Punk me

By Mark Bloch


I was a punk but I never thought to call it that. No I didnÕt wear leatherjackets until much much later although I did wear a jean jacket that I had found at WKSU. I wonder whose it was. But anyway it eventually got ripped up and I lived in New York then and I gave it to this German chick I met at a poetry reading. When I saw her three years later she had gone from being a little tart to an angry punk type. She was wearing my jean jacket and it was all safety pinned together. I took her to my apartment and tried to xxxx her one last time but it didnÕt work out. We ended up getting in a big fight and I threw her out. IÕd see her around from time to time.

Anyway In college I did this cool punk art but it is ironic that I destroyed it. I never destroyed any art that I made in my whole fuckin life except that piece of shit punk art thing. Of course I filmed the whole thing on Super 8 but it turned out so overexposed you couldnÕt see a single image so it disappeared into the ether. But the reason it is ironic is that IÕve never thrown anyway before or since. IÕve saved every bowel movement IÕve made since 1975 in little plastic bags like poodle shit and I have them all in storage at second avenue and 2nd Street across from MÕbwebwe.

Just kidding. I didnÕt save my shit but I did save everything else. As for MÕbwebwe, that was the name of the place my friends lived that backed up to CBGBs . But back then the little street in between them was called Extra Place and it was a real New York street with a sign and everything. Too bad they got rid of it. One day they just took down the sign and it wasn't an official NYC street anymore. They should have named THAT Joey Ramone Place.

Anyway the punk art I did was also funk art and jazz art. I did the Home of the New Irreverence in Kent, Ohio in 77 and 78. We were nuts. We listened to Talking Heads, Patti Smith Elvis Costello but also disco, and R&B like Al Green. We lived with a black guy Jim S. who got busted and thrown in jail. But he was no punk. He was an enormous guy. We used to smuggle pot as well as Twinkies to him in jail in Ravenna Ohio. A whole bunch of people got busted for pot by some narc and no one went to jail except him because he was the only black guy.

So yeah I lived in Kent Ohio and I used to stay up all night painting and making art. I did these punk collages that were some kind of paper... like newspaper with drawings and press type lettering on it. And I saw all the music as being the same thing. Jazz Punk Funk. Disco. It was all the same to me. I used to listen to BowieÕs ŅSecret Life of ArabiaÓ all the time because I thought that Heroes album was half punk and half disco.

Anyway I also wrote a review of Devo in those days and knew Ralph C. of Tin Huey from 7th grade in Akron. And Chris B. of the Waitresses. He started the Waitresses simultaneously and me and Bill Hermann started Breakfast Around Town. Both used as their take off point JerryÕs Diner, which was the cultural centerpiece of Kent.

Anyway I always wanted to start a band but my drum set got ripped off just as the "Akron Sound" was being discovered. I could have had all my dreams come true in one fell swoop. Little did I know I could have beaten on garbage cans but I just didnÕt think of it back then.

Anyway did the Dead Men of 77 series. I had wild parties. We did the Irreverence thing. We made films and videos.

We did a great video for the local TV station about us throwing meat at a Mc DonaldÕs sign I found after a big rainstorm.

Not all of this stuff exists. There are little fragments here and there. Like there are pictures of Breakfast Around Town. The tapes are probably mangled messes by now.

There is some documentation of us throwing meat but I do not recall it. We were way into hamburgers in those days but Jesus that was 78 so Punk was over by then.

In 1976, the Bicentennial summer, we were driving through the USA and we picked up a hitcher who told us about The Damned and the Jam and the Clash and the Sex Pistols. We thought it was cool but didnÕt really get it. We listened but did nothing about it. We kept on listening to our Caravan and Soft Machine records. We liked that stuff and still do but since then I have decided that late Caravan kind of sucked. It was the Soft Machine that was cool. But Caravan had some good songs too in the early days.

Anyway the interesting thing about that trip was that Mary D. was this beautiful red head from Ashtabula and somehow she had it within her to bring a Ramones record on the trip. It was a freakin 8-track tape! I donÕt know which one it was but it had the ŅBeat on the BratÓ song it. And I got that without really knowing I got it. Because I thought it was stupid. I had the same reaction years later to ŅBang Your HeadÓ by Quiet Riot. But I didnÕt know that the Ramones were ironic and that Quiet Riot was not. I mean I knew the latter but not that the Ramones were just being silly. Had I gotten that part I would have gobbled them like I did the ŅTalking Heads Ō77Ó record the following fall when Jim Q. brought it back from NY the next year.

Yeah Jim deserves credit for that. He liked Soft Machine too but he turned me on to TH 77 and by then Frank Green had brought Patti Smith into my life and somehow it all just fused together. We had already been way into David Bowie. And Todd Rundgren was a favorite with his rainbow hair in the A Wizard A True Star tour.

I remember when Lisa R., went to New York and stayed with Andy Warhol in the early 70s it sounded so cool. She later ended up being a playboy bunny, a Playboy centerfold, and allegedly spent all the money on coke. I heard her mom got drunk once and ran over someone with a car. Her older sister was a movie star in Italy. What a family. But anyway I remember back then how exotic the whole glam thing sounded. No one told me about the Velvet Underground until years later but I didnÕt mind because I had listened to Sweet Jane all the time anyway and other Lou Reed stuff. Even the songs "Heroin" and "White Light White Heat" but I was too suburban to really get it. Thank God. I just liked the music.

I loved Transformer and Berlin and all those early Lou Reed albums and saw him in person many times when I was a teen in Akron. Come to think of it I must have known about the Velvets but it never registered.

In California, years later, I saw John Cale in Huntington Beach. Also in Huntington Beach I remember hearing about surf nazis. Actual fascist jarheads. As opposed to the ironic variety. I liked a local band called the Nu-Beams. And of course my friends Reva and Maia knew about all the latest stuff and I was too stoopit to listen. They loved Throbbing Gristle. Years later I found out Genesis P Orridge had been a mail artist so it all came full circle.

But the whole California scene was weird. The Weirdos used to hang around the Atomic Cafe in Downtown LA. I used to go see Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo on the Huntington Beach pier and Madame WongÕs in LA and places like that. then they became Oingo Boingo and then that lead singer became a big deal in Hollywood because the Pee Wee Herman mafia crossed over. Speaking of Pee Wee I remember he used to play at the Whiskey or one of those places on the Sunset Strip endlessly. I never knew who he was or what it was but I used to see his name on the marquee. I was intrigued but never enough to go see him.

I went to see AC-DC on the Sunset Strip and interviewed them for KSBR. Them and Ultravox too. That was cool. We also interviewed Carla Bley at NickÕs the cool restaurant in the Tropicana Hotel in Hollywood where Tom Waits used to hang out. I loved Tom Waits from his very first album or whatever it was with "The Piano has been Drinking." Now there was something that was not particularly punk but man it was cool. I got it.

I think the moral of the story is that punk certainly was a style and an attitude and a movement and all that shit. And it certainly has continued to sell records long after its demise but it was way beyond all that shit. It is just what cool people did in that era and I was one of those cool people. Not that I was special or you should bow down and kiss my ass or anything, I was just smarter and with it and so were lots of other people and we just did interesting things. You couldnÕt help it. It was in the air.


Punk was never meant to be a fuckin style. It just became one when the people who were not punk decided to become punk. Like the international symbol for anarchy. Why would anarchists need a fuckin symbol? Anyway in the interest of full disclosure and giving credit where it is due, the biggest and earliest punks to me were Mark H., Bruce Church, Jim K. and others that went to my high school. They called each other swines and so they became known as The Swines and one time they got stoned or drunk and decided to give each other butches. Not punk hair, not buzz cuts, they weren't skinheads, back then (1972 or so) in Ohio we called that hair style a Butch. So The Swines got drunk and someone took a dare and let another one of the Swines give him a butch. It was a scandal in the school. Within a week all of the Swines had butches. That was a very punk move. Even today it would be. But then it was unheard of. This was the early 70s. Even the biggest, squarest creeps on the planet had long hair and sideburns then. The Mullett was on its way in. We called it a Shag. But to cut off all your hair- and what's more to do it unevenly and badly- in a drunken style you could say, that was unheard of. Those guys were cool. At the 30 year high school reunion I told them so.

At the 20 year reunion I hung out with the Cxxxx twins. They were the baddest motherfucker chicks in the school. Real juvenile delinquent types. Yeah Cxxxx as in Jewish, but their mother raised them alone, I think. "The product of a broken home." So the Cxxxx were always really bad ass cool and so I was afraid to talk to them in high school. I don't think I ever did but at the twenty year reunion I thought I was pretty bad ass cool so I hung out with the Cxxxxs all night. But by the 30 year reunion one of them was dead and the other one didn't show up. Bruce Church had comitted suicide due to mental illness. I dedicate this text to him. I spent that reunion hanging out with all the smart kids and overachievers. I quizzed them relentlessly, trying to figure out what their families were like and why they didn't feel compelled to pretend to be deadbeats like me and the Cxxxx sisters.