Beware Hollister

February 5, 2014

All Posts, News

Hollister, always just the one word, was the historic moment the earth moved for the pagan gods who gave the world the motorcycle outlaw menace.

The sleepy, little, farming town sponsored a three day Gypsy Tour over Independence Day weekend in 1947 and about a thousand motorcycle enthusiasts and their women showed up. The enthusiasts, who included members of still extant clubs like the Boozefighters and extinct ones like the Tulare Riders, camped out and drank in public parks. One of them was arrested for urinating in public. Dozens of them raced up and down San Benito Street and three of them were seriously injured in crashes.

Enter what was until recently called “the working press.” A couple of old pros from the San Francisco Chronicle – a reporter named C. I. Dourghty Jr. and a photographer named Barney Peterson – got to Hollister Sunday night and did their jobs: Which was to tell a story that would help their employer sell some newspapers. Peterson called the weekend an “outburst of terrorism” that included “wrecking of bars, bottle barrages into the streets from upper story windows and roofs and high speed racing of motorcycles though the streets.” The situation became so dire, Dourghty wrote, that 30 California Highway Patrolmen eventually “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.” A local politician told Dourghty, “There appears to be no serious damage. These trick riders did more harm to themselves than the town.”

The Legend Grows

The Chronicle never ran Dourghty’s story but three weeks later Life Magazine called the event the “Hollister Motorcycle Riot” and ran one of Barney Peterson’s photos above a caption that read “Cyclist’s Holiday: He and his friends terrorize a town.” “He” was a Tulare Rider named Eddie Davenport. Eddie was very drunk and Peterson’s photo had been carefully staged.

Dourghty and Peterson’s fine, old fashioned journalism eventually inspired a spokesman for the American Motorcyclist Association to complain that the rioters were “outlaws” who represented only “one percent” of the motorcycling community. The journalists also inspired a writer named Frank Rooney to make up a story called “Cyclists Raid” which was eventually transformed into a movie called The Wild One. The movie gave the world one of the great lines in American cinema.

“Hey Johnny,” an easy blonde asked the leader of the biker gang. “What are you rebelling against?”

“What’ve you got,” Johnny replied.

It is said that Kurt Sutter, who has given the world Sons of Anarchy, keeps a copy of Johnny’s quip over his desk for inspiration. The few people who have ever actually watched The Wild One, rather than merely reading about it, know that the climax occurs when the bikers have to be rescued from the town folk.

And, all of that was then.

Times Change

Now the town of Hollister exploits the myth of the way we were with a motorcycle rally most July Fourth weekends. The town recently decided to hold the rally every year for at least the next decade. The event provides an excellent opportunity to gouge tourists. And, police from miles around are guaranteed very many hours of overtime. This year’s rally will begin Friday July Fourth and end Sunday July Sixth. The event will feature 50 bands on three stages and “two giant beer gardens.” And yes, promoters promise, “bikes will be parking on San Benito Street!”

There will even be something new in Hollister this year. The city is adding forty video surveillance cameras at a cost of $300,000. Virtually every inch of downtown Hollister will be continuously surveilled.

“It’s a force multiplier,” Police Chief David Westrick told Salinas television station KSBW. “It’s a way of expanding our eyes and ears by 20 more people with these electronic eyes.”

Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez told the station he thinks George Orwell’s totalitarian dystopia, summarized in the novel 1984, is an idea whose time has come. “There’s always Big Brother until it’s you that’s a victim,” Velazquez said while wearing a long coat and a tall hat to cover his dragon’s tail and horns. “Then you want Big Brother’s video tape to show what happened.”

So if you go to Hollister’s annual commemoration of mayhem this year, be very careful to scrupulously obey every law. Big Brother will be watching every move you make while you’re there.



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33 Responses to “Beware Hollister”

  1. HOUSE Says:

    I was there in 2005 before the cancelation and then re-emergence. I remember cops, cops everywhere, multiple agencies it was a joke, had to mind your P’s and Q’s. Majority of attendees were HOG folks and citizen types. Can’t imagine why they would need even more surveillance as there was an army of cops back then.


  2. Straight Shooter Says:

    Good heads up for anyone planning on attending. LOTS of tickets seem likely. And those cameras (most, if not all) will remain in place. With facial recognition going viral the ‘its a small world’ becomes all too real. The Life magazine and Hollywood media machine have been owned and controlled by the same ‘group’ forever. They have used the biker world w/cable shows non stop since what Jesse James? CASH COW.

  3. Slick Says:

    Nothing like legalized robbery. We will take your money but really don’t want you. I will wait for the requisite arrest of a few patch holders so the cops can say “see we kept you safe. Give is more money for more cameras so we can watch you better.” Freedom is disappearing at a rapid rate all in the name of security without people realizing the security force may be the real danger.

    Respects all


  4. Va.Bob Says:

    Those surveillance cameras are cornball-style,man.

  5. autisticsouls Says:

    Well with the Snowden NSA files, and he bill Obama signed into law in The National Defense Authorization Act I think we are at a Police State already. i’m actually trying to find this article. It’s Newsweek: Police State: America’s New Way of Life

    Scary Cover but can’t find the article itself,

  6. OC VAGO 1%er Says:

    Explain to me again why I want to go to a place of angry lynch mob residents, overpriced food & beers & hotel rooms, over aggressive cops, dickhead drunk strangers and their stupid fat ass ol ladies, asshole posers, Laffing Devils dildos, idiots that cant ride, Sons of Anarchy lookalikes & Sin Mobber fags that I don’t want to know?

    p.s Did I leave anyone out? Well fuck them too.

  7. DesertH-D Says:

    OC Vago – That was fucking perfect. That’s all…

  8. HOUSE Says:

    OC Vago… lol, that was outstanding! I foresee Carnival running with that idea for a themed cruise!

    Respect to those that deserve it

  9. Paladin Says:

    OC VAGO 1%er,

    LMFAO! You really have nailed it!

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


  10. Jim666 Says:

    OC Vago
    I use to think I wanted to go to Hollister at least one time kinda like a bucket list thing cause Ive never been but after the truth you just posted im now sure I

  11. JMacK Says:


    I was thinking that very thing!

    OC Vago 1%er

    Thanks for the reminder! haha


  12. WARTHOG Says:

    @OC VAGO 1%er,

    You left out the IOMC, IBMC, and a number of other LEO clubs that would be oh so much fun to mingle with. Fuck’em. If they served shitty vendor food at 26th and California here in the Chi, I wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart. Ain’t that right, Sieg? Lol




  13. Oldskewl Says:

    This run and every run like it has been taken over by the RUBS. Those with half a brain cell and in the know stay as far away as possible.
    The BF’s have a good reason to attend, this is their run, problem is they get some of the worst harassment by LE so they always camp on the outer edges of town.

    I can count the number of “old school” runs on one hand and those are disappearing too.


  14. MFFM (ret.) Says:

    OC VAGO, yer rite about what it has become.
    My Dad was there with the Boozefighters in ’47 an’ I’ll always remember what he told me about it, he said “it was just a party”

  15. Snow Says:

    I gave up on big rallies many years ago, they became nothing but a way for greedy politicians and cops to harrass you and empty your pockets of your hard earned coin.
    The smaller ones are getting hard to find but usually worth the effort, I’ve had great times at the Bama Bike Fest and the June Bug Boogie in the past.
    I’m hoping to be able to get back to Maggie Valley this spring, never been to their rally but the riding in the area is so good it’s worth checking out.
    Hopefully spring’ll get moving our way soon and start warming things up some. When that happens it doesn’t really matter where you riding to as long as your riding. Be safe out there.
    Support Your Local

  16. StupidRub Says:

    We went in 2008, more clubs than Rub’s. That being said, there was more LE than I have ever seen in my life. All the alphabet agencies as well as state and local LE. DOJ was stationed at the entrance to several of the bars we wanted to go into. Stiff as a board and staring straight ahead. I guess they replaced the welcome sign.

  17. Indethinker Says:

    would rather go some other time of the year and appreciate the history on my own terms, tired of LE B/S. I spent a day and a half at Sturgis 2 years ago too many Rubs guess been a loner on an old thumper makes me a freak to them anyway, got tired of those fools asking “why don’t you have a Harley ?”
    Where did all the old bikers with oil under their fingernails and greasy hands go ?

  18. stroker Says:

    Because I live in the area, and because I meet friends there every year, I do go, but try to avoid the crush. Usually I slip through the back streets to get to Johnnys or Whiskey Creek. Been “attending’ in this fashion since the 80’s. Out and back, same day, do what I gotta do, and get out. The last few years including 2008 were the same mix of RUBS and weekend Harley riders. Some clubs there, but never in the majority. However, if you’re in a club, you can expect attention. Boozefighters are there yes, but the club that “owns” the downtown is the Top Hatters. they’ve been holding their poker run during the rally for many, many years. They do a good job.
    Hollister is trying to model itself after Sturgis, complete with squads of cops. However, that being said, last years rally was done with mostly local LE, and there was virtually no problems of any note.
    Also last year, I was forced to mingle with the crowds, and had to “swim upstream” to get to the “Beer garden” which I will NEVER do again!
    It was just a fucking zoo! Too many people. too many drunk wannabe cop magnets. The only up-side were the throngs of scantily clad bitches.
    OK, so there is a good side!
    It’s a money maker for Hollister, and the city council and new police chief are a lot more realistic and pro-active about this rally then they used to be.
    They’ve finally figured out the money angle!

  19. RtC Says:

    I’m kinda “on the fence” about putting this out there, but Pawhuska,OK
    has one of the BEST BIKER PARTIES around. They have 2 a year, 1 in April,
    If you get the chance, go to the BIKERS IN THE OSAGE party in SEPTEMBER.
    Tell Nelson, Redwolf sent ya. His ex(Pam) runs the April party & IT SUX! RUB-
    VILLE. ALMOST all CLUBS gather here, both times, but the BEST is SEPTEMBER!
    Missed it myself, but National Geo did a filming of the 5th largest party in the USA! They keep inviting me back, but I’m too crippled to make it & sell my concho’s
    PROMISE ya won’t cuss me!!!
    Redwolf the Conchoman

  20. RtC Says:

    BTW!!! Show up on THURSDAY to get a camping spot!!!!!! THIS PARTY ROCKS!!!

  21. CN Says:

    Prior to Pearl Harbor my Dad rode an Indian Scout & worked at Kodak as a factory worker. December 7th happened and he enlisted the next day into a War where he would be on three ships all sunk in the South Pacific. He got an Honorable Discharge after #3 got torpedoed & upon arriving home found that his Scout had been sold. As far as I’m aware he never rode again. He wasn’t riding when Hollister happened which was 10 years before I was born. When I’d show up at the homestead with fellow Bikers in tow he’d walk around the bikes and admire them while treating those who rode them like old friends. Mom was dead set against anything on two wheels, Dad kept his fondness of them to himself and never objected to my riding them but was strongly against my joining the Marines. A Judge offered me either time in Prison or time in the Marines. Dad thought Prison was a better deal, Mom didn’t. That generation is given the credit for starting our Culrure/Way of Life. Maybe that’s true but on balance I tend to believe the next generation which came up in the 50’s/60’s is better credited for what we have become.

    The Big for profit Rallies sponcored by municipalities and sometimes claimed by Clubs ain’t what they used to be (what is?). Personally I don’t care how many Cops are there, my criteria is whether or not my Club is there. And, if they are then so am I and if not then I can’t see myself there either. I’ve been to Daytona, Myrtle Beach and Sturgis and there’s plenty to do and see at these venues. If I have a gripe it’s that it’s getting priced out of my wallet’s pay grade. Showing up with a bed roll and whatever gets you through the night then finding a friendly camp fire gets harder every year. Glad I don’t have to do that anymore as we’ve always got a park or Motel staked out where the RUB experience isn’t going to be a problem. If I stayed away from everywhere that had Cops & Feds I’d go nowhere. Other than road blocks coming and going I don’t have much if any interaction with that sort of garbage, segregation has it’s rewards.

    Probably won’t ever make it to Hollister. If you are going there be safe, and treat each other as you would be treated. If it were just me and a few friends I can see no reason to not go if that’s what I wanted to do. One event I’ve always heard was cool is the ROT in Texas. Probably won’t make it there either but that’s cool. I ride & live with my own kind and appreciate that above all else.

    L&R cn

  22. Jim666 Says:

    Sorry to hear you aint getting around that well, Btw Im still enjoying the Conches you made me, and get comments all the time about them from brothers to just who ever notices them, wear one on each lower pocket on my cut, and want to thank you very much for them . great work and quality.
    If anyone is interested in getting some custom made Redwolf the conchoman “RtC” is tha man. He does great work.
    Im really not a concho type but these are very tastful
    My club`s name on one and the office I held at the time and date on the other
    Figured I toss a plug in here for ya, hope ya don’t mind.

    F.T.F. F.T.P. F.T.A.T.F. F.T.F.B.I. F.T.D.E.A. F.T.G.


  23. Whitepride Says:

    I live in the northeast and started going to Laconia in the 80s. You won’t catch me there or any big rally anymore. Laconia turned into a cop rally. Who wants to go to a place where a chick gets arrested for flashing her tits and you are worried the whole time about getting pinched for a DWI. Same thing in Daytona. Daytona isn’t what it used to be. These events are good for nothing but selling merchandise. The only event I attend now is Harley Rendezvous in upstate New York. It’s on private property and cops aren’t allowed. And surprise surprise there is no need for cops. Everyone parties, gets crazy for a weekend and goes home. Seldom is there any trouble and if there is it gets taken care of internally. No fucking need for government oversight which is taking over every other aspect of our lives and turning cops into a government military arm and destroying whats left of our freedom!

  24. Cap'n Bill Says:

    Like many have indicated, I steer away from big events and wander in my own direction and take my sweet time. There are still highways and byways to discover without crowds or , usually(!), LE types fuckin’ with me.
    @ Redwolf – how’s it hangin’, I hate to hear that you’re not doing so well


  25. cn Says:

    Redwolf the Conchoman: I’ve tried to find a website or whatever where youve got your wares and as usual where computers are concerned I can’t so, if there’s an address (www.whatever) please publish it here or maybe one of you who know it can. Rebel has my e-mail address if needed. Thanks. -cn

  26. BMW Says:

    Rebel is correct to point out that probably everything in the town will be recorded. Today, American cities have the opportunity to purchase street lights, direct from the manufacturer, with built-in audio and video capabilities. European cities have done the same for years. It is estimated that London has more than a million video surveillance cameras installed — that estimate is about ten years old. Some cities have used real-time audio triangulation to identify the source of gunshots for even longer.

    These days, I expect my every move to be recorded and stored by LE agencies. There might be some small towns where this is not true at this time. I certainly expect all my internet traffic to be monitored as well. Very little can be secret in the modern world.

  27. RtC Says:

    @JIM666 Don’t mind at all. Matter of fact, THANK YA very much. I sure do
    miss being able to do the rally circuit.A crazy notion pops in my head
    once in a while”Hell, let’s load up & go!” Then reality hits me square
    in th’ head when I realize what it takes, physically, to just load up!
    Ah, well. It was fun while it lasted(15 years)

    @cn Sorry but I don’t have a website as I’m just a 1-man gig. I usually
    just send out a flier with my info on it since I don’t travel anymore.
    Can REBEL give you MY address from here? If so, just put CONCHOS in
    the subject line & I’ll send you a flier. If there is a PM section on
    the site, I haven’t found it yet.
    Redwolf the Conchoman

  28. stroker Says:

    I am too am putting a plug in for Redwolf. I too have some of his conchos, with my club’s initials, and my office at the time. Really nice work.
    Thanks RtC……see ya at Redwwod run??

  29. Paladin Says:


    I too would be interested in your conchos. You can get my contact info from Rebel. OR; with your permission, Rebel can give me your contact info.

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


  30. RtC Says:

    @ Cap’nBill, I’m still kickin’, just not as hard as I used
    Been disabled since 1976, but last few years have really caught up with
    me. I’m sure I should have listened to the docs, but then I wouldn’t have had as much fun as I did! ;) After 30yrs. of 2-wheelin’ I had to quit that in ’97, bout f’n killed me! Then the Concho thing came along in ’98 & I was able to rally until 2006. Been home ever since.:( Hell, I don’t even drive anymore, & with havin’ the Ol’lady be chauffer, needless to say, I STAY HOME!Scares th’ SHIT out of me!!!
    I’ve kinda been doing other stuff besides the Concho’s, so have to
    wait a bit to get $$$$$ for my blanks before I fire up the hammer agin,
    BUT, I WILL, rest assured. I got a whole bunch of new character stamps
    that I’m chompin’ at the bit to use.
    Anyway, Best to you & yours!
    RESPECTS to the REAL
    Redwolf the Conchoman

  31. RtC Says:

    @ Stroker, THANKS! Read my post to Cap’n Bill. Mailbox is about as far as
    I get these days.
    @Paladin Yeah, get my info from REBEL. I tried to E him but no go, so…
    @REBEL, I don’t mind you giving my contact info to the ones you know,
    know what I mean.F’n feds have STOLEN enough of my pieces over the years
    through confiscations(especially OK. area) that I don’t feel obliged to
    even sell them any!
    RESPECTS to the REAL
    Redwolf the Conchoman Out for the nite,ya’ll!

  32. Biker Bob Says:

    Yeah, things got a bit crazy few years back, but don’t condemn Hollister just yet. Original promoters say the Rally was Sonny Barger’s idea back in 1996 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1947 event. By 2005 the event had evolved akin to a police state. But Hollister now has a new police chief and sheriff, both of who have been reported to not be “anti biker” like previous office holders. In addition, the downtown street is no longer officially a state highway, now there is a by-pass so state police have a bit less authority.
    The ugliness of cameras, is unfortunate everywhere we go lately, but I’ve been told they had fewer arrests or other police actions last year than previous years. The 50,000 or so who attended had a good time as did I. Its not a Sturgis yet, but I believe the worst is behind us. Give Hollister a chance.

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