In the interests of impartiality Iet's let our editors introduce each other. This should be interesting.
Dr Kyril Mondragon, on Stringer
In a suitably convoluted way, the origin of ‘Helmet Heads’ rests deep within the mind of a man called Stringer. Stringer identifies “Helmet Head” as a state of mind achieved only in motorcycle transit - but uses it also as a term of endearment reserved for folk he believes are, like him, enlightened by the experience.
If you’ve met Stringer you’ll know I’m not talking about a Zen kind of enlightenment. It’s more like moments of clarity emerging out of an overwhelming sensory overload of everyday ‘noise’. Stringers clarity at times might make the buddha cringe, but it’s lack of grace makes it no less insightful.
I first met Stringer while attending a motorcycle swap that was making an awkwardly slow start in a dishevelled tourist attraction carpark. The location was already hosting a couple of oversize concrete interpretations of local produce and the nature of Stringer was to me immediately synonymous with the surrealness of the scene I had entered. Allow me to elaborate:
Perhaps a greater attendance had been anticipated, or perhaps spreading the stalls out widely across the expanse of carpark was designed to give the impression of a larger event than it was. Whichever, the layout meant that the meagre distribution of bodies seemed stuck in a pre-defined orbit. Each maintained the same trajectory and distance, moving like a stream of satellites across the night sky. I observed this for some time. The crowd didn’t seem to swell or diminish, and I realised then that a departure could not be subtly achieved. Patrons had committed to an endless search for a guilt free means of escape while under the unrelenting gaze of those megalithic deviations.
In the middle of all this social order, appeared Stringer. He bounced chaotically from stall to stall. Sometimes he spun in mid trajectory and returned from where he came. I’m positive he visited some vendors on several occasions, not at all recognising he’d been there before. Or maybe he did but saw it differently each time, and just hoped no one else noticed, or maybe he didn’t care. From my point of observation, I couldn’t tell if his progress was driven by a combined lack of focus and regulation or, was it a hyper-focused attention upon ever changing thoughts. Regardless, in engaging with him it was clear that there was some kind of higher awareness in there, the question remained though, an awareness of what?
Whatever it is, I struggled then (as I do to this day) to decide if it is a performance enhancement or functional deficit. He seems to be appreciating things the rest of us are wholly oblivious to, yet this same ‘gift’ I could tell, for moments at least, troubled him. Stringer is both rewarded with and tormented by a concurrent bombardment of grand thoughts his mind can never quite bring to a close. It demands enquiry.
I engaged him as he was handling with great attention the blistered chrome indicator of what was suggested to be a “1976 Honda 500/4”. He examined it as one would if considering its potential for a concourse restoration. I’m sure at first he was flustered by my interruption, but I persevered and upon deeper enquiry found that Stringer didn’t own a Honda at all, nor had he any immediate intention to do so. What Stringer was feeling for, like myself, was a story.
I might have left it at that, but I’m glad I didn’t. Rather, I enquired of him what kind of story an indicator might convey. Stingers answer threw me out of my own safe orbit. Later, I bought him a coffee and asked him to write it to me. A request he found both suspicious and amusing, and yet within a few days obliged. “The Indicator Equinox” is published here.
Since then, I’ve maintained a written dialogue with him. Stringer insists his thoughts are only able to be resolved (to any real extent) on the road. He kindly sends me his digestions, sometimes resolved, sometimes fragmented, occasionally beyond my comprehension, always intriguing.
At all times he signs off with “Keep your mind on the road”, which I rightly or wrongly understand to be analogous to ‘keep your mind at peace’. A thought for which, I am thankful.
Stringer, on Dr Kyril Mondragon
Kyril is the owner and creator of Helmet Heads and one of the few people I’ve ever met that understands the workings of my brain as well as he understands the workings of a 40mm flat slide Mikuni. That doesn’t mean I’d let him tear into my noggin as much as I would my carburettor - no matter what qualifications he claims to have.
Not that it matters, as just like all academic types he takes such liberties anyway. I’m sure half of what he says is absolute bullshit, just a bunch of big words, but the other half occasionally finds its mark so I've taken to humouring him. No doubt he'll take 700 words to say what could have been said in 200. If it wasn't for his insight he'd be as exciting as watching paint peel. It's actually hard to believe we have anything in common but I think it all points to the fact that I'm smarter than he can ride. If that makes no sense to you, fear not, just enjoy the fact that Dr Mondragon will spend the next week trying to find meaning in it.
Anyway, as I said first...'keep your mind on the road'