By Jonathan Riley
THE DIGBY COURIER
It’s hard to stand out at the Wharf Rat Rally. A lot of colourful characters show up on the streets of Digby. A lot of zaniness comes to town. There is no more normal.
Still, everyone knows Bean’re.
He looks like the sixth member of Doctor Teeth and the Electric Mayhem – the Muppet band.
You’ve seen him. Tall, feathery top hat, long hair, jazzy jacket, baby blue frilly shirt, yellow sneakers. Maybe you’ve seen him standing on his bike during the Street Punishment shows.
Maybe you wondered who is this guy. You should just ask him.
“I’m Bean’re,” is his answer.
What do you do? “I’m doing it,” by which he means hanging out at bike rallys all over North America.
He gets his mail in Tennessee but this summer he’s already been from California to North Carolina to Kentucky to Iowa to South Dakota to Kentucky (where he’s from originally). All that on his purple 1997 Harley Road King police bike. Which he chopped. His bike has over 440,000 km on it.
He drove into Canada through St. Stephen New Brunswick last week. Someone yelled as he drove through town, “Hey Bean’re!”
“That was the best welcome I could have got in Canada,” he says.
Bean’re was in the U.S. Marine Corps for three years – three years of short hair he says, and he hasn’t cut it since.
He knew as a young man he wanted to travel and the Marines did that for him but he says there were too many restrictions.
He got out in 1984 and he’s pretty much been doing nothing ever since.
He sleeps on people’s couches – “I tell people not to invite me unless they mean it, cause I will show up.” – and he tents.
He says he could get a full-time job – he has some experience in home reno. He bought and flipped a couple properties in Florida back in the day.
But these days he’s just being Bean’re. His Facebook page says “professional tourist, mayor of fun, world famous biker gypsy and the Monsignor Bean're. I am just an ordinary guy out having a good time and enjoying my journey.”
He’s been to the Wharf Rat Rally three times but he first came up here ten years ago and loves it. He’s made some good friends in New Brunswick on his trips up here and he spent some time with them already this week, raising some money for diabetes and helping kids at a Moncton bike club.
He brought three top hats with him this year but still couldn’t resist a stop at Frenchies. He got a wild bathrobe there but only just learned they put out new stock every hour.
“I gotta get myself back there. They’ve got a lot of great stuff.”
He’s not sure how much longer he can continue as a professional tourist. He says sometimes he wonders if his mid-life crisis might be a haircut and a nine-to-five.
He’s also in talks with three networks he says to do a documentary.
Russell Burgess of Windsor is a fan. His goal for the 2011 rally was to get a photo of himself with Bean’re.
“He’s a throwback to the old time bikers,” says Russell. “He’s the real deal and he does a lot of foolishness.”
Bean’re laughs and tells another story. Which he does non-stop. People are always gathering around him, circles form when he talks. Everybody listens. Or takes pictures.
“People recognize me everywhere I go and some people talk to me and some people whisper,” he says. “ I heard this guy tell his friend last night.: ‘I see he’s still alive.’
“And that’s the point. For me it’s all about the experience. Life is too short.”