Fear turned up in some strange places in the ‘80s—a time when punks on TV or in movies were generally fakey cartoon caricatures of the real thing. The crucial reference, Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film, is an excellent resource in studying the ridiculous “punxploitation” in ‘80s media. Fear racks up no less than fifteen entries in that tome.
Now, one could argue that Fear themselves had a bit of a cartoonish image to begin with, but it’s still rather bizarre that some ad agency thought it was a good idea to hire them to do this series of “pro-wrestling promo” style ads for a chain of radio stations. These were top 40 stations, so it’s unclear what audience the advertisers were trying to appeal to by putting Fear on TV. Especially for the time and context, these are simply weird.
Lee Ving, the leader of the notorious L.A. hardcore band Fear, recently appeared on Harper Simon’s forthrightly-titled online talk show Talk Show for a lengthy and often amusing interview. Ving made himself an infamous figure in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s by baiting audiences with utterly brazen homophobia and misogyny, both on Fear’s lyrics and its onstage banter. Their albums The Record and More Beer remain classics because of and despite those problematics, since depending on your particular bent, Ving was and is either a steadfast champion of fully speaking one’s mind come what may, or an immature prick who took a smug delight in senseless punching down. It should probably come as no surprise that Ving himself is of the former opinion…
An ‘artist’s impression’ of a terror attack on London 2012, courtesy of the Daily Mail
Anti-terrorist fears surrounding the London 2012 Olympics are reaching fever pitch in the UK. The Ministry Of Defence is reportedly planning to install anti-aircraft missiles on the roof of a residential block of flats in London’s East end.
No, this isn’t a sketch by Chris Morris or a story from the Onion. It sounds crazy but this is real. From BBC news:
An east London estate, where 700 people live, has received leaflets saying a “Higher Velocity Missile system” could be placed on a water tower.
A spokesman said the MoD had not yet decided whether to deploy ground based air defence systems during the event.
But estate resident Brian Whelan said firing the missiles “would shower debris across the east end of London”.
The journalist said: “At first I thought it was a hoax. I can’t see what purpose high-velocity missiles could serve over a crowded area like Tower Hamlets.
“They say they’ll only use them as a last resort, but… you’d shower debris across the east end of London by firing these missiles.”
Mr Whelan, who claims to have seen soldiers carrying a crate into the building, said his property management company put up posters and gave out the leaflets on Saturday.
He continued: “They are going to have a test run next week, putting high velocity missiles on the roof just above our apartment and on the back of it they’re stationing police and military in the tower of the building for two months.
This begs the question: are the supposed benefits of hosting the Olympics in London worth the intrusion into people’s lives?
John Belushi left Saturday Night Live in 1979 but agreed to appear on the show on Halloween of 1981 if one of his favorite bands, Fear, was hired as the musical guest. SNL, which was in a ratings slump, didn’t hesitate to agree to Belushi’s terms. Fear got the gig.
In order to create some excitement during Fear’s upcoming performance, Belushi contacted Ian Mackaye, who was fronting Washington D.C.‘s Minor Threat at the time.
“This is John Belushi. I’m a big fan of Fear’s. I made a deal with Saturday Night Live that I would make a cameo appearance on the show if they’d let Fear play. I got your number from Penelope Spheeris, who did Decline of Western Civilization and she said that you guys, Washington DC punk rock kids, know how to dance. I want to get you guys to come up to the show.”
Mackaye agreed to pull together some of his friends to go to New York. Little did he know that he would be in the center of one of television’s great rock and roll moments.
In an interview with Nardwuar, Mackaye describes what happened:
It was worked out that we could all arrive at the Rockefeller Center where Saturday Night Live was being filmed. The password to get in was “Ian MacKaye.” We went up the day before. The Misfits played with The Necros at the Ukrainian hall, I think, so all of the Detroit people were there, like Tesco Vee and Cory Rusk from the Necros and all the Touch and Go people and a bunch of DC people – 15 to 20 of us came up from DC. Henry (Rollins) was gone. He was living in LA at this point. So we went to the show. During the dress rehearsal, a camera got knocked over. We were dancing and they were very angry with us and said that they were going to not let us do it then Belushi really put his foot down and insisted on it. So, during the actual set itself, they let us come out again.
During the show – before they go to commercial, they always go to this jack-o-lantern. This carved pumpkin. If you watched it during the song, you’ll see one of our guys, this guy named Bill MacKenzie, coming out holding the pumpkin above his head because he’s just getting ready to smash it. And that’s when they cut it off. They kicked us out and locked us out for two hours. We were locked in a room because they were so angry with us about the behavior. I didn’t think it was that big of deal.
They said they were going to sue us and have us arrested for damages. There was so much hype about that. The New York Post reported half a million dollars worth of damages. It was nothing. It was a plastic clip that got broken. It was a very interesting experience and I realized how completely unnatural it is for a band to be on a television show – particularly a punk band – that kind of has a momentum to suddenly be expected to immediately jump into a song in that type of setting. It was very weird. Largely unpleasant. Made me realize that’s not something I’m interested in doing.”
Belushi was also among the moshers.
Fear’s SNL debut cost them future gigs with the show, clubs wouldn’t book them, and reputedly an offer from Belushi for the band to do the soundtrack of his next movie Neighbors was rescinded by the studio producing the film after Belushi’s death. All for the love of rock and roll.
In 1983, KTTV Channel 11 News aired a series of reports on Punk Rock and “punkers” in Los Angeles area. It’s a fascinating over-view of the West Coast Punk bands, people and fashions, though at times veers into self-parody, as reporter Chris Harris pitches his story with all the earnestness of an Alan Partridge, who thinks he’s uncovered a Pulitzer-winning scoop of teenage “violence, abuse and self-destruction”, only to find it’s all just a bit of fun.
Harris kicks off his 5-part investigation with a look at a riot in Mendiola’s Ballroom, explaining what happened and asking that always pertinent question:
“Did the police use excessive force?”
I think we know the answer to that. Three cheers then, for Harris as he states quite categorically that violence was the exception and not the norm with “punkers”.
Listening to some of these young people talk, one could almost imagine they were talking about current events and OWS, as they discuss hopes for change, and that “the world will get better.” Plus ca change…
The series includes rarely seen footage of many of LA’s punk bands, and has interviews the likes of Spit Stix and Lee Ving of Fear, Keith Morris of Circle Jerks, Nick Lamagna and Felix Alanis from RF7.
Also, look out for a young Flea, seen here just prior to his quitting Fear and joining the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The whole of the KTTV Channel 11 News investigation of Punk, after the jump…
Derf Scratch, a founding member of Los Angele’s punk pioneers Fear, died on July 28. Derf (Frederich Milner) formed Fear with lead singer and vocalist Lee Ving in 1977.
Fear was one of the best punk bands to come out of L.A. They were musically solid, intense and had an outrageous sense of humor. Their songs were confrontational, nihilistic, lewd : throwing satirical jabs at the punk scene, political correctness, feminism, gays, Christians, anything that moved.
Derf left the band in 1982 shortly after Fear released their debut album on Slash Records. It was not an amicable split. He and Ving had fallen out over work habits, drugs, ego. He sold his Fender bass to Mike Watt of The Minuteman and dropped out of the music scene.
Derf died of an undisclosed illness.
For a thoroughly entertaining interview with Derf check out citizen mag