Friday, June 8, 2012

Growing up with New York Hardcore and Bullshit Monthly

I started going to CB’s in Nov, 1984, right after I turned 16. I saw an article earlier that year in the NY Newsday (in Queens) – a full-page on the Nihilistics and “slam dancing” (with photos, even). Within a couple of months I was going every week, twice if there was a Saturday HC show, too. And then other shows would pop up at the Lismar Lounge, Pyramid, Nameless Theatre, Rock Hotel, Ritz, and so on.

Between bands I could go around asking everyone what was up with their band for the next Bullshit Monthly. So and so needs a bass player, or is playing May 30th, or is recording an EP, or got signed to a label, or was planning a tour, or needed a new drummer, and so on. Sometimes I would interview bands right there. I took pics with my little beat to shit $5.99 camera held together by duct tape. (As you can see - they often didn't photocopy so nicely. Oh well.) People and events were also included. Both the birth of Moon's twins and Alexa's little one were announced in Bullshit Monthly. Click on any of issue to download the PDF. (Agnostic Front Feb, 1985 interview in BSM #4)

So then I’d come out with an issue and sell them – usually 25¢, 30¢, 40¢, some even 50¢. At a Rock Hotel show I could sell 100-200 copies and everyone would be reading it between bands. I’d end up with my pockets bulging with change. By 1986 I was selling 700 copies of each issue. There was some mail order, and some stores would carry it (Bleeker Bobs, Venus, the wonderful zine store See Hear) but for the most part I sold each one person by person, show by show. And so BSM was pretty much made to be read and discarded, especially being on taller, legal-sized paper.. Now all these years later it's wonderful to be able to share the issues with everyone - although I wish I could still walk around selling fanzines for 25¢ or 30¢ and meeting everyone in the scene.

There were plenty of other zines also coming out at the same time – Hard Times, Guillotine, Tse-Tse Fly, Worthless, Attitude, Free, Constructive Rebellion, Last Daze, and shortlived ones like Grinsnip and Alexa's classic Lifestyles of the Poor and Homeless. Lots of us fanzine editors knew each other. Donny the Punk even put together an organization by and for punk media types, the APRC.

You saw the same people every week, so it was possible to really get to know people, make friends. Hardcore was such a small thing in the 80's, esp before the straight edge thing took off. We were like freaks, with ripped jeans, and punk t-shirts, shit written on our clothes, strange haircuts, pins and studs on our jackets, tattoos (which NO ONE had back then). Once SxE got more prevalent in 86 and 87 there was less of a ‘freak’ mentality. At the time I wasn't as involved with that scene - and it shows in the bands I featured in BSM. (I have some regrets now about that, but, y'know - tough shit on me.)

If a bigger band, like Flipper, Suicidal, Agnostic Front, Youth of Today, would play, CBs would be just fucking jammed. No idea how all those people squeezed in. And then the right mosh part would happen and the place would just explode, and hold the fuck on somehow. There wasn’t as much of the tough guy “karate” style dancing back in 84-89, but it was still pretty raw, very primal, and a lot of fun.

There was definitely violence. Someone would just get picked out and beaten the fuck up. I saw a horrifying "fag bash" incident across the street. Just fucking bloody, and I was scared shitless. I couldn't do a damned thing. Gang of "us" just pummeled the shit out of this guy, left him bleeding in the street. I never understood the violence, and I guess was immune to it all since I knew everyone. Even when I came out of the closet in Bullshit Monthly #20 (June-July, 1989) I still went to CB’s every week and just about never got shit from anyone. Even people known to be really violent were cool with me. Even though I was the biggest fucking dork and openly gay.

After CB's stopped doing shows (the first time) I started booking the weekly HxC matinees at ABC-No-Rio so the focus shifted to that scene. 7 months later I was on tour with GO!, then I was studying anthropology in Texas, followed by 6 months in a squat in Germany and 3 years on a commune in rural Missouri.

Going through the NYHC scene was like a rite of passage. Whenever I run into people from back then now, there’s a reconnection, even if we haven’t talked for 25 years. And rightfully so. What an amazing time.When I read these issues of Bullshit Monthly it totally comes back to me. Hopefully it will for you, too. (And visit "Bullsh*t Monthly" on Facebook. Lots of pics and misc. LIKE it and get the occasional post.) PS - Here's my band No Mistake (totally 80's style HC) - listen to and download free music, too.