Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rebels, Outlaws and Inventors

Lately, I have been in all sort of different "moods".

One time, I picked up half a documentary about Nikola Tesla while cleaning for one of the elderly people that we look after from our Care Organisation.

Back at home after work, I really wanted to figure out who that guy was. Because what was said in the documentary movie, made me wonder. I used to give Edison credit for electricity and light bulbs and stuff, but here I was finding out that this very computer I write on, this very light bulb that lits my room and basically anything that runs on electric current, is running on Nikola Tesla's ALTERNATING current, which is a more stable (over long distances) and cheaper current than the DIRECT current of Edison (which would have required a power station every mile).

After a couple more documentaries, I really got into it. And found out that Tesla also invented many other things (x-rays around the same time as Roentgen, radio transmission before Marconi but lack of financing stopped the completion of the Wardenclyffe Tower, with which Tesla not only had the plan of wireless communication overseas, but also to generate and distribute electricity for the entire country), some of which were forgotten, some of which still flourish to this day. Despite all the innovations he brought in his time, he died poor in the Hotel New Yorker in 1943.

Long time forgotten by most, yet still fascinating to me.


Another day, another story.

A little less than a month ago, I picked up some other stuff in our local newspaper, which immidiately got my attention. The paper had a report about cops searching the house of a German member of the Hells Angels, and not only confiscating his stuff, but also shooting his Kangal dog whelp.

I was like... what the fuck.

So that made me wonder, why would they do such a thing, and what kind of people are the Hells Angels actually. (This time I did not make the usual mistake by youtube-ing info, because most videos there make them look way worse than they essentially are).

I decided to go back to the basics, back to where it all started, and read up on the American Hells Angels, since after all, San Bernardino, California (also known as Berdoo) is where it all started back in 1948. Jumping a few years forward, 1957 brought up one of the most famous chapters of the Hells Angels to this day -the Oakland Chapter-, initiated by, amongst others, Ralph Hubert "Sonny" Barger.

I started reading the e-book "Hell's Angel, the life and times of Sonny Barger and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club". A very honest auto-biography, that shows both the good and the bad sides, he talks about drugs, prisons, and most of all about motorcycling and having fun with a great group of friends. (The book seemed familiar to me, after reading it, I checked in my other room, and sure enough I found the German hardcover edition on my shelf).

I started watching movies regarding motorcycle clubs around that time, and prior to that, basically everything from "The Wild One" to "Easy Rider". Inbetween ofcourse the proper biker movies with actual Hells Angels in them, like Hells Angels 69, and the movie "Gimme Shelter" about the incident at the free Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont Speedway, in which the Hells Angels were hired as security.

Now, I don't know how it was back in those days, because I haven't lived then, but firstly the place was PACKED, after all, it was a FREE concert, and approximately 300,000 people attended it. According to Sonny Barger, the stage was built pretty low, so that anyone could have literally jumped on the stage and done something to the bands that were playing there that night. So keeping people away from the stage (which was what the Hells Angels were supposed to do) seemed like a tough job, and who knows what would have happened if Meredith Curly Hunter would have made it to the stage with his gun. Better be safe than sorry.

As comparison  -they can be extremely lucky to only have had a total of 4 deaths in a concert such as that (and 4 births aswell, according to wikipedia!) - seeing as there were a total of 21 people killed and over 500 injured at the 2010 "Love Parade" in Duisburg, Germany (People died in a panic, there was no proper way to exit the festival grounds, however, the area which had been approved for 250,000 people was not even filled at the time of the incident).

But back to the bikers.

I went forward and watched a couple of episodes of Sons of Anarchy, and am also following the youtube progress of a novel-to-be-movie called Dead in 5 Heartbeats.

I think, after watching some of the movies and reading the books "Hell's Angel" and "Freedom - Credos from the Road" there is atleast one Hells Angel who gets my full respect - Sonny Barger.

Despite a shady past full of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll (if we count the Rolling Stones as that) and various other incidents that put him into prison at one time or another, Sonny Barger tells the whole truth about his life, his beliefs and the way he sees and experiences freedom. I like his honesty, a lot of people would try to hide those things, but not someone who stays true to himself, his family and his readers.

Closing this I'll add the motto of this so-called "outlaw-biker-gang": "When we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets." This seems to be true a lot of times, not only regarding bikers. (Even in my 28-year young life, it seems to be a recurring part, the good things I do are easily overlooked, whereas my mistakes are pointed out to me at any given chance).

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