Stephen Crane described joining a motorcycle club. “I stood upon a high place…” Crane wrote in a slim little book called The Black Riders in 1895.
And saw, below, many devils
and carousing in sin.
One looked up, grinning,
And said, “Comrade! Brother!”
Ruben “Doc” Cavazos, the International President of the Mongols Motorcycle Club ain’t exactly Stephen Crane. But he has also written and published a book. Cavazos’ book is titled Honor Few, Fear None: The Life & Times of A Mongol. It was published this summer by William Morrow.
Read This Book
You can get it anywhere for under 20 bucks and everyone should read this book. Cops should read it. All manner of agents should read it -talent agents, literary agents, federal agents, arguably even real estate agents who might want to help the Mongols rent club houses.
The entire cast and crew and all the producers of FX TV’s Sons of Anarchy would be well served by reading this book. It would increase their knowledge of the outlaw world exponentially.
Anyone who enjoys “tell-all books” should read, or at least buy, this book.
At Least Buy This Book
Joan Collins, Kirk Douglas, Fran Drescher, Goldie Hawn, Cameron Diaz, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, with whom Doc Cavazos now shares a Beverly Hills agent, should also all read this book.
Everyone who reads this far in this review is now required by law to buy at least two copies of this “…stunning, never-before-told story.”
And, those of you who have never heard of the Mongols yet are still wondering how this “…stunning, never-before-told story.” came into being should know that, “The Mongols, a tightly knit band of brothers, are considered by the FBI as one of the most ruthless gangs in the country and when they wanted to find a book deal and manager, they strolled into the office of Alan Nevins of The Firm.”
Give This Book This Christmas
So, to sum up this first part of this review, BUY THIS BOOK! And, should you ever actually meet a Mongol, at say a swap meet, if you go to swap meets, if you know what a swap meet is, and you should happen to engage that Mongol in small talk, which is never going to happen but it might, be sure to tell him that you bought a copy of Doc’s book and the reason you bought it is because you read about it here and you thought it sounded like a “…stunning, never-before-told story.”
Also, try to remember that as a rule Mongols tend to appreciate irony a little less than, say, Hessians. And, whatever else you do, try to avoid discussing the rest of this review. Because this is the part of the review that actually reviews Doc Cavazos’ book.
AMF Bike Means Requires Rebuild
If you have been around Harleys long enough to know what an AMF bike is you will probably pick up this memoir and wonder why. Why?
Sure, Sonny Barger wrote a memoir after he had been in the Hells Angels forever. But all along, Barger had had celebrity thrust upon him by Hunter Thompson, Ken Kesey, Jack Nicholson and about half the names in the Big Encyclopedia of Who Was Who in the Sixties. Sonny Barger’s celebrity is a special case.
Johnny Ringo never wrote a book. Al Capone, Billy the Kid, John Dillinger, and Bonnie and Clyde never wrote autobiographies although Bonnie wrote some bad poetry. John Gotti, who was practically a movie star, never wrote The Life and Times of a Gambino.
The End Of Privacy
Maybe this is an unfair observation. Maybe now the Gotti memoir would be about to become a major motion picture staring Adrien Grenier. Who knows? This may be the dawn of the bright, new, post-privacy age.
But if you have been around bikes and bikers for decades the first time you see this book you are probably going to cringe. Then if you manage to get past that, if you pick the book up and read it, you might actually start to learn something about the world in which you live.
A Brief History of Motorcycling
There have been three generations in the motorcycle outlaw world.
With all due respect to the Boozefighters, the Top Hatters and the other originals, Version 1.0 of the clubs that wear a three-piece patch came along in the 1950s. Call that the juvenile delinquent generation.
Version 2.0 blossomed in the 1970s, after Vietnam. Bikers actually started talking about their “lifestyle.” Many bikers enjoyed consuming, sharing and sometimes even selling psychoactive substances. And, motorcycle clubs were a refuge for any number of alienated and disprized Vietnam Vets who liked pretty bikes, easy women and untraceable guns. There must have been at least a thousand clubs in the 70s. Call that the counter-culture generation.
Honor Few Fear None is about Version 3.0 of the motorcycle club.
Inspired By Easyriders Magazine
Doc Cavazos never learned to ride a motorcycle until 1995. He was the son of a mother he never really knew and an immigrant father who worked hard all the time. He grew up working class in East Los Angeles. And because of social and economic pressures which no one with any political power will acknowledge let alone fix Cavazos, like thousands of other young men, fell in with a clique.
Cavazos rolled with The Avenues. He worked on his reputation, collected charges and fathered a son he loved. During a long and typically annoying stretch in County Jail he shared a cell with a man who subscribed to Easyriders magazine. When he got out he decided not to go back to a cell. He also decided to buy a bike.
He worked hard, got what he wanted and taught himself to ride. Cavazos is Mexican-American and he fell in with the Mongols who have always been a predominantly, but not exclusively, Mexican-American club.
The Mongols have been around since the beginning of the Version 2.0 club. Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura rode with the Mongols in the 70s. The Mongols have always worn a “California” bottom rocker on their patch which led to troubles with the Hells Angels but the club survived. Anyone who saw them in the 90s would have thought they were formidable.
When Cavazos joined he saw something different. He saw a club that was about to crumble.
By his account Cavazos joined the Mongols without prospecting. Simultaneously he patched in an entire chapter, the Pico Chapter, in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles.
“During my first year in the club, I brought in two hundred new members,” Cavazos writes. “That was the problem.”
The Version 3.0 Club
It was a problem, according to the book, for some long-standing members of the Mongols. The problem was that most of these new patch holders were ex-gang members first and big, loud motorcycle enthusiasts second. It was also a problem because these new members tended to be more loyal to Cavazos than to the existing club hierarchy. And, it was a problem because some of the old-guard club members began to resent Cavazos.
Eventually Cavazos remade the club in his own image. He had some help from the tragic Billy Queen.
Queen was an undercover Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent who patched with the Mongols, rode with them, and then after he found out that he thoroughly enjoyed many of them he ratted them out. The arrests after Queen came in from the cold shook up the Mongol’s leadership.
Buy This Book
Queen, who the New York Times described as “vainglorious” and “roosterlike,” wrote his own best-selling book about the Mongols, Under and Alone: The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America’s Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang, and between television appearances he now lives in an “undisclosed location.” Probably some place swell. Possibly Tuscany or the South of France.
Queen’s betrayal provided Cavazos the opportunity to solidify his control of his club. And now Cavazos has memorialized his triumph with a book. Buy the book. Really.