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Based on Hunter S.

Thompson's Novella, Hells Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga

Terror On Wheels
By

Samantha Reagan Selman

December 9, 2011

Terror On Wheels

I. Hunter S. Thompson A. Free-lance writer from Louisville, Kentucky B. Has written for several magazines and newspapers 1. The Nation 2. Esquire 3. Rolling Stone C. Spent over a year with the Hells Angels doing research for his novel II. The Bass Lake run A. The Bass Lake run was the first HAMC social gathering attended by Hunter Thompson B. Towspeople were angered by the immoral display of drugs, rape, and LSD induced dancing C. Hunter is caught recording conversations, his first close-call III. Labor Day 1966 A. Hunter S. Thompson is brutally beaten after making a comment to Junkie George B. Tiny helps Thompson escape death IV. History of the Hells Angels A. Founders of the Hell Angels 1. Otto Friedli a. former member of the P.O.B.O.B 2. Arvid Olson a. came up with the name Hells Angels b. served in World War II 3. Frank Sadilek a. designed the original death's head logo b. president of the San Francisco chapter B. Early chapters of the club 1. San Francisco 2. Gardena 3. Fontana

Terror On Wheels

Hunter S. Thompson was a free-lance writer from San Francisco, California as well as Aspen, Colorado and points east. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, he began writing as a sports columnist in Florida. He started his first novel while studying at Columbia University in New York City. Since then he has worked on newspapers and magazines in New York, San Juan and Rio de Janeiro. His articles have appeared in The Nation, Esquire and Rolling Stone. He worked mainly on short articles until he decided to write the Hells Angels novel. His research on the Hells Angels involved more than a year of close association with the outlaws - riding, loafing, plotting, and eventually being stomped at the 1966 Labor Day run. The Angels were a bit standoffish towards the young writer but eventually they had an epiphany. They could use Hunter Thompson's apartment for their social gatherings, he had enough money to buy all the beer they could handle and, most importantly, they could use him to get publicity. In turn, Thompson could gain popularity with the writing of this book. It was a win-win situation, or so they thought. In the year he spent with the Hells Angels, Thompson wrote about everything that happened in the HAMC. Without their knowledge or consent, Thompson recorded most of their conversations. At a run at Bass Lake, Thompson was caught recording the conversation between him and another Angel. The biker reacted by throwing Hunter's voice recorder into the bonfire. Luckily, there was not much more of a fuss at Bass Lake (it is a possibility that the angels were too much under the influence of drugs and alcohol to do much fighting). The Bass Lake run was a chaotic mixture of drug overdoses, rape, and dancing that disturbed the entire town. Police surrounded the lake, but at the time there was no law to stop the LSD-stimulated madness. People in the town were both horrified and fascinated with the Hells Angels, but it was more of the former. Some men worried for their daughters' wellbeing and planned to go after the outlaws with guns and chase them out of their town. However, the police didn't allow it. The Bass Lake run ended peacefully, with only a few citations for nothing more than broken tail-lights. It was around Christmas 1965, according to Hunter S. Thompson, when the Hells Angels had a run of bad luck. Terry the Tramp wrecked his bike, his house was blown up by rival gang members and their homemade bombs, and his wife left him. Several Angels died, including Mother Miles, a former president of the Sacramento chapter. So it was not a surprise that the next time the Angels saw Hunter S. Thompson, there was a kind of gloom hanging over their heads. The Angels were ready to explode at anyone who chose to confront them. Then Thompson pushed it a bit too far when telling an Angel by the name of Junkie George (who was witnessed beating his wife by Thompson) that only a punk beats his wife. George began to fight with Thompson, and as a rule, the other Angels were required to join in. Hunter Thompson would have been killed that day if it wasn't for Tiny, who stepped in just before Thompson's head was bashed in with a stone. His time with the Angels ended for the most part. Tiny and Terry the Tramp, his two most valuable friends, kept him informed of the goings-on in the club for a few years before completely drifting away. The Hells Angels were considered filth by those who encountered them, they're good deeds disregarded. Many of them carried around business cards that read, When we do right, no one remembers. When we do wrong, no one forgets. About half of them were drug addicts who held jobs only long enough to qualify for unemployment insurance. Yet the other half, the half few of us think about, owned their own homes and were sober for 364 days of the year (the Labor Day run requires that the Angels get drunk). They often took time to help stranded motorists. More than half of them are married and have children. A good percent of the Hells

Terror On Wheels

Angels were World War II veterans. Thompson was careful to state these facts. However, he was sure to emphasize the nasty side of the HAMC as well. In chapter seven, Thompson suggests that the Hells Angels were secretly homosexuals. The Angels would have probably assassinated the author for this alone, but Thompson also states that half of them were illiterate, so they couldn't have read his novel in the first place. He spends many chapters describing the vulgar sex acts performed on women (many of them under-aged). He clarified the numerous kidnappings of teenage girls. Whether or not all the contents of his novel are true, it is enough to make any reader want to avoid the Hells Angels at all costs. The Hells Angels were founded in 1948 by Otto Friedli, a former member of the P.O.B.O.B (the PissedOff Bastards of Bloomington). Arvid Olson, who had served in the Flying Tigers "Hells Angels" squadron in China during World War II , is responsible for the name of the club. Frank Sadilek, who designed the original death's head logo, served as President of the Frisco chapter. The Oakland chapter used a larger version of the patch nicknamed the "Barger Larger" which was first used in 1959 and later became the club standard. According to Ralph Sonny Barger, founder of the Oakland chapter, early chapters of the club were founded in San Francisco, Gardena, Fontana, as well as his chapter in Oakland, and other places independently of one another, with the members usually being unaware that there were other Hells Angels clubs. Others claim that the Hells Angels in San Francisco were originally organized in 1953 by Rocky Graves, a Hells Angel member from "Berdoo" (San Bernadino). This implies that the "Frisco" Hells Angels were very much aware of their forebears. The Hells Angels are sometimes depicted in a similar fashion as the James-Younger gang, as modern day legends, or as free spirited and iconic of an era of brotherhood and loyalty. Others describe them as a violent criminal gang and a scourge on society. The 1966 Roger Corman film, The Wild Angels depicts them as being more of the latter. The style that Thompson used to write this book is comparable to that of a newspaper or magazine article. He references everything in intricate flashback. The dialogue is increasingly offensive and many references to drugs are made. For instance, cartwheels and whites are commonly used to reference Benzedrine, a drug that is basic to the outlaws' diet. Rape and sodomy are frequently mentioned. For these reasons, the book was harshly criticized especially by feminists. One example is the criticism of Thompson's book by feminist Susan Brownmiller in her 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. Despite this, the novel had more positive reviews than negative. The book peeks into the lives of the most infamous bikers in America, as well as the history of the club, through the eyes of the most audacious journalist to ever live. With this book he invented a new style of writing that has inspired writers to go out there and see for themselves.

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