Keep On Running – The Start of The Scene – The End of My Teenage, but Not the Death of My Party. UK Subs, Harbor Theater, Ecorse, May, 1988
INTRODUCTION: when I originally published this, I never knew that it was Post 200, and somehow I felt that after a couple of reads by important friends I felt that it was not really a way to start a new year and hail the 200. The post on Last House on Dead End Street is OFFICIALLY the 200’th, marking my love of finding rare ads and entertaining the readers with crazy information. I sometimes want something personal to share with the readers, but the title itself was a bit negative, so I felt like changing a few things around while the post on the Sister site on Tumblr inspired something great – already hinting at it’s reason for living as an inspiration for articles and a visual tour. This is about a time in my life which was at first very fun, but later a connection to whatever happened after. I;m sure that not many would connect things in this way, but if you know me, you will understand why this is an important part of my life.
May, 13, 1988 – Harbor Theater – It’s a bit odd that a chapter of my life ended with a great concert by The UK Subs, 7 years after their final UK single hit in “Keep On Running”, still recording some great music, and now a regular sight on the Punk touring circuit while with me it was in year two of going to Punk shows, buying wild new Underground albums and Garage Punk classics, and seriously living in a way I would have never thought I would after my New Pop oriented Early 80’s, but it’s fitting that the realization would not hit me until I was doing research which led up to this happening. Before the show ever started, I was in the line with my friends (If you’re reading, a hello to Mark, Bill, and Jenny!) and with the group of devoted Detroit Punks gathered up in front of the theater that was once a first run place later turned into a Porno place which was closed down and for at least two shows (or two that were advertised in the papers). It was a great place, perfect with what I was going for – an aged theater with a classic front and balcony – the pictures on the page linked here will seriously take you there perfectly! Just blend the XXX era photo with the last one, replace the 50’s style people with a small lake of leather jackets and Punks, and you will get the picture even more.
Within the group assembled in front of the classic Burlesque Theater doors, I heard someone saying that it was a Porno place, and with that I could only have imagined what it’s history was all about, but that was for later as I enjoyed the show. Somehow as the excitement was happening (I was more reserved that time than usual…bit I should have joined in the front), it might have been possible that if I believed in ghosts, those from the theater’s history were going into my soul right at that time. It was a nice warm evening among the decay, not noticing that I’m watching a great band that never was popular in the US but had a run of hit albums and singles in The UK was now fully in the Punk Underground with 1983’s Flood of Lies. Their then-recent album Japan Today (Released in The US through Restless) was being toured for, and in my opinion it only had a few standouts (including the funny ode to Santa), but they were always best on the live stage.
Bring in a Small Dot, I had a knack for catching the final hours of anything before it went into the Underground (And my interest in albums that hit the Cut-Out bin also connects, but that’s for another blog resting in a Ghost Mall waiting to be unleashed once again…hint, hint). So many hints before – My Post-High School movie going through the Mid 80’s was not all that eventful, but going to the Greenwood Mall to see Reform School Girls was a first encounter with seeing the final days of anywhere I would have wanted to go to back in the classic days as I missed out all of the real fun as I was too young and living in Small Dot without Cable to get into the thrills of the day. Listening to radio stations change formats – WWWW from Rock to Country in the very first part of 1981 and actually hearing WLBS moving from being the only New Wave station in Detroit to an oldies station in Late 1984 (a little after the last original UK telecast of The Young Ones and before MTV’s first airing…chills run down knowing that it was another end of an era) were important events that said things were not going to last, so get them while you can. So when I caught the tail end of the Hardcore era as I was staying myself, absorbing it all that I could through writing for a friend’s fanzine and getting any job I can to actually get myself involved and learn in a way that Community College could never do, while thinking that it was going to last a little longer than it did.
Then it happens and you don’t know. Always works that way – although the final nail was struck when a drunk ran into the front of the Greystone (just West of where the Kramer used to be),,and I STILL did not notice! The Detroit Punk scene still thrived, but somehow things disconnected me from further involvement not to mention the fact that I was still living far away from the action and still needing something to help me live on my own. I had to move onward, but still having that fever to take what I learned from 1985-88 and use it for something good.
Punk, Adult Films, the discovery of the Underground, and the knowing that things never last although the best things will stay around to help tell the tale and having the love to tell a part of that tale for the future. It all fits somehow with that moment. All of this in the middle of the dying days of Exploitation that was by then all down to films watered down to the malls – that was the time of Friday the 13’th Part 7…don’t expect a review of that film any time soon here – while on the other end the Industrial scene was finding new ways to move into video music presentation, the Indies were usually stumbling but at least trying to keep up in both film and video, and the College and Art houses were all interested in what was extreme for that time.
My love of research led me to checking out film magazines including Psychotronc and Cult Movies and the edgy left of center music of the past while my love of Alternative Music and Computer journalism seriously never died – and I’m STILL interested even at my late stage! Still, it’s possible that without that show, and even going to the Rock for No Reason festival in ’87 (with a hint of the Death of the Drive In during a May, 87 visit to the Jesse James for a bleak hint of things to come…more later), I possibly would have never known what a good End of an Era is all about, the kind you don’t know about when it happens in front of your face being there but will when you track down what happened in your life and maybe one that will help you through some bad times growing up. Scene Readers know what the dark side is – seeing buildings you went to left to rot, watching a bland film aimed for the Malls (which in that time was plenty – note the Franchise effect of Horror), hearing a disappointing song, and even seeing good friends fall apart from your circle – but you have to have the good events as well to remind you why you’re around so that you can move on
To end, here’s a very fitting way to end this. In 1989, I bought the “Sabre Dance” single which was recorded a little after the show…possibly shortly after the infamous Greystone smash-up I witnessed from the stage area after a show. The moodiness of a song called “Nico” almost fitted a part of what was going on kind of lost in an 80’s gone too slick for me – it may sound different and like a raw attempt at something, but I still connected as I was just starting to get into The Velvet Underground and the voice that I loved but my friends made fun of passed away. My love of the VU’s music, which I’m sure I would have loved back in the day, always taught me to look for the alternatives before “They” get to them and my interest in going to Punk shows always taught me to keep my faith even if a trend happens, which it did when The Subs were picking up steam and fell while they were STILL around. Charlie Harper is STILL rocking today!
…and I’m still trying to whip up some new music on my computer as well…even after being in a couple of bands long ago! Still more on that later.
Sure, there would be more shows, but a turning of the tide in one scene to something that did not click which meant looking for some other kind of kicks had to happen for me to move onward while still keeping the past that helped form the base of The Scene that’s still in construction.
So what does this have to do with what I’m writing about in this blog…besides being an open letter to myself, of course.
When I first started The Scene, there was still a major interest in Cult movie DVDs and Exploitation thrills that would be found at the major stores…but that was when things were starting to fall. Now, you can’t get the discs at the stores like you used to, Classic Exploitation Movies now have an audience that’s down to the devoted, and some think that there’s no room for edgy entertainment, but I’m sure there’s others around that are using the new tech and the new promotion to make sure that there’s a new underground that will rose and fall just like all the rest. Eras fall and rise all the time, but you always have to keep one eye in the future while keeping one eye in the past to enjoy and educate.
Remember, this video was using the new tech back in the day. Some things age, but the great things stick around or stay the course through the changes. I will still be writing about these films long after tends come and go and The Subs, and in a way other bands like The Damned and the Subhumans, had been around long after the trends of their day came and went. Cool inspiration!
Just Keep On Running! (Or as the Great Kim Fowley – RIP – would say, Stay Teenage!)
It’s still kind of odd that a UK Subs show was that moment, but that’s the way things work sometimes.