SAMCRO And History

September 7, 2010

All Posts, Features, Reviews

The third season of the FX Network’s most successful show just debuted.

It is called Sons of Anarchy and last year’s conclusion featured 4.3 million viewers rooting for an outlaw motorcycle club. Maybe that is the best thing about this show. Maybe there is more. I am still sort of glancing at the television out of the corner of my eye as I write this so not even I yet know.

Hey! Is that Long Beach or San Pedro?

The club in the show is poetically inspired by the Hells Angels who are, apparently, not yet famous enough. The Sons’ fiercest enemies are called the Mayans but when you hear Mayans you are supposed to think Mongols. Some of the motorcycle extras who work on the show are actually Vagos. I cannot begin to guess how many of those 4.3 million viewers know that Loki is the Norse god of mischief.

I am pretty sure that most of the people who will read this do not give a damn about the Byzantine subtleties of the outlaw world. Most people will read this because they can’t get enough of the show. A month from now or a year from now they will surf around and eventually they will stumble upon this. Most of you – believe me I know – simply yearn to get your outlaw on and you call the show SAMCRO.

The rest of you need to know that SAMCRO is the acronym for the “Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Originals” and that is the name of the mother charter for this club. It is the charter to which the lead actors all belong. The Sons of Anarchy call them “charters” in the manner of the Angels, not “chapters” like almost everybody else.

Welcome SAMCRO visitors! Please wait patiently while the people who do not watch your show catch up.


Sons of Anarchy is produced by an interesting man named Kurt Sutter and is based on an idea for a show by John Linson. Linson has great Hollywood connections and a deep admiration for the Angels. The show stars Ron Perlman as the Vietnam Vet, Charlie Hunnam as the sexy beast and Sutter’s wife, Katey Sagal, as the GILF with a heart of stone.

SOA is a soap opera, heavily marbled with poignant musical interludes, but it is sold as an inside look at what it is really like to be an outlaw biker. The show hit the air less than two months after Dave Burgess was framed on a child porn charge; the same summer John McCain showed up at the Buffalo Chip to campaign and pledged to carry Sarah Palin to Washington on the back of his bike; the summer of the celebrity of Doc Cavazos; about the time Mark Papa Guardado died in a street fight in San Francisco; and, a month before Manual Vincent Hitman Martin was assassinated on the Glendale Freeway at the conclusion of Operation Black Rain. So naturally, the first season of SOA chose to shoehorn its characters into a reworking of Hamlet.

That reimagining of Hamlet seemed grandiose then. Two years later, a week after Mama Sarah Palin explained her mispronunciation of repudiate as refudiate by comparing herself to Hamlet’s original author – that Shakespeare guy – Sutter’s artistic choice seems almost reasonable.

Well, Do You Punk

At the time of the show’s premiere, certain stupid, cynical and unimportant people speculated that SOA became a version of Hamlet for the same reason that Apocalypse Now became a retelling of Heart of Darkness: Because Sutter didn’t know any more about the outlaw world than Francis Ford Coppola knew about Vietnam. And this led to the facile conclusion that SAMCRO was approximately as much about one percenters as the Air Force is about whales. I must admit I was one of those stupid, cynical and unimportant people. The overwhelming consensus is that I was wrong.

Many people have labored to correct me. Just last month a correspondent deeply committed to the SAMCRO cult reprimanded me for all the mean things I have said about the show so far: You know, things like Sutter matters less than a fly that crawled up under my balls and died this one time in the Sierras; or “I would rather watch The Terror of Tiny Town, the musical western with the all midget cast that is usually considered to be the worst movie ever made;” or the show is “…sort of like if the Jonas Brothers covered ‘Ain’t Nutt’n But A G Thing’ as an homage to Compton;” or “Perlman walks like he shit his pants and he looks like he can smell it.” Mean, things like that.

“Rebel you act like you are an authority in this shit, but if you were to talk like this around some people you would be likely to get a .45 ACP hollow point between your eyes,” the SAMCRO cultist counseled me. “Don’t be such a douche. Remember this. I’ll see you around and you won’t see me. I only have to be lucky once. You have to be lucky all the time.”

Well yes, punk. Now that you bring it up, as a matter of fact I do feel lucky. All the time. With every breath. But I see your point. Possibly I was out of line. I should give Sons of Anarchy another look to see if it has changed or I have changed. And, oh just in passing, isn’t this dark corner of niche market, new media journalism kind of interesting in a sordid sort of way? Okay, well maybe not really.

Oh look! Gemma just tried to geld some guy!

But while we are flirting with journalism an interesting question about SAMCRO remains unanswered from two years ago. Why is Sutter doing this show? Why not a show about writers? Why not a show about making a show about outlaw bikers? Or, about the nutty but lovable, gun toting fans who adore the show? Why not a show about Air Force commandos who save whales? Why a show about bikers?

Sutter Explains

“Vicarious badassary,” Sutter explains. “I’m just a shy, fat kid from Jersey who always wanted to be a badass and have brothers who would stand up for me. Most of my work…has always spun a tale of the dangerous antihero whom we love and fear. That’s what I want to be.”

Sutter is a respectful and intelligent man who intends for his television show to be an “homage” to modern outlaws. “Yes, I’m a Hollywood guy and I’ve not lived the life,” he says. “But, the entertainment and literary landscape would be very boring if writers only wrote about the worlds they live in…. I know I take a lot of creative license…. At the end of the day it’s a soap opera and I need conflict, humor and drama. I know a good percentage of the biker community balk at the show and think it’s bullshit.”

I think it is wonderful of Sutter to say this. At least he knows.

What Real Journalism Looks Like

Regrettably, the humanoids who sell the show to the good citizens still do not. The actors may or may not know.

Who can tell with actors? Do actors ever know the difference between fantasy and reality? What is reality, anyway?

Over Labor Day weekend the El Lay Times ran two feature articles and produced a video about the show in advance of tonight’s historic event. The marketing theme this year, as it has been every year, is credibility. The show is promoted as a real life look at what it is really like to be a dangerous biker and that verisimilitude is enhanced, the sheeple are told, because the actors really are dangerous bikers.

This may not have been literally true two years ago, an angular blonde employee of the Times named Susan Carpenter tacitly acknowledges. But since the show became a sensation the actors have, “blurred the line between the riders they play on TV and the riders they’ve actually become in real life…. So you guys are winning like, major credibility points here.” I find myself oddly attracted to Carpenter as she gushes at these actors seductively. She conducts her interview while seated at a table in the SAMCRO “clubhouse.”

I imagine her spread eagled, glassy eyed and glistening upon the table. I imagine us all reaching into a hat and drawing out slips of paper. Each slip of paper has a number written on it. I am number one.

Carpenter also learns that all the SAMCRO patch holders now know how to ride a motorcycle. Isn’t that fantastic? They go out in little packs and clock a buck on the freeway. I don’t know if they do this splitting lanes on the 105 but I have learned that they get tickets and talk smack at other riders on Pacific Coast Highway. One of them once went over the high side. These guys, I am told, are the real deal. And the show is the real deal the marketers insist even if Sutter does not. Between the production and the peddling an alchemy occurs which turns this solder into gold. It is real. This is how things are. This is your life, Bugger Butch.

Bugger Butch is number fourteen.

Fuck Sturgis! Let’s Ride To Ireland!

So naturally, this year, some fraction of this true life motorcycle drama will be set in Ireland. Because the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club is an organized, hierarchically structured, criminal enterprise. Because that is how real motorcycle clubs roll and the ATF – let us call their lead investigator Madonna the Midget – has not yet noticed this. This is the way the world works.

Oh look! Now there is a drive-by shooting at a funeral. The shooters also off a cop. I believe the shooters are supposed to be Mayans. One of them falls out of a van. Now Jax beatsthe guy’s face into the pavement. Why do all the cops just stand there and watch?

The principal business of the Sons of Anarchy organized criminal gang is selling guns – which some stupid, cynical and unimportant people might think would be right up the ATF’s alley. But, probably the ATF is distracted by its nine-year-long prosecution of the Mayans. Anyway, the SOA gang, which seems to claim some part of California and also territory in Oregon – which I believe are on the West Coast – is connected to Ireland because Ireland is where the club buys its guns. Then the SOA organized criminal gang unloads those guns somewhere in America. Maybe they sell Irish guns at gun shows in Arizona. Just like the real biker “gangs” the show means to honor. You know, because guns are so hard to get in this country and so easy to get in Europe. Just as in the real world cocaine is smuggled from its source in Finland to its principal market in Columbia.

Last year, this gun business got Charlie Hunnum’s infant kidnapped. The baby was transported to Ireland where the little innocent soon fell into the hands of a Catholic priest. So to rescue the kid from parochial school and who knows what else the SOA criminal enterprise must travel to Ireland. Because that is how the world works.

Tens And Tens Of Millions

“Sutter wanted to ship the entire cast to Ireland for shooting, but FX vetoed that idea,” another of the Los Angeles Times legion of writers, Scott Collins, reports. The network balked.

Scott Collins draws number 106.

“It’s probably not easy to do really big-canvas, epic things in general, but it’s really hard to do it on a basic-cable budget,” FX president John Landgraf said. Landgraf’s wife, Ally Walker, plays a federal agent on the show. She may have framed Katey Sagal. I am not absolutely sure. And only a cynic would speculate about what her recurring role says about which shows get produced in Hollywood and which do not. “It’s hard for Kurt to be a guy who runs a production that spends tens and tens of millions of dollars and has a lot of accountants and production people around…. I have no doubt there’s a certain amount of pain for Kurt in that process.”

Last year one of the accountants made the mistake of trying to get Sutter to commit to a number. Sutter replied, “Crawl out of my ass and let me do my fucking job.”

“They slapped me with a hostile work environment claim,” Sutter says. “Which I proudly display on my wall next to my ‘Hells Angels Forever’ poster, signed by Sonny.”

“He’s just very honest,” his wife – who may or may not geld guys in real life – explained to the Times. “He just kind of tells it like it is, in his mind. He’s an emotional guy, that’s what I would say.”

Sutter’s honesty extends to the blog he uses to promote SOA – Sutterink. When the Emmy Awards ignored Sons of Anarchy last year Sutter called the voters “lazy sheep.” The post was accompanied by a still photo from the movie The Wild One. The implication was that Sutter more strongly identifies with a biker named Johnny than with his less authentic Hollywood peers. He later apologized but he kept the warning letter from the suits framed on his wall next to the signed poster.

A year and a half ago, when he discovered that an obscure website had given his show a sarcastic review, Sutter stood up to that critic too. “Some old biker dude has decided to slam the show six months after it finished,” he complained. When the old biker dude promised Sutter that this year’s season would get a good review Sutter replied, “Please don’t write me a good review. Write an honest review. I can take it.”


Honestly, Sutter’s defenders have a point. Why single him out?

Practically everything everyone has said about the outlaw world in the last sixty-five years is bullshit. And there is a huge audience for this bullshit. And honestly, forty-five years from now SAMCRO will be regarded as history. “Whether you like it or not,” as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom once famously taunted opponents of gay marriage.

Whether you like it or not, the outlaw slice of the Americana pie is forever flavored by the “Hollister Riot” and by Hunter Thompson’s “definitive” book. Some of you know this. The SAMCRO visitors probably do not.

Attention SAMCRO visitors! Whether you like it or not!


A traveling motorcycle festival called the Gypsy Tour came to Hollister, California on the second Independence Day after the end of the greatest war – the last war America actually won. The tour attracted about a thousand riders. Most of them belonged to motorcycle clubs. And those clubs were not much different than the thousands of other depression era clubs – car clubs, stamp clubs, sewing clubs, political clubs. The clubs were cheap and easy. Nobody prospected. They gave people something to do one night each week and they provided a pre-assembled circle of friends. Some of those clubs, like the Macomb Outlaws Motorcycle Club have evolved and survived to this day.

That Fourth of July weekend some of the young, recently discharged veterans in the throng got out of hand. Today, the behavior would hardly be noticed. Today, if it was noticed at all, it would probably be analyzed as post-traumatic stress disorder. Some guys got drunk and went giddy on freedom. No bars were actually taken over for burnout contests. No virgins were gang raped. In fact, no windows were actually broken. But authority was disobeyed.

Bikers raced in the streets and ignored the police who told them to stop. The peace was disturbed. Citizens were alarmed that their bucolic town had been invaded by strangers and police were astounded that their authority was ignored. The town’s handful of police called for reinforcements. A couple of California Highway Patrolmen were dispatched to Hollister and the mob ignored them, too.

What seemed to matter at the time was that the depression and the Second World War had broken something in America. Suddenly, strangers felt no shame at barging into someone else’s town and disturbing the peace. They laughed at the moral and symbolic authority of the police. A thousand bikers dared a handful of cops to try to physically restrain them. The police called it a riot. Eventually it became something else.

Reporting The Riot

The event scarcely made the newspapers because there were no newspaper reporters there to see it. But the panic and consternation the police felt did leak to the outside world by two-way radio. An old fashioned radio-scanner in the newsroom of the San Francisco Chronicle eavesdropped on the unfolding drama. A night editor at the Chronicle sent a reporter named C. J. Doughty and a photographer named Barney Peterson down to Hollister to see what was going on. It was mostly all over when Doughty and Peterson arrived.

But this was the golden age of print journalism and when an editor told you to go get a story with pix you came back with a story with pix and Barney Peterson did his job. He shot a series of photographs of a fat, drunken man sitting on a motorcycle. The original photos are still in the Chronicle’s morgue and anyone who has ever watched a news photographer stage a shot can still hear Peterson’s voice just by looking at them.

“Can we get the Johnny’s Bar and Grill sign in the frame? Can we stand up some beer bottles around this guy’s feet? More beer bottles. Eddie, drape your jacket over your shoulder. No, no, put it back on. More bottles. Knock them over. Eddie, hold this bottle in your other hand like you’re drinking from two bottles at once. Careful Eddie! Don’t fall down yet!”

The Chronicle never ran any of Peterson’s shots although it will now sell you a print of one of them. You can buy a copy of the photo that ran on page 31 of the July 21, 1947, edition of Life magazine. In that photo the front wheel of the motorcycle and the fat lout’s feet are lapped by a pond of empty beer bottles. The photo accompanied a story about the “Hollister Motorcycle Riots” and the caption under the photo read, “Cyclist’s Holiday: He and his friends terrorize a town.”

Cyclists Raid

The photo and the event it was supposed to represent mortified all of the respectable motorcycling world. These hoodlums who had terrorized this town were not even members of the American Motorcyclist Association which, since 1924, had been the official sanctioning body of American motorcycle clubs; dedicated to “protecting the future of motorcycling, and promoting the motorcycle lifestyle of “freedom on two wheels.” The AMA should not be held responsible for these rascals because it had no authority over them. They were “outlaws” and they represented at most only “one percent” of the motorcycling community.

“Yeah,” the young veterans replied grinning, over and over. “We’re one percenter outlaws. Yeah.”

The drunken oaf in the photo was probably a Tulare Rider named Eddie Davenport and he seems to have simply dropped into this world for a few moments in 1947, existed long enough for Peterson to take his picture and then he vanished. As we all vanish. As most of us are never really here.

But his picture caught a great, rolling wave of fame. A writer named Frank Rooney was inspired by the photo to write a short story called “Cyclists Raid.” It was the original portrayal of outlaw bikers – the source for everything since.

“I’m Gar Simpson and this is troop B of the Angeleno Motorcycle Club,” Rooney’s “tall, spare” and “coldly courteous” anti-hero introduced himself. “Like all the others he was dressed in a brown windbreaker, khaki shirt, khaki pants” and “dark calf-length boots.”

“Where do you go after this,” Rooney’s host asked the young pack of frighteningly disciplined veterans.


“What are you interested in mainly?”

“Roads. Naturally, being a motorcycle club – you’d be surprised at the rate we’re expanding – we’d like to have as much of California as possible opened up to us.”

It was a frightening and thoughtful interpretation of the “Hollister Riot.” It might have even been true. It might have been the last true thing written about motorcycle outlaws.

America had sent young men off to conquer the Pacific and conquer Europe. Then they had returned changed and with no other worlds left to conquer they threatened to conquer their own country. Harpers ran the story in the January 1951 issue. It was anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 1952 and on the last weekend in 1953 it was released in its theatrical incarnation – as a movie called The Wild One starring a sullen and rebellious actor named Marlon Brando and featuring a very edgy one named Lee Marvin. The anti-hero’s name was changed from Gar to Johnny. And, the movie, as movies always do, distilled Rooney’s story into something entirely different and new. The Wild One became one of three classic films – along with Rebel Without A Cause and Blackboard Jungle – to dramatize the emerging threat of “juvenile delinquency.”

“Hey Johnny,” a puzzled and innocent girl with an obviously pre-atom age mind asks the leader of the pack. “What are you rebelling against?”

And Johnny sneers. “What’ve you got?” It was a line that struck a chord deep in the American soul.

It struck so deep a chord that it seems to still sound in Kurt Sutter’s heart. Johnny the rebellious punk, not Eddie the happy drunk or Gar the lost soldier became the poster boy for outlaw bikers.

The Invention Of Gonzo Super Freak

About a decade later, Hunter Thompson wrote a quasi-novel about motorcycle outlaws called Hell’s Angels. Starting with the title, the book was an obvious compromise between what Thompson saw and what Random House wanted to sell. Thompson’s editor, the now sainted James H. Silberman, insisted that the title must be spelled with an apostrophe on the assumption that the Angels were too stupid to know how to spell their own name. Silberman had edited James Jones, James Baldwin and Thomas Pynchon. At the time he had just edited Richard Farina’s Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me which begins with the words “I soon must quit the scene” and ends with a postscript explaining that the author had died in a motorcycle accident. Silberman could sell ice cubes to Eskimos.

Meanwhile Thompson, before he met Silberman and mutated into Gonzo Super Freak, had been heavily influenced by the postwar, social novelist Nelson Algren. Early in Hell’s Angels, Thompson describes the outlaws he met as “Linkhorns” after the dope smoking, brawling, white trash family in Algren’s novel A Walk On The Wild Side. Algren thought that book was his masterpiece. He described it as a parable about suffering, compassion and “the human basis of our democracy.” It was a book about what should matter in America – about what was noble in the least of Americans. And, Thompson seems to have intended to write to the same theme when he began his tale about bikers.

“It would not be fair to say that all motorcycle outlaws carry Linkhorn genes,” Thompson explained, “but nobody who has ever spent time among the inbred Anglo-Saxon tribes of Appalachia would need more than a few hours with the Hells Angels to work up a very strong sense of déjà vu. There is the same sulking hostility toward ‘outsiders,’ the same extremes of temper and action, and even the same names, sharp faces and long-boned bodies that never look quite natural unless they are leaning on something. Most of the Angels are Anglo-Saxons, but the Linkhorn attitude is contagious. The few outlaws with Mexican or Italian names not only act like the others but somehow look like them. Even Chinese Mel from Frisco and Charley, a young Negro from Oakland, have the Linkhorn gait and mannerisms.”

But Hell’s Angels, of course, turned out not to be about the Hells Angels. It could not be because Thompson never really found much to say except, “Look at me! I can puke on my shoes!” When Thompson looked at the outlaw world he saw a pathetically mundane reflection. He reported that almost everything everyone said about the Hells Angels was, “to a large extent untrue” because the United States was under the influence of “a national rape mania” and a “need for mythic villains; and the press has been more than willing to satisfy both.”

Then Thompson and Silberman, the consort dancing together or taking turns, turned Hell’s Angels into something sensational that would sell. Big chunks of the book are wonderful lies. The most dramatic of those is that Thompson was the moth who flew too close to the flame; that he lived on the razor’s edge; that he danced with danger for just a few minutes too long and danger made him pay; that even to write about the outlaw world is dangerous.

The Horror, The Horror

Thompson ends his Strange And Terrible Saga Of The Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs by claiming, “On Labor Day 1966, I pushed my luck a little too far and got badly stomped by four or five Angels who seemed to feel I was taking advantage of them. A minor disagreement suddenly become very serious.”

The Angels tell a different story. Thompson was a flawed man; an alcoholic who liked to play nasty practical jokes; and just the sort of orphan who gets adopted by a motorcycle club. But he kept his distance from them and he lied – which is considered a more terrible sin among motorcycle outlaws than among politicians, publishers or even television producers. Thompson promised the Angels beer and eventually it became obvious that he had lied. It was not the beer that mattered. It was the lie.

Thompson also made sure the Angels knew he didn’t want to become one of them. Then after a year of getting on everybody’s nerves, he interjected himself into a domestic dispute. Whether he was morally right to do so or not is beside the point. Most people know better than to try to rescue a woman from her husband. Thompson, for whatever it reveals about him and however dangerous he actually found the Angels to be, did not.

What happened was that an Angel named “Junkie George” was slapping his wife around. Of course, George should not have beaten his wife. He should have nurtured and treasured her but sometimes in the course of human events men beat their wives. I have never heard why George started hitting his wife. Maybe she confessed to turning tricks. Maybe she confessed to turning tricks and not giving any of the money to him. Maybe she burned the pork chops – again.

Thompson was about ten yards away when Junkie George exploded. George’s dog was closer. The dog took the wife’s side and bit his master. So, then George kicked his dog. Which was precisely the moment when Thompson chose to counsel George that, “Only a punk beats his wife and kicks his dog.”

George punched Thompson and, as is the custom in motorcycle clubs, “three or four” other club brothers were honor bound to punch Thompson, too. “We let them beat him up for a minute,” a witness named Sonny Barger has said, “then we broke it up and told him to get out of here and he left and got in his car.”

The incident was not as good as actually dying in a motorcycle accident as Farina had done but it still provided exactly the dramatically satisfying conclusion Thompson and Silberman had been searching for. “My face looked like it had been jammed into the spokes of a speeding Harley, and the only thing keeping me awake was a broken rib,” Thompson wrote at the conclusion of his book. Then he quoted the most famous line from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. “The horror! The horror! … Exterminate all the brutes!”

Barger dismisses that last bit as “malarkey” and deconstructs the memorable image of Thompson’s badly beaten face as “his style of writing.”


So these define the high standards up to which Sons of Anarchy must live: The Wild One and Hunter Thompson. Personally, I think the show deserves at least a C. At least Sutter has not yet started plagiarizing Joseph Conrad.

And that, lamentably, is a nice as the old, biker dude gets. At least until someone arranges for Susan Carpenter to be stripped, scrubbed and brought to his tent.

These poor, empty words, these uninteresting stories, you and everything you think you know, your motorcycle, your patch and your brothers, your scars, tattoos, loves, mistakes and enemies are all a smoke that will soon vanish. As Eddie Davenport vanished. As Junkie George, his old lady and his dog all vanished.

We are all only an insubstantial pageant and already we have begun to fade. Only DVDs live forever. Behold the great, inescapable, all devouring shark’s jaws of history. There can be only one. And of us all, only SAMCRO will survive.

By about the year 2055 Sons of Anarchy will be the definitive source for people who wonder about who you were. Whether you like it or not. So you might as well watch. Whether you like it or not.


Oh! The show is over. It must have ended sometime when I was talking about nothing. I will have to catch the rerun.

The show runs all the time on FX. If you want to know exactly when go the El Lay Times website. They are very good at reporting things like that.

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193 Responses to “SAMCRO And History”

  1. Rebel Says:

    Dear OnerEye,

    Since I like to sell books, it make me happy, let me help you. Go to Amazon. Search “Donald Charles Davis.” It will probably be about two thirds of a way down the page. The Working Press. It will be on Kindle sometime, probably in 3 weeks. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. It will eat up about a month of your life. I think it is about 215,000 words. This is some of the shit I do when I am not writing here. That and, like, copy for crap copy like “How a payday cash loan can get you out of debt” and “Why now is the time to buy a condo in San Francisco.”

    Thanks for reading,

  2. OneEye Says:

    Rebel, FYI, “The Working Press” didn’t appear on the search I did on I did, however, find the other book I was told that you wrote.

  3. OneEye Says:

    I’m on it. As far as Kurt Sutter goes: I read an interview and in it he referred to himself as, “the man who called Chuck Zito out.” I don’t know Chuck Zito personally, but I have seen him and read about him. I’ve heard it said that the most dangerous thing a man can do is believe his own hype and his own bullshit. It sounds like Kurt is in over his head. Respects.

  4. Rebel Says:

    Dear OneEye,

    Thank you very much. I have a new book (well it isn’t actually new, it is-ten-years old) up on Amazon called The Working Press. It is a very long novel, if you are into that sort of thing. So it will probably take you some time to read it if you need your money’s worth. Some of it cracks me up. Fair amount of sex, too.

    Just saying, you know.


  5. OneEye Says:

    Rebel, you crack me up. I’ve read two of your books and I hope your plans include continuing to write for a long time to come. Respects.

  6. Grumbler Says:

    There’s a photo on the internet of a dude wearing SOA soft colors with a Sturgis bottom rocker. Next to him is a woman wearing a t-shirt with “Support Your Local FAKE Motorcycle Club” on the back. Snerk.

  7. RVN69 Says:

    you do know that “Fan” is short for Fanatic! You know that people really think you are a fucking goof when you wear that SOA shit, just like they did of people who wore that Batman shit too, just saying.

  8. sled tramp Says:

    Got a ridin’ buddy for ya (HEY UMMMMMMM!)
    And I mean riding buddy in the sickest way…….

  9. Rashomon Says:

    We ran into a guy a couple of weeks back wearing an SOA cut at one of those indoor go-kart racing places. Couldn’t resist taking the piss so we asked where he got it – he proudly told us he bought it at the mall but when we asked if it came with health insurance he said that he had to be somewhere and beat a hasty retreat.

    Someday when he runs into a patch holder and catches a beating, maybe he’ll sue FX or whoever makes money out of the SOA merchandizing for not putting warning labels on the jackets explaining the possible consequences of wearing it in public.

  10. Austin Says:

    @Glenn S.
    I was wondering about that photo op myself… perhaps 24:07 is comfortable hanging with his buds – no matter who is dressed up as what.

  11. Glenn S. Says:


    Putting the self-made cut issue aside for a moment, why in the hell would you want to have your picture taken with cops? Looking out my window, I can see that my dog took a monsterous shit out in the yard. I don’t want a picture of me standing beside it, cut or no cut. The cops probably got a laugh out of you, and they were laughing at you, not with you, just as my dog probably would if I immortalized myself and his pile of shit in a photograph.

    I kinda like the TV show myself. But I realize that its for entertainment value only. I like Star Trek too, but I think its laughably absurd when grown men dress like Mr. Spock. It illustrates a lack of self esteem when somebody tries to pretend to be something they are not.

  12. rollinnorth Says:

    Yeah, Bob, I read Batman comics before there was that Madam West TV show.

  13. rollinnorth Says:

    Stupidity will be painful.

  14. bob Says:

    24:07,in what state do you wear this hard-earned(LOL) cut?Of course you took a photo-op with those gentlemen.Even in my mellow home state of Va.there’d be an ass-whuppin’,and I’m only thinking about independents and civilians.Nobody likes a dumbass.You got a sister?Shit man,I remember Batman ’66.

  15. Elric42 Says:

    24:07, I bet the cops would not have been so accommodating had you stood next to them dressed in self-made cop uniforms.

    Try standing next to members of an outlaw club in your self-made cut.

    When you wear a batman t-shirt, no one is really dumb enough to think you are actually batman. But, wear your self-made cut and do something stupid, most people will not know the difference or care about the difference between you and a member of an actual MC.

  16. 24:07 Says:

    Why are we all making such a fuss over a TELEVISION SHOW???!!!! Look, I’m a rabid fan of the show, and I also own a self made cut. I wear it, I get no threats, just admiration. I even took a pic with cops who are also fellow fans of the show. I’m not trying to join an MC. I’m merely a fan. Most of us who parade around in our cuts, t-shirts or what have you are exactly that. Fans. Remember Batman, 1989? Everybody and their mother had a damned Batman t-shirt. Don’t even get me started on The Simpsons. We as SOA fans are just that. Just leave us be! We’re actually good guys: DAMN!

  17. RVN69 Says:

    Given that the majority of the cases they present against us are fiction, I guess it is understandable that they use a fictional TV show to bolster their case.

    Honesta Mors, Turpi Vita Potior.

  18. Shyster Says:


    You are absolutely right about the “jury pool taint effect” of that fucken show. In every MC case I have taken to jury trial the damn DA has brought up Sons of Anarchy in voir dire.


  19. RVN69 Says:

    Devil Dog,
    You may be right and I am too old and grumpy to change. Actually don’t watch much TV anyway and when I do it is most likely to be a show about ancient history(Romans or Vikings)or dinosaurs!
    If you are no longer on active service, good luck with the rest of your life, if you are still active stay safe and remember Murphy’s Laws of combat.

    Honesta Mors, Turpi Vita Potior.

  20. Devil Dog Says:

    Semper Fi to you, I appreciate your service very much.

    You mean not all MC members are meth/pot heads? I never would have thought that with all the depictions of you guys on TV shows and movies as being such.

    I of course am kidding, that is my point exactly. I know the depictions of Marines on film range from downright lies “The Marine” starring some professional wrestler, to actually being fairly accurate “Generation Kill” on HBO. I guess I realize that not all portrayals are going to be even close to how it is in real life so I don’t take them to be. As with SOA, and others, I know that 90% of it is sensational crap, I know that you aren’t all drugged out hardcore gun runners.

    I take it for what it is, a fictionalized portrayal of a certain group of people. I am a lover of motorcycles and get a kick out of any type of medium that has to do with the subject of motorcycles. I do agree that there isn’t enough bike riding! But the show would get a little boring with them just riding around for the whole show.

    I truly don’t have prejudice towards clubs, I was meaning that in a tongue and cheek way. I don’t believe what is portrayed is the way things are. I actually don’t watch a whole lot of TV, but if there is a show on about bikes (Biker Build-off’s, Sturgis Documentaries, etc) I am going to be watching it.

    I just don’t think that you guys are justified in your worry about how you guys will be thought of. If you don’t like the show, because of what you said in your second post, that is a different story. Rail away against it if you feel that they are bad actors! You are right on the poor firearms handling, it is abysmal! :)

  21. RVN69 Says:

    Devil Dog,
    I should have added the other reasons I dislike this show, lousy over the top acting, not nearly enough bike riding, poor firearms handling, unbelievable story lines. Yes I know it is fiction, but the difference between good fiction and bad fiction is that with good fiction you suspend your disbelief, with bad fiction you have to eradicate it!

    Honesta Mors, Turpi Vita Potior.

  22. RVN69 Says:

    Devil Dog,
    Having a little trouble sleeping tonight, PTSD will do that to you. Do you enjoy the bizarre, incorrect depictions of Marines that used by movies and tv? You worked hard for that EGA, I know (USMC 68-72, Vietnam 69-70) doesn’t it bother you when people use the service you worked so hard to obtain membership in as a prop for their story? I know that starting in the 80’s I grew very tired of the portrayal of Vietnam Vets and drug crazed murderers. A good friend and club brother of mine had Tshirts made up that said “Another Drug crazed Vietnam Vet”. The truth is we are no more drug users than any other portion of society. I dislike the show for a variety of reasons, tainting of the jury pool is one, as a person diagnosed with severe PTSD and suffering from diminished impulse control, I do not want to have to kick someone’s ass for getting in my face then go before a jury who thinks that SOA in an accurate portrayal of my life. Put it in this perspective, Imagine you killed some insurgents in Afghanistan and by the time you could safely secure the area, other insurgents had carried off their weapons and you stood accused of killing innocent civilians. Would you want your courtsmartial to be populated with officers who had never seen combat and thought that the movie portrayal of you as a “idiotic lobotomized robots that will kill at will and laugh about it all the while?” Forget your obvious prejudices toward club members and think about the effects these kinds of things can have on the lives of real people, like me, USMC combat veteran, club member, clean record. If I fuck up I want to be judged on what I did and why I did it, not on what someone thinks some TV show says about my life. If you think this is not a legitimate concern, you should contact your local state or district attorney and ask them about the “CSI effect.”
    FYI Not every Patchholder does a line or smokes a joint to relax, some of us just like a cold beer, or an hour at the weight pile.

    Thank you for your service.
    OOHRAH, Semper Fi, Teufelhunden.

  23. Devil Dog Says:

    Well, that aside (which I can’t see as being that big a deal) it still funny that you big bad tough guys are getting your panties all twisted up over a silly tv show.

    Don’t you guys have anything better to do like run guns, or protect heroin runs, rather than sitting around on your asses watching tv?

    Do you know how many depictions of Marines there are in movies and tv that are downright ridiculous. Portraying us as idiotic lobotomized robots that will kill at will and laugh about it all the while?

    I just find it amusing that this show produces such hate from ” The real deal 1%ers”

    Just a show guys, go do a line or smoke a joint and relax.

  24. Rebel Says:

    Dear Devil Dog,

    Actually, Devil Dog, the issue is prejudicing the jury pool.


  25. Devil Dog Says:

    I am laughing my ass off right now.

    A bunch of “hardcore 1%ers” worried about what a television show will do to their image…


  26. 25-2-Life Says:

    Holly fucking shit!
    I ended up following a link here, and I don’t even know where to start.
    First off, as everyone else already said, great post Sled Tramp.
    Mainly though, about the soa shirts, posing, etc.
    I can almost, (almost), tolerate it.
    At least their target shirt wearer’s are kids.
    Aw, who the hell am I fooling?
    They annoy the shit out of me.
    BUT…I’d take ten of them, over one Harley Owners Group “patch” wearer.
    Thank god I didn’t bet, because when that crap started,
    I told everyone who’d listen no one had that little self respect.
    Now, onto those Iron Pigs.
    That one’s to easy, but scary at the same time.
    As the shooting showed, they can get away with almost anything.

    Anyway, this is a good forum.
    I’m glad I came across it.
    It’s also nice to see, the amount of pretend bad ass, flexing, here being kept to a minimum.

    Anyone here, that want’s to enjoy some OPENLY game/pretend time,
    give a shot.
    (It’s free, no strings, etc.)
    Yeah, some of the people there have been around, some not, just like here. So put on your hard hats. There’s posers everywhere, God bless their often lucky little souls.
    Drop me a note there, and let me know if you saw this little thread.
    (And yes, we sell game tee shirts. I don’t think many players wear them, and try to convince the guy in McDonald’s next to him, that both of them are locked up. Could be wrong though.)

    Oh. last thing on the fakes, knock-offs, etc….anyone catch that crap with Macy’s (???whichever big store it was, I forget) and the “Angel” merchandise attempt?
    This world is Bizarro Land at times.

    My best to all of you.

    Thanks for a fun read.

  27. muttblbc Says:

    Forgive me if its already been stated, but the biggest crime of this show is completely failing in the potential of all that it could have been. The subject and the lifestyle itself, with all its completely unique ups and downs, and day to day experiences are facinating enough (spoken as a civilian) that true peeks under the veil (as utterly rare as they are) would negate the very need for all big bang, cheap thrill, drek that the writers feel they need to throw in to keep americas attention. It makes no attempt at asking or answering any questions, and it uses the one thing that could probably make this show great as poorly done backdrop. There is no depth to this show whatsoever, and that’s the real shame. I was truly excited when I saw the commercial for the first season, and I was excited that someone who wrote for the shield was a part of it. The thing that i so loved about the shield was how well thought out the plot line was, how Mackey was always a couple steps ahead, how they wove charecters in and out of the seasons, and no matter how high they piled it on, making you wonder how they could possibly dig themselves out of it, it never pushed past your suspension of disbelief. Maybe it was someone else that wrote those episodes, but proof of really well thought out, well written stories are a precedent with fx. This show continually jumps the shark, its feels like theyre not even trying.

  28. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    …and of course that would be Tobie Levingstone, duh…

    YYZ Skinhead

  29. Jabba Says:

    Sled Tramp > Your last post & mine seem to have crossed-over somehow. I wouldn’t have been so flippant if I had read that first.

    My apologies.

    You’re right of course.

    You say, “They aren’t bylaws,they’re a form of vented frustration from me.” I beg to differ, they may not have been MEANT to be bylaws. But they are just as good as.

    They echo the words I had knocked into me by my elders and betters… words that even after all that, I too easily forget. And, in all seriousness, I’ll bear that in mind the next time I’m tempted to shoot my mouth off – in here or wherever else I happen to be standing.

    So your “vented frustration” struck a chord with me… if it was pinned to a few walls, maybe it would strike a few more.


  30. Jabba Says:

    Sled Tramp > Something you said to me once – Absofuckinlutely!

    I’ll have that inked on my ass, so’s I know what I did wrong the day I kiss it goodbye.

    Glad to see you back.

    Much LL&R to you and yours.


  31. sled tramp Says:

    Can’t remember exactly….seems 16th and Valencia keeps coming to mind.I found myself thinking about riding 500 miles to Top Dog in Bezerkley the other night.Ya are who ya is….and I’m homesick more often than not.The times of cranking over the bridge through the Yerba Buena tunnel at 110 mph under a hot summer full moon or heading to Felton for a Santa Cruz pig roast on a weekend are long gone for me but I sure do miss it.
    I posted the rules I made up for no other reason than I’m fed up with the lack of understanding and the apparent majority of people that come around events trying to be something they’re not.Very few organizations are growing as they’d like due to lack of qualified people.And for that matter, there are some chapters in our world that have seemingly forgotten how to act.Living on the laurels of the past won’t breed the future.There won’t be any “Good old days” unless somebody carrys the torch and fewer and fewer people seem interested in a traditional education prefering to think individually and not as a member of a brotherhood.Some may see my post as treasonable (being in the open forum) but frankly, I see a lot of posers that need a wakeup.New guys and members that are coasting.A club is a dynamic.They aren’t bylaws,they’re a form of vented frustration from me.Short prospects,golden patches…it’s darkness.If I have to tell anything to a new potential member,it would be “It’s not the patch that makes the man,it’s the man that makes the patch” and these days very few people seem to be getting that.

  32. sled tramp Says:

    Sure…..they’re not private.

  33. willienelso3 Says:

    sled tramp–

    I might like to share your prospect rules on a forum I visit occasionally.
    I’d do that only if that’s okay with you. So I’m asking for your permission to do so.



  34. sled tramp Says:

    Can’t remember exactly….seems 16th and Valencia keeps coming to mind.I found myself thinking about riding 500 miles to Top Dog in Bezerkley the other night.Ya are who ya is….and I’m homesick more often than not.The times of cranking over the bridge through the Yerba Buena tunnel at 110 mph under a hot summer full moon or heading to Felton for a Santa Cruz pig roast on a weekend are long gone for me but I sure do miss it.
    I posted the rules I made up for no other reason than I’m fed up with the lack of understanding and the apparent majority of people that come around events trying to be something they’re not.Very few organizations are growing as they’d like due to lack of qualified people.And for that matter, there are some chapters in our world that have seemingly forgotten how to act.Living on the laurels of the past won’t breed the future.There won’t be any “Good old days” unless somebody carrys the torch and fewer and fewer people seem interested in a traditional education prefering to think individually and not as a member of a brotherhood.Some may see my post as treasonable (being in the open forum) but frankly, I see a lot of posers that need a wakeup.New guys and members that are coasting.A club is a dynamic.They aren’t bylaws,they’re a form of vented frustration from me.Short prospects,golden patches…it’s darkness.If I have to tell anything to a new potential member,it would be “It’s not the patch that makes the man,it’s the man that makes the patch” and these days very few people seem to be getting that.

  35. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    Sled Tramp, you keep making me homesick for San Francisco! Remember when Frisco Choppers was on 3rd St? The Cow Palace swaps where you could meet all the different clubs and see things like that beautiful trike frame I saw in 1993 and haven’t seen one similar, since? Yesterday I met whom I think is Terry Levingstone’s nephew at my fav cigar supplier. I need to head north, pronto.

    YYZ Skinhead

  36. Grumbler Says:

    Sled Tramp – I stumbled across the tribute bike last night while googling. Haven’t owned a rigid frame scoot since ’73. More into getting away from it all on road trips than building bikes these days. I’ll take Rattlesnake Grade btw Enterprise and Clarkston over bike shows. Dual rear shocks and a thick seat works for me.

  37. sled tramp Says:

    Thanks Grumbler,I had no idea about Simm’s tribute.I remember all those (now big names)guys back when,never patronized ’em (I was a poooorrrr biker)preferring Minestrone leathers in Oakland or Frisco Choppers in the city on Valencia. Ness’s shop on Mission Blvd would have fit in my yard before he hit it big.I’ve thought about building up a sled along those lines now and again but my butt these days has a deep and abiding love of suspension.

  38. Grumbler Says:

    Incidently, Ron Simms built a tribute bike for his fallen friend, Rooster. Google “rooster tribute bike” using images option. First pix.

  39. Grumbler Says:

    Sled Tramp, you’d get tons of “iikes” if it was posted as a note on Facebook.

    BTW, that’s incredible about you almost buying that Shovelhead from Rooster (RIP) back in the mid-70s. His sled blew my mind when I first saw it.
    Hope all is well with you.

  40. RVN69 Says:

    What Sled Tramp wrote should be copied and posted in every clubhouse, patchholders house, pinned to every prospects chest and a miniature copy laminated and carried in every patchholders wallet or pocket to be refered to often! Many of the problems we experience are because we cannot keep our own mouths shut, or when we open them too much bullshit comes out!

    Honesta Mors, Turpi Vita Potior.

  41. sled tramp Says:

    Thanks BigV but “who are a lot better than me” ain’t right.I’m one of those misguided souls that thinks nobody is better than anyone else.

  42. BigV Says:

    Reading through what Sled Tramp shared, I was thinking: I wish that level of commitment, honor, and service was standard operating procedure in the world, and not just the world that patch holders have built. But I guess that’s a key thing that makes the sacrifice patch holders make worthwhile: they have built and sacrificed to make such a world for their brotherhood.

    To the men (like Sled Tramp and Muck and the rest of the patch holders who read this sight) who are a lot better than me: you’ve more than earned the honor and respect that you hold.

  43. willienelso3 Says:

    thank-you for posting that, Sled Tramp.

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