One day I set out onto the street determined to meet an MC club. Walking past a massive group of parked bikes I tried to look inconspicuous. I was working up my courage but it wasn't really helping. The wild array of helmets hanging on the handle bars bore stickers and spikes and scars. Their patched members were dismounted, gathered in loose circles in front of what I later learned was a clubhouse. I stepped up to someone and asked to speak to their president. I asked for him by his club name. They surrounded me. Before, I was just another civilian, a passerby gawking and barely worth noticing but now they wanted to know who I was. They wanted to know how I knew their president. I felt foolish at that point, thinking that I could simply approach these guys and impress them with my earnestness, my interest, and curiosity. They told me that Lucifer wasn't around. So they took my card and told me to go away. They told me that if I ever approached them again without an introduction they wouldn’t be as polite.
Weeks passed, and I wondered how I would ever earn an introduction. I replayed the last encounter in my mind. I had nothing in common with these guys. They lived in a completely different world, with different rules. We just happened to live side by side. The fact that I drove a bike didn’t mean shit to them because there was something else that bound them to each other and I didn’t have a clue as to what that was.
With my camera in hand and my business cards, I decided to approach the men seated in front of the neighborhood auto shops. They were always out there every summer, playing dominoes among the cars parked half on and off the road so naturally I thought it might be a better place to start. From my regular visits to these places I was slowly learning that growing up on the streets in Brooklyn meant that everyone is loosely connected. You went to school together. Your cousins lived within a mile radius. And from a very early age, you got to know somebody in every hood. This helped my chances of eventually bumping into somebody who might be able to make a formal introduction.
After a chance encounter in the vicinity of the auto shops I got to know a young man by the name of Javier. For some reason, he immediately took an interest in me and after what I did came up he told me that he actually knew quite a bit about the motorcycle world, MCs. I was skeptical, but the possibilities were either that I would eventually get robbed or he might be able to show me something. After talking about it one night he told me, “Shadi, what I’ve seen will blow your fucking mind. You would never believe me.” Somehow he knew quite well who the major players were. The world he described encompassed a larger scope than I had imagined. I didn't think it was really like that. His vision of it was populated by menacing figures and criss crossing alliances spanning from state to state. I was reluctantly intrigued by the level of detail he offered because it was so imaginative. Finally he offered to introduce me to a club he said he was very tight with, but he was nervous. On the night he went to speak with the club about this, we stopped on a corner about 10 blocks from the bike shop. He told me that when he brought this up, things would either be all good or he would probably be a dead man. I assumed he was just being figurative, but the bottom line was if he didn’t come back then things were not all good.
He proceeded on his own and left me wondering there by myself.