Here We Go Again

September 5, 2011

All Posts, Features, Reviews

That incredibly marvelous, wonderful and important television show Sons of Anarchy debuts tonight. Again.

I know. I still can’t see how important this “Shakespearian inspired drama” is but I am starting to catch on. I am trying. My “problem” may be, as casual readers who love the show frequently tell me, that I am too stupid and crazy to understand the difference between reality and a television show.

And look, I have absolutely no intention of arguing with them because sometime I might want to use that as my legal defense.

But, consider these recent, true events related to this Fox Television phenomenon.

 Reader Discretion Is Advised

On August 11, a 27-year-old Chandler, Arizona man named Joshua Seto accidently shot a hole through his penis while carrying his girlfriend’s pink pistol in his waistband. After perforating his penis the bullet lodged in Seto’s thigh.

“The movies and TV shows, like Sons of Anarchy, that show tough guys with guns shoved into their jeans are not realistic,” The Arizona Republic quoted Chandler Police Detective Seth Tyler as saying after the incident. The detective went on to explain that no matter how Jax does it, would be outlaws should always use “a holster.”

 Read More If You Dare

A few days later, The San Jose Mercury News reported that cops there were harassing members of The Henchmen Motorcycle Club. “If the Henchman have nothing to hide, then why should they be concerned to be legitimately stopped by police?” the Hayward Police Chief , a woman who is not a Constitutional scholar but who is named Diane Urban, said.

“If they were not involved in criminal activity, no one would give them a second look,” a man named Jorge Gil-Blanco, who the Mercury-News identified as an “expert on outlaw motorcycle gangs,” explained.

In defense of the Henchmen, patch holder and founder Ed “Big Ed” Aki said, “We’re not choir boys but we’re not the Sons of Anarchy, either.”

 And Again

Meanwhile in Laconia, New Hampshire, the Talons Motorcycle Club has been having its own problems with police harassment. Local authorities accuse the Talons of “having ties with” the Hells Angels.

Producers and others affiliated with the Sons of Anarchy television show have stated numerous times that the club in the show is meant to represent the Angels. And, I have personally seen series show runner Kurt Sutter and lead actress Katey Sagal at Hells Angels sponsored events.

And after the club was accused of “having ties” a Talon patch holder named Jim Maimone tried to explain to the Portsmouth Herald, “We’re not the Sons of Anarchy.”

Nevertheless, the Herald’s reporter, an epic journalist named Joey Cresta did imply, in his lead, that the Talons are a “highly structured criminal organization.” And, his lengthy story included a long sidebar detailing the alleged criminality of a half dozen, widely respected motorcycle clubs. The sidebar included paragraphs about the Angels, Mongols and Vagos but not the Sons of Anarchy. And, Cresta refused to return my phone call when I tried to ask him “Why not?”

 For What It’s Worth

There is something happening here and what it is is pretty clear. The men with the guns who tell us all to beware are practicing the new black art called “perception management.”

Perception management is the strategy of telling the same stupid lie over and over and over until you start to see it dramatized on television. Once a lie gets on television the truth doesn’t stand a chance. For example, on television the second greatest depression is  “the economic recovery.”

The lie that Sons of Anarchy repeats over and over is that motorcycle clubs are fundamentally and institutionally criminal rather than just incidentally criminal. The club in the show is fundamentally and institutionally criminal although those guys are really inept at it. Like, for example they buy guns in Europe and sell them here. But every moment of every show they are presented as criminals first and motorcycle enthusiasts second. And, then club brotherhood is one of those things that is occasionally mentioned and rarely seen. Mostly, Sons of Anarchy portrays the ideal of club brotherhood as a lie.

 Criminals R Us

The truth is that institutional criminality is always what makes motorcycle clubs go “kaboom!” Institutional criminality makes it easy for cops who want to bust bikers.

Another truth is that many one percenters are unabashedly criminal. But then who isn’t? Modern policing is founded on the grim reality that everybody is a criminal. Your grandmother is a criminal. Your seven-year-old kid is a criminal. TMZ would be cancelled tomorrow if celebrities stopped being criminals.

Shia LaBeouf – let that sink in, Shia LaBeouf – brags about his bar fights.

A couple of years ago a bourgeois black, Harvard scholar named Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. got popped for disorderly conduct and Gates was shocked. Gates personal friend, President Barack “no colorful nickname” Obama, a bourgeois black professor of law, was shocked. Both men told the world that Gates was the victim of “racism.” The implication was that if Gates had been a white Henchman he would not have picked up the charge. And maybe they were both right about the biker avoiding the charge but race had nothing to do with it. The truth is, a Henchmen might have dodged the arrest because he would have seen it coming and known when to shut up.

 Marlboro? Little Mescal?

The way arrests get made is that the police just stink eye somebody until he breaks one of America’s many laws. In most motorcycle club investigations, the undercover cops usually explain to the bikers what crimes they would like to see them commit and arrange circumstances that virtually compel the bikers to commit those crimes. Then, if the accused criminal does happen to actually belong to a motorcycle club, prosecutors charge him with whatever he did plus racketeering.

Ironically, America loves criminals. After Francis Ford Coppola made The Godfather in 1972, the criminal replaced the cowboy as the unofficial national hero. Once upon a time, the Marlboro Man exploited his cowboy persona to sell America cigarettes. Now Michael Imperioli, the sour guy best known for playing Christopher Moltisanti in the Sopranos, uses his Don Cologne persona to sell America tequila. Even Gatorade is now called “G.”

The nation that once defined itself by the stories it told about the American west now defines itself with stories about criminals.

 The Criminal Stories Business

So, gangster stories are the stories Sons of Anarchy tells. And, of course, the drama is ultimately the product of media beast News Corporation, a soulless institution that has gotten very rich by scaring and otherwise exciting people about all the monsters who live under beds. It seems to have never occurred to any of the creative talents connected to the Sons of Anarchy that there might be other, more interesting things to say about motorcycle outlaws and the America in which they somehow manage to persist. And who are these guys who refuse to conform? And how do they persist?

The Sons are criminals who institutionally, not individually, but as a true criminal enterprise, sell guns and women and this year, since actor Danny Trejo has a role as a narco trafficante, the club will also sell drugs. I wonder, who are these guys and how do they persist?

I would be more enthusiastic about the show if I saw a scene where an undercover ATF agent spends six or seven grand to entice a half dozen of these Sons to a hotel room where he suddenly opens a suitcase containing thirty keys of old school and a half million bucks. I would like to see that scene shot like surveillance footage.

I know it is just me but I criticize the lack of scenes like that. And, at the same time I understand that people with a better understanding of life, art, commerce and truth than I believe it is impossible to make something normal people will watch from the scenes I want. At least, it is impossible to broadcast such a show on FX.

Sutter and FX know what they are doing and despite any criticism I might invent, this particular criminal drama is becoming something bigger than a basic cable hit.

 Sons of Anarchy clocks five million viewers a week. It might hit five million viewers tonight. People who know nothing love the show. People who know everything love the show. Sonny Barger, it will be said a thousand times this week, loves the show. Members of the Henchmen and the Talons probably watch the show. Arizona police seem to think Joshua Seto of Chandler should have stopped watching the show a season or two ago.

 Is It On Yet

Tonight, Sutter holds up his mirror to gangster America once again. Tonight, all of the club’s most notorious criminals get out of prison after negotiating plea and sentencing agreements. The episode is 90 minutes long.

I am guessing there will be no scene where the public defender says, “Look you’re in the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle gang and they have you cold. What do you expect? Do you want to go to prison forever? Take the deal or get a new lawyer.”

I am guessing that scene was omitted because there was not enough time. I am also guessing it is the same thing with the scene where the aged parents of one of the prospects break down and weep. Probably not enough time for that one either. So the weeping parents will never ask, “Where did we go wrong? Where did you go wrong? How did this happen? Why are you so loyal to these guys who treat you so bad and who you hardly know?” A scene like that would not be “dramatic” enough for this show.

On the other hand, the series will feature a new cop and a new prosecutor. The new DA will be smarter and handsomer and less interesting than real prosecutors. Katey Sagal will shake her aging moneymaker and manage to frighten people while actually being less dangerous than most ex-girlfriends and wives. Real women will swoon for series heartthrob Charley Hunnam.

This summer Kurt Sutter said that he usually likes to pit the club against an outside enemy but this year the stories will be more about the club itself. “The expository beats are fun and exciting and testosterone-driven,” Sutter promised a writer named Alan Sepinwall at the beginning of August. “The idea always is to use those external pressures to incubate what’s going on inside the club.”

I don’t know what any of that means either. I guess it means that the theme of the show this year will be “brotherhood is bullshit” but I am not sure. Probably, I am just too stupid and crazy to ever understand this smart show. I don’t get it now. I swear I am trying though.

 Sons of Anarchy airs tonight at 10 pm in New Hampshire, seven in San Jose and four in the afternoon under the volcano in Ka’u where the most nervous of the witness protection guys go.


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41 Responses to “Here We Go Again”

  1. Rashomon Says:

    That was quite the event back then. For months afterwards you couldn’t ride down the road without getting pulled over and hassled by the cops. Cars would try and run you off the road – it was a mess for ages. I can’t really see why they’d want to dredge it up again now. Just more jumping on the bandwagon I guess.

  2. not-a-hippie Says:

    Watched the SOA season 3 opener from Netflix and it stank. Bad. Sucked. I felt like I was watching daytime t.v.

    They got damn near everything wrong. Bur what’s worse is all the touchy feely crap. And the shoot out at the end? A cop standing in front of a van driven by thugs? Noooooo….not in this universe.

    How about that kid pushing 3 armed cops out of the way to smash the skull of the shooter? huh? Have you ever pushed a cop? Instant death sentence.

    That’s it. I’m done wit SOB.

  3. YYZ Skinhead Says:


    Thank you for the kind words and moving stories. I wish I could fund such a study. It would need private funding and even then the feds might try to bury it alive.

    I wonder how civilians would react if they knew that a club currently being harassed by the feds (the Highwaymen) is made up of combat Veterans with PTSD and that one of them is James Blake Miller, the Marine with the thousand-yard stare and the cigarette in his mouth.

    YYZ Skinhead

  4. RVN69 Says:

    YYZ Skinhead,
    Can’t speak for others, but I could fill this whole page with instances of my brothers taking care of me and others. I’ll just relate two instances that occurred years ago on the same night. I was a new patch, my colors were so new they glowed in the dark, and I rode with around 12 or so brothers to see the newly dedicated Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I was all ready to hate “the Wall” but when I actually saw it at around 2AM with the soft lights almost looking like candle light I was struck by it’s simple beauty. When I found Johnny’s name on the wall I was overcome with grief, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breath, I backed away from the wall and fell in the grass. My brothers took care of me, they conforted me and made sure I didn’t feel ashamed at my show of emotion. Later that same night, some asshole rode up to the wall on a bicycle, got off and sat on it, kicking the marble face with the heel of his shoes. The same brothers who had saved me for my own grief, now kept me from beating this asshole to death, they let me express my dislike for his actions, but probably saved his life and me from prison. This has continued to this day, as the saying goes, “I am my brothers keeper”

    To the best of my knowledge no study has been done, and if it were it would never be published, at least not to the general public. The establishment can never allow that any outlaw motorcycle club serves any legitimate purpose. They will never acknowledge the brothers kept from drug addiction, alcohol addiction and prison because of the membership in an outlaw motorcycle club.

    I wish you the best in your battle with PTSD, the wound that bleeds on the inside.

    Honesta Mors, Turpi Vita Potior.

  5. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    RVN69 and Devil Dog,

    Reading your comments makes me wonder if any legitimate (i.e. not sponsored by the “DEATFBI”) researchers have looked into the therapeutic aspect of combat Veterans joining outlaw biker clubs. What you said about the need for brotherhood, and PTSD support needs to be known by civilians.

    I have a lot of friends who are bikers, Gen X and Y skinheads and pit bull-show dog people. It was only after I had known them for a while that I found out they were Veterans, most of them served in Vietnam, the younger ones served in the Middle Eastern wars. I can connect with them because we both have the same symptoms. (This is the reason I have never served–I went to enlist in 1990 but I was unfit because I already had PTSD.)

    YYZ Skinhead

  6. Big Bagel Says:

    I think the show’s become a mess. The plot lines are ridiculous. If you really want something edgy watch Breaking Bad on AMC. It makes SOA look like Sesame Street.

  7. willienelso3 Says:

    right-on, sled tramp

  8. sled tramp Says:

    I rarely watch TV.Too busy riding and attending to club business and the in betweens that are “normal” life requirements.When I do get to sit down with a beer and put my brain on a shelf,I enjoy the show because despite it’s inaccuracys and false depictions of our world,it’s a show about something I can relate to.In the past, I’ve posted on the show’s pros and cons but frankly, it’s entertaining and I like it. Two things,apparently we are to assume the members make the bucks as the fines for wearing cuts in cages (seems to be an ongoing problem) would buy me a new street glide.
    And would Ciconne please stop asking Sutter for more Jax in the shower scenes?

  9. Dan the Man Says:

    well rebel, I still like the show, but you make me guilty about liking it.

  10. ironrider Says:

    Thanks, willie! I’m glad to see the Rebel back!

  11. willienelso3 Says:

    nice to see that you’re still around here, ironrider.

  12. ironrider Says:

    Well, the Mexicans are making a huge mistake. They’re losing lots of money. I learned from watching this reality-based drama, SOA, that the best place to purchase weapons is Ireland. It’s such a good source of iron that criminals in the US buy USA Colt-manufactured semi-autos from Eire. Hell, even the Russians buy AK’s from Ireland, after they’ve been smuggled across the ocean to Calif. So, the Mexican cartels need to cut out the middlemen (ATF) and go directly to the source, retired IRA soldiers. (by the way, as a descendant son of éirinn, who rides, I have double reasons for hating this show’s exploitation of things I love).

  13. YYZ Skinhead Says:


    Can you post the link to that pic? I’ve wanted to meet somebody wearing a SOA cut at the Long Bitch swap and ask them if they have heard of the Devils Diciples.

    YYZ Skinhead

  14. chevyweight Says:

    sorry – edit: here’s the up to date timeline, the other link was the printer friendly version which is about a week behind,,,,

  15. chevyweight Says:

    REBEL said: “Yeah, I have been working on something about ATF gunrunning for about two weeks”

    here’s a link i heard on a radio show for a updated timeline on the gunwalker scandal aka “obama’s watergate” maybe you’ve seen it already im not sure how popular it is,, i was going to send you the link but then i didn’t but since you mentioned it then here it is –

    -some say the gunwalker scandal was done to push the agenda of gun control in america , some say mexico refers to it as an act of war against mexico , some say 98% of guns in mexico do not come from america because its cheaper to buy from other black markets as well as we don’t have full auto ,, but the statistics are tilted to make you think that we are a big part of the gun problem thus pushing gun control in america,,, some say

  16. bobby Says:

    I understand not digging the show. I kind of like it(sick fuck), and so do some of my friends. Were mostly old (57 to 66) fat guys with shovel heads 4,pans 2,evo’s2, 1 trike, and 2 of these guys have twin cams. We LAUGH at the show, but we watch it, rank it. It’s just for laffs, bobby
    I have always liked your blog, esp the stuff about dobbyns the turd.Oh yeah speaking of dobbyns the turd, I love it on National Geo. Shows/Gangland how he Always Says”I Was In the Club-they just ran out of patches-it was coming” Really douchbag-Where’s The TATTOO ? Show us the INK!
    Good to hear/ read your stuff again.
    PS the picture of the guy last year flying the Sons Patch at the Swap meet=The BEST! Maybe Jay will “Patch-Over”

  17. Dan the Man Says:

    If you think its bad what they do with shows they claim to be fiction, their friends down the hall at the cable news shows are just as creative when making “facts”.

  18. Cap'n Bill Says:

    I tried to watch it…twice. I won’t do it again…amen…

  19. RVN69 Says:

    Why is this piece of shit show still on and My name is Earl was cancelled!!!

  20. BigV Says:

    Sons. They call themselves Sons.

  21. Rebel Says:

    Dear Thammah,

    Welcome! Please return daily to see other verbose things I might say about the Sons of Anarchy and other facets of the lifestyle about which I can only fantasize. Really! Please. I don’t even know what I might say next. And, please click on the adds.

    Do you ride a Sportster? What would you like to kow how to do on your bike? I can help. Tell all your friends!

    I know Glee fans are called “Gleeks.” What do SOA fans called themselves? Anarchists? Crows? What? Really, tell me. I want to bond with you.

    Your pal,

  22. thammah Says:



  23. Rebel Says:

    Dear LA 1%er,

    Yeah, I have been working on something about ATF gunrunning for about two weeks. What I noticed most was that the ATF even stonewalled Cheryl Atkinson of CBS. So it was reassuring to know it is not just me. Frankly, I am not sure I have much to add to what CBS and the New York Times already have on the story but I might, maybe have access to a source or two they do not and I am pretty sure I will take a different angle when I write about this mess. If I write about it.

    A problem I have had with doing a story about Fast and Furious is that most of what is going on now is political. On one side are brave ATF heros like Jay Dobyns opposing the terrible bureaucrats who run the ATF. Fox versus CBS. Republicans versus Democrats. The truth is, everybody in this mess is a villain. Obama, Darell Issa, Cheryl Atkinson. I think they are all at least naive and at worst hypocrites. I just know they are all united in their contempt of guys like me. They are all united in their blind acceptance of the American criminal justice industrial complex. So I don’t know who to root for.

    At the heart of this scandal is the ancient and honorable little trade of smuggling firearms into Mexico. And frankly, I have no moral problem with smuggling guns into Mexico. There is a war going on down there that is a direct result of an American drug policy invented by Roger Ailes before he went to Fox when he was still working for Nixon. If some middle class Mexican school teacher who is scared shitless of all the crap wants a little piece I am not worried about what God will think if I sell him one and make a little profit.

    That’s why I haven’t written anything about ATF gun running. I can’t see the lines. I can only see the fog.


  24. L.A.1%er Says:

    With most TV shows and other forms of entertainment I am able to suspend belief long enough to enjoy what I’m watching. But it’s very hard to do with “SOA”. {So Opie is okay with his club Brother killing his wife because it was an accident and he really only meant to kill Opie instead because they mistakenly thought he was a Rat?! WTF!} I agree with Suave, all one had to do was take some facts and events from the Mongols case and your shows half written. And what the fuck exactly was the logic behind the ATF’s Keystone Kop like misadventure called “Operation Fast And Furious”? Quite a nifty little gun running operation you had there smart guys! Again, what the fuck!? Rebel can you help me out here and shed some light on this? I really don’t get it. They are directly responsible for putting the weapons in the hands of the murderers of at least one US border patrol agent and many of those weapons have also shown up at multiple crime scenes on both side of the border! Seriously, why aren’t heads rolling at the very top of the ATF over this? Promotions and “lateral re-assignments”?! Give me a fucken break! What about mas firings and criminal charges instead/

  25. ruffrider Says:

    I’m still trying to find a way to get all this ink off my back so I can get one of them fancy water color tattoos.

  26. suave Says:

    Seems to me the show copies a lot of stuff that happened with the Mongols Motorcycle Club. Pretty funny if you ask me. Who needs writers just follow the Gov, and copy what they put out lol. Nice to have you back Rebel

  27. Doc Jones Says:

    When I watched SOA I found it amusing especially the episode when a couple of them were in prison. It was easy for me to see it as just plain stupid or perhaps a comedy. I didn’t give it much thought until I happened to see idiots wearing SOA patches and t-shirts. This laughable show is sending a wrong message. If anyone doesn’t understand true outlaw bikers, I strongly suggest that you purchase the Hessians DVD. Another great DVD is I Ride.

    Doc Jones

  28. JAMES Says:

    It just keep getting more and more stupid all the time.

  29. ncpagan Says:

    This show is a slap in the face to all scooter tramps and particularly to anyone that has ever built their own scooter and ridden it to a mandatory.

  30. Rebel Says:

    Dear Square Verbose Doc,

    Thank you for your kind words about my smart ass quips. Please buy…like Esquire or Vanity Fair magazine or something like that. While you’re at it, buy Random House.


  31. Square Verbose Doc Says:

    “News Corporation, a soulless institution that has gotten very rich by scaring and otherwise exciting people about all the monsters who live under beds.”

    Possibly the best and most accurate characterization of a corporation I’ve ever read.

  32. Devil Dog Says:

    Thank you for the recommendations. I need some combat vet support. My friends try to help out, they just have a hard time doing such.
    I have been out for 6 years now after serving for 10 (involuntary extension for two years, had to train new guys to sit around in the desert ya know). Anyways, thanks again! I will check some of these organizations out.

  33. RVN69 Says:

    Devil Dog,
    Maybe my perception is based on the fact that I have been on the wrong side of the Biker as barbarian mindset. Enjoy the show as someone who is capable of separating fact from fiction. There are good groups of veteran motorcyclist who can fill the missing void of brotherhood. As combat veteran, you may want to inquire with the local Legacy Vets MC, if they don’t fit there are others, US Military Vets MC, Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (They don’t wear an MC cube) Leathernecks MC, to name a few. There is nothing wrong with riding in solitude, but I truly believe that without the help and support of my brothers I would have succumbed to the pressure of PTSD(VA rated 100% disabled) and died of suicide, homicide, or other.

    Honesta Mors, Turpi vita Potior.

  34. Devil Dog Says:


    I can’t get this off my mind.
    I have thought about our previous conversation a bit, and I have come to the conclusion that I was and am in the wrong to a certain degree.
    Now a bit of honesty on my part. I am longer active Marine. I am a passionate motorcyclist, there is absolutely nothing more soulful than hitting the road with some friends and rolling back the throttle and feel the stresses and worries fly off my back with the wind.
    I am certainly drawn to your/MC lifestyle. I miss the brotherhood I had with my fellow combat Marines and people that haven’t gone through it, just plain don’t get it. I live in Idaho with a very limited exposure to any MC (outlaw or not).
    Unfortunately, shows like SOA are the only thing that I have to glimpse in to your world at all, so I enjoy it, knowing that it is fiction.
    I was wrong, you guys have every right to dislike it or feel that it will unfairly affect future court proceedings for you guys. So for that, I apologize. I didn’t see that side of it before.
    I will still enjoy the show knowing that the truth is far different from the glamorized, romanticized depiction of SOA.

  35. Gorilla Says:

    Glad to see you are back Rebel. I hate this show, but its what makes money. Its not about whats right, its about whats right not. This too shall pass.

  36. CBCZNC Says:

    Watched SOA season 1, will never watch season 2, 3 or 4 or more. Just like all media in this country they are overdramatizing to reap major financial reward. Wanted to spit in Hunnans face when I saw him at Easyriders because he’s an actor pretending to be a biker a reaping major financial gain by doing so, figured I’d just keep my spit in my mouth instead of wasting it.

  37. RVN69 Says:

    Again you have described my feelings about this show perfectly. I have tried to analyze my feelings toward this show, do I dislike it because the acting is so bad and the plot so contrived, or do I dislike it because I truly feel they are misrepresenting our lifestyle and feel that the acting is so bad because of that and am not judging it on it’s merit? As I said to Devil Dog, maybe SOA is actually an ok show about motorcycles and I shouldn’t look any deeper than that. Of course the alternative is that I am correct, that they shit on our lives, act poorly, present contrived plots and cause juries to look more harshly at us than any crime we may commit dictates and run to the bank while we are left dealing with the collateral damage. I believe the alternative is the truth.
    Glad you are back.

    Honesta Mors, Turpi Vita Potior.

  38. willienelso3 Says:

    Thank-you, Rebel. The chief value (only value) that show has is that it serves as a catalyst for your writing.

  39. just jim Says:

    They need a disclaimer at the beginning and the end saying this is not how real life motorcyclist live. Don’t be fooled by the drama

  40. Rashomon Says:

    Poor Joshua Seto – I guess he went off half cocked.

    Rebel, glad to see you’re back in business – welcome back.

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