An Italian journalist named Alice Carbone has just published part two of a 13,000 word interview with George Christie, the longtime president of the Ventura charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. Carbone’s interview is the first of two lengthy looks at the motorcycle club world by mainstream journalists.
This month the New York Times will publish a long look at the motorcycle counterculture by Pulitzer Prize winner Serge F. Kovaleski. Kovaleski began working on his feature story after the deadly and tragic brawl at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada on September 23, 2011. And, he listened to numerous informed voices while researching the piece.
Carbone’s interview is probably the most genuinely personal article ever written about a motorcycle outlaw. Barely four questions in she gets Christie to admit, “I was overweight when I was a kid, and one of the things that really made me angry was that I was not accepted for my physical appearance; I became very determined and lost 100 pounds when I hit high school. All of a sudden I was accepted, I was a nice guy, I was the cool one and I was really angry about that. I felt like they never saw who I really was. I realized that they were all so shallow that my worth was measured against my perceived appearance.”
It turns out that both Carbone and Christie admire the Canadian poet Leonard Cohen. Carbone also gets Christie to talk about surfing, Mickey Rourke, Hunter Thompson, Taco Bowman, writing novels, carrying the Olympic torch, President Obama, the Nick Mead film, his recent court case and retiring from the Hells Angels.
“You resign from the club very carefully,” Christie says. “The rumors abound on why I did it. They go all the way from me being a confidential informant to being a punk. Those particular individuals can’t re-write history. History speaks for itself. They can try to spin it however they want but you can’t take away the fact that I was their leader for thirty-five years and no one has ever done that.”
Carbone’s interview won’t be every crusty old biker’s cup of tea but it is good and honest journalism about an interesting and, probably, historic guy. You can read it here.