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Sonny Oakland. A Son of Oakland. A Citizen. Fits with these.
The two most infamous Outlaws who had an address in Oakland, is Sonny Barger, and Gertrude Stein. If she were alive, Stein would write a terrific obituary, because, she understands, that roses and wings stir it up.
REVEALING GERTRUDE STEIN’S OAKLAND ROOTS.
“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.”
“Pigeons on the grass alas.”
“There is no there there.”
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, notable writer and art collector Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946) lived in Oakland from 1880-1891. Their first year in The O, Stein and her family stayed in the Tubbs Hotel before moving to their farmhouse, which was located at what is now the intersection of 13th Avenue and East 25th Street. 1 Arriving at the age of 6, Stein moved to Baltimore (aka the East Coast’s Oakland 2) when she was 17, following the death of her parents. 3
“No ‘What’ Where”?!
Ohhh snap. And just when everything was cooling out, she had to go and make the biggest dis ever against Tha Town … or did she?
What was the use of my having come from Oakland it was not natural to have come from there yes write about if I like or anything if I like but not there, there is no there there.
—from Everybody’s Autobiography (1937), Ch. 4
Ouch. One shudders to think what she must’ve thought of Pittsburgh …! (And by the way, before anyone asks: yes, the above is just how she (usually) wrote – in a minimally punctuated, “cubist” style, not entirely un-reminiscent of the rambling, stream-of-consciousness circumlocutions of your typical Berkeley street person, and/or possibly James Joyce.)
Though made infamous, Stein’s notorious statement about visiting Oakland was not, in fact, her assessment of the city itself!
Rather, these words reflect her return to Oakland in 1935 while on a lecture tour in the United States. During the trip, Stein went to visit her childhood home and farm, only to find the house had been demolished, and the farmland converted to housing developments:
The house the big house and the big garden and the eucalyptus trees and the rose hedge naturally were no longer existing, what was the use, if I had been then my little dog would know me but if I had not been I then that place would not be the place that I could see. I did not like the feeling, who has to be themselves inside them, not any one and what is the use of having been if you are to go on being and if not why is it different and if it is different why not.
Since her absence, the city had grown nearly tenfold, expanding from a population of just 35,000 in 1880, to nearly 300,000 by 1935.2 In her book, Everybody’s Autobiography (1937), the following paragraph continues:
It is a funny thing about addresses where you live. When you live there you know it so well that it is like an identity a thing that is so much a thing that it could not ever be any other thing and then you live somewhere else and years later, the address that was so much an address that it was like your name and you said it as if it was not an address but something that was living and then years after you do not know what the address was and when you say it it is not a name anymore but something you cannot remember. That is what makes your identity not a thing that exists but something you do or do not remember. 4
When put that way, what else can anyone (especially if they’ve been around long enough to forget!) reply, but “I feel ya, uh … what’d you say your name was, again?”
If I Told Him, A Completed Portrait of Picasso
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Let me recite what history teaches. History teaches.
- Jackie Jenson and William Stuttmeister attended the University of California at Berkeley. My grandmother, Melba Broderick raised the Jensen brothers after their mother had a “nervous breakdown” These were the words used – and no more information was offered about this shameful thing. My father, Victor Presco, told me he and Jackie attended Oakland High School at the same time. Vic was proud of this fact, but, also jealous. The Golden Boy was the most famous person in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was an Oakland Boy who chose to play for the Oakland Oaks over the Yankees. Above is Jackie with teammate, Billy Martin, who would coach the Oakland A’s. Billy’s name was heard by people who love baseball – all over the world!
My Godfather, Skip Sutter, was a Seargent on the Oakland Police Department and ended up in the hospital with broken ribs after one of the famous fights with the Hell’s Angels. Oakland made the Angels. I considered becoming one.
“We’ve been goin’ 50 years,” said Cisco, current president of the Oakland chapter, a big man in every sense of the word — physically and historically, having been a prominent player in the club for 41 of those 50 years.
This evening, he was seated and holding court at the 20-foot boardroom table next to the fully stocked bar in the club’s front room, his well-worn face framed in long, silky, black hair. Cisco scolded some Angels at the bar for being too noisy during the interview. They toned it down, then someone took off on a Harley out front, suspending conversation further. Loud pipes save lives, so they say, but not a civilized chat.
Over the roar, Cisco talked about old times.
“Yeah, when we were in our 20s, we’d go toe-to-toe with the police in fistfights and such. It was almost like fun. One time we’d win, one time they’d win. If we’d win, they’d still track us down and arrest us anyway,” he said, chuckling and coughing a wicked cough. “I’m 65 now, and sometimes we’ll run into retired cops from those days, and reminisce about our arrests. I never thought I’d say this when I was younger, but there are actually some cops out there that are decent guys.”
Elvis came to Oakland in 1956. I didn’t know this! I was ten.
Here is an article that appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle written by Ralph Gleason. I am bowled over. Ralph compares the concert to Hitler’s appearance at the Sportspalast in Berlin
“even, to those thousands who crowded the Sportspalast in Berlin to chant in unison during the Third Reich, his emotional power is frightening.”
For a week I have been considering a movie titled ‘Oakland’ that would take in the Bohemians of Carmel. The Black Panther’s, Hell’s Angels, and Oakland Raiders would be featured. Gleason throws in an exotic dancer, and, we got ‘The Producers’ with Elvis starring as Lorenzo St. DuBois……..LSD.
Ralph Hubert Barger was born in Modesto, California on October 8, 1938. His mother abandoned the family when Barger was four months old, leaving him and his older sister Shirley to be raised by their grandmother and alcoholic father. Growing up in Oakland, he was suspended from school several times for assaulting teachers, and he often fought with other boys. He dropped out of school in the tenth grade. Although many of his school friends became drug addicts, Barger worked at a grocery store and enlisted in the Army aged sixteen in 1955, but was given an honorable discharge fourteen months later when it was discovered that he had forged his birth certificate in order to be able to join. After his return from the Army, Barger drifted between menial jobs and lived with his father in a single residence at a hotel, later moving in with his sister and her children.
Barger joined his first motorcycle club, the Oakland Panthers, in 1956. After that club disbanded, he started riding with another group of bikers, one of whom, Don “Boots” Reeves, wore a patch – a small skull wearing an aviator cap set within a set of wings – that belonged to a defunct motorcycle club in North Sacramento. Founding their own club named the Hells Angels on April 1, 1957, each member wore the patch, later known as the Hells Angels’ “Death’s Head” logo, after having duplicates made at a trophy store in Hayward. Barger and the Oakland Hells Angels were unaware at the time that there were several other, loosely affiliated, clubs using the same name throughout California. With Barger as president, the Oakland Hells Angels travelled to southern California and amalgamated with the other Hells Angels chapters, dividing territory and forming club bylaws. While infighting did take place between the chapters, conflicts predominantly arose with other clubs such as the Gypsy Jokers.
Greyhaven and I would take walks together. He was the largest cat anyone has ever seen. I caught Sonny Barger’s ex-wife selling drugs and told his son to tell his mother to knock it off. Three days later my landlord came rushing over and told me the Hell’s Angels were coming for me. We packed my things, and I got on a Greyhound for Oregon.
We gave Greyhaven to a Native American Grandmother, who put a protection around me while Greyhaven was in her lap. It is his spirit that walks with me, that Clark and Brembe could see.
Sonny Barger, biker outlaw and founder of Hells Angels, dies at 83
Paul W. Valentine – 1h ago
© Robert H Houston/ASSOCIATED PRESSSonny Barger, biker outlaw and founder of Hells Angels, dies at 83
Sonny Barger, the bigger-than-life godfather of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, equal parts brawler, bully, braggart, rule breaker and shrewd huckster of his own outlaw mystique, has died at 83.
A statement on his official Facebook page read: “If you are reading this message, you’ll know that I’m gone. I’ve asked that this note be posted immediately after my passing.” The cause, according to the statement, was cancer, but no other details were immediately available.
For decades, the stocky, muscular Mr. Barger stood not only as the founder of the original Oakland, Calif., Angels chapter in 1957, but for decades after that also as the public face of a nationwide counterculture tribe of bearded, denim-clad road warriors memorialized in literature and film — roaring down the open highway and through crossroads towns, shocking the locals with their boisterous, often menacing presence.
It was a rowdy, frequently lawless brotherhood bound, in no particular order, by machismo, tattoos, winged death-head insignia, booze, dope, rides to nowhere on thundering Harley-Davidson hogs and a lust for the unfettered freedom found on the open road.
“Discover your limits by exceeding them,” Mr. Barger urged.
Woven into the Hells Angels history was a tradition of crime and violence — much of it involving Mr. Barger, a fact he boastfully acknowledged. He once referred to himself as belonging to a band of “card-carrying felons.”
He was convicted in 1988 of conspiracy to kill members of a rival club in Kentucky and blow up their headquarters, serving five years in federal prison.
A confessed cocaine addict who supported his habit by selling heroin in the 1960s and 1970s, he served stints totaling eight years for assorted drug and firearms charges.
The Hells Angels — as a corporate entity with chapters from California to New York — faced incessant federal investigation on criminal enterprise and racketeering offenses. In 2013, authorities obtained convictions against 16 members and hangers-on in South Carolina for a conspiracy involving drug distribution, gunrunning, money laundering and arson.
In 1979, Mr. Barger and other leaders beat a similar conspiracy rap in which they were accused of running a mammoth methamphetamine (“biker’s coffee”) operation out of Oakland.
Most infamous in Hells Angles lore was their role in the chaotic 1969 Rolling Stones concert at Altamont, Calif., where a pistol-wielding 18-year-old concertgoer, Meredith Hunter, was stabbed to death by a Hells Angel — all captured on film in the 1970 documentary “Gimme Shelter.”
The Angels, hired to provide security, were fighting off fans rushing the stage, according to Mr. Barger, who was present. The drug-fueled crowd pressed against the Angels’ security line, damaging some of their bikes, and Angels waded into the crowd swinging fists and cue sticks.
In his autobiography “Hell’s Angel — The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club,” Mr. Barger accused Stones guitarist Keith Richards of delaying the band’s performance to work up the crowd. He claimed that he pressed a pistol to Richards’s ribs and ordered him to start playing immediately.
Richards complied, but the crowd, including Hunter, kept swarming toward the stage, according to Mr. Barger. Hunter fired a single shot, winging a Hells Angel, Mr. Barger said. Other Angels quickly subdued Hunter, punching and kicking him. One Angel was charged with fatally stabbing him but was acquitted after claiming self-defense.
© Anonymous/ASSOCIATED PRESSIn 1965, the members of the Oakland Hells Angels chapter, from left are: Cliff Workman, treasurer; Mr. Barger, president; Tiny Walter, sergeant at arms; Ron Jacobson, secretary; and Tom Thomas, vice president, seated far right.
Over the years, Mr. Barger served as a technical consultant for biker movies and appeared in several, including “Hells Angels on Wheels” (1967), a low-budget exploitation film featuring Jack Nicholson.
For the real-life Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, he drew inspiration from an earlier movie — the 1953 classic “The Wild One,” with Marlon Brando playing a strangely sensitive gang leader. Mr. Barger preferred Lee Marvin’s more aggressive performance as a biker.
Mr. Barger’s rough and anarchic manner belied a disciplined entrepreneurial streak. He promoted his renegade brand, carefully marketing Hells Angels-themed T-shirts, yo-yos, sunglasses and California wines. He registered trademarks on club logos and designs, and retained an intellectual property rights lawyer to sue poachers, a frequent occurrence.
To give the Angels a little gloss, he initiated periodic charity drives for children’s toys and clothes.
“He’s smart and he’s crafty, and he has a kind of wild animal cunning,” author Hunter S. Thompson told The Washington Post in 2000. Hunter spent a year with the Angels researching his seminal book “Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga” (1966).
Ralph Hubert Barger Jr. was born in Modesto, Calif., on Oct. 8, 1938. His mother ran off with a Trailways bus driver when Sonny was 4 months old. His father, a day laborer loading ships and trucks at the Oakland docks, spent his nights and much of his money at waterfront bars, often bringing Sonny with him.
There, according to his autobiography, Sonny filched pretzels and hard-boiled eggs, and learned his first cuss words from an obscenity-squawking parrot.
His father married a second time. Like the first wife, she ran off, taking everything including the family radio and encyclopedia, according to Mr. Barger.
He hated school and was repeatedly suspended for mouthing off and occasionally hitting his teacher. “I never liked being told what to do,” he said.
For a time, he came under the care of his paternal grandmother, a strict Pentecostalist. In quick order, he rejected what he called the “tongue-yammering Holy Rollers,” smoked his first marijuana cigarette at 14, dropped out of high school at 16 and joined the Army with a forged birth certificate.
Fourteen months later, military authorities discovered the subterfuge and ousted him. Back home, he drifted from job to job — janitor, pipe threader, potato chip assembly-line worker. “I couldn’t get a grip on this nine-to-five working stuff,” he wrote.
He joined his first biker group, the Oakland Panthers, in 1956 and formed the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in Oakland the next year. “I needed a close-knit club of men who could jump on their bikes, ride cross-country if they wanted to, and not abide by rules or clocks,” he said.
Over the next several decades, he grew his single club into a financially sustainable network with thousands of members in the United States, Canada, Europe and elsewhere. Despite its many run-ins with the law, the organization was fundamentally successful — an all-male, virtually all-White, dues-paying fraternal order with a brisk retail trade in club paraphernalia.
Mr. Barger published two novels, “Dead in 5 Heartbeats” (2003) and “6 Chambers, 1 Bullet” (2006), detailing murder and mayhem in the biker world.
His epithet-strewn autobiography was a New York Times bestseller, and two other books, “Freedom: Credos From the Road” (2005) and “Ridin’ High, Livin’ Free” (2002), received positive reviews. Some were co-written with writers Keith and Kent Zimmerman. He co-authored a sixth book, “Let’s Ride: Sonny Barger’s Guide to Motorcycling” (2010), with writer Darwin Holmstrom.
In 1982, he was diagnosed with throat cancer — he had smoked three packs of Camels a day for 30 years — and had his vocal cords removed. He learned to speak through a surgically inserted hole in his throat, giving his voice an eerie rasp.
Mr. Barger’s first wife, Elsie George, died in 1967 during a self-induced abortion. His marriages to Sharon Gruhlke and Beth Noel Black ended in divorce. He married his fourth wife, Zorana Katzakian, in 2005. A complete list of survivors could not be immediately determined.
In 1998, he moved from Oakland to suburban Phoenix, dropping his official duties in the Hells Angels but remaining a rank-and-file member. He ran a motorcycle repair shop and mellowed in suburban life, doing yoga and continuing to lift weights, a pastime he acquired in prison.
He kept riding the open road, thousands of miles a year, eventually professing a preference for high-powered Hondas and BMWs to the Angels’ traditional Harley choppers.
What did his nonconformist life teach him? “To become a real man,” he counseled in his autobiography, “you need to join the army first and then do some time in jail.”
William Broderick married Alice Stuttmeister, the daughter of William Stuttmeister and Augusta Janke, and lived on 13th. Avenue and 31st. St. in the large Victorian seen above. The Prescos moved there in 1953 and lived in the top half of this beautiful house. I am going to take you on a tour of the Oakland the four Presco children had come to dearly love. Leaving here was a tragedy we never recovered from. These is a light, a bubble around our neighborhoods.
William Oltman Stuttmeister, born 1862. He married Augusta Janke June 1888. Alice L. Stuttmeister, born October 13, 1868 in San Francisco, CA; died February 13, 1953 in Roseville Community Hospital in Oakland, CA. She married William Broderick October 02, 1897. He was born Abt. 1871 in Ohio.