Photo by Genghis
MARIO WANTED TO STEAL MY HARLEY: Was he joking or serious?.
A NOTE FROM KAREN PADGETT GOOD
“Hi Scott, I just finished reading ‘Chinese Angels’….This story brought back that clear memory of your talking to Mario and Flash in front of 77 East 3rd Street. The reason you caught my interest, was because the NYC club was exclusively Caucasian…..you were the first oriental biker I’d ever seen. They were talking to you like an equal, and that was impressive to me. I also remember you talking to John Forte (‘John John’ in the club) in front of Mom's. He lived in a little cave in the clubhouse."
KAREN PADGETT GOOD
Karen’s an interesting person. At the time that she saw me talking to New York City Hell’s Angels Mario and Flash, Karen was one of the other New York City Hell’s Angel’s ol’ lady. Karen and I grew up in the same Queens neighborhood of Jackson Heights, and we both went to Newtown High School, although Karen was behind me at Newtown by about three years. I’d never met her in Queens. It seems improbable that our respective worlds—the first in our formative years in Jackson Heights, and the later one in which we lived in the East Village—would collide in front of the New York City Hell’s Angels clubhouse. But there you are. Sometimes, life is strange and wondrous at the same time.
77 EAST 3RD STREET: The stoop across the street from 77 East 3rd Street.
I’d met Mario some time before I met Karen in front of 77 East 3rd Street, and it was in the summer of 1969 when I met Mario for the first time. Mario’s real name was Henry Fenuta. In 1969, I was working as a motorcycle messenger for the Quick Trip Messenger Service on East 25th Street in The City. On the day I met Mario, my Harley Sportster (pictured) “Sally The Bitch” was parked outside the Quick Trip offices, while I was in the office doing paperwork. When I went outside, I saw this biker standing in front of my bike, staring at her intently. My antenna went up, and I sized the other biker up. About my size and weight, and wearing colors. His patch said, “ALIENS MC.”
I approached Mario warily, and said, “What’s up, man?” Mario said without a hint of guile, “I was thinkin’ of stealin’ yaw bike.” After a second of stunned silence, we both broke up laughing! Either this guy was pathologically honest all the time, or he had a wicked sense of humor. After gettin’ to know him after that, I decided it was the latter.
Mario and I rapped for a little while on that first day, and I learned that he also rode a Sportster. It was a neat little bike, with a bolt on hardtail. The frame and the tin were painted wrinkle black from rattle-cans, which is an unusual paint job. Mario told me that he would never have used his Harley as a motorcycle messenger. Our conversation then turned to clubs. He said…..
“Yeah, I belong to a motorcycle club called the Aliens. You ever think of prospecting for a club?”
I told him no, but that wasn’t entirely true. What young biker doesn’t at least give fleeting thought, to joining a motorcycle club? The sight, sound and feel of dozens of straight piped Harleys blasting regally down the road, is mesmerizing, especially from within. The sense of brotherhood is inviting. Yet, for me, there really was no option because of my personality.
Truth to tell, I’m not really much of a a people person, and I hate crowds. Solitude is my thing, always has been, always will be. I view a Harley-Davidson, as the Ultimate Solitude Machine. Hey man, you can only get one other person on at a time, and most of the time—you ride the machine alone.
Mario’s club, the Aliens, went on to become the New York City Chapter of the Hell’s Angels. It’s a durable club, still there at 77 East 3rd Street, even after 45 years. So much time, gone by. Karen also wrote me…..
“The last time I popped by the clubhouse was in 1999. A younger patch was the only one outside. He brought me up to date a bit. Flash was the only older guy still in the club.”
Karen introduced the Grateful Dead to Sandy Alexander, the then President of the New York City Hell’s Angels. It was based on this connection, that Sandy arranged that Dead benefit concert at the Anderson Theater that took place, the night my father passed away.
The call of clubs is tantalizing. There is great power in numbers, and tremendous emotional support. Almost every young biker who slings his leg over a Harley-Davidson wonders about the possibility of prospecting for a club. However, clubs aren’t for everyone. For loners like me, it goes against the grain. Just me and my bike man, we’re going the distance. Later.