Biker Lifestyle

One club had two of the best “MC Life” photographers, who have ever lived this life. Danny Lyon and Jim Flash 1%er Miteff were members of the Outlaws MC.

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By David Walters

I would guess it is the same for you as it is for me. We have A certain “it” in our minds that help shape our idea of this life. We have a loved one that molded us, a movie we saw, a song, a book we read, an image that captured our imagination. After we saw it, we felt we were born for this life, or gained a greater appreciation, a deeper respect. It hits all the spots in your brain and in your gut. Rebellion. Passion. Man, machine, and brotherhood.
That whole fancy intro may differ based simply on where or when you grew up. If it was in the early to mid 60s, a lot of what you saw might be heavily influenced from the West Coast. That is after all the home of 3 out of 4 earliest motorcycle clubs. It’s media presence during the hippie and flower movement of the 60s gave rise to clubs and bikers becoming household names. Hollywood had its movies, an influx of GIs staying put in California after WWII, the great weather and chicks in bikinis, this caused a lot of the MC world to greatly influenced from the West.
Which means, If i said – “off the top of your head give me 5 influential West Coast MC culture icons”.. It’d take you about 30 seconds.

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What if you were a Midwest kid? Did the silver screen or a magazine spread represent what you were seeing? Was it different than what was going on around you? Did you draw your influences from what you saw in those movies, or was it the larger than life characters in your own backyard?
One club had two of the best “MC Life” photographers, who have ever lived this life. Danny Lyon and Jim Flash 1%er Miteff were members of the Outlaws MC. I want to focus this time on Jim Miteff. as a Midwest kid, i always felt a connection to the works of both Jim Flash 1%er Miteff and Danny Lyon. Even though I am far younger, to me, their images captured more of that grit and grind of the Midwest. I couldn’t/ can’t relate to the more glitz and sun I would like to see in other works. Is that accurate? Maybe not. Only my interpretation.
I also thought that doing a post on both Danny and Jim was important for education. Too often their pictures are used interchangeably, as if there is no difference between the two men, their styles, or what they captured. Some might say who cares it all ends up representing the same thing… I care.
Jim was born in 1933 and spent time working at the Ford plant. Out of his house, he was running his own motorcycle shop. Being quite the mechanic and builder he soon started several custom parts companies, turning a decent profit. This allowed him to pursue a passion he had always had, photography, eventually starting his own print shop. Jim lived in the Detroit area and in 1965 would be a founding member of the Outlaws MC Detroit Chapter. Running a motorcycle business out of your house, makes you the de facto clubhouse in those early days! For his club, Jim would help to build some memorable and incredible bikes. At times, sweeping award stages at Midwest bike shows.

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The bond he found in the club life was something he cherished. It was something he wanted to capture, something he could pass it on. He wanted to share it as a gift with his family and brothers. His gift was through the lens of a camera. He had that respect, that trust, in a world that can be secretive and closed off, even for members. Jim respected this. He didn’t share his photographs with the public. For almost 40 years they sat. Stored. Captured in a moment of time. These images provided glimpses of the best aspect of what it was like to be a Outlaw 1%er, during one of the classic and defining periods of this life, the 60s.

Notorious Mongols Motorcycle Club fighting U.S. government to keep its vest patch . How is this even possible in the United States?
By 1969 Miteff was seeing a decline in his custom motorcycle parts business due to his affiliation with a single club and dealing with many different clubs in his business. Between that and family obligations, he decided to leave the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. His daughter Beverly grew up knowing of her Dad’s love for the club, the brotherhood and the machine.
After Jim passed in 1999. Some of the family worried more about what to do with his money, as owning several businesses and made him successful. Luckily for you and I, Beverly didn’t have that issue. She wanted the pictures. She wanted to work with the club and find a respectful way to publish them and to bring her Dad’s images and the stories they tell, to life. I’m glad she did. I’m glad they did. Her 3 books “Portraits of American Bikers life in the 1960s, Portraits of American Bikers Outside Looking In, and Bikers The Men, Machine, and Myth”, are 3 classic works of what being a 1%er in the 60s was all about. No matter your club, or dot on a map, these are images that stoke a fire in us all. They produce not only an imagine in our mind, but something in our hearts of Brotherhood and that desire to ride.
I often wonder if Jim and Danny knew of each other? Did they meet in passing? There is no known record if they interacted or knew of each others works. At the time, Danny was leaving the Club as Jim was coming in. Danny was a known Journalist and activist at that point, Jim had no idea yet what his passion would lead to. I find it amazing to think about, that these two, who would go on to become icons, might never even have known of the other.

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The book titles and the pictures here are of course property of Beverly Roberts and her company Flash Productions. She continues in her father’s legacy as a photographer for the Michigan COC.
I always say i don’t give a shit which team you root for when it comes down to history, just enjoy it. It is bigger than all of us. I understand as well as you, the territory, political, feuds, friendships, and protocol issues that go into what we love and do, but the history of our life transcends all of that. It binds us, if only for a min. So shut the fuck up haha

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