Working on old bikes sometimes puts me in an interesting state of mind. I often work to older music (bands like The Pretty Things and some of The Nuggets albums in particular) and muse about the secrets these machines could tell if only they had the words! Sometimes I watch movies on my little DVD player in the garage that also reflect the era. One of the discs I often play from the 1960's is Bronson.
No, I don't mean Charles Bronson, though he was pretty epic in his own fashion. I am talking about a series that few people remember today called 'Then Came Bronson' that ran from 1969-1970 on NBC.
The series revolved around the adventures of Jim Bronson (Michael Parks), who quits his day job as a reporter and takes to the open road on his Sportster After the suicide of his best friend (early appearance on TV by Martin Sheen).
Each week Bronson would take on a different job, making enough money to eat, sleep and get to his next stop on the road. Steve McQueen stated that the reason he made 'On Any Sunday' was because Biker films of the era had set motorcycling back about "300 Years". TCB was produced half a year before Easy Rider in a period when the films McQueen loathed were on every Drive In screen across America. There were no violent beatings, drugs, 'Old Ladies' or leather vests to be found here. It was just about a man, making his way, working hard, making friends and even finding love on occasion. If it poured rain, he rode. If his bike broke down, he wrenched it. It truly was a story of the human spirit and reflected a time when one could run free, when one could pick up work without 3 different interview phases and a plethora of university degrees.
Parks brought a tremendous amount to the role and actually sang the theme song. Filmgoers nowadays would most likely recognize him from his work in several Tarantino films such as Kill Bill. He played Bronson as an intense loner, with a desire to take the high road, both morally and figuratively.
I had read about the series many years ago in passing and it always seemed interesting. It was only a couple years ago that I found it on DVD. It has never been officially released, but if you want it, it's out there.
Sadly, TCB only lasted one season. Perhaps viewers had a negative view of motorcyclists or conversely, preferred a motorcyclist to be something other than a thoughtful man on a more gentle path. To me this defines the charm of Bronson. He is very much a complete character who runs into real issues and encounters other real characters. Each episode was different, not always with a clean or happy ending and the list of guest stars was quite impressive.
More often than not it feels like someone is telling these stories, like a trusted mentor or an Uncle rather than watching a TV show. With the wasteland that television has become these days, it would be nice to see something like TCB make a resurgence to balance out Sons Of Anarchy.
The best online resource for the series can be found here, I highly recommend it to anyone interested!
In other news, a package arrived in the mail containing this;
I love NOS stuff. Here we have fork seals, swingarm bushings, wiring harness, speedo and coils (in the box).
It's amazing to think that these have sat all this time, waiting for an opportunity to be put to use. I love the Japanese writing on the box and the fact these parts are still sealed in Bridgestone labeled bags.
I am not building a show bike or doing a concourse restoration but I strive for period Authenticity where possible. Being able to get these pieces, especially for these prices is a real boon. Something tells me there will be more Bridgestones in my future along with the British machinery.....I need a bigger garage!
I will end this post with one of the songs I was listening to earlier today.