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Notes From the Underground

Culture--For Sale, Cheap!
The demise of Baseline Records leaves locals facing an increasingly indie-free musical environment

AT BASELINE, THE PUNK AND INDIE POSTERS are being slowly peeled off the walls to be sold, along with every Chuck Mangione record in the discography. As many astute customers have surmised, the giant red "SALE" letters in the front window do indicate that the local store and youth culture hangout is, in fact, going out of business soon. Besides mourning the loss of a very cool job trying to hunt down obscure punk records, I have to lament the sorry condition left for this town after the store's planned closure toward the end of February.

Coupled with Beat City's recent departure, the loss of this cornerstone leaves kids with no bulletin board to put up fliers looking for a new bandmate, no place to pick up a copy of Grand Royale, Maximumrocknroll or The List, and no place to hang out waiting for the opportunity to impress your favorite local musician. With Cymbaline facing commercial difficulties, some kids are--for the first time--facing the prospect of setting foot in Blockbuster Music. My response--don't let the CEOs win this round.

While we wait around for Streetlight Records to make it to town, take those crucial trips over the hill. More importantly, don't lose hope--even as we speak, indie, punk and dance record distribution projects are in the works by locals who want to keep the flow of hard-to-find records accessible. Watch out for what develops.

And although the indie selection is dwindling fast, be sure to drop by Baseline's mega-huge clearance sale to pick up a Blondie 45, or at least to say goodbye to the business that has been a meeting place for underground music fans and supported the scene for years. Thanks, Baseline, for surviving so long.

Like a Walled City on a Hill

While more and more shows are being put on at various UCSC colleges, it's painfully clear that the university has little or no regard for the music-loving public outside its walls. While KZSC demonstrates its support daily, and campus dining halls are large and boast impressive sound systems (thank you, taxpayers!), the level of security accompanying recent shows has been a bit misguided.

It's unclear whether the university's true intent is to isolate the small fringe of the public sector that treks up the hill for shows, or whether insurance rates covering non-students are simply too high. In any case, shows like last Saturday's have been discouraging.

Publicity for the show headlined by Buddies Riot (who canceled anyway) made no mention of it being a closed event, so many folks were turned away at the front gate by security officers without ever making it to the Merrill Dining Hall. S.T.U.B. prepared to return to King City, both one sore throat (for singer Felix) and one UC parking ticket richer. Silly campus cops, don't you know tour vans are supposed to be exempt from parking regulations?

Reliance played its set powerfully but gingerly, pausing to direct warnings about drinking and fighting to one tough guy in the audience whose bare-chested, bullfrog-in-heat hassles with security got the show closed down a few minutes later. Some band members, especially those in Soda Pop Fuck You, were understandably pissed that they didn't get to play, and hurled loud and snotty opinions outside toward the remorseless jock. It was a long-awaited vindication to see obnoxious nose-thumbing punks, without physical violence, outnumber one breed of idiot who so often ruin shows. Unfortunately, though, the name-calling escalated into a potential fight, which called for security.

If we could all just behave ourselves, perhaps--someday--the university will decide it can trust us a little, even if we don't pay tuition.


On Friday, Slow Gherkin plays with Radio Noise at the Whole Earth (free, 5pm). Stay up on campus (they might not let you back in) for Subincision, The Forgotten, The Ranters, Chemical Imbalance, Puke and Soda Pop Fuck You at the Stevenson Fireside Lounge ($2 donation asked, 8pm). On Sunday (6pm) check out a "Revolution of Consciousness" homeless benefit (sounds like a rave) at the Vet's Hall with a ton of visual and music artists. Good Riddance plays Monday at the Civic with NOFX and LAB ($10, 8pm).

Arwen Curry

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From the February 20-26, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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