The unabashed greed fest called the Hollister Rally is now scheduled to return July 5 and 6, 2013. This will be the twelfth time Hollister has celebrated the anniversary of the so-called Hollister Riot since the semi-centennial in 1997.
The Hollister event was invented to exploit all those Rich Urban Bikers with wads of cash to waste back in the heady days of the Clinton Administration – before the mortgage crisis, credit crisis, stock market crash, Iraq War, Afghanistan War, the Global War on Terror or even the formation of the one percenter task force in Los Angeles by the ATF. The event was cancelled in 2006, came back in 2007 and 2008 and was reborn last Monday night at a Hollister City Council meeting.
According to dozens and dozens of published reports, the event will be held “in association with” an events planning corporation called World Wide Dynamics Incorporated. According to the same dozens and dozens of reports, World Wide Dynamics “has a role” in both the Laconia and Sturgis rallies. Sturgis also has a city “Rally and Events Department.” The Laconia Motorcycle Week Association is generally credited with planning the annual New Hampshire event. Hollister does not have a City Department of Riot Nostalgia although maybe it should.
The Hollister Rally was cancelled in November 2008 when the last promoter, a company called Horse Power Promotions, refused to advance the City of Hollister $360,000 to pay for “security.” Horse Power Promotions had lost $100,000 on the rally the year before.
Hollister police wanted an extra $120,000 a day in 2009 to do their jobs. At the time of the last cancellation City Manager Clint Quilter warned that if the police didn’t get paid they would not police the event. “Cutting back on law enforcement costs,” Quilter said, “could potentially result in police officers being manned around the downtown perimeter until the event’s completion when they would deal with the aftermath.” You know, like the guards had a perimeter around the Maximum Security Prison of Manhattan in the old science fiction movie Escape From New York.
Nobody has yet calculated how much the city will make in sales taxes after local merchants quadruple the price of everything for the weekend.
The Way We Were
The Hollister Rally is an homage to an Independence Day weekend motorcycle rally held there in 1947. As many as 2,000 bikers rolled into town on a Thursday night and stayed until Sunday. They camped in city parks and raced up and down Hollister’s San Benito Street. Three bikers were seriously injured in crashes. On Friday afternoon, Hollister’s seven-man police department was reinforced by a reported 40 California Highway Patrol Officers. Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle sent in a couple of old school journalists – a reporter named C. I. Dourghty Jr. and a photographer named Barney Peterson to report from the trenches.
Dourghty’s colorful dispatch became the basis for the myth of the Hollister Riot. Dourghty reported an “outburst of terrorism” that included the “wrecking of bars, bottle barrages into the streets from upper story windows and roofs and high speed racing of motorcycles though the streets.” According to Dourghty, things got so bad that the Highway Patrol “herded the cyclists into a block on San Benito Street, between Fifth and Sixth Streets, parked a dance band on a truck and ordered the musicians to play.” Dourghty probably did not actually witness any of this.
Peterson, meanwhile used a still drunken biker named Eddie Davenport sitting on his motorcycle surrounded by empty beer bottles to illustrate Dourghty’s words. The staged photo never ran in the Chronicle but it did appear in the July 21, 1947, edition of Life magazine over a caption that read, “Cyclist’s Holiday: He and his friends terrorize a town.”
That photo became the inspiration for a short story by Frank Rooney called “Cyclists Raid.” In turn, that story inspired a movie starring Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin called The Wild One: About a pack of bikers called the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club who stop in a small town for a breather and a beer. Shortly before the Black Rebels move on their leader, a character named Johnnie Strabler, is framed for manslaughter.
And, the rest is history.