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greengalloway

As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Crass in Context

Contextualising Crass or -21 (minus 21) 2 1984

It is a few years ago now since I discovered that my daughter was learning about the women's peace camp at Greenham Common in her school history lessons.

"History? How can it be history, your mum was there!"

She just gave me a dismissive shrug and carried on revising.

The economic change brought by the Revolution is only the first of our demands. We will not be content with anything less than the total annihilation of existing reality and the total triumph of Desire.

Penelope Rosemount London 1966. [from King Mob Echo : Vague 31: Dark Star / AK Press: 2000 page 13]

One of the myths of punk, indeed its very foundation myth, is that 1976 was Year Zero. That punk sprang like a weird alien mutant birth out of the bloated belly of progressive rock, in the process destroying everything that had gone before. But it didn't really. If you read carefully through the first parts of Jon Savage's England's Dreaming (still the best book on punk), you can find the elements out of which it was constructed.

It was almost a Hegelian process of thesis: antithesis: synthesis. Rewind ten years from 1976 and there is 1966. 1966 was a point where the 'revolutionary' phase of sixties popular culture got going - out of a mixture of politics and drugs and a mass market for 'youth culture'. [ At least it was in North America and North Western Europe - hardly had a great impact for most people in most of the world]. A summing up slogan is one from Paris in 1969 "We take our Desires for Reality because we believe in the Reality of our Desires".

Lots of firework rockets went up and lit up the sky in a blaze of psychedelic colours before falling back to earth as burnt-out sticks as the seventies began. Or as The Pop Group were later to put it 'Escapism is not Freedom'. Rock music, for the survivors, managed to turn rebellion into lots of money. David Bowie's 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars summed it all up. Bowie was a sixties veteran, but his re-invention (like that of Marc Bolan and even, if briefly, Lou Reed) as a 'glam rock star' appealed to a new generation.

Anthropologists and historians talk of 'cohorts' and 'age sets'. By this they mean a group of people who move through initiation ceremonies/ rights of passage/ shared socialisation together as a generational group. So the sixties were significant for a UK 'cohort' who shared Elvis and the Beatles/ Stones as initiations/ rites of passage from adolescence into adulthood. But by 1972 Bolan and Bowie , although of that generation, were adopted by a next cohort of adolescents and it was this age-set for whom punk in 1976/7 was to become their rite of passage into adulthood. For this generation, the sixties were part of their childhood.

But, and this is an important but, Vivienne Westwood, Jamie Reid, Bernie Rhodes, Malcolm Mclaren etc were of the sixties cohort. This allowed for a process of cultural evolution. They did not replicate the cultural revolution of the sixties. They reproduced it. Replication produces carbon copies, clones of the parent material. Reproduction (in biology achieved via sex) mixes up the parent material, creating something similar, but different. In nature, Darwinian survival then weeds out the non-viable variations and multiplies the viable ones.

But whereas genetic evolution is 'blind', cultural evolution is self-aware, is conscious of its actions. It is intentional. This seems to be what Debord was getting at with his emphasis on the importance of historical consciousness in The Society of the Spectacle. The Spectacle survives via replication of one particular historical moment - that of the bourgeoisie revolution. It is a so far successful attempt to 'freeze' history and thus prevent cultural/ social evolution.

Cultural evolution (change) keeps trying to happen, but the Spectacle keeps recuperating change via the mass media so what we get is the illusion of constant change whereas the structural reality of everyday life remains forever the same.

It has been argued [Stewart Home] that punk was not directly based on situationist theory/ practice. This may be true. However, situationist ideas and slogans were part of the late sixties revolutionary mix and these were folded into the creative chaos which became punk. In turn, what were tired old clich├ęs for the sixties cohort were found as brand new and still revolutionary by the seventies cohort as they moved from glam rock to punk rock. Even for someone like myself, who had connected with the remnants of the sixties counterculture as still promoted by groups like Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies, the realisation that punk was (apparently) the creation of people my age - i.e. 18 in 76 - was a dramatic shock. It was the difference, as the Clash put it, between looking backward or looking forward.

But then, as ever with Spectacular Society, the recuperation of the revolutionary explosion began and what had been dangerous was made safe. But before it could be made safe, the Energy of Desire had to be Exploited - had to be turned into money. Which meant punk on Top of the Pops and in the mass media. Which exposed punk to a next cohort of 12 and 13 year olds and so set the scene for Crass...

Meanwhile, back with the dying embers of the sixties cohort, the free festival and traveller scene was developing. Confusingly for neat histories, this took place in parallel and apparent cultural opposition to punk. Part of this came from the post-sixties counterculture retreat from the cities - the communes movement, the early green/ radical/ alternative technology movement. George Mackay covers this in his book Senseless Acts of Beauty, - Ch. 1 the free festivals and Fairs of Albion. The magazine Undercurrents which existed from 1974 to 1980 documented this 'rural' development of countercultural practice and theory. Where it overlapped with popular rock music culture was at Stonehenge.

Where it connected back politically with the sixties was with the revival of the nuclear threat following the election of Thatcher in the UK and Reagan in the USA. This led to a revival of CND and mass opposition to the threat of thermo-nuclear genocide. It was this stark politicisation of everyday life which provides the context for Crass. Their anarcho-pacifist stance harked directly back to that of the more radical elements of CND in the early sixties - but was perceived as fresh and new by a post-punk generation.

It was a form of absolutism, as was the contemporary emergence of the Greenham Common Women's peace Camp and the many other similar Peace Camps which sprang up outside nuclear bases around the UK and across Europe. In the USA, there was the very different form ( but structurally similar) emergence of eco-feminism expressed by Starhawk in her Dreaming the Dark published in 1979. The question the Greenham Women posed was "Which side are you on?" .

Either you were with the nuclear warriors or against them. With the forces of death and destruction or with the forces of life and creation. In this context the ambiguities of earlier punk, its simultaneous evocation of creation AND destruction could not be sustained.

You can see the shift happening -in the first issue of Kill Your Pet Puppy for example. A shift from the 'decadence' of the pre- pop Adam and the Ants to the puritanism of Crass' 'Shaved Women' . The contrast between Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'Relax' and their 'Two Tribes'.

It was, in historical terms, a fleetingly brief moment- from 1980 to 1984. A moment when any one with eyes to see gazed into the abyss of a nuclear holocaust. Life or death. A future or no future. Which side were you on?

For the duration of that moment, for a time when the existence never extended more than four minutes into the future, the totality of experience that was a Crass gig made sense, was reality. But even within those four minutes, the cultural explosion of other futures still existed and was only partially contained. By Stonehenge 84 this fragmentation and break up of what had briefly appeared as an intensely coherent 'anarcho goth punk' scene had already occurred.

What may appear from the perspective of the present to have been a 'golden age' of political engagement and activism was in reality created by the fear of imminent extinction.

Part Two : For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?
Sounds like a Crass song title. But it ain't. Title of 1980 album by The Pop Group. Just pulled it out from the stack of (vinyl) records which I frequently play. Still vibrant, exciting, direct, challenging after 25 years. The Pop Group tackled similar themes to Crass, but managed to fuse the rhetoric with the music in a way Crass rarely did. I had to put the record on after picking up George Mackay's Crass chapter in Senseless Acts of Beauty.

1980 also saw the release of the Dead Kennedys Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. The Pop Group may not have been 'punk' by the Kennedys absolutely were. And again they tackled political issues in a head on ferocious onslaught way... "killkillkillkill kill the poor..." / Holidays in Cambodia/ California uber Alles.
For alienation and existential angst, for the bleakest vision of a UK in decay, there is Joy Division -Unknown Pleasures. She's Lost Control - still sends a shiver down my spine. I saw Joy Division in 79 and again in 80. As an experience, Joy Division were far more 'disturbing' than Crass. My memory of Crass gigs is of them being almost cheery sing-alongs - with the whole audience joining in on the choruses of songs like "Do they owe us a living" or 'Fight war not wars'. If there was tension, it came from the threat of attack by BM skins, not from the music. Joy Division gigs were no less intense than Crass ones, but no one sang along with Ian Curtis.
But what about the barrage of contradictions, the films and banners, the presentation of the future as a nightmare [Mackay/1996/ 89]?

Throbbing Gristle. Cabaret Voltaire. What was to become 'industrial' music. Throbbing Gristle in particular created a 'corporate image', were a 'brand' and thus had a strong image and identity - were a product. For TG, the idea was to hold up a mirror to industrial society, to corporate/ consumer culture, to the media. TG did not produce records, they produced "annual reports", they structured themselves as a corporate entity, with Genesis P. Orridge as CEO.

TG never fitted into punk, they were too subversive, too knowing, too clever by half. Yet their trajectory ran parallel with that of punk and [see Ripped and Torn 18 scans below] were rated by Mark P. for their 'massive contribution to everything'. But was anyone in Crass aware of Throbbing Gristle? That is an interesting question - but not one I can answer.

What did notice at the time was that Psychic TV [ post Throbbing Gristle ] picked up a strong support base from among the Crass generation of punks. This would have been 83/4. [See my 1983 Diary of an anarcho goth punk fiend blogged here a few months ago].

To conclude this section - Crass were not unique in their all out assault on consensus reality/ society. In the critical 79/81 period, there were several groups who made/ used music and performances in this way.

So what was different about Crass?
Made in 1967, but immediately banned by the BBC, the drama-documentary The War Game was dusted down (by CND?) in 1980. It was shown in village halls and community centres up and down the country. I saw it in a community centre in West Hampstead round about then. The very fact that it had been banned made it more important- that this was the 'truth about nuclear war' that the state wanted to keep hidden.

Sasha Roseneil [Disarming Patriarchy; Feminism and Political Action at Greenham Common: Open University Press: 1995 : Chapter 2 : The Origins of Greenham] gives a very detailed account of how Greenham emerged 'as a social movement'. That the women's peace camp was supported by a world wide web of women, which in turn had been created by the growth of radical feminist networks through the seventies.

The wider anti-nuclear/ peace movement was likewise highly dispersed. Following the initial Women for Life on Earth's walk from Cardiff to Greenham in 1981 (inspired by a women's walk from Copenhagen to Paris organised by Scandinavian Women for Peace) several similar walks took place in the early eighties - although these were mixed ones. There was one from Feline to Greenham, another from London to Sizewell, which was followed in 1985 by a march from Sizewell to Molesworth. As these walks criss-crossed the country, they were supported (given places to stay, fed etc) by this dispersed anti-nuclear/ peace movement.

Parts of this support network can be traced back to the sixties and CND. For example, when Pinki returned home from London to Gloucestershire in 1980, she studied for A levels at Stroud Technical College and joined Stroud CND. This was a very active branch of CND. Barry Miles in his book 'In the Sixties' [Jonathan Cape: 2002] gives some background to this. Miles was a student at the Stroud branch of Cheltenham Art College between 1959 and 1962 and it seems to have been a lively centre for the UK's beat generation. Some, like Miles, moved on to London. Others stayed.

The early eighties revival of a nuclear threat coupled with the right-wing ideology of Thatcherism re-energised significant numbers of the sixties radical cohort. This meant that there was a strong grass-roots network through which the War Game moved, through which the anti-nuclear marches could move and - I suspect- which allowed Crass unprecedented access to performance spaces far beyond the traditional rock gig circuit.

It is also significant that punk managed to disperse itself so widely. It is difficult to quantify, but the impression I have was that every town and village in England (and Scotland, Wales, Ireland) had their own punk band and or/ fanzine. It was the DIY aspect of punk, the belief that anyone and everyone could form a band, put on a gig, produce a fanzine, make their clothes, which was its most important effect. The plethora of independent record labels and fanzines also allowed hundreds of small record shops to exist. The fact that even 'mainstream' punk records were hard to find outside of major cities helped this development.

Did Crass connect across the generational boundaries between the sixties and the eighties radicalised cohorts? That would need a bit more detailed research. I only went on the 1985 Sizewell to Molesworth peace march/ walk. It was Pinki who would have been able to answer that question straight off. Certainly I don't recall the 1985 walk having many/ any Crass fans on it. The activists came from a different cultural context - Quakers, greens, ex-sixties CNDers, feminists, Peace Pledge Unionists, 'hippies' (i.e. blokes with long hair and women with long peasant style dresses), Campaign Against the Arms Trade - the parents or older brothers and sisters of punks/ Crass fans.

Or with Stop the City - Dave Morris and London Greenpeace were the main motivators and organisers, the anarcho-punks just turned up on the day. The more I think back, the more I can remember, the clearer the distinctions. The anti-nuclear/ eco-activists community of the early eighties were an older group than the people who went to Crass gigs, who were the anarcho-punks.

If the Crass cohort had an impact, it was in the late eighties/ early nineties, as they moved from being teenagers into their twenties.

SO MANY PROBLEMS, SO MANY CAMPAIGNS

Too much happened. The Miners Strike. Wapping. [But which were mainstream] There was the whole Stonehenge Campaign from 1985 onward, which overlapped with the campaign against the Criminal Justice Bill which set out to criminalize squatting and travelling. Which then got mixed in with acid houses raves and the attempt to criminalize 'repetitive beats'. Then the Poll Tax. Then the anti-roads campaigns and another Criminal J justice Bill. And the first Iraq war campaign. And the Diggers/ This Land Is Our Land actions .And Reclaim the Streets, the carnivals against capitalism, and on and on and on. G8. Not to mention Support the Handloom Weavers campaign - or was that 1793 ?

To conclude for now. There is a constant and continuing level of direct political protest and action going on all the time. Day in day out, it is a background noise of dissent which rarely makes any more than local news. It is part of the structure of social reality.


Every so often some especially stupid act by government or business pours petrol on the smouldering embers and there is a dramatic blaze of protest and resistance. In 1979, the hotting up of the Cold War with new missiles placed in Europe fuelled just such an upsurge. It was very powerful and dramatic since the threat was so widespread. It suddenly occurred to millions of ordinary people that these lunatics (Thatcher and Reagan) were prepared to blow us all up in the name of freedom and democracy.

Across Europe there was a wave of actions and protests and campaigning and noise. The upsurge even managed to break through the usual barriers which keep political protest out of popular culture. There really was a mass-mobilisation against the threat of thermo-nuclear genocide.

The threat passed, the protestors de-mobbed themselves and the activists got back to their everyday campaigns. However, as the wave of popular dissent ebbed away, it left a few strange iconic symbols in its wake - just as the sixties gave us the CND symbol.

In this case, the Crass symbol and the circled A. And a Memorial Garden at Greenham. As we forget, so these symbols become mysterious. What was it all about? Who were Crass? What was a Greenham Woman. Soon even these questions will fade and it will be as if no-one of it ever happened. And none of us ever existed.

The Eighties? Duran Duran and Dallas...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Me with Callum

If get a bit tetchy in discussing alternative culture and its relevance, this snapshot of my everyday life may explain why.

We have been waiting 8 years to get disabled friendly housing. The rhetoric of 'alternative culturalists' can sound a bit holow these days.



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An alternative culture beyond the ideal of Crass?

This highlighted from Daragh is a pretty central question.

on researching it, i've unearthed a lot of material. there is knowledge, history and acknowledgment of crass. But it's mostly venerational and mythic in a manner that i find similarly unproductive. if Crass were the best, most important thing ever and nobody can ever be as good, as 'right on'; if everything else is by contrast a sell out; if they are untouchable and venerated by people who never distinguish fiction from incredible achievement, then they may as well be unknown.on researching, i've also uncovered a lot of other threads, such as those that you are charting yourself ... and decided that understanding Crass involves understanding those threads with which the Crass project became interwoven ... [Quote ends]

Are Crass now seen as an impossible ideal?

So 'right on' as to be a discincentive to contemporary engagement with the politics of everyday life?

Sounds a bit like this no doubt invented Buddhist saying:

"If you meet the Buddha on the way to Enlightenment- kill him!"

Crass as a spectacular commodity. Hm. Hadn't really thought of it that way.

The forgetting of history- a Crass conversation

I don't know if many other people will give a damn, but here goes anyway. The theme is 'anarcho-goth-punk'
and Crass and the wider context of 'cultures of resistance'.

Note: in case anyone has missed it, George MacKay in his Senseless Acts of Beauty : Cultures of Resistance since the Sixties: Verso : 1996 gives a whole chpater (Chapter 3 , pages 72 to 101) on Crass.

George has written several books on 'the counterculture' and is based at the University of Central Lancaster
http://www.uclan.ac.uk/facs/class/humanities/staff/mckay.htm

There is also an article by Stacy Thompson on the wider culutural context of Crass here
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2822/is_3_27/ai_n6330582

George Mackay has a stab at linking various ' cultures of resistance' together- but it is difficult, everyone has their own version.

Tom Vague has produced a huge volume of ' research' on the history of it all- going way back into the 18th century. Just re-reading his 'King Mob Echo: English Section of the Situationist International" / Vague 31 : Dark Star Press : 2000.

Finally - in answer to Daragh's question on magick , tryPhil Hine's website -it has tons of fascinating material
http://www.philhine.org.uk/


Dear Daragh,
just added some pics of a Mob gig at Meanwhile Gardens http://greengalloway.blogspot.com/2005/10/mob-at-meanwhile-gardens-1982.html which give an impression of the vitality of the scene in summer of 1982 - i.e. at same time as Centro Iberico.

Tom Vague was never very keen on Crass/ anarcho-punk so not sure if he would be able to help you much - but he has covered the era as it impactwd on W11 in his section of the Historytalk website http://www.historytalk.org/ .

What about Gerard of Flowers in the Dustbin see their website http://www.flowersinthedustbin.co.uk/ - I am sure Gerard has said he is writing a book on Crass.

Or ... it really depends on what you are trying to do - to use a chaos magic analogy, what is your 'Statement of Intent' ?

I started the blog after being inspired by Mogg Morgan (Mandrake Books of Oxford/ Thelemic magickian)'s blog and being frustrated that so little material from what was an important part of 'my' history did not seem to exist in cyberspace- apart from in a section of John Eden's Uncarved website.

I was also thinking of Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle -I forget the exact quote - that our individual lives as yet have no 'history', that the Spectacle (as in Orwell's 1984) makes us forget our own lived experiences, replacing them with the 'false' memories of the Spectacle. Or to use a science fiction analogy, Philip K Dick's theme of 'false realities'.

And - if you can find the 'Pinki and the Druids' post - that even major events, like the Battle of The Beanfield, or the whole herstory of Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp are elided , skipped over, marginalised,intentionally forgotten / displaced.

The personal is political. The political is personal.

Alistair

Reply

hi again>

And - if you can find the 'Pinki and the Druids' post - that even > major events, like the Battle of The Beanfield, or the whole herstory > of Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp are elided , skipped over, > marginalised,intentionally forgotten / displaced.>

this is largely where I'm coming from. I think that as a cultural artistic project, Crass was significant for a number of reasons. i think that in their successes and failures, their project roadmaps certain uncharted spaces on the periphery of art and politics.and i know that coming from dublin a decade later, being in a band that did rock n roll (not punk) for years in both ireland and the UK, and having a lot of friends and acquaintances that (crudely speaking) consider themselves 'alternative' , there is no knowledge of, no history of and no acknowledgment of Crass.

on researching it, i've unearthed a lot of material. there is knowledge, history and acknowledgment of crass. But it's mostly venerational and mythic in a manner that i find similarly unproductive. if Crass were the best, most important thing ever and nobody can ever be as good, as 'right on'; if everything else is by contrast a sell out; if they are untouchable and venerated by people who never distinguish fiction from incredible achievement, then they may as well be unknown.on researching, i've also uncovered a lot of other threads, such as those that you are charting yourself ... and decided that understanding Crass involves understanding those threads with which the Crass project became interwoven ...

So a statement of intent?- is firstly to find answers to questions, to separate certain facts from certain fictions, for my own reasons- then?- ideally to write a book that reinstates the Crass and anarcho punk project, primarily the Crass part of that project, to write a fiction that corresponds best to the facts as i see them falling together.I know that others are working on books about the same material. Gee and Penny have mentioned Gerard a few times ... his book may make it unnecessary for me to write mine. it may not.Also Gee from Crass has been compiling material for a book of Crass related documents and she has asked me to assist with editing that. alongside doing that i'm going to continue asking my questions.I'm aware from the few Vagues that I have read that Tom was not fond of the anarcho punk project.

I'm interested in talking to people who disliked Crass and anarcho bands as much as to people who liked them. I've read some of his History.Following posts on your site with interest. Will inevitably have more questions for you.I am LOST on the whole subject of magick. Any good places to start would be welcomed.

thanks again
daragh

Friday, October 28, 2005

Crass banner

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Mob at Meanwhile Gardens again

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The Mob at Meanwhile Gardens 1982 or 1983?


Just found these photos of The Mob playing at Meanwhile Gardens in the summer of 1982. Or was it 1983?


Just tried to post enlarged versions but not working.

Sean (see comment) wonders if the Crass banner in the bottom picture
had been 'liberated'... don't know. I do remember the young person holding it. He was a very young (14/ 15 year old ) Mob fan from somewhere like
Tunbridge Wells - I have a vague memory of meeting him again afew years later, when he had become a 'new age traveller'. But I could be wrong.

In the top picture I have spotted Tom Vague (with blond big hair at back) plus Lou, Val and Nicki.

In the middle picture there is Les at the left and the back of Mark Mob's
brother Paul in the centre.

There were a few other photos taken the same day but I can't find them.

I have also found some "Stop the City" posters Dave Morris [McLibel Trial] sent me after Pinki died - but couldn't get them to upload to this blogzine.

So it goes.

Persons Unknown


One from the vaults. This is front page of Persons Unkown booklet dated 16th August 1979, produced before the trial, which was due to start on September 17th.

This trial (and resulting acquittal of key defendants) was the stimulus for the eventual - 1981- creation of the Wapping Autonomy/ Anarchy Centre. For anarcho - (goth) -punk significance see "Crass Questions" below.

the day the world turned day glo

Back to front as usual, these pages are to give a bit of extra context to the 'Crass Questions" below.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Crass questions.

From Daragh: hi again,

i'll have more specific questions over the next while.

In the meantime i'd be curious as to your opinion about Crass as individuals as opposed to Crass the all dressed in black propaganda machine. I'm trying to get a picture of them as individuals at the time. Which is difficult as it was something they (and still to a certain extent) resisted. I didn't know for instance that Andy was not living at Dial House in 1983.similarly i've got a good idea of Josef Portar from his Genesis to Revolution but your impressions of the Mob and Zounds as individuals would be more than welcome.

Also, your Punk Is Dead critique of Crass (... interestingly sounds like it could have been written by Penny. I know that Gee was very much a fan of Patti Smith). i'm trying to place your stance. Even though Crass did not do everything themselves, and have been given credit for maybe more than they did (the squatted venues and anarchy centres were run, sponsered and frequented by others as you pointed out), and even though there were important counter threads in anarcho-goth-punk at the time, surely it was all given impetus by Crass.

I'm being vague here. I'll try and be more specific?- Were Crass resented by fellow anarcho-goth-punks, such as the Mob? Or those involved in the Anarchy centres. The comment you made about the chant that accompanied the launching of the new venue. you imply it was an anti-Crass thing.- Would your dislike for the sub Crass-clone hoards extend to a dislike for Crass as an aesthetic cultural project, and/or to a dislike for them as individuals.- would that thread of protest through the 1980s (Stop The City, animal rights, direct action) that is seen as having continued through to the current anti-globalisation protests, have been just as strong without any of Crass's efforts

.if and when you get time, thanks, daragh

Crass anwers.

Dear Daragh,
thanks for your questions. I will have a first bash at answering them. I will also wade through my archives and see what else I can summon from beyond the grave of the eighties...

1. I never met Crass. They lived out at Epping on the Central Line and although lots of people trailed out there, it never occurred to me to do so. I did meet Andy Palmer, but that was in 83/4 via Black Sheep Housing Co-op and even then I don't recall ever having a non- Co-op conversation with him.


I never knew Crass as individuals. So, apart from Annie Anxiety, who I did chat to a gigs a few times, Crass were just there in the background as 'the group' not as real people..

With The Mob, it was a totally different situation. Mark Wilson in particular was a frequent visitor at Puppy Mansions and squatted at various places in Islington/ Hackney before living at 103 Grosvenor Avenue in 83/4. I didn't know Joesph so well until he also moved into 103. Curtis I did not know very well at all.

Zounds? Saw them play several times, but did not know them.

If you look at my 1983 diary, it reflects a pattern which lasted for me from 1980 to 1984. To recap - in late 1979 I met Tony D, Val and Brett at a meeting in the Conway Hall to discuss setting up an 'anarchy' centre. I had been going to meetings at the Conway Hall through 1979 - but the people there were 'old-school' anarchos - Stuart Christie, Albert Meltzer, Ronan Bennet, Iris Mills and folk from 121 bookshop. The initial focus for these meetings was the Persons Unknown trial - I still have a booklet produced for it and will scan some bits in and post here.

The main thing is: there were no punks involved then. After meeting the Puppy Collective, I started hanging out at Puppy Mansions (Westbere road) and going to gigs and all night films at the Scala etc - and meeting a whole load of people - like Bob of Blood and Roses and Min and Tinsel etc etc. I found this a lot more fun than hanging out with a bunch of 'proper' anarchists.

The point where things got interesting was at the Parallel Universe on Pentonville Road - which was 1981. It was a squatted church and Rubella Ballet played there (can't remember who else). I don't think Crass ever played there - but I could be wrong.

Compared with going to gigs in straight venues -like the 100 Club etc, the whole atmosphere of the Parallel Universe was so much more exciting ( if occasionally dangerous) - so when Andy Martin (allegedly) started putting on Sunday afternoon gigs at the Anarchy/ Autonomy Centre in Wapping - the place created with money from the Bloody Revolutions/ Persons Unknown Crass/ Poison Girls single - and which came out of the Conway Hall meetings- the 'energy' of Parallel Universe seemed to find a new home there.

Having funded the space, Crass were not (from memory) too keen to subsidise its continuing survival so were not directly involved - although they played there at least once. And when the next move was to the Centro Iberico, they had no involvement at all. I don't think they ever played there.

But by then there were enough groups to put on half a dozen groups each Sunday through the spring/ summer of 1982. For me those few months were 'anarcho-punk' - or, to be more precise 'anarcho-goth-punk' since it was such a diverse scene - even Daevid Allen of Gong once played there and Throbbing Gristle had previously.

After the Centro Iberico died there was the nearby squatting of the Zig Zag Club - which Crass were involved with and set up. But that was a one off. There then followed a whole string of squatted venues - the ones I mainly knew were in Islington, but the 'anarchy centre' idea happened in lots of places across London and the UK.

How much of that impetus came from Crass?

I am not sure. There were hundreds of people squatting in London. Squatting has its whole own history, which got a big boost in the late sixties/ early seventies - and critically carried on into the late seventies so it crossed over with punk. Like San Francisco in teh sixties, thousands of young people were drawn to London by punk - and kept on doing so after the initial 76/77 phase was over. Most went home again, but those who had no homes to go back to stayed and ended up living in squats. Most squats fell apart very quickly, but enough people learnt how to do it for a semi-stable punk squatting scene to develop.

The move from squatting a house to live in to squatting a larger space to put on gigs etc was a logical next step. It probably would have happened anyway. What Crass and the Poison Girls did - along with the old school anarchos [ Wapping Autonomy Centre] plus the Spanish anarchists of the Centro Iberico - was provided a stepping stone along the way.

It was an evolutionary development which would have happened anyway, but its development was helped by the existance of Wapping.

Crass played a similar role to that of the Sex Pistols or other 'known' punk groups - they made a noise which drew some people to it - for most people it was just an incident, a moment, for some it changed the direction of their lives.

The attractive power of the Pistols or Crass or the early Adam and the Ants etc etc was based on a strong, powerful and simple 'message'. Such blasts of energy are great for grabbing attention - but not really much use when it comes to dealing with the complexities of trying to live 'outside of society'.

To go to a gig, to be blasted by the noise and spectacle and then go home again is fine. But the punk I encountered in London back then was a punk created by people who never went home again after the gig. By young people, mostly teenagers, who ended up living in scummy squats and had to survive violence and drugs.

The given ideology of punk - that of Crass included - was useless in such realities. Yet somehow out of the chaos a fearful beauty was born. It didn't last long, it moved on and changed again - to Stonehenge and beyond, to Greenham, to other lives in other places.

Nothing lasts.

For some, for many , Crass may have been a critical factor, may have been the key influence. But not for me.

For me, punk / anarcho/ goth/ whatever was not about being a vegan and wearing black. It was about the day the world turned day glo back in the long hot summer of 1976 - for whcih see the very first blog on this site.


I clambered over mounds and mounds
Of polystyrene foam
And fell into a swimming pool
Filled with fairy snow
And watched the world turn day-glo
you know you know
The world turned day-glo you know
I wrenched the nylon curtains back
As far as they would go
And peered through perspex window panes
At the acrylic road
I drove my polypropolene
Car on wheels of sponge
Then pulled into a wimpy bar
To have a rubber bun
The X-rays were penetrating
Through the laytex breeze
Synthetic fibre see-thru leaves
The I fell from the rayon trees

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Career opportunities in rubber wear

Got this back to front. This first photo is me hard at work at London Rubber Company in March 1983.

The second photo was taken in 1978.

In 1977/78 I worked here, at the J. Allen Rubber Company , Lydney, Gloucestershire. I am in this photo - third from right in front row

The End? This was the last shipment of an entire rubber glove factory to Malaysia. It was the second we built. Once rubber glove production was up and running in Malaysia, the factory in Lydney was shut down. This happened about 1981.

I was in London then, working at the head office/ main factory site, of LRC (London Rubber Company) on the North Circular Road where it cross the river Lea.

That factory shut down as well a few years later. It made Durex condoms as well as rubber gloves.

I finally got out of rubber in 1983 - it was all getting a bit smelly and sticky- and bacem 'manager' of All the Madmen records.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Hagar the Womb : 1983

This article is from Tales from the Wasteland fanzine in 1983. Think I first met Hagars at Wapping Autonomy (Anarchy) Centre so that would be late 81/ early 82.

They were an excellent group NOT yer typical crap anarcho-punk sub Crass clones!


Saturday, October 22, 2005

KYPP 3/ 1980

This was last KYPP printed by Joly/ Better Badges. Posted by Picasa

The kids was just crass...


There is a kinda sequence here, starting with Tony's review of Feeding 5000 from R&T 17 [ tried again, first scan too faint to view] to Stations and Peaceful Pro 'crass' tination in KYPP 1 to menandwomeninblack's respone in KYPP2

The name Crass came from Bowie/ Ziggy Stardust (allegedly)

Ziggy played guitar, jammin' good with Weird and Gilly,The spiders from Mars, he played it left hand
But made it too farBecame the special man, then we were Ziggy's band
Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo
Like some cat from Japan, he could lick 'em by smiling
He could leave 'em to hang
Came on so loaded man, well hung and snow white tan
So where were the spiders while the fly tried th break our balls
Just a beer light to guide us
So we bitched about his fans and should we crush his sweet hands?
Ziggy played for time, jiving us that we was voodoo
The kids was just crass.
He was the nazz
With God given ass
He took it all too far, but boy could he play guitar
Making love with his ego,
Ziggy sucked up into his mind
Like a leper messiah
When the kids had killed the man
I had to break up the band
Ziggy Played Guitar



Ripped and Torn : Everything Then is Now



Twenty four years ago I was sitting in the kitchen of Puppy Mansions, Westbere Road, West Hampstead listening over and over again to very low fi bootleg cassette tapes of Adam and the Ants as they were circa 1978. The results of the intense listening experience were used on the back cover of Kill Your Pet Puppy 4 which came out in September 1981. We also used some 1978 era flyers/ adverts for the Ants.

The back cover and ads can be seen here down a few clicks on this blogzine.

KYPP was the child of Ripped and Torn. Ripped and Torn was started by Tony D. in Glasgow in October 1976 [ from memory so don't quote me] - up there / down here with Mark P.'s Sniffin Glue as first punk fanzine.

So anyhow I have been scanning in random pages from KYPP and the couple of R & Ts I have and looking for more found on an Adam and the Ants web site some more R & Ts + on another one the same or nearly song words we slaved over so many years ago.

Suddenly that which was long ago and far away, which was a few shaky memories and scraps of paper, broken magnetic tape- irrecoverable, unknown, forgotten.

http://www.antmusic.fsnet.co.uk/images_barbe.htm which includes Ripped and Torn interviews etc.

http://www.xs4all.nl/~antlady/lyrics/DirkWearsWhiteSox.html slightlydifferent version from KYPP 4 one.

http://www.eciad.ca/www/lib/study-slides/DHIS302Final2005.html - R and T cover in context of academic history of design.

Suddenly it is there on the screen- right here, right now. More than history, a new experience - I never saw any old/ back issues of Ripped and Torn from that era.

Ants to Crass

How the hell did that happen? Fuck it, will need to scan in a chunk o stuff to illustrate the confusion.

And the sequence should maybe go (...glam): Pistols : Ants : Crass : Psychic TV: acid house : (? ...)

Uno, due, tre, quattro ...Marinetti, Boccioni, Carra, Balla, Palazzeschi!Marinetti, Boccioni, Carra, Balla, Palazzeschi!Futurist Manifesto!Futurist Manifesto!War is the world's only hygieneEnergy and fearlessnessRacing car the beauteous beastHurl defiance at the starsFuturist Manifesto!Futurist Manifesto!Voices of animals... animals men!Voices of animals... animals men!(And the futurist theatre goes)Marinetti, Boccioni, Carra, Balla, Palazzeschi!Marinetti, Boccioni, Carra, Balla, Palazzeschi!Futurist Manifesto!Futurist Manifesto!Noises obtained by percussionMetal, wood on skin and boneVoices of animals and menLaugh and shout and scream and moanFuturist Manifesto!Futurist Manifesto!Voices of animals... animals men!Voices of animals... animals men!(And the futurist theatre goes)

EXPLOSION

The audience leave the theatre to go home. But there are no more homes to go to. No world left outside the theatre of the future.



Friday, October 21, 2005

Sid Vicious Memorial March/ KYPP 2/ 1980




Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ripped and Torn 18/ 1979


Samples from R and T 18.




Throbbing Gristle/ Ripped and Torn 18/ 1979


These are pasted in reverse order so start at bottom and work up helter skelter syle.

They come from Ripped and Torn 18, which preceded Kill Your Pet Puupy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Old Ants ads/ lyrics KYPP 4



Old ants.

Adam/ Ants KYPP 1 1979


Tony's article on Ants from KYPP 1. Click on pic to enlarge- still legible after all these years.


Mick Mercer (Panache fanzine then and http://www.mickmercer.com/ now) said :

"I remember reading the Ants article at a gig in the Electric Ballroom while all around people fought, sold drugs, and ranted angrily. A literary oasis in a world of human sludge. "

Cover: Kill Your Pet Puppy 4(Sept 1981)


This issue is very fragile. First three were printed by Joly of Better Badges on heavy duty paper- same as used for making up badges- and were in colour through out. Number 4 printed in black n white apart from fron and back covers and centre page spread on The Associates.

Back page was early Adam and Ants lyrics; already blogged in here somewhere. Tinsel sent us the photo of guy with scissors.

Editorial: Kill Your Pet Puppy 4 (Sept 81)


Tinsel sent us the photo of guy with scissors.

You will need to click on image to read it.

Script around the outside is lyric by Syd Barrett/ ex-Pink Floyd "Octopus"

Editorial KYPP 2


Click on image to read the words of wisdom right now.

Puppy two

KYPP 2 came out February/ March 1980 -apologies for poor state of cover. If you click on pics they should go full size.

Kill Your Pet Puppy 1


This is the cover of the first issue of Kill Your Pet Puppy, written December 1979 and hit the streets in January 1980.

Encyclopaedia of Ecstasy Volume One

This was created summer of 1983 at 103 Grosvenor Avenue - see diary for that year which is buried in the archives somewhere here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Site of mill at Polmaddie - a lost village in Galloway. Posted by Picasa