If anybody owns Hollister it has to be Big Eddie Davenport.
In case you are just joining us, Eddie Davenport is the fat guy (above) in the iconic Life Magazine photo that accompanied the story of the “Hollister Motorcycle Riots.” Eddie rode with a now defunct club called the Tulare Riders and the photo was staged by a San Francisco Chronicle photographer named Barney Peterson.
Peterson and Chronicle reporter C.J. Doughty got there just as the weekend was winding down. The San Francisco paper never ran the photo but it does still own the rights to it. In fact, the Chronicle will sell you a copy of Eddie’s picture if you go to their website.
When the photo finally ran in Life it included a caption that explained, “Cyclist’s Holiday: He and his friends terrorize a town.”
The Biker Lifestyle
And, of course, it was all a lie: The story, the caption, the way Eddie was posed. Nobody was really terrorized. Maybe annoyed but not terrorized. The Marlon Brando movie based on the magazine story, The Wild One, was also a lie. It was the first big lie about bikers. Describing bikers as town terrorizers makes us sound more interesting than we actually are.
Nobody wants to know that you are a roofer or that you work in a warehouse and your boss is a moron. People want to hear about the gang bangs, the gun fights, the hidden bodies and that thousand mile ride through that forest fire you took that time.
Boring and frustrated though we may actually be it remains our most important job to be an outlaw inspiration to all the many good citizens.
Using Us To Sell Them
Which explains much about the America we now inhabit. Our fair land is now crawling with outlaw accountants and dentists and stock salesmen wearing “genuine,” $60, work gloves and putting around their gated enclaves on six figure “choppers.” The reality of being a biker is much less important than the marketing concept of “biker.” Look at how Harley-Davidson sells its motorcycles. Better yet, look at how Harley sells tee shirts.
The town of Hollister has been trying to sell itself by cashing in on its “biker” history for more than a decade. Some years, although unfortunately not this year, Hollister in San Benito County in California has allowed a biker rally to commemorate that “first motorcycle riot.”
Now Abercrombie & Fitch, the floundering, flamingly gay “casual wear” retailer says it owns Hollister. Hollister, the retailer claims, is an “American lifestyle brand.” If you have kids you probably already know this but some people in the town of Hollister are just learning now.
Cue The Corporate Zombies
The soulless, corporate zombies who run Abercrombie & Fitch have sent cease and desist letters to various merchants in Hollister. The company claims it has trademarked the name “Hollister” and will spare no legal expense to protect its intellectual property.
Last month, one of these zombies told the Los Angeles Times that if merchants in Hollister “try” to sell tee shirts with the copyrighted brand name Hollister on them “they would get a phone call and much more.”
Most the these tee-shirt outlaws are so terrorized by the corporate zombies that they refuse to talk on the record. Jessica French of the local Chamber of Commerce got up the courage to tell CBS, “We’re hoping we’re within the law to legally market our community as a geographical location.” Hoping. She is hoping.
Jessica, let us give you some free advice. It is guaranteed to be worth at least twice the price.
Take another look at Eddie Davenport. Now, ask yourself how he might react to Abercrombie & Fitch.
Now, maybe you should go tell the zombies that Abercrombie & Fitch should have picked themselves a different name. Maybe the name Hollister was already taken. Maybe they should stop terrorizing your town. Because, maybe Hollister is already somebody else’s town to terrorize.
Maybe Big Eddie Davenport already owns Hollister and he always will.