THE PUNK HUB MASTERS
My talk today is a comparison essay about three characters from the early punk rock scene. A Punk Comrade GHOST Special.
Dennis Danell original bass player for the punk rock band Social Distortion, Pat Fear singer and guitar player extraordinaire of the mockery punk band White Flag, and Mike Conley singer of the popular punk band MIA. I call them the PUNK HUB MASTERS
To move my essay into the realm of where I am looking from, I will be using a concept from my favorite psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. Now for a short Jungian psychology concept…
“The specific role of the archetype in synchronistic phenomena seems to be to serve as the constellation hub of a situation across time, and to be the factor of [inner order] that gives this distinctive set to the situation.”
Punk rock is a phenomenon which created a situation of order as a constellating hub. A hub is a focal point a center around which other things revolve from which things radiate. I am applying this concept to the origin of punks and to punk rock…
We were nobodies of the underground, sitting on a youthful explosion, that was a riptide of good-fella punk friends. The early individual punks found each other through the hubs we created. Back in the late 70s and throughout the 80s, as you know the punk scene created a network of hubs that worked independently from each other yet depended on each other to sustain the punk scene. Examples of hubs were Fanzines such as We Got Power or Flipside Fanzine. Also, every punk band had its own hub. Record labels, music recording studios and record store hubs. The major places to make the scene! Such as Licorice pizza, ZEDS, Tower Records and Moby Disk Records and our own Whittier Record hub Lovells Records. Without forgetting the college and underground radio program hubs where the innovative music played. These were the greatest of supportive hubs such as Pat Hoed’s Adam Bomb (KXLU), Stella Stray POP and Rodney on KROQ.
The major hub that brought us all together was an amazing force known as gigs. The garage to Club 88, the Masque to the Whisky A go go and beyond. Where the fans, bands and promoters met! The focal point here was the paper flyer. These papers were handed out at gigs. Unique band flyers with local and logo band art. Mostly Xerox copies. Xerox machines a revolutionary major hub for the punk scene. The US Mail and the ring ring telephone press buttons or circular dial extenuated the positive communication hub…remember? Punks spent a great deal of time alone…creating, practicing, and thinking in our own hubs! Coming together via shows, the phone and the mail.
This is where the hub masters such as Denis, Pat, and Mike were found. They shined there. They masterly brought all the HUBS together. These three punks were genius hub masters. Networking was their punk underground gift and they are authentic examples of the early punk rock phenomenon. Dennis, Pat, and Mike are a part of the Southern California punk scene. They influenced a generation of fans and often are not known or acknowledged for their influence. They infected my little hub of a bedroom converted into a fanzine office. I often felt overwhelmed working on Flipside and under a big wave of stuff always about ready to crash. These guys showed me the skills of synchronizing things together. Making it seem easy.
Punk Hub Master: Dennis Danell
I first saw Denis when I was living with my sister in Fullerton Orange County. It was 1978. I was working at a local Dry-Cleaning Business as a cashier. Staffing on Flipside Fanzine on the side. He was riding a sting-ray bike sporting a spike haircut. At that time, he was unique. We were speaking the same language. I looked similar with my partial shaved hairdo with orange hair color. A year later we met at the scene and became friends. Dennis taught me loyalty of friendship. I witnessed his expansive heart that made his band stay tight. This is the work of the hub master. Denis still visits me in my dreams. Always polite, honest, and his happy Dizzy self. He had the ability of synchronizing punks together in a charming way. He will not ever be taken for granted. He was at the right place at the right time.
I will read some quotes from Flipside 20 A Social Distortion interview. I feel these short quotes embrace his character.
“Denis: We wanna sound like no one else, We wanna sound like us!!”
“Denis: Tommie’s chilly burgers. I ate one of those and didn’t have to eat for 2 days and I was shitting for 3 weeks!”
Hub Master: Pat Fear.
As you know Pat was a force to deal with. He lived in Riverside which was not far from Whittier Ca where Flipside Fanzine was based. Flipside put out a few music vinyl fanzines on Flipside / Gasatanka Records. Pat was the hub master and helped bring it all together. Was it only a few years ago I argued on Facebook about his hate for Sahara Palin? I would ask him to slow down and redirect his energy. White Flag played a show with the Simpletons around 2008. They played a Saints Song, Demolition Girl. A nice dedication to me. Yet that was Pat… he always tried to make his friends happy. He was humorous in an irritating and funny way. He had the gift of inclusion. He is a constellating hub across time which brings us all here together today.
I will read some quotes by White Flag Tape 6 Flipside Music Fanzine. I will try to read them the way White Flag said them. Pat Fear’s high degree of sarcasm.
This is a White Flag moment.
“What is the purpose of White Flag?”
“To create an illusion of creativity. Because we are too good to be believed.”
“White Flag is a band that’s done everything done before… but better.” “There are two kinds of people in the world, people who are in White Flag and all those who wish they were.”
“White Flag is more than just a band it is a concept of how to live your life.”
“We look like women, talk like men, and play like mother fuckers. (twisted sister quote.)”
Pat wrote a theme song for our video fanzines. I would like to share a short description from our catalog describing the beginning of Flipside Video Number Two,
“Now if you want to see the good old video monster in action you just got to catch this video. So, if you get it, and put it in your VCR, you might just die. Because the opening Flipside Video Number Two is the band White Flag. Gutsy and pure, Pat Fear will knock your block off while he plays guitar for the opening theme song called “Flipside” with backup singers including some Redd Kross members and one Bangle member …”
Hub Master: Mike Conley
Mike originally came from Las Vegas and then stationed his band MIA in the Orange County beach area. He brought punks tighter together. He did this at parties, gigs or at the Flipside House. He could wheel and deal the punk zone. Back stage Mike would make me laugh. He would follow me around saying,
“Want a cocktail, Hudley,” while rolling his eyes round and around. Just like Groucho Marx.
In 2008 when editing my memoirs about the punk scene I came across some Mike comments in a Flipside Fanzine Interview with his band. Unbelievably I received a call at that moment from Nick Adams, a member of MIA, telling me of Mike’s demise. A week later at his funeral his oldest daughter told us a short story.
She said that when they were traveling in his car her dad always had the music on too loud. She told him he could use headphones like everyone else. He never did. That is punk.
I will now read another short story from My Punkalullby Paperback book.
From the Pogo to the Slam Pit
Recently, at a benefit show for the passing of Mike Conley of M.I.A., a slam pit broke out at the Detroit bar in Costa Mesa. After about 19 years my natural feelings of irritation and perspiration filled with moisture above my brow. In the past, the slam pit became a testosterone-filled ring of jock bodies circling round and round before the stage. Bouncers and bands tried to control it. They could not stop this wildfire. I grew to hate it. Yet, the recent show again proved me wrong. There were some women but mostly men dancing around having a great time. Yes, their firm bodies now had become a little soft around the edges, as one middle-aged guy stopped and said to me, as if Mike Conley for one moment materialized,
“…enjoy this moment, it is the best time of your life!”
This guy was beaming with youthful glee.
Flipside produced one of MIA’s albums entitled After the Fact. I will read lyrics from a song that Mike wrote. A Quote from the Song, Whisper in the Wind,
“In my eyes you’ll see a thousand memories, He said stare into my soul, All of me you shall know, Live your life full, live your life free, Tomorrow’s but a vision, Yesterday is a dream…”
Mike had the quality of inner order. A quality of depth and control that was not always easy to access.
This concludes my essay on three punk rockers of the early Southern California Punk Scene. Denis, Pat and Mike were extraordinary. They were our friends!
They are the Punk Hub Masters!
(I presented this at Pat Fear and Other Stories~ December 3, 2017 )