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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

Net Prophets:
Punks take their place in the virtual mosh pit

MY FAVORITE PUNKER SPIN-OFF from the dissolved Born Against, Men's Recovery Project, can be credited with performing the first punk-rock song about the Internet. "E-mail Is a Men's Room," from the 1995 album Normal Man 7, comments on the skewed geek world gender balance (heavy on the male, please). Lurid descriptions of online demographics, like a "toilet stall splattered with jerks and twits," certainly hold true, but as most of us know, the Web has become an international tool, even for punks.

From MRP to Exene Cervenka and Lydia Lunch, communicating online has been criticized by influential punks for a variety of reasons, including a lack of universal access and the dehumanization of a very personal scene. While some segments of the population continue to swear by the post office, many have assimilated the powerful tool, realizing that even in virtual space, there is an underground.

In SC, where we see less and less of each other at shows, bands are increasingly using their mice to spread the word about events. When trying to book shows or sell records, Web pages and timely online postings can help to redeem what we lack in word-of-mouth communications.

Long-distance communication through the U.S. post has been an essential thread in the punk tapestry as long as it has existed. For the underground punk industry, mail has been the only way to distribute and promote records in desolate areas. Now the lonely small-town punk has a new best friend--a system that allows him or her instant access to the latest information, chat groups detailing punk stories, zines and sound clips. While this will never replace the banter exchanged at shows, it is a worthy substitute in a pinch.

Fortunately, with the Internet's mass assimilation into mainstream culture, the question of access to the Net is becoming less of an issue. Now even the street-punk can buy a few minutes of virtual time at Kinko's for the price of posting a package, and accounts run less than a phone bill. Here in SC, IUMA sets up cheap Web pages for bands to promote their material. Fury 66, Soda Pop Fuck You, the What Nots and many other locals use the Net to prove the value of their existence to an outside world.

And like the real world, even cyberspace has bad neighborhoods, smelly alleyways and government control. But exploited correctly, it is one more place to keep the lines of communication alive and celebrate the do-it-yourself ethic that made our country great.


On Wednesday, Napalm Death and Insolence play at the Cactus Club in San Jose (18 and up). On Saturday, Youth Brigade plays with Amazing Royal Crown, Chances Are and Tiny and the Mexicans at the Skate Station in Sand City (7pm, $6, all ages).

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From the August 7-13, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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