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Steel Wheels

The Tao Of Motorcycling

The Girls From Rigel 7

Riding to the IMAX Theater to see the new 3D Star Trek movie it all came rushing back…

3d glasses in helmet

The year was 1966…her name was Charlotte. We were in the 8th grade. She sat to right, two rows up. She swung around to face me but it was some time before I noticed she was mouthing a silent question. We all turned 13 that year and the girls began wearing nylons…weapons of mass destruction. I tried not to look at Charlotte’s but there they were…and there she was…mouthing the question at least 5 times before I could focus enough to figure out what in the world she was trying to say: “Did you watch Star Trek last night?” I had no idea what she was talking about…and I didn’t care as long as she didn’t move.

In 1966, 8th grade girls all looked like little Annette Funicellos and Sandra Dees with meticulously permed hair, cotton fitted dresses, and those dastardly nylons. In our fertile 13 year old minds, 8th grade girls fully-dressed looked exactly like the college girls in Beach Blanket Bingo. It was uncanny. And it was all about to change. Big time.

At the end of 8th grade our class split-up and the nylons wound up at a hip cosmopolitan school in a big town. The years between ’66 and ’69 changed everything for our generation. Star Trek came and went. Older kids were dying in some place called Viet Nam. Riots. Assassinations. Demonstrations. Strange…exciting…psychedelic rock music. And when we next saw our old girl friends at games between our schools, we could see that they had boldly gone where none of us had dared. Haight Ashbury-chic, ironed-straight hair, dark eyeliner, wearing very serious expressions that most assuredly did not include nylons. The 8th grade girls we first fell in love with, now looked exactly like the women from Rigel 7 in Star Trek. We on the other hand with our regular boy cuts had become uninteresting to those exotic alien creatures whose nylons had given way to very different but no less deadly weapons of mass destruction. Those years went by in a flash but I’ll never forget the innocence, the discovery, and the girls from Rigel 7.

You’ll never have girl friends like the ones you had in 8th grade.

In The Presence Of A Master Teacher

It Never Gets Old…

Crime Scene at Mockingbird Bistro
At Mockingbird Bistro on Welch in The Montrose

Motorcycling takes you places you wouldn’t believe…tonight a journey through the past to meet old friends at Mockingbird Bistro. We celebrated, lionized, and told inappropriate tales about a hugely transformational figure in our lives. Ross Lence was transformational because he changed the way we thought—forever.

Many like to say Ross Lence never answered a single question put to him by his students to their everlasting consternation. In truth Lence answered every single question…with another question and with elán. That is the Tao of the Master Teacher. The path to knowledge is blocked by a hairball of questions and the sooner the student learns how to untangle them, the better. In the presence of a Master Teacher you come to understand—if you’re really lucky—the depth and scale of your bogus insights on matters of life, love, friendship, and virtue…in other words the most extraordinary and powerful experiences a person can have. In the presence of a Master Teacher you discover that the Tao of learning is teaching yourself.

Lence’s mojo was difficult to nail down…a difficulty no doubt common to all Master Teachers. The classroom became electric when Lence arrived. And then he started to talk. And then he began to ask questions. When it came to our precious preconceived notions, Ross Lence was a one-man wrecking crew on steroids. Our reactions were at once intellectual and visceral…a deadly combination. Deadly because one or the other by themselves would never be enough to effect a permanent change of thought patterns…but when you are shocked intellectually and experience a visceral reaction the two things together change the way you think forever. In very interesting ways, you are never the same again. Ross Lence was a shock to our systems.

On the ride home through the noire of The Montrose I couldn’t help thinking back to those days of shock and awe. It’s been exactly 10 years since Ross went on his journey to the Divine Beyond. This is not the first time we celebrated his life and our good fortune. It won’t be the last. It never gets old.

Author
Notes:
Ross Lence was professor of Political Theory at the University of Houston from 1971 ’til his death in 2006

Lence was quite literally a Master Teacher with a program in his name (The Ross Lence Master Teacher Program) alive and well to this day at The Honors College at UoH

Between Fall ’76 and Fall ’81, I took seven courses from Ross Lence…it was not nearly enough

Smell The Sunset…

Night-Riding On Allen Parkway

Upside down stop sign

Standing behind me while I shot, she put her hand on my shoulder and whispered in a soft Eastern European accent, “Sometimes you must stop and smell the sunset…” A fleeting moment in a night of fleeting moments…it was perfect.

Houston Skyline

Western Sky from Buffalo Bayou Bridge at Allen Parkway

From Buffalo Bayou near Studemont & Allen Parkway at Sunset

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