Monday, May 2, 2011

Dirt City Graphic

The Nigaraguan revolt against Somoza has been called the revolution of poets. Although, words alone have never won battles, what really made Somoza's ass pucker up was when those poets took up guns and started to fight. The timing of the Sandanista uprising coincided with the rise of punk rock music both in England and the U.S.A.  Although, the perspective was quite different in each country. In the U.K. it was mostly viewed as a heroic struggle against oppression, here it was just a bunch of commies fucking with the status quo. There's a 1980 British rockumentary called Rude Boys, that tells the story of a Clash fan who becomes a roadie for the band. In one scene Ray (the fan) questions Joe Strummer on why he wears a t-shirt that says Brigate Rossi (Red Brigade) Joe explains that it's not a fashion statement, but a political declaration. Ray who leans more to the right, is not buying it and he soon becomes disenchanted with  Joe Strummer's leftist rhetoric.
The Clash, to their credit were the first of several U.K. bands that used their fame as a platform to try and push their respective causes. Wherein Tom Robinson pushed gay rights, Bob Geldof (The Boomtown Rats) and Midge Ure (The Rich Kids, Ultravox) focused on famine relief and anti-poverty. For The Clash political awareness and education became their calling cards. They were the musical version of the poets with guns who drove Somoza from power. The bloated dino-rock bands that they brought down were in their own way just as entrenched as Somoza's corrupt regime. The Clash, unlike other first wave punk bands, were for real, and not the cartoon creation of some sick twisted fuck like Malcolm McLaren. They spoke for my generation, or at least a significant minority. Now everyone acts like they were on to punk from day one. They weren't, in the early days, say 1976-77, you risked your health and reputation by being associated with the music. Those safety pins, razor blades and mohawks often came with a heavy price. I found myself on the peripheral, I was into the music not the uniform, since I was in the Air Force, conformity had already been beaten into me. Nonetheless, I can still hear my ex-girlfriend's sister yelling "Don't let him pick the music, he'll just play that punk rock shit"  She had me pegged right, punk rock ruined everything else I had ever listened to. The Stones, Springsteen, Bowie, Dylan, and most of all, Led Zeppelin. That music was never the same again, I would listen to it and all I heard was the flaws.