the Vol Vo Voo
By Colorado T.
I love this event.
I suppose that
kinda goes without saying, seein as how I keep coming back
year after year (and I must be doin somethin right,
cuz they keep askin me. Or at least lettin me.
For almost twenty years now). Still, its the kind of thing
that ya gotta say out loud once in a while. Like with yer ol
lady or your kids or your dog; they know it, we know it,
everybody knows it, but it doesnt hurt to remind em
in case it mightve slipped their minds (aint none of
us getting any less senile).
We are The Vous. Principally, but not
exclusively Harley (although Ive ridden in on a Harley only
once, a 60 XLCH. Made it once or twice on a KZ 750 and
two-and-a-half times on a VW trike). We got Beemers and Guzzis
and all kinds of machinery and, frankly, I find the variety
fascinating. I dont know what Id do if I was cast
adrift in a sea of all one make.
What would there be
to talk about? Fuel filters? Chrome polish? Tire pressures?
The problem with something as good as this is that, sooner or
later, its gonna get ripped off, corrupted and turned into
something bizarre. You saw it happen with Hollister and Daytona
and Woodstock and beer and sex and so many other wonderful
things. The Foolsll get a hold of it and fix it til
Once in a while
something comes along that makes us realize just how much we love
this event. This is the story of just such a something.
Now that Im not working, I kinda lose track of time
sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. Maybe its just
encroaching Old Timers Syndrome. When Uncle Daft called and
told me to get ready for the Vous, I figured he was on top
of it (like he knew what month it was). He wanted me to meet him
out on the Thruway so I could lead him in (Ive made the
trip a whole bunch of times. Got lost the first few. Not so much
lately). To say that he has no sense of direction is to
give him more credit than he deserves (of course, neither do I).
Lets just say that were two of only three guys I know
who can get lost in an outhouse.
So there we were, he on his stroked and bored WL (Ol
55) and I on my 69 FLXCB (a chopped 45
dresser), popping and farting along what we thought was the right
road, ridin the ride an diggin the day. Then we
saw the sign.
VOO, it said, above an arrow pointing off to
the right. It was kind of crudely-lettered and had fresh
paint drippin off the bottom. I figured they just had the
young kids makin em. Most of em cant
spell shit unless theyre typing with their thumbs.
We followed the arrow down a long, shady, dusty, dirt road. It
was longer than White Knuckle Way and, if possible, even dustier.
Much dustier. I figured Id found a new back way in to
Indian Lookout. Shouldve known better.
It got dustier. We
slowed down. It got to the point where I couldnt see
through it and was just navigating by ridin the rut and
listening for Uncle Dafts hacking cough. It sounded like he
was choking on a piece of lung.
We finally emerged
from the gloom.
Or so I thought.
By the time the
dust cleared enough for us to see, we found the sun shining
brightly and ourselves in the center of a wide, rolling field of
pristine paint and polished chrome, kinda like Show Field on
Saturday afternoon. I thought it was spectacular.
Then it came into
bikes; they were cars, but cars can be cool, right? Who doesnt
get a thrill drooling over a chop-top 51 Mercury or a
34 Deuce Coupe, a T-bucket street rod or even an Edsel
Wagon, to say nothing of an Aston-Martin, Ferrari or Maserati. My
clutch foot twitches every time I look at Chief Erics Power
These werent antiques or classics.
These were Volvos.
There mustve been a hundred an somethin of
em, fairly neatly parked a door-and-ahalfs width away
from each other. A whole herd, a shimmering landscape, a
glistening shitload. Of Volvos.
It was like looking
at a fractured rainbow, a kaleidoscope of agonizing monotony.
Volvos. Talk about
As one whose
sphincter puckers every time I see ovlov coming up in
my rear-view mirror (especially above a California vanity plate),
I was flabbergasted. I didnt know there were that many of
em out there. Of course, they werent out
there- they were in here!
Uncle Daft and I were in here with em! It was despair on
wheels. I didnt know whether to shit or wind my watch. What
I shoulda done was to punch Daft in the head and make a
one-eighty for the gate.
Shitfire, sonny, lookit all them friggin Ovlovs! Daft
really rather not
. I managed, coughing dustily. My
tongue felt like a brick. My sphincter puckered. Id had a
nightmare like this once. I was naked, on the bike, in heavy
high-speed traffic. I spotted an Ovlov off the port bow and slid
into the middle lane, right behind another one. There was one
beside me. Two in my mirrors. I was surrounded. The Crumplin
Zones were closing in.
Uncle Daft knew
about my Volvophobia. He was looking around and pointing, ooohing
and aahing, (Hey, look! A red one!) generally
rubbing it in. Hes an asshole sometimes.
I was trying to
think of some smartassed way to tell him to shut up. I was trying
to find the out gate. I was trying to convince myself
Id crashed through a dealership on the way to the Vous.
Along about then, a tall, gangly, goofy-lookin guy
came shambling up to us.
Being only too
keenly aware of some of the weird shit that Id seen at the
Vous, I figured nothing was too strange. After all, over
the years wed had professional wrestling, yodeling on the
radio and theyre-not-pink-theyre-fuchsia
staff shirts. I figured maybe this was Chuck Schmidts
twisted idea of a Rodeo Clown.
He stood about
six-foot-five and probably weighed about a hundred an thirty,
fully dressed and soaking wet. From his droopy purple socks and
dusty Birkenstocks, sparse hair grew in mangy patches on his
spindly shins as they rose, swelling roundly into knobby knees
before disappearing under the hem of his baggy khaki Bermuda
shorts. He wore a Taiwanese polyester imitation of a
Hawaiian Hukilau shirt, three sizes too large and buttoned at the
collar. Above, his prominent Adams apple bobbed its way up
and down his scrawny neck like a hamster in a garden hose. Atop
it all, a teal-and-umber (ratbarf green and big-dog-shit brindle)
umbrella hat perched above a pair of bifocal Rayban Wayfarers and
a Friday-oclock shadow.
You know about
berserk, right? From the Saxon bear sark,
meaning raving like a mad bear. I looked at this guy
and thought, squirrel sark.
Nice Rides! Welcome to the Vol Vo Voo.
here, young fella! Daft grinned.
campin or just passin through?
through. I barked. Wheres th out
Jake. The Rodeo Clown offered. One of the V-people
guides here today. You guys up for an iced herbal tea?
Daft chortled. Make mine a double! He flashed me a
wicked leer. You guys got any tofu-dogs to go with that?
be the Voo without em! Jake grinned. Cmon,
he folded himself on to what had once been a Volvo riding mower
(I didnt even know they made the damn things!) and took off
for their idea of Vendors Alley. They were sellin
stuff, so I guess that makes em vendors.
constantly on the lookout for another chance to be an asshole,
followed eagerly, grinning and hooting. I loped along behind him,
still looking for the out gate.
The long line of
canopies, Cinzano umbrellas and designer tarps stretched along
one side of the field. I checked em out as I motored
Aside from the
tofu-dog guy (who also offered solar-broiled veggie-burgers, both
on gluten-free buns, served with soy chips), there was a yogurt
stand, a cellphone booth, a t-shirt kiosk (they all had pictures
of Volvos on em, with room at the bottom for the cars
year and name. Name?), a hemp-shirt joint, a
squirtgun-the-Dubya game, an aromatherapy candle and incense
dealer, the herbal-tea wireless Internet café, a poster stand
that could print a two-by-three-foot of any model in any stock
color, an Amnesty International table, two aging vegan lesbians
handing out Greenpeace propaganda, a portable Starbucks and an
ATM. I lit a cigarette and they looked at me like I was a leper.
Ocourse, they were working up to that look anyway.
pedestrians and recline-o-bicyclists, a couple of nubile-lookin
college-age tiny-titters in tie-dyed polyester were circulating a
Nader for President petition.
kid. Uncle Daft chided, elbowing me in the ribs as he
pointed at one of them, Tell me you dont dig
What of it?
Well, junior, see that perky little neo-hippie chick
over there with the tattoo peekin up over her sarong? She
got red dreads an red-headed legs an red God only
knows what the hell else. You oughta check her out.
You oughta lighten up while you still can.
He chortled loudly and spun a handful of gravel into my
We found a shady spot past all the vendors and Daft putted in,
stalling it in gear cuz thats the quickest way to
shut it off.
I circled around and backed in. I wanted a clear shot to the
out gate if I could find out where it was.
Well, of course, this is no ordinary Voo. Shaky Jake
Shitfire, Stretch, Daft coughed, then hawked, then
spat. We gotta celebrate!
The bloody, muddy golf-ball-sized lung oyster hit a hot rock with
an audible splat and sizzled, startling the shit out of the Nader
chick-lets, who danced off the road and onto some orthodontists
they go up fast, Ill give em that.
They come down
Daft slung an avuncular arm over my shoulder.
Ya gotta have a tofu-dog, he urged. Hardly a
recommendation from a man who could eat the asshole out of a
skunk. It wouldnt be the Voo-oo without tofu-dogs.
He turned to the bucktoothed nerd behind the counter. Give
him a juicy one. Extra sprouts. And some of that all-organic hot
It almost seemed like Shaky Jake had figured out that Daft was
being an asshole, then the old fart turned around and snarfed his
tofu-dog in about a bite and a half. He gave shit-eatin
grin a whole new meaning.
pass, thanks. I growled as I listened to the ice melt in my
take a look around, kid!
yeah. I sneered. Lets
Like I was sayin, this is no ordinary Voo.
Shaky Jake started again, This is our 80th
anniversary. Of the company, that is. The events only been
around for six, but were getting bigger all the time.
We like to think that we get one more that last year.
Eighty years, eh? Daft gasped, apparently enraptured.
Volvo was founded by Assar Gabrielsson and Gustav Larson back in
1924. Over a crayfish dinner, the story goes.
eh? That explains a lot. Daft growled.
car, the 1944cc Jakob, was in production by 1927. Thats why
I picked Jake for a nickname.
Jake. Uncle Daft chuckled.
Ever since, The V has been a model of safety.
Jake announced enthusiastically. In 1958, Volvo
invented the 3-point safety belt, considered the most important
safety feature of all time.
Not wanting to stray too far from my bike in case I got a clear
shot at the out gate, I hung back while Uncle Daft
and Shaky Jake shuffled down the dusty cowpath and chatted
-chattered- like two apes in a thunderstorm.
Beside the stage, three P-1800s sport coupes each squatted on
their own little red carpets, each, according to their owners,
was the car driven by Roger Moore in the 60s series, The
Saint. None of em ran, but they all looked pretty
On the stage the opening band was tuning up. I think they were
the opening band. Maybe it was just sound check. Maybe they were
escaped lunatics way off their meds.
Word has it
that were having tape loops from Yanni and Enya an
live performances by Ebola and some other guys and just a whole
lot of great music later.
Daft growled, cause he sure aint mentioned any
There was a small tent on the far side of the stage.
I was wondering what the long line was about when Jake spoke up
Thats the shrine in the back, beside the stage.
He continued, almost reverently. It contains the front
bumper from one of the 42s! There were only 99 made you
know. All now lost to the rust of time. Except that one bumper. Ive
got a snapshot of it on the dashboard of my restored 64.
The body and upholstery are done, but Im still trying to
get it running.
Yooooou got a 64? Daft can really be an
asshole sometimes. Jake didnt seem to get the sarcasm. He
was undoubtedly enraptured in the image of his forty-odd-year-old
Yeah, Jake replied dreamily. His name is
Gaylord. I went off the stock color chart with him. Hes
Lilac? I groaned.
its a gem. Just for a joke, I put an
old Goldwater 64sticker on the bumper.
Wow! Daft leered. An antique lilac Volvo named
Gaylord with a Goldwater 64 sticker. I bet you
got a Schwarzenegger bobblehead doll in the rear window.
I told ya hes an asshole.
The lukewarm herbal tea was clogging my pancreas. My anxiety was
just kickin into high gear when a bleached-out blue (you
know how they get) Dukakis-era 245 wagon pulled dustily alongside
us. The tailgate was covered in bumperstickers and the cabin was
filled with alligator shirts and blonde dreadlocks.
Hey, peeps! the broker behind the wheel called out
cheerily, Were headed out for more Vitamin-2-O and
blue taco chips. Can we get you anything?
Just directions to the out gate. I
just over there, on the other
side of the shrine. Remarkable how big his eyes got once he
got a good look at us. Especially Daft. Y-y-you can follow
us. He stammered. Not too close, k?
Lead on. I growled, wafting a lungful of smoke and
numerous other noxious fumes-- into their little
aroma-therapeutically-tuned personal space. Have a nice
I watched him dash away in a clod of dust, but no so cloudy nor
dusty that I couldnt see him clearly as he ran like a
scalded rat for the out gate.
Thats our exit lane, I muttered, elbowing Daft.
He waved me off, then turned to the Rodeo Clown again.
Tell me, there, Jake, ol man, Daft asked
snidely, Isnt this singularly remarkable machine
truly named for some part of the female anatomy?
No, yol fool, thats a vulva.
I elbowed him again, pointing to the exit.
Its Latin. Shaky Jake proudly announced. It
means I roll.
And we, I growled, turning to Uncle Daft, are
gonna roll, too. Now.
And roll we did.
And the next time this old fart wants directions, Im gonna
draw him a map. Over the phone. In Braille.