As the Occupy movement gains momentum and support the potential for more police violence is always present. In most cases the unarmed, peaceful protestors will be the losers (as happened in Oakland.) The occupy movement has natural allies that provide them with protection and clout (e.g., union members.) In return, the occupy movement provides lots of youthful energy, passion and creativity. This winter is the time for organizing and building coalitions. I hope this article provides ideas and inspiration as to the kind of power the occupy movement can have.
The one group with a long-history of confronting police harassment and social rejection include the subculture known as “Outlaw Bikers.” Ironically, they are also known as “1%’s” – but for very different reasons (as you will learn below.) They also represent one of the last truly free-living groups (like the James gang and other western outlaws.) These leading-edge freedom fighters live to ride hard, play hard, and fight hard when provoked. However, demographics and police repression have reduced the numbers of potential members. Most “outlaw” chapters do want to engage and help the community – any many are involved with charity. The outlaw bikers will find kindred spirits in young punk rockers, skateboarders, street gangs, and even hippies!
Historically, the Hells Angels have been a major presence in the SF Bay area (particularly Oakland) for over fifty years. This gang has been demonized by most of society – particularly the cops and media. Not unlike, the Sopranos and others, outlaw bikers are involved in a range of “criminal” activities that are economically rational, given the unfair society they and the rest of us live in. They are prone to violence if provoked. However, the “crimes” committed by outlaw bikes mainly hurt each other or those who make the mistake of messing with them. Many outlaw bikers have similar politics and experiences to the Tea Party (i.e., are less educated, white males that tend to be veterans who like guns.) Like the hippies and some Occupy protestors, they are alienated from society and have learned to live outside the system (i.e., off the grid and outside the law.) All three groups would agree that “we should be able to do anything we want, whenever we want – as long as we don’t hurt anyone else.” Click below to learn why outlaw bikers and the occupy movement would be a good match to help keep the cops in check.
Occupy organizers may wish to reach out to outlaw bikers and others in the local area. In order to blend in bikers will want tone down their public drinking and rowdy behavior. They can likely work within the policies of the local occupy group. This includes the Occupy movement’s policy of not resorting to violence. Outlaw bikers would be better able to abandon their criminal activities if the economy wasn’t stacked so high against them. The simple presence of outlaw bikers should be enough to make police think long and hard before using violence against any protestors. I will be writing soon about what would happen if street gang members become part of the movement.
Read more to find the outlaw hiding inside each of us. This article covers five main topics. First, outlaw bikers will be described in terms of their policies and practices, as well as their historical and social context. Second, the Hells Angels will be profiled as the most famous and strongest outlaw bikers who have international connections. This will include some local problem cases. Third, learn what type of biker President Obama would likely become. Fourth, I pay tribute to one of my favorite films which captures the romance and reality of the outlaw biker – Easy Rider. Fifth, you can check out the constitution and regulations of a real outlaw gang.
Outlaw Bikers’ History, Behavior, and Social Context
Here you will read the most useful and truthful information I could find on the Internet about Outlaw bikers.
The goal of the article is to offer a more comprehensive history, an evolutionary history that may allow for a better understanding of contemporary motorcycle subculture. It develops a taxonomy of social and historical factors affecting formation of motorcycle clubs during three time periods. This essay is based on in-depth interviews with and personal histories of long-time members of outlaw motorcycle clubs, both one-percent and non-one-percent organizations. This ethnographic study, conducted by the author, took place primarily in the southeastern United States (e.g., Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia) from June 2000 through May 2004. Extensive participant observations took place in Texas, New York, Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, Utah, Arizona, and California while attending regional and national motorcycle club gatherings.
The term outlaw does not refer to law breaking. However, when used in the context of describing “one-percent” motorcycle clubs, which are defined in detail below, the term takes on a more ominous tone. It is not my intention to suggest that the term outlaw is synonymous with illegal endeavor. …
Preformative Period: 1901 – 1944
Perhaps the first emergence of an enduring motorcycle club, one that still exists as of this writing, appeared in 1936. This group was called the McCook Outlaws, hailing from Cook County, Illinois, which encompasses the city of Chicago. The McCook Outlaws were later to become the Chicago Outlaws, now known as the Outlaws Motorcycle Club (Outlaws Motorcycle Club or Outlaws MC). According to a member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club for more than twenty five years who currently resides in northern Florida, older members of his organization related to him that they congregated for the purposes of long distance touring—which was quite an adventure aboard a foot-operated clutch and hand-shifted motorcycle traveling largely on unpaved dirt roads—and racing, which included hill-climbing, flat quarter-mile dirt tracks, and oval wooden board tracks. A secondary but enduring biker pastime was the massive consumption of alcohol and general good-natured debauchery. Organizational symbols of the McCook Outlaws were stenciled on the back of mechanics overalls, which consisted simply of the club’s name; leather vests and jackets, as well as club-specific logos and symbols were yet to make their debut. It is interesting to note that according to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club History webpage, the club’s organizational logo (i.e. “Charlie,” a skull centered over two crossed pistons and connecting rods, similar to a Jolly Roger pirate’s flag) was heavily influenced by the attire worn by Marlon Brando’s character “Johnny” in the 1954 film The Wild One. …
Formative Period: 1945 – 1950
When these men returned stateside and resumed their jobs punching time clocks, dressing in suits, reporting to managers, swinging hammers, or repairing automobiles, that very soon they started searching for “leisure” activities that could get their blood pumping once again. Veterans, searching for relief from the residual effects of their wartime experiences, started seeking out one another just to be around kindred spirits and perhaps relive some of the better, wilder social aspects of their times during the war. Soon enough American motorcycles became part of the equation, largely due to the high level of performance and excitement the cycles offered a rider, as well as for the relatively antisocial characteristic of loud exhaust pipes and the large, imposing size of the bikes. Add to this a post-war economic boon and a July 4th, 1947 Hollister, California incident as reported by Life magazine, and it seems that all the ingredients necessary, which were missing during the previous era, were now present and sufficient for a specific type of motorcycling organization to emerge. …
Transformative Period: 1951 – 2000
During the period between 1948 and the early 1960s, motorcycle clubs spread out from California with new outlaw (i.e. non-AMA affiliated) motorcycling organizations establishing chapters across the United States. Outlaw clubs such as the Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club began in the mid-West, the Bandidos Motorcycle Club in Texas, the Pagans Motorcycle Club in Pennsylvania, among others. Early during this period, certain members of the Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington split from their club and formed the first charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC). …
Among other experiences, returning veterans brought back from the jungles of Southeast Asia journeymen’s knowledge of and experience with illegal drugs, which, given a relatively widespread American drug culture of the 1960s, went largely unnoticed or unrecognized by the mainstream citizenry. Teenagers barely out of puberty were now experiencing one of the bloodiest armed conflicts in American history. As with combat veterans of World War II, the hell fires of war once again raged and found young Americans on foreign soil fighting, dying, killing, and being injured. As before, these men would be forever changed by their combat experience, their innocence scorched from their being, their pre-war personalities reduced to little more than charred remains to be swept under the carpet, so to speak, by a nation eager to put the experience quickly behind them.
It is during this era that the notorious “one percenters” emerged on a national scale from the outlaw biker subculture. The dominant motorcycle clubs of the time took the secession a step further and turned the AMA’s declaration back on itself, claiming the remaining 1% as a badge of honor and forming themselves into a loose association of truly outlaw motorcycle clubs known as One Percenters. The original one percenters agreed on a diamond-shaped symbol to denote their marginal-but-exclusive social status, and agreed to establish geographic boundaries—primarily in California—in which each motorcycle club would operate independently. Although this loose association had been around for some time before the American-Vietnam Conflict, the one percenters were not to make the national media scene until the mid-1960s.
A significant point in the evolution of one percenters was evident in California during the summer of 1964. At this time two members of the Oakland Hells Angels Motorcycle Club attending a club rally were arrested and charged with raping two women in Monterey, California. The charges were dropped due to lack of evidence and the two Hells Angels were released, but it seems that the media coverage of the incident caught the attention of certain California state government officials. …
This media coverage had the effect of casting a pall that encompassed not only the charters of the Hells Angels MC, but the outlaw motorcycle club subculture as a whole. Hollywood movie makers were quick to cash in on the disturbing image of outlaw motorcycle clubs. Wild Angels and Hells Angels on Wheels were released as early as 1967, each of which distort further the reality of what it meant to be a member of an outlaw motorcycle club. It appears that certain members of the California state government were responsible for casting an unrealistic image of the outlaw motorcycle club subculture, that certain prominent news media were responsible for “validating” that distorted image, and that Hollywood has perpetuated that image over time. …
During the 1960s and 1970s, newer clubs joined the one percent ranks. While smaller in membership than older clubs such as the Hells Angels MC, they were considerably more aggressive when it came to carving out geographic areas in which to operate. Outlaw motorcycle clubs joining the elite ranks of the one percenters during this time include the Bandidos MC from Galveston Texas, the Pagans MC, the Sons of Silence MC, the Mongols MC, the Vagos MC of southern California, and the Warriors MC in Florida. Accelerating to contemporary times, a hierarchy of motorcycle clubs has been firmly established among the one percenters: “the big three” as they are known to state and federal law enforcement agencies (Southeast Gang Activity Group; Barger, et al; Valentine). The big three in order of sociocultural power are the Hells Angels MC, the Outlaws MC, and the Bandidos MC. There dwell other one-percent motorcycle clubs in the subculture, including among others the POBOBs MC, Gypsy Jokers MC, Galloping Gooses MC, and Henchman MC. …
The one-percenter ethos can be summarized as follows: the demands of the organization are superior to the needs of the individual, which includes the individual’s family and occupation. While it is no secret that certain members of one-percent motorcycle clubs have been convicted of illegal acts such as methamphetamine production, distribution and sales; prostitution; contract violence; racketeering; and motorcycle theft (Paradis, Southeast Gang Activity Group, Barger, Lavigne, Watson, Wolf, Posnansky, and Thompson), my field research suggests strongly that those members who engage in such behavior represent the vast minority of the one-percent clubs. Further, of the outlaw motorcycle clubs observed, illegal behavior such as those listed above was non-existent.
The dominant symbol of the one percenter is the diamond, and a motorcycle club that does not display this symbol on their colors is most definitely not a one-percent organization. This diamond-shaped patch, with either the text “one percenter” or the alpha-numeric symbol “1%er” embroidered in the center, is usually displayed on the wearer’s left vest lapel, over the heart; however, at least one club places the one-percent symbol on the back-patch (e.g., the Bandidos MC). The one-percent symbol utilizes the two dominant colors in the club’s color scheme (e.g., the Hells Angels MC incorporates a white background with red letters and border, the Outlaws MC places white lettering on a black background, the Bandidos MC uses red lettering and borders on a gold background). …
The taxonomy offered here is useful in understanding certain social and cultural factors that influenced the origins and evolution of motorcycle clubs in the United States. A common thread that runs through each of these eras is that of American involvement in military conflicts and subsequent social organizing around the sport of motorcycling. What seems clear is that neither the American government nor society is attending to the effects of war on such individuals. Indeed, it appears that no process exists by which combat veterans are able to resume their roles as citizens, as people. Because of this lack of structured re-assimilation into American society certain combat veterans have created over time a culture in which they are accepted as the people they have become. The outlaw motorcycle club subculture can be seen as a society built along militaristic, hierarchical lines, a highly ordered, controlled, and black-and-white world in which individuals may understand implicitly their role, their identity, their place in a society.
What I and other outlaw motorcycle club researchers have failed to examine is the effect that the current American “War on Terror” may have on the continued evolution of the subculture. Once again a handful of Americans find themselves on foreign fields of battle, waging an increasingly unpopular war for unclear reasons. Given the overwhelming influence armed conflict has had on the formation and evolution of the outlaw motorcycle club subculture, it seems appropriate to examine if and how the role of women in combat units in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other hostile zones fighting the War on Terror changes the perception of women as full members in outlaw and one-percent motorcycle clubs.
I ride because it is fun. I ride because I enjoy the freedom I feel from being exposed to the elements, and the vulnerability to the danger that is intrinsic to riding.
I do not ride because it is fashionable to do so.
I ride my machine, not wear it. My machine is not a symbol of status. It exists simply for me, and me alone.
My machine is not a toy. It is an extension of my being, and I will treat it accordingly, with the same respect as I have for myself.
I strive to understand the inner-workings of my machine, from the most basic to the most complex. I learn everything I can about my machine, so that I am reliant upon no one but myself for its health and well-being.
I strive to constantly better my skill of control over my machine. I will learn it’s limits, and use my skill to become one with my machine so that we may keep each other alive. I am the master, it is the servant. Working together in harmony, we will become an invincible team.
I do not fear death. I will, however, do all possible to avoid death prematurely. Fear is the enemy, not death. Fear on the highway leads to death, therefore I will not let fear be my master. I will master it.
My machines will outlive me. Therefore, they are my legacy. I will care for them for future bikers to cherish as I have cherished them, whoever they may be.
I do not ride to gain attention, respect, or fear from those that do NOT ride, nor do I wish to intimidate or annoy them. For those that do not know me, all I wish from them is to ignore me. For those that desire to know me, I will share with them the truth of myself, so that they might understand me and not fear others like me.
I will never be the aggressor on the highway. However, should others fuck with me, their aggression will be dealt with in as severe manner as I can cast upon them.
I will show respect to other bikers more experienced or knowledgeable than I am. I will learn from them all I can. However, if my respect is not acknowledged or appreciated, it will end.
I will not show disrespect to other bikers less experienced or knowledgeable than I am. I will teach them what I can. However, if they show me disrespect, they will be bitch-slapped.
It will be my task to mentor new riders, that so desire, into the lifestyle of the biker, so that the breed shall continue. I shall instruct them, as I have been instructed by those before me. I shall preserve and honor traditions of bikers before me, and I will pass them on unaltered.
I will not judge other bikers on their choice of machine, their appearance, or their profession. I will judge them only on their conduct as bikers. I am proud of my accomplishments as a biker, though I will not flaunt them to others. If they ask, I will share them.
I will stand ready to help any other bikers that truly needs my help. I will never ask another biker to do for me what I can do for myself. I am not a part-time biker. I am a biker when, and where-ever I go. I am proud to be a biker, and hide my chosen lifestyle from no one. I ride because I love freedom, independence, and the movement of the ground beneath me. But most of all, I ride to better understand myself, my machine, the lands in which I ride, and to seek out and know other bikers like myself.
All riders of every age have encountered it. Whether coming from friends and family as you tell them you’re getting a motorcycle or when a non-rider find out you carry the label of biker. The look of ‘Are you crazy?’ mingled with the fear you’ll start eating babies and pillaging small towns.
How exactly did a form of transport get such a universally strong association to everything bad in our society and more importantly, are we turning the corner of that stereotype? Ironically, the same media that painted the everyday motorcycle enthusiast as the crazed criminal have been instrumental in bringing the image back to a more realistic version.
Oddly enough, the motorcycle has a touch of blue-blood. Back in the early 1900’s when the motorcycle was gaining popularity it was considered a toy for the rich and a more affordable transportation alternative to the then expensive automobile by the average person. It even became a symbol of the growing emancipation movement by women.
But by the end of the Second World War, America had an abundance of two things; motorcycles and returning servicemen, neither of which the military had any further need for. Although many of the returning soldiers tried to pick up their lives and settled down to jobs, marriage and children, some of the young men were restless, trying to find their place in society and looking for friends that could relate to the experiences they had known.
The post war supply of cheap motorcycles not only presented the restless men an avenue for their youthful energy, the rough and powerful ride from the Harley Davidson or Indian motorcycles of the day gave that edge to life these men had known in war but was hard to find in suburban America. Many chose the life of the road with like minded individuals who liked to ride hard and party harder rather than settle in the routine of a nine to five job, mortgages and the stresses of raising a family. Just as the man either side of them in war was closer than any brother, their fellow riders became family.
Since these were men that were used to serving under a symbol, wearing patches of who they were and what they represented, it wasn’t long before the different groups became more organized and gave themselves an identity, something surely lacking for many. Two of the first such organizations were the Pissed Off Bastards and the Booze Fighters.
Because an offshoot of the Pissed Off Bastards became the infamous Hells Angels, their origins are less well known but it’s thought that many were formerly members of an elite group of U.S. Army paratroopers trained to land behind enemy lines, defeat the enemy and hold their ground until conventional forces can re-enforce them. …
With Hollywood understanding that sensation sold tickets, the floodgates opened for movies featuring fighting sprees, drugs and sexual assaults, all to a chorus of roaring chopper engines, the film and others like it contributed to the negative image of motorcycle riders, especially Harley-Davidson owners. “Their credo is violence…Their God is hate… The most terrifying film of our time!” read the poster advertising the film “The Wild Angels,” a B-movie starring Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra. Featuring fighting sprees, drugs and sexual assaults, all to a chorus of roaring chopper engines, the film and others like it contributed to the negative image of motorcycle riders, especially Harley-Davidson owners.
With the negative press, sensationalized movies and a feud between some bikers, the ranks of motorcycle clubs that were proud to consider themselves ‘one-percenters’ grew. The Hells Angels, which broke away from the Pissed Off Bastards in 1948, were forming new chapters or groups, all up and down the California Coast. Interestingly enough, the Booze Fighter who were witness to what could be considered as the birth-event of the outlaw biker image have never claimed to be one-percenters, as they’re clear to point on any chapters website or publicity material. The Hells Angels however became more and more famous, or should one say infamous? With the image of the outlaw biker firmly entrenched in America’s mind, an actor who starred in a motorcycle gang B-movie a mere three years earlier, would write a movie that not only created a new movie genre, but a new way to look at the motorcyclist.
The Birth of Captain America: Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper wrote and starred in Easy Rider, a movie about two men who head out across America on Harley Davidson Choppers trying to find their place in the world. With Dennis Hopper directing, it not only created a new breed of movie known as the ‘road film’, characters with nowhere to go and no reason to get there, but it also associated motorcycles with freedom rather than the hooliganism ‘The Wild One’ had some sixteen years earlier. The film was firmly based in the sixties culture of non-conformism and philosophical outlooks on life, even with the cynical ending of self-disapproval.
America loved the image. At the same time the teens of the time were wanting as restless and free-spirited as the biker on the silver screen, and the Japanese waiting in the wings to help. With the older Harley Davidson and Indian motorcycles requiring the rider to have extensive mechanical knowledge and the willingness to rebuild an engine on the side of a deserted highway, it was a difficult past time for a new rider to get into.
The Japanese on the other hand, were making riding easy, selling small but powerful bikes that were not only reliable and inexpensive. They even came with little luxuries like an electric starter. They were manufacturing the kind of worry-free motorcycle geared towards the growing casual, ‘jump on and go’ type of rider. The development, advancements and engine size of the Japanese-motorcycle grew with the Baby-Boomers, following their needs all the way through college with larger engines and better touring capabilities. …
The motorcycle industry wasn’t just abandoned, it was driven out into the desert and left to the coyotes. Some already weak British manufacturers went out of business and American production was severely reduced and quality of what was made suffered. Even the Japanese limited the number of models as well as lowering imports.
All the while, faithful riders patched up their motorcycles to keep riding. Free-spirited and independent thinking riders wearing worn leathers emblazoned with patches and rockers took the image of bikers to that of a solitary soul. One who doesn’t necessarily need to be feared but you certainly don’t need to go out of your way to talk to them.
It could be considered poetic then that the same generation which started the industry’s slide would be the one to bring it the breath of life. It was the same broad brush used by the media to paint a segment of society that helped the motorcycle and its rider find its road back into the hearts and confidence of the non-riding American public. The story has been told and retold of the baby boomers sending off the last child only to have an empty nest and some disposable income.
Through the various incarnations of the middle-aged, affluent male taking to motorcycles en masse the public appeared to understand the biker was a neighbor, civil servant, teacher and most of all, a well-known friend. Of course the multitude of toy runs, charity rides and problem-free motorcycle events certainly helped.
The motorcycle industry enjoyed the timing of well made products and smoother rides at the same time the ‘me’ generation heard the open road calling. Motorcycles started to appear everywhere as the Terminator rode his Harley both on and off the big screen. The motorcycle became a popular and ‘hip’ form of transportation for younger males with the image furthered in movies starring young action stars. …
With the media and motorcycle enthusiasts having come full circle in nearly seventy years the ‘Outlaw Biker’ label has been retired to the rare, true motorcycle gang and in Hollywood’s latest offerings, leaving the everyday rider to enjoy their favorite past time. But while the label may be finding its proper home, the bikers themselves seem to enjoy its lingering facade of black attire, t-shirts and apparel adorned with skulls and crossbones – even if it is only worn on weekends and between real life commitments.
The birth of the 1%er patch dates back to 1961 when the AMA started their “Put Your Best Wheel Forward” campaign into effect which asked cycle riders to keep a clean public appearance. The cycle riders that scoffed at the AMA started wearing American Outlaws Association (AOA) patches which eventually became the 1%er patch in response to the AMA comment about 99% of the riders attending motorcycle races as being good law abiding citizens.
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club (Bandidos) is an OMG with a membership of 2,000 to 2,500 persons in the U.S. and in 13 other countries. The Bandidos constitute a growing criminal threat to the U.S. Law enforcement authorities estimate that the Bandidos are one of the two largest OMGs operating in the U.S., with approximately 900 members belonging to 93 chapters. The Bandidos are most active in the Pacific, Southeastern, Southwestern and the West Central regions of the U.S. The Bandidos are expanding in each of these regions by forming additional chapters and allowing members of supporting clubs, known as “puppet” or “duck” club members who have sworn allegiance to another club but who support and do the “dirty work” of a mother club–to form new or join existing Bandidos chapters.
Black Pistons MC
The Black Pistons Motorcycle Club (Black Pistons) is the official support club for the Outlaws Motorcycle Club (Outlaws). Established in 2002 with the backing of the Outlaws, the Black Pistons have expanded rapidly throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. The Black Pistons have an estimated 70 domestic chapters in 20 states and an unknown number of foreign chapters in Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Norway and Poland. The exact number of Black Pistons members is unknown but the figure is estimated to be more than 200 in the U.S. The Outlaws use the Black Pistons chapters as a recruitment source for prospective Outlaws members.
Hells Angels MC
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (Hells Angels) is the most important and infamous of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. Estimates range between 2,000 and 2,500 members who belong to over 230 chapters in the U.S. and in 26 foreign countries. The Hells Angels have a real presence on six continents. U.S. law enforcement authorities estimate that the Hells Angels have more than 92 chapters in 27 states with a membership in excess of 800 persons. [MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THEM IN NEXT SECTION]
The Mongols Motorcycle Club (Mongols) is an extremely violent OMG that poses a serious criminal threat to the Pacific and Southwestern regions of the U.S. A majority of the Mongols membership consists of Hispanic males who live in the Los Angeles area, and many are former street gang members with a long history of using violence to settle grievances. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) have called the Mongols the most violent and dangerous OMG in the nation. In the 1980’s the Mongols seized control of Southern California from the Hells Angels, and today, the Mongols are allied with the Bandidos, the Outlaws, the Sons of Silence and the Pagan’s against the Hells Angels. The Mongols have also maintained their ties with Hispanic street gangs in Los Angeles.
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club (Outlaws) have more than 1,700 members who belong to 176 chapters in the U.S. and in 12 foreign countries. U.S. law enforcement authorities estimate that the Outlaws have more than 86 chapters in 20 states with over 700 members. The Outlaws also identify themselves as the A.O.A. (American Outlaws Association) and the Outlaws Nation. The Outlaws are the dominant OMG in the Great Lakes region. The Outlaws compete with the Hells Angels for both members and territory.
During the 60s, supposedly the Hells Angels and the left-wing radicals and hippies were allied in the common cause of the pursuit of drugs and sex. Allen Ginsburg and Ken Kesey were said to have become friendly with the leader of the Angels, Sonny Barger, and his closest associates. They would have giant parties and consume massive amounts of drugs.
Later, the Hells Angels would become symbolic of the end of the 60s with their killing of Meredith Hunter at the Altamont concert (a lot of people probably don’t realize that Hunter was brandishing a gun and threatening the Angels – their stabbing of him was actually in self-defense. But that’s another topic.) This killing became emblematic of the end of the “peaceful” times of the 60s hippie culture and the triumph of brutality, or something like that.
But up until that point, what was the relationship between the Hells Angels and the hippies and left-wingers really like? On the one hand you have a biker gang with a penchant for violence, strong anti-Communism, and a rabid distrust of outsiders – on the other, a loose coalition of left-wingers, beatniks, political activists and other radical types. Did these two groups truly form an intellectual bond (perhaps a love for shaking up the public and rattling people’s sensibilities) or did they just happen to sometimes hang out together because there were free drugs around?
You wouldn’t expect outlaw bikers and Hippies to get along very well, and Hunter Thompson was sure that the Hells Angels would make mince meat out of the Pranksters, especially if Ken Kesey turned them on to LSD, but that’s not what happened at all. Although a few of the Angels had bummers (and that, by the way, is how that word got into our vocabulary) most of them dug the groovy acid. The Angels also learned the art of big-time dope dealing from the Hippies. Many people stereotype bikers as a bunch of illiterate rednecks, but nothing could be further from the truth. They’re more like Beat Generation cats (of the hot variety) who dig motorcycles, and they spoke the language of hip long before we showed up on the scene.
A tide of tattoos, leather and thousands of thundering Harleys will surge into South Dakota this week for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, one of the largest biker gatherings in the world. The small town’s population will grow more than sixtyfold as crowds of iron-horse lovers take in a week of open roads, flowing booze and hard living. The rally attracts more than its share of weekend warriors eager for a brief interlude of escapist revelry. But for thousands of members of the Hells Angels, the nation’s most notorious motorcycle gang, it’s not vacation; it’s a way of life.
Despite the group’s fame and long history, there is much about the Angels that remains shrouded in mystery. The history of the gang and its current membership are murky topics, and what goes on inside its secretive clubhouses tends to stays there — just as the bikers want it. The Hells Angels Motorcycle Cub began in Fontana, Calif., in 1948, at a time when military surplus made motorcycles affordable and the placid postwar years left many veterans bored and itching for adventure. A vet named Otto Friedli is credited with starting the club after breaking from one of the earliest postwar motorcycle clubs, the Pissed Off Bastards, in the wake of a bitter feud with a rival gang. “Hell’s Angels” was a popular moniker for bomber squadrons in World Wars I and II, as well as the title of a 1930 Howard Hughes film about the Royal Flying Corps (the phrase lost its apostrophe over time).
For years, the HAMC, as members refer to the group, remained a California organization; the first chapter to open outside the state started in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1961. Eventually the club grew to most states and 30 or more countries, fueled by the alluring imagery of devil-may-care outlaws making their own rules. Pop culture helped buttress that iconic image, especially the 1954 Marlon Brando film The Wild One and Hunter S. Thompson’s 1966 account of spending a year with the gang in northern California. The group says a typical member rides 20,000 miles a year, usually on the Angels’ preferred machines, Harley-Davidsons. And members still refer to themselves as “one percenters” — a half-century-old boast playing off the saying that 1% of troublemakers give a bad name to 99% of respectable bikers. …
Hells Angels can be recognized by their leather or denim jackets featuring the red-and-white winged “death’s head” logo, the letters HAMC and often the number 81 — representing H, the eighth letter of the alphabet, and A, the first. Like soldiers who don emblems on their military uniforms, Hells Angels wear a variety of patches on their jackets indicating their status in the group; the precise meaning is known only to fellow Angels (full-fledged Angels are known as full-patch). Members are known to one another only by their road names; a memorial page on the gang’s website includes tributes to deceased bikers listed only as Triumph Viking and Fat Ray. As far as becoming a Hells Angel without putting in a whole lot of effort, good luck. The membership information on the web site essentially boils down to this: “If you have to ask the question, you probably won’t understand the answer.”
- The hard core, the outlaw elite, were the Hell’s Angels… wearing the winged death’s-head on the back of their sleeveless jackets and packing their “mamas” behind them on big “chopped hogs.” They rode with a fine unwashed arrogance, secure in their reputation as the rottenest motorcycle gang in the whole history of Christendom.
- A man who has blown all his options can’t afford the luxury of changing his ways. He has to capitalize on whatever he has left, and he can’t afford to admit — no matter how often he’s reminded of it — that every day of his life takes him farther and farther down a blind alley… Very few toads in this world are Prince Charmings in disguise. Most are simply toads… and they are going to stay that way… Toads don’t make laws or change any basic structures, but one or two rooty insights can work powerful changes in the way they get through life. A toad who believes he got a raw deal before he even knew who was dealing will usually be sympathetic to the mean, vindictive ignorance that colors the Hell’s Angels’ view of humanity. There is not much mental distance between a feeling of having been screwed and the ethic of total retaliation, or at least the random revenge that comes with outraging the public decency.
- Satan’s Slaves, number three in the outlaw hierarchy, custom-bike specialists with a taste for the flesh of young dogs, flashy headbands and tender young blondes with lobotomy eyes.
- Tiny hurts people. When he loses his temper he goes completely out of control and his huge body becomes a lethal weapon. It is difficult to see what role he might play in the Great Society.
- But with the throttle screwed on, there is only the barest margin, and no room at all for mistakes. It has to be done right… and that’s when the strange music starts, when you stretch your luck so far that fear becomes exhilaration and vibrates along your arms. You can barely see at a hundred; the tears blow back so fast that they vaporize before they get to your ears. The only sounds are the wind and a dull roar floating back from the mufflers. You watch the white line and try to lean with it… howling through a turn to the right, then to the left, and down the long hill to Pacifica… letting off now, watching for cops, but only until the next dark stretch and another few seconds on the edge… The Edge.
- There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others- the living- are those who pushed their luck as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there. Or maybe it’s In. The association of motorcycles with LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions.
- The streets of every city in America are filled with men who would pay all the money they could lay their hands on to be transformed, even for a day, into hairy, hard-fisted brutes who walk all over cops, extort drinks from terrified bartenders and roar out of town on big motorcycles after raping the banker’s daughter.
Some 300 Hell’s Angels were gathered in the Seaside-Monterey area at the time, having convened, they said, for the purpose of raising funds among themselves to send the body of a former member, killed in an accident, back to his mother in North Carolina. One of the Angels, hip enough to falsely identify himself as “Frenchy of San Bernardino,” told a reporter who came out to meet the cyclists: “We chose Monterey because we get treated good here; most other places we get thrown out of town.”
But Frenchy spoke too soon. The Angels weren’t on the peninsula twenty-four hours before four of them were in jail for rape, and the rest of the troop was being escorted to the county line by a large police contingent. Several were quoted, somewhat derisively, as saying: “That rape charge against our guys is phony and it won’t stick.” It turned out to be true, but that was another story and certainly no headliner. The difference between the Hell’s Angels in the paper and the Hell’s Angels for real is enough to make a man wonder what newsprint is for. It also raises a question as to who are the real hell’s angels.
Ever since World War II, California has been strangely plagued by wild men on motorcycles. They usually travel in groups of ten to thirty, booming along the highways and stopping here are there to get drunk and raise hell. In 1947, hundreds of them ran amok in the town of Hollister, an hour’s fast drive south of San Francisco, and got enough press to inspire a film called The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando. The film had a massive effect on thousands of young California motorcycle buffs; in many ways, it was their version of The Sun Also Rises.
The California climate is perfect for motorcycles, as well as surfboards, swimming pools and convertibles. Most of the cyclists are harmless weekend types, members of the American Motorcycle Association, and no more dangerous than skiers or skin divers. But a few belong to what the others call “outlaw clubs,” and these are the ones who–especially on weekends and holidays–are likely to turn up almost anywhere in the state, looking for action. Despite everything the psychiatrists and Freudian casuists have to say about them, they are tough, mean and potentially as dangerous as a pack of wild boar.
When push comes to shove, any leather fetishes or inadequacy feelings that may be involved are entirely beside the point, as anyone who has ever tangled with these boys will sadly testify. When you get in an argument with a group of outlaw motorcyclists, you can generally count your chances of emerging unmaimed by the number of heavy-handed allies you can muster in the time it takes to smash a beer bottle. In this league, sportsmanship is for old liberals and young fools. “I smashed his face,” one of them said to me of a man he’d never seen until the swinging started. “He got wise. He called me a punk. He must have been stupid.”
The most notorious of these outlaw groups is the Hell’s Angels, supposedly headquartered in San Bernardino, just east of Los Angeles, and with branches all over the state. As a result of the infamous “Labor Day gang rape,” the Attorney General of California has recently issued an official report on the Hell’s Angels. According to the report, they are easily identified:
The emblem of the Hell’s Angels, termed “colors,” consists of an embroidered patch of a winged skull wearing a motorcycle helmet. Just below the wing of the emblem are the letters “MC.” Over this is a band bearing the words “Hell’s Angels.” Below the emblem is another patch bearing the local chapter name, which is usually an abbreviation for the city or locality. These patches are sewn on the back of a usually sleeveless denim jacket. In addition, members have been observed wearing various types of Luftwaffe insignia and reproductions of German iron crosses.* (*Purely for decorative and shock effect. The Hell’s Angels are apolitical and no more racist than other ignorant young thugs.)
Many affect beards and their hair is usually long and unkempt. Some wear a single earring in a pierced ear lobe. Frequently they have been observed to wear metal belts made of a length of polished motorcycle drive chain which can be unhooked and used as a flexible bludgeon… Probably the most universal common denominator in identification of Hell’s Angels is generally their filthy condition. Investigating officers consistently report these people, both club members and their female associates, seem badly in need of a bath. Fingerprints are a very effective means of identification because a high percentage of Hell’s Angels have criminal records.
In addition to the patches on the back of Hell’s Angel’s jackets, the “One Percenters” wear a patch reading “1%-er.” Another badge worn by some members bears the number “13.” It is reported to represent the 13th letter of the alphabet, “M,” which in turn stands for marijuana and indicates the wearer thereof is a user of the drug. …
Where does all this leave the Hell’s Angels and the thousands of shuddering Californians (according to Time) who are worried sick about them? Are these outlaws really going to be busted, routed and cooled, as the news magazines implied? Are California highways any safer as a result of this published uproar? Can honest merchants once again walk the streets in peace? The answer is that nothing has changed except that a few people calling themselves the Hell’s Angels have a new sense of identity and importance.
After two weeks of intensive dealings with the Hell’s Angels phenomenon, both in print and in person, I’m convinced the net result of the general howl and publicity has been to obscure and avoid the real issues by invoking a savage conspiracy of bogeymen and conning the public into thinking all will be “business as usual” once this fearsome snake is scotched, as it surely will be by hard and ready minions of the Establishment.
Meanwhile, according to Attorney General Thomas C. Lynch’s own figures, California’s true crime picture makes the Hell’s Angels look like a gang of petty jack rollers. The police count 463 Hell’s Angels: 205 around L.A. and 233 in the San Francisco-Oakland area. I don’t know about L.A. but the real figures for the Bay Area are thirty or so in Oakland and exactly eleven–with one facing expulsion–in San Francisco. This disparity makes it hard to accept other police statistics. The dubious package also shows convictions on 1,023 misdemeanor counts and 151 felonies–primarily vehicle theft, burglary and assault. This is for all years and all alleged members.
California’s overall figures for 1963 list 1,116 homicides, 12,448 aggravated assaults, 6,257 sex offenses, and 24,532 burglaries. In 1962, the state listed 4,121 traffic deaths, up from 3,839 in 1961. Drug arrest figures for 1964 showed a 101 percent increase in juvenile marijuana arrests over 1963, and a recent back-page story in the San Francisco Examiner said, “The venereal disease rate among [the city’s] teen-agers from 15-19 has more than doubled in the past four years.” Even allowing for the annual population jump, juvenile arrests in all categories are rising by 10 per cent or more each year.
Against this background, would it make any difference to the safety and peace of mind of the average Californian if every motorcycle outlaw in the state (all 901, according to the state) were garroted within twenty-four hours? This is not to say that a group like the Hell’s Angels has no meaning. The generally bizarre flavor of their offenses and their insistence on identifying themselves make good copy, but usually overwhelm–in print, at least–the unnerving truth that they represent, in colorful microcosm, what is quietly and anonymously growing all around us every day of the week.
“We’re bastards to the world and they’re bastards to us,” one of the Oakland Angels told a Newsweek reporter. “When you walk into a place where people can see you, you want to look as repulsive and repugnant as possible. We are complete social outcasts–outsiders against society.”
A lot of this is a pose, but anyone who believes that’s all it is has been on thin ice since the death of Jay Gatsby. The vast majority of motorcycle outlaws are uneducated, unskilled men between 20 and 30, and most have no credentials except a police record. So at the root of their sad stance is a lot more than a wistful yearning for acceptance in a world they never made; their real motivation is an instinctive certainty as to what the score really is. They are out of the ball game and they know it–and that is their meaning; for unlike most losers in today’s society, the Hell’s Angels not only know but spitefully proclaim exactly where they stand.
I went to one of their meetings recently, and half-way through the night I thought of Joe Hill on his way to face a Utah firing squad and saying his final words: “Don’t mourn, organize.” It is safe to say that no Hell’s Angel has ever heard of Joe Hill or would know a Wobbly from a Bushmaster, but nevertheless they are somehow related. The I.W.W. had serious plans for running the world, while the Hell’s Angels mean only to defy the world’s machinery. But instead of losing quietly, one by one, they have banded together with a mindless kind of loyalty and moved outside the framework, for good or ill. There is nothing particularly romantic or admirable about it; that’s just the way it is, strength in unity. They don’t mind telling you that running fast and loud on their customized Harley 74s gives them a power and a purpose that nothing else seems to offer.
Beyond that, their position as self-proclaimed outlaws elicits a certain popular appeal, however reluctant. That is especially true in the West and even in California where the outlaw tradition is still honored. The unarticulated link between the Hell’s Angels and the millions of losers and outsiders who don’t wear any colors is the key to their notoriety and the ambivalent reactions they inspire. There are several other keys, having to do with politicians, policemen and journalists. …
Of all their habits and predilections that society finds alarming, this departure from the time-honored concept of “an eye for an eye” is the one that most frightens people. The Hell’s Angels try not to do anything halfway, and anyone who deals in extremes is bound to cause trouble, whether he means to or not. This, along with a belief in total retaliation for any offense or insult, is what makes the Hell’s Angels unmanageable for the police and morbidly fascinating to the general public. Their claim that they “don’t start trouble” is probably true more often than not, but their idea of “provocation” is dangerously broad, and their biggest problem is that nobody else seems to understand it. Even dealing with them personally, on the friendliest terms, you can sense their hair-trigger readiness to retaliate.
This is a public thing, and not at all true among themselves. In a meeting, their conversation is totally frank and open. They speak to and about one another with an honesty that more civilized people couldn’t bear. At the meeting I attended (and before they realized I was a journalist) one Angel was being publicly evaluated; some members wanted him out of the club and others wanted to keep him in. It sounded like a group-therapy clinic in progress–not exactly what I expected to find when just before midnight I walked into the bar of the De Pau in one of the bleakest neighborhoods in San Francisco, near Hunters Point.
By the time I parted company with them–at 6:30 the next morning after an all-night drinking bout in my apartment–I had been impressed by a lot of things, but no one thing about them was as consistently obvious as their group loyalty. This is an admirable quality, but it is also one of the things that gets them in trouble: a fellow Angel is always right when dealing with outsiders. And this sort of reasoning makes a group of “offended” Hell’s Angels nearly impossible to deal with.
OREGON: On a rainless Saturday in February, hundreds of outlaw bikers and their associates roared into the west end of Eugene, bottlenecking on a back street between warehouses and train tracks. The brothers killed their engines and poured into the clubhouse of the Free Souls Motorcycle Club.
They came to celebrate the club’s 1968 founding, an annual rite of biker bacchanalia called the Birthday Party. And waiting for them, as they do every year, were the cops. The uniforms took positions on nearby streets, writing tickets, taking snapshots of biker insignia and standing ready in case of trouble. But the stakes for this year’s party were higher than ever, Eugene police Capt. Chuck Tilby said, because the Mongols were in town. …
The Mongols’ reputation preceded them. For 30 years, the California-based club has fought a bloody war with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. The public got a glimpse in 2002, when surveillance cameras caught bikers clashing with knives, guns and hand tools at Harrah’s Casino in Laughlin, Nev., leaving two Angels and a Mongol dead. …
Although Oregon’s Mongols claim more than two dozen members, criminal intelligence experts have counted fewer than 20 – and that number includes associates. The club’s North American membership has swelled from about 350 to 750 in the past six years, according to Queen. By comparison, police say the Hells Angels number about 3,600 worldwide. Oregon’s gang experts say their immediate concern is that members of the state’s established outlaw clubs will attack the Mongols for treading on their turf, catching innocent people in the middle. …
Gypsy Jokers wear a diamond shaped “1%er” patch, a reference to the fraction of American bikers who live as outlaws, defying anyone who attempts to thwart their freedom. The Jokers’ bylaws spell out their position on clubs like the Mongols, who wear the same colors: “No patches with black and white or white and black . . . allowed in the area, period.” Violators, according to police, have been treated to bare-knuckle beatings.
The specter of grown men brawling over patches might seem preposterous. But patches remain powerful emblems of brotherhood in the biker subculture. “It may seem like an insignificant or minor issue to people who haven’t been around bikers much,” said Sam Hochberg, a biker-rights lawyer. “But it sure isn’t to the people who live the life.” …
The Jokers fought their own bloody turf war with the Hells Angels 40 years ago in San Francisco. The clubs reportedly reached an accord in 1967: The Jokers left California; the Angels agreed to stay out of Oregon. Now, police identify about 80 Jokers in the region, half of them felons. They have been sent to prison for their roles in drug dealing, robbery, kidnapping, rape, murder and other crimes – most of them years ago. The Jokers’ bylaws strictly forbid criminal conduct, known as “prostituting the patch.” But some members have brutalized people who failed to pay them respect. …
The Jokers call one another brothers, and they say the bond is lifelong. “Once a Joker, always a Joker,” one said, “till the day you die.” Oregon’s Mongols aren’t too different. They acknowledge their club’s fierce reputation: “I’m not saying we’re saints,” one said in an interview last month at a Milwaukie bar. They, too, claim the cops have them wrong. Most are homegrown Oregonians who “patched over” from other outlaw clubs and are in their 20s and 30s. Some have served time, and a few are ex-skinheads. In the club, they’ve found a new family of brothers.
Myrtle Beach, S.C. – the site for 68 years of the world’s largest Harley-Davidson rally, drawing nearly half a million riders annually – has effectively tried to shut down the event this year. Inside the city limits, a local helmet law and a ban on noisy tailpipes is likely to keep most riders at bay. As a scaled-down Bike Week begins this weekend outside the city limits, the question is whether Myrtle Beach has gone too far in cordoning itself off from the dinosaur growl of a straight pipe, an unshaven chin, and free-blowing hair.
For Harley riders like the prodigiously goateed Bob Johnston, Myrtle Beach’s crackdown is like Mecca kicking out its pilgrims – yet another blow to the independence of an outlaw “element” increasingly segregated from a squeamish American mainstream. But for many Myrtle Beach residents, including the majority of its elected officials, the moves are a form of self-defense against what they call nonstop civil disrespect – a month-long May invasion that has outgrown its destination.
For bikers, “it’s all about trying to find some independence here in America,” says William Dulaney, a consultant to National Geographic’s upcoming “Outlaw Biker” series. “Why bikers don’t like helmet laws and pipe laws, it’s all about choice: If states came out and required bikers by law to ride without a helmet, they’d all wear one, it’s that funny.” The problem, he says, “is that there’s hardly any common ground for the public and bikers to understand each other’s perspective.”
Cut to Myrtle Beach, the lumberman’s retreat that grew into the 89,000-hotel-room jewel of the “redneck Riviera.” Last year, citizens groups began a “Take Back May” campaign that saw families and children at city council meetings holding signs that said, “We want our beach back!” What had begun nearly seven decades ago as a three-day weekend rally had become drawn out to nearly a month, with organizers failing to self-police the events, city officials say.
The city’s attempts to address issues of noise, lewdness, and massive congregations of bikers resulted in a lawsuit by the NAACP, which claimed that the rules unfairly targeted one part of the festivities: the younger, mostly black sport-bike rally known as “black bike week.” The city’s answer was to “throw everybody into one big basket and say, ‘We want none of it,’ ” says Carol O’Day, a mom-and-pop hotel owner who has filed a civil suit against the city over the helmet law. …
City officials concede that there is some truth in Ms. O’Day’s assessment. “Let me be clear: We’re not against riders, we’re against the rally. We don’t want to be the center of the motorcycle universe in May,” says city spokesman Mark Kruea.
Tom McGrath, the Harley-riding lawyer who has filed suit against the city to overturn both the pipe and helmet law, has a different take. “What’s noise to some people is music to others.” Mr. McGrath is also representing participants in a “Freedom Ride” that took place shortly after the helmet law went into effect, where police ticketed 50 of the protesters for helmet law violations. There’s now a chance that all 50 could go to jury trial in municipal court. …
For all the problems that riders bring to Myrtle Beach, the city might end up regretting its decision, especially since today’s Harley riders fit into “one of the highest disposable-income demographics you can find,” says Mr. Dulaney, a consultant to National Geographic. Riders have been run out of towns before, including North Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Daytona Beach, Fla. A few years after getting rid of “the element,” as the bikers are often called, those places began welcoming the rallies back. “They’ll miss us when we’re gone,” says Johnston.
BARACK OBAMA AS A BIKER?
This is a very cool and creative article that speculates on what type of motorcycle President Obama would ride, as well as the gear and other items he would wear. This is also from Clutch and Chrome.com which is a good site for recognizing positive contributions and rewards for motorcycle clubs and part-time riders (not necessarily including the outlaw bikers.) They also supplied the two cool pix.
If Barack Obama was a biker, what kind of biker would he be? Without the honor of sitting down in the Oval Office and asking the charismatic President himself the question, this article is based upon complete speculation and riddled with light-hearted humor, all meant in the best possible taste. So what would the 45th President of the United States wear and ride as a motorcycle enthusiast?
Would he relentlessly wear every piece of safety gear, wire the matching full faced helmets so he and the First Lady could chat while enjoying the open road with a team of two-wheeled Secret Service following? Or would it be a bandana, some old sunglasses, a sleeveless tee showing off the latest tattoo with donuts and burnouts the order of the day in the Rose Garden courtesy of a custom chopper?
Does it lean towards Marlon Brando’s bad boy in The Wild One or Peter Fonda’s Captain America from Easy Rider? While we’re not saying there isn’t a little of these motorcycle rebels filling those perfectly fitting suits, the analytical thinking and problem processing abilities that took President Obama through college and law school would most likely lead him to be a rider with safety in mind.
And while the attire of a bandana can be confidently written off, we shouldn’t be so quick as to put the leader of the free world in a full-face helmet. Mr. Obama’s curious nature and appetite for life would more likely have him in a three-quarter helmet with a flip-up visor allowing for immediate access to the wind in his face and sensations only found on a motorcycle.
Covering his ears, the helmet would help with blocking the wind noise, not only preserving his hearing which is important to such an intense listener, but making it easier to hear the tunes from an MP3 player that would surely be wired up. …
Looking again to the possible biker gear, the President will sport a leather or jean jacket rather than a mesh jacket featuring armor. Like any responsible rider, President Obama would think of his hands and most likely opt for half-finger leather gloves allowing for tactile enjoyment of the surroundings but still give the needed possible protection during a spill. Meanwhile, a pair of well-worn jeans will look good while addressing the safety aspect. Ever the sharp dresser, President Obama would know it’s the boots that make the rider, as well as the ride. His analytical side would scream the advantages of proper riding boots to protect from stones that may fly up from the road and heat burns from hot exhausts. Plus, they offer good grip on the footrests, as well as on the pavement when stopped.
During a middle-age crisis men prefer the cruiser or chopper with a wide selection of American made motorcycles such as Big Dog, a slew of Harley-Davidson’s and of course Victory. Alternatively, President Obama’s obvious love and knowledge for history could lead to nostalgia – looking back to yesteryear’s stylish design of riding. Knowing what an obvious passion the President has for this great country, riding from coast to coast is a given which firmly puts him in the saddle of a touring motorcycle. Nothing would look better than the President of the United States buying a bike, not only from an American manufacturer, but from a small family run company (i.e., Ridley Motorcycles.) Their Auto Glide Limited Edition 750cc V-Twin automatic bike would give the President an opportunity to sit back and enjoy the ride without getting distracted with running up and down the gears. Windshield, saddlebags and a nice touring seat, everything a rider could want to tackle the open road.
Now we have placed the President in a saddle, what kind of biker would he be? The giving spirit that seems to flow throughout the riding community would fit President Obama. From his many years as a community organizer and general efforts to help those in need, would have the President participating in charity rides, as well as organizing a few himself. For the kid born in Hawaii who found himself in Chicago, the hunger for new places and experiences could well be satisfied on two wheels out on some nameless road. The icing on the roaming cake would be the varied and interesting people he would meet, riding strangers who’d become friends and the two-wheeled stories of Americana to be heard. After all, the call of the road speaks many languages and draws riders from an endless variety of backgrounds.
From the bikers who make our motorcycle world the culturally rich place it is to those who have lived a lifetime of motorcycles, the President could revel in riding with and through a compendium of colorful characters and experiences. The presidential patch practically designs itself. All with the Secret Service close at hand of course. Speaking of which, the motorcycle club to come out of the White House would be as intriguing as the founder himself. With the President as, well President of the most exclusive motorcycle family in the world including everything from wearing the Presidential seal as the club’s patch to a who’s who in membership. The ‘White House Wanderers’ would boast members of the military with the commanders from the different arms of the services, the club’s board made up from the administrative staff and ‘security’ from the best in the world, the Secret Service. At least they all already own a cool pair of shades
EASY RIDER – Reviews and Social Impact
Like so many other young American males I admired and emulated the outlaw bikers – especially after seeing the wonderful, classic biker movie “Easy Rider.” Personally, I never considered riding a motorcycle since my balance is terrible. However, I did wear a leather jacket, shades, tight jeans and black boots whenever I could.
Director Dennis Hopper has done an old and respectable thing. He has told his story in cinematic shorthand, instead of spelling it out in dreary detail. Fifty years ago, Hollywood figured out that if you put the good guys in white hats you could eliminate 10 minutes of explanation from every Western. Hopper has applied this technique to the motorcycle movie. (He also has made a great film, but more of that later.)
Everybody “knows” that “Easy Rider” is tremendously popular with high school and college-age kids. But these kids apparently sprang into existence full-blown, and did not grow up or go to any other movie before they found this one. That’s the way Hollywood sees it. Hollywood believes in magic.
In fact, the same kids who like “Easy Rider” were on dates in the drive-ins a few years ago when “The Wild Angels” and “Hell’s Angels on Wheels” and all the other motorcycle pictures came along. When the Hollywood establishment was dismissing motorcycle movies as an unpleasant low-budget fad, the kids already knew that something was happening here. Because the Hell’s Angel, like the gangster, was a bad guy produced by the society he victimized and tied to it by a love-hate relationship that created some really neat sex and violence scenes.
And someday it was inevitable that a great film would come along, utilizing the motorcycle genre, the same way the great Westerns suddenly made everyone realize they were a legitimate American art form, “Easy Rider” is the picture.
In all the exploitation-type motorcycle movies, the central characters were outlaws from conventional society. They rejected the establishment values (but took them seriously enough to attach importance to putting them down). They used drugs and beat up each other, and cops hated them on sight. There was usually an ounce of worth in the hero, however. …
“Easy Rider” takes the gang leader (Fonda) and condenses his gang into one uptight archetype (played by director Hopper.) It takes the aimless rebellion of the bike gangs and channels it into specific rejection of the establishment (by which is meant everything from rednecks to the Pentagon to hippies on communes).
Fonda and Hopper specifically break with the establishment by smuggling cocaine across the Mexican border; that’s a no-no. But during most of the picture they have cash money hidden in their gas tanks, not dope. They sold their dope to the establishment (represented ironically by rock tycoon Phil Spector in a Rolls-Royce). They sold out, that is. And now they want to go to Florida and retire.
So Fonda and Hopper the dope-smugglers are symbols of every earnest, hard working, law abiding, middle-class wage-slave selling his integrity to the establishment every day. (Whether you believe this is immaterial to the symbolism, which works anyway.)
But it’s hard to identify with the Fonda and Hopper characters. So Hopper and his co-writers Fonda and Terry Southern write in a brilliant character, Old George (played magnificently by Jack Nicholson). And when this alcoholic, tragic ACLU lawyer from a small Southern town enters the picture, suddenly that’s us there on the bike with Fonda. This develops its strong point (the role of the self-proclaimed rebel in a conformist society). It’s not just bike freaks who get in trouble when they challenge the establishment — it’s everybody, even Old George.
Easy Rider was “the” statement of a generation when it was released in the summer of 1969. And it was a critical statement about America. It remains one of the most significant films of the decade in that it was such a new kind of American film. Easy Rider, the film equivalent of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” legitimatized new subject matter, including sex, drugs and questioning of the American system. At the time, Dennis Hopper’s film received a far-reaching reaction from fans and critics alike.
The movie goes to great lengths to celebrate the romantic individualism of the youth movement, but within this celebration there is actually a thoughtful and clever warning. Easy Rider, be it dated, does present the question of whether excessive, irresponsible individualism might have detrimental effects. The scene at the commune, for instance, is a good example. Here, Hopper is ambiguous about judging the individualistic lifestyle the scene presents. At first the commune appears as a viable alternative, reminiscent of the back to the soil movement during the Depression. The sequence is even romanticized more through the use of soft focus camera.
Easy Rider suggests the problems of extended families and collectivist communes as alternative lifestyles. Billy and Wyatt express interest, even mild respect for the commune members, but basically cannot adopt this collective lifestyle. The film offers an unglamorous view. “You know, this could be the right place,” says a commune member, inviting Billy and Wyatt to stay, urging them that “time’s running out.” But Billy wants to go, and the Wyatt apologizes with a near-quote from On the Road, “I’m hip about time. But I just gotta go.”
Easy Rider contains significant notions about the nature of America as a country, thus creating a 1960’s version of America. In many ways, Easy Rider contrasts the evils of straight America with the founding principles of America the nation. There is a scene in which Billy and Wyatt stop to repair a flat tire at a poor rancher’s house. Through crosscutting, the film conveys the two contrasting lifestyles: the rancher and his horse, Billy and Wyatt and their motorcycles. Surrounded by the rancher’s huge family at dinner-time, Wyatt tells the rancher: “It’s not everyman who can live off the land, you know, doing his own thing on his own time. You should be proud.”
Is living off the land, doing your own thing on your own time really America Wyatt’s words of praise are not convincing, for clearly this is not a lifestyle for him. In this way, Easy Rider was a travel poster for a new America, encouraging people to hit the road for themselves in search of an ideal lifestyle. A classic road narrative, Easy Rider begins as a hymn to the openness and vastness of the American land, and ends as a tragic vision of the American Dream.
With its new vision of America, Easy Rider found an unimagined new mass market, much as “Rebel Without a Cause” had done fifteen years earlier. Easy Rider was an independently produced film, the first to herald the independent industry’s growth and potential. As the counter-culture’s biggest movie, box office-wise, Easy Rider grossed $60 million. Easy Rider showed for the first time ever that an independent film could make money.
The film was also innovative in its use of a rock soundtrack in a new way. The rock songs were associative, part of the story, propelling the story along its course and commenting like a Greek chorus on the action occurring. Easy Rider as discovered one of America’s greatest movie stars as well: Jack Nicholson, who is now an American institution.
Music included on “Easy Rider” Soundtrack
- Steppenwolf, “The Pusher”, Hoyt Axton
- Steppenwolf, “Born to be Wild”, Mars Bornfire
- The Byrds, “I Wasn’t Born to Follow”, Gerry Goffin & Carole King
- The Band, “The Weight”, Jaime Robbie Robertson
- The Holy Modal Rounders, “If You Want to be a Bird”, Antonia Duren
- Fraternity of Man, “Don’t Bogart Me”, lead vocals by Larry Wagner
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “If Six Was Nine”, Jimi Hendrix
- Little Eva, “Let’s Turkey Trot”, Gerry Goffin & Jack Keller
- The Electric Prunes, “Kyrie Eleison”, David Axelrod
- The Electric Flag, “Flash, Bam, Pow”, Mike Bloomfield
- Roger McGuinn, “It’s Alright Ma, (I’m Only Bleeding.)”, Bob Dylan
- Roger McGuinn, “Ballad of Easy Rider”, Roger McGuinn
Easy Rider (1969) is a tale of a search for freedom (or the illusion of freedom) in a conformist and corrupt America, in the midst of paranoia, bigotry and violence. Released in the year of the Woodstock concert, and made in a year of two tragic assassinations (Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King), the Vietnam War buildup and Nixon’s election, the tone of this ‘alternative’ film is remarkably downbeat and bleak, reflecting the collapse of the idealistic 60s. Easy Rider, one of the first films of its kind, was a ritualistic experience and viewed (often repeatedly) by youthful audiences in the late 1960s as a reflection of their realistic hopes of liberation and fears of the Establishment.
The iconographic, ‘buddy’ film, actually minimal in terms of its artistic merit and plot, is both memorialized as an image of the popular and historical culture of the time and a story of a contemporary but apocalyptic journey by two self-righteous, drug-fueled, anti-hero (or outlaw) bikers eastward through the American Southwest. Their trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans takes them through limitless, untouched landscapes (icons such as Monument Valley), various towns, a hippie commune, and a graveyard (with hookers), but also through areas where local residents are increasingly narrow-minded and hateful of their long-haired freedom and use of drugs. The film’s title refers to their rootlessness and ride to make “easy” money; it is also slang for a pimp who makes his livelihood off the earnings of a prostitute. However, the film’s original title was The Loners.
The names of the two main characters, Wyatt and Billy, suggest the two memorable Western outlaws Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid – or ‘Wild Bill’ Hickcock. Rather than traveling westward on horses as the frontiersmen did, the two modern-day cowboys travel eastward from Los Angeles – the end of the traditional frontier – on decorated Harley-Davidson choppers on an epic journey into the unknown for the ‘American dream’. Their costumes combine traditional patriotic symbols with emblems of loneliness, criminality and alienation – the American flag, cowboy decorations, long-hair, and drugs.
According to slogans on promotional posters, they were on a search:
A man went looking for America and couldn’t find it anywhere.
The pop cultural, mini-revolutionary film was also a reflection of the “New Hollywood,” and the first blockbuster hit from a new wave of Hollywood directors (e.g., Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, and Martin Scorsese) that would break with a number of Hollywood conventions. It had little background or historical development of characters, a lack of typical heroes, uneven pacing, jump cuts and flash-forward transitions between scenes, an improvisational style and mood of acting and dialogue, background rock ‘n’ roll music to complement the narrative, and the equation of motorbikes with freedom on the road rather than with delinquent behaviors. …
Early in the film, Wyatt casts off his wristwatch to the ground, a literal and symbolic flourish that shows his new-found freedom and rejection of time constraints in modern society. As they take to the open road on their motorcycles, cross the Colorado River and pass through unspoiled buttes and sand-colored deserts, the credits begin to scroll, accompanied by the sound of the popular song by Steppenwolf: “Born to be Wild.” It is the start of a beautiful adventure as they travel through memorable landscapes of America’s natural beauty, accompanied by the pounding of rock music.
BORN TO BE WILD BY STEPPENWOLF
Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah, darlin’ gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of the guns at once and
Explode into space.
I like smoke and lightnin’
Heavy metal thunder
Racin’ with the wind
And the feelin’ that I’m under
Like a true nature’s child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die.
Born to Be Wild
Born to Be Wild.
Gathered around another fire at night, George waxes poetic about his old football career. He takes another hard swig from his bottle, and grimaces. Wyatt watches him out of the side of his eyes, rolls a long beautiful joint for him, and says, “Here, do this instead.”
This scene is great. Straight man George speaks right from a “Marijuana is bad” brochure while Wyatt convinces him to spark up.
Wyatt: Do this instead.
George: Oh, no thanks, I got some store bought right over here of my own.
Wyatt: No man, this is grass
George: You…you mean marijuana?
George: Lord have mercy, is that what that is? Lemme see that.
Wyatt: Go ahead George, light it up.
George: Oh no no no, I couldn’t do that, I mean i’ve got enough problems with the booze and all. I can’t afford to get hooked.
Wyatt: You won’t get hooked.
George: Oh I know I know but it leads to harder stuff. Well…you say it’s alright? Well uh, alright then, how how do I do it?
Wyatt: Here… (lights it up for him)
George: Well uh, that’s got a real nice…taste to it, but I don’t suppose it will do me much good, I’m so used to the booze and everything.
Wyatt: You’ve got to hold it in your lungs longer, George.
George: (taking another long drag)
Billy: what was that man what the hell was that man?
Billy and George start going off randomly about seeing some UFO, which launches George into a great little speech right off the top of his head: “They’ve been coming here ever since 1946 – when the scientists first started bouncing radar beams off the moon. And they’ve been livin’ and workin’ amongst us in vast quantities ever since. The government knows all about ’em…” and he goes on to ramble about martians and ultra technology. The next morning they get to riding set to the music of “Don’t bogart that joint my friend (pass it over to me)” and continue across the countryside, eventually rolling into the deep south.
Later, they wind up entering a rural cafe/diner in a small Southern town, as three songs play on the soundtrack:
- Don’t Bogart Me by the Fraternity of Man
- If Six Was Nine by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
- Let’s Turkey Trot (by Little Eva) – the selection on the jukebox in the diner
Local rednecks at one of the cafe’s booths look up at the non-conformist intruders, as the Deputy Sheriff (Arnold Hess, Jr.) rhetorically asks: “What the hell is this? Troublemakers?” His construction-site booth mate with a yellow cap, Cat Man (Hayward Robillard) adds: “You name it – I’ll throw rocks at it, Sheriff.” Teenage girls at the next booth are excited by the strangers in a different way, particularly for George: “Oh, I like the one in the red shirt with the suspenders” and for Wyatt: “Mmmm-mmm, the white shirt for me” and “look at the one with the black pants on.” In response to the attention, George and Billy make funny noises with their tongues and say: “Poontang!”
The dialogue between the Sheriff and Cat Man despises and ridicules the bikers’ long hair with crude insults:
Cat Man: Check that joker with the long hair.
Deputy: I checked him already. Looks like we might have to bring him up to the Hilton before it’s all over with.
Cat Man: Ha! I think she’s cute.
Deputy: Isn’t she, though. I guess we’d put him in the women’s cell, don’t you reckon?
Cat Man: Oh, I think we ought to put ’em in a cage and charge a little admission to see ’em.
Overhearing their ill-natured comments, George gracefully sighs at the two good ol’ boys: “Those are what is known as ‘country witticisms.’ One of the girls boldly suggests asking the bikers to take them for a ride and then is dared to “go ahead.” Other customers are also threatened and make loud asides about their appearance, insulting them as “weirdo degenerates” – the local town folk are fearful of something they don’t understand.
Customer 1: You know, I thought at first that bunch over there, their mothers had maybe been frightened by a bunch of gorillas, but now I think they were caught.
Customer 2: I know one of them’s Alley-oop – I think. From the beads on him.
Customer 4: Well, one of them darned sure is not Oola.
Customer 1: Look like a bunch of refugees from a gorilla love-in.
Customer 2: A gorilla couldn’t love that.
Customer 1: Nor could a mother.
Customer 3: I’d love to mate him up with one of those black wenches out there.
Customer 1: I don’t know. I thought most jails were built for humanity, and that won’t quite qualify.
Customer 2: I wonder where they got those wigs from.
Customer 1: They probably grew ’em. It looks like they’re standin’ in fertilizer. Nothin’ else would grow on ’em…
Customer 3: I saw two of them one time. They were just kissin’ away. Two males. Just think of it.
Feeling threatened by the “Yankee queers” and their alternative, non-conformist lifestyle, the narrow-minded Deputy and Cat Man suggest eliminating them:
Deputy: What’cha think we ought to do with ’em?
Cat Man: I don’t damn know, but I don’t think they’ll make the parish line.
Middle America’s hatred for the long-haired cyclists is shown in the film’s famous ending. When Wyatt speeds down the road to seek help for his dying friend, the rednecks turn around and drive toward him – gunfire again blasts through the window and Wyatt’s bike flies through the air. [Significantly, Wyatt’s dead body doesn’t appear in the final scene.] The closing image (of the earlier flash-forward) is an aerial shot floating upwards above his motorcycle which is burning in flames by the side of the road. Death seems to be the only freedom or means to escape from the system in America where alternative lifestyles and idealism are despised as too challenging or free. The romance of the American highway is turned menacing and deadly.
The words of Ballad of Easy Rider (by Roger McGuinn of The Byrds) are heard under the rolling credits. The uneasy aerial camera shot pulls back on the winding river alongside the highway. The river – which extends to the hazy horizon – is the final image of the film before a fade-out to black. The ballad is about a man who only wanted to be free like the flowing river amidst America’s natural landscape.
EASY RIDER BY ROGER MCGUINN
NOTE from DR. TOM: Roger McGuinn tells the story of how he came to write this wonderful closing song. Peter Fonda had initially asked Bob Dylan to write the song. Dylan said he did not have time but recommended that Peter call (then) Jim MGuinn. He did and the rest is music history.
The river flows
It flows to the sea
Wherever that river goes
That’s where I want to be
Flow river flow
Let your waters wash down
Take me from this road
To some other town
All he wanted
Was to be free
And that’s the way
It turned out to be
Flow river flow
Let your waters wash down
Take me from this road
To some other town
Flow river flow
Past the shaded tree
Go river, go
Go to the sea
Flow to the sea
The river flows
It flows to the sea
Wherever that river goes
That’s where I want to be
When Billy complains that “All we represent to them, man, is somebody needs a haircut,” alcoholic ACLU lawyer George Hanson (Nicholson), who joins the bikers’ odyssey in Texas, explains that:
“What you represent to them is freedom. It’s real hard to be free when you’re bought and sold in the marketplace. They’re not free, but they’re gonna get real busy killin’ and maimin’ to prove to you that they are.
Easy Rider’s clarion call to “freedom” was also expressed by the songs. Easy Rider is a double rarity: not only does it use rock successfully; but it also treats the youth drop-out thing successfully. You can’t have one without the other.
However, like its literary, beat generation antecedent, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Easy Rider also tapped into older American notions of liberty and individualism. That the heroes’ names echo Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid is no accident. Billy and Wyatt move from the urbanized, un-Wild West to the Deep South reclaiming rural America (lovingly filmed by director of photography Laszlo Kovacs) as a frontier. Early in Easy Rider, Wyatt and Billy stop at a ranch, and an elaborate comparison is constructed between the rancher’s horses and the bikers’ machines.
Easy Rider evinces some unease as to whether being perpetually on the road, astride a product of modern technology, is the most satisfactory form of “freedom.” Wyatt lauds the rancher: “It’s not every man who can live off the land. Do your own thing in your own time.” Here, the free man is no less than Thomas Jefferson’s ideal, the yeoman farmer. The hippy commune which Wyatt and Billy later visit is a countercultural reconstruction of this agrarian ideal: disillusioned young urbanites. “All cities are the same” says one hippie going back to the garden, even if this Eden is the desert landscape of the Southwest.
The commune scene is at the center of the film’s nostalgic values. Easy Rider’s nostalgia for a still beautiful America and for a pre-urban, pre-capitalist American hero, is apparent in the doom-laden climax of the movie. While Billy rejoices “We’re rich…. You go for the big money and you’re free,” his brooding compadre insists “We blew it.” For Wyatt, the tainted cash gained from the cocaine deal has not facilitated liberty.
Peter Fonda is Captain America with the stars and stripes on his back, helmet and bright long-barrelled motorbike. His sidekick, Dennis Hopper, sports pioneer trooper buckskins, long mustache and hair. They pull a dope-selling deal in Mexico to get the stake that is to free them.
The Mardi Gras seems to be a symbol of free and easy meaning to them. Pic chronicles their trip that ends in tragedy. Their bikes whisk them through the good roads surrounded by all the stretches of land that have housed that mythic American creation of the western.
Film does not force parallels but they resemble men looking for some sort of new frontier, giving an ironic cast in a land now populated from seas to shining sea. The bikes, while part of them, are also a means of giving them movement and freedom. …
In a small town, their long hair, bikes, and attire bring baleful response from the local sheriff and people when they go into a cafe to eat. As Nicholson explains it, when they bed down by a campfire, some people are afraid of people who seem different. It arouses resentment and hangups they may have in their own lives. The townspeople come out and beat them in their bedrolls, and Nicholson is killed. …
Fonda exudes a groping moral force and Hopper is agitated, touching and responsive as the sidekick, hoping for that so-called freedom their stake should give them. Nicholson is excellent as the articulate alcoholic who fills in the smothered needs in a verbal way that the others feel but cannot express.
Two not-so-young cyclists, Wyatt (Peter Fonda) who affects soft leather breeches and a Capt. America jacket, and Billy (Dennis Hopper), who looks like a perpetually stoned Buffalo Bill, are heading east from California toward New Orleans.
They don’t communicate with us, or each other, but after a while, it doesn’t seem to matter. They simply exist—they are bizarre comic strip characters with occasional balloons over their heads reading: “Like you’re doing your thing,” or some such. We accept them in their moving isolation, against the magnificent Southwestern landscapes of beige and green and pale blue.
They roll down macadam highways that look like black velvet ribbons, under skies of incredible purity, and the soundtrack rocks with oddly counterpointed emotions of Steppenwolf, the Byrds, the Electric Prunes — dark and smoky cries for liberation. Periodically, like a group taking a break, the cyclists stop (and so does the music) for quiet encounters—with a toothless rancher and his huge, happy family or with a commune of thin hippies, whose idyll seems ringed with unacknowledged desperation.
A tale of two men searching for a freedom they can never attain, the film features Fonda and Hopper as Wyatt and Billy, a pair of hippie bikers who journey to New Orleans, hoping to arrive in time for Mardi Gras. On the way, the duo encounter rebuffs at various motels because of their way-out appearance, a hitchhiker who takes them back to the sun-drenched revels of his commune, and a squeaky-clean Texas parade. Arrested for joining the latter, the pair meets up with drunken civil-rights lawyer George Hanson (Jack Nicholson, enjoying the film’s most well-rounded part and giving its best performance, one which earned him an Oscar nomination and finally made him a star).
Now a trio, the men suffer beatings from local rednecks, but Hanson also gets to enjoy his first joint, which prompts one of the film’s most memorable moments–Hanson’s tongue-in-cheek theory that Venusians have already landed on Earth and occupy several important posts. Billy and Wyatt finally make it to New Orleans and find that their journey to the freewheeling world of Fat Tuesday (including an LSD-laced jaunt to a cemetery) has not brought them any happiness or sense of direction. The animosity the pair have dealt with throughout reaches its peak at the film’s famous ending, as the film attempts to martyr its quasi-religious antiheroes.
Tossing wristwatches away, two bikers hit the road to find America in Dennis Hopper’s anti-establishment classic. After a major cocaine sale to an L.A. connection (Phil Spector), free-wheeling potheads Billy (Hopper) and Wyatt, aka Captain America (Peter Fonda, who also produced), motor eastward to party at Mardi Gras before “retiring” to Florida with the riches concealed in Wyatt’s stars-and-stripes gas tank. As they ride through the Southwest, they take a hitchhiker (Luke Askew) to a struggling hippie commune before they get thrown in a small-town jail for “parading without a permit.” Their cellmate, drunken ACLU lawyer George Hanson (Jack Nicholson, replacing Rip Torn), does them a “groovy” favor by getting them out of jail and then decides to join them. …
With the straight world closing in, Wyatt and Billy try to revel in New Orleans with some LSD and hookers (Karen Black and Toni Basil), but the acid trip is shot through with morbidity. Once they reach Florida, Billy raves about attaining the American dream; Wyatt, however, knows the truth: “We blew it.” Produced and directed by two Hollywood iconoclasts with under a half-million non-studio dollars, Easy Rider shook up the languishing movie industry when it grossed over 19 million dollars in 1969; it captured the spirit of the times as it woke Hollywood up to the power of young audiences and socially relevant movies. Shot on location by Laszlo Kovacs, Easy Rider eschewed old-fashioned Hollywood polish for documentary-style immediacy, and it enhanced its casual feel with improvised dialogue and realistically “stoned” acting.
With a soundtrack of contemporary rock songs by Jimi Hendrix, the Band, and Steppenwolf to complete the atmosphere, Easy Rider was hailed for capturing the increasingly violent Vietnam-era split between the counterculture and the repressive Establishment. Experiencing the “shock of recognition,” youth audiences embraced Easy Rider’s vision of both the attractions and the limits of dropping out.
Devils Breed Club Constitution By-Laws, Regulations, and
Standard Operating Procedure of a 1% Club (August, 2000)
This set of 1%er MC Club bylaws and rules of conduct was submitted for use in the effort to help educate. Remember, just like with everything else on this web site, different club in different areas can vary widely. This is just one of the many different ways a club’s bylaws are set up. Devils Breed MC Honolulu Hawaii is back, alive, thriving and strong. Improvise, Adapt, And Overcome! Semper Fidelis,
Devils Breed M.C. is a motorcycle club and a non-profit organization. President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer are all elected officers, along with two additional elected members, who are not club officers for the Executive Board. All others appointed by the President with a confidence vote from patch-holders in good standing is required.
The executive duties of the president are as follows:
- To preside over meetings of both the Executive Board and the club as a whole.
- To judge items not covered in the constitution or in the rules regulations.
- Directorship gives the president authority to judge items not in the constitution.
- To act as the personal representative of the club in the area of public relations; as a liaison between the DBMC and local-law enforcement agencies; and as a connecting link between the DBMC and other outlaw motorcycle clubs.
- To represent the club in any club business contacts and to supervise major economic transactions.
- To assist DBMC officers in the interpretation of their club responsibilities, and to promote club life among members in general.
The executive duties of the vice president are to assume the responsibilities of the presidency when the president is unable to do so.
The executive duties of the secretary are as follows:
- To record and safeguard the minutes of the club meetings.
- To maintain the Club Constitution, recording any additions, deletions, or modifications.
- To handle any club correspondence.
The executive duties of the treasurer are as follows:
- To monitor and record the club’s income and expenditures.
- To collect the dues and fines owing by members.
MEMBERSHIP QUALIFICATIONS – PROSPECTS
- Prospects must be at least 18 years old.
- Prospects must have a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
- Prospects cannot do any drugs.
- Prospects must show a sincere interest in club and bikes.
- Prospects on the road with bike equipped for the road.
- Prospect must be sponsored by one member who has known him at least one year (may be waived by vote).
- Sponsor is responsible for prospect.
- Sponsor can pull a prospect’s rockers at his discretion.
- Prospects must attend all meetings and club functions.
- Prospects must do anything another member tells him to do, that a member has done or would be willing to do himself.
- Prospect will stand behind club and members.
- No stealing from prospects.
- Prospect must ride his bike to meeting at time of being voted into club.
- Prospect must pay that day $125.00 for his colors before receiving them. Prospect fee is $325.00: $200.00 is for annual dues, $100.00 is for the patch and $25.00 is for first month dues. The balance is due in 90 days. This amount is not refundable.
- Prospect members must be voted in. Two ‘no’ votes equal a rejection. One ‘no’ vote must be explained.
- Prospective member’s prospecting period is at the discretion of sponsor and the club. Directorship shall decide when vote is necessary.
- Every patch holder on Island must vote for prospect to make center patch. Vote must be unanimous.
- No prospect will be voted for center-patch with outstanding loan.
- Only the sponsor or an officer may hand out a patch to a prospect. This will be done at a meeting with only patch holders present.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
The rules of the club will be strictly enforced. If anyone breaks them, executive board will deal them with. If these rules and regulations are broken, it could mean either immediate dismissal or suspension, whatever the executive board sees fit. Breaking any of the following Rules will be reason for immediately kick-out from club and probably an Ass Kicking:
- Failure to pay his dues according to the section dealing with the paying of dues.
- No hype. No use of heroin in any form. Anyone using a needle for any reason other than having a doctor use it on you will be considered hype. (Automatic kick-out from club)
- If any brother gets hooked on any drug that is dangerous to the club he will be helped first. Then he will be dealt by the executive board.
- No narcotics burn. When making deals, persons get what they are promised or the deal is called off (Automatic kick-out from club).
- If you’re selling dope you don’t do it as a club member, you don’t wear your colors, you don’t wear your club T-shirts (Automatic kick-out from club).
- There will be no stealing among members. Anyone caught will get an ass kicking and be kicked out of the club (Automatic kick-out from club).
- If a patch holder or prospect throws his colors or quits, colors are pulled (Automatic kick-out from club).
- Members cannot belong to any other clubs.
- If a group or individual attacks any member, the whole club shall stand behind him and fight if necessary. If, however, the member is drunk and aggressive and purposely starts an argument, the rest of the members will escort him away, or step between before trouble starts.
- No member will disgrace the club by being yellow. (The above rules will be put forward to applicants. If they cannot abide by these rules and are not in favor of them, they will be denied membership to the club.)
- No member will destroy club property purposely.
- No member will take the attitude that he doesn’t have to help other members and other members don’t have to help him
- No member will go against anything the club has voted for and passed.
- No member will get together on their own and plan something for themselves on club rides. It will be brought up to the whole club and the whole club will participate in anything that is decided upon.
- The club will always stay together on rides, runs, parties, field meets etc. and will not fraternize with club’s rival clubs. The only way a member will be permitted to leave the main group will be to notify the president or whoever is in charge. When the time comes that the majority feels it is time to leave, we will all leave together. Anyone staying behind for a good reason will do so at his own risk and can expect no help.
- Members will have good attendance. Members must have a good reason for not attending meetings or rides, such as working, sickness, no transportation, and bike not running.
GENERAL RULES (SOP)
If anyone breaks general rules, executive board will deal with them and/or voted by the court.
- No explosives of any kind will be thrown into the fire where there is one or more Devils Breed in the area. FINE: Ass whipping and subject to the executive board.
- Brothers shall not fight each other with weapons; when any Devils Breed fights another Devils Breed, it is one on one, prospects same as members. FINE: $100.00 for breaking above rule or possible loss of patch.
- If you don’t help out the Club in its activities and you use the Club solely for your benefit, you will be warned. No second chance.
- Do as you say or walk the line.
- Devils Breed losing privilege of wearing colors will also lose privilege of voting and ruling over prospects.
- The treasurer shall keep a clear record of all money paid in and out during the week and will balance it before every meeting; the books will be gone over once a week.
- All Devils Breed fines will be paid within 30 days. Fines will be paid to the treasurer.
- Members with extra parts will loan them to members. They must be replaced or paid for.
- If you get busted and or go to jail, notify an officer or member so he can arrange for your bail.
- Where we go on our rides will be voted upon by the entire membership.
- Each patch holder/prospect is required to maintain a valid motor vehicle license, which includes the authorization to operate motorcycle.
- Everyone must have an American bike. Consideration will be give to any member who is in between bikes but he must sincerely intend to get another bike in the near future.
- If for some reason, such as a license suspension, a member can’t ride on the road for a long period of time, or if he is without a bike for a short time, he will turn in his patch and upon getting back on the road, the patch will be returned.
- If a member’s bike is not running for a period of thirty days, unless he is in jail or hospital, his colors will be confiscated. A member’s bike must be running for at least one week (e.g., not fifteen minutes), to be exempt from the above rule. This period is subject to change at the discretion of the executive board. This is a MOTORCYCLE CLUB!
- Confirmation vote is required for all new patch-holders at their 12-month point. Unanimous vote from all good standing members is required.
- Absolutely no talking about Club business to persons outside the Club. No talking about Club business over any telephone.
- If you are told you are too drunk to drive, you will turn over your keys to a brother. You and your scooter will be taken care of.
- If the Road Captain or an Officer determines your bike is unsafe to ride, you are grounded until it is safe.
- During funeral runs, no one will pack a passenger, patch must be seen.
- The run for “Beer with Bob” and Jimbo is mandatory, no excuses.
- All Club vehicles will be returned with all fluids full and in good condition. Maintenance will be done under the supervision of the maintenance supervisor; a patch holder designated by the Road Captain.
- There shall be a wrecking crew consisting of the Sergeant at Arms, the Junior Patch, and whomever the Senior Patch may designate. The purpose of the wrecking crew is to check out bars, etc. prior to entry by President, Vice President, or Senior Patch.
- Prospect will watch all bikes when members are at Club functions, in bars, and anywhere the senior member present deems necessary.
- There will be a Club run on a Sunday once a month. Whoever picks the run route will lead the pack. …
- Respect is to be shown to all club members, officers, members, members’, bikes, OL’, ladies, house, job, etc. In other words, if it’s not yours, ‘Don’t Mess with it.
- Respect your colors.
- No stealing from members.
- No fighting among each other is allowed, any punches to be thrown will be done by the Sgt At Arms.
- President gets colors from mother club in area when new member is voted in.
- When a member leaves club, member turns over colors to president of chapter.
- Respect your colors; don’t let anyone take them from you except the president of the chapter.
- No colors are worn in a cage, except during funerals and loading or unloading a bike from a truck.
- No hippie shit on the front.
- Nothing will be worn on the back of your jacket except colors.
- Colors must be worn at all times when riding or at Club functions. Only one of your brothers or your OL’ lady can babysit your colors. Colors are not required to be worn to and from employment if not allowed by employer. If patch is lost or stolen, patch holder will be judged by court.
- The only way a member of Devils Breed can retire and keep his patch is if local officers authorize him. Minimum time for retirement is 5 years.
- Don’t fuck around with brother’s OL’ lady. (Probably an Ass Kicking and kick-out from club).
- Property patches will be brought up before all patch holders for input. Majority vote from all eligible patch holders is required.
- Members are responsible for their OL’ ladies.
- Members may have more than one (1) OL ‘ lady.
- Members must state who his OL ‘ lady is.
- Members may not discuss club business with their OL’ lady.
- No OL’ ladies allowed at meetings.
- OL’ ladies are allowed unescorted at clubhouse only by prior arrangement by OL’ man.
- Property patch is worn optional on an OL ‘ lady. So if you see a chick you better ask before you leap.