Punk in early to mid 80's
at least a basic introduction to my limited suburban perspective

having an older sister who listened to cool music gave me an advantage
what she listened to... I got to listen to as well
even if we did grow up in different houses
my sister was cutting edge in a wacky sort of way
punk rock was still young and had yet to be marketed
sure Malcom McClarren had his "Cash for Chaos"
but for the most part punk was still hanging in the shadows
not even fringe yet
the malls had not yet started to sell the punk image

somehow my sister had her hands on the pulse of what was happening in music
in the underground
local and across the pond
there was no internet
there was no "alternative music" or at least the term had yet to be coined
the concept of "indy rock" and the "independent label" were still just ideas
that had yet blossom
there was no BORDERS BOOKS with a helpful clerk to direct you to the BEAT
READER SECTION or the whatever else would educate someone how to be a non

records were bought three for ten dollars at Kemp Mill or at Second Story
don't expect them to have whay you are looking for
unless you chance on finding it at Choice Cuts in Bethesda or rush out to
Rockville for the museum of what would later be known as Alternative Rock at
Yesterday and Today
there was definitely no Amazon.com and even SMASH RECORDS did not exist yet
and when SMASH first opened it opened as Spotlight Records in Bethesda and
them eventunally moved to Georgetown, but originally on the other side of
the street from where it exists today

thrift stores were the place for each and every kids effort to create a
fashion that was both individualistic and punk
Value Village was an adventure
it would be humorous who you would see shopping for a golf jacket or some
wing tips
there was both the 14th Street and teh Rhode Island Avenue locations
my sister attended a conservative all girl's school in Georgetown....
a demi jacket still spelled REBEL!
add her combat boots, multi-colored socks, and assorted pins of her favorite
bands were enough to make her stand out... enough for her to make a
statement... enough for her to piss off the nuns!*
(*this is of course an over simplification of my sister's rebellion, her
individuality and her efforts to rebel came more from within, while her
efforts on the outside, as slight as they are.... were in that world of the
early 80's in a private school were enough to get the effect from authority
that she was seeking while the core of her rebellion was about independence)

for those who wanted more.... perhaps shoes that actually fit, a special
style that was cutting edge, an outlandish hair dye color that was not
available a People's Drug Store, or something that was seen on a record
cover or a music magazine...... these people had to go the extra mile and
get their hands on catalog and order things from across the pond;
England.... fill out some forms... figure out the conversion and get a money
order in POUNDS!

Doc Martin boots were from England.... not Nordstroms.

There were a few processes. There was a friend headed to Europe with their
family (which oddly happened for me as I piggy backed an order with
childhood friend Eamon while the Mercurio family was taking a trip to
London. Jenny made the offer at no charge.) Then there was the catalog...
that magical catalog that showed any and all different types of Doc
Martins.... boots with various numbers of eyelets and creepers with any
number of lepard or zebra print. That was not always as easy. Somehow it
seemed that something always got lost in the translation from American to
English. Wrong sizes.. Wrong colors.... someone got some shoes.... and
someone didn't.

okay.... there was and still is Commander Salamander
google it yourself

as for bars....
there were very few bars...
if there were't punk bars there were bars that had PUNK NIGHT
even back alley was just one night a week

there was Whisper and Charmichael's
and believe it or not there was a bar called Posers..... and people went
I only went there on dollar beer nights......

Punk Dialogue: Three primary words; sell out, poser, and anarchy

it is late
no time for these meaningless rants

rather than a DRAFT I will just PUBLISH AND POST


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually Back Alley 1.o was 5 days a week. Tuesday - Saturday. I worked every shift for a year, we booked bands, and it closed in February, 1988. Re-opened as a 1-night a week promotion on Sunday's in August of 1991. Nirvana came about a few weeks later, and we took off again as BA 2.0, until 1997 when I quit.

I live in L.A, work in finance, don't have much in the way of physical music, just mp3's.

-(Formerly) DJ Ben of Back Alley Cafe