Spinning on Spins Punk Memoirs

History is written by the poseurs—at least when it comes to punk history, which has taken decades to figure out that there really was more to the music than the Ramones and Sex Pistols and more to the movement than a rusty safety pin or six. But we offer grudging kudos to so-very-shiny music rag Spin for making space for West Coast punk godfather Brendan Mullen's SoCal retrospective in their could've-been-much-worse “25 Years of Punk” issue. Like a wise man at Flipside once said, “New York invented it, England popularized it, and LA perfected it.” And it's about time that the scratchy old record was set straight, but now that the culture has said yes to LA, maybe it's time Orange County demanded a little legitimacy. Certainly, we'll be the first to say that OC's artistic contribution to youth culture begins and ends with the curb job, but we kid—because we love (love!) curb jobs. Yet strangely, we also love living here, which the doctors say will clear up with some medication, and we've got the unsung-by-Spin records in our collection (the ones we could afford on our beans-and-rice paycheck; thank you, eBay punk inflation!) to prove it: the Middle Class, Rhino 39, TSOL, the Adolescents, the Crowd —how much space do we have here? Because really, a lot of this is pretty elementary—pop into a Hot Topic with your parents' credit cards in hand, and you'll get a more comprehensive chronicle of local punk from the $15.99 T-shirt wall than anything any New York-based music magazine has to say. Sure, Spin got Black Flag on their Top 50 Essential Albums list and included some purty pictures of Social D circa 1992, but there was a lot more to Orange County. A monster-sized chunk of what passes for punk today owes the old OC scenemakers big (just listen to five seconds of any Offspring song), but you wouldn't know it by flipping through the history books. Violent assholes aside (and yeah, that's a big aside), OC bands were crucial in both pioneering and popularizing a sound and a perspective that persist—for better or worse—to this day. Maybe when they do the “50 Years of Punk” retrospective, they'll fill in that part of the story—if anyone's still alive to tell it. (Chris Ziegler)

Who Killed Darby?

And this just in from the What We Do Is Secret Department: Did Orange County destroy the Germs? “The new hardcore kids loved the Germs,” writes Mullen in Spin's punk issue. “But the feeling wasn't mutual.” Much-missed Rik L. Rik explains, “The Germs started playing Orange County, [and] all those surf-punk kids would go to the shows, and it got really violent. The Hollywood people wouldn't go down there. I think that depressed Darby [Crash, the Germs' singer—go educate yourself about him in the Spin piece]. At the end, he wasn't trying to present himself as a great artist, you know? It was just one long, intoxicated scream of pain.” Residual bitterness, or another important part of the OC punk story? You know—that whole violent asshole thing. And before you start writing angry letters, remember that nobody's saying everyone or even mostly everyone from OC were “sociopathic skinheads” (Okay, Spin said that—sic 'em, bro!), but we can't forget that shadowy figure who, at the last Germs show in December 1980, thrashed on Darby's nose and called him a hippie. “He's from Huntington Beach—we know who he is!” snarls Darby on that hissy old bootleg tape of ours. Just another artistic contribution from OC. (CZ)


If you thought the annual South By Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas, was a rare bird, you thought wrong. Truth is LowBallAssChatter could easily busy ourselves by going to music confabs in various cities around the world practically every other week. But we're old and tire quickly, so we opted to send our intrepid reporter—we'll call him Jam Masta Jaz—to Miami for that city's annual Winter Music Conference, the world's largest electronic/dance music seminar/coke-and-alcohol party (held March 24-28), with specific, detailed, do-it-or-you'll-be-fired instructions to find out the Current State of Electronic/Techno/DJ/Dance Culture. Here's what he sent back:

FRIDAY NIGHT.Sitting on the South Beach boardwalk looking at all the beautiful bodies that pass by. Start alcohol intake, which, at 11:30 p.m., is early since most clubs here are open till 5 a.m. Two clubs, Fuel and Space, are open 24 hours (and serve alcohol 24 hours). SATURDAY.While in Miami, you've got to enjoy the beaches at some point, which are all great. Everyone is topless: men, women—niiiiice! Thongs everywhere! After getting baked to a lovely shade of lobster red, we head out to Bayfront Park in downtown Miami for the Ultra3 party, where a slew of DJs are spinning: Paul Oakenfold, Christopher Lawrence, Pete Tong and a bunch of others. The park reminds us of the Orange Show Fairgrounds in San Bernardino, but without the supersmoggy air and melody of gunfire. Instead, we have the ocean; a huge fountain; beautiful, blue skies; and seven stages of music. Insane! Thanks to that wonderful mix of Vodka and 180 energy drink, there's also plenty of bounce in our souls.

Off to the Giant Hotel for a rooftop party, where we bump into Swedish Egil, founder of Mars-FM and Grooveradio. com, who's in the middle of a live broadcast. After several more gallons of alcohol, we realize that we've really gotta pee, so we hit one of the hotel restrooms. On the glass shelf above the toilet, we discover just enough coke residue left over to do a fat line. This place is great! We'll definitely be back!

At CROBAR, we get schooled on how to party high-roller Miami-style. We get a table that's the size of a large pizza. The club is claustrophobically crowded, so the $850, five-person VIP table is becoming more justified an expense (we have a $700 alcohol credit, so in theory, the table is only $150). After ordering a couple of bottles of vodka, rum, water and 180, we're quickly through our tab. Looking at the drink menu, I can see how this happened: a bottle of Absolut is $225, and a bottle of Ketel One is $250! We're anticipating the set from Sasha and Digweed, two of England's premier DJs, we find out that Sasha has blown an eardrum and Digweed will be solo for the evening. That's okay—we're busy drooling over some of the most beautiful women we've ever seen, gyrating and grinding to the music. Thongs everywhere!

We don't remember Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, and we never went to any of the lame panel discussions. Therefore, we conclude that the Current State of Electronic/Techno/DJ/Dance Culture is as healthy as it has ever been! (Rich Kane and Jam Masta Jaz)

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