Whatever! – I Hate Peter Egan

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WARNING: This column is completely SATIRICAL (I don’t really mean it). I actually love Peter Egan, but grew terribly jealous after a few years opening his fan mail at Cycle World. And PE loves me, too, a little anyway. At lunch during my last week at CW not long ago, he told me I was the guy to take over his column. Ha! Well, that’s not going to happen anytime soon, but in the words of John Paul Jones, I have not yet begun to write …


How do I hate Peter Egan, let me count the ways…

At least once a week at Cycle World, I’d open a piece of mail that read something like this: Dear Editor, We’re having a motorcycle rally / concours d’elegance / hootenanny at a very exclusive leafy green country club in a beautiful part of New England in the fall, and if Cycle World would be interested in attending, we’d love to put you up for the weekend in a charming cottage on the grounds with a babbling trout-filled brook running past the porch, just across the swinging bridge from the gourmet restaurant, open bar and lush golf course full of motorcycles, cars, airplanes, and steam locomotiveson all of which you’ll be more than welcome to toot the horn.

Yes, YES! This story has John Burns all over it!

All proceeds are for a good cause, the Recovering Young Nymphomaniacs of Iceland Society, many of whom will be on hand all weekend to assist you in any way possible. Please forward this invitation to Peter Egan immediately, and have him RSVP ASAP!

Yeah, straight to the round file with that one. Sorry, Pete.

Here’s Peter (second from right) at a recent Fairfield County Concours d‘Elegance, being presented with a large box of currency. (The box appears too light to contain gold bars.)

Here’s Peter (second f rom right) at a recent Fairfield County Concours d‘Elegance, being presented with a large box of currency. (The box appears too light to contain gold bars.)

Half the other mail would be evenly split between people gushing about how much they loved Egan’s or Kevin Cameron’s column/story last month, with the left-brain engineer types leaning Cameron and the misty-eyed romantics opting Egan. (The rest of the mail wanted to know why the Harley won again, a topic for another column.)

I’m cool with Cameron, whose Rasputin facade and pointy intellect keep him mostly confined to quarters except for the occasional MotoGP or ball-bearing factory tour.

Egan’s human warmth, though, heated the whole front half of the magazine until the ink ran and the posh invites began oozing from the inbox. Why not? He’s a charming guy and a man’s man at the same time who can be counted on to say and do the right things. After a couple of evenings with PE and his wife, Barb, the RYNIS sufferers would be reformed and ready for a lifetime of happy monogamy. Some of us, on the other hand, can be counted on to wind up overserved and overturned in the babbling brook in the middle of the night, a jam we might be able to work our way out of gracefully until somebody starts wailing I broke a naaaaaail! in Icelandic.

Egan always came up with the best captions for both Cycle World and Road & Track last pages. Nothing’s more despicable than people who are wittier and more talented.

Egan always came up with the best captions for both Cycle World and Road & Track last pages. Nothing’s more despicable than people who are wittier and more talented.

Sorry, do I sound jealous? Am I veering negative? I can’t help it. Whenever I’m under the sink of a beautiful Saturday morning installing a new garbage disposal, when I’m still in the nasty, getting-the-rusty-old-one-out phase, I very often find myself wondering, “What’s Egan Doing right now?” Usually he’s jetting off to visit his pals who own wineries and just bought new condos in the mountains, where they keep plenty of spare BMWs for him to ride and fine Pinot Noirs. Sometimes he’s off to Osh Kosh to help install a fresh Merlin in another pal’s P-51. And when he’s not doing that stuff he’s probably on a great Road &Track junket, stopping in Luckenbach to jam with Waylon and Willie. I was glad when my subscription lapsed.

I bet Barb doesn’t let you park your BSA Lightning in the house, does she Peter? Hah! The only thing I’m not jealous of is your sad attachment to all the old British stuff.

I bet Barb doesn’t let you park your BSA Lightning in the house, does she Peter? Hah! The only thing I’m not jealous of is your sad attachment to all the old British stuff.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, when I’m not expressing my hound’s anal glands or attempting to contain small domestic fires, I’m fighting to stay ahead of the SUVs on a Honda Ruckus or being indoctrinated into the Cult of the Comma by the great Paul Dean.

Probably the reason I really despise Egan, though, is that he claims to be happiest working on old motorcycles and things in his shop, where he’s purportedly able to fix rather than destroy them. I used to pride myself on my mechanical skills until a series of unfortunate events made me realize I can really only fix things if they’re just barely broken: Maybe I can put on a new clutch lever or change the oil without impaling myself. Anything more is asking for trouble. A new timing chain for the wife’s Benz which looked easy enough in the manual resulted in an embarrassing tow to Maurice’s M-B Service. After a decade of fits and starts followed by a blown engine, project Jagrolet was finally abandoned a few years ago for pennies on the dollar (mercifully not that many of them amortized over 10 years).

After the Jagrolet freed up some workspace, I dragged the SRX-6 racer out of the shed and determined to get it going again, maybe do a little AHRMA racing. After a thorough dusting and cleaning, I poured a dose of fresh race fuel into the totally custom dished gas tank I made and painted with my own hands (and lined with Kreem), only to have it pour right out the bottom seams and onto my flip-flops. Ow, it buuuuurnnsss… A more patient and caring man might’ve soldiered on and found a new tank, but I was in recently-divorced starting-over mode at the time, and just got rid of the faithless thing.

Circa 1994 at an AHRMA event in Las Vegas with the old SRX-6, wife and child, when it looked for a time as if we might be on our way to leading reasonably normal lives. Good one, Jesus! Actually, the kid’s doing great in college. Knock on wood.

Circa 1994 at an AHRMA event in Las Vegas with the old SRX-6, wife and child, when it looked for a time as if we might be on our way to leading reasonably normal lives. Good one, Jesus! Actually, the kid’s doing great in college. Knock on wood.

I guess it comes down to having one’s House in Order. You really need to have your wife, Barb, and your golden retrievers and loyal friends, Chris Beebe and the Slimey Cruds, and your ducks all lined up before you can even hope to get your garage (or shop!) in order, and Egan’s program has been dialed since he got back from the ’Nam in 1970 (suffering no ill effects whatsoever).

Meanwhile, mine’s still in flux, and I’m always needing to get my lawnmower, teenager, gaseous greyhound or wax ring in order before I can even begin to address the Big Picture. Lately it occurs to me my big picture is just meant to be a big, sloppy pastiche. Maybe I’m good with that. But I did get the new garbage disposal in, and it barely leaks at all. Take that, Egan, you magnificent bastard, I read your book! (and inserted quite a few commas).

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  • http://www.hatchillustrations.com/ Jim Hatch

    Nice one JB, like a trip through your life.

    • Old MOron

      Wait a minute. Didn’t you used to go by Fish Stick on this site about 10 years ago? Wow, memory lane.

      Hey JB, I’m just working up to hating PE. Still busy hating on your – what was it Evans said? Oh yeah, moto godliness.

      • john burns

        you better hurry up, he keeps threatening to retire.

    • Old MOron
  • Capo

    Brilliant, John. Hey, that Hammarhead Jack Pine Scrambler guy that Egan did that fawning video and article on turned out to be a shyster and ran off with customers money. So, you got that on him. Otherwise….nothin.’

    • john burns

      that’s funny. He was quite the celeb there for awhile.

  • Jeff Davison

    Hilarious. Great piece!

  • ducatirdr

    His book Leanings helps me get through each New England winter. I remember an article he did on the perfect number of bikes to own. I hate him for that article. Bike poor Tom

  • B.Hoop

    Mr.B, did you write a piece for Cycle~1990ish about taking a trip on a Ducati Paso? I’ve always had it in my mind that you wrote it, but I can’t remember for sure.

    • john burns

      Guilty as charged. An excellent example of how the www ruined motojournalism. Back then, it was “go pick up this Ducati in NJ and have it back here in a week and write a story.”

      Now, it’s “get that Ducati air-dropped into our photo studio immediately and shot and up on our website first!”

      • B.Hoop

        I can still remember reading that story. It was the first non road-test article I actually read, and it opened my eyes to the fact that there was more to be found in the magazines than just statistics and tests.
        I’ve been a magazine junky ever since, but I’ve managed to get my habit somewhat under control over the last half dozen years or so…the www probably serves a purpose similar to that of a methadone clinic..

        • john burns

          that makes me happy. thank you.

  • Jason Fogelson

    JB – if it’s any consolation — Over the years, I’ve grown to hate you almost as much as you hate Egan. Oh, and I hate him, too.

  • 962c

    Get in line Burns and bring dinner and a tent because you’ll need it to get to the end.

  • Ted

    WOW! EGAN HAS A BSA LIGHTNING? I was ready to believe everything Burns said till I saw that. Anyone that has one of those must be like a KING in the motorcycle dimension! Obviously John is just a jealous twit. :-) (seriously, that was my dream bike when I was a teenager. Like a first love, I never got over it). (sigh)

  • http://www.dewhurstphoto.com David Dewhurst

    John you are a precious motorcycling treasure. Peter, however, is priceless.

  • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

    Kevin Cameron and Peter Egan. My you aim high. Great writers for sure. Hate them? Never. The only writer/editor that kind of pissed me off was Brian Catterson. He turned Motorcyclist into sportbike world. Good riddance. That said, when I need a good laugh though I will read Jack Riepe or need a kindred spirit, Mark Zimmerman…What was this article about? Oh yeah, Peter Egan. You might as well attack the pope with a meat cleaver.

  • B. Constable

    Here’s what you do John, send Peter an E-mail stating you found an old E-type in a barn in (some god-forsaken place) and it looks like it has an aluminum body. It can probably be bought for cheap but he better hurry. Then sit back and smirk!

    • john burns

      Good point! I left out that some people would write in offering to give PE old motorcycles, since he was their best pal in spite of having never met… I imagine it happens with cars too.

  • Tod Rafferty

    Neat. (Introductory disclaimer notwithstanding) Egan has been our premier motorsports essayist for so long that we’ll miss hating him. One consolation, he may be a lousy guitar player.

    • john burns

      Hi Todd, thanks for checking in. If you heard me play, you’d understand that is no consolation at all.

  • shwurr

    John. Glad to read you. I always felt you had much the same literary and descriptive talents as Egan but with two attributes he lacks totally. Smoldering anger and a silly sense of appreciation for the absurd. You always manage to hit me smack dab where I live. I also love the “laying on of the first born” pic. Kind of hits home as I had a couple (SRX’s and babies). The expressions also speak loudly: you..”Fuck Yeah!”, her..”Divorce!!”, baby..”Tank HOT!!!”.
    Steve

  • Steven Cote

    Good tires…. not great tires, one of my all time favorites photo captions. PE always help justified my buying and selling of bikes over 35 last count though I lean toward Guzzi’s.

  • COD

    Out of the bag.

  • Archie Dux

    Speaking of which, why did the Harley win? Nice paint, I admit, and sure, they’re the style leader, but that engine is an embarrassment — should have been retired in the 1970s. Even when the Japanese clones are not up on power, the Japanese engines will last literally twice as long — or longer!

  • Starmag

    Wow, I thought the CW graphics change sucked, ( and who was that pent-up 5 year old who did those caricatures?) and now I find out you’re not there anymore either. With you and Egan gone, I’m out. Glad to have found you here by accident. I wrote a email to Hoyer not long ago suggesting the same thing Egan did, that is, replacing him with you, because you’re NOT a colorless drone like the rest.

    I just added MO to my favorites now that I know you’re here.

  • Jnamez

    MO needs Burns to do an “advice” column’ kinda like the one by Bob Lutz for Road n Track. He started out kinda snarky, then got more (too) serious. Burns would be untouchable in such a role. In fact, it would probably do either: put Burnsie on the permanent publishers’ blacklist, or elevate him (and moto journalism) to the new pinnacle of social etiquette purveyors. One thing certain – burns promoted to the hated-est of all time, no argument.