Ask me anything
Man, I can’t get my daughter to go to a show with me to save my life.
CIRCLE JERKS THE FARTZ @ THE SHOWBOX FLYER SEATTLE 1982
This post isn’t gonna do anything to improve my standing as a cool guy but it’s guaranteed to send my mom’s coolness portfolio through the roof.
I pulled this flyer off the side of a derelict building in Seattle in 1982. I’d seen it there from the window of a bus I was riding on. Upon catching a glimpse of it I immediately rang the bell, got off the bus and doubled back to grab it. This wasn’t because I wanted to learn about an upcoming show but rather because I wanted a memento of a show I’d already seen. A show that changed my life because (I think) it was the first Punk show I went to.
I’d been a teenager a for all of a couple months when I saw this show listed in the calendar section of The Rocket, Seattle’s hip, free, bi-weekly paper at the time. I’d missed a couple Punk shows that I’d been aware of in the preceding months but this was the one I knew I had to get to come hell or high water.
The Circle Jerks Group Sex LP was in constant and very heavy rotation at my house and I couldn’t bear the thought of missing this chance to see them live. There were a few little problems standing between me and my dream however…I didn’t have a cent, I was living in Tacoma, and the show was on 1st Ave in Seattle!
If you’re familiar with Seattle I should probably explain that this was not the 1st Ave of today, teeming with families and tourists. This was also not the Showbox at the Market as the theater is known today (a legit venue that features top-tier acts and sometimes plays host to corporate events). Back in ‘82 The Showbox was a bare-bones, dilapidated old ballroom that looked and smelled like its best days had been located somewhere in the Jazz age.
1st Avenue was a very sketchy stretch of downtown that at the time was ruled by a gang of tough street kids who hung around the center of vice in the area, a place with a name that suggests it was a heart of darkness, a place called: The Donut Hole. The “Donut Holer’s” as the gang was known, were notorious among the Punks I knew in Seattle for terrorizing everyone, but especially Punks. These ne’er-do-wells were just one color in the palette of menace that I understood 1st Ave to be.
All that would’ve been okay with me if my mom hadn’t also known about the reputation of the place just as well as I did. When I told her I needed a ride to the show when we visited my grandparents that weekend she told me there was no way on Earth she was going to drop her kid off on 1st Ave. on a Saturday night to go to see a “Punk Rock” band. This was simply out of the question.
Being the very cool, very supportive, woman she was then and still is now, upon seeing the utter dejection and desperation written in every inch of my small frame she said she’d let me and my brother go to the show on one condition: she’d have to come along with us.
I was completely aware of how utterly uncool and at odds with my Punk Rock fantasies this idea was. I was also a realist and I knew that my show-going fantasies were going to stay fantasies if I didn’t take her up on her (looking back now, wildly selfless and very generous) offer. I accepted her offer on the spot. So did my brother.
In the interest of giving my mom her full, undiluted due and maybe even as a way of etching her name in the temple of all-time Punk heroes, I should make a couple things clear.
This wasn’t a time when well-to-do Yuppies had neck tattoos, the songs of The Stooges weren’t used to sell Volkswagens, and only women and guys in The Castro district of San Francisco had pierced ears. What I’m saying is: Punk Rock was not a well-known, culturally accepted thing at this time. Most parents if they knew anything about it were terrified and or disgusted by the idea of it. This wasn’t Warped Tour U.S.A. and Punk Rock was to say the least, very edgy.
It should also be said that my mom wasn’t a counter-culture maven, biker mama, barfly, or burnout. She worked almost all her life as a librarian, educator, and library administrator. She was and still is a voracious reader, a kind soul, and is a fine upstanding citizen.
She listens to Classical music.
However this night in 1982 she put on a pair of engineer boots, a Motorhead t-shirt, tucked in her jeans, and listened to and watched The Fartz bash out their brand of political thrash before the Circle Jerks came out a blew everyone away with their super-charged kinetic insanity.
She got the fact that most of the violence we saw was ritualistic, she could appreciate the creativity of people’s attire, and she was impressed with the energy and abandon displayed by both the bands and the crowd. In short, she wasn’t freaked out and she understood why I was into what I was into.
I’d be lying if I told you that after seeing what Punk was all about that night she let me go to the next show by myself. She didn’t. That’s why I can say today that my mom has more old school Punk Rock cred than most of you: she saw T.S.O.L., FEAR, X, The U-Men, and Code of Honor in 1982 ferchrissakes! I was there too and I’m still jealous of her!
So next time you see a librarian “shush” a table of Punks in the library, it might not be because they’re being too loud for her, it might just be because she thinks they’re talking out their a—es about some sh-t they don’t know about!
Circle Jerks flyer from my personal archives.