Cranked - Stoned Run Celebration

Up To Speed

It's a freakin' motorcade, man: the Stone Run, a celebration of the 1970s biker movie Stone. Orange vests and flashing lights let the squares know the GraveDiggers M.C. are still king of the underworld. I'm taking the trip, man. The cops? The GraveDiggers call them "piggies" but there sure are plenty of 'em here directing traffic.

Down the 79 to Melbourne and through the Oval-ator on 43, our freight train grows longer. We cross the Yarra now, then hundreds of motorcycles stretch out for miles along the drizzly Monash freeway to the Vietnam Veteran's Motorcycle Club in Dandenong. The 60 coolest miles you'll ever ride.

You haven't seen Stone, the Australian cult classic? I won't hold it against you, man. I'm a motorcycle god and I never heard of the flick. Sydney is where the movie was filmed but Stone Runs are held in cities across Australia. Maybe you'll watch Stone and organize your own one-bike Stone Run in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. That would be so cool. Call me.

I won't spoil the movie, but I will tell you this much: The guy who plays Stone acts like he's made of it. The rest of the cast is perfect-pitch biker. I know these guys: They peed on my XS650 Yamaha at Daytona one year. In Stone, the bad guys ride ratty Britbikes but the baddest guys ride sleek, custom-painted Z900 Kawasakis. The trailer says someone is killing the GraveDiggers, a Vietnam Veteran motorcycle gang, and undercover cop Stone is sent to find out who. I can't say it any better than that.

The VVMC clubhouse is lousy with Z900s. "Zeds," they call 'em. Zed's not dead. I'm inside the clubhouse lining up a shot. "No pictures." Far out-they're playing the hard-man act to the hilt. "Lemme just get a few shots of the casket, dude." He steps in front of me. "You take a picture, I'll smash that f*cking camera." Two VVMC watch me. "He's not joking, mate." It's like a scene from the movie except it won't be sugar-cube teeth spilling out of my head. "Sure man, no problem." I walk outside. Too dark in there anyway.

On the day the funeral scene was shot, 400 motorcyclists became made men. If they do nothing else their entire lives, the Original Four Hundred can die complete. "I was there," shuts down the chitter-chatter. Problem is, Stone was so real to so many punks, every motorcyclist in Australia was there. I watched the movie six times. I'm a punk, so now I'm an Original Four Hundred, too.

The band is setting up. The VVMC has laid on the food. I'm drinking beer and attending a methamphetamine manufacturing seminar. The session lasts less than a minute, the instructor speaking so fast he sounds like a zipper opening. Two more seminars, one on shaking down hamburger stands and the other detailing witness-intimidation procedures are running concurrently. (The preceding bit is a joke; the last thing I need is a bunch of trigger-happy VVMC hit men after me.) In the field next to the clubhouse, vendors in tents are selling the same BikerDepot black T-shirts and leatheranailia found at motorcycle gatherings worldwide.

I've rapt'ed to the holy trinity of Easy Rider, Billie Jack and Vanishing Point. Stone is the better social-outcast movie because the Kawasakis sound like Kawasakis and the Nortons sound like Nortons. By this simple fact, I condemn to B.S. many otherwise fine movies. I'm cinematically easy to please: Show me footage of motorcycles riding down the road and my hands start making kitty biscuits on the armrests. I was pulling the stuffing out of my sofa by the end of Stone.

I think Sandy Harbutt is here. If he's not, he ought to be. Harbutt wrote the screenplay, directed, starred in and produced Stone. And on the seventh day, he rested. A hammered-looking TV announcer is interviewing an old guy who looks kinda like Harbutt. The announcer is having trouble focusing, but then so am I. Harbutt does not appear to be the man he was 40 years ago, but then neither do I.

There is no posse around the guy. Some nutcase could walk right up and shoot him, stealing his fame like whosit did to the Beatle. I should talk to Harbutt, interview him or something for this article, but I can't think of an opening line. An hour later, I come up with the opening: "Are you Sandy Harbutt?" But by then I can't find him. This is a big reason why I never succeed in the trade.

For the kiddies there are naked chicks and drug use in Stone, but not enough of it to suit my refined palate. The GraveDiggers smoke pot and drink beer. They don't steal. They don't kill anyone who doesn't need killing. The GraveDiggers are saints compared to your 21st-century teenaged American bum murderer. The end of the movie is the most realistic part. It shows exactly how old-school bikers were.

The party at the Vietnam Veteran's madhouse is really starting to roar now. The band is shredding and everyone's hands are sticky. Amid the laugher and drinking sits a little half-circle memorial engraved with the names of real dead soldiers. I've never shot a living thing, much less one that was shooting back. The beer must be wearing off. It sounds corny, but the VVMC is sacred ground. I walk away from the clubhouse and start the Suzuki. I don't belong here, man. I belong in a movie theater with the other actors.