Anti-Nazi skinheads (memoir)
It was my friend Bear who told me about the former Nazi skinhead he knew who’d been shot five times and stabbed twice.
Riordan Blake was the first skinhead I ever met. He’d found the wrong crowd—who became his family. This crowd turned out to be neo-Nazi skinheads.
In his twenties, he realized the error of his ways and left the vile community which had raised him. He became what he referred to as a “trad skin,” a traditional skinhead, like the early skinheads in England in the 70s: Black and white people alike; soccer hooligans; working-class ruffians.
It wasn’t until his later twenties, after seeing some Nazis at a punk show at the Troubadour, on Santa Monica Boulevard, beat up two black teens, that he suddenly metamorphosed. He became a SHARP. This stands for Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. In other words: He became an anti-racist skinhead who fought—and often beat the shit out of—neo Nazis.
Riordan and I met when I was twenty, an hour north of LA, along the Pacific Coast, where I was born. Two years before I’d fled my parents’ to live with my buddy nicknamed The Bear—long story—and his girlfriend. It was a tiny one-bedroom apartment on Harrison Street off Ventura Avenue in gangbanger territory. But it was cheap.
Ventura was a gorgeous, serene town: Sprawling beaches; the glimmering Pacific Ocean; a quaint downtown scene. At dusk in summer it looked like a lush Picasso painting. It seemed at odds with the idea of someone like Riordan.
The first time he and I met his image was seared into my brain. He was about 6’0. He wore greasy blue jeans; scuffed black Doc Martin boots with yellow laces; a white ripped T-shirt with an image of a Mohawked punker dancing in a circle pit. His face struck me the most: He had the beginnings of a red beard; his mouth was thin-lipped and always talking or smiling; and he had the most sizzling, piercing blue eyes I’d ever witnessed.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Black Snake of Wounded Vanity to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.