Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Biking Renaisance Man Remembered

The anniversary today of the death in 2000 of Dr Maz Harris: PR officer of the Hells Angels MC, academic and journalist.

Back in the 80’s, the magazine Back Street Heroes helped define the British biker scene. Along with events like the HA’s Kent Custom Show, it developed an identity that encompassed outlaw-types right through to anyone who wasn’t interested in sports bikes and to whom biking was something more than just practical transport.

BSH was very different from most of the US imported magazines around at that time that focused on biker-babes draped over glitzy Arlen Ness style professionally commissioned bikes. BSH had something of the fanzine about it, and Maz’s regular column Radical Times was an essential part of this.

Radical Times was effectively a printed precursor of the blogging phenomenon. Maz's personalised rants came from the perspective of a biker with a passion for civil liberties and widely-read enough to back it up.

Writing in the Thatcher years, Maz's rants covered the Criminal Justice Act, the abuse of police powers, the British presence in Northern Ireland, the poll tax, racism and the health service. Dispelling the prejudices of the middle-class PC brigade who would regard bikers as reactionary Neanderthals, these rants were invariably from a progressive point of view.

Now it seems that every other celebrity has commissioned an Orange County Chopper. Thanks to the Discovery Channel and born again HOG-tyes, bikers have been embraced by the mainstream, and the idea of a counter culture has been eroded.

Sadly BSH, which still survives albeit under new ownership, now reflects this trend; but back in the day - Maz was the real deal.

No comments: