Operation Vespa Manifesta

I will have my Vespa…oh yes, I will have it.

Okay so here it is…I am but a poor, country graphic designer, not a wealthy person, yet not without the basic necessities of life either, like HBO but rich, oh yes, rich in spirit, having been amply blessed with a wonderful wife (more to come on that later…hon’), wonderful children, a lovely home, a career I’m passionate about, a wonderful, supportive family, and…well other non-material stuff like that. Truth be told, I want for nothing….but a Vespa. And I’m willing to plunder new depths of gullibility and silliness to get one.

A little backstory…

I had a friend once named Russ, a moose of a guy with long, flaming red hair and freckles and black, horn-rimmed glasses. Russ was a computer programmer for a charter airline back when it took a computer programmer to turn on a computer. For you Millennials that would be BMS (Before MySpace). Russ used to get free passage on charter flights whenever he wanted so he’d routinely fly to India or Afghanistan on a Friday, drop acid in some monkey-infested jungle temple and come home on Monday and program more flight schedules. This has nothing to do with the fact that my friend Russ also had a Vespa, although it may provide some insight into why the company went belly up in 1986.

By himself, Russ was quite a spectacle riding his lime green scooter down Main Street on a Friday night, red hair streaming behind him (picture a Sasquatch with glasses on a scooter) those 50cc’s of Vespa power making that trademark (and oh so manly) “phht…phht” as he paused at each stop light. As it turned out, the two of us riding the same lime green scooter was even more of a chick repellent, as we discovered each Friday night as we “Cruised-the-Main” for the ever elusive “hot babes”. In retrospect, I wonder how we even would have transported a “hot babe” or “babes” if by some miracle we did attract any. Ahhh…so THAT’S why we never…

Occasionally, Russ would let me borrow his Vespa thus providing me with some of the more sublime counter-culture memories of my youth. A scooter, and especially a Vespa, was not (and still isn’t) merely a means of transportation but a personal statement on two, small, unstable wheels. Let’s face it, riding a scooter is almost self destructively geeky; there is no way to look cool on one. You could be Brad Pitt, with Angelina riding on the back, (are they still together…if not sub in whomever?) and they’d look impossibly nerdy on a scooter, especially in this day and age of mandatory helmet laws. By the way, back in the “day” when we were “Rebels Without Real Motorcycles” , we purposely avoided wearing helmets, which we saw as symbolic of government repression. We scoffed at the “man’s” helmet laws and a system clearly bent on subjugating the people by forcing them to wear protective head coverings that while possibly preventing serious brain trauma, causing the “people” to wind up with the IQ of a cabbage and inventing reality TV, were just way too establishment for radicals like us. Besides, Russ’ Vespa only had a top speed of about 30 mph so we justified it that way, too. How bad could it be…hitting the pavement with your naked skull at 30 mph? Looking back, for nerdy types, we used some tragically flawed risk analysis. At any rate, riding a Vespa shouted to the world, “I’m counter culture, I’m mod, I’m Sting in “Quadrophenia” or I will be when the movie is released in about seven years.

But all that was then and all this is now so why do I suddenly want a Vespa at my age when I should be driving something more….Republican? Is it purely for nostalgic reasons? Midlife crisis? I asked my therapist…

Therapist: “So Jim, I’m a little baffled. Why a Vespa? Why an Italian motor scooter? Why not the ultra sexy, expensive, archetypal red sports car, symbol of the male midlife crisis?

Me: “Good point, Doc. Screw the Vespa. I can get behind a red sports car, no problem. You selling one? Take PayPal?”

Therapist: “I see our time is up”.

Still the question persists…why the obsession with a sexy, albeit geektastic Italian scooter? I’ve prepared a bulleted list of reasons, with footnotes:

  • Vespa’s are sculpture on wheels. I’ve ridden but never owned the vehicular work of art that is Vespa. The closest I’ve come is a 1950 DeSoto with a light-up hood ornament which clearly missed by a mile.
  • They go fast enough to be fun and slow enough to be safe(ish). I had a “real” motorcycle once. It was really fast, like if you twisted the throttle too hard and too fast while standing still, you could change zip codes before you could say “zip codes”. I was nearly lobotomized every time a bug hit me in my forehead/windshield.

There are also numerous environmental reasons I won’t bore you with, for example:

  • They emit fresh air in lieu of noxious exhaust via a process called “motosynthesis” whereby the Vespa actually converts emissions from other polluting vehicles returning life-giving pure oxygen into the atmosphere.(1)
  • Al Gore drives a Vespa.(2)
  • They get 72 mpg. I could go to Geyserville on one gallon of gas for crap’s sake! It would take me 3 days but hey…Geyserville!

Even more reasons…

  • The old argument of “motorcycles are too dangerous for someone with a family and responsibilities to drive” no longer applies. My kids are grown now and if I get munched by a semi, they won’t miss me nearly as much compared to when they were small and dependent on me for their allowance, etc., right girls? And that statement alone proves I’ve abandoned all familial responsibilities.
  • One of my other avocations is bicycling and I would submit that riding in traffic and on nasty Bay Area roads is a lot more statistically dangerous than riding a scooter. That’s either a really valid point or I’ve just built a case for my wife to refuse to let me have a scooter or a bicycle.

The above reasons, some admittedly weak but nicely bulleted nonetheless, I believe amply support my case and bolster my resolve for obtaining a Vespa. The thing is…and here comes the whole reason for this blog entry… at the moment I really can’t afford to shell out the $4,229.00 dollars required to purchase that 2008 Dragon Red, Vespa LX 150 (not including tax and license, helmet and accessories which may or may not include a leather seat and full LX chrome kit). Not that I haven’t occasionally committed random acts of self-directed, fiscally impulsive kindness in order to acquire certain “objects d’obsession” but generally not for the “big toys”.

So then, exactly how does any self respecting, left coast progressive, former contributing member of the Institute of Noetic Sciences take on such a daunting and inane challenge in 2007? By manifesting it…duh.

I Give You…Operation Vespa Manifesta.

By using the latest in quantum physical pseudo-scientific techniques I will use the power of intention, creative visualization if you will, or for the lay person; making shit happen by thinking about it real hard…to get a Vespa within let’s say, the next 6 months, give or take. But to pull it off I need your help, oh kind reader of this blog. And before you say “no way…I gave you all my money so you could ride your bike to LA…and by the way what the hell’s a Noetic?” let me assure you I’m not asking for financial aid. I just need to borrow a little mental energy, that’s all. No cost, no obligation…let me ‘splain further…

Just take a stroll down any Spirituality>Humanism aisle of any Barnes and Noble and you’ll note a marked proliferation of books on the topic of “Changing Your Life by Asking the Universe for Stuff” , the most recently famous of which is “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, which has captured the public imagination and ushered in a new age of selfishness we haven’t seen the likes of since the 70’s. But the premise of “The Secret”, namely that one’s attitude can change one’s reality, is nothing new or even New Age. I give you Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993) who in 1952 wrote “The Power of Positive Thinking”, a book which has sold over 7 million copies to date, influenced millions of people, including Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, with its message of denying all things negative, repetition of positive affirmations and practicing self hypnosis. Nixon obviously got the denial part. Peale, an ordained minister, attributes most of what happens to us in our lives ultimately to divine intervention so I’d have to part paths with him at that point BUT I would go out on a limb and suggest that if there is a god, he drives an Italian scooter. C’mon the Pope, Vespa…same country?

My first exposure to this “mind over matter” stuff was c. 1980 in a book by Shakti Gawain called “Creative Visualization”. I may still have the dog-eared paperback in a box in the attic with “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass, “Notes to Myself” by Hugh Prather, and my collection of turquoise roach clips.

Shakti Gawain posits that thoughts really do have their own energy and do influence events in our lives , allowing the universal doors of prosperity and abundance to swing wide if we can just clear our minds and focus on the problem. And at that time I believed anyone named Shakti.

Her seminal work was republished in 2002, a bit in advance of this latest surge of interest in the topic, but just as some landmark research was being conducted by some fairly big-time, university funded science types (Read “The Intention Experiment” by Lynne McTaggart) In a nutshell, there’s more to this stuff than one might think, like it might be true that we can send each other thoughts across time and space and as a result a lot of Buddhist monks are carving out whole new career paths as academic research subjects. What it all may come down to at some point is the fact that thoughts really are “things” , with substance and form and that we may all be connected by ubiquitous fields of unseen energy that we can actually harness as we become aware and more mentally disciplined. That we can actually manipulate these “fields” by gaining mastery over our mental states, achieving miraculous outcomes in our lives, possibly even ushering in a new age where all beings can break free of the bonds of physical space and get their own Vespas.


STEP ONE: Write the central goal on an index card and describe the feelings associated with reaching that goal. In other words clearly imagine what it would be like to go down the inside stairs into my garage, put on my helmet, sit astride my shiny red Vespa LX 150, start it up, put it in gear, realize I didn’t open the garage door, get off my Vespa, realize I didn’t put the kick stand down, lift my Vespa off the garage floor and back to vertical, put the kick stand down, open the garage door…repeat first four steps and take off down the road just like I did in the mid-seventies on Russ’ lime green S50 on one of many adventurous forays into quasi-rebellious, counter cultural semi-coolness.

STEP TWO: Devote 10 minutes/day to meditating on the above index card.

STEP THREE: Collect my new Vespa.

The success of the Vespa Manifesta plan naturally depends on my letting go of negative outcomes ala Norman Vincent Peale, and only embracing the possibility of this thing actually happening. But, like any good narcissistic endeavor, one must have someone or some thing to blame in case it doesn’t (Shakti forbid) work out exactly as planned. That’s where you, kind reader, come in. Studies have shown that it takes a village, or at least it helps, in this whole manifesting thing. The more positive energy the merrier, as it were. So if you have a minute, could you pause where you are, close your eyes, and try to visualize “yours truly” riding my new, red, 2008 Vespa described in paragraph 8? I’ve included a visual below to make that easier although it’s of a girl so make adjustments where necessary, thanks. Oh, and please include the LX chrome accessory kit while you’re at it. There. That wasn’t so hard. By the way, no driving and manifesting.

Vespa LX 150

So you’re asking, “what’s in it for me?” and “why should I be directing my precious bodily energy toward someone’s adolescent fantasy when I could be manifesting world peace or an end to global warming?” (3)

All I can tell you is that there’s room for two on this particular Vespa model, therefore anyone who contributors to my Vespa Manifestation has automatically reserved him/herself a free ride down Main Street on Friday night on the back of one of the coolest, sleekest, seriously bad ass rides around. (4)

1 I may have made that up.
2 I may have also made that up.
3 Not sure I have a good answer for that
4 Cruising the Main was officially banned in 1996. But I’ll pop for latte’s and Pottery Barn’s open until 9.

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