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LA Punks: A TV News investigation from 1983

In 1983, KTTV Channel 11 News aired a series of reports on Punk Rock and “punkers” in Los Angeles area. It’s a fascinating over-view of the West Coast Punk bands, people and fashions, though at times veers into self-parody, as reporter Chris Harris pitches his story with all the earnestness of an Alan Partridge, who thinks he’s uncovered a Pulitzer-winning scoop of teenage “violence, abuse and self-destruction”, only to find it’s all just a bit of fun.

Harris kicks off his 5-part investigation with a look at a riot in Mendiola’s Ballroom, explaining what happened and asking that always pertinent question:

“Did the police use excessive force?”

I think we know the answer to that. Three cheers then, for Harris as he states quite categorically that violence was the exception and not the norm with “punkers”.

Listening to some of these young people talk, one could almost imagine they were talking about current events and OWS, as they discuss hopes for change, and that “the world will get better.” Plus ca change…

The series includes rarely seen footage of many of LA’s punk bands, and has interviews the likes of Spit Stix and Lee Ving of Fear, Keith Morris of Circle Jerks, Nick Lamagna and Felix Alanis from RF7.
Also, look out for a young Flea, seen here just prior to his quitting Fear and joining the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The whole of the KTTV Channel 11 News investigation of Punk, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Circle Jerks live on TV 1985
09:48 pm


Circle Jerks

Circle Jerks on late night TV show Rock Palace in 1985.

Founding members Keith Morris (in Michael Jackson drag) and Greg Hetson are joined by Chuck Biscuits on drums and Earl Liberty on bass.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Where slamming in the pit began: Southern California’s notorious Cuckoo’s Nest
10:53 pm


Black Flag
Circle Jerks
The Cuckoo's Nest

Urban Struggle tells the tale of notorious Southern California punk club the Cuckoo’s Nest. In the early 1980s, the Costa Mesa venue hosted seminal punk and hardcore bands from The Ramones and The New York Dolls to local heroes like TSOL, The Circle Jerks, Fear and Black Flag. The club was the first to have a slam pit and was a magnet for cops and punk haters. The fact that it shared a parking lot with a honky tonk didn’t help.

This 1981 video has long been out-of-print, but a new documentary, We Were Feared, which covers the same scene and bands is soon to be released by Endurance Pictures. Consider this a long teaser. Some great footage of legendary bands.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Rage: 20 years of punk rock, West Coast style

(Germs from left to right: Pat Smear, Lorna Doom, Darby Crash and Don Bolles)
Back in 2000, I vaguely remember the documentary Rage: 20 Years of Punk Rock, West Coast Style coming out, but never caught up with it—my gut told me it wasn’t gonna be no Decline!  (plus, doesn’t the math seem off?  2000 - 20 only equals, like,  what…1980?)  Anyhoo, thanks to YouTube, I can now present to you a few of its highlights.

First up, here’s Germs drummer Don Bolles discussing singer Darby Crash’s well known fascination with both Nietzsche and Scientology:

Next up, here’s Dead Kennedy‘s frontman Jello Biafra discussing how it felt to be first a witness then a player in San Francisco’s exploding punk scene:

Bonus clips: The Circle Jerks’ Keith Morris, T.S.O.L.‘s Jack Grisham

Bonus Germs: Lexicon Devil, live @ The Whisky, 1979

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment