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The NYT On The HAMC

Fri, Nov 29, 2013

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The NYT On The HAMC

After 26 months of research, the New York Times has finally published Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Serge F. Kovaleski’s 3,500 word think piece on the motorcycle outlaw frontier.

After the brawl and gunfight in John Ascuaga’s Nugget Hotel and Casino in Sparks, Nevada in late September 2011, Kovaleski proposed to take a “totally fresh look” at motorcycle clubs. He consulted informed sources from at least four one percenter motorcycle clubs and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and appears to have carefully contemplated what America needs to know and what the Times is willing to say.

Fritz Clapp

In the end Kovaleski decided to write mostly about Fritz Clapp. On his Facebook wall this morning, Clapp wrote “Big article in NY Times today about me and my friends.” Clapp is an offbeat attorney and confidant of Hells Angels eminence gris Sonny Barger. Clapp initiates all of the trademark infringement lawsuits for which the Angels have recently become famous. He accompanied Barger on the Chief’s book tour after the publication of Hell’s Angel. He was an executive producer on the Hells Angels movie the late Tony Scott almost made: Which would have been the first film since 1967’s Hells Angels on Wheels to allow actors to wear Hells Angel insignia including the death head patch. Clapp is not a member of the club although most Angels consider him to be the club’s best friend.

One long time Angel, speaking on conditions of anonymity, expressed reservations about Clapp’s influence on club policy. He said some members of the club were concerned that the proposed film and marketing deal would have resulted in “death heads on Happy Meals.” The same source alleged that Clapp would have been paid a seven figure fee if the film had gone into production. Mickey Rourke would have played Barger in the film which was roughly based on Jay Dobyns No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey To The Inner Circle Of The Hells Angels and to a lesser extent on two other books.

The Angels

The Times article lets the Hells Angels represent all outlaw clubs, which may be an inherently flawed point of view. Kovaleski is also oblivious or unconcerned about internal disputes within the club. Overall the feature is fair and even-handed to a fault.

The Times acknowledges that the Angels “still exists as a uniquely American subculture of hardened individualism, fierce fraternity and contempt for society’s mores.” The article also allows ATF Agent John Ciccone the opportunity to say:

“In my experience working street and motorcycle gangs, the Hells Angels operate like a criminal organization with a global infrastructure and a lot of money they can generate from members worldwide…If you go up against the Hells Angels to prove they are a racketeering enterprise, they do have the resources to fight tooth and nail and all the way to the end. You do not usually see those dynamics in street gangs like the Crips and Bloods.”

The article also treats Jay N. Richardson, the unscrupulous federal prosecutor in the South Carolina, Rock Hell Nomads case as an informed and legitimate source. But Kovaleski was bright and honorable enough to close what he has called “My opus on the Hells Angels” with a truthful quote from attorney Richard Gaxiola: “When it comes to the Hells Angels in the justice system, their constitutional rights are under assault at every step.” It would have been a better story if it had begun with that quote.

You can read the full article here.

The photo at the top of this story is from The Australian.

 

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33 Comments For This Post

  1. Uberdahmer Says:

    FYI, Page 5 is behind a paywall.

  2. One Eye Says:

    Does anyone else feel, after watching Geraldo Rivera, that the world need a retroactive birth control pill?

  3. jj solari Says:

    the hells angels, who many consider to be nothing but dreary drunken oafs eternally in search of a quick place to piss some beer out of their system, while we have been making fun of them or calling them inebriated brain-dead dolts – they have been sitting quietly in their cloisters deep under ground, with the mold spores and the bats, poring-over tomes of earth history and studying the legendary survival methods of the incredibly successful walt disney company and their “I’ll see you in court” philosophy. they have been extraordinary students too except for the poor hygiene and they have learned from the acknowledged masters of of the Do Not Fuck With Us segment of capitalistic america: the Disney Corporation. For no one fucks with the walt disney company. as history has shown. Hitler and Stalin and fidel castro got fucked-with more than the walt disney company does. and thus we have, yes, the hells angels: acolytes to the supreme masters of ruthlessness; the walt disney corporation. so now the hells angels deal with things by filing suit and knocking you out in court rather than in the alley, and earning financial rewards, not time in jail for it. you have learned well, young ones. you have learned well. as walt disney himself once said to me at a private meeting when i was but a lad Mouseketeer, he said, “being an italian boy raised in boston you will no doubt appreciate the patriotic aspects of what i am about to say: i am sure that you of course realize only me and the hells angels have a clear understanding of what being an american is actually all about, right?” already recognizing walt disney as the prodigal genius who was, even as we were talking, taking his vision of america into space and to other planets and realizing this was a golden moment to take advantage of a privileged opportunity i lost no time in asking a question that had been on my mind since i got hired. “How is it Cheryl became a Mousketeer? she can barely put one foot in front of the other one.”

  4. Dr. Sardonicus Says:

    @jj When I want to relax between rounds with my wife as our 20 year marriage
    is imploding like a dwarf star getting sucked into a black hole – I come over and lurk on aging rebel. What frightens me more than the unknown and uncertain future – is the fact that your post makes perfect sense to me.

    And it ends with the question that was on everybody’s mind.

    So why stop there? Let’s turn and face that other question that nobody wanted to ask. The time has come.
    So what – exactly – what is “THE POMPATOUS OF LOVE” in “The Joker”
    Steve Miller Band.

    Like the black would-be bank robber who
    utters the immortal line to Clint Eastwood in “Dirty Harry” -

    “I gots to know…”

    It’s all as relevant as Fritz Clapp -

  5. WheresMyBoots Says:

    I’m old enough to remember the original Gerdildo show. He was his usual, condescending, obnoxious self, and right after the clip above (I’m still mystified how he had the balls to pull that man’s knife) he suddenly went to commercial for unknown reasons. After the break, – this is a distant memory, so bear with me, lots of blows to the head and chemical enhancement ago – anyway, after the break Gerdildo whined about his guests’ behavior – and then announced they were no longer there. They were on for the length of the clip above, that was it pretty much. H&R to all here.

  6. Va Bob Says:

    j.j.solari@did you ever see that skin mag pictorial of your fellow Mouseketeer Doreen circa 1976?Don’t remember which rag;it was not quite as gynecological as Hustler,but it was up there.Hey Rebel:there was one more movie where an actor wore the colors.In “Hells Angels ’69″,actor Steve Sandor.

  7. Fritz Clapp Says:

    Your anonymous “long time Angel” source is a former member with an axe to grind, and is mistaken on the facts: the Fox movie deal did not allow merchandising, there is no seven figure fee for me, and casting decisions were not made. Ask any current member in good standing whether my “influence on club policy” is a serious matter of concern.

  8. BMW Says:

    The NYT article is available right now without paying — at least I was able to go right to it. It is an interesting article, and more fair than some, although the NYT falls into the trap of “fairness by equal reference” by equating known liars like Ciccione and the US Assistant Attorney Generals (who as we all know, are the biggest, most consistent, liars around the court system) with working stiffs, (bikers) giving their stories equal weight.

    Once again we see a refusal to analyze the proffered information and statements about motorcycle clubs. The ATF and the AAGs have a real good reason to lie (Their jobs, economic future and political aspirations give them solid reasons to lie). Usually, the bikers don’t care. Bikers have historically had a particular attitude that ignores public relations: “If we cared about what citizens think, we wouldn’t be bikers, would we?”

    However, today with the rise of social media and social media-dominated news cycles, I think we need to become much more concerned with appearances. Where our style of dress once meant we were not invited to some parties, and were not thought to be the best neighbors (in certain neighborhoods), today our dress and our association with like-minded individualists is likely to result in a RICO charge at the request of the BATF. In the hands of corrupt and politically ambitious federal prosecutors, a small two-minute bar fight becomes the underlying activity for a string of felony conspiracy charges instead of two guys working off steam after a hard week at work.

    Geraldo always was a DICK! He wanted to use the bikers to promote his program, not to give the bikers a fair chance to express their views.

    L,H&R to all, BMW

  9. James Cross Says:

    DrS, Pompatus of love is your microdick. Ask your wife, asswipe. xxxx

  10. FF Says:

    Time is the measurement it takes one object to orbit another. Distance is the space between those objects. Space is…?

  11. Glenn S. Says:

    The article is indeed fair and balanced, or at least more so than the shit that spewed from the “mind” of that idiot coalburner reporter from Rock Hill. But I think, in general terms, that a point might have been missed. (The usual disclaimer: I am not a member of 81 or of any club and speak only for myself. I speak of the abstract premise of this article, not of the specific people or group featured in it.)

    The article speaks of what the reporter considers a paradox: being an outlaw or renegade and using the legal system to protect copyrighted intellectual property. Me, I have no respect for authority (as is imposed on everybody) or the law, but I think traffic signals are a good thing. Some societal structure is necessary and good. Me, I think the difference between the outlaw and the citizen is that the outlaw recognizes when the structure overreaches, is overly controlling, enforces the structure in a way that is fundamentally unfair, is overzealous in its enforcement of the more petty rules, creates rules that don’t have any direct impact on the well being of others but merely make it easier for the enforcers to assume control, and reacts to violations of rules in a manner that is far out of proportion to the actual harm done. Outlaws, IMHO, believe that every individual rule and every individual person in authority should be judged by their individual merit or lack thereof, and obeyed or ignored as circumstances dictate.

    The citizen, on the other hand, tends to see the societal structure as entirely good in and of itself. They believe that all of the rules are as good as any of the rules. They believe that whatever larger system is in place (whether a king or a manipulated voting citizenry that designates leaders they do not know personally) is sufficient for leaders to claim respect and to demand obedience. They find comfort in authority, often from intellectual laziness that frees them from thinking about unpleasant things. They remain willfully ignorant about instances where the societal structure is corrupt or sadistic. They’ve convinced themselves that they don’t have to make any hard moral choices because total strangers thousands of miles away can make them instead. They believe calling the decisions regarding right and wrong “laws” ends the debate.

    I don’t think many people would argue that humanity as a whole should tolerate assholes that, for example, abuse children, especially sexually. On the other hand, I find it just as morally wrong when a bunch of assholes go out amongst people they do not like or are afraid of (for whatever reason) and use any means they choose to effect their chosen targets’ caging for years, decades, or forever. Both are wrong, and a tin badge, a blue costume, and the trappings of majesty such as judicial robes and elevated benches don’t change that.

    Not a day goes by in this country when a bunch of pigs don’t snatch up some kid selling a little plant life, put him in a cage, and tell him that if he doesn’t rat out his friends he will spend the next decade or two getting fucked in the ass in a great big cage. And there was some asshole up north that kept three women locked in a basement where he raped them for about a decade. So what’s the difference? there are two, IMHO. 1)The asshole with the women locked in a basement at least had the sense to kill himself ans 2)Society was willing to rescue the women in the basement, but not the kids in the cages.

    Just my .02.

  12. Sieg Says:

    Mr. Solari ran-down everything a guy needed to know about calming his chick’s biggest worry, many, many moons ago. After that, hey-he don’t need to ‘splain any sinkin pompatus.

    Always good to see a new poster here, especially one with so much to offer.

    FTF/FTP
    TOSIAR
    5 to 1
    SYLO

  13. WheresMyBoots Says:

    @Glenn S., worse still boss, is that society didn’t rescue the girls. One of the girls rescued them, having the guts to finally run when that short eyes asshole left (he used to pretend to leave to see if they’d run, then punish them)- she saved herself and the two others. Somehow, in that neighborhood, nobody knew. Nobody suspected – for 12 years. Society threw those girls away, and now sprain their wrists patting themselves on the back for ‘rescuing them.’ He somehow managed to hang himself, because most likely his neighbors in the jail were explaining his future to him. I agree with you on all points, but nah, society doesn’t get credit for anything but ruining lives and trying to trash people who don’t look or act like them. Just my .02 as well, be well and all the best to you. H&R.

  14. Glenn S. Says:

    WheresMyBoots, you make a very good point.

  15. Paladin Says:

    Everyone on this rock is doin’ time. There are only two variables. How we choose to do our time, and how we choose to interact with each other while doing that time.

    Long May You Ride (to those that deserve to),

    Paladin

  16. Road Whore Says:

    @ Glenn S., WheresMyBoots, and Paladin:

    Some of the most coherent and truthful plain speech I’ve ever heard. Kudos to you all!

    Ride Free

  17. Tooj Says:

    It’s pleasant to read things that make sense. This isn’t about a pat on the back for “saving” those women. It is an act of desperation (As WMB explained) to avoid looking at just exactly how this sort of shit happens for that length of time.

    @Glenn S., the second and third paragraphs of your post are one of the best explanations I’ve seen. Why else do we hear statements like, “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have to worry.”

  18. Sieg Says:

    “Everyone on this rock is doin’ time. There are only two variables. How we choose to do our time, and how we choose to interact with each other while doing that time.”
    Paladin

    “The whole world is a prison yard,
    some of us are prisoners, ]
    some of us are guards.”

    Jailhouse wisdom from the seventies.

    FTF/FTP
    TOSIAR
    5 to 1
    SYLO

  19. RLG Says:

    “My” form-of-life relates not to *what* I am, but to *how* I am what I am.

    Translated from ‘Introduction a la guerre civile’, plate #5.

  20. WheresMyBoots Says:

    Road Whore, Glenn S. thanks. I read a lot of good words and truth on here, and thanks to all. Ride Free. LH&R.

  21. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    Eventually I want to start filming live-action again. I would love to do a documentary on the charity work done by the Bay Area 81, particularly the Frisco and Daly City charters. I thoroughly dug their Toys for Tots Christmas parties when I lived in The City. Has there ever been a documentary on biker clubs that focused on all the various charitable causes to which bikers contribute?

    YYZ Skinhead

  22. CN Says:

    After getting screwed back in the B movie days it would be nice to see the MC’s get some well deserved cash if they chose to make whatever flicks they see as acceptable. Dead in 5 Heartbeats was a great flick and at $20.00 was a great deal on DVD last Friday & Saturday but that was a movie based on a good novel. So called reality TV hasn’t done the Clubs any favors, cop shows were worse and SOA is what it is. The NYT can print whatever they want to I suppose. I think what we have here on Aging Rebel is a treasure and with all the talent I see in some of the comments I wonder why more blogs of this quality aren’t being written. Sean Connery got screwed on all the Bond films so he took a larger hand in what came after. Actual Club films would be cool but sharks swim in shark waters and the movie industry are some sharks of the first order. Still, it’s an interesting concept and could be a good thing if done right. Hope this finds y’all safe and strong.

  23. Austin Says:

    The article also allows ATF Agent John Ciccone the opportunity to say:

    “In my experience working street and motorcycle gangs, the Hells Angels operate like a criminal organization with a global infrastructure and a lot of money”

    Hey John – One of these days I hope I can tell you face-to-face from my perspective as a taxpayer who funds YOUR criminal organization, … Oh what’s the use.

    Great posts by everyone.

    ??? What do Women/Men WANT?! ???

  24. Amy White Says:

    Women don’t even know what women want but as soon as we realize what we want, we want it yesterday.

    Yes, Jj is usually always right, and even when he’s wrong, he sounds right, so just roll with it, dude. that’s what I do.

    Congratulations, Fritz, on your huge article… its been a few years, but when I attended a rally with you as a guest, i have to say this.. the Angels in attendance all treated you like one of the guys… it seemed to me everybody there respected your opinions and you yourself as a person. I didn’t get any ‘death heads on happy meals’ vibes. they were beyond respectful to me,too. I appreciated that. hope you are doing well.. L&R, Amy “the Wicked Bitch” White, Arkansas

  25. Amy White Says:

    I also don’t think it’s quite fair to say Fritz “initiates” the lawsuits. He didn’t go over and ask Alexander McQueen to make rings that were exact replicas of the death head and then sell them to rich bitches in Harper’s Bazaar. He just handled it. The other day I sent out a link to a bunch of you guys that someone sent me, where some asshole is selling copies of every cut out there on the internet. This, again, will probably have to be handled by Fritz or someone else in a similar position. It’s kinda like this… When you are the Angels, the Mongols, The Bandidos, The Outlaws, its kinda like saying you are the Prada, the Chanel, the Tiffany’s of the fashion world… they are the best of the best, and as such, they CONSTANTLY have to fight off people trying to make cheap copies of their shit. Sitting at a picnic table with Fritz having a beer is not like hanging out with some ambulance chasing suit wearing slick willie….. it’s sitting at a table with someone who tells you legendary stories with a funny personality who captivates you with the places he has been, the things he says, and you could listen to him talk until 3 a.m. and think its only 9. I usually stay outta the big shit, cuz I am a girl, but ol Fritz, he treated me right once, so I owe him my loyalty.

  26. Glenn S. Says:

    Fritz the lawyer sounds like good people and a loyal friend to those he cares about. And I doubt he’s earned nearly as much as the lawyers that defend the fashion designers to the stars who violate the clubs’ copyrights. Not enough lawyers are there (in mind, body, and spirit) for people and organizations outside society’s mainstream, IMHO. Those that are (Clapp, Bowtie, etc.) deserve support, recognition, and respect.

  27. MIke 184 Says:

    Glen S, Boots, JJ, Thanks. That is not a bad way to start a Monday.

    Coming on here lets me realize that a lot of the things that I have to deal with are trivial. I try to pass on what I see here, when it is applicable, to my brothers. This is a great site, and I hope that it becomes a staple in everyone’s daily life!!!

  28. WheresMyBoots Says:

    @Mike 184, right back at ‘ya, and my pleasure. H&R. @Glenn S. – very well put, and agreed 100%. Enough voices raised can change things – no matter how grim the situation; history proves it. Clapp and Bowtie will always be remembered (I believe, in my humble opinion)for being instrumental in stopping the trampling of biker’s rights. The trademark violations, etc. remind me of Giuliani’s ‘broken window policy’ (i.e. stop the ‘minor attacks first’ the rest will fall) – in a way. Bad example maybe (can’t think of another), but violations of the rights of people because of how they look and how they transport themselves was a bad plan from the beginning, and anything strong enough to adapt to whatever threatens it always prevails. Chip away at a big rock and it will finally fall. Just my 2 cents again. H&R, everybody RIDE FREE.

  29. Dr. Sardonicus Says:

    @James Cross – My wife knows who you are and wants to get a restraining order against you. I personally have an aversion to using the system for personal business and I have persuaded her to leave it alone.
    Stop following us around on social media and message boards you fucking pedophile.

  30. WheresMyBoots Says:

    I’d like to apologize to all on here for my previous post – I thought I’d deleted it. In particular, I would like to apologize to the thousands of men who own the stolen cut Giuliani wore one time for some publicity stunt – even he admitted it was a stupid thing to do. He’s nuts, and history proved that too. It was a terrible example – and I apologize. I recognize that patches are not easily come by – that grown men – often veterans – have to earn those patches, and not easily, and from what I understand in no way like people think they earn them. Again, my apologies, it was early, and I occasionally step on my dick in the morning (it’s difficult getting my foot that close to my body). Again, my most sincere apologies. H&R to all.

  31. TigGirl Says:

    Fritz is Good People.

    Amy, I too was at that particular party & sat at picnic table with Fritz & several members for quite a while. I saw a picture or two of you from that day with people I am very close to. Interesting….

    Rebel, as always, thank you for this forum. You’re the best!
    TigGirl

  32. Jim666 Says:

    Sieg Says:
    December 1st, 2013 at 10:56 am
    “Everyone on this rock is doin’ time

    You got that rite,

  33. VINCE 1%er Says:

    Much Praise and Accolades out to the HAMC and their “Attorney from Hell’ Mr. Fritz Clapp.
    The NY Times is probably reeling from the response to such an article,but I Hope it opened peoples eyes and made a few million SOA watchers : Wake the Fuck Up,and at the same time brought to light the Honest & “Regular Guy” Existence of such an MC Club to the armchair American Public which relies on the NY Times for Honest and In Depth-Objective Reporting.
    I for one thought the article was a bit too one sided and reeked of innuendo and undercurrents of thuggery and ruffianism of past reported incidents that the press covered (yeah I thought those words up myself)….
    But It was also a piece I enjoyed reading because I and many others here *KNOW* what the club is about and despite the article the HAMC will ALWAYS have My (and Millions of Others) Respects & Well wishes.

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