Features & Columns

Punk Rock Fanzine 'Eat Poop' Returns to Grimy Downtown Roots

The entire shootin' match will unfold yet again for one last get-together
Anti-man-about-town Gary Singh and Paul Nevins (right) might have thrown a few back in the SoFA District's hard-partying punk days. Photo by Nicole Brand

If people in this city can wax nostalgic about canneries and orchards, I have the right to fondly recall the grand old days of a punk rock magazine called Eat Poop. Now, just so you'll read further, let me explain a few things. I'm probably giving way too much credit by calling it a "magazine," when in reality Eat Poop was a fanzine.

But it was one that featured artwork, poetry, music reviews and everything that zines tend to do.

Back in the early '90s, as the original SoFA District era raged with punk, metal, college-radio rock, cheap beer and way too many stoner bands, a thunderous punk scenester named Nathan Nothin' regularly cranked out issues of Eat Poop from his place near Fifth and St. James. To my knowledge, it was the only San Jose zine ever to successfully solicit a poem from Charles Bukowski.

In 1993, Eat Poop sponsored a huge punk rock marathon at the WORKS gallery, then located at Sixth and Jackson in Japantown. Billed as the Poopoopalooza Festival, the all-day show hosted 14 bands and hundreds of people, way beyond the venue's capacity. I don't think any of us were sober. People massed in the streets, drank in public and a riot definitely seemed to be brewing. Before the show was allowed to conclude, someone called the cops and broke the whole thing up. Luckily, the fiasco did get a mention in the glorious Japantown history tome by Curt Fukuda and Ralph Pearce, without any reference to Eat Poop, of course.

To put everything in context, downtown San Jose was a much different place back then. The Caravan Lounge still had red vinyl booths against the wall opposite the bar. I treat you with these memories because a grand scale Eat Poop reunion will unfold at that very bar this Saturday, featuring two early-'90s bands that were inseparable from the Eat Poop nexus: Bombs for Whitey and the Byproducts.

Bombs for Whitey were a driving '70s-style punk band in the vein of the Dead Boys. In fact, they even covered the tune "Sonic Reducer." I can't even calculate how many times I saw them at Marsugi's, then located in the brick building at First and San Salvador. Even when no bands were playing, I'd slither in during an off night, maybe a Tuesday, and their singer, Paul Nevins, would buy me Guinnesses all night long. We'd be the only ones there and Nevins probably bought me $100 worth of drinks in a short few years.

The Byproducts were more of a joke band. One of them worked in the porn store on South First Street, L'Amour Shoppe, and lived upstairs in the Dinuba Embassy, or just Dinuba for short. A grimy dump that catered to the dregs of downtown's rock and punk population, Dinuba threw some of the best parties in San Jose music history. Bands would play on the roof of the place while a few hundred folks hung around the homemade bar, hallways or various rooms and drank themselves silly. The zine was part of the same crowd, making Dinuba seem like the campus extension of Eat Poop.

In other words, decades before wannabe-urban real estate goofs began giving our buildings names like One South or 27 North, the Dinuba Embassy was Eat Poop South.

The Byproducts were so ridiculous that they once wrote a song about one of the employees of the porno store. Aptly, it was called "Porno Guy." The person targeted in the song can still be spotted around the streets of downtown, on occasion. I'll be nice and refrain from blowing his cover.

Opening up the reunion this Saturday at the Caravan will be another refugee from that scene, Frank Bella. Twenty-five years ago, Bella was the poet laureate of South First Street, organizing riotous booze-fueled live mic sessions at Marsugi's under the banner of a "Purgatory Tour." Poets, musicians and often people who were neither one jumped on stage and participated. Bella occasionally drew the cover artwork for Eat Poop.

Now the entire shootin' match will unfold yet again for one last get-together. Fifty-year-olds in mohawks are always welcome.

Eat Poop presents Byproducts, Bombs for Whitey, Talky Tina
Caravan Lounge
98 S Almaden Ave, San Jose
Oct 22, 9pm-2am