File Size: 743 KB
Print Length: 306 pages
Publisher: Motorbooks; First edition (September 15, 2008)
Publication Date: September 15, 2008
All of them are "gangs".. yes they are.., There are several books available that detail the more sinister side of stop motorcycle clubs, but David Hall's story is not one of them. Rather than portraying a felony history of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, "Riding on the Edge" reads more like a recollection of a roaming band of gypsies' grand adventure with a hydraulic jack Karouac or Charles Bukowski edge. While it will explore some criminal activity, the story parallels more with the rebellious nature of youth growing up in the turbulent 1960s than the organized-crime factor associated with outlaw motorcycle clubs today.
Hall presents the early days of the Pagan Motorcycle Club in Pennsylvania in somewhat of a romantic and innocent manner: a culturally-mixed band of local misfits hitting the road in search of adventure in the mid-to-late 1960s only to find trouble every stretch of the way in which. The entire book details a fleeting time frame when "outlaw" behavior consisted more of beer consumption and barroom brawling with local fledgling outlaw clubs who violate Pagan "turf"... not the RICO being qualified activities of today's stop clubs.
Hall proves himself to be an intelligent and gifted storyteller as he tickles the reader's senses with such vivid detail. 1 can almost smell the grime on the oily denim vests, taste the stale Iron City swill and evidently see the beauty and beast character of the various women encountered along his trip. The encounters are exhilarating, raucous, dangerous and often humorous. With the Vietnam War, hippies and burgeoning drug use as a backdrop, Hall paints a last-gasp scenario of life being lived to the fullest before an predicted end to all the freedom and fun... more like sex, booze and brawling. Artistically woven throughout the book is the heavy influence of Western culture (mainly Dutch and German) that colors the world of Hall and his fellow Pennsylvania Pagans. The regular reference of Dutch lore and colloquial words/phrases oddly tempers the stereotypical image of outlaw motorcyclists being militant Aryan thugs. While Hall admits many fellow Pagans adorned swastikas, either painted on helmets or, like Hall, inked into his flesh; he or she admits the idea is more for outlaw shock value rather than sticking with a radical ideology.
"Riding on the Edge" reads as a lamenting tale of times long gone. Typically the locale of Hall's part is depicted more as a Pennsylvania version of Mayberry where the motorcyclists were more or less treated as local nuisances than part of a criminal disposition. The looming difference in community becomes more evident the later-half of the book as the brawling becomes more violent, law adjustment gets more serious and drugs become more common. As the book pulls to a close, there is definite sense that the fun is over as much of the colorfully-named characters that factored so heavily into Hall's life back then (SweetWilliam, Davey SuperMouth, Gums, the Mortician et al) drop-out, disappear, are imprisoned or die. Along with the final chapter Corridor graciously treats us to an update on several of the individuals that survived the bulk of his adventure, but I actually was hoping for more details.
"Riding on the Edge" is old-school stop life, not the hyper-violent visage of the modern 1%er. It is a fantastic perspective of life through the infancy phase of arguably one of the more secretive outlaw clubs. The tumultuous and degenerate 1960s fueled the anything-goes lifestyle for John Corridor and his fellow Pagans, developing a myriad of outrageous adventures that Hall vibrantly recollects in the book
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