Thursday, October 9, 2008

On motorcycle clubs...

Regardless of what Hollywood might have to say, motorcycle clubs back in the day were just that. They were clubs composed initially of World War 2 veterans, who were seeking an alternative lifestyle as they recovered from their experiences in the war. They chose to be with other like-minded individuals who understood where they were coming from and who shared the same set of values. They did not reassimilate well with civilians and so formed their own society. They could be a hard partying bunch, but it was not within their nature to spread fear, terrorize communities or deal in shady undertakings. They were simply anti-establishment and chose to hang with their own. Bikers were intimately familiar with their rides and many were well able to build them from scratch. It was a source of pride for a biker to be able to diagnose and repair any ill his bike might be suffering from.

The so-called "incident" which would forever brand motorcycle enthusiasts as hoodlums in the eyes of the public and Hollywood, never really happened. The Hollister "riot" occurred during the Gypsy Tour motorcycle rally in Hollister, CA from July 4 to July 6, 1947. The event was sensationalized by yellow news reports of bikers "taking over the town" and staged photos of public rowdiness.

The rally, which was sponsored by the Americain Motorcyclist Association (AMA), was attended by approximately 4000 people. This was several times more than had been expected, and the small town of Hollister was overwhelmed by bikers who were forced to sleep on sidewalks and in parks.

About 50 people were arrested during the event, most for public intoxication, reckless driving, and disturbing the peace. Members of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club (the oldest motorcycle club in North America), in particular, were reported to be fighting and racing in the streets. There were 60 reported injuries, of which 3 were serious. Hell, during Bike Week in Daytona Beach, FL (first week in March, every year...) several people are killed outright in car/motorcycle mishaps and it never receives any national media attention whatsoever...

The 1953 film The Wild One (starring Marlon Brando) was inspired by the event and based on an article run in Life magazine which included a staged picture of a drunk man resting on a motorcycle amidst a mass of beer bottles. The so-called 'rider' in the photo didn't even own a bike and the bottles were placed around the front end of the bike for dramatic effect.

Representatives of the AMA, seeking to deflect the negative press surrounding the rally, stated at a press conference that "the trouble was caused by the one per cent deviant that tarnishes the public image of both motorcycles and motorcyclists." This statement led to the term "one-percenter" to describe "outlaw" bikers. Again, all based on sensationalist reports by over-eager news reporters.

Bikers were (and still are, for those who wear the title honestly...) a breed who lived for the freedom of the road. Who reveled in the pure pleasure of the ride. But motocycle clubs started to change. In the sixties, they became caught up in the drug counter-culture and discovered there was a lucrative business to be had in supplying the hippies and others with their drugs of choice. Thus began the downward slide of organized MCs. They branched out from drugs to the other domains normally run by organized crime families across the USA and Canada. Throughout the years, they steadily became that which they loathed: Big Business... 'suits' posing as bikers.

These days, bonafide MCs are no longer "motorcycle clubs". For any club to actually fly a patch (wear a set of colours on their back...), they must obtain explicit permission from whichever of the 'Big Four' controls their local area. (The Big Four are: Hell's Angels, Outlaws, Bandidos and the Pagans). They also become a de facto type of 'farm team' for the local Big Four chapter, as a manpower pool and source of possible future prospects (strikers). But a motorcycle club is the last thing they are. Yes, the regulations of many clubs stipulate that their members "are required to own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle", which in fact after they join, no longer belongs to them. Nothing does. Everything a patchholder owns, becomes property of the club, once they've been accepted into the ranks. Few of them actually ride anymore. They are organized crime syndicates, pure and simple. Big business masquerading as travellers of the open road. You're more likely to see them in Beemers or Escalades, these days. Yet they have no freedom of movement. There are rival factions just waiting to gun them down if they stray outside the areas that they control. They are no more bikers than I am an astronaut.

Many people who are star-struck will attempt to defend 'motorcycle clubs' as simply being misunderstood gypsies. Stupid fucks... They will regale you with tales of how these clubs thrive on brotherhood and a free-spirit style of life that 'citizens' just don't get... That they're just normal, hard-working Joes with families and honest jobs...that they're just bikers on the side because they enjoy the "brotherhood of riding". Fuckin' gimme a break!! What a load of horseshit!! It gives you an idea of how clueless these people actually are when it comes to this world of outlaws and more to the point, the world of actual bikers. If they are patch holders in a bona fide MC, they are criminals. Plain and simple. Just like there were no "good Nazis". They'll also try to sell you the idea that these assholes INVENTED motorcycling. Whatever!! Nothing could be further from the truth. Motorcycling was undertaken by hundreds of thousands during the twenties. It was all the rage back then... Brotherhood my ass. These people butcher each other on a regular basis. You will find far more honour and brotherhood at any rally attended by GDIs (God-Damned Independents) or non-associated riders. We are the people who still understand what all this is about. We are the ones who ride. Not those crooks, extortionists, murderers and pushers who are riding on the coattails of our predecessors.

Motorcycling forums on the internet are rife with debates amongst newbie riders, agonizing over whether they have the right to call themselves 'bikers'. It's almost laughable. They are still convinced that the Hollywood definition of a biker is the only one that holds any truth, when in reality, it is the least truthful. Whatever an individual chooses to call himself, if he is a free individual who does not wear any club's uniform and therefore does not belong to another man... he is a biker. Because a biker is free. A biker embodies the very principle of freedom. Members of motorcycle clubs are slaves in uniforms, who must obey the whims of a few and cannot ever dream of experiencing the freedom that even the most novice of riders enjoys.

We are the 99%ers... and very happy for it.

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