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So many days I felt like a god, drunk with freedom and power, riding a motorcycle I’d crafted with my own two hands with that winged skull on my back.
George Christie was president of the notorious Ventura charter of the Hells Angels for three decades. While Sonny Barger was the club’s reckless leader, George was the negotiator, the spokesman. In Exile on Front Street he takes us on an action-packed ride through his years as a Hells Angel, from the bloody brawl that started the war with the Mongols to learning that a contract had been taken out on him by the head of the Outlaws. He describes the brotherhood and the betrayals, being targeted by the Feds and his stretches in prison.
He also reveals how the club changed, why he decided to leave for the sake of his family and how the leadership turned on him. Now Christie has decided to set the record straight in this hard-hitting account of what it means to be a Hells Angel through good times and bad.
Christie, a onetime member of the Hells Angels, points out in this lucid member that the greatest threat to an outlaw isn't cops it's his outlaw brothers. Raised in a close-knit Greek-American family in Ventura, Calif., Christie encountered a denim-clad, long-haired biker in 1955 and saw his future. After a stint in the Marines and an unfortunate marriage, Christie started riding with the Angels while raising a family and working for the Department of Defense. Troubled by the club feuds and senseless killings, Christie tried to mediate the strife and rose to the presidency of the Ventura chapter, cementing his role of peacemaker by running with the torch at the 1984 Olympics. Yet no amount of PR could overcome the sectarian squabbling and endless police harassment. Christie is a convincing narrator, though it's impossible to believe that he's the Boy Scout he makes himself out to be. Legal concerns may explain his circumspection, and his numerous enemies certainly have a very different take on their disagreements. Sonny Barger, the legendary president of the Oakland Angels, features as a Machiavellian villain, intent on destroying anyone who threatens his place in the spotlight. That said, Christie articulately defends his outlaw code, which he adhered to at great personal cost. Although he resigned from the Angels in 2010, his past, as he engagingly writes, continues to haunt him. As Christie wryly observes, "You don't just stop being an outlaw."