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Monday, August 25, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Caesar Campbell (with Donna Campbell): WRECKING CREW- The Brutal True Story of the Bandidos’ Legendary Sergeant-At-Arms. Pan Macmillan Australia, Sydney, 2011 (277 pages).

Wrecking Crew is the sequel to Caesar Campbell’s first book Enforcer (2010). Campbell was a founding member of the first Australian chapter of the American motorcycle club the Bandidos and was the club’s staunch sergeant-at-arms for many years. Most of this volume covers the period from February 1986 when Campbell was first incarcerated in Parklea Prison following the infamous ‘Milperra Massacre’ and November 1997 when he was cunningly edged out by the club’s president, known in this book as Mick K.

The writing in Campbell’s memoir is clear, candid and often compellingly raw.  He provides the reader with dozens of real life anecdotes- some of which will make your head spin. For legal reasons, he is sometimes reticent in giving us the full names and details of specific incidents. As he explains in the Epilogue: “As you’ve probably figured out, I can’t always tell you every detail that went on over the years – and I certainly can’t publicly identify some of the culprits. If I did, I might be able to fill four or five books, but I’d end up back in jail and so would half the blokes I know. Maybe it’d get me shot, too, not that that worries me. You die sooner or later. But I’m bloody not going to get locked up again. Hence this book is ninety-five percent fact, five percent fiction.” Let me tell you Campbell doesn’t pull many punches in Wrecking Crew and there are shit loads of violent incidents which will keep even the most reluctant readers turning the pages of this book.

The title Wrecking Crew is a reference to the name given to Caesar and his brothers- Bull, Shadow, Snake, Chop, Wack & Wheels in the early days, when they developed a reputation “as an unbeatable force.” In the Cross they smashed up countless blokes out of the Venus Room- “sailors and soldiers on R&R, right back to the Vietnam days, and then you had our faves: yob footballers. We’d kick the shit out of them”- we “was worth thirty” of them.

Campbell’s first person narrative is intimate and it is as if he is talking directly to you. You sort of slip into rider’s boots and stand beside him as he tells you his story. He comes across as a bloke who knows what he wants and doesn’t like to be mucked about. He is fiercely loyal to his partner Donna & to his extended family and club. What you see is largely what you get: A bikie of old warrior values whose word you can count on & who will back up his mates to the end in a fight.

As a sergeant-at-arms Campbell's job is to provide muscle and direction for the club. He takes care of security, fronts other clubs when necessary and always rides out the front of the pack on runs. He is a skilled and resourceful negotiator, in and out of jail, and a man who is highly respected and feared. He truly believes that “there is no greater honour than dying for your club.”

Campbell’s writing is pared back and gritty. He is particularly cluey at describing the heat of a full-on blue.  His tone in these recollections is matter-of-fact and the language concise but highly memorable. You get the impression that during a fight Campbell’s mind clicks into a different gear and he acts out of instinct, tuned by decades of bikie brawls and martial arts experience. He uses violence largely out of territorial necessity, to bash up blokes who reckon, “they could get a reputation by getting one over him.”

One day, he is attacked in Parklea Prison by two junkies in the gym. He breaks their arms with a steel weight. He quickly learns from them his former bikie club the Comancheros have paid the blokes a couple of caps to cut him up and he smashes them senseless, “I stomped on the legs of one and grabbed the other’s index finger, yanking it back with a bit too much force. The bone broke through the skin and when I looked at my hand it was covered in blood. I thought his bone had cut me too.”

Campbell also uses violence in jail in an altruistic manner to protect the underdog. When Tony, a young offender, is hassled by two predators Fats and Psycho, Campbell stomps on Fats’ leg until a sliver of bone pokes through his trackies and he smashes a 180 pound weight on Psycho’s hand which turns to mush. There dozens of other violent incidents recounted in the book but far too many to mention here.

The structure of the book is mostly linear, although to initially lube our interest, the prologue is set in 1991 and describes how Campbell is shot strolling around a shopping mall in Sydney’s west. The language is highly descriptive and colloquial: “I was leaning against the warm bonnet of my hotted-up 1978 Fairlane- dark chocolate with a white vinyl top- when I felt it, whack, in the left eye, and suddenly all this blood started pissing out of my face. I couldn’t see. I could just feel it everywhere.”

Much of the first half of the book (Chapters 1-8) is focussed on Campbell’s views of the extended Supreme Court proceedings and how he copes with prison life. For thirteen months he sits at the back of the court in his dark sunnies secretly railing against Justice Roden and especially the crooked cops who “blatantly lied” and verballed his boys.

Campbell was shot six times at Milperra in the stomach, lung, shoulder, forehead and back and was in a coma for a month before he awoke, fled the hospital and hid out in Perth for over a year.  Less known, is that he has “copped more lead than that in the years since.” As he writes in the Prologue, “I’ve had bullets come through the house, I’ve been shot in my front yard and out on the bike, and I’ve been popped in a blue. I’ve been shot at close range and from snipers.” Amazingly, Campbell survives every attempt on his life and he recounts in detail the extraordinary care his partner Donna provides him in digging out the shrapnel.

Campbell reckons that he didn’t know that his former bikie club the Comancheros would be at the Viking Tavern and that he “never went there with the intention of hurting anyone”. He and the club had planned to celebrate his young fella’s fourth birthday party after the Viking meet.

Campbell mentions that he and his brothers broke away from the Comos and formed the Bandidos because they was sick of the Como President Jock Ross of running the club along para-military lines. The final straw “had been him screwing another member’s old lady.”

Seven people died in the subsequent shootout in 1984 between the Comancheros and the Bandidos, including a fifteen year old female by-stander. Interestingly, Campbell does not mention that four Comancheros were killed in what he refers to as “the ambush.”

Every day during the trial Campbell sits in Nepean Court thinking about how he is going to get to the Comos in the courtyard, “I dead set wanted to kill every Como there. Failing that, I started planning how I’d get them once we’d all been released.”

Campbell is faced with a dilemma and he takes the reader through the thinking behind it. He wants to avenge his brothers’ murders but needs to quell his rage and focus on the living- his wife, mother & his kids.

In jail, Campbell has good relations with the screws and undertakes courses to get time off for good behaviour.  Campbell reckons the loneliness in prison “eats you up”: “You’re locked in up in this little room all on your own and you can’t move. To help him survive, he focuses on his family, “the next visit, the next phone call.”

The latter chapters of Wrecking Crew (Chapters 9-20) recount Campbell’s release from prison in 1991, and focus on a series of fascinating anecdotes about Bandido runs and the eventual internal divisions which ostracise him from the club in 1997. He writes about the crazy characters, the clubhouse antics, the brawls, the shootings, his marriage to his long-term partner Donna and the work he obtains as a detailer on a release program and later as a bouncer and debt collector. In one job he collects a wad of cash for a bookie together with a punter’s left eye to show the bookie “the job had been done.” In another incident up the Cross, he cuts off the finger of an interstate standover man as proof his job had been completed. Campbell makes it clear that his work never had “anything to do with drugs” and he never harmed ordinary people going about their daily lives. 

In his narratives, Campbell also provides some interesting social commentary on changes in the club scene in the Cross- “the old days are gone” (Chapter 9, 15, 17) on knife-fighting (Chapter 12) & on what to do in an all-in brawl (Chapter 11).

This is a grim, intense memoir about a bikie & his old lady who have survived to tell their tale. Wrecking Crew is an important and fascinating social document well worth the read. If you haven't read Caesar Campbell before you are probably better off starting with his first book The Enforcer (2010) which charts his early life, through to his antics as president of the early outlaw club the Gladiators, to his split with his next club the Comancheros, to the fatal showdown at Milperra in 1984. His account (Chapter 14) of the Commos ambushing of the Bandidos at the swap-meet on the grounds of the Viking Tavern is extraordinary!


Some useful links to the 1984 Milperra Massacre:

‘Two of Us: Donna and Caesar Campbell’ (Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 July 2013: 

Find fifteen pages from the Wrecking Crew plus some photos:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book Launch at Readings Carlton: Stu Hatton's Glitching

Stu Hatton's will launch his second collection of poetry Glitching in August in Melbourne.

From Stu's flyer: 
(outer) publishing is delighted to invite you to the Melbourne launch of Glitching by Stu Hatton. The book will be launched by Jo Scicluna.

Monday the 25th of August 2014 Readings Carlton
309 Lygon St
6pm for 6.30pm start.

 Launch details:
Glitches of perception ... glitches in the data, in the signal ... cracks, chaos engines ... glitching as music tweaked out of noise ...

Glitching is Stu Hatton’s second collection of poems. The book is divided into ten thematic sections: ‘entrances’, ‘detours’, ‘glitching’, ‘wasted’, ‘couplings’, ‘futures’, ‘midways’, ‘soil’, ‘entheogen’ and ‘exits’. Glitching tilts towards a poetry of error, malfunction, accident, remixing and transformation.

Further Info:

If you’re unable to make it to the launch, Glitching can be purchased as a paperback (AU$20 plus postage) from here:

Or you can download the book as a PDF file from here:
The PDF is offered on a pay-what-you-feel basis. In other words, whatever you’d like to pay, from $0 up. If you’d prefer to pay nothing (for whatever reason), that’s no problem, and entirely up to you.

Stu Hatton can be contacted here:

(the outer blog):

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


BOLD MONKEY reached a milestone recently- 100,000 hits since 2010. Not exactly the stats you might get for a football player pretending to drink his own urine or a beagle secretly filmed leaping from a lounge chair onto an island bench but respectful enough for a blog which usually specialises in small press poetry publications. The main purpose in listing this material is to call to your attention to posts which have received significant hits.

The individual hits for each post as recorded by google are hopelessly inaccurate as they often require a direct linkage and some iconic posts have been removed for a variety of reasons. Anyways, here's the list for most hits from # 50 to #1. If you are interested in following up any post- click on the links below.

#50 Book Review: Jack Henry CRUNKED (2011)
This poetry book is mostly narrated from the point of view of a meth head and is probably the most harrowing book of poetry I've read to date.

# 49 Book Review: Charles Bukowski: Portions From a Wine Stained Notebook (2008)
The academic David Stephen Calonne compiled this collection of uncollected Bukowski stories & essays (1944-1990) for City Lights. After struggling through many posthumous ECCO publications, I found this a refreshing read.

#48 Book Review: Charles Bukowski Screams From the Balcony- Selected Letters 1960-1970 (1978)

This is the first and best volume of Bukowski's selected letters. His correspondence with his early publishers, E.V. Griffith & the Webbs and the writer Douglas Blazek make this book essential reading for any Bukophile.

#47 Book Review: Charles Bukowski Absence of the Hero (2008)
This is the companion volume to editor Calonne’s Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook (2008). It is full of gold for the Bukowski reader.

#46 Book Review/ Interview: R.L Raymond Half-Myths & Quarter Legends (2012)
This is a clever, grounded poetry collection by the young Canadian writer. I interview RL about his art. A rising kid on the block.

#45 Book Review Henry Denander Accidental Navigator (2011)
This is an underrated collection of poetry by the highly accomplished & accessible Swedish writer & artist.

#44 New Release: Alan Wearne Prepare the Cabin (2012)
I have met Wearne five or six times over the last ten years. He is one of Australia's most enduring & talented poets. He knows his stuff. He presently resides in the Creative Arts faculty at the University of Wollongong:;postID=1055321713413003072;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=62;src=postname

#43 After the Bomb: Best Cold War Films

This was an overly ambitious post. I hoped to provide some detailed reviews & guidance to students as to what I understood to be the best Cold War films. Instead what is offered disappointingly so far are a few internet links to relevant films & resources which are easily available anyway. I haven't finished with this post:

This post is shameless self promotion or at least it is an attempt to make it easier for the reader to navigate the site. If i had greater IT skills I'd be able to properly embed the feed: 

#41 Book Review/ Interview: RL Raymond Sonofabitch Poems (2011)
This is RL Raymond's first volume of poetry. This is an intelligent, well thought out collection, brimming with ideas, skilful word play and bold experimentation:

#40 Book Review/ Interview: Frank Reardon Nirvana Haymaker (2012)
Reardon is a tireless & highly committed poet whose tenacity in pursuing the word should be an example to us all. His enthusiasm & openness in sharing his ideas about his writing craft at length in the accompanying interview is invigorating:

#39 The Best & Worst of Bukowski's posthumous ECCO poetry publications.
At last count there are 11 ECCO post Buk-death poetry books published by ECCO. Probably about 4000 pages worth. Some quality stuff but a lot of questionable material which Bukowski probably wouldn't have wanted published in his lifetime. I keep my commentary to a minimum in this post & simply list what I consider Buk's best to worst poetry books published by ECCO after his death in 1994:

#38 Bukowski Interviews: Sunlight Here I Am: Interviews & Encounters 1963-1993.
This David Stephen Calonne compilation consists of 35 interviews with Buk over 30 years. It creates a varied & hard-to-nail-down portrait of Bukowski. Another essential Bukowski text:

#37 New Magazine: Counterexample Poetics (2009)

Felino Soriano is the brain child of this online magazine. He is a prolific writer and a link to his 64 books (& counting) can be found here:
I briefly refer to his new mag here. It includes 3 of my poems from 2009:

#36 Book Review/ Interview: William Taylor Jr. An Age of Monsters (2011)
This is Taylor's first book of short stories. He is a clever, natural born story teller who loves to describe people and relationships, especially when things fuck up. 

Find my review here:;postID=6168781609576804624;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=90;src=postname

William Taylor Jr provides a wide ranging interview for his forthcoming collection of poetry ‘The Blood of a Tourist' (Sunnyoutside Press, 2014) here:

#35 Book Review: Charles Bukowski Dangling in the Tournefortia (1981)

Not on the top shelf of Bukowski's poetry. There is a complacency and lack of urgency in this collection.

#34 Book Recommendation: Michael Dransfield Collected Poetry
This post was made to alert overseas readers to Dransfield's enormous contribution to Australian poetry & where to find some of his stuff.

#33 BOOK REVIEW/ INTERVIEW: Rob Plath there's a fist dunked in blood beating in my chest (2010)

American writer, Rob Plath, in this significant collection of confessional poetry, dismantles his ego, strips his soul to the bone and bares his frail emotional guts for all to see.

#32 The Outlaw Bible of American Outlaw Poetry
This is a classic, wide ranging mammoth volume of outlaw poetry- but with its obvious limitations.

#31 Song Lyrics: Frank Zappa Don't Eat the Yellow Snow
I include a link to the improvised lyrics of this famous Zappa song:
#30 Book Review Charles Bukowski The People Look Like Flowers At Last (2007)

This ECCO collection gives me the shits. From the feel of the book's spine to the thinness of the writing. Unfortunately, there are even worse post-Buk volumes of poetry to follow.

#29 Book Review: John Yamrus doing cartwheels on doomsday (2010)
If you want to find out more about the sensation that is Yamrus- this is the first book of his you must read:

#28 Book Review: SLIM SPIRES- SLIM (2012)

The language in this bikie book of Speare's memoirs is shitfaced raw & his stories are often about his personally meted out justice & the immense satisfaction he derives from his beatings.
#27 Book Review: The Tricking Post
Mitchell is a highly innovative street poet & you will find here an extraordinary original work:

#26 Book Review: Charles Bukowski Play the Piano Drunk

#25 Book Review: Richard Brautigan Watermelon Sugar
This is a wonderfully eccentric short novel by the master.

#24 Featuring New Zealand writer Terence Rissetto

This is the muttha fukka who introduced me to Bukowski when I was working as a fleeso in NZ decades ago. His work is riotously funny with a subversive edge.

#23 Book Review: Mather Schneider Drought Resistant Strain
This is one of my first book reviews. I studied Schneider's fine poetry collection to see if I could write criticism:

#22 Book Review: David Stephen Calonne Charles Bukowski
Calonne is the best academic currently collecting & writing about Charles Bukowski. Here he presents a concise, insightful overview of Buk's life work:

#21 Book Review: Mather Schneider He Took a Cab (2010)
Schneider writes about his job as a cabbie in Tuscon Arizona. One of my favourite collections of poetry:

#20 Book Review: Rob Plath a bellyful of anarchy

Despite its rough edges & excesses- this is perhaps the best book of poetry published by Epic Rites Press:

#19 After the Bomb Book Reviews: The Best Cold War Novels
I use this post to briefly examine the merit of Cold War literary texts. There are 12 to date & counting. If you want to make a short review let me know:;postID=5077914493296447050;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=59;src=postname

#18 Book Review: Paul Harrison Meet Me At Gethsemane

A fine first collection of confessional poetry by one of the best small press poets in Australia:

#17 Book Review: Wolfgang Carstens Crudely Mistaken For Life
This is Carstens first book of poetry in which he dwells into his favourite topic from a variety of perspectives- DEATH!:

#16 New Release: David Spiteri The Prez

This post alerts the reader to former bikie Spiteri's fictional account of his experiences & provides links to some interviews:

#15 Book Review/ Interview: Peter Bakowski Beneath Our Armour

This post includes one of my first interviews & Bakowski is generous with his time & he offers many tips to budding writers. All of Peter Bakowski's books are worth reading and I strongly urge you to buy them. Interestingly, he corresponded with Charles Bukowski just before he died & a letter to Bakowski (5 March 1993) appears in REACH FOR THE SUN: Selected Letters 1978-1994 Volume 3. Proud to say that Bakowski spoke to my class for about an hour on how to flex their creative juices a couple of years ago:
#14 Book Review/ Interview: Scott Patrick Mitchell Songs for the ordinary mass
This post still receives many hits from his fans in Russia:

#13 Book Review: Charles Bukowski Pleasures of the Dead
This is one of my first reviews. It rails against the poetry collection, & in a later update, it provides some basic research into where the poems first appeared:

#12 Book Review: Charles Bukowski The Last Night of the Earth Poems

This is Bukowski's last poetry collection published before his death. I believe at the moment it is his best:

#11 Bel-Ami
This French classic is highly recommended to show the duplicity & moral depravity you require to make it to the top. The recent film is ambitious, but in the end, disappointing in their attempt to adapt De Maupassant:

#10 Book Review: Charles Bukowski Post Office
As legend has it, in 1969 the small press publisher John Martin offered Bukowski $100 a month to quit his job as a mail-sorter in the LA Post Office & to write whatever interested him. This novel was the first instalment in the pairs' extraordinary collaboration:

#9 TV Series: Bikie Wars

To their credit, Channel 10 attempted to dramatise the 1985 motorcycle dispute at Milperra in Western Sydney. I commented on each episode as it unfolded:

#8 Book Review: John Steinbeck Travels With Charley
This review remains one of my best:

#7 Book Review: Charles Bukowski Ham On Rye
This is the most auto-biographical of Bukowski's novel and charts his early life in LA before he decides to leave:

#6 Book Review: David Spiteri The Prez

The publication of this fictionalised narrative of Australian outlaw bikie life brought grief to Spiteri & he chose to hand in his colours & donate his custom-built Harley to his club. Spiteri still owes me a beer:

#5 Book Review: Charles Bukowski Factotum
This is easily Bukowski's best novel:
#4 Book Review: JD Salinger Catcher in the Rye
It took a couple of years to develop an interest in this review but now it's humming:
#3 Book Review : Charles Bukowski Come On In
I reckon this is Buk's best posthumous collection:

#2 Book Review: Charles Bukowski Women
This post provides a short review, but more importantly, a sampling of some of Bukowski's choice quotes:

#1 What is Charles Bukowski's Best Novel?
Bukowski somehow continues to engage with thousands of readers a couple of decades after he has died. Here is an assessment of his novels: