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GOING THE DISTANCE
Photo courtesy of Lynn Yee
LYNN YEE ON HER PANHEAD:
Hell's Angel Steven Yee's loyal wife, on Hell's Angels history.
LYNN YEE ON CHINESE HELL'S ANGELS:
"Morning Scott. There was a man named Al "The Chinaman" Hom. He was a member in the '60s and '70s, and he was 100% Chinese. He died in the mid to late '70s in a bike wreck.....There's another Chinese member named John. He's a New York Nomad. I met him a few years ago at the Jammin' With 81 Party. Almost sure he's a Nomad, I don't remember seeing a charter rocker......There was also Louie Younger. He died in the mid to late '70s. I never heard of Martin Wong Jr. Hope you and yours are having a nice Easter!"
Photo Courtesy of Steve Yee
STEVE YEE: Lynn Yee's husband.
Lynn graciously responded to a question I posed about Martin Wong Sr., who might have been a Hell's Angel in California. I'll state the obvious: Lynn Yee is an authority on Chinese-American Hell's Angels, because she's married to one, who is Steven Yee. Steven is presently incarcerated, which you can read about in "The Last Ride Home." Lynn has been loyally attempting to get Steven home for many years, through various legal actions. I have great respect for the Yees, and my hopes and prayers are with them to get Steven home soon, so he can once again straddle a Harley. A biker's lifeblood is 60 weight Harley oil, man.
Photo courtesy of Lynn Yee
Married to a Chinese Angel.
I began writing about Chinese bikers when I was a columnist in David Snow's Iron Horse magazine, in the 1990s. Iron Horse was a freak of literary nature in the biker magazine business, in that there was a heavy emphasis in the magazine, on the serious study of the biker subculture as a sociological phenomenon. Most biker rags of that era, were simply a bunch of nice pictures of bikes, and T & A, with barely literate, irrelevant pabulum for the masses for writing.
Iron Horse was different. Iron Horse was for the Thinking Biker. I've long felt, as did Editor David Snow, that hardcore bikers were a fascinating breed apart from the societal mainstream, a heady force with values peculiar to ourselves. What I find interesting, is how bikers declare 'emselves to the world-at-large. Bikers unabashedly, aggressively and honestly portray themselves to society, without reservation. Hey man, we are what we are, and if ya don't dig it, too bad. There's something so typically Proud American in this attitude, that's missing in the politically correct universe of 2015.
What could more American than a bro or sis, screaming down the highway on a Harley with straight pipes, bellowing to the world, "Here I am, man! Deal with it!" It ain't about a slogan, it's about how one lives one life, honestly, and with vitality. Aeroballs to the firewall of the plane, man. In this case though, it's the throttle cable all the way counterclockwise to its stop, that represents what the culture's about. It was this serious treatment of the biker subculture as a profound subject, that led me to write about esoteric aspects of the culture, such as the few and far between Chinese-American members of the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club.
Chronicled the biker subculture.
Iron Horse treated hardcore bikers with a love and respect that can only come from within a subculture, and we stayed away---far away---from the laughable pop psychology that riddled the mainstream media's derisive view of bikers. To them, we're merely gangs of thugs on two wheels. To the initiated, bikers are imbued with a strength of character, that comes from the love of one's motorcycle as a living entity, full of the life, vigor and personality that represent a life-long partnership with our bikes. It's more than a machine, man! Believe it. To put it another way , in the words that became the lighthearted slogan of t-shirts in the '60s......
If we have to explain, then you wouldn't understand.
What? You went to Milwaukee, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt? Wait a minute! Lissen up, baby---the biker subculture is not a flighty phenomenon, or a facetious punchline. It is a subject worthy of pithy contemplation! For real, man! Living the life of a biker, with all of the love and respect that a biker has for his iron-partner-in-life, reaches down to the very core of a biker's person. Perhaps down to the cellular level, so permeated is he or she with love for The Bike. There is a theory that years of enduring a Harley's peculiar vibrational frequencies, changes the rider's DNA genome, and turns him or her into A Biker.
It was with this conviction that bikers have been a uniquely American (to begin with, there are now hardcore bikers across the world) since the 1930s, that I undertook the study of Chinese bikers in America, beginning in Iron Horse magazine. That continued in many articles that I've written on the subject, for my biker websites, GOING THE DISTANCE and BIKER SUBCULTURE.
As far as I can tell, I've been the only writer to have explored the subject of Chinese-American bikers. It was perhaps of my exclusivity in writing about Chinese bikers in America, that I received this query from "T.Y." on my BIKER SUBCULTURE website. T.Y.'s uncle was a biker named Martin Wong Sr. Here is T.Y.'s question:
"I found this site while looking for information about my uncle, Martin Wong Sr. He was a Chinese-American from San Francisco, and also a Hell's Angel. He was born in 1935 and I think he was a part of the Oakland or San Francisco chapters. I was curious, if you have come across any information about him during your research. Many thanks."
I replied to T.Y. that I knew nothing of his uncle. It wasn't in fact, until I saw a picture of Steven Yee and Lynn Yee on the cover of a Outlaw Biker magazine in the early '90s, that I became aware of other Chinese Hell's Angels beside "Chinese Mel" mentioned in Hunter S. Thompson's book on the Angels. Chinese Mel was in the Frisco chapter. It was then, that I turned to Lynn Yee, to ask if she had heard of Martin Wong Sr.
Are there other Chinese Angels across the world? Hard to say, since there are so many HAMC chapters in so many places now. Asking this question is like asking, "Do you think there's life out there in space?" Logic would dictate that there is life on other planets. Earth can't be the only one with life. Likewise, there must be other Chinese Angels somewhere. It's a big, wide world out there. The HAMC has truly become an international phenomenon. Chinese bikers are a subject I have a natural and abiding interest in. Was Martin Wong Sr. a Hell's Angel, as his nephew believes? I don't know. Maybe the answer will surface, as a result of someone who knows the answer to that question, seeing this article. In the meantime, the research goes on for your humble reporter. Later.