Monday, September 26, 2016

Strange Fascination

Exile on Front Street: My Life as a Hell Angel…and Beyond – George Christie (Thomas Dunne Books)

Even a quick scan of our popular culture will uncover a vast and strange fascination that we have with real life outlaws and criminals. Books, movies and TV are dotted with mile markers on the road to crime town. Murderers, Mafia and motorcycle gangs make for popular fare on the pop culture radar and I can’t quite put my finger on why.

So-called reality TV is the latest vehicle to drive that fascination, with the History Channel serving up Outlaw Chronicles, which offers a supposed insider’s view of motorcycle gangs like the Hells Angels. In recent years these outlaws have also found a regular place on the shelf at your favorite bookstore. The latest entry comes from the former President of the Ventura, California chapter of the Hells Angels, George Christie and his memoir, Exile on Front Street.

Christie, a regular in the spotlight, both for his play on Outlaw Chronicles and his years as the defacto spokesman and peacemaking emissary for the Hells Angels. In the book he briefly details his life prior to signing on with the outlaw group, which he claims was merely an extension of his real outlaw life.
While he certainly offers a unique perspective and some insider insight in the ways of the Club, it really boils down to an almost PG-13 version of things. Christie portrays himself as a masterful manipulator of the media, law enforcement and a consummate negotiator when it came to anything, with the exception of women.

Doing his dead level best to avoid prison, dodge would be hit men and smooth over as many rough edges as possible along the way seems to be Christie’s modus operandi. It makes for an interesting read, but maybe not the dynamic bad boy stuff that draws pop culture legions.

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