- SATURDAY, JUNE 18, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Nye Beach Writers’ Series. Newport Visual Arts Center, 2nd Floor. 777 NW Beach Drive, Newport. Admission $8.
“Chaos cluttered the streets of New York City back then, which in the 1960s was all about Burn, Baby, Burn, especially in the ghetto neighborhoods where buildings were being incinerated. The cops were pigs. Revolutionaries were stirring up trouble on the Lower East Side. Squatters moved in everywhere. Lots of heroin was going down. And the French Connection was strong. The city was a place where nobody gave a rat’s ass about anybody but themselves.”
The tales Johnny Bargain told to publisher Carla Perry were tragic, appalling, poignant, eye opening, and funny — a glimpse into the world of a motorcycle gang headquartered in Rosebank, Staten Island. Johnny wanted to write a long-overdue letter to his friend’s 18-year-old son who had been gunned down in the 1960s by the police as he rode his Harley Sportster. Three bullet holes punctured the boy’s back for no good reason at all. Johnny wanted Stitch to know he had not been forgotten even though 50 years have gone by. The memories were weighing heavily in Johnny’s head.
Johnny headed down to California for a three-day biker party and by day ten, he had recorded several stories. When he returned, Perry transcribed the recordings but she suggested he create a map of the Rosebank neighborhood — the bars, Dapper Dan’s motorcycle shop, the houses where Johnny lived, the police station, the location of the murders, the location of infamous parties, the cemetery where Stitch was buried, and the various motorcycle club headquarters. Each time Johnny drew a building or marked an X on the map, the stories flooded out, clear as the day they happened. Johnny Bargain headed south again for another biker party and came home with plenty more material.
The real bio of Johnny Bargain can be found in the pages of A Collection Of Bummer Summers, a book of memoir short stories that lays out the absolute truth. In the meantime, this is what we can tell you: He grew up in Rosebank, Staten Island. He was a member of Dapper Dan’s Wacky Racers motorcycle team. They were incorrigible bad boys.
The book, illustrated by Sarah Gayle, is available at Canyon Way Bookstore, the Newport & Toledo Public Libraries, Nye Beach Book House, SarahGayleArt.com, online from Amazon, and direct from Dancing Moon Press,
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