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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

The Self-Made Scene:
Responsibility and punk rock don't always go together

A LETTER NFU RECENTLY RECEIVED OFFERS an explanation to the oft-lamented dilemma of finding a venue to play in town. H.S. asks, "Why are we, the Patrons of Punk Rock, blowing the whistle on ourselves?" Possible sabotage on the sound board between "rival bands," claims H.S., as well as delinquency at shows, puts an irresponsible or vindictive minority at the helm of our sinking ship.

In response to the heartfelt letter, I'm not privy to any local conspiracy of musical saboteurs, and believe the fits of jealous rage to be relatively isolated. As for the other issue addressed by H.S., that of irresponsible "patrons" giving us all a bad name, the problem is certainly real and not without scrutiny by the active punk community.

Let us not forget, for example, the unfortunate fool who decided to go for a swing on the water pipes during a show last year at SF's Epicenter, a cooperative record and zine store and bastion of Greater Bay Area punk media. Flooding the store and the shop below it, the incident put Epicenter in severe financial straits and exposed the frailty of our prized institutions--that they can be toppled by a single act of recklessness.

The institutions that must persist for the survival of punk are by necessity internal. That the movement was founded on unorganized revolt does not mean that our legitimacy depends on our wreaking idiotic havoc on innocent people. Hopefully, the more focused political and artistic ideas of the movement have taught us better than that. Whether punk is approved of by a mainstream to which it does not belong is not irrelevant, but shouldn't ultimately determine its fate.

The "fighting, underage drinking and public urination" at a recent Vet's Hall event is, at least at large local shows, less the rebelliousness associated with punk and more the routine destructiveness seen at fraternity parties and skinhead rallies. This behavior is likely to be ostracized in a real punk environment, where others have put themselves on the line for the community.

At mainstream shows, troublemakers tend to act with violent apathy and be dealt with in the same manner. This can be discouraging, but I remind H.S. and others with similar concerns not to lose hope. The responsibility, respect and creative support does exist in smaller, tighter environments--even in SC. It will continue to survive in the energy of the dedicated, if it survives at all.


On Friday, Slow Gherkin and The Readymen play at the Catalyst (all ages) and American Steel, 7X and Rumor 39 play in town (look for fliers). Also on Friday at SF's Collision Gallery, Tait Reed, Hola Mosca, Vim, Pashing and Tony Howard serve a musical tribute to the late Kris Burt of Poppy (417 14th St., 8pm, all ages, sliding scale donation to the SC Needle Exchange). On Sunday, Isaac Green and The Skalars play the Vet's Hall (all ages). Makara plays Monday on KZSC's Technophobic Planet (8:30-10:30pm).

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From the April 3-9, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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