“LIVING THE LIFE” | OLD SCHOOL 1970s BIKER PHOTOGRAPHY & POETRY BOOK

Photographer Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball), and poet Sorez the Scribe’s “Living The Life” is an honest and straight-up look into the old school biker lifestyle (fetishized by many youngins today) that’s so achingly gritty and real– it has every newbie with a murdered-out custom and a half helmet tripping over each other trying to co-opt its badass-ery. Q-Ball’s images make you feel like a fly on the wall– knee deep in the mud, the blood, and the beer. And Sorez’s biker poetry throttles, brakes, and pulls no punches. Together they create a 1%er’s masterpiece that is truly one of a kind. I have a prized copy, and I can tell you that the pics and poetry are priceless if you dig this stuff.

Q-Ball himself was kind enough to hand-select several favorite images from the book, as well as share his colorful commentary and recollections behind each one, for us all here at TSY to enjoy.

From “Living the Life” foreward: “For years I have been encouraged to compile a book of these images. I hesitated pursuing a book because I did not want to explain, or analyze my photos. The thrust of this book is a collection of my biker photography accompanied by compatible Sorez’s biker poems. ‘Living the Life’ is a personal view of a biker’s existence. Allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions from the material presented. It is not my intention to stereotype the folks in my photographs. This is because all bikers are not alike, but share the same contempt for being categorized.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

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“Dirt That Moves MC”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber. “The name of my old club “Dirt That Moves MC” was earned honestly by two of the founding members. After spending a month on the road with little more than the clothes on their back, and sleeping where ever they fell down, they pulled into a Harley-Davidson dealership. It was raining buckets and they were looking for some shelter and free hot coffee. As they walked across the showroom floor dripping puddles of muddy water, someone behind the counter said, “Well, here comes dirt that moves”. With that a club was born. We wore the name proudly, and fought to keep its honor. We were an unorganized band of tightly bonded brothers, and damn proud of it.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

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“Dirt Drags”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber. “One of my crew’s favorite runs was the Dirt Drags. It was an all day adventure getting there, and a long time before we got home. While we were there we excelled at getting drunk, falling down and getting dirty after all we had a reputation to uphold. One of the events we won nearly every year was piling on a bike, and seeing how far you could ride before breaking bones. The reason we did so well? We practiced all year long at getting drunk and breaking bones.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

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“Journey”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber. “It’s been said, ‘It ain’t the destination, but the journey’. When it came to my old club ‘Dirt That Moves MC’ it got even more involved than that. We couldn’t even keep it together at a crossroad. Some would go right, some left, some straight ahead, while others did a 180. A couple of hundred miles could take all day and into the night. A trip to Daytona Bike Week took nine days. We had breakdowns within 50 miles of home, flat tires, bar stops, stripped gears, beer runs, fried wires, piss stops, more beer runs, side trips to visit old friends, broken chains, beer runs, piss stops… well you get the picture. Damn, I nearly forgot the best part fights! It was said the only way to get us to stop fighting each other was to have an outsider step in… and get pounded. We fought over women, beer, bikes, or just being bored. We would party all night long, fall down in the dirt, get up the next morning with wicked hangovers and attitudes to match– then ride off in the wrong direction. Damn I love my brothers, and miss those aimless times.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

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“Dixie Welcome”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber. “It is one thing to get pulled over for something you know you did wrong. It is another thing to get pulled over for nothing at all. If that wasn’t bad enough– to be pulled over and detained while the man checks your papers three times in a row. That did it. It was all I could stand. Despite the objections of my club brothers, and the obvious police threat, I pulled out my camera and started to take photos. I got about three shots off when the sheriff and deputy stopped me in my tracks. After a failed attempt to discuss my Constitutional Rights with the sheriff who offered, ‘Boy let me tell you about rights…’ I put away my camera. Later down the road I received some schooling (thumping) from the club on dealing with like situations. After which cold beer, war stories, and brotherhood prevailed. Long and short of it I got my shot, and here it is.” –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

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“Lil Walt”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber. “Our old club had a house affectionately known as the ‘Hut’. It was located in Baltimore City, and was the epicenter of our meetings, parties, brawls, drinking, more brawls– but also home to some of the brothers, sisters, and the fruit of their loins. We were generally good about protecting our little ones from the extremes of the biker’s world– but shit happens. It’s been said little pitchers have big ears, and eyes. One day Lil’ Walt decided to show off– and give us the biker salute. With that another misfit hit the streets.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

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“Santa’s Helpers”, circa 199? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber. “Tis the Season to be…? The holidays bring out the best and worst in folks. Point in fact is Toy Runs. Here in our neck of the woods one local club blocks the town’s main street to collect toys and money for local children in need. Some years it’s freezing cold and wet, while other times it can be quite balmy like this photo where the Club’s defense lawyer was dressed as Santa in flip flops. Those trapped in this traffic ambush reacted in curious ways. The town’s newbies and uninitiated driving high dollar cages would roll their windows up tight. They wore faces of disgust and fright, dialed 911 on cell phones, and wondered if they would escape unharmed. The long-time locals where prepared and looking forward to help. Some drove up in old ratty pickup trucks loaded with toys. Others dug deep into their worn out jeans and gave all they could. Friends would stop in the middle of the street to talk, creating an opportunity for cub members to smile and offer candy canes to fearful cagers impatiently blowing their horns. Ya’ gotta love the holiday spirit.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

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“Ricky’s Beach”, circa 197? from “Living The Life” –Image by © Doug Barber. “I’ve been asked many times where the cover photo was taken, and what significance it has. Well here ya’ go. After a miserable, cold, wet, nine day ride, fraught with break downs, mishaps, and some damn good times we arrived at to Daytona Beach Florida. Most of us were dog tired and looking forward to just kicking back in the sun. Ricky on the other hand was like a kid at Christmas. Shortly after hitting the beach he was running his sidecar rig up on two wheels down the beach. I grabbed my camera and documented his display of youthful enthusiasm. Ricky was always in the fast lane, right up until the day he died. I never planned on selling or publishing any of these photos until recently when the pressure/encouragement from friends became more than I could bear. When going through my photos looking for a cover, this image stood out as the personification of why we all ride. It was also my way of honoring, and thanking Ricky for all he showed by example.”  –Doug Barber (AKA Q-Ball)

Buy “Living the Life” here

21 thoughts on ““LIVING THE LIFE” | OLD SCHOOL 1970s BIKER PHOTOGRAPHY & POETRY BOOK

  1. I still have the copy of Easyriders that has that picture of that kid flipping the bird on the big wheel in the “In the Wind” section.. And if I’m not mistaken, Q Ball was a contributor to the mag…….

  2. I loved this, but I want my hands on the book. This is something that cries out to be enjoyed and savored like a good meal or sex… [no preference of order inferred.]

  3. Thank you JP, and all. This is quite an honor.

    Joel, my work did find it to the pages of Easyriders, and many other magazines, but it wasn’t me who sent it in. Back in the day I would give folks prints, and they would submit my work. Never paid much mind to it until one day I was contacted by one of the magazines telling me they owned the copyrights. They were a bit dismayed when I informed them they were wrong. Strange how barking dogs will run with their tail between their legs when you bark back.

    Long May You Ride,
    Doug AKA Q-Ball

    • Thanks for the reply Doug…. You have captured the window of time when being a biker was real… Pure, and righteous. After living through that time I can’t even stand to talk to today’s so-called “bikers”, everything after that pales by comparison. And good to know you still own the copyrights to your work.. Not that it was ever done with the thoughts of money in mind I’m sure, but who better than the originator of the work? Here’s hoping you still are riding….Joel

  4. great shots of the days-wish i had took more pictures from my time-it was tough to even get a beer in some bars around here back in 80,s-we,d party in empty factories/squats-gna check that book-

    • It wasn’t easy, most folks did not want to be photographed, some still don’t. I was lucky to get baptized at a 1% national mandatory funeral. Because of Club policy, those photos will never be seen. Still and all, it was a great learning experience.

  5. Looks good Doug, I could never get into the Evos. Good to hear you’re still riding, and a ridgid at that. After almost thirty years on the same Shovel, I went to a 57 (non-stock) pan. Makes me feel better if you know what I mean…..Joel

    • I hear you about Evos. I love old iron. I need to ride long and fast at times with friends. Flats, Pans, and Shovels were not made to run for 16 hours straight at 85 +.

      • Thats a fact. Sadly, I don’t ride long distances much anymore (business), so the old stuff works for me….

  6. I’m not a biker myself, but these photos are really great stuff. They remind me of a fellow I knew in the Keys. He lived behind a popular restaurant in a two room shack or a travel trailer off its wheels (I lived in a small, broke down, motor home across the fence). I think he must have been an “independent” as I never saw a bunch of other bikers around. What impressed me the most about the guy was that every winter he would bring his bike inside his living room and pull the engine and completely go over it checking it out and all. I believe it might have been a 1949 Knucklehead. It was a very cool bike to my eye. He was always very nice and accommodating and would tolerate me hanging around. Well, those were different times and you couldn’t live like we did then, now. Thanx for the memories. all the best

    • Kyscrsr,

      Thanks for the kind words. It is good that you had a positive relationship with one who was died in the wool. You story brought back memories of my own, and a flash of the movie “World’s Fastest Indian”. In fact one of the photos in my book is of Captain Eddy working on his Flathead in his girlfriend’s kitchen. For many bikers, like any devotee, their motorcycle is the axis of their existence. Everything in their life runs by cycles of their ride.

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