly a half million people in a weeks time…you have to decide what your willing to give up, and what you aren’t.

So you see, it takes balls to be a city that has enjoyed the biker bucks for so long…to stand back and say…”ENOUGH….WE’VE HAD ENOUGH!” We don’t like what we have become. It’s not you…it’s not that your bikers…it’s just that we have lost our identity…we have lost the sense of our community, and we just want it back. We want our streets, we want our beaches, we want our self respect back!”

Good for you Myrtle Beach. Good for you.