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.
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.
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.
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.