Sixty-six years ago, on July 6 1948, the Los Angeles Times editorialized: “Just a year ago, the town of Hollister was taken apart by 4000 roistering motorcyclists who drove their vehicles into bars and restaurants, hurled bottles out of windows and into streets, fought, rioted and destroyed, until they were dispersed with the threat of teargas.” Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
Actually, it probably wasn’t that good. Actually the Times depended on an account written by a towering figure of American journalism named C. I. Dourghty Jr. Dourghty wasn’t actually there when any of this took place but there are strong indications that he did interview some people who were.
Dourghty called the weekend an “outburst of terrorism” and he reported “wrecking of bars, bottle barrages into the streets from upper story windows and roofs and high speed racing of motorcycles though the streets.” He also said peace was restored only after 40 California Highway Patrolmen, armed with the threat, but not the actual deployment, of teargas, “herded the cyclists into a block on San Benito street, between Fifth and Sixth Streets, parked a dance band on a truck and ordered the musicians to play.” Isn’t that a wonderful story? Wouldn’t this be a better world if hardworking reporters with deadlines to meet could just make up stuff like that and get down the street to the nearest reporters’ bar?
The Times believed Dourghty. The world believed Dourghty.
“Even in a country where almost anything is rather more than likely to happen,” one of Norman Chandler’s fine editorialists sagely observed, “the motorcycle raid is a startling development. It gives Californians in peacetime the hair raising experience of guerilla warfare. Police have a strange, new problem, dealing with mobile, mounted hoodlums, thousands strong. It is not the fault of the police that they can’t cope with the problem.”
It’s like the voice over narration of an episode of Gangland isn’t it? All it needs is some stock footage and an interview with Steve Cook.
And so was born the biker menace and the war on outlaw bikers. And, of course “It is not the fault of the police that they can’t cope with the problem.” Steve couldn’t have put it better himself. The police need more overtime, much more overtime, and better body armor and machine guns and tanks! Or the bikers will drive their vehicles into your bars!
Meanwhile In Sundance
Like that time that Hamster rode into the Dime Horseshoe on Third Street in Sundance and put his front wheel against the bar and did a burnout right there. Inside. Ruined the bar floor. Took days to air out that stink. The Hamsters paid for the damage. No arrests were effected.
But that momentous event in biker history is still commemorated annually during Sturgis week with the Sundance Burnouts: Which basically is like money falling from the clouds for the enterprising residents of Sundance, Wyoming.
Much as the enterprising residents of Hollister have learned to make money fall from the sky during that town’s annual commemoration of the Hollister riot. Of course, the biker menace is still very real, even more real than pixie dust and unicorns. So public safety concerns must be addressed lest all the good burghers of Hollister find themselves in another, thrilling, guerilla war.
Safety And Water
The annual Hollister celebration was actually cancelled for a few years because the police just didn’t feel the public would be safe unless the merchants who make the most money from this historic event paid an army of sworn peace officers $120,000 a day to save Hollister once again. One hundred twenty large per day and not a penny less.
“Cutting back on law enforcement costs,” City Manager Clint Quilter proclaimed, “could potentially result in police officers being manned around the downtown perimeter until the event’s completion when they would deal with the aftermath.” In other words, if the merchants didn’t pay up the police would retreat to a safe location and leave the townsfolk on their own to explain to the biker horde why a plastic bottle of warm tap water cost six dollars.
“For six dollars Mongo want cold Perrier!”
Welcome To Panopticonia
Fortunately this year, thanks to the many wonders and miracles of the modern Panopticon police state, the historic reenactment of the rape of Hollister will be more profitable and safer than ever. Just last week the City of Hollister installed 36 brand new surveillance cameras.
“We can’t have an officer standing on every corner,” a police captain named Carlos Reynoso told KSBW Action News 8, “but if we have these cameras up they’re an independent witness as to what happened and it’s a tool we can use in the future to solve crimes or find out what really happened in certain situations.”
Action News 8 reports, “Most of the cameras are located in the downtown area which hosts the annual Fourth of July biker rally. This year’s rally is expected to draw more than 100,000 people during the three-day weekend. The rally and the large presence of biker gangs was the reason the cameras were approved, despite some concerns that they’re an invasion of privacy.”
The cameras cost Hollister $318,000 so the price of water may be going up this year.
Wouldn’t it be great if C. I. Dourghty Jr. emerged from a cave somewhere and got a job at Action News 8?
The rally starts this Friday. Bring extra cash because it can get hot in Hollister in July and you might get thirsty. And if you find yourself in a public place be sure to look as harmless as possible. The cameras will be constantly monitored during the rally. So try to remember to smile constantly.
Happy, happy, happy! Harmless, harmless, harmless!