This man is no longer a one percenter

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By

barger

Time to update the pop culture lexicon. Originally coined by “outlaw” bikers in response to the AMA’s response to the 1947 Hollister Riot, it used to be that the “1%” label referred to the small number of motorcyclists who weren’t law abiding citizens. Now? A bunch of punk kids have co-opted the term, using it in Occupy Wall Street protests to symbolize the income differential between America’s richest citizens and those affected by the current recession. Ask any kid on the street, Sonny Barger is no longer a 1%er.

Photo: Clay Gardner

Memorialized by Marlon Brando and “The Wild One,” the Hollister Riot was an AMA sanctioned rally, which included racing, that attracted a larger-than-expected audience. Out of 4,000 or so bikers that descended on Hollister, California the weekend of July 4, 1947, 50 were arrested for for crimes like public intoxication and disturbing the peace. Newspapers sensationalized the event as a riot, staging photos of rowdy behavior to feed public outcry about scary bikers. In response, the AMA was alleged to have stated, then later denied saying, “the trouble was caused by the one per cent deviant that tarnishes the public image of both motorcycles and motorcyclists.” Whether it was that statement or something along the lines of “99 percent of motorcyclists are law abiding citizens,” the one percent identifier was seized on by unsanctioned or “outlaw” motorcycle clubs as a badge of honor.

Today, “1%” patches and the “1%er” identifier are used primarily by members of motorcycle gangs like the Mongols or Hell’s Angels as a generic term descriptor for the outlaw biker lifestyle.

Now, a grassroots spring of protests has popularized the use of “1%” to refer to America’s richest citizens. The Occupy Protests encompass a wide range of participants, causes and complaints, appearing to be more a general expression of youth disaffection than a a specific agenda. As such, the “other 99%” can refer to those impacted by the recession (with the implication that the 1% caused it, but suffered no consequences) or a more general authority/citizen rich/poor dynamic.

This Tumblr blog is a good clearing house of 99 percent-related sentiments.

So, a term that used to mean badass biker now means something along the lines of rich asshole. Somehow, there’s a nice symmetry to the devolution of biker culture in there too. From counterculture to mainstream to time for replacement…

  • Dumptruckfoxtrot

    So is there anyway to shoehorn something about motorcycles into the Iranian plot for the next article?

    • Thom

      Absolutely

      Just give em a minute . I’m sure there’s gotta be some weird undiscovered , unpublicized connection.

      Wait …… maybe I’ve got it . The Mexican Hit squads leader owns Che Guevara’s M/C and was gonna use it for the getaway vehicle .

      Or maybe not !

    • Gene

      Weren’t some Iranian nuclear scientists assassinated by guys on motorcycles last year? There ya go!

      • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

        How ’bout HFL coverage of Ashton Kutcher making out with “models” — he prolly filmed himself doing it like he filmed his botched motorcycle ride a couple years ago.

        Or the death of Robert Galvin, ex-CEO of Motorola, who was at the helm of the company when it unveiled the first-ever cell phone. Without Motorola’s lead, Steve Jobs might’ve still been tooling around on his BMW motorcycle hawking one-button mice instead of having his motorcycle enshrined in the lobby of his bajillion-dollar company headquarters.

        Or maybe the marriage of the king of Bhutan and the motorcycle escorts provided to the attendees?

        • Dumptruckfoxtrot

          All of these are stories that other motorcycle publications are just suckers for not reporting on.

          So Wes, have you gotten ahold of that straw yet?

  • http://www.kenta.ro Kentaro rides a NRS and a GSA

    Why is there a hole through this guy’s jugular?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Cigarettes are bad for you.

    • Dumptruckfoxtrot

      Throat cancer.

    • george_fla

      Prison deep throat gone wrong would be my guess.

      • John

        I’m by no means an outlaw biker historian, but even I know of Sonny’s exploits…and if you were sitting across the desk from this guy those words would sound a whole lot different…lest he proceed to thusly shove them down YOUR throat…

        ps..I doubt anyone lives in both of these worlds at once to be concerned with confusing either of these “1%” monikers for each other…

    • Tony T.

      Mmmm… Delicious stoma. They kind of smell like rank cheese.

  • Thom

    Hey HFL every time I open this page I’m getting warnings from my Security that some weird assed Google site is trying to jump on board .

    Any clue as to why ?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      We use a Google app to manage the rotation of content in our feature boxes. Run a little less security software if you don’t want that to happen.

  • 2ndderivative

    Well, the new 1%ers are the only ones who can/could afford the chromed monstrosities that vaguely referenced the bikes that the original 1%ers rode, so there’s your connection.

    • The other Joe

      Scumbag billionaires, scumbag assless chap enthousiasts, what’s the difference really? Both groups are mostly criminals.

  • robotribe

    This factoid only furthers the notion that what anyone of a certain age deems as “true” in motorcycle-speak–that so-called V-twin-loving-leather vest and chaps-wearing “bikers” are somehow forever in the zeitgeist an edgy and questionably “dangerous” badass bunch by association and costume alone–are in fact, a dying breed.

    Better yet, I’d go as far to say they’re a cartoon that will be relegated to history just like cowboys, or gangsters from the prohibition years.

    I think Sonny is a probably an interesting human in and of himself, but the image folks have painted for him and his former associates, are becoming less relevant and real every day. “Sons of Anarchy”? Yeah, it’s a goddamn fictional television show; that’s all.

    “1%er”? Kids today could give a f*ck of either definition.

    • The other Joe

      Thank you, well said.

  • coredump

    Wes, calling the people participating in the Occupy Wall Street protests “punks” and “youth disaffection” shows your ignorance of what led to the situation. Stick to writing about what you know.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Or, it might be sarcasm…

      • coredump

        If its sarcasm and I look like an idiot I would prefer that than to think you consider those guys punks.

        • Noah

          Cheers. I’m stoked that the protests are happening and I respect the reasons why. My complaint is that the news (outside of NYC) took days and days (over a week in Chicago)to decide to report it. Because that is red hot American news.

          • tomwito

            Better hope the protests work or we’ll all be working at our respective walmart in the motorcycle accessory departments. Because they will have muscled all the motorcycle shops out of business too. LOL…

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          We can just consider it a blip in your reading comprehension.

          • coredump

            Or you suck at sarcasm.

            Am I doing this right?

            Edit: Reread, and even I don’t think it was funny. Damn.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    Screw that. I wish a bunch of bikies would go down there and stomp those punk kids asses. 1% *grumble* *grumble*

    • robotribe

      NYPD would probably let them, but then ticket them after the fact, cuz hey, they’re on motorcycles after all.

  • Erok

    I think the whole point of this website is that it has a voice. It isn’t just overrun monotony, albeit some people don’t care for anything other than motorcycle coverage on here, it has a personality. Something that has been lost in our culture. In any sense these dudes and sometime chick are real people, something that I feel has been lost in today’s culture. At any rate they are the 99% crowd. At least that’s why I’m here.

  • http://lightsoutknivesout.tumblr.com/ Scott Pargett

    There’s a different kind of 1%’er I’d like to acknowledge… the other riders you still see when it’s raining.

    • Noah

      Yes. And riding well. Hopefully with a helmet.

    • Wereweazle

      I’m guilty of over-enthusiastically waving whenever I see someone else stupid enough to ride in a downpour. Being a college kid with only a bike as transportation, I’ve ridden in the rain – quite long distances too – more than I’d like to admit.

      • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

        I’ve once been offered a (more than welcome) cup of hot coffee from a guy on a bike for the sole reason that we were both riding in paris while snowing.
        We exchanged some epic weather riding stories around said coffee. Good times.

    • Gregory

      +1

      Welcome to Portland, OR, from about October until about April. As a daily commuter, I know what you mean. Go KLR!

    • Stu Bogue

      People talk about riding in the rain and I just ask if they saw that dumbass out riding in the latest downpour and when they say yes,I tell them it was probably me….

  • Brendan

    I wanna make a 99%er patch for my leathers that is rainbow colored and square cuz that is pretty much the opposite of a black diamond.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

      Your patch design would be more appropriate for the 10%ers in the One in Ten crowd.

    • Gregory

      A white circle.

  • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

    According to sources at my breakfast table, however, my milk is still a 1%er.

    • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

      Funny. I thought with you in S.F., your milk would have HOMO written all over it.

      • austin_2ride

        wow, you’re terrible!

      • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

        You guys in the Midwest prefer raw milk over homogenized?

        • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

          Having actually tasted it raw, it’s undeniably awesome, if not exactly legal. Currently, I’m a 2-percenter.

        • Kirill

          I had raw milk back in the Motherland as a wee lad. Good stuff. Course, that might have just been because of the Chernobyl rads.

        • The other Joe

          I grew up on raw milk that we used to get directly from the farm down the road from where we lived. As long as the farmer does a good job of monitoring the health of his cows, it’s the best milk you can get.

  • 1

    Nice, some bad ass commenting by Grant and Wes on that Sonny Barger post back in 2009.

    • http://www.damiengaudet.blogspot.com damien

      Holy shit, that was 2009? Yikes. Time flies when you’re reading blogs I guess.

  • Thom

    OK I’m a bit surprised no one else here brought this up , so I guess its up to me to set the shit a flying .

    Sonny Barger may look like he just crawled out of a Trailer Park , his Tax Returns and Income statements may not show it , but the reality is between the ” Enterprises ” Merchandising and ” Commissions” of the Hells Angels M/C ” Club” as well as Sonny’s book sales , movie royalties etc etc the SOB is well into the Multi Millions bracket , therefore by the Mis-Guided definitions of the OWS crowd Mr Barger is Over Qualified as a 1% in their eyes as well !

    As to the OWS crowd , as much as I may support them in principal , their claims about only 1% of the US having wealth is pure and utter BS . Where the hell do these little Cretins think they’re living ? China ?

    Granted the gap between the Rich and the Poor has become too wide as well as granted there are fewer and fewer Wealthy folks in relation to the Poor , but this blatant attempt at Hyperbole isn’t going to serve the OWS bunch any too well to anyone who knows the FACTs .

    Oh damn . There’s that nasty effing F word again .

    FACTs

    • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

      I may not be american but even i get that not all millionaires are 1%ers, some are even supporting the movement (Michael More for one). The 1% are rich (very, much more than Sonny), powerfull and willing to use both to make their life easier (mainly by keeping said money and power) at the expense of the rest (the 99).
      Some dude making a few mill and NOT buying off any politicians or some other bullshit doesn’t qualify.

    • guest

      Still a thug and his only contribution to society is he glorified thug life so HD could later make the sales they do the wannabe knobs who ride around and play “biker” on their time of from reality. The fact people think he is so cool is just sad.

      • Thom

        +1

    • tomwito

      The 1% that are being protested against have bought and paid for almost every politician in the house and senate. They make the rules, they make Billions a year. Millions a month.

      http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/top-5-facts-america-richest-1-183022655.html

      • Thom

        And you think for a minute Mr Barger hasn’t bought off more than his share as well ?

        If so , you don’t have a very clear understanding of his “Clubs ” Motus Operandi

        • tomwito

          Not to this extent, not even close. You think Barger has senators in his pocket? Maybe a small town sheriff?

        • Dumptruckfoxtrot

          Senators eh? Thom, you watch alot of movies?

  • jason McCrash

    I’d love to see ages and locations of all of the commenters. I’m closing in on 42 and live in Rochester NY where 1% clubs are still guys that act like Sonny and his boys used to. The Angels here own an entire city block in the ghetto and have security like the Pentagon. They have bars that are for this club or that club, the ride any time there isn’t snow or ice (which sadly isn’t much more than 7 months a year here), they ride HD’s only (not even Victorys like Sonny does now) and they honestly aren’t someone to be messed with. They also hold charity rides and bbq’s and do all of the other above board stuff that most of those clubs do today, but ask the state cops or feds and they will tell you about the drug dealing, whores, etc the clubs run. I don’t doubt that one bit.
    Are the clubs less of a ‘menace’ than when I was a kid in the 70′s? Yup. But then so is the mafia here. But they are both still alive and well up and down the east coast. And Canada? The bikers run Canada. Literally. They have power there that clubs here never imagined.
    Having said all of that, I’ve never caught shit from them on my Jap bikes or when I had a Victory. Most of them are past the HD or die thing and are interested in bikes in general. But then I don’t don’t ride a newer race replica or wear my pants low with a shaved head and pencil line beard. The flatbillers have become the d-bags that bikers used to be as far as how they ride and act in my eyes. Wheelies on freeways, rolling roadblocks, all of the crap on Youtube that ‘kids’ today do is the crap the clubs did in the 70′s. Ever seen Any Which Way But Loose? The Black Widows? That was mocking 1% clubs of the day with their Nazi helmets and swastika patches. Today the Nazi helmets are still around and extended swing arms have replaced springer front ends. Wanna know why people hate bikes, it might be people like ‘you’. Give it another 10-15 years and the kids in kindergarden now will be mocking your GSXR with neon lights as they fly by on their Brammo.
    The Wall St people are doing what they are to make a point they see as valid, good for them. Taking shits on cop cars isn’t helping, just like trashing Seattle during the WTO didn’t help those protests and going into bars and beating people didn’t help the Angels.
    In the Marines we had the ’10%’. They were the fuck-ups. The 10% that can’t be depended on, won’t pull their weight, are just plain stupid. The 1% lifestyle of bikers isn’t going away, it’s maturing. The Wall St. movement to me is a more mature version of the WTO protestors. The majority of the Wall St people would disapprove of the guy pictured shitting on the NYPD car. They may not voice that disapproval, but I bet a paycheck they think that guy is a tool.
    The press and gov’t will try to tell you what to believe this protest or that one are really a ploy by x, y, or z. As Public Enemy said, don’t believe the hype. Do a little research on this, 1%’s, the history of large protests in the US and you might be surprised. Some of our biggest ‘heroes’ of World War 2 were looked at as complete scum by World War 1 vets for the way they treated the members of the “Bonus March” during the Depresion. 2 sides to every story.
    Good for you HFL for not locking yourself into being another Cycle World or Motorcyclist.

    • Bronson

      Wow. Great post.

      • slowtire

        +1

      • slowestGSXRever

        +1

      • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

        +1%

    • guest

      Well said.

    • tomwito

      So true, I turn 40 next month,still look like I’m in my late 20s, ride sport bikes and do all the things I think are so cool. But my 14 year old son is still thinks I’m a dork.

    • Beale

      One of the best, most even-handed comments I’ve seen on, well, anything recently.

    • Thom

      +1

      Well except my view of the “Genuine ” 1% ers might be a bit different having cut my teeth playing in 1% bars back in the 70′s being in my mid 50′s . But we’re close , so no argument .

      As to the OWS as I said in my post , for the most part I agree with what they’re trying to do , but disagree with their methods , having no set agenda/leadership , going out of their way to antagonize the Police Force that is in fact trying to keep the owner of the Park they’re in from having them evicted , to not working with the Owner to maintain the property , being sure to leave it as they found it when they leave . As well as not having their FACTs straight in their statements and complaints .

    • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

      Thank you for all of this, sir.

  • Gregory

    Subtle insight. Interesting take. I can see where you’re going with this. Wise cultural assessment.

    -gceaves

  • Mike

    These folks weren’t out for an Occupy protest, today. The 1%’er dirtbags are still out there, be assured: ‘Hells Angels member gunned down at San Jose funeral’

    http://www.mercurynews.com/top-stories/ci_19121442

    Really screwed up getting to Road Rider to buy some farkles, I tell you what.

  • http://www.smartcycleshopper.com/author/doug-dalsing/ DougD

    all the people i know wanna be left alone
    some people!
    i don’t know?
    they wanna leave you alone
    you gotta be just – be just like them
    biggest gang i know they call the government
    gang is a weapon
    that you trade your mind in for
    you gotta be just – be just like them
    the gang
    and the government
    no different
    the gang
    and the government
    no different
    the gang
    and the government
    no different
    that makes me
    1%
    that makes me
    1%

    Jane’s Addiction—1%

    The original 1%ers were disillusioned by prosperity, much like the fancy new 99%ers down on Wall Street. All it is is perception, deciding where you think you fit in the best and then applying some sort of statistical label, whether you feel you’re part of the minority or majority. And my guess is that a lot of it changes with age; I kind of doubt perry farrell really still feels like a 1%er.

  • roger dodger

    You don’t know what your talking about crackwagon