In the wake of Brian Catterson electing to leave this post to actually enjoy life and ride motorcycles, it would be reasonable of you to ask, “Who is this Cook clown and what’s he planning to do with my magazine?” Fair and direct questions, the best kind.
In the summer of 1982, barely out of high school and without a clue about what I wanted to do in life, I managed to find myself at Cycle Guide magazine as the latest in a long line of Editorial Assistants, a dream job for a 19-year-old motorcycle nut.
Motorcyclist's new man in the hot seat got his start at Cycle Guide. When the strange
Some guys come in thinking it’s an entry-level wrenching job, a jumping-off point to a career in motorsports. Others see it as an opportunity to eventually move inside to an editor’s position. I’m not sure what I thought besides that it was possibly the coolest job in the world. I never minded working on our beat-up (but basically un-killable) Dodge van or trying to keep the test fleet in good repair. It was all fine.
And what a heady time to be in the business, although I suspect every generation says so. I arrived on the end of Kawasaki’s air-cooled fours, when the GPz550 was the modern equivalent of my first serious bike, a Yamaha RD400. (My absolute first bike was a Suzuki MT50 Trailhopper, if you must know.) My tenure with CG would see me around all the factory-turbocharged bikes, the first GSX-R, the introduction of the Honda V45 Interceptor, the arrival of the metric cruiser craze, the V-Max, and Harley’s own recovery from the brink of extinction by the Evolution engine and new management. I rode an Equalean, an articulating (leaning) sidecar bolted to a GPz1100—and lived to tell the tale. Remember the ’82 Husky WR250 or the Yamaha TT600? I do, and could still have the bruises.
Hardware’s one thing, but the best part of Cycle Guide was the education. I made it inside when editor Larry Works handed the keys to Charlie Everitt. Larry, with impeccable credentials and a wicked sense of humor, made sure CG was a teaching magazine. Paul Dean, who has forgotten more about bikes than most of us will ever know, was there to break my bad moto-wrenching habits and offer his perspective. Under Works, Everitt and, later, Jim Miller, I watched the pros and tried my best to understand what a great, objective, entertaining magazine was—and what it took to get there.
After Cycle Guide closed in 1987, I pursued my other love, flying, but was tempted back by a seemingly random call in 1999 from Mitch Boehm, then editor of this magazine. In our short time together, we pulled off a significant redesign, introduced the section that would live on today as MC Garage, and survived three changes of ownership.
Somewhere in here I found the time to help create three hardbound books—and collaborate with Alan Cathcart on another—for David Bull Publishing. These are fantastically involved projects, a thousand loose ends at every stage, but what I recall most clearly was the opportunity to sit with people like Pierre Terblanche, Ducati’s Claudio Domenicali, and Etsuo Yokouchi, the father of the GSX-R. That one interview, held after hours in an austere conference room in Hamamatsu, counts among my best life experiences.
Catterson did me (and you) a solid by leaving behind a fantastic staff here at Motorcyclist. Anchored by stalwarts Tim Carrithers and Aaron Frank, the in-house staff is revved up by Ari Henning’s enthusiasm and competitiveness as well as Art Director Joe Neric’s sharp eye and utter dominance of Adobe InDesign. We're strongly supported on both ends, with Dave Sonsky newly promoted to Publisher and our recently added Online Editor, Kevin Hipp, rapidly finding his feet. Plus, we're looking forward to Zack Courts moving from a contributing role to a full-time position with us.
My plans? Simple. Keep Motorcyclist the savvy, entertaining, irreverent and potent media brand that it’s become under Catterson. As the motorcycle industry continues to recover, I feel we’re positioned to grow, to introduce new media product, to really hit our stride as we clean up from our 100th anniversary celebration. A hundred years down, a fantastic new century of motorcycling ahead. At least that’s how I see it.