Gods of Mischief Book Review

gods of mischief“Big George Rowe was surprised when his fiancee’ called him a snitch. What she actually called him was a MotherFu#$ing snitch.” But, she was right. Rowe was a snitch, a self made one.

Rowe’s fiancee’ became suspicious of his frequent late night meetings with “Uncle John” but never considered he was a snitch. Privately she thought he might be gay, which in her mind was preferable to being   snitch.

“The man she knew as a hard riding, hard drinking member of the Vagos MC, the man she had agreed to marry, the man who had saved her life and was the father of her unborn child had been lying to her for the  last 3 years and was secretly leading the life of an undercover Federal informant.” “Now he had 15 minutes to convince her to join him in the Federal Witness Protection program, or be killed by those he had  betrayed, along with their unborn child. He knew she wouldn’t take the news and this decision very well, but he never expected this.”

Gods of Mischief is a gripping true story about Big George Rowe, a reformed crystal meth addict and dealer, a bare knuckle brawler and convicted felon who seeks to satisfy his need for redemption by attempting to destroy the Vagos MC from the inside out. George becomes a full-patch member of the Hemut California Chapter and along the way falls in love with a struggling drug addict 20 years his junior, helping her with her addictions while trying to conquer his inner demons, never quite getting a handle on either. Far from the glamorized lifestyle of the bikers in the television series Sons of Anarchy, the MC world George Rowe lived in was dirtier, more mundane and filled with humans who seemed to enjoy and thrive on committing random acts of senseless violence.

In Gods of Mischief, Rowe carries the reader through a narrative (three years in the making) from an insiders perspective as he buys guns and drugs for the ATF and as a “Prospect” washes motorcycles and fetches tampons for his club brothers to pass the initiation phase on his way to becoming a full patch member of the Vagos. Now living under a new identity, in an undisclosed location courtesy of the US Witness Security Program, Rowe writes a revealing memoir of his activities with the Vagos MC. The life of a confidential informant is hardly the stuff of legends, and even those who walk entirely on the right side of the law have a love/hate relationship with them. On one hand we’re glad when justice is served on the predators, but, on the other hand, we don’t really like the informants who bring help bring the predators to justice. It’s hard to feel sorry for George Rowe, who lost everything trying to rid his town of what he saw as a criminal gang, terrorizing his friends and neighbors. It’s hard because we feel he dishonored himself, turned his back on his best friend. and in the process, became a little too much like those which he despised. For snitches like Rowe, the end justified the means, but it also shows there is no  honor, even among thieves, and we place a high value on honor. Is this book a “tell all?” Probably not. The publisher, Simon and Schuster, does a good job of whitewashing Rowe’s unsavory past (and present  actions) and painting him as someone who was motivated by the desire to “avenge” the murder of a friend. While most readers will never sympathize with Rowe, the narrative is still compelling enough to carry the story. If the 1% outlaw biker lifestyle intrigues you, then Gods of Mischief, My undercover vendetta to take down the Vagos Outlaw motorcycle gang is a good way to spend a cold weekend inside. It starts off a little slow, but revs up halfway in and even though you know how it ends, you’ll find yourself caught up in the emotional turmoil and you’ll be turning pages late into the night.

Available from Touchstone Hardcover / Simon and Shuster for $25.99; (ISBN 978-1-4516-6734-9)

One Man’s Love Affair with I-94

book cover

A good, but short, collection of motorcycle travel essays

It doesn’t matter if you ride a Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Victory, Gold Wing or BMW, there’s one thing that most agree on.  Riding the interstate is a necessary evil.  We do it when the dictates of time force us to.

But if you believe Rand Rasmussen, spending solitary hours on the super slab can be therapeutic.

He admits to motorcycle heresy when he paraphrases this quote from the bible of motorcycle riding (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)  “Joy may be found as readily in the lanes of a freeway moving forward at speed for uninterrupted hours without towns or stop signs or speed traps, as on curvy back roads.”

Heresy indeed, but I admire his courage in saying what many of us have discovered.  There is a certain “zone” akin to meditation that comes from pinning the throttle at 85 or 90 mph for an hour at a time with little or no traffic to contend with.  It’s not something you can do comfortably on two lane state roads.

I received a copy of the Revised I-94 Reader from Andy Goldfine at Aerostitch as a Christmas present.  I tucked the small book away for the time when I’d need a diversion from the stress of publishing.

After sending the February issue to the printer, and not having enough time for a short ride, I pulled out this book hoping it would help ease my “deadline” nerves that plague magazine editors.    Not expecting very much in the way of entertainment, I was pleasantly surprised and (within a couple of pages) fully engrossed as I shut out the world and rode along with Rasmussen through the Minnesota and North Dakota country side as he recounts his monthly trips along I-94 from Minnesota St. Paul to Fargo North Dakota.

All too soon I reached page 64, and the end, a little bummed there were no more stories.

Rasmussen has a talent to paint even the most mundane of circumstance with language so colorful you can almost smell the air, and feel the frost on your faceshield.  This talent must come from his curious nature and the long hours of introspection on the freeway he spent has years logging thousands of miles upon.

If you like a good diversion, you owe it to yourself to download Revised I-94 Reader from Amazon.com ($3.00) for the Kindle reader. If you don’t own a Kindle or a smartphone, I’m sure you can contact Aerostitch and get a hard copy.

– Scott Cochran, Editor USRiderNews