Archive for March, 2012

The real 1%ers

Back from Daytona. Daytona is huge, and the amount of things set up for riders is very diverse and spread out up and down the coast. I have always wanted to test ride a Ninja. Therefore, I was happy to see there were test rides everywhere. It was all fun and I’m happy I went. Enough said!

Here comes the antichrist moment.

While perusing the different venues from “The Dog House” to “Destination Daytona” much of the talk was about the troops. People were collecting donations on behalf of the troops and selling products on behalf of the troops. I even participated in several raffles in support of the troops.  

I was fortunate to have my older brother with me in Daytona. My brother has never been to a bike event because he has been in the military for well over thirty years so I though he would have a great appreciation for all the military support going on here. It was just the opposite.

A venue on Main Street was raffling off a signed guitar “for the troops” and the person on stage was saying, “Come on folks! On behalf of the troops, buy a CD to send to the troops because they cannot get these over there!” I was caught up in the excitement. My money was out! Until my brother lowered my hand and walked me out the door.

Once outside he said. “How do you think that benefits the troops? Is that guy going to knock on a dependent’s door and hand her money? Because the troop benefits we have seen today, except for the Wounded Warrior event you were invited to, were feeding these people a load of crap! Beyond what the military provides, anything and everything can be purchased in the middle east and bought cheaper because the Chinese are there.” 

Hmmm, not what I was expecting! So where are all these donations going I wonder. Is it possible that the majority of people collecting for the troops are just using the word “Troops” as a buzz word to inspire people to hand over cash? Are our military troops benefitted in any way? And if so, in what way?

Only 1% of the American population is on active duty in the military. In addition, backed up by the census, only 4% of the current American population has ever served; this number includes all living veterans of all past wars. Truthfully most people don’t even know any military personnel except for the romantic visions of military hero’s in the movies so it’s easy to also romanticize the donations they give as being some part of a grand romantic plan to support our military men and women.  

My mother contributes much of her time to the Veterans Administration. This past year she was honored as the top volunteer in the state of Kentucky. She was also awarded the honor of top volunteer in the nation as well. I have seen her work; every moment she is creating a project. From a very basic level, she connects people from the “Red Hat Society”, the VFW, the local churches and the University and encourages them to contribute to the troops. And she does it in such a way that every small contribution swells to a flow that directly affects the lives of veterans. She does not hand the money to a nonprofit where she can’t see the benefits, assuming there are any. She and her recruits pay for the medications that the VA (should be)  but is not paying for. They scour thrift stores and the internet for used medical devices, they trade up for electric chairs, and they enlist community members to put safety bars around bathtubs and toilets for the very old veterans. I have met some of her local veterans most are in their 70’s and 80’s. Many of them have nothing. And my God are they humble. My parents and their army of angels spend every spare nickel to make certain that a vet has towels, sheets, a coffee pot, food, medicines and the list goes on.

My parents although retired military, do not believe in state power. They believe in people power. When Vietnam fell and boat people arrived in the US, my folks brought a Vietnamese family and twelve children to our house. If our family could provide food, shelter and love to homeless people and keep them out of state run facilities then I had to sleep with my sister. And that was the last word on it!  I never understood why we always had homeless families and strange children staying in our beds. I used to think it was because my mom didn’t care for us as much as she cared for strangers. She was so focused outside herself. Fortunately, I wised up and saw that by giving of herself she was making a better world for her kids to live in. As an adult, I can see her path more clearly. From my mother I learned that direct action is the best way to be of service to other people. My siblings and I took the same path; hence, my trip to help during Katrina and my faulty belief in the HH people who said they were helping the Lakota people last year. (I know you all remember that clusterf*ck)

Snake oil salesmen aside… Lets zip back to Daytona and the “support the troops” battle cry that is likely to surround the bike rallies this year. Yes! Absolutely support out troops but make certain that whatever you give goes directly to the troops. Stop contributing to venues, organizations or even that guy outside wearing old fatigues and carrying a flag just because he mentions the words military veteran. Stop handing your hard earned money to non-profits who take the lion’s share as wages for their CEO’s and spend the rest on advertising. If you prefer to contribute in this way, first check with www.guidestar.org or charity watch and make certain your money is going where you intended it to go.

On the other hand, you could do what my mother and dad do. No doubt somewhere in your city or neighborhood is a military veteran who needs something but is too proud to ask. Your money would be better spent finding that person and helping him out. Ask your church, veterans groups, old folks homes, etc. Because living not very far from you is a military family who can’t afford to send their kids to college, or who needs child care while the mother takes trips to the VA Hospital to visit her husband while he’s recovering or an old guy who served who can’t afford his medications.  THIS is supporting the troops! Not only will it enrich them but it will empower you in a way that your donation at the bike rally could never equal.  










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Last year I publically rode across America on a “one-woman, one-motorcycle, 10,000-mile trip” and I asked the online community to Follow me as I explored the America I see from the seat of my motorcycle. My GPS allowed you to follow every mile on line, riders caught up with me to ride or just share a few stories. In my three months on the road; I found myself. It wasn’t that I was completely lost but after twenty years in the film industry, working on sets, I’d lost touch with who I was and what my story was about.

Once home, I finished a script “Road to Sturgis” which is about a woman rider who finds her way to Sturgis during the rally and discovers that no matter where you come from, no matter what personal hell you carry with you; you can find yourself from the back of a motorcycle.

This past January, I submitted my script to “Sundance Film Festival” where it won 1st place in the action-adventure screenplay category. There was no doubt in my mind it could win, because every biker has an interesting story to tell. Bikers are our modern day gladiators. These men and women who mainstream America has deemed unfit because they ride motorcycles are actually the heart of America.

Script excerpt: Old Service Station – Day Ray stops dead when he sees Jessie. “Who are you? Who the hell are you?” He demands. “I was just getting out of the storm.” Jessie replies. Ray kicks the can of dog food. “And who said you could feed that dog?” he spat. Ray raises his whip to hit the nearly starved pup. Jessie quickly pulls a gun out of her waistband and Ray stops in mid swing. Ray moves a little closer to Jessie. “You gonna shoot me?” Ray grabs at Jessie. As she falls backward, the gun explodes, blood spurts from Ray’s ear and he falls to the ground. “It’s just a dog; people dump them out of cars all day long. Nobody cares about a dog.” He screams. “Wrong!” Jessie replies.

Keeping the gun pointed at Ray’s face. Jessie grabs the chain attached to a worktable and secures it around Ray’s ankle with the bike lock. Grabbing the puppy, she backs out the door and stumbles over a pile of dog body parts. Horrified, her screams mingle with the laughter coming from Ray. “What the hell are you?” She screams. Running to her motorcycle, puppy in hand, Jessie flings open her T-bag and throws her things to the ground. She lays the pup into the bag and zips it. Hopping on her motorcycle she slams her foot down on the kick-starter. Nothing! “Woo hoo, I hear ya out there, you’re not going anywhere girly!” Ray bellows. Jessie hears the sound of a chain and something heavy scraping across a cement floor as she keeps trying to start her motorcycle. Suddenly the window of the service station explodes, Ray and the table come flying out onto the pavement as the motorcycle jumps into action.

Do you want to read more or watch this film? Then follow me again. Be a part of the making of this film. For every donation, your credits will roll with ours on the back of this film. In addition, we have exclusive proprietary merchandise just for you when you donate. Go to http://indiegogo.com/ROAD-TO-STURGIS and see what we have to offer you in exchange for participating in making this movie with us.

Script excerpt: Easy Rider Café – Day Garrett and Jessie sit at a table. “Why do you put guards at your motel?” Jessie asks. Garrett shrugs. “ It’s like being a gunfighter in the old west, people who don’t even know you are after a fight. He reaches over and holds Jessie’s hand. “Let me ask you something. Why are you so angry?” Jessie shakes her head. “Why do women allow men to control them?” Garrett ponders the question before he responds. “Jessie, look at all these women riders! For every weak woman in the world there are thousands like you, women who would fight to the death for themselves and for others.”

“Let’s get back so I can fix my bike.” Jessie jumps up and heads to the parking lot. “Why? Don’t you like riding behind me?” Garrett says with a grin. “ That… butt pad is not a seat. You do realize that is not a seat?” She snaps. “It’s a bitch pad!” He quips. “A bitch pad? A bitch pad? How degrading! Do you want to put your butt on that thing? Let me drive!” She demands. “Oh No! Some things are worse than death. Riding bitch behind a woman would be at the top of my list.” He laughs. “Oh ok tough guy. Afraid your friends would make fun of you?” She teases. “No, I’m afraid my friends would kill me!” He responds, wrapping his arms around her and walking her backwards. He stops and kisses her. “Tough girl.” He whispers. “Not really.” She responds quietly. “I know.” He says.

Be a part of “Road To Sturgis” for every level of sponsorship there’s something great to be had; from proprietary materials such as patches and vests to the ability to be one of the Devils Exiles in the movie. Follow me! http://www.indiegogo.com/ROAD-TO-STURGIS

Script excerpt – Cabin – Day Jessie is attached to the wall like a crucifix. Ray places the knife against Jessie’s collarbone and then runs it down to her heart. Jessie stares straight into his eyes as if she could kill him. Ray smirks. “What? No crying, no squealing? Oh if looks could kill.” He rips the tape from her mouth. “What? You wanted to say something?” He grins.

“Go fuck yourself.” Jessie responds. Ray’s head jerks up! “Go fuck yourself?” He raises his fist to hit her. She does not flinch. He walks across the room then runs at her with the knife. She continues to stare him down. He stops short. “Hmmm. I’m not mad about the ear.” He whispers. “I would have done the same thing.” Ray holds up a leather bag and pours it on the table. Human ears and a finger fall to the table. Ray holds an ear to Jessie’s face. ” This ear is on ten thousand missing posters. This is a famous ear. You think you are the first kid I ever found? People throw kids like you away, just like they throw dogs away. They show up willing to do anything for a meal. But not you! You’re a tough girl. You’ve been in the trenches. We’re alike you and I.” Jessie looks away.

“You and I are nothing alike! You’re just one more scumbag in the world. I used to think I attracted them like my mother. But I don’t attract them, I just recognize them.”

“Road To Sturgis” is an independent film and every dollar is welcome because we cannot do it without you. In our next tier of financing, we will be looking for much larger monies from investors who are looking for a return on their investment. Follow Me…http://www.indiegogo.com/ROAD-TO-STURGIS

Thank You, Love and Light,

Alystar McKenneh 

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