Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One Percenters

I recently started catching up with the FX cable series Sons of Anarchy. It is already on it's second season so I'm late to the party, but I am loving the show so far. Sons follows a Northern California motorcycle club in their social and criminal dealings. The show is chock full of great character actors, including more solid work from Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman, and Mitch Pileggi. Charlie Hunnam plays the lead as Jackson, son of the club's deceased founder. Hunnam has come a long way since his days as the Brit heartthrob on Undeclared. He does a great job tackling his Prince Hamlet-esque role on this show, questioning the club's leadership and motivation while trying to live up to his father's expectations.

I think it is impossible for any underworld investigation, fictional or otherwise, to not have a heavy gloss of romance. Sons absolutely dwells on the romance of the outlaw, but there are plenty of scenes in there to remind you of how downright evil these boys can be. Delving into the histories of North American motorcycle clubs is troubling and complicated business. Those histories are chronicles of the social development of modern North America. Clubs like the Chosen Few and the Ching-a-Ling Nomads (among many others) were pioneers of racial integration well before the rest of the United States had any interest in the matter (the latter doing so even while making liberal use of the swastika). At the same time, of course, there are plenty of club histories that trace the spread of crime, drugs, and violence, too. Still, if the first couple episodes of Sons of Anarchy don't make you want a(nother) black leather jacket or leave you wondering just how you'd look on a classic bike, you have no soul.
These photographs of the Hells Angels motorcycle club were lifted from the Life magazine archives. They were all taken by Bill Ray in California in 1965. Each of them are stunning, so please dig through the digital pile for the rest.

Considering the current climate of economic depression combined with a massive resurgence of all things Americana, we seem poised on the brink of another serious Biker Boom, dontcha think?

No comments: