Often, in my decade at a motorcycle magazine, I wanted to burn it to the ground and start over. And create a different kind of magazine.
An independent voice for rigorous journalism and swashbuckling writing. And I knew where I’d start.
I’d deep-six Hummer-driving management who bled the editorial budget to buy gaudy motorboats and galling choppers. And the men and women in the sales department? They who soothed and placated fickle advertisers? Gone.
And what of advertisers themselves? Gone, too. You can’t write openly and truthfully about Ducati or Honda or Harley-Davidson while your co-worker in the adjoining cubicle badgers them for ads. Furthermore, manufacturers have just about lost interest in traditional advertising. It’s the age of sponsored content. Advertising masquerading as editorial. Sometimes it comes with a heads-up. Like cancer warnings on cigarette packs. But often it doesn’t. The divide between advertising and editorial has crumbled to rubble. And it’s pervasive.
Esoteric quarterly Iron and Air has the loosey-goosey vibe of a skateboard ’zine, but don’t be fooled by the vintage Triumphs and unkempt beards. Iron and Air is wholly owned by an advertising agency, and its CEO, Travis York, in his LinkedIn profile, self-describes as “entrepreneur, brand pivot-er [sic], marketer, accelerator, outcome generator, investor, and advisor.” Ad-speak is nonsensical, but it works: Iron and Air makes PR material for Indian.
The Blue Groove is an alternative approach to writing about motorcycles and motorcycling. Ad nauseam debunks advertising new and old—do you know which brand makes “Neighbor Hater” exhaust pipes? And The Blue Groove doesn’t succumb to group-think. With Victory motorcycles twisting in the wind, the enthusiast press fawned over Polaris for resurrecting Indian. The Blue Groove take? Victory was bungled from the get-go and the rebooted Indian is a crafty case of identity theft. And lest you think The Blue Groove predictable, our obituary for the greatest machine in motorcycling just happens to be of a Harley-Davidson.
Skeptics say The Blue Groove has stories longer than a limited attention-span culture can digest. And that motorcyclists aren't interested in thoughtful, frank, and fearless writing. I don’t believe it. You write from around the world. Your letters are perceptive, funny, and, when you disagree with what you’ve read (and you will), scathingly sharp. And I always write back.
The Blue Groove is without middlemen, compromise, or any source of revenue aside from donations from who it serves—readers like you. If The Blue Groove is for you, your financial support means we'll have a future together. It's as simple as that.
It’s an idea. And an experiment
Neil Graham, The Blue Mountains, Canada