Monday, July 26, 2010

Hollister, California

During my California Adventure with my mother, I made a pit stop in Hollister for all my biker friends.

Johnny's Bar and Grill, is apparently where the motorcycle rider chose to ride his motorcycle through the bar after tiring of the "ordinary motorcycle thrills." According to Melissa Good Taste, the bar has some good food, too.

Why is Hollister considered the birthplace of the American biker? For the whole story, I recommend Chapter 3 of the book One Percenter by Dave Nichols. But the short is sweet is that some 4000 bikers had ridden into town for a race weekend put on by the AMA over July 4, 1947. Apparently, SOME bikers decided to get a little too rowdy for the sleepy town. The incident was sensationalized in newspapers across the country and then exploded when Life magazine ran a photo of the incident.

Though not a Life Magazine cover, the photo of a random drunk sitting on a motorcycle sparked a nationwide change in the way bikers were viewed and the way bikers behaved. I recently read an excellent blog regarding the "Shot Seen 'Round the World."

To read more about this posed photograph, I recommend this Boozefighter history web page.

Side note regarding Boozefighters: there is a difference between the Boozefighters of today and the "Original Boozefighters" established in the 1940s. Any individual that has done some research can clearly differentiate between the two and will always differentiate by offering the "Original Boozefighters" the more honorary title. Unfortunately, the Boozefighters of today do not seem to recognize said difference.

Because of the American public's negative response to these surly bikers, the AMA issued a press release that claimed that the individuals who caused the trouble in Hollister were only "one percent" of the motorcycle enthusiasts in the country. The letter continued to say that 99 precent of those who enjoyed the sport of motorcycling were good, clean, God-fearing, hard-working American citizens. Thus the term "One percenter" became a "badge of honor for the bikers who felt disenfranchised by society." (One Percenter page 92)

I wonder why the incident in Angel's Camp, California ten years later didn't get as much press? After a lot of digging, I was able to find the text of a 1957 article from American Motorcyclist. The writer was hell-bent (pun intended) on convincing the reader that any AMA rider was an upstanding citizen. The opposing view, from a Hell's Angel, makes sure the reader knows that AMA riders are just as shady as Angels, but they choose to hide their rebellious spirit. Case in point: my one and only helmet sticker reads, "Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult."

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