Don't Worry, Hell's Angels: I'm Not Man Enough to Hang With You . ..
If you think you need a better deal why don't you just take one
Like the Hell's Angels
Put your foot down, let's get out of this town
Fancy seeing all of you here, well I don't know
Fancy seeing all of you here
Dressed up in your government gear, paying taxes
Never thought you'd make it to here
If you think you need a better world why don't you just make one
Like the Hell's Angels
Live your own law, lick your own paw
Fancy seeing all of you slugs, well I don't know
Once Upon a Time in America
when World War II was over, many soldiers rolled home to mold a life with their wife and kids. That was one side of the coin. There was another segment of the story and that was a certain few of these soldiers (with pent up rage) started to ride their motorcycles, party with their buddies, and for the most part, live FREE or die. I can appreciate that. Who wouldn't want a care-free life like that? Think about it. You hop over your hogg, ride to Tulsa with the wind flowing through your thick hair and beard and no one of the Civilized American Family would dare ask one question about you. I wouldn't today and I am 65 (mostly hard) years old.
Marlon Brando, Robert Mitchum, and mostly Sonny Barger, who did the ground work on forming Hell's Angels, I just offered Brando and Mitchum who have offered up their share of raising Hades, starting fist fights with brass knucks, drinking all of the alcohol that a small town in Phoenix could stock, and live to tell about it far down the highway next morning, and when the newly-formed Hell's Angels were rolling down into another town where the citizens (on the sidewalks) were so shocked at the sight of these burly, husky, muscle-bound guys who could beat-up a Peterbilt, that they said nothing and ran home.
First of all, for you readers and friends, let me be clear. Hell's Angels is NOT a motorcycle gang, but a motorcycle CLUB, or meeting, but NOT Hell's Angels the product of film and beaten foe and posters on sale in the lobby. I can give you this free advice about knowing the difference in a GANG and CLUB because I would not want your little boy, "Tony," age four, to be holding your hand and when a Hell's Angel member stamps out of the Food Giant, the little tyke WON'T say in perfect baby jive: "look, mama! There goes a motorcycle "GANG member. Can I be a Hellish Angel," because the Hell's Angel Motorcycle CLUB Member is now going to beat you senseless.
Again. There is the one failure in my failing to explain Gang and Club and I am not being facetious. I am not being a smart alec, but someone who fears such a man and woman and that is a Hell's Angel member--and if your brother-in-law or "Uncle Jake," who has stayed away from the family for six years, then shows up wearing black leather, a band across his long hair, and chaps like those drovers wear on a cattle drive, well, guess who is going to chow down with the family? A hint: It is not "Aunt Pearl," who lives in Peoria, Ill.
Seriously: My Hero, Hunter S. Thompson
not only wrote a best-selling book about the Hell's Angels, but lived with a CLUB with them for over a year. To me, that took nerves of steel. Mind you, Thompson is no mambypamby man with a .357 Magum because he knows which end of a gun goes blam. I read some of his book and it was more graphic than anything Hustler ever published, except those X-Rated photos with a black bar over the models' eyes.
But it was not Thompson's book that drew me to not want to leave home with I turned 18 to join Hell's Angels, it was the mere fact that I was a square when it come to being in with the "In Crowd," (e.g. Ramsey Lewis), and right off, a square peg will not fit comfortably into a round Club of motorcyclists who spend every weekend riding and when within the law, drink a little beer or a lot and stay to themselves. At the time where I was 18, I would have asked one of the Angels to teach me how to drink booze and that way, at least I could "act" like a man.
But if I passed their brutal initiation . . .and was one of the Angels' hierarchy would sit me down and ask: Were you in Vietnam, and the jig would be over. Cold sweat would trail down my trembling lips, and remark (very frightened): I only signed up to be drafted for Vietnam, but my dad served in WWII. And if I were to ask them about my dad's service, I would carry another butt-beating for asking such an ignorant question. So it would be proper for me to keep my mouth closed.
After Three Laborious Years
I would be dragged with the Hell's Angels "CLUB," on one of their fanciful outings. It was the times when the Angels would let me go with them to a road house so they could get really drunk and let me tell the cops (if some idiot who knew little enough to summon them inside the road house) that the Angels' members were only defending themselves by grasping the sharp broken whiskey bottles and putting them into the legs. Then I would put the icing on the cake my saying, if they had not acted in self-defense, the road house bullies might have taken their lives. And me? I looked pretty honest when I was 21, so the cops took my report on face value and left.
Not one. And I mean not one Hell's Angels lifted a finger to say something supportive about me. Talk about selfish. I didn't know that a Hell's Angel was so seflish. That wouldn't all. After the road house crowd has settled down, the band leader, one Mr. Knife Blade and the Sharp Edges, who were good for a laugh, left the stage on the instruction of one of the managing Angel and demanded that I get up on the stage, sing a few rounds of "Your Cheating Heart," "You Win Again,"and "Jambalaya," while the Angels all laughed at me until they cried. The road house crowd were so intimated by these rowdy lawbreakers that they too cried their eyes out--and a few lucky guests were smart enough to leave before the Angels beat them within an inch of their lives.
Yes, life on the road, and on the run is dangerous—especially if you are trying to hang with Hell’s Angels. And I can suppose that inside the thinking of the managing Angels, those who call the shots, that they can treat their Angels members, CLUB Members, (not going to make that mistake) in such a way that living from outside of the law in almost every way is a way of life for them.
And at my journey’s end while I am been writing (with a deep wonder) about how it would Really be for me to be a member of Hell’s Angels, I cannot put it in so many words—not that I would lie. No, sir. Even the Hell’s Angels do not lie—not to each other and not to rival motorcycle CLUBS. The only lying from the Angels would be to “Johnny Law,” and that would be easy to do—especially if they were hauled off from one of their CLUB houses and question them for some drug that didn’t go down right or something just as flimsy.
No, ladies and gentlemen, I can say right here and now with a clear conscience that I will not EVER ride, hang out with, or even try to be like the members of Hell’s Angels. What I CAN do is show them the same respect that I would to any of the forms of life that Our Creator put here on earth.
Isn’t that enough?
February 8, 2019___________________________________
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© 2019 Kenneth Avery