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Sam's Picks for the Week, October 27, 2020

Is there and Understanding to be Found or a Code

By Bandit with photos supplied by Sam Burns

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Sam picks for the Week October 27, 2020

This effort has forced me to think about all the bullshit in my past, the good and the bad. It makes me think about how and why I survived. I’m sure Sonny had to face the same demons when he started to write about his life. I have a close friend who was a member of the Outlaws for 20 or so years. He spent seven years in prison in the east.

He constantly tells me about shit he did or was involved in. Some are terrific stories, which I might share with you. I was only around the Hells Angels for 2.5 years. I recently wrote about the fights I was in during the time I was a member. It’s posted in the Life and Times of Bandit. I needed to set the record straight after George Christie’s book. I don’t talk much about anything else I was involved with.

It’s interesting to talk to my Outlaw buddy and members of other clubs. Some were actually clubs. Some were brotherhoods and families. Others were just drug driven gangsters. Most ended up in jail or dead. It was one trick bag after another, very little brotherhood at all. But different charters had different personalities.

Okay, so I escaped club life and returned to my fulltime gig with Easyriders magazine. We were having our own drug-related issues. It was mostly a constant party.

Lou Kimzey, who was my boss bought a tennis ranch in the Malibu Hills and my office was a motel room over-looking pine trees. We used the motel rooms as offices and some of them surrounded the pool. It was sort of a worn old tennis resort, but it was cool as could be for our purposes.

We started In The Wind magazine and then Iron Horse magazine, which contained metric bikes. There was a large building facing the parking lot and it became the art department. We were at the corner of Malibu Canyon and Kanan Road right next to Calamigos Ranch where the Love Ride ended for several years.

I remember four Hells Angels coming into my office one day, pissed off about something in the magazine. I don’t remember what the issue was, but I dealt with it. David Ortega was one of the Ventura members. He spread a rumor that I owed him money. He made me an iron bed frame earlier. It was an opportunity to ask him if I owed him any money, which he admitted that I didn’t. Nothing more was said and they left.

I didn’t hang out with anyone in particular. I was constantly riding with bike builders and members of the staff or helping them with bikes. This is one of those lessons I try to share with younger riders. If you hang out at the same bar constantly, you’ll end up in trouble. That trouble will escalate if you keep going back. Some folks don’t learn and pay the price.

The same applies to the story above. I didn’t go to Ventura to look for David, I waited until he was on my turf to confront him. The same applies to cops. Stay away from them and they’ll stay away from you.

I remember riding to the Kern River run one summer. I’ll never forget riding through some fields South of Bakersfield. I was riding my first cone-motor Shovelhead. We slipped off Highway 99 at Wheeler Ridge. The fields were flat, spinach green and vast. I ran an open primary and when we came to an intersection, my bike didn’t shift well. It wouldn’t come out of gear.

When I looked down, some of the clutch splines were creeping into the open. I had to keep rolling. Hot as hell, we didn’t stop until we reached a town just before we were scheduled to slip into the hills. It could have been Weedpatch or Edison. I found a gas station owner who had a repair shop out back and a set of torches.

Even though it was a sizzling hell, I tore the bike down and discovered clutch splines pulling through the hub. I had a terrible time getting enough heat to the hub to allow me to gas weld the splines back to the thick steel hub. I couldn’t mess with the bearing surface of the hub. The splines were smashed on the backside like rivets. Ultimately I shifted to building the weld up on the splines.

Miraculously, I was able to tack the splines enough to allow me to ride to the camp site up the winding two-lane highway 178 passed Bodfish and Miracle Hot Springs alongside Lake Isabella.

The deeper we rolled into the canyon the more motorcycles we heard. We rolled along the winding road past Kernville into the camping area along the stream. That’s when the party started. It was beautiful, and the heat was at bay with the strong cooling stream whipping down the hillside around massive granite boulders and pine trees shading the camping area.

It was in the afternoon while we were drinking tequila and chewing the fat, when a member of the crew approached in a panic. “A guy pulled a knife on one of our riders,” he said and pointed to a rock formation separating our campsite from another.

I approached a surfer looking guy wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts, wielding a long ivory-handled Bowie knife. He had long hair as I approached him and told him to put the knife away.

“No knives,” I said. “If you want to fight go for it, but no weapons.”

As soon as I turned my back to leave this jackass pulled that long blade again and slashed out to strike one of our riders, a young kid who was just having fun.

I spun and hit this bastard with my half-full bottle of Cuervo Gold, which immediately knocked him off his feet and he fell to the rocky surface below. I jumped on him, took the knife and said, “Go for what you know mother-fucker.”

Later that night my buddy Toby approached me a couple of times. The guy from the other camp wanted his knife back. “You know the code,” I told him. “Use it or lose it.” By the way, I didn’t break the fifth of tequila. It lasted until I finished it. Then shit got strange.

The next morning, I rolled out of the hills along winding paths and my clutch held. The Shovelhead motored easily to the 5 Interstate and onto a two-lanner leading into the west side of Ventura county. I held onto that knife for a couple of decades before it disappeared.

The violent side of life subsided and I became aware of the chopper mission. Sex, chrome and creativity. We were living is strange untamed times. The moral fabric of our society became unleashed with rock and roll, hot rods and choppers. We were free like never before and girls were also free to explore and exploit their beauty like never before.

Easyriders represented freedom, the freedom to build, create and sexual freedom. In a sense it was pure, but there’s an on-going struggle in life when it comes to sex. It’s fun, pleasurable, alluring but it was designed for just one purpose to have children and further the race.

The brother who truly understood the code was a family guy, who had a wife and a couple of kids but he also enjoyed the creative aspect of building bikes. He understood the connection between the shape of a woman’s body, her glistening eyes and carefully applied make-up and the shape of his chopper, the flowing lines, the chrome and the pinstriped make-up.

When the rest of us hungry dogs finished working on our bikes, we smoked a joint and went looking for love, and the family guy returned home to his crew. The lure was hot and heavy every day, and some family guys broke down and were sucked into the scene by some slippery broad with erect nipples and perhaps the desire to use her sexual prowess to destroy a man or his family.

Don’t look at me. I’m guilty of every sin. Even today, I’m reading about the moral man and how women’s desires are different. They aren’t as deceived by shape and beauty, but they can be manipulated by the power and strength of a man. It seems they are wired from the beginning of time to find a man who will give them stout offspring and financial security.

I’ve thought recently about the Chopper code, and the outlaw life. I’ve thought about kids today and how the new Easyriders Magazine could be successful. Many young folks grew up today around parents struggling with new freedoms, running from relationship to relationship, broken homes and disappearing folks.

They are more settled and have no desire to follow the same path. I see it in my grandson’s eyes. He’s a tattoo artist who wants to build bikes, drive a cool sleek ’62 Impala, but when it comes to women he is constantly tested, but he seeks only stability and integrity when it comes to the opposite sex.

I think about my evil ways. I ponder the violence, the sex, the girls in every town and state, the passion, and the desire for custom everything. Maybe it’s something embedded in my eyes that seeks only sleek lines and rounded curves. Choppers give us all those things purely, without strings and attachments. They almost contain the touch with chrome and pure pearlescent lines, but not the warmth of a woman’s smile or the softness of her touch.

The book the Moral Animal, by Robert Wright proports to tell us: Why we are the way we are, through the new science of evolutionary psychology.

I’m still digging through it and questioning how three kids from the same family and upbringing can follow three distinctly different paths. What makes one brother stick with one profession and one wife throughout his entire adult life and the other sticks with only choppers and sex, gets married five times, lives with a half-dozen other women, leaves jobs, starts businesses, write books, set records, travel around the world and is constantly searching for something new with choppers always at his back?

The conundrum of life never ends for the adventurer and the blue-collar outlaw. Hang on for my next report. I discovered an old dusty plastic bag stuffed with a multitude of small envelopes from the ‘60s. My mother save every letter I wrote home from three tours off the coast of Vietnam. Hang on!

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Reader Comments

Great story, I love these Here in Charlotte I had a great friend He passed away about 4 years agoi I met him when I came to Charlotte I worked part time at a small shop here. He would come in and sit for hours telling stories of the outlaw life here.

I miss him We were in a club together. By the way great looking bikes!

charlotte, NC
Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Dime Bag Leather
Dime Bag Headquarters, IL
Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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