Agent Orange

At an Agent Orange show in Milwaukee, of all places, maybe twenty years ago. It was cold as fuck for our Southern California blood. We’d known bass player Sam since his days playing some terrific bass for the Lexington Devils in the ‘80’s, and known Mike Palm forever. Crazy venue too. It was near downtown on an ancient block of low brick buildings from the 19th century. You stepped down some stairs which opened into a basement, three basements really, with big holes bashed through the walls separating them to give the illusion of three adjoining rooms. There was a bar in one, while in the middle room Agent Orange played and it was a ball, especially Mike’s guitar playing that wonderful blend of punk riffs and surf chops and that stinging tone matched to his ebullient stage presence, and seeing them out there was just like seeing them out here except for the freezing temps. The Milwaukee kids were beside themselves, bands we take for granted living here are something thrilling and longed for in the Midwest where they live for rock’n’roll. And while I love visiting Milwaukee—it’s Fyl’s hometown—seeing a Southern California summer band on a frigid Milwaukee night was discombobulating. But it was a good discombobulating. Having your expectations jarred loose once in a while lets you know you’re alive, otherwise everything turns grey.

Anyway this piece needs some tightening up, but later, later.

Inside a punk rock bar in Milwaukee. Photo, if I remember right, is by Mike Palm.

Publik Enema

Formed in 1977 on a chicken ranch in Nipomo CA and quickly banned just about everywhere between Frisco and El Lay, Publik Enema was the greatest first wave punk rock band you never heard of. I saw their very last show, at George’s on Lower State in Saint Babs in 1979 and had my 22 year old mind blown. Still have a piece of that see thru guitar Ronnie shattered on the concrete floor at the end of the set in a fit of beauty, punk, pique and punctuality. And dig the crazed punk rock solo he plays on that guitar at the 9:00 mark of the Publik Enema Movie. This long lost film was shot in ‘78, at a bar in Goleta CA they were banned from soon after and in front of a terrified music appreciation class at a junior college in Santa Maria. Those were the days.

Blank Generation

This is a hysterical send up of Beat poetry–it was a parody of The Beat Generation spoken word LP–and an homage to Beat poetry at the same time. Trash the things you love. There is no higher compliment. Thus the Pistols annihilated the New York Dolls in “New York” while worshipping them at the same time. It was a punk rock thing. Years later I was at a show heckling my friend’s band because I liked them so much. Glares from the much younger audience. Try playing this one in tune, I yelled. A kid in a leather jacket and a Ramones tee shirt shushed me. Show some respect, he said. Respect? Seriously? This is punk rock, you little fuck. He slunk away. Ah well, times change. People are so nice now. I hate it.

The Users

My pal Bob Lee went so deep on YouTube he accidentally uncovered one of my favorite ever punk rock records. I had the single at one point but I sold it, since I had it on a comp and needed money for heroin. Now it’s on YouTube. Try scoring heroin with youtube. The internet has wrecked everything.

If I remember these kids were students from Cambridge. Or was that Oxford. Whatever, it’s fraffly good. Now they are all knighted and partying with Sir Mick and Sir Elton won’t even talk to a punter like Keef.

Create your own future–flyers by George Davison, 1979

“AL POE–ART” it says, a gig flyer by George Davison, 1979. His band on here was the Live Ones…I think it was his first ever show. (Mine too, I was drumming with Keene White.) What a wild night that was. George’s Cafe was a little dive on Lower State in Santa Barbara. It was supposed to be a jazz club but jazz was nowhere in 1979 and George the proprietor (a conga player from New York City, I got the impression he’d had to skip town and wound up in Santa Barbara) was reduced to booking punk bands. He wasn’t happy. We didn’t care. I’ll write more about that some other time. But I found an account of that night I wrote back then, a handwritten letter to someone I never sent. (You can see the part about George’s band here.) I had described everything that night in the long letter, and went on and on about the Live Ones and George, he’d made such an impression. I never finished the letter, stopped before writing about my own first time on a stage. So what I remember about that night is mostly George.
A brilliant example of creative design in the non-digital days. Dig the label gun art.

Creative design in the pre-digital days. Dig the label gun art. Label guns were high tech in 1979.

This next is one of my favorites, a flyer “by Al Poe from items discovered in Ron E Supro’s car”…looks like it’s dated Dec 5, 1979. Ron E Supro was Ron E Phast, the guitar player in Keene White and chief instigator of all the punk rock madness from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara. He had an organized talent for sheer anarchy, always putting on these crazed shows. He and George went way back, apparently, though I can’t recall the details. I do remember Ron E and George (Al Poe then) stoned out of their minds showing me the new flyer. They were both very proud of it. Al Poe because he created a flyer out of trash, and Ron E because the trash was from the floor of his car.
Al Poe's legendarty flyer made from litter, 1979

Al Poe’s legendary flyer made from litter, 1979

And here’s another flyer for the December 5th show, which I’m quite sure was done by Al Poe tho’ his name isn’t on it. It took hours of work, obviously, and some very good hash or acid. Maybe both. I don’t recall George working back then, like the rest of us, some shitty nothing office gig or a gas pump jockey (“There’s nothing in my head/and I’m wishing I was dead/I’m a gas station attendant/Fill it up!/Fill it up!/Fill it up!” went a Keene White song). I envied him. He had the expanses of time needed to get properly high all day and make elaborate flyers for fly by night punk rock shows. This seemed very important at the time. And this one even has the date clearly visible, you’ll notice, an important thing on a flyer:
Keene White Rugby Party flyer by Al Poe

Keene White Rugby Party flyer by Al Poe. I didn’t write about it so I can’t remember the show, but it would have been as demented as usual, maybe more so, and the rugby players never showed up.

And there’s one more, this one also for the November 11, 1979 show:

Create your own future.

Create your own future.

Looking at the handwriting, it appears this was made by several very stoned people. I can recognize Al Poe’s, Edwin’s, Chuck’s, Ron E’s…I doubt people recognize handwriting anymore. And I just noticed that George called his band the Livewires on this one, as opposed to the Lives Ones that appeared on the other flyer….must have been a last minute name change, Livewires to Live Ones, easy to do when you only had only practiced once or twice, barely, and had only just started playing your instruments.*  Those were the days. It was expected. We liked it raw. It seemed more real that way, less plastic, less what the seventies had turned into. George eventually became a solid and inspired guitar player, a natural, but these flyers take me back to that first gig. And yeah, the flyer’s not pretty but that “Create Your Own Future” line they found somewhere and pasted on onto the edge is perfect, as that was what it was all about. We did, too. Didn’t realize it at the time, but we were, inventing it as we went along, having a blast, never ever giving in. I think maybe George never ever gave in a little more than most.

Anyway, here’s to our Al Poe aka George Davison who was such a blast to be around but damn if he didn’t break our hearts in the end. You just can’t trust anybody. RIP, George, or maybe raise hell in peace, whichever groove moves you. Just don’t be normal, and never ever grow up.


Brick & Fyl……


* Actually, when you think about it a far more likely explanation is that George had nothing to do with this flyer and Ron E just got the band name wrong….