Whatever: Generation Gap

John Burns
by John Burns

Know when to say no to the video

I’m a capital C Conservative when it comes to holding onto some rituals, chief among them being the time-honored tradition of toasting one’s co-workers with a beverage at the end of a hard day of motojournalism. That tradition, I’m sad to say, is coming under attack from the forces of evil. At the recent Austrian launch of the new Yamaha Niken, it was almost difficult for me, Rider magazine’s illustrious Editor Mark Tuttle, and the 50-something guy Popular Mechanics sent, to enjoy our cocktails, knowing that the 20-somethings Cycle World/Motorcyclist sent were at that moment out gathering even more video footage of the Niken, on top of the thousands of hours we’d already captured that day. I know what it’s like to be young and ambitious, but outworking the other guy is no way to get ahead in the modern workplace. That’s only going to bring out the Tonya Harding in people.

Me, Yamaha’s people Derek and Marcus, and Ari Henning, who’s about to order a Shirley Temple.

Okay, well, then again, their Niken vid does have, ahhh, 769,000 views since they posted it on Youtube a week ago. I’m sure mine will do that well when we get around to editing and posting it. Okay maybe not. On the other hand, young Ari Henning posted a written review of the Niken on Cycleworld.com the same day mine was posted here on MO. So far his review has 0 comments, and mine has 99 (most of them welcoming back our excellent commenter, BorntoRide).

Basically there’s a big schism between people who want to read and people who want to watch, and frankly, I’m concerned about the mental health of the latter – today’s youth – all 769,000 (now 778,000) of them. When I read my favorite sites, I’m constantly turning off the sound and looking for the little “x” to kill the video. I want some peace and quiet so I can read the story.

The kids were working so hard that when they did finally get to the bar they were too tired to drink. Part of that may have been down to Yamaha getting us there a day early to “acclimatize” to the altitude and the niceness of Austria. While most of us piled into the rental van for a day trip to the Eagle’s Nest or went golfing (no names) that first day, the kids rented mountain bikes they had to pedal uphill for 27 miles just for the pleasure of rolling back down. I hate to drag in religion, but obviously the Protestant work ethic has run amok with these youths. All they want to do is punish themselves for the sins of us Boomers.

Sorry I missed the mountain bike ride. If poor Herr Hitler had managed to escape to the Eagle’s Nest, we’d still be trying to flush him out.

Motorcycles are supposed to be a leisure pursuit, dammit, not the Bataan Death March. It was bad enough when digital photography drove guys like Tom Riles out of the biz. Instead of taking a few days to process the film, then two-day FedExing you the slides when he got around to it, the digital generation wanted their pics of themselves that night, depriving Riles of the afterwork bar ritual. What’s the point, he wanted to know? Business without pleasure is like a train without a caboose.

I just got back from a few days in Baja, riding small ADV bikes with the MO kids – a little comparo I’ll be knocking out as soon as this “Whatever” column gets done. I have to admit I had a pretty good time, but again, our style was cramped by the need to bring back a video. In fact, the guy who should be complaining is our videographer, Sean Matic, who got to lug 50 pounds of video gear on back of his Triumph Tiger 1200 across a wide beach, and everywhere else we went. (I know it’s at least 50 pounds, because I made the mistake of offering to carry the cases up a few flights of stairs our last morning in Mexico – the most cardio I’ve done in a while.)

Matic at work, smiling though his heart is breaking. (What a fantastic motorcycle is the Triumph Tiger 1200.)

The other thing he has to do is keep current on all kinds of new video gear that’s constantly updating, and if you don’t have a drone that shoots 4K, don’t even bother. iPhone vids don’t cut it anymore. At any given time, we’ve got a couple GoPro5s rolling (or whatever it takes) mounted to somebody’s chest or front fender, as well as forward- and rear-mounted cameras on the Triumph mothership (all of whose 12V outlets are charging batteries constantly), and does anybody need a colonoscopy today? We’re packing audio gear too, which everybody needs to get hooked up to for the Dick Cavett talk show portion that’s part of every MO video. I mean, it’s not a lot of work, but it takes a lot of time – and the real labor doesn’t begin until Matic gets back to the home office and has to turn 400 random clips into some sort of finished product.

When I write our Baja adventure up, I will have had a few days to digest the trip and consider the lingering after effects of each of the bikes, soak myself in the hot tub, compare notes with Brent and Ryan, edit photos… I’ll throw all that in the stew pot and let it simmer on low for a couple days (it’s in there right now) while I pull together specs and photos and attempt to make it all into a cohesive package that does each motorcycle justice while telling a fun story (I hope) about our little adventure. When we’re having to make the video, though, we’re still right in the middle of the process, our thoughts are still in the larval stage: Sean sets up the cameras in flagrante delicto on the breakfast table, okay ACTION!

Well, ahhhh, all three are nice little bikes they all have a good beat you can dance to I like all of them and ahhhhh

How good would The Great Gatsby be if you’d turned the camera on Fitzgerald and said, okay F. Scotty, GO!

The act of writing, why people used to like to practice it, is that it forces you to gather, organize, and refine your thoughts before you turn them loose upon the public. The ascent of video makes me feel like that’s just a lost art. So is reading, which is how the world wound up in its present state. No time to think. You kids get offa my lawn. But I don’t think this is just me yearning for the past, because we also learned long division and how to work out square roots on the blackboard – things I knew even at the time were a waste of time because the Bowmar Brain had just come out.

Anyway, as the kids say, f#@k that! Writing this has made me realize what’s wrong with our MO videos, and that’s the Dick Cavett talk show portion! From now on it’s gonna be more like the old Elvis song:

A little less conversation, a little more action, please
All this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark
Close your mouth and open up your heart and, baby, satisfy me
Satisfy me, baby.

We just need that new equipment that lets you ride off the edges of the tires, shoot video and dictate your thoughts in real time while you’re doing it. Just be sure the camera’s mounted straight before you take off, Trizzle! Once that stuff’s in place one million Youtube views is just around the corner!

While that’s in the works, thank God the MO kids, Brent and Ryan, know when it’s time to knock off for the day. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll get cracking on our Baja comparison so I can ride up to Laguna Seca Friday for our small-bore sportbike comparison test! At this pace, maybe the kids are right, maybe video is the future?

(For you mature readers who’ve never been, MO’s video channel is here.)

John Burns
John Burns

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3 of 77 comments
  • Michael Andersen Michael Andersen on Jun 09, 2018

    The day news breaks for something that I care about, I'm on youtube looking for relevant, abbreviated facts. Sometimes the sixty year old senior editors don't resonate with my interests.

    Sometimes they do. We need variety, but of the interesting kind. When it's recommended to read the article, I'd like to read more than the transcript of the video I watched three minutes before.

  • RSS.feed.short.url RSS.feed.short.url on Jun 11, 2018

    You’re a capital c something all right ...