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LA Punks: A TV News investigation from 1983

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…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Jon Savage Compilation Spotlights Early California Punk Scene

Acclaimed British journalist and punk historian Jon Savage has curated Black Hole: Californian Punk 1977-1980, a unique and revealing compilation of the Golden State’s hugely diverse pre-thrash punk scene that gets released November 15th.

That seems strange on the surface. Strange that it’s both taken this long into the 21st-century American punk revival and reissue era for such a quality collection to emerge, and that it’s taken an Englishman rather than a Californian to do it. But this particular Englishman is more than qualified. As noted in his recent interview in the Quietus, Savage hepped up to the scene while on the West Coast in 1978 as a journalist for Sounds magazine, hanging with the likes of the Screamers and the Avengers and confirming to himself and others that the UK didn’t own punk.

Savage’s inclusion of both Northern and Southern Cali bands like the Bags, the Alley Cats, the Weirdos, Black Randy & the Metro Squad, and the Dils makes Black Hole most resemble the compilations released by the legendary short-lived L.A.-based Dangerhouse label run by Pat “Rand” Garrett and David Brown from 1978 to 1980. But Savage augments those with a range of others, from superstars like the Dead Kennedys to second-tiers like Crime, Middle Class and the Sleepers, and on to important obscurities like the two-single-releasing Aurora Pushups.

One of Savage’s rationales surrounding the comp, on which he expounds in Quietus, proves striking:

I don’t like hardcore. It’s too ‘boy’ for me. I was into the idea of punk being made for and by outsiders. And that meant outsiders of every hue, and that meant weird boys, hopeless boys, strong women, and gay men and women. As soon as it starts to get a machismo, and this happened in UK punk, too – I’m out of there.

Black Hole will join Penelope Spheeris’s classic late-‘70s documentary The Decline of Western Civilization as primary documents of a rough and energetic multi-city underground music scene—one that reflected the social dysfunction of the state in political schizophrenia with the world’s eighth-biggest economy.

Here’s the title track by the Urinals. This is Cali.

Get: Black Hole (Californian Punk 1977-1980) [CD]


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment