Leatherballs XVI: This ‘n’ that

Sometimes, lawdogs seem like rulebound robots — rigid, unforgiving, unreasonable, almost inhuman. And then again, sometimes they don’t.

Yadkin County, NC —Yadkin County Sheriff Mike Cain resigned Wednesday morning as part of a plea deal with the District Attorney’s Office.

North Carolina Department of Justice spokeswoman Noelle Talley previously said the SBI had an open investigation involving Cain, but couldn’t provide any other information about the active investigation.

Wednesday, documents released by the District Attorney’s Office Wednesday show Cain used a Harley-Davidson motorcycle paid for by the county for personal use around the state and also drove the motorcycle to Sturgis, South Dakota, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The documents also indicate he diverted other county money for personal items. The other expenses include a Christmas party and Christmas bonuses paid through the Sheriff Mike Cain Officers Fund, a $125 graduation gift, tickets to Winston-Salem Warthogs and Dash games, motorcycle riding chaps, a leather jacket, one pair of cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, two computers and golfing expenses.

Now, don’t get me wrong here; I ain’t condoning all this. Really, I ain’t. This guy fleeced people who didn’t have it coming, living large on a dime that wasn’t his, and that ain’t right. For sure, it ain’t.

But still. I gotta admit it’s kind of reassuring to know that there are cops out there who are just as vulnerable to the siren song of the thrumming V-Twin and the knees in the breeze as I am, even if he did have to do a big, fat end-run around personal integrity to do it.

Hell, next thing you know cops will be drinking hard liquor, smoking some righteous weed, and chasing pussy. God only knows where it could all end up.

I know for sure there are plenty of folks out there who’d love to have a Harley-D of their own bought for ‘em by their fellow taxpayers, to tool off to Sturgis on wearing nice new chaps and boots and leathers bought for ‘em out of the state coffers, because I’m definitely one of them. If I could get the taxpayers, or anybody else, to cough up for some other nice goodies like a big-inch Ultima motor and a flat black paint job too, well, I’d be happier than a cat eating guts. I’d be more than willing to say some entirely sincere thank-yous to whoever felt they deserved ‘em, and thought that it would do ‘em any good.

It’d be easy to wax all outraged and such at this guy; hell, all joking around aside, we should be outraged. In an age when government is so big, so out of control, so out of touch with the people they’re supposed to serve as it is now, we damned well better be outraged by stuff like this.

But at the same time, I dunno, I just feel kind of heartened by the fact that this guy succumbed to the lure of good ol’ American (well, mostly, these days) steel and the call of the open road. It meant enough to him to risk everything to get it, even if he did go about it the wrong way. Hell, I’ve lived my entire life along somewhat similar lines, only without the dishonesty and raw theft. If the guy had to be crooked, there are worse ways of doing it.

I can’t help but feel like this: I’m a guy who breaks so many rules, I ain’t even aware I’m breaking most of ‘em. And I don’t much care. I don’t pay attention to ‘em; these days, it seems like something else is being made illegal every week, and I am not gonna waste my time worrying about whether I just smoked a cigarette in a forbidden zone, or ate something that was legal all my life but is now officially frowned upon, or shot my pistol someplace where somebody miles away might hear the distant echo of it and start to cry, or said something off-key to a member of an official victim group who happens to have big tits and red hair and looked to me in my inebriated and overly friendly state as if they might appreciate the compliment.

This sheriff at least seems like the kind of guy who, if he just had to arrest me for one of the stupid-ass things you can get popped for nowadays, would maybe go a little bit out of his way to give me a break. He wouldn’t like bringing me down like that, and you could maybe talk to him a little, man-to-man and biker to biker, while he was doing the paperwork. He might even be willing to give you some advice on how to go about wriggling out from under while he was at it, and he’d maybe even own up to how fucked up the whole situation is, that he’s compelled by bureaucrats over his head to hassle people for something that was not only not a crime fifty years ago, but was something that people just assumed other people did as a matter of everyday life, even if they didn’t necessarily approve of it.

On the other hand…well, who the fuck am I kidding, right? He’d toss me under the damned jail for jaywalking and spit in my evening ration of pinto beans after he did it, most likely, and then ride off into the night on his brand new stolen Hog looking forward to telling his pals and busting a rib laughing about it.

The only thing worse than a tight-assed squarejohn honest cop who can’t conceive of making allowances for human foible is a crooked one who lives to lord it over those unfortunate enough to be under his greedy sway, and thinks he’s earned the privilege for life just by passing the civil service exam.

But at least this guy had sense enough not to embezzle himself a ricer, I’ll give him that.


Looks like the list of places I ain’t allowed to go just got longer.

Breaking wind is set to be made a crime in an African country.

The government of Malawi plans to punish persistent offenders ‘who foul the air’ in a bid to ‘mould responsible and disciplined citizens.’

But locals fear that pinning responsibility on the crime will be difficult – and may lead to miscarriages of justice as ‘criminals’ attempt to blame others for their offence.

One Malawian told the website ‘My goodness. What happens in a public place where a group is gathered. Do they lock up half a minibus?

‘And how about at meetings where it is difficult to pinpoint ‘culprits’?

‘Children will openly deny having passed bad air and point at an elder. Culturally, this is very embarrassing,’ she said.

What’s more “culturally embarrassing,” a stupid law like this, or the apparent fact that the farting problem is so bad in Malawi that they felt like they had to do something this insanely drastic about it? What the hell are you people eating over there, anyway? The immediate aftermath of burrito night at my house can get pretty, uhh, intense, sure, but damn, nobody ever felt like they had to pass a law over it. Not that I know of, anyway. Call out the haz-mat team to deal with the smoking ruins, sure. Call the legislature into emergency session, not so much. Yet, at least.

But hell, it oughta be easy enough to dodge out of any sort of legal sanction for letting fly in public nonetheless, whether you’re young or old: just get yourself a dog. Problem solved, no need to thank me. Hey, they don’t call ‘em man’s best friend for nothing.


If you haven’t heard of Japanese bike-builder Shinya Kimura, well, you’re missing something. The founder of Zero Engineering and Chabott Engineering, Kimura builds steampunk works of art now commonly known as “zero style” bikes, and they are nothing short of pure, undiluted bad-ass.

Lacking entirely in the sort of heavily-chromed, fantastically-painted gingerbread found all too often on today’s cookie-cutter customs, zero-style bikes are sparse, raw, lean, and all business; they sport the same stripped-down, functional elegance of a switchblade, with all the back-alley menace of a swift punch in the face. Kimura seems to have a slight partiality for Knuckleheads, springer front ends, and unpainted, raw steel and aluminum. He hangs all sorts of hand-fabricated, bare-bleeding-knuckle linkages and fittings on his bikes, and the result ends up looking like a snarling, battle-scarred pitbull. They’re so ugly it’s hard to even imagine some empty-headed rock-video babe drooling over one, or any fluffy-haired, gym-pec’ed Hollywood wannabe daring to straddle one in some lame movie. It’s also hard for a dyed-in-the-wool gearhead like me to imagine anything more perfectly beautiful.

Kimura’s bikes are the essence of iron-as-art; they’re the living embodiment of the beating heart of bikerdom. They’re everything they ought to be, and not one damned thing more. Not for nothing does his website prominently sport a telling fragment of a quote from Frank Lloyd Wright: “the elimination of the insignificant.” That sums it all up as well as it could be, and the source tells you a little something about how Kimura views his work. No mere mechanic or journeyman fabricator—not that there’s anything wrong with those things—his sights are set a little higher, towards goals that are more ephemeral, elusive, and long-lived.

The bikes are mostly of the cafe-style, butt-in-the-air variety, rather than a more traditional laid-back bobber look. Some of them even feature Yamaha or BSA motors instead of Harleys, which I personally don’t care much about either way. But even the ricer-based bikes are at least visually interesting, almost as arresting as the American V-twin powered sleds in their way, and certainly original and unique.

There’s a video out there on the internet that shows Kimura in his shop, kicking over one of his barking, growling creations, and then blazing across a remote desert airstrip astride one of his Knucklehead creations at eye-tearing speeds. It includes a beautiful quote from Kimura himself about riding that will ring true, familiar, and deep to any biker who dreams only of slipping the surly bonds of conformity, mediocrity, and mundanity: “It feels nothing like how violent it looks from the outside. It’s very quiet and serene. The ground and sky are so white there’s no boundary between them…I have never flown, but it feels like flying in an airplane using a reciprocating engine. I can’t tell you how peaceful it is.”

Right the fuck on. Keep flying, brother.

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