Tag Archives: 1960’s

Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs

HellsAngelsI just finished reading Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs by Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson wrote Hell’s Angels during 1965 and 1966, and is probably best known as the author or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which was published in 1972. He popularized a style of journalism known as “gonzo journalism” where the author participates in the story, writes in first-person narrative, and frames himself as the protagonist. Gonzo also tends to be rather satirical in tone.

I ran into this book on a friend’s reading list and thought it sounded interesting, so I decided to dive in for myself. It’s a well written book with a sort of meandering style that doesn’t always progress linearly. Thompson essentially befriended the angels and hung out with them for around a year as he wrote this book. He didn’t actually become a Hell’s Angel, and the gang knew he was a journalist, but he seems to have acquired enough rapport to have written accurately. It reads like a pop culture, anthropological sketch.

I knew going into this book that the angels were infamous, but I’ll admit that some of the details were more raw than I expected. To be perfectly clear, I didn’t expect rape to play such a large role in the story. Drugs, law-breaking, motorcycles, sex––I knew they would all likely play a part––but Thompson’s account of rape is uncomfortable to read.

Nevertheless, this is an enthralling book that captures a splice of 1960’s American counter-culture in page-turning fashion. From Memorial Day rides with hundreds of angels, to theories about the gang’s origins, to the wider culture’s varied reaction to the angels, Thompson captures that 1960’s American culture that I’m fond of reading about. The narrative about the angel’s interactions with Allen Ginsberg is especially interesting. The only part of the story that’s missing would have been an account of the Altamont festival, but that didn’t occur until 1970. Bummer.

 

4 out 5 black cups of coffee.
1st book of 2016.
Read with Caution.

4 of 5-01

 

 

1 of 12-01

 

 

Book Review – The God Who is There – Francis Schaeffer

the-god-who-is-thereI love all things 1960’s culture. Many of the cultural and philosophical changes that occurred during 1960’s still affect Western society today. So, I’m not really sure why I haven’t read more of Francis Schaeffer’s writings until now. His discussion of 1960’s culture, and the surrounding decades, expertly offers theological and cultural commentary. And he does so with a heart tuned towards loving–not just callously understanding–his fellow man. The God Who is There is a good book. Having finished it, I now want to re-read, and re-think about many of Schaeffer’s arguments. Though this book was written in 1968, it still demands consideration in 2011. I’m particularly interested in Schaeffer’s thoughts as they relate to postmodernity (or the seeds of postmodernity), and how his arguments for God remain relevant, or conversely, now seem irrelevant, to the cultural milieu of 2011. Lots to think about I know! But I enjoy it! And I desperately want to understand the average postmodern person in 2011.

Sarah Palin & the End of a Culture War

sarah-palinI just read this op-ed piece from the Washington Post on culture, politics, and why Sarah Palin was the wrong choice for McCain’s running mate. This is an excellent piece of writing and I think it perfectly captures a shift that is happening in American ideals. Here’s an excerpt:

Why has America turned on Sarah Palin? Obviously, her wobbly television interviews haven’t helped. Nor have the drip, drip of scandals from Alaska, which have tarnished her reformist image. But Palin’s problems run deeper, and they say something fundamental about the political age being born. Palin’s brand is culture war, and in America today culture war no longer sells. The struggle that began in the 1960s–which put questions of racial, sexual and religious identity at the forefront of American politics–may be ending. Palin is the end of the line.

Check out the rest of the article here.