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fab people books

Hell's Angel January 26, 2006 Thursday

Hell's Angel

The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club
by Sonny Barger

Rating: star star star star star (4 out of 5 stars)
ISBN: 978-0060937546
Published by: Harper Paperbacks (October 2, 2001)
Genre: Autobiographical
Pages: 288 pages

As an impressionable high school kid, I was fascinated by the exploits of this enigmatic, tough, wind-in-your-face bunch of motorcycle outlaws, the Hell's Angels. I've seen pictures of with blood-died Angels, hand-in-hand after a clash-in with rival gangs. Rough-hewn, defiant and battle-scarred, they epitomized life-on-the-edge. A lot of people fantasize about it but very few live it - the 1 percenters, as they proudly regard themselves.

I was somehow obsessed. I'd draw illustrations of Angels in a rumble - chains, brass knuckles and all. I even collected Easy Rider magazines and used its center-fold as a room poster - Harley Davidson choppers. I always wondered how it was like to live that kind of life.

Thomas Hunter
As a working adult learning web design, my teacher broached me about a journalist, Hunter Thompson, who hung-out with the Angels in the 60s. It came at a price to him though. He didn't get a graceful exit. In what would normally be a casual dispute with an Angel, he was beaten up, stomped and ganged upon. The good thing is, he lived to write a book about them - Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga.

I couldn't put the book down...read every single page of it like watching a riveting thriller. That's the first time I read about its legendary leader, Sonny Barger. Tough-as-nails, quick-thinking, forceful and completely devoted to being an Angel, he guided the club's phenomenal growth from a rag-tag few in sunny California, to a global franchise boasting several thousand carefully selected members.

Still Kicking After All These Years
I thought that was my last fray into their adventures until I came upon this book - Hell's Angel, authored by no less than the big cheese himself - Sonny Barger. What shocked me was the fact that he was still alive and still the head of the club. We're talking 40 years of leading the most violent motorcycle club through rumbles and run-ins with the law. Usually, they don't live too long. Some disappear from the face of the planet, some are killed by rival gang members, some killed by cops, some incapacitated by injuries or simply rotting in jail. Being on top of his game is testament to Sonny Barger's sharp survival instincts, his vision and his ability to surround himself with loyal people who'll protect him to the very end.

Perspective Disparity
What I find amusing in reading the book is the disparity between how Sonny Barger sees it and the public. Sonny paints a picture of a bunch of misunderstood guys who just want to have fun riding their Harleys. He makes no qualms or apologies however, that heads roll along the way. The law enforcers, on the other hand, view the Hell's Angels as a vicious motorcycle gang turned organized crime with a global business interest ranging from drug trafficing, arms sales, prostitution, extortion, etc. Its path is littered with bodies, blood and fear.

However, living in the Hell's Angel's world, a slap-on-the-wrist could mean being bull-whipped, beaten with spiked dog collars and getting fingers broken with ball peen hammers. That's exactly what they did to the poor members of the motorcycle club, The Unknowns, when they were caught stealing Sonny Barger's Harley. Hmmm...stealing the Harley of the president of the Hell's Angels? I only have one word for The Unknowns: DUH!

Sonny Barger's Quotes:
  • "For a certain kind of chick, it was an honor to get fucked by a bunch of Hell's Angels."
  • "You got your Red Wings by eating a girl on her period and your Black Wings by eating a black girl."
  • "We go out of our way to make sure the women who either go out on runs with us, visit our clubhouse, or just associated with us feel 100% safe. Touch a Hell's Angels' old lady and you risk the wrath of not only the member but the entire club."
  • "Everywhere the Hell's Angels went, we'd outdrink, outfuck and outfight everybody"

Ending Thoughts
The likes of Sonny Barger don't happen everyday...just like John Gotti or any person who shaped the world and survived as a living icon. Sure he was violent and ruthless but so was Attila the Hun. What do we do now? We study Attila's leadership skills and transfer them to the cut-throat environment of big business. Sun Tzu's The Book of War is taught in business schools, for crying out loud.

Anyway, however the world makes of Sonny, his legacy as a tough and visionary leader of the world's most notorious motorcycle club has earned him a place in the ranks of legends.

--- TheLoneRider

January 26, 2006

Reader Comments:

Bandit
(3 Jul 2006) ride on my brother, i know your very busy, however i'd love a reply, even if it's just to say hello and keep up the excellent work.

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