Monday, September 7, 2015

Grand Finale Day Four - The Ninety-Nine Percenters Arrive

The Grand Finale Day Four – Monday – The Ninety-Nine Percenters Arrive

Hurricane Carrol, while only a fleeting storm that touched the coast before heading out into the North Atlantic, was severe enough to keep motorcycles off the road, and so a few thousand bikers who were headed to Ocean City, New Jersey for a Labor Day run, ostensibly including a lot of Hell’s Angels, were holed up in small bunches all along the highways and back roads leading to the Jersey Shore.

The winds that brought in the driving rain the previous day drove out the storm clouds just as fast by Monday morning so the sun came up even though it was hidden behind the departing clouds.

The 99 Percenters who dubbed themselves the New Barbarians, and led by Mike the Mechanic, left LA – the City of Angels a week ago, but had picked up a half dozen bikers along the way, including biker enthusiasts from Arizona and Ohio, including Billy the Kid, the undercover rookie policeman from Somers Point who couldn’t find any Hell’s Angels so he joined up with Mike and the New Barbarians, smitten by their ethics and enthusiasm.

 They now numbered more than a few dozen and were just west of Philadelphia and making their way towards New Jersey. After crossing both the Walt Whitman and the Ben Franklyn bridges in two groups they joined together on the Black Horse Pike and stopped when they got to the fork in the road that is the entrance to the Atlantic City Expressway, where they found a dozen bikers protesting the ban on motorcycles on the Expressway.

“Bikers Pay Taxes Too” read one sign as they stopped to talk to the protesters and were informed about Friday’s major spontaneous protest that disrupted traffic for hours and got a dozen bikers arrested.
Mike introduced himself to Malcolm, who was obviously the leader - based on his ostentatious leather suit and embroidered colors that read “Capitalist Tools.”

Mike didn’t immediately recognize Malcolm Forbes, and had never read Forbes Magazine, and Forbes had just learned about the Hell’s Angels threat and of the 99 Percenters and the New Barbarians, so they talked one on one without previous impressions.  

They talked about the impending arrival of the Hells Angels, but neither group said they had seen any Angels.
Forbes told Mike that a lot of Bikers had intentionally broken the law and took the Expressway and when they tried to pay the toll they were ticketed and arrested.  Mike said that while he agreed with the protesters, he wasn’t about to break any laws or get arrested, even if it was a matter of principles, and Forbes wasn’t about to get arrested either so he and a few friends in their equally ostentatious outfits and motorcycles joined Mike and the New Barbarians in their run to Ocean City, as more and more bikers were joining in the flow.

Since it was still early in the morning, as LA Mike and the New Barbarians, Billy the Point Man, who they picked up in Ohio, Philly Steve and Malcolm Forbes and the Capitalist Tools headed down the Pike towards the Jersey Shore they noticed that every bar, roadhouse, diner, café and flea bag motel were packed with bikers who had ducked in – any port in a storm, sported banners “Ninety Nine Percenters” - and were headed to Ocean City for the “Roar at the Shore.”

Halfway down the Black Horse Pike Philly Steve told them about a beautiful side road to Ocean City so about a dozen riders pulled off instructing the others to meet at the Point Diner at noon.

The dozen or so bikers who took the side road stopped at Doakes, a back roads roadhouse where there were already two dozen or so bikers tuning up for the final leg of the run, and there they had the Deer Hunter’s Special – two shots and a beer and laid their plans for entering Ocean City.

Billy the Pointer, who liked to take the point on the highway, had told them that the Federal Barbarian Task Force plan was to let the Hell’s Angels over the first bridge and raise the second bridge, bottling them up on the causeway where they would be arrested.

And the reluctant leader of the New Barbarians – LA Mike the Mechanic, in consultation with Malcolm Forbes, Philly Steve and some of the guys who came with them from Arizona all agreed to go ahead and enter the town in a group as one – and let them open the bridges, but they can’t stop them from entering the city if they do everything legal and street clean.

While most holiday runs are done for a charity and take months to organize, the Labor Day Run to Ocean City by the so-called “Ninety Nine Percenters” and “New Barbarians” was a pretty much spontaneous occasion that brought out thousands, some say tens of thousands of bikers of every type and stripe, even a few one-percenters but they were local boys – Warlocks, and a few Pagans, but they didn’t cause any problems.

Driving down the backroads through Mays Landing they picked up a few more stragglers at Donny’s Mays Landing Inn,  a few nudist bikers from Sunshine Park Nudist Colony, and some locals at Jack’s Grove, and when they got to the Somers Point Circle found a few thousand bikers backed up at the Point Diner and packing all of the bars, restaurants and liquor stores.

They were waiting for LA Mike, the leader of the New Barbarians, who surprised them by his stature as he got off his bike in the crowded parking lot of the diner.

“You’re LA Mike?” one big biker asked incredulously.

“Yes,” Mike said politely.

“Of the New Barbarians?”

Mike turned around so he could see his patch: “New Barbarians” with the rocker “City of Angels.”
“Something wrong?” Malcolm asked.

“No, ‘nothins’ wrong,” the biker said, “we just thought he’d be bigger.”

Mike blushed, and tried to explain to them that “I’m no leader,” and said, before cracking “watch the parking meters” a joke line from a Dylan song that everyone got, but didn’t think funny.

Mike got serious too. “I’m just an ordinary citizen, a mechanic who is tired of the outlaw motorcycle gangs branding all bikers as rapist, killers and thieves.”

After a short pause, “I just want ordinary motorcycle enthusiasts to have the same honor, respect and right to use the road as any other citizen, but we have to earn that respect.”

The bikers groaned but still insisted that LA Mike the Mechanic, now legendary in biker circles, lead them into Ocean City, and after a brief consultation with Malcom and Billy Pointer, agreed they would all go in together, with one caveat – that anybody with any outstanding tickets or warrants stay in Somers Point because they would be arrested if they tried to enter Ocean City.

 “Billy – you take the Point” Mike said, as they all began to saddle up and someone yelled, “Take’em to Missouri Mack” and another “Yippie” and the bikes began to come alive and roar, and with LA Mike the Mechanic and Malcolm Forbes falling in they followed Billy onto the circle and over the first bridge went a regiment of a few thousand bikers, the exact number of which was recorded in the police report as the Federal Barbarian Task Force, in its knee jerk authorative reaction, pulled the trip wire on the trap and just before Billy and the leaders got to the second bridge an air horn sounded twice and the guard rails came down and the bridge opened, blocking the bikers from entering town.

Even with the latest on site state of the art computer technology supplied by the emergency federal task force, set up in the Information Center, it took a few hours to process the first dozen bikers, all of whom were totally clean, as were all of the bikers as they filtered them through the system one by one. Not so lucky were some of those in the dozen or so cars who also got accidently caught up in the motorcycle dragnet as they nabbed a few for outstanding parking and speeding tickets, two illegal Irish aliens without green cards and a drug dealing hippie with two pounds of weed.

Once the cops manning the road block realized they weren’t dealing with the Hell’s Angels or any One Percenter gang, and had been set up, the bikers had been tipped off, and there were no outlaw bikers among them, they had to let them through, but weren’t happy about it, as the operation had failed or rather had been hijacked and turned around on them.

So after over two hours the causeway bridge to Ocean City was lowered and the guard rail raised and over a thousand motorcycles entered the city at once, coming down 9th Street like a tidal wave and engulfing the city already crowded with cars, tourists, college kids and hippies.

Katie the Chatterbox waitress just got off duty and was drinking a coke while counting her tips at the waitress station table next to the open, screened window through which you could hear the sounds of passing motorcycles.

“Triumph,” Katie said to no one in particular.

“Harley,” she said as another bike passed by.

“Indian,” said almost as if bored by the game, but then looked up and out the wind when there came a little rumble that she couldn’t ID, a glass tingling vibration that grew to a lion’s roar and didn’t let up as she could see the parade of bikes go by through the window.

When the street light changed on the corner, and the bikes stopped, the revving roar was so loud you couldn’t hear the juke box or have a conversation.

It was maybe twenty minutes to a half hour before things quieted down with only the occasional sound of a bike going by, and wondering if any of them were Hell’s Angels.

Katie worked the breakfast shift and was now off and was getting ready to go to the 27th Street Beach to play in the Kelly Clan Olympics, and was waiting for her ride and thinking about her father’s homophobic fear of the Hell’s Angels and their threat to come back and pillage the town.

At one time her father said that because of the biker threat she wasn’t even allowed out of the house over Labor Day weekend, but he must have forgotten about that, she was thinking when Chris Mathews the cook comes out, drying his hands with a towel and asks, “What are you doing?”

Without looking at Chris Kate says dryly, “Waitin’ on the Angels.”

Just then the Chatterbox door opens and in walks LA Mike the Mechanic, Billy Pointer, Philly Steve and Malcolm Forbes, hungry for cheeseburgers and banana splits.

From the window Kate sees Duncan’s white Mustang pull up and waves goodbye to Chris and the other waitresses as she waltzed out the door with a flourish.

While the others sat down to look at the lunch menu, LA Mike went up to the juke box, pumped in a quarter and played three songs – Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” Arlo Gunthrie’s “The Motorcycle Song,” and a new song Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction.” 

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