They own a couple of apartment building
s on third street in Manhattan
where they have their New York headquarters
, and park their motorcycle
Anytime you walk past there a couple of big biker
s outside, keeping an eye on the block and, of course, their hogs
None of these guys are particularly rich
, and most have large amounts of money
- not to mention sweat equity
tied up in their bikes
Even in the winter
someone will be out there, usually burning
in a 55 gallon drum
They have a huge
American flag on the front of their headquarters, and some small speakers
mounted outside. It's seems like every time I walked past when I was living in New York there would be a 60's tune
Back in the late 1970
's (after New York almost
in 1975) they were, strangely enough, a stable force in a sea of chaos
Lots of crazy shit
happened in Lower Manhattan
at the time, it was almost out and out anarchy
since the city
had almost no money to enforce
Their block, however, was an oasis
- but on their terms. They just didn't let a lot of weird
stuff happen on third street.
Even now conventional wisdom
has it that the crime rate is lower on their block than elsewhere in Lower Manahattan.
so I won't commit myself to an opinion
without seeing hard data
, but intuitively I know that the sight of a few rowdy
, 300 pound tattooed bikers
milling around in the street probably makes most jerk
s who would mug
think twice about committing such crime
s in their general proximity.
In early 1980
's they used
to throw a hell of a fourth of July block party
outside their headquarters.
They'd close the street off to traffic, hire a band
and have free food
for everyone who showed up. Later on at night they'd blow off some firework
s. It was a real good time!
I remember these parties for several things; first, most of the older bikers back then - I mean guys in their 50's or 60's always
had an willowsome 18'ish babe
- and sometimes two - hanging off of them!
The band apparently had been carefully instructed; lot's of 60's music, and almost nothing but The Stones
and similar tunes. Nothing
wrong with that!
And another thing I remember about these parties, and the reason that I stopped going to them. Sometimes people got fucked up!
All it took was a flippant comment
, a joke
interpreted wrong, maybe a little flirting with a biker babe and they'd all
be on top of someone. I saw it happen twice and it wasn't pretty.
So I stopped going to their parties. A few years later they were blowing up some fireworks and a kid
got killed; almost decapitated
by some schrapnel from the garbage
can they detonated the stuff in.
The City came down on them pretty hard, and they don't have their parties anymore.
Although I had stopped going I still think that it was too damn bad
The Hells Angels have their own ethos
and behavioural code that they hold themselves to. One of my old girlfriends, who used to date
one always referred to them as righteous
and I know why.
Another ex-girlfriend's grandmother
who lived on thieir block had trouble walking. As soon as they noticed they would always
help her to the grocery store, and carry her bags home for her.
She passed away about a year later and three of them showed up at the furneral
home that night.
They quietly filed into the small room packed with more conventionally dressed mourners. Most of her surviving relatives were from the suburbs
, and didn't know what
to make of this. Some fumbled at wallet
s and purses, thinking they were going to be robbed.
The bikers showed their respect
to the deceased
, and paused long enough to sign the book before silently heading back to their motorcycles parked outside.
But when they left it was in true Hell's Angel's
fashion; throttles wide open, making enough noise to wake the dead.