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Posts Tagged ‘Custer State Park’

30yearsThat’s Spanish if your uncertain and stands for “Happy Box” (or loosely translated into Happy Meal) and it’s the 30 year celebration of the Happy Meal at McDonalds.

First introduced by Dick Brams (McD’s Regional Ad Manager) in 1977 and initially called the “McDonaldland Fun-to-Go” meal.  Since first hitting the market they have included everything from the puzzles, crayola toys, motorcycles, personalities riding motorcycles and movie tie ins.  The McDonalds Happy Meal first movie tie-in was the Star Trek Meal which featured images and games based on the 1979 movie.  In fact, the ‘Teenie Beanie Baby’ promotion created a huge worldwide interest with over a 100 million toys selling out in the first 2 weeks.  McDonald’s has had a lot of controversy over Happy Meals from poor working conditions at a toy factory in Danang, Vietnam (Keyhinge Toys), to recalls and even legal issues with Devo.  Then there is the questionable association with the non-green gas guzzling Hummer and some people even complained over the hearing a four-letter word in the Kidz Bob #6 CD song “I Don’t Want To Be” which turned out to be false.  Sure the rap on Happy Meals is that kids are lured by the toys into eating unhealthy food while the execs focus on high value licensing deals, but many still eat them.

Custer_MCAnd then there was the Custer/Blackhills/Motorcycle tie-in — it was two fries short of a happy meal — the McD’s marketing department poorly vetted the toy “General” (he was Lt. Col.) Custer who rides again on a motorcycle and was distributed in South Dakota.  Quick to realize they angered the Sioux/Lakota Indians they withdrew it from the market after complaints poured in.

In the end, millions of Happy Meal items have been produced with a lot items turning into memorabilia and has spawned an entire collectors market.   Numerous meals have included motorcycles, people riding motorcycles and even Digi Sportz games which included motorcycle racing.  There is a McDonald’s Collectors Club which holds annual conventions for the serious collectors.  It turns out cycling artifacts not only include books, magazines, promotional items, but to some Happy Meals which has a rich history of the sport and hobby of motorcycling.

Photo courtesy of Happymeal.com

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Dr. Michael Baden

Dr. Michael Baden

A wild west style gunfight involving a resident alien.  Then there was a Supreme court appeal, a HBO celebrity and the appointment of a judge pulled from retirement bliss…all to serve up justice on the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC). 

It took over 2 years of South Dakota tax dollars, hundreds of hours of legal resources and 3 days of jury deliberations to find two HAMC members not guilty on 5 counts of attempted murder in the shooting of Outlaws Motorcycle Club members near Sturgis, SD.

custer_parkChad Wilson, formerly of Lynnwood, WA (now living in San Diego) and John Midmore of Indiana (a HAMC prospect from a British Columbia chapter) were on trial for an August 2006 shootout in Custer State Park at Legion Lake Resort.  Several Outlaws MC members were injured in the shooting melee where 12 shell casings were retrieved.  Reports during the trial indicated;

“A quick restroom stop at a resort area to smoke a marijuana joint [medical?] resulted in five people receiving injuries and Danny Neace (Outlaws MC) being paralyzed from the waist down.”

With a rock-star defense budget, even “Hollywood’ers” got into the act.  The notorious Dr. Michael Baden of HBO’s “Autopsy“, also a Fox News contributor and chief forensic pathologist for the NY State Police testified.  The judge (Gene Paul Kean) had earlier separated the conspiracy charge from the main counts so, now it’s unclear if Wilson and Midmore will stand trial for that charge. 

And the twists continue with this case — turns out that Midmore has dual citizenship (Canada and Australia) and is a resident alien.  Wilson is a Canadian citizen and in the U.S. illegally.  Sure the federal government plans to deport him, but it’s unclear if he’ll return for any conspiracy trial. If interested there is post-verdict video from Keloland and more reactions were posted by the Argus Leader. Tracey Kelley (Custer County DA) and Mike Moore (Prosecutor) are trying to put their best spin on the [“respect the jury’s decision”] loss.  Congrats to David Kenner who was the HAMC Defense Attorney.  One could debate that he helped even the score a bit after the Iron Pigs weapons charges were dropped on a different case involving a HAMC shooting.

It’s not clear if a ‘more guns, less crime’ type of thinking will breed further acceptance of motorcycle club violence or if it’s just a sign of apathy from South Dakota juror’s?  I’m doing a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking here, but human behavior is influenced by three competing instincts: to act in a socially appropriate manner, to do what feels good in the moment, and to maximize one’s resources.  I wonder if this is a classic case of “broken windows” or part of a DA strategy to prevent future occurrences?  Unlikely we’ll know, but from my e-view it looks like a waste of tax dollars.

Photos courtesy of HBO website.

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