Tim Medvetz was on 60 Minutes last night.
If you’ve never heard of Medvetz, it is about time you did. He is a big, handsome guy who was the singer/actress Cher’s boyfriend for five years. He failed to climb Mount Everest in 2006 but returned and successfully summited the next year. Both climbs became part of a Discovery Channel series called Everest: Beyond the Limit. Maybe most importantly, Medvetz may owe part of his continuing success to the line at the top of his resume, which reads “former Hells Angel.”
It seems curious that as much as the club is vilified that there is a growing list of current or former Angels who have achieved celebrity. Rusty Coones, Chuck Zito, David M. Labrava and Ralph Randolph immediately spring to mind.
It is worth noting right now because three members of the club are on trial in Lakeport, California this week. They are charged with the fairly straightforward offense of beating up a member of another club but the prosecution is determined to turn the trial into an official condemnation of the Angels in particular and motorcycle clubs in general. A sad and not very interesting man named Jorge Gil-Blanco will tell a jury how bad the club. That is, more or less, his full time job – telling people how bad Hells Angels are. It seems unlikely that Coones’, Zito’s. Labarava’s, Randolph’s or Medvetz’ names will come up.
Anyone who has been around the biker scene in Los Angeles for any length of time has heard of Medvetz the biker – as opposed to Medvetz the celebrity. He is a big enough man to have had a successful career as a bouncer in Hollywood.
A few years ago a Mongol named Peter “Bouncer” Soto explained how he learned to ride a motorcycle like a motorcycle outlaw. “I just wanted a little bit more,” Soto said. “I wanted some action. Growing up I always saw guys from, like the Hells Angels just pass by my car doing a hundred. And I was always like, Dude that’s just bad. You know what I mean? So I knew this guy named, um, Big Tim. Biggest guy. Big guy. He’s from like the Valley and he used to be like out in Hollywood. Craziest motherfucker I’ve ever met but he’s really nice. So he was like, come on. Let’s go. Let’s go ride!”
Into Thin Air
Medvetz’ personal story is fairly well known. He had a terrible motorcycle accident on September 10, 2001. The aftermath of that, he told CBS correspondent Lara Logan last night, was “Half of my back has a net cage around it, then bolted with six bolts and it’s been fused. I have two metal plates in my head and 10 screws. I have two metal plates and 10 screws in my right hand.” After his accident he drank and popped pills. During his dark night of the soul he discovered Jon Krakauer’s book about climbing Everest called Into Thin Air. Climbing the big mountain became a way for him to prove to himself that he was still a tough guy.
His big accident came just hours before the Twin Towers fell. He saw men come back broken from the ensuing wars and he was able to identify with them. He was compassionate toward them and he thought he could help them so he started what he calls “The Heroes’ Project” in 2009. Since then the project has raised over $1 million to take wounded veterans on a dozen major climbs. With Medvetz’ help, severely wounded veterans have climbed six of the world’s seven tallest mountains. The one exception is Everest. Mevetz and a disabled former Marine named Charles Linville were on their way to the Everest base camp last April when an avalanche killed 16 Sherpas. At the time Medvetz released a statement that said:
“We have decided to come home and are no longer pursuing Operation Everest: 2014, honoring our Sherpas’ decision to not climb this year, and out of respect for those who were lost last week. We have spent the last week focused on the recovery effort and mourning those who were lost and discussing all aspects as a team.” He continued, “The bond and personal relationships I have with these men goes back over ten years, they are my family. They are members of our team and out of respect to our Sherpas, we are not continuing. We fully support their decision to leave the mountain and we will leave the mountain together the same way we came up, as a team.”
Medvetz is planning to resume the climb with Linville this year.
Last night CBS noticed the good Medvetz is doing. Both the former Angel and the network deserve some credit for that.