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Blue Dog Diaries: The Da Vidson Code

By Terry Roorda

Willie G. handed his Versace bag to the strapping albino attendant and boarded the Gulfstream IV. With him were his wife Nancy and son Bill who likewise handed off their carry-ons—a pair of fatbob fuel tanks.

“Rome, James,” Willie G. instructed the pilot, who was an albino. “And step on it, Whitey. I’ve gotta see a man about a blessing.”

The Davidsons settled into their seats and the albino—the first one, not the pilot—served them snack bags of crispy hosts and tumblers of Benedictine brandy and holy water. The cabin lights dimmed and the Gulfstream lifted off into the warm Milwaukee night. It had begun.

Milwaukee, 1996

When the horror of the sexual depredations committed against as many as 200 youths in the St. John School for the Deaf by one Father Lawrence Murphy were seeing the light of day at last, the Archbishop of the Milwaukee Archdiocese sent two letters to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the Vatican expressing his concerns and looking for guidance in what actions should be taken against the priest. Those letters went unanswered. When, eight months later, a secret canonical trial of Murphy was instituted by another Vatican official, the aging Murphy sent a personal appeal to Ratzinger saying, “I simply want to live out the time I have in the dignity of my priesthood.” The proceeding was abruptly quashed and Murphy died two years later, still a priest and without ever facing so much as a hand slap for his atrocities.

That was just the beginning of the revelations and allegations of sexual abuse of minors committed by priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, as scores and then hundreds of victims came forward, implicating as many as 100 ordained offenders under the direct supervision of the Archbishop.

Defending the tsunami of civil lawsuits that ensued drove the Archdiocese into bankruptcy last year, but the cover-up continues.

In the meantime, Joseph Ratzinger had become Pope Benedict XVI, but the allegations of an official blind eye being turned to the sickening behavior of pedophile priests in the U.S, Ireland, Austria and Germany didn’t cease. Accusations of Vatican stonewalling of the investigations are rife, even leading to the Irish government recently recalling their ambassador to the Vatican. The Irish for chrissakes.

All of which begs the question: What is the connection between The Motor Company and the besieged papacy? Why is the Pope suddenly the center stage celebrity darling of the run-up to H-D’s 110th anniversary celebration? It started early with the announcement of a papal bike blessing in St. Peter’s Square as part of the gala anniversary festivities in Rome. And then two weeks ago it got even weirder with the Davidson clan suddenly popping up at the Vatican in a personal audience with the Pope, and then the big news that the Pope would bless and sign two gas tanks to be mounted on two motorcycles—or Popesickles, if you prefer—one to reside in the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee and the other to be raffled for charity. And I’m baffled. None of this makes any sense to me. What in hell is Harley-Davidson, renowned over generations for their embrace of personal freedom, doing in bed with the Pope who’s the opposite; who’s always telling people what to do and what not to do, and backing it up with threats of hellfire—what a buzzkiller. And for that matter, what’s H-D doing tacitly endorsing any organized religion, much less the one behind the sickening and endemic sex abuse that took place right in The Motor Company’s front yard?

Thus flabbergasted by these events, I sought out the only man who might be able to unravel this mystery for me, my old pal, mentor, and Personal Forensic Motosymbologist, Malcolm “Beautiful Mind” Clive. If anyone could sort through this enigma, it was Malcolm.

As Malcolm welcomed me into his double wide I found myself frozen in my tracks by what I beheld. There covering an entire wall of the trailer was a mad collage of grainy photos, yellowed clippings, legal documents, a holy relic or two and what appeared to be a monkey’s paw—and all of these were strung together with pieces of thumbtacked string, creating a crazy web of connections and cross connections.

“Behold the Da Vidson Code!” Malcolm intoned dramatically with a grand sweep of his hand. “I’ve been trying to sort this tangle out for years now, but all I can surmise with any certainly is the existence of Opus Dei-vidson—a secretive Juneau Avenue society with a kinky affinity for albinos and a cryptic alliance with the papacy. It dates back to 1903 and the reign of Pope Pius X—he later became a saint and Milwaukee has a parish named for him. That’s about all we’ve been able to determine. Some kind of deal must have gone down, though, something to the effect that the Pope would wink at Harley-Davidson’s spawning of a culture of libertines, drunks, stoners, speed freaks, brawlers, felons and topless chicks—all deadly sins, by the way—and in return Opus Dei-vidson would keep their heretical imagery to a minimum, not push the devil worship proclivities too hard, and remain in the shadows awaiting the day when the papacy would need some gnarly backup. That’s all we can figure at this point, and the theory’s shot full of holes. But one thing we know for sure is that Willie G. and Benedict are doing some kind of BFF media blitz, tying their fates together and burnishing each other’s public perception in subtle ways. On the other hand, it could be nothing at all and come next week we could see some additional religious tie-ins for the anniversary celebration. Then I’ll have to start all over. I’m just hoping it ain’t the Scientologists.”

It’s all right here in the diaries.

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