Seems like about 75% of the books I read are non-fiction, and most of those are bio's. I think 2012 is the year of the bio for me. Did the Mayan's make any reference to that? Probably not. Idiots.
Anyway, I made it through Sonny Barger's bio pretty quickly. It's alright. His writing is pretty mediocre. It's like reading Lemmy's bio, y'know. He's hardly Wordsworth. The thing that I didn't like (or one of the things) is that I felt like I could tell the difference between a passage mostly penned by Sonny and a passage penned by the Zimmerman's (who "helped" him write it). Now, Keith and Kent Zimmerman both helped in writing Soul on Bikes, which I thought was considerably better. It was much more fluid and definitely more mature and high brow than this particular tome. Ok, so no shocker that Sonny Barger isn't terribly poetic. Moving on...
The book starts a little disjointed and then goes back to its roots and starts the narrative properly. It was like a false start or something, so I wasn't looking forward to it right off the bat but mercifully it got better. The book basically lays out the history of the Hells Angels as it relates to Barger. He started the Oakland chapter and it follows him as the M/C becomes what it becomes. For better or for worse, Barger is the nucleus of the HAMC. The thing I find odd is that for all the cries that the Angels make about not being a criminal organization and just being out to ride bikes...it sure doesn't seem like that according to Barger. While he never outright says they killed this person or trafficked drugs and guns to that person, a lot of the stories sure revolve around killing, torture, drugs, money, prison and guns. These guys are not saints. True, I know the media sensationalizes things and pins things on them they didn't do, but it's not like they're choir boys.
It's good to hear the stories from the horse's mouth. There are some really cool passages when he's talking about riding 200 strong and generally being rebellious. It's freedom. It's cool. But there are lot of times when he's talking about cocaine and revenge killings and time in the pen', which isn't so cool. It's one hell of a crazy ride, that's for sure. It's amazing he's not dead or currently in jail. Seriously. How he managed to dodge the bullets (literally and figuratively) is beyond my comprehension. Even cancer couldn't kill him!
Sonny is a gearhead and he rode some awesome bikes. The shots of the Angels in the 50's and 60's are bad as fuck. The summer of love, the music, the bikes...I dig that part of the book. The 80's just got all gangsta. I'm sure they started attracting far more criminals on bikes as the years went on, rather than bikers who turned criminal.
It's like reading an episode of Gangland or something. But without the stupid deep voice and ominous synth. I'm gonna buy Hunter S. Thompson's book about the Angels and see what he had to say. I'm sure the truth lies somewhere in between the two books. Sonny can't be all that forthcoming (for fear of self-incrimination) and Thompson will be full of journalistic hyperbole, I'm sure.
So yeah, you pretty much know what you're getting yourself into if you buy this. It is what it is. I don't regret reading it, but I wouldn't rush out to buy it tomorrow.
|Amazing bike! Springer front end, HUGE wheels, tough looking can, sweet bobbed fender. Love the whole thing.|
|Scary lookin dude.|
|If you squint your eyes he has a slight resemblance to Clean Cut's dad.|