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Speak Of The Devil ~ My Brushes With Outlaw Motorcycle Culture…Hells Angels [Third Pass Edit]…
I must preface this article by saying that I have never been a member of the Hells Angels or any other Outlaw Motorcycle Club. Also the intention here is for a nonjudgmental look at my experience in respect to the Hells Angels. No Hells Angels insignias are used herein, in respect of copyright control.
“If you have to ask, then you will never know”
It all began on the avenues, their was a nightly curfew from 8pm to 6am, this had nothing to do with the Hells Angels, it was because of the epidemic of drug activity from crack cocaine that was prevalent in the area. I never remember being harrassed by the local police for being out during the curfew as long as we were in a vehicle. I do remember watching out the front of our house window, people were getting busted for drug sales all the time. There was also some crazy situations we witnessed as well. One time there was a guy in a car, who was ramming it into the front of a house, over and over a hundred or more times before the police arrived to arrest him. At some point the car caught fire and the police arrived just in time to pull him out. I don’t know what he was trying to accomplish, but he surely had to be out of his mind, doing something like this.
Just setting the stage here, other times we were part of the action. Our neighbors had just gotten married, and the guy I was living with came home with the (neighbors) bride right after the ceremony, and they were very drunk…they had sex in the room next to mine as the wedding after party was being held outside my window. I know, how sweet, arghhhh. I don’t know whatever happened to the married couple as I did not know them personally, but whacked out shit just like this was always happening. It would not be the last time I would be thinking wide eyed with my jaw on the floor at some sort of incident that was going on in the neighborhood. It’s safe to say it was a pretty rough area.
The guy I was living with, who is now dead from heart attack complications related to heavy cocaine and alcohol use (Again nothing to do with the HA), was friends with a Hells Angel and thus a couple of times we went to parties with him at two of their (HA) clubhouses. We never went inside the actual clubhouses, but would attend block parties that they would throw. It must be said that both of the clubhouses were in safe neighborhoods and many of the people that lived around them seemed to be content to have the HA in their area. No one would dare commit any crimes anywhere near the viscinity of the HA. I know a lot of people would have qualms with that statement, ‘that they were happy’ having them in their neighborhood. I’m not an idiot… again this piece is my experience, not my telling others what their opinions should look like about any OMC.
At some point my roomate brought home tickets to a Hells Angels pig roast and party blowout weekend that was being held at a local compound and plot of land then owned by one of the HA members. You’ve got to remember that this was just before the time of the internet and cell phones, and the only thing people knew of the HA was what had been passed down from mouth to mouth, what you saw on the local news, or read in books. There was a mystique and a legendary respect for the club because of their attitude toward freedom and secrecy. It must be said that because of the area that I lived in, The Northeastern US, the Hells Angels were the most powerful presence in this part of the country, if you were in Florida or Texas you would have had the similar prescence from another Outlaw Mortorcycle Club. With that said it’s hard to argue with the fact that the HA is the most famous Club in history as a result of their prescence at many historical events over the last sixty plus years since their inception in California in 1948.
Anyway I did not know what to expect of the weekend pig roast and party that we were going to on that early Friday afternoon in June. We drove outside the city and took a sharp left down a long dirt road that I was not familiar with, which was way out in the woods and there were no residential neighborhoods nearby. After a mile or so of backcountry we came to an entrance that was fenced in and high with barbed wire. There was an unlocked fence gate with a heavy chain lock that was wide open for vehicles and bikes to enter the grounds. There were bikers at the gate drinking beers and tearing tickets to the event, and they asked my friend who had invited us to the private party. After he mentioned the name, they let us take our car in.
After a short drive up another short dirt road we came upon a grassy area where the cars parked as there was a separate area for motorcycles across the cleared field. After getting out the car we walked over to a refrigerated truck with ten Budweiser taps on each side, got keg cups and filled them up. There was one house on the grounds which I came to realize was one of the HA members’ place, a private area that had signs to stay away from, with Pit-bulls and Rottweilers out front. On the other side of the lot there was an extremely large garage with five bays all opened where Club members and others were sitting on picnic tables drinking. There was a rock band inside one of the bays playing hard rock covers and they were quite good.
To the left of the garage was a bon fire as well as several meat smokers that where rotating large pigs by chain from several rotators…the smell of the roasting pork was heavenly. Just thinking about it brings that glorious smell to the tip of my tongue. Thus began our weekend descent into wild excess just about any way one could imagine. One thing that really stood out was the coming and going of different charters and other HA friendly clubs throughout the weekend. Groups of twenty to thirty bikers in formation would arrive whooping and hollering and kicking up dirt as the revved their engines announcing their arrival to the event. The most awe inspiring thing that I remember about this is when the same separate groups of bikers would leave, they would line up in formation with the highest ranking members at the front. Once all lined up, they would stand in place and rev their bike engines as loud as they possibly could…I tell you the hair stood up on the back of my neck as this amazing hellfire roar would go on for about five minutes for each formation before leaving. Then with a nod of the head of each pack they would ride out kicking up a cloud of dust that the revelers drinking at the bash would just absolutely rage in. This went on all weekend and I never got tired if it.
When the pigs were done roasting on the spit, they had large wooden chopping tables where they would hack them up. Inside the garage where hundreds of bags of fresh onion rolls, many gallon jugs of barbecue sauce. Anyone could just walk up to the cutting table with a plate and the cook would put a huge tender chunk of pork on your plate. Then after getting a huge roll and smothering it with barbecue sauce, oh my…it was the best tasting pork sandwich ever. We were wolfing these down and then they brought out several huge metal wire carriages which secured twenty or more whole chickens ready to cook and threw them on the fire, when they were done cooking we indulged in them as well. All the beer you could drink, a few fat joints and we were well on our way.
Now the thing that I found interesting is that throughout the whole weekend there was no hard drugs done out in the open. I know they had to be around but it was not noticeable which was surprising to me. No complaints here, everyone was having a good time getting stuffed and toasted. At some point, twice in the weekend, someone drove a bike up and said the cops were at the gate but no one cared. It was private property and no one was causing any trouble, they never came up the roadway. We heard that they were just making their rounds and checking to see that there was no trouble, as long as we stayed on the property everything was fine. I was a young teen at the time and was just taking everything in, almost everyone else was of drinking age and higher. The police at the time were not as hard on underage drinkers in my experience at other parties that I would go to at the time, they would just break things up and send everyone home.
As the day moved on to painters light, I remember at some point I went to refill my beer and as I was walking back to the party, I spotted this girl walking toward me and I froze she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She had this loose fitting flowing sundress with wild paisley patterns and she had flowers in her hair. I could see the sun passing through the wind swept fabric of her dress and the shadow silhouette of her nude body. She had this hair up in a purposefully loose fishtail braid…and those eyes, OMG I could see into her soul and it was so pure. I was instantly in love, I began to imagine and play through the thoughts in my mind of me taking care of her for the rest of my life. I stopped to say hello, we got to chattering and I shared my beer with her and I don’t remember all of what was said be we got on quite well.
I do remember asking her if she was at the party with anyone, never want to be messing with someones lady…that would be really a bad scene as you could imagine. She said no and I asked her her age and she said eighteen and then asked me in return and I said seventeen. She laughed at me and said, ‘ you’re not seventeen’ (she was right I was actually thirteen and I did not tell her that), but I said would I have a tattoo if I was under eighteen, and I showed it to her. Eighteen was the age to get a tattoo in the state. She let it go and soon we were in each others arms playfully holding each other and leaning on to the front of someones car hood. As it began to get dark I asked if I could kiss her and she said yes. Yes ladies and gentlemen, this was my first time kissing a girl and as you know one does not forget that. We playfully made out for like two hours, and as you could imagine it felt like we were only there for a short time. I was in heaven…just kissing and embracing is very underrated. So hot!
Her womanly curves were so beautiful and intriguing. I can still remember how amazing she smelled. Again it felt like time had stopped, but it never went farther than that. In some ways I was glad for that, her leaving me wanting so much more. I respected her so much for that…sounds strange in this day and age but it was true. Well at some point she said she had to go and we swapped numbers. Then she left and my heart was on the ground, dragging in the grass trailing right behind her as she walked away. I stood there stunned and bloated from a head full of dopamine. I was confused and in love simultaneously and I had no idea what to do! So I shook it off (get your head out of the gutter, muahhh) and gathered myself and walked back to the party…when I emerged from the cars everyone at the party looked at me and started whooting and hollering and clapping. I think they thought I got laid or something, they were shoving shots of all kinds of liquor from Jägermeister to Sambucca in celebratory reckoning. It was fun nonetheless, my head was exploding, you know like fireworks going off on the Brady Bunch.
Soon after, my roommate wanted to drop some acid so he gave me my choice of blue windowpane or green gels. I went for a green gel because they were stronger, and after that there were a few different bands that played. One band was playing rock covers as before and they were good, the second band played all originals and they were awesome, kind of like an AC/DC meets Metallica sound…some hard rock and some thrash it was pretty fun. We were loaded after making several trips to the keg truck and joint after joint. They then began to stoke the fire into a twenty foot high rager with hundreds of wood pallets that had been stacked beside for just this occasion.
Behind the fire was an old broken down city bus with all it’s tires flat and we went in to hang out, as there was a separate party going on there as well. Time continued to fly by as we got ripped, and before we knew it the early morning sun was starting to break and the most trippy thing happened. From all the way from the back of the bus there was a native american who stood up from sleeping on the farthest back seats. I was stunned because I had not noticed him at all from the day or night before. He had all the traditional garb that a Native american would wear at a ceremony, he had a breastplate that was made of feathers and bones and his dark black hair was pulled back in a braid. I kid you not, he adjusted a single large feather that was eminating from the back of his head. I was fascinated as my eyes fluttered to get a good look at him. He just walked by and got off the bus….not a word.
Well once the sun came up we got off the bus and heading toward the keg truck to get some beer, someone said they were out, and we would have to wait two hours. It was then that the guy throwing the party came out with several cases of Heineken green bottles until we could get some more kegs. Just to drive home how good of a party the night before was…We, all the revelers, had finished off one hundred full kegs of Budweiser in the first night! Then they rolled out this huge restaurant sized griddle and proceeded to make pounds of scrambled eggs and bacon and sausages…again jaw on the ground. At about nine in the morning the fresh kegs started arriving…this shit was crazy.
So anyway I come to the embarrassing part of the weekend, my roomate had been telling his friend that I could sing and play guitar really well, I downplayed it..yeah I’m ok. Anyway he said once the band starts playing I should get up and sing, I was like ahhhh alright. Sure enough there was a band playing a few hours later and they were without a singer and playing covers. They told me to get up there and sing, so as they were jamming away and tuning, I got up and I talked to the band. They said what can you sing, I said anything heavy and they suggested Judas Priest. I said sure and forget which song because I think I wanted to black it out.
Now I had listened to every Judas Priest album 100 times so I just thought the lyrics would come to me from the ether or memory. Well they started to play and I could barely sing one verse, I did know the chorus perfect and had them in my hands for a moment but then the second verse kicked in and I felt like I melted right there on the stage. I had lost the plot…I was frickin’ out of my head. It really was not all that bad, no one gave me a hard time but I felt like an idiot. I remember thinking why did I not say Iron Maiden as I would have been able to pull that off easy, but it was not to be. I was in a band and we had a good following so I knew where I stood, I could do it…I just wasn’t prepared like a true professional would. Again another learning experience, I never forgot the words again that’s for sure.
That last day was also wild because it was the day that they would have straight way bike races. Two bikes at a time they would take each other on just like you see in Fast and Furious Movies but with Harley’s. One after the other they would spin their tires and do burnouts sending smoked rubber into the sky to everyone yelling along. Then they had races with Bikers and their Ol’ Ladies on the back…with no helmets of course. I remember specifically one of the bikers would launch a parachute behind him to slow him down at the end of the straitaway. Then people started doing tricks, standing and doing crazy movements while on the huge bikes…lying down while riding, all kinds of stuff.
Just before we were about to leave at the end of the weekend I remember standing by the fire with a few others and someone noticed plastic and metal burning at the ground level in the shape of car batteries. We all looked at each other and laughed ever so hesitantly realizing that we had been standing in front of a burning junk pile that had a lot more in it than wood. We had been breathing in the toxic fumes of a bunch of piled up car batteries. WTF, what else can you say to that…ahhh ok…that can’t be healthy. Anyone got a smoke? So this party went on for three days and we left on Sunday afternoon and just went home and crashed out for two days. It was nice I remember not having to come down off coke or speed so I really slept. Every several hours we got up to eat and smoke a joint in the comforts of home.
Anyway the family that I was living with at that time decided to move to a new house down the street about a mile away. This house was further into a more dangerous part of the neighborhood but the rent was cheaper and the house was bigger. I remember we rented a moving truck and were probably hung over from the night before. We’re loading everything onto the truck to bring to the new place and I remember thinking how this was going to take all day to get this done. Well it turns out that another friend of my roommate was a biker who was not HA but friends again with a group of them and next thing we know they come roaring down the street on their bikes and pull into our large driveway. What could this be about…I’m sure all of us there were all thinking the same thing. One of the bikers comes up to my roommate and says we’ll help you guys move if you buy us beer. Now I should not have to point out that they could afford their own beer, but just so everybody knows, this was this group of guys way of helping out. I don’t know if this is a common thing with other club members but I had heard of the old adage about the HA, “When we do something good no one remembers, when we do something bad no one ever forgets.”
With that said, and after my roommate agreed to the beer thing, they got off their bikes and began helping us move. I’ll never forget these huge bikers carrying boxes out the house and on to the truck. The funny part is what we thought was going to be an all day ordeal, turned into a packed truck in a half hour! We then proceeded to follow the bikers in formation in front of us to the new address. You know how you see the vehicle following the bikers in the make believe TV show Sons Of Anarchy, we got to experience it once for real. When we pulled up to the new address bikes roaring, we could see the neighbors in their yards and windows literally shitting themselves. All the people on their porches on this hot afternoon went into their houses as quick as they could and closed the doors behind them it was very strange. I did not realize that people would react so heavily.
Another thing that we noticed was that people would park anywhere they wanted and spaces were tight and hard to come by. Well from that first day on there were always two parking spaces left open for our vehicles and nobody would dare take them. It was really strange because we did not mean to intimidate anybody but just by the bikers presence that day led to this. Not one word was said to anybody, and it was worse when people in the neighborhood would walk down the street past our house they would literally cross the street to not have to walk near our porch. I never thought that was humourous at all…it was respect out of fear by proxy. They HA never came back to our house again and that fear never seemed to let up in the neighbors. There were even house break-ins in the area…not our house, ever.
So the bikers helped us move in to the new house and that took another half hour at the most…and I remember my roommate saying he was going to ride to the liquor store to get their beer. I assumed he was going to buy a keg and we would have an impromptu house warming party that afternoon…not the case. All they wanted was a couple beers each so my roomate bought a couple cases of Budweiser. They drank a case of beer, about two cold bottles each, which took about ten minutes. Then without saying a word they got on their bikes and drove off.
So that would be my first party and experiences with the HA, times to remember for sure. Other times would not be as eventful, which I will get to in a minute, as the law began to come down on the Clubs. A few years later I had moved to another city (Yes, I am constantly on the move), and we lived one street over from the Hells Angels Clubhouse. It was painted dark red and had black shutters and all the windows were blocked out, as well as cameras facing up and down the street. What was interesting about this Chapter of the HA was that it was the first Chapter of the HA on the East Coast. So the locals had a lot of pride in that…I remember them talking about it and when we would go up to Laconia for Bike Week, if you just said the name of the city everyone knew what Chapter it was. Now don’t get the wrong idea, I was not a biker type in the sense of how you would think of or imagine. I was more of an party enthusiast and wherever there was one, I could be found there. It didn’t have to be a biker party, as a matter of fact it often was other types of parties from Grateful Dead shows to Raves in the California desert.
Anyway getting back to a HA, The Club would throw street parties in our city and block off the whole street by parking bikes at both ends of the road so no cars could drive down. We would walk around looking at all the souped up bikes while walking the dogs. Soon after the local drug task force vehicle pulled up at the end of the street…It was a literal police station on wheels and I remember the huge trailer dropped metal braces onto the road making the unit immovable by any form of force. Then they announced over a loud speaker for everyone to clear the street. It was a pure show of force for what reason I had no idea. Nothing came of it at that point, but they were always trying to raid the place.
I remember years later while working at a rock show in the same city, it was 311 with Oysterhead (Supergroup feat. Les Claypool, Trey Anastasio, and Stewart Copeland) opening up and I was doing security from the side of the stage. Some members of the local HA Chapter just walked past some security guards around toward the back of the stage and they were all freaking out about what to do because they were worried about confronting them. They called out to the stage manager on the radios about what to do. I intervened and said don’t worry just let them go, they were not trying to cause any trouble. Like I had said they just walked behind the stage, sat down for a while and smoked a joint, and then got up and kept on going. Again they were not looking for trouble, and we did not want any either. In closing, I’m not going to claim that I know anything about the outlaw life…and there is a reason that there are sayings that hold true in cases like this. It has been said many times before and will be said many times again, because it holds true to the letter; “Those who know won’t say, and those who say don’t know.”
Whatever happened to the girl? That’s a different story for a different time. ?
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