Edward Winterhalder is another biker who has leveraged his outlaw experience into a career as a media personality. Once a national officer of the Bandidos MC and El Presidente of the Oklahoma Bandidos chapter, he is now an author, television producer, and professional interview subject. Out in Bad Standing is Winterhalder’s first book and his coming out as a pundit on biker topics, it gives the details of Winterhalder’s life as a biker, as a family man, as a musician, and as a businessman.
Blockhead City Press is Out in Bad Standing’s publisher, and from what I can tell, it’s Winterhalder’s own publishing company. In essence, Winterhalder published his own autobiography. The length of this book, at 432 pages, communicates a lack of editing, and to compare, Sonny Barger’s own bio, Hell’s Angel, recalling the career of the man who essentially formed the model of the outlaw motorcycle club in the 1950s, is only 288 pages. Winterhalder’s book is long, and somewhat tedious, but its good to have one out there by a Bandido since all the other major clubs are represented in the bio literature. Still, Winterhalder’s book tells the same stories of riding around, rocking out, getting into trouble, having friends die or jail or succumb to drug addiction, as the other books and its hard not to feel like, as a reader, one outlaw biker autobiography is enough to read to have the lifestyle figured out.
What intrigues me about these biker bios are the balance they try to maintain between presenting themselves as model outlaw bikers and as model citizens, and I’m always left wondering if these bios are for other bikers to read or for cultural outsiders? Outlaw bikers have such a tough time convincing everyday citizens that they’re not criminals, or at least, they’re not criminal organizations, that these books often heavily emphasize both the duller aspects of outlaw biker life, or the ways in which the subject is not a biker. Winterhalder is a good father, he owns a successful construction business, and he’s a musician. Presumably his band plays that beer-belly blues rock with harmonicas blaring that you hear whenever a biker appears on television. He was also a chapter president and a national officer with many duties, and he writes at length of the administrative side, with its numerous headaches, of managing a motorcycle club. So by reading his book he convinced me that he’s not a career criminal, but his book goes down these textual roads where, when he’s talking about problems occurring behind the scenes of the Bandidos, it feels as though he’s not trying to convince me that he’s legit, but rather he’s telling his social scene a side to a story that’s best known to other Bandidos.
The book has a strange structure to it, it begins with his trip to Canada to patch over the Rock Machine in the midst of the Montreal biker war, before it goes into his life story. He tells the story that the Bandidos were only willing to patch them over if the war was over, and its tough to be fully convinced that Bandidos are crime free as an organization, when they’re willing to take on men engaged in such a conflict, especially when hostilities continued for a time after the transition, and Bandidos died. A year after the book’s publication, the Shedden Massacre occurred in Southwestern Ontario, where 8 Ontario Bandidos were murdered. The Bandidos may generally be a large group of guys who are ready for a fight but really just want to have fun riding motorcycles and partying, but even if you believe that that’s what they are as a group they’re obviously accommodating to people with very violent inclinations. Winterhalder comes off as smart and tough but also fun and friendly, in his book, but he’s also a part of an outlaw subcultural group that has been involved with events termed ‘riots’, ‘wars’, and ‘massacres’. I may be wrong but even with their fearsome reputation, the Hells Angels don’t have any ‘massacres’ in their history, the Bandidos have two, Milperra and Shedden.