Indian Larry Special Commemorative Edition By Chris Callen

indianlarry1indianlarry2Since he left us in 2004 many articles and books have been published to honor the life and work of Indian Larry. As good as they may be, none of them contains such a deep investigative work to help understand a very complex and talented man as this Special Commemorative Issue written by Chris Callen, publisher of the grassroots magazine Cycle Source. It takes more than nice pictures spread on glossy paper and a few anecdotes to really understand an artist, any of them. And it’s especially true when you assign yourself the task of making the public at large understand why  Indian Larry DeSmed became much more than a celebrated builder, an inspiration and a custom culture icon for the generations to come.

indianlarry5indianlarry6This book is not about his custom bikes, but about the man, the reasons for his art expressed in hand-fabricated choppers and much more. Chris Callen starts his narrative by looking at Larry’s troubled teenage years, at his parental denied first passion for mechanical matters, at letters to and from his family, at his drug abuse, at him being thrown to jail for 2 years for bank robbery, at his discovery of philosophy and learning how to weld while he was serving time, at his decisive encounter with his companion Bambi, at his contribution to the New York  Chopper Scene in the East Village, at the creation of Psycho Cycles, at decisive meetings with English Don then Paul Cox, then at his switch to a new shop called American Dream Machine where in 98 he met Keino Sasaki, leading in 2000 to the creation of his own Brooklyn business called Gasoline Alley. Then the time when Indian Larry became a household name by being invited by Jesse James to join the ride in TV show Motorcycle Mania 2, then participating to a Biker Build-Off series.

indianlarry10indianlarry13It can be quite surprising to many that a talented custom motorcycle builder like Indian Larry could be called “The Chopper Shaman”. Larry, an intermediary between the human and spirit worlds? Able to treat illness and capable of entering supernatural realms to obtain answers to the problems of the human being?  Yes, because even if the man was very far from perfect, with a very both complex and rich personality, with a tough growing up, living a hard life, wrestling with demons and fighting hell, he eventually got a spiritual awakening to become a serene man to teach others how to handle life…and build cool Choppers.

indianlarry15So, to understand the Shaman, Chris Callen met with his mother, sister, friends of the good and bad times, his companion, his co-workers in the shops where he improved his skills then shared them with others at his “Gasoline Alley” Brooklyn shop. Under eccentric ways Chris discovered a simple man in constant pursuit of knowledge to answer his own philosophical questions, always faithful to himself and to his own surprise amazed by the sudden celebrity he got through TV.  From a very little space under the stairs (only 5′ wide by 18′ long), Indian Larry was able to produce some of the most acclaimed, choppers, demonstrating that hard work, talent & passion, not sophisticated machines, are the main necessary ingredients to produce superb creations. To many he remains a custom motorcycle building inspiration, but after reading this Chris Callen Indian Larry Special Edition, you will be convinced, like me, that Larry became legendary for many other reasons than only his mechanical abilities. This Special Issue is a must read and it is illustrated with some never seen before pictures of renown photographers  like Mike Lichter, Timothy White, Clay Patrick McBride and Tom Zimberoff. Pre-ordered copies are being sent today (you can still order online at Cycle Source Magazine). In newsstands at Barnes & Noble beginning of February.

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17 Responses to “Indian Larry Special Commemorative Edition By Chris Callen”

  1. 1 Steve Kelly Jan 18th, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Well done Cyril for running that in full. There are some great images there too!

  2. 2 Jeremy Jan 18th, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Wow. Cyril, your writing makes me want to read more about Larry. Already learned many things I didn’t know. Thanks.

  3. 3 Tod T Jan 18th, 2010 at 8:39 am

    I miss Larry, I still have the December 2004 issue of Street Chopper with his Mystery Chain Bike on the cover. I never get tired of looking at his amazing creations…….

  4. 4 Larry R. Jan 18th, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I shook hands with Indian Larry during one of the Smoke Outs. His demeanor was so real and he was so humble. I could feel his spirit. When he died, I was saddened to the heart. May his spirit live forever. Thanks, Cyril for the info.

  5. 5 Night Train of Florida Full Throttle Mag Jan 18th, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Met Paul Cox one on one last December for our Febuary issue of “Up Close and Personal” – His shop was filled with the most amazing art I have ever seen. I could sense Larry’s influence everywhere. I only have one regret; i did not make enough time to spend with Paul. Paul certainly is his own man but you can see the huge influence Larry had on him. Larry had a passion to discover and learn about things most people don’t care to and that is what gave him substance. This book will become part of my collection.


  6. 6 WILLIE Jan 18th, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Great job Chris, Larry was good people always ready to talk to you no matter how Famous he got .The real deal for sure. and a very cool person..


  7. 7 maroco Jan 18th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Biker Spirit!

  8. 8 Rogue Jan 19th, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Chris put a lot of work into this special issue and I am looking forward to seeing it.
    I am sure it will become a collectors item.

  9. 9 Cochise Jan 19th, 2010 at 11:40 am

    It’s a keeper!!!

  10. 10 Roadside Marty Jan 19th, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    If there’s anyone out there that could do this the right way, it’s Chris Callen! I can’t wait for my issue!

  11. 11 raycwheeler Jan 20th, 2010 at 1:33 am


    Your the man.

    When will autographed copies be available and how do we order?



  12. 12 Mike Kiwi Tomas, Kiwi Indian Motorcycles Jan 21st, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Great job Chris. I look forward to seeing this outstanding special edition.

  13. 13 Gina Woods Jan 21st, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Way to go Chris..truly a special edition of Cycle Source ..thanks for the memories and the authenticity of a great builder and his lifestyle profile! You can tell of your fondness for Larry and your passion to this industry! Fabulous work!

  14. 14 Rob Keller Jan 24th, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    When Chris first started putting this issue together, he just wanted to get the story right. He and Colline Swartz went to New York to meet and talk with as many people they could that knew Indian Larry. As he started to put the pieces together, more and more of Larry’s friends and business partners came foward to help put the timeline together. Some of these people have not seen or spoken to each other for years but they all had something in commom, Indian Larry, he had made an impact on their lives and now he is gone! Life is so presious and Larry knew this. We all should start to practice the things that Larry was trying to teach. WE are ALL here together . If you love your brother,call your brother and tell him! Don’t wait until tomorrow, it may not come! Thank you Chris for the excellent story of a extraordinary man that was so much like you!

  15. 15 Elisa Jan 26th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Chris: Thank you for your commitment and the integrity to make sure every word printed in this magazine was the truth. This issue is amazing and it shows! It is a true portrayal of Larry and his ability to touch so many people’s lives. His quest for knowledge and his ability to persevere and not sweat the small stuff. He truly is a lesson for all of us!

  16. 16 Axel Feb 8th, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Well, the commemorative issue is now at my local Barnes and Noble, even though they don’t carry Cycle Source anymore. So if you’ve been looking for it, it’s out. And it looks good, although it probably has too much reading for the Rush Limbaugh types.

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