Sunday, February 18, 2007

Teenager in a Box

A round of post tennis with Brushback got me listening to Government Issue for the first time in years, and got me reminiscing about an influential shopping trip, many moons ago...

When I moved down to Arizona in 1989, I had a burgeoning interest in punk and hardcore, but absolutely no clue what was out there. My record collection, basically, consisted of Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, Suicidal Tendencies, and Colorado's own Warlock Pinchers. Late-'80s Boulder wasn't a haven for the stuff, and being both shy and sheltered, I wasn't exactly getting out there and searching new stuff out -- if I had money for an album, I'd prefer to get something by a band I already knew (even "Live '84") rather than try something new. I'd never seen a copy of MRR -- I'd never even heard the Minutemen, never heard Minor Threat.

My last year in Colorado, a classmate named Ben gave me a mix tape -- pretty standard stuff, but it was the first hint of how much more was out there ... Nomeansno, the Spermbirds, JFA, forget what else... and Government Issue. It had a few songs off "The Fun Just Never Ends" -- "Bored to Death," "Mad at Myself," something else.

Anyway. Moved to Arizona, was introduced to Minor Threat, and found out that there was an entire record store (Toxic Ranch) devoted to punk -- something that blew my mind, and cemented Tucson's status as a teeming metropolis where anything was possible. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous now, but remember, sheltered. I couldn't drive at the time -- I was really late in getting around to getting my license, in some sort of weird rebellion against whatever I could rebel against -- and Toxic was a ways away from our suburban place, but finally, I got my Mom to drive me down, so I could blow some hard-earned cash.

I still remember everything I picked up that day -- the day that really cemented that there was music beyond the DKs and Flag (and down the line, led me to the financial ruin of record collecting, but that's another story):

* Minor Threat "Salad Days" 7" - by then, they were my new Black Flag, and that was the only thing I didn't own. The consensus seems to be that it's their weakest release, but it's always got a place in my heart.

* Fugazi "3 Songs" 7" - I expected it to sound just like Minor Threat, so as you can imagine, it took me a while to get into Fugazi.

* Operation Ivy "Energy" LP - later ruined for me by a ska-obsessed roommate, which makes me feel kinda bad -- I think I've unfairly dismissed them since, but back then, I loved this

* Youth of Today "Can't Close My Eyes" 12" (the Caroline pressing) - I was a bit nervous about this, because (seriously!) due to the shaved heads and everything, I wasn't sure that they weren't Nazi skinheads, which I'd heard about on 20/20 or something

* Government Issue "Strange Wine" 12" - I had to get something by GI, remembering that old mix tape. I still remember being befuddled by the selection -- they had just about everything -- but something about the cover, with the set list scrawled on Tom Lyle's t-shirt, looked really cool. It was more "mature" than "Bored to Death," which confused me a bit for a while, but down the line I really like this one. Features backing vocals by...

18 years or so later, I think the only one of these records I still physically own is the "Salad Days" 7" -- I sold "3 Songs" when I got "Repeater" on CD, sold Op IV because I got so goddamn sick of ska, Government Issue got ruined when I moved out here, probably eBayed YOT. But all these albums have a special spot in my heart -- as a nascent fan, I managed to pick up a selection and not get a stinker in the bunch. It could just have easily been Outspoken or Face Value leaping into my hot little hands that day, and then what would have become of me?


Tapeleg said...

You know, speaking of the Pinchers, if you youtube "Pinchers live" you will come up with some pretty sketchy videos of them. Give it a shot.

I saw them open for Scatterbrain at the Gothic, I can't remember the year (even though it would be simple to find out). But of course, they disbanded and the 3KSK formed up Foreskin 500. Seeing Foreskin at Rock Island during the Westword music fest was one of the best local shows I have ever seen.

DK's Plastic Surgery Disasters has a special place for me. But knowing how 'hip' I am, it is probably considered their worst album, and where they sold out to the man. It just works out for me that way sometimes.

gsdgsd13 said...

I liked Plastic Surgery Disasters -- I can still sing "Moon Over Marin" on command (oddly, it is rarely commanded). It's sort of the ultimate mid-period album for me-- not as good as Fresh Fruits or In God We Trust, far better than Frankenchrist or Bedtime for Democracy.

I owned a Foreskin 500 album, but for the life of me can't even remotely remember what they sounded like -- while the Pinchers are, like "Moon," still stuck in my head.

Tapeleg said...

Next time I see you, I'm going to yell out, Sing, Bitch! That is, if I remember.

The last album by the 'skin was by far their best. It had some very hard elements, with parts of techno, a splash of disco, and plenty of psycho. Hey, I should write things and stuff. I worked with the lead singer backstage at Fiddlers Green moving rock shows in and out. A great time.

I know, you love Hot-lanta and all, but you have to get your ass back up here.

Kynanpunksdeadyourenext said...

three observations:

--No mention of Gorilla Biscuits. When did they enter your sphere o influence?

--Imagine with and Ebay, how spoiled kids are nowadays. No Holy Shit! moment of actually laying hands on a rare album and feeling you've entered a Mecca.

--"I Think We're Tiffany" was playing late one night when I was hurling in the bathroom of our Boulder basement, so now every time I get sick, I hear air raid sirens and try to sing "I think we're alone now" to the toilet. Just throwing that out there.

gsdgsd13 said...

The Biscuits came into my life just a bit later, though they truly were a watershed moment.

God, the Boulder basement. I'm flashing back to destroyed furniture, the clown-haired driver's license, and blueberry liqueur with milk...

alanah said...

"God, the Boulder basement. I'm flashing back to destroyed furniture, the clown-haired driver's license, and blueberry liqueur with milk..."

Jesus Christ, Greg... That's not a flashback, that's 10 visits to a psychotherapist. Minimum.