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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

V.Vale San Francisco Punk 1976-1979

V. Vale of Search and Destroy was an occasional contributor to Ripped and Torn circa 1979.

This is from his latest newsletter. Can you help RE/Search survive?

Last but not least, RE/Search is on MySpace: If you would like to be "our friend" - receive bulletins, etc, please Join Us! http://www.myspace.com/108198017 - thanks, v. vale & cohorts
Your editor, V. Vale, founder of RE/Search (Search & Destroy redux) in 1977, still is under the cloud of the longest mysterious illness in his lifetime. Hence the lateness of this June newsletter. Have readers seen the S.F. Weekly's large article on McSweeney's ("With no money for payroll, the future looks staggering for the local publishing house") ? RE/Search is basically "in the same boat" (no money to pay printing bill for the next book, an expanded reprint of the RE/Search Burroughs / Gysin / Throbbing Gristle issue, with more intvs w/ WSB and BG).

Any readers and fans who think they can help RE/Search survive please order RE/Search books, send suggestions & donations, AND if you might be an angel investor -- and want to keep key RE/Search backlist titles in print: Pranks, Incredibly Strange Films, the Burroughs issue, and Real Conversations 1, in particular -- PLEASE contact us! A number of other RE/Search titles are in "last copies" status - order 'em now before they disappear. Vale will be happy to autograph, upon request. http://www.researchpubs.com or call Vale to order, 415-362-1465.

RE/Search attended DIRKFEST, June 8, 2007, at Great American Music Hall. Here's V. Vale's brief report:

"The Mabuhay Gardens under Dirk Dirksen almost singlehandedly made the earliest Punk Rock Countercultural Revolution in San Francisco happen. Why? No other club, including the Great American Music Hall, would allow Punk Rock bands. Also, the Mabuhay, being a restaurant, allowed All Ages to attend - very important; people like Jello Biafra were under 21. Dirk Dirksen's editorial / curating policy was simple: submit a tape, a photo, and a brief bio. Upon review, he would give you one chance to perform. (If you couldn't produce those 3, you probably were just pulling a prank.)

San Francisco is a city of about 750,000 people, with a total of about 20 million people stretching from the North Bay to the South Bay to comprise the Bay Area. In 1976-1978, probably no more than 200-300 people were really living the hardcore Punk life - i.e., barely working, going to every Punk show, and in their copious spare time staying up all night talking, writing songs, forming bands, making posters, making Punk clothes, making zines, reading William Burroughs, going to 99-cent movies at the 6 B-movie palaces that still existed, and going to the cheapest places in town to eat after the shows, preferably those staffed by other Punk individuals...

In 1979, our Mabuhay Gardens were invaded by hundreds of teenage boys who saw an NBC Weekend special on Punk, and our original social cult/scene was destroyed. Some of us dropped out; some went to Robert Hanrahan's Deaf Club and other more underground venues, but the unity was not the same. Also, as Punk continued, the new arrivals seemed less interesting and diverse (what do you expect; they were a lot younger). It became a lot easier to say you were going to a Punk show... The original people were older, more artistic and rebellious, more idiosyncratic -- that is, if one were to generalize...

So, for me, the entire evening of Dirk Fest in the Great American Music Hall, a gorgeous piece of architecture, was like I'd gone to Punk Heaven. The venue was sold out, with six hundred-plus people having paid for advance tickets, and from 9 til 2 AM, individuals continually came up to me. With many of them, I'd have to ask, "Who are you?" They'd tell me their name (in the early Punk scene, you only knew people's first names) and a memory of their young face 25-30 years ago would emerge from faces that had gotten wider - maybe they'd put on 50-150 pounds - or maybe they'd lost their hair, or their hair had turned gray. It just seemed impossible that we'd all be in the same room ever again, 25-30 years later. A literal handful of people looked amazingly the same (one very good-looking woman in particular had been a junkie and kicked it, and still looked about 25 - well, W.S. Burroughs claimed that junk preserves cells.). Reesa looked the same, but about half a foot taller - she reminded me that when I met her she was just 15. Joanne looked the same; she was 17 in 1978 when I met her.

Lamar and Esmerelda looked great. Ginger Coyote had put on 150 pounds since the last time I'd seen her, but she remained totally feisty and over the top, and her band, the White Trash Debutantes, was one of the best bands I've ever seen, for many reasons: ferocious music, great sing-a-long lyrics, perfect arrangements, and 'beautiful babes' to look at on-stage (that's quoting my 11-year-old daughter, whose favorite acts of the evening were the White Trash Debutantes, the Mutants (esp. Sue, with the 'foot-high blonde hair'), and Chip Kinman of the Dils).

We liked EVERYBODY - in fact, everyone sounded BETTER than "back in the day." Johnny Genocide had become a school teacher, but he was still angry and musically slashing and ripping chords off his guitar. The Contractions sounded exactly like they did in 1979, and that's a compliment. My daughter left too early to see the Avengers (headliner) but I'm positive she would have greatly admired Penelope - the Avengers sounded unbelievably stirring - most of their songs truly are classic anthems. Someday, the world may find out that San Francisco produced more and better songs than New York, London, or L.A. ... at least in the Seventies Punk Scene ...

We don't get that many chances to go back to our past lives... Having lived this long, it seems that life really does go by like the snap of a finger, that nothing is more important than the tiny handful of people you really, really like (it's got to be an instinctual feeling right away when you meet them), and that our personal history is far more important than anything you can buy at a store or mall... especially if you were lucky enough to be in a real underground when it just gets started...

Well, the whole evening would not have happened without one person, Kathy Peck, Contractions' bassist and H.E.A.R. Foundation founder... This big benefit for Dirk Dirksen - to preserve his archive of Punk everything - pay for his burial expenses - was also expedited by Punk historian/mentor/scholar/orator Jello Biafra, the real heart and soul behind the Dead Kennedys; the bands who played; Winston Smith and Chuck Sperry/Ron Donovan who made the great poster; Dawn Holliday, booker of Great American/Slims); Craig Pop Artist who made the backdrops; whoever made the food backstage ... It took a village to make this amazing event, and there may never be another one like it... Sometimes you only get one chance in this life ...


Anonymous Chef G said...

What a pompous old fart he's become. Is that ironic or just expected?

4:40 am  

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