Archive for the ‘Excerpts from the book The Strangest Tribe’ Category

The Bird (Seattle’s first punk rock club) Closing Night Party Ruckus, June 1, 1978

(Note: the Bird–in addition to hosting punk shows–also doubled as the practice space for a band called the Enemy, managed by Roger Husbands.)

The Bird’s closing featured a not-atypical confrontation with the Seattle police.  The landlord ordered Husbands to vacate effective June 1, 1978.  The closing-night party exemplified the strained and confrontational relationship between the police and the punk rock community.

A small group, including members of the Enemy, exited the Bird and migrated to the roof after midnight.  Enemy drummer Peter Barnes describes the aftershow party as “lame” until some people started throwing things off the roof.  “Somehow it ended up that the cops were called,” Barnes recalls.  “And they showed up, and they sent the vice squad after us…I mean, the really heavy-duty cops….They slammed badges in peoples’ faces and they called us faggots and they threw people on the ground.  We had a rather diminutive woman lead singer, Suzanne [Grant], and they twisted her arm behind her back and broke it.”  Damon Titus, the Enemy’s guitar player, complained about Grant’s treatment to the police and was rewarded by having his face smashed into the pavement.

Unfortunately for the police department, a partygoer happened to record the entire roof melee on tape.  The band sued the police and won a court-ordered monetary settlement.  An excerpt of the confrontation later found its way onto an Enemy single called “Trendy Violence.”

A Gorilla Gardens highlight show, a not atypical Seattle event, occurred in January 1985.  Hugo and Susan Silver’s Metropolis Productions (formed after the Metropolis club closed) sponsored the Violent Femmes.  The event was also promoted by KCMU.  Metropolis took the financial risk of guaranteeing the Femmes’ payout.  The venue oversold its 300-person legal capacity, and patrons clamored to get in.  Some kids had discovered a hole in the roof and made their way down through the rafters to catch the show.  Ceiling tiles began falling into the crowd, alerting Hugo. He climbed up into the rafters to chase the kids out of the club.  By the time Hugo escorted the uninvited guests to the street, he was met by the police department.

The police had been called since the overflow crowd had spilled onto the street.  The fire department soon followed to make sure the club was up to code—which of course it wasn’t.  The fire exits were boarded up, making the club an absolute fire hazard.  The fire chief informed Hugo that the venue had to be evacuated immediately, literally in the middle of the Femmes’ set.  “And I was just on my knees,” says Hugo, “basically saying, ‘If you shut me down, I’m bankrupt.’”

Out of desperation, Metropolis staffers took a chainsaw and cut a hole in the side of the building, and voila!  The building had enough exits.  “I mean, how can you argue with that shit?  It was like perfect,” says Art Chantry.  “‘You want a fire exit?  We’ll give you a fuckin’ fire exit!’”

(The following excerpt from the Introduction talks about that wonderful “Lexicon of Grunge” hoax perpetrated by Sub Pop’s Megan Jasper.  Sorry about the double spacing.  I can’t seem to rectify that one.)

The outside world just didn’t get it, and Seattle wanted it that

way. In 1992 a New York Times reporter phoned Megan Jasper,

then a sales rep at Sub Pop Records. The caller inquired about

the hip grunge slang. One problem remained, however: there

was no hip grunge slang. Jasper, by then completely tired of the

incessant media attention, decided to have some fun. She told the

reporter to name some common terms, and she would happily

provide the corresponding grunge expressions. As the reporter

rattled off phrases like “uncool person” and “hanging out,” Jasper

responded with “lamestain” and “swingin’ on the flippity-flop.”

The exchange was published in the November 15, 1992 issue of

the New York Times under the title “Lexicon of Grunge: Breaking

the Code.”* Jasper and Seattle enjoyed a good laugh.


Mudhoney, a Seattle grunge band then receiving international

attention, decided to take the joke a step further. After

the “Lexicon of Grunge” showed up in the Times, the band

gave interviews with the made-up terms sprinkled throughout.

“When we heard about that,” says Mudhoney’s front man Mark

Arm, “[for] our next round of interviews we threw out as many

of those terms as often as possible.”

* From The New York Times, (c) November 15, 1992 The New York Times all

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