Some one percenters you have fun messing with such as anyone on the front cover of Fortune magazine. Others not so much. There’s an undeniable camaraderie among us common folk to throw the top 1% wealthiest under the bus. However, it’s a different matter altogether when you run across a biker with the same moniker.
Members of outlaw motorcycle clubs such as the Hells Angels, Pagans, Warlocks and Bandidos wear the diamond-shaped patch over their leather jackets. The inspiration for this was traced to 1947 when members of “The Pissed Off Bastards” and the “Boozefighters” motorcycle clubs showed up in Hollister, CA for a bike race which went sideways. The Life magazine story that followed provoked the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) to denounce the boozed-up bikers. It assured the average Joe that 99% of bikers were law-abiding citizens. (more…)
Sonny Barger and his Hells Angels thundered up Highway One along the California coast one day in the late sixties. As the story goes, they parked their Harleys in front of the Jenner Inn and entered a redwood structure, which housed the lodge office, post office, tavern, family fish house and a general store. The owner refused to serve the bikers, cradling a shotgun. Sonny stood his ground, demanding some liquor. Another refusal. An Angel ignored the response and started to circle the counter toward the whiskey rack.
Without warning, shots rang out. A spray of rock salt hit the biker in the leg. He moaned and started to raise a fist when the owner said that he had called the sheriff. Sonny reeled back in his “brother” and the pack exited the store.
Outside, they were greeted by a pair of deputies. A standoff soon developed. (more…)
The Hells Angels and the Summer of Love seem at opposite ends of the spectrum, right? That’s what I thought before I started gathering data for my next novel, Don’t Stop the Music. Sonny Barger and his fellow bikers considered themselves caretakers of the Haight Ashbury when heaven appeared to have kissed the earth. In 1967 one hundred thousand kids, Vietnam Vets, drop-outs and curiosity seekers descended upon the neighborhood. The deluge was overwhelming and the Angels lent a hand. They provided free security for music concerts in Golden Gate Park and elsewhere (such as at Altamont Speedway, which went horribly twisted, but that’s another story). They aided Huckleberry House with the corralling of wayward children. The Diggers enlisted the Angel’s help with the distribution of free food, clothing and medical services. And this is where it gets interesting. (more…)
The Hells Angels and acid began their chaotic relationship in 1966 down at Ken Kesey’s farm in La Honda along the San Francisco peninsula. Kesey was fresh off a commercial success with his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and celebrated by hosting Acid Test gatherings with plenty of LSD. Sonny Barger and George Wethren and some of their other biker-club bros visited one of the happenings along with a mixture of Bohemians, Stanford grads, musicians and others. The bad boys of Oakland had acquired a liking for the little known chemical. They floated in and out of the lush redwood groves, taking long journeys to Psychedelia, exploring females who graced themselves like Eve upon a garden of ferns. Barger orbited beyond his known experience, the universe exploding into neon blues and yellows and reds, orgasms on a runaway train of laughter and pain and holiness. To this East Bay banger, marijuana was lost smoke when compared to the miracles of LSD. (more…)