As a lifelong New Yorker, I am not one to long for the good old days when the city was more "authentic." Getting mugged and watching prostitutes shoot up on the stoops of the East Village is not actually better in my book then seeing ritzy designer stores occupy the buildings attached to those stoops. For one thing, I can simply not walk into a store, but telling a mugger, "thanks but I think I will pass on tonight's mugging, I got mugged last night", does not work so well.
But even I feel a little twinge of nostalgia for a simpler time when reading about the new identity of the Hells Angels: litigious copyright enforcers. What happened to beating up people outside bars?
Sure, they use a lawyer with what the NYTimes describes as a red Mohawk on his head, though in reality it is really more like a tuft of red crayon cartoon hair in the middle of his wizened scalp. And yes, everyone seems to be talking about "brand identity" and "brand loyalty" these days but when a symbol of freedom from rules and laws starts acting like a corporation, it is a sad day.
It seems the Hells Angels sued a teenage girl for copyright infringement for selling embroidered patches on ebay that looked a little too much like their logo. A teenage girl.
They also sued, amongst a longer list:
Toys "R" Us, Alexander McQueen, Amazon, Saks, Zappos, Walt Disney and Marvel Comics
Why the sudden itch to litigate? In the words of Yogurt from Mel Brook's opus, Space Balls, merchandizing!
Hells Angels ladies yoga pants! Hells Angels Coffee mugs for the office drones in your life! Hells Angels T-shirts, for that guy who has it all (children's sizes also available)! You can even get cabernet sauvignon with the name of the Hells Angels' leader. Whether it tastes like the wind rushing through your hair on the open road or like the stuff your mom gets at the local liquor store is open for debate.
Least you give up on society altogether, the NYTimes reassures us, at least when it comes to the police, no amount of yoga pants is going to rehabilitate their image.
law enforcement officials have cracked down on the Hells Angels, saying they represent a criminal gang on six continents, trafficking drugs and guns and engaging in money laundering, extortion and mortgage fraud.
Image from Hells Angels Toronto