Mad John
September 4, 2012 7:14 AM   Subscribe

BBC documentary from 1973 on the London Chapter of the Hell's Angels (SLYT 24:37)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (23 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Years ago I saw a greaser with the regulation leathers/denim and "Hell's Angles" emblazoned on the back. I thought the better of drawing his attention to the error - I think I'd rapidly have found myself at an angle too......of about 180 degrees (cue gales of laughter, ambulance sirens etc).

I'm not being self-congratulatory or anything but that anecdote is almost good enough for Reader's Digest. No really..
posted by MajorDundee at 7:25 AM on September 4, 2012


It could have been a clever reference to the fact he was an actually an Angle.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 7:36 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Satan's land surveyor?
posted by cmoj at 7:36 AM on September 4, 2012


MajorDundee, you could have quoted Pope Gregory the Great
posted by iotic at 7:38 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was hilarious.

See also another 1970s BBC documentary - on brummie Hell's Angels. Where Sylvia marries a biker called Hitler who has a thing for the Nazis. And then Hitler and Sylvia go to meet the inlaws.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:44 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I'd rapidly have found myself at an angle too......of about 180 degrees (cue gales of laughter, ambulance sirens etc).

I used to not understand angles, but I turned that situation around 360 degrees.
posted by DU at 7:49 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Between the Hells Angels and gangs of vicious Keep Left signs, London sounds like a helluva place ...
posted by barnacles at 7:57 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It could have been a clever reference to the fact he was an actually an Angle.

I don't think clever was featuring significantly in the gentleman's repertoire, if memory serves...
posted by MajorDundee at 8:04 AM on September 4, 2012


I don't recognize them. They're all young and thin!
posted by bicyclefish at 8:05 AM on September 4, 2012


"The only member of the family John has any time for is the half-crazed Alsatian he calls 'Hitler'."
posted by bicyclefish at 8:06 AM on September 4, 2012


Those are some pretty shabby bikes. I could stomach the BSA's, Triumphs, Nortons, after all, it's England, but what appeared to be a 350 honda made me chuckle.
posted by HuronBob at 8:11 AM on September 4, 2012


That Bedford pickup is classy!
posted by carter at 8:25 AM on September 4, 2012


I liked how the narration helpfully clarifies "marijuana" and "LSD" as "grass" and "acid" but nobody explained it to the narrator so he just rattles them all off as if it's four drugs, not two.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:26 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The parody beat them by four years.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:39 AM on September 4, 2012


Funnily, if you take away the patches and Hitler (and probably the drugs), you get my dad and his friends around the same era: Slightly shaggy haired guys in jumpers riding Triumphs.
posted by madajb at 8:41 AM on September 4, 2012


It's interesting to see this snapshot. They all look so young! Twenty years later when I knew a lot of these people, they were older, wiser and not quite so laughable.

It was an interesting scene, but it's almost gone now. There were a lot of clubs throughout the UK, some more serious than others, but now there are no young prospects I know of and 'lifestyle' MCs like the Angels are in decline.

Things may be about to come round again though; I wonder whether the current 'age of austerity' will generate the same disaffected, impoverished but self-contained underground.
posted by BadMiker at 8:56 AM on September 4, 2012


MajorDundee: I'm not being self-congratulatory or anything but that anecdote is almost good enough for Reader's Digest. No really....

Hells Angles ... a New Yorker cartoon.

Aside from that, these guys are no joke.
posted by mule98J at 10:20 AM on September 4, 2012


I love it. They really went out of their way to show these dudes are the worst possible sort didn't they. I lost it when that guy's best friend "popped round on day release from the local mental hospital".
posted by Ad hominem at 10:23 AM on September 4, 2012


Nazi insignia?
Was/is this just a London thing?
I'd never heard of this kind of thing in the context of the Hells Angels before.
posted by oxidizer at 10:49 AM on September 4, 2012


Nazi insignia?
Was/is this just a London thing?
I'd never heard of this kind of thing in the context of the Hells Angels before.


Slate: "Highway to Heil":
"A friend of [Jesse] James explained to US Weekly that the Nazi pictures don't make James a neo-Nazi or a racist, "He's into history," the person says. "The swastika deal is to scare people. It's part of biker culture."
That might be true—if this were 1969. Anyone who's read Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels or seen older biker movies like The Glory Stompers (1968) knows that biker gangs would sometimes wear swastikas or iron crosses—a German decoration during World War II.
But Nazi symbolism is a lot less common among bikers than it used to be, says Tom Barker, a professor of criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University who studies motorcycle gangs. "It's really unusual," says Barker. Biker gangs used to roam American highways with all kinds of Nazi insignia—swastikas, iron crosses, SS-style lightning bolts, steel helmets, peaked caps. But that stuff has gone out of fashion in the last decade or two, says Barker. (...)
There's always been a connection between motorcycle gangs and white supremacy. None of the five major American gangs—Hells Angels, Banditos, Outlaws, Mongols, and Pagans—are said to allow black people to become members (there's the occasional reported exception), although some have begun to recruit Latinos. And some members sport tattoos that explicitly endorse white power, like the "W" and "P" on the back of Michelle McGee's legs. Some chapters of the Hells Angels have even reportedly linked up with neo-Nazis."
posted by iviken at 2:35 PM on September 4, 2012


From my understanding, a lot of the popularity of Nazi paraphernalia in the sixties and seventies among angry rebellious types was not much more than an attempt to piss off their parents, who were the ones to bring it all over in the first place as war souvenirs.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:48 PM on September 4, 2012


Adam Curtis's take on the film is that 'it uses the Hells Angels as a comic and exaggerated parody of the emptiness of the daily life for everyone in Britain'. Having watched the film, I can see what he means. There are some very Pythonesque moments (e.g. 11:10, 'What do you think of your son being a Hell's Angel?' 'Well, so long as he behaves himself' .. and isn't that Graham Chapman in the police car at 17:50?). A touch of Withnail too in the melancholy ending.
posted by verstegan at 3:38 PM on September 4, 2012


"We're not the weekend bikers that go to the seafront kicking all the old age pensioners... we're past that. We did that 14 years ago."

13 years later, the Outlaws
posted by BadMiker at 4:32 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older Now that we're in the homestretch toward the Novem...  |  Photographer Noah Kalina (prev... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments