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1991: The Year Punk Broke
September 15, 2007 11:16 PM   Subscribe

"When youth culture becomes monopolized by big business, what are the youth to do? I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture...the first step to do is destroy the record companies." 1991: The Year Punk Broke
posted by TrialByMedia (81 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hey! I'm in the process of destroying my own record company... I must be a real post-punk!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:43 PM on September 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, I first saw this ten years ago. It's a fucking great documentary.
posted by mullingitover at 11:44 PM on September 15, 2007


what on earth is "youth culture", anyway, other than a bunch of music & fashion marketed by corporations?

youth is not a culture. it's only a stage in life when people are extra-susceptible to buying crap in an attempt to fit in, assert individuality, or both.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:03 AM on September 16, 2007 [9 favorites]


@UbuRoivas: Shhh! Keep it down, you're going to stop them from buying stuff.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:21 AM on September 16, 2007


Attention killjoys: Just watch. You'll understand. Or you won't.
posted by basicchannel at 12:36 AM on September 16, 2007


This looks great, but I have no idea what this has to do with "punk." Punk died somewhere around 1980 or so. Nirvana, not punk, Sonic Youth, not music, much less punk.
posted by caddis at 12:44 AM on September 16, 2007


A dance. A dance. A fucky-wucky dance.

Here's a wikipedia entry describing the film.
1991: The Year Punk Broke is a 1992 documentary directed by Dave Markey. It showcases a number of punk and alternative rock bands on tour in Europe in late 1991. The documentary focuses primarily on Sonic Youth and Nirvana but also gives attention to bands Dinosaur Jr, Babes in Toyland, Gumball and The Ramones. Also featured in the film are Mark Arm, Dan Peters and Matt Lukin of Mudhoney, Courtney Love, and Joe Cole, who was killed in a robbery three months after the tour ended. The film is dedicated to him.
posted by pracowity at 1:03 AM on September 16, 2007


The year punk broke my heart.
posted by churl at 1:18 AM on September 16, 2007


what on earth is "youth culture", anyway, other than a bunch of music & fashion marketed by corporations?

Presumably that's how it looks when you're always late to the party. However, most of the meaningful youth cultures have actually originated with kids themselves, adopting their own styles, making or appropriating their own music long before the marketers have any clue what's happening and can sell it back to the geek kids and the American market.

By the time that happens, the scene is generally dead anyway.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:46 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, i ain't even gonna bother to click that.

While my high school friends were listening to Nirvana and Minor Threat, i was rocking Michael Jackson, Ace of Base, Madonna, Duran Duran, and Men Without Hats.

The strange thing is.... i'm mostly straight.
posted by ELF Radio at 1:51 AM on September 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Attention killjoys: Just watch. You'll understand. Or you won't.

(actually, this clears up a minor mystery: i linked elsewhere sonic youth's *schizophrenia* & the youtube comment was "the year punk broke" - this made as much sense to me as it did to caddis, above)
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:56 AM on September 16, 2007


Punk never died, but the assertion that it did does demonstrate the utter unhipness of the asserter. "Punk is dead" is a good "I don't know what I'm talking about" barometer in that regard.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:13 AM on September 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Good times, good times.

(I may not have gotten to the part of the documentary yet where they make points. But I am keenly remembering high school.)
posted by salvia at 2:27 AM on September 16, 2007


Oh, this 1991 musician just issued a dared to the future (11:30-12:04). He said fuck all you guys. Are you just going to take that?
posted by salvia at 2:31 AM on September 16, 2007


Punk was dead by 1981
posted by A189Nut at 4:48 AM on September 16, 2007


what on earth is "youth culture", anyway

It killed my dog.

And I don't think it's fair.
posted by Grangousier at 5:04 AM on September 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


Your mother is punk. Punk is dead, not dead, punk never existed, and is alive and well today, who gives a fuck? The point is that this film contains the best version of Dirty Boots ever recorded.
posted by psmealey at 5:06 AM on September 16, 2007


Watch purely for Nirvana going crazy with fruit backstage.

Also, what psmealey said about Dirty Boots.
posted by Jimbob at 5:15 AM on September 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Punk never died...

It's been said before--Hippy was ten years old when punk broke out in 1977. Thirty fucking years later one still sees kids in mohawks, Doc Martens, torn t-shirts and red plaid pants with extra zippers up here on Broadway. It's a uniform now--like wearing your underwear on the outside so the world will know you are a mental patient. Punk never died ? Yeah, like Frankenstein never died. Life, death, shamefully electrified corpse.
posted by y2karl at 6:08 AM on September 16, 2007


Yeah..

But daddy's little girl is a girl no more!
posted by Pendragon at 6:20 AM on September 16, 2007


Thirty fucking years later one still sees kids in mohawks, Doc Martens, torn t-shirts and red plaid pants with extra zippers up here on Broadway.

Yeah, but they buy all that shit at Urban Outfitters now. Back in our day (, maaaaan), we had to make that stuff ourselves or else scour the vintage and bondage clothing stores for it, and risk getting pummeled for the effort.

I guess there's a fine line between maintaining a subculture, and just conforming to what your friends do. And the relative ease (and lack of threat of physical violence) that comes with donning the uni today pushes it much closer to the latter.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 6:20 AM on September 16, 2007


Back in our day (, maaaaan), we had to make that stuff ourselves or else scour the vintage and bondage clothing stores for it

Well, those of us who couldn't afford to shop at Seditionaries, anyway.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:40 AM on September 16, 2007


Back in our day (, maaaaan), we had to make that stuff ourselves or else scour the vintage and bondage clothing stores for it, and risk getting pummeled for the effort.

And, like wow, maaaaan, that was, like, so different than the hippie experience. Sort of like night and night, ya dig ?
posted by y2karl at 6:41 AM on September 16, 2007


Night and night, but one with the stench of patchouli.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 6:46 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


But, you're right, there's probably not much difference between the punks, the hippies, the beats, and whomever it was came before the beats. Just thinking that today's "punks" seem less like ideological descendants of these past groups than they are kids playing dress up.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 6:52 AM on September 16, 2007


Similar, at least, insofar as the vintage stores and pummeling were concerned. Now the threat of physical violence to the average stylin' young person is getting crushed to death when cool hunters stampede.
posted by y2karl at 6:54 AM on September 16, 2007


Punk never died, but the assertion that it did does demonstrate the utter unhipness of the asserter.

you say that like it's a BAD thing - hipness quit being valuable or definable a long time ago

in fact, it was one of the things punk was trying to get rid of
posted by pyramid termite at 6:56 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't forget the freak scene performance!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:06 AM on September 16, 2007


the first step to do is destroy the record companies

But what about the songs on my iPod?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:12 AM on September 16, 2007


Thurston Moore: "I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture...the first step to do is destroy the record companies."

Now, let's see, was that before ol' Thurston signed his little combo to Geffen Records or after? Oh, no, wait! I get it! He was being ironic!

He was already too old to be walking around with his hair in his eyes and a backwards baseball cap on, though.

Nirvana was fun. Cobain, of course, sounded great. I was bummed when they did that trashing of the drum kit, though. Man, that's some dumb shit. Give the drums to some kid who'd play 'em, Kurt! And anyway, hey, the Who had already done that... what was the fuckin' point?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:17 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dead, not dead. That's for trendmongers. I still have the records to listen to, the stories to hear. That's what matters.
posted by jonmc at 7:24 AM on September 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


"But, you're right, there's probably not much difference between the punks, the hippies, the beats, and whomever it was came before the beats. Just thinking that today's "punks" seem less like ideological descendants of these past groups than they are kids playing dress up."

The mohawk/safety pin crowd is a very small outcropping of the modern punk scene. I mean, to act like the mohawk is some barometer of punk just shows how little you know about it.

Bad Religion never did the mohawks, neither did Fugazi, nor At the Drive-In. Punk fragmented on the lines of the early scene as well; The Clash's political aspect is a major part, as is the Sex Pistols nihilism and The Ramones silliness; the Buzzcocks wrote love songs and some punk bands still do that.

The music has evolved and changed and incorporated infliuences but that's exactly what it was meant to do.

If anything, the statement "punk is dead" almost always implies that "punk is dead (for me)" which is fine, but to assume that your lack of interest suggests a lack of existence is awfully arrogant. Of course, maybe you read George Berkeley and thought he was on to something.
posted by aubin at 7:36 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Haven't seen this since 1993, thanks for the link!

I'm sure glad that punk broke - had it not, we might have had to suffer through a decade of corporate puppets with a light "alternative" veneer (Candlebox, Silverchair, Better than Ezra) - thanks, punks!
posted by porn in the woods at 7:38 AM on September 16, 2007


Considering that contemporary punks are modeling themselves after a music and a look that peaked about 1981, how are they significantly different from Civil War reenactors, who also dress themselves in the clothes and participate in the behaviors of the past?

I think they're cute, though; they're like a wax museum that sneers and attempts to bum change off you to buy crappy beer.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:54 AM on September 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Or maybe some of them just like wearing the clothes. Not verything is a Big Statement.
posted by jonmc at 8:01 AM on September 16, 2007


Whenever I saw "punks" on St. Mark's Place (& I'm talking about the past four years) begging for change, I always thought how not punk rock that was and there was half a chance they were riding the Metro-North home to mommy's house anyway.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:05 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I mean, to act like the mohawk is some barometer of punk just shows how little you know about it.

You know what else is ignorant? Trying to string together a few small and largely unrelated points posted by variety of different users in an effort to construct one imaginary user that you hope to defeat rhetorically.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 8:14 AM on September 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Punks in the original sense of the word , were the sort of people who were such hopeless losers that they couldn't even be convincing as outlaws; far from romanticizing that status, the Ramones glorified their own inadequacy....and yet they were genuinely sexy,too; in spite of everything they were cool." - Tom Carson

That's kind of what punk (in the Ramones/Dictators/Blondie sense) always was to me, not the fashions, or the politics or the cliquishness that bled into it later on, just the freedom to embrace your own mediocrity and weirdness.
posted by jonmc at 8:18 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Punk died somewhere around 1980 or so.

Guess you were a teenager sometime around then, right? And you just happened to be around when punk was 'alive'? And these kids today don't know what punk is, right?

Funny how everything relevant just happened to have happened when one was young, no?
posted by signal at 8:24 AM on September 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


i'm huuuungry...
and i want a pig's head.
can anyone tell me where i can get a pig's head?
cuz i'm huuuungry dammit.
posted by brevator at 8:25 AM on September 16, 2007


Whenever I saw "punks" on St. Mark's Place begging for change, I always thought how not punk rock that was

Dee Dee Ramone used to suck cocks on 12th avenue for beer money. Now, THAT'S fucking punk rock. Panhandling, not so much.
posted by psmealey at 8:43 AM on September 16, 2007


He tried, but he's the one they never pick...
posted by jonmc at 8:45 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a well-known fact that, when they were not performing, Bad Brains would rob banks and kill all the tellers, just to demonstrate how punk they were.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:57 AM on September 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Funny how everything relevant just happened to have happened when one was young, no?

Everything relevant, meaningful, unsullied, honorable, honest, significant, right and true happed when one was young.

Generational identity is a powerful thing: each believes it improved on it's predecessors having invented real truthiness, good sex, and great music - and goes on to believe those who followed settled for a reduced, less genuine, derivative, less meaningful path somehow burning less bright.

Punk is dead in that it's long since left the sole preserve of unmarried, un-mortgaged, child-free teenagers and twenty-somethings.
posted by scheptech at 8:57 AM on September 16, 2007


And these kids today don't know what punk is, right?

i could be wrong, but i suspect they don't care - in fact, i have the funny feeling that people like joanna newsom are this generation's "punk"

all i know is there sure are a lot of harpists and odd folk singers popping up these days
posted by pyramid termite at 8:59 AM on September 16, 2007


Generational identity is a powerful thing: each believes it improved on it's predecessors having invented real truthiness, good sex, and great music - and goes on to believe those who followed settled for a reduced, less genuine, derivative, less meaningful path somehow burning less bright.

Not me. I'm probably a good decade younger than everyone else here and I assure you all, lest you think you're just romanticizing, my generation really does suck.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 9:08 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


From SEX to Hot Topic - quite a ride, eh?
posted by davebush at 9:43 AM on September 16, 2007


I think I saw this when it came out. Is this the one where they go "punk's like this" and then he plays plays a little riff, and says "but if you slow it down a little and play it backwards... tada grunge!"

Because I'd like to see that one part if it's in here, without having to watch the whole thing.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:53 AM on September 16, 2007


i could be wrong, but i suspect they don't care - in fact, i have the funny feeling that people like joanna newsom are this generation's "punk"

all i know is there sure are a lot of harpists and odd folk singers popping up these days


True story. I'm part of this "younger generation" and while a lot of us still listen to punk music as music it doesn't have much significance beyond that. Alt-gypsy-psycho-folk or whatever hyphenated genre is big right now, though, that's where it's at.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:45 AM on September 16, 2007


And these kids today don't know what punk is, right?

i could be wrong, but i suspect they don't care - in fact, i have the funny feeling that people like joanna newsom are this generation's "punk"

all i know is there sure are a lot of harpists and odd folk singers popping up these days
posted by pyramid termite at 8:59 AM on September 16 [+] [!]


I DIDN'T FIGHT IN THE PUNK WARS SO JOANNA NEWSOM WOULD BE POPULAR!!!
posted by basicchannel at 10:45 AM on September 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


Is this the one where they go "punk's like this" and then he plays plays a little riff, and says "but if you slow it down a little and play it backwards... tada grunge!"

That's actually from Hype!, the documentary about the late 80s/early 90s Seattle scene.
posted by psmealey at 11:07 AM on September 16, 2007


my generation really does suck.

Then you really are punk rock... because that was our mantra too, 20 years ago, as well as the mantra of the "real" punks that came ten years before us.
posted by psmealey at 11:08 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


New affectations are created by people with too much free time and then sold to people with too much money. These days, no one has more time and money than young people. So we have youth culture. When the people with the time and money were French aristocrats, you got French aristocratic culture.

Culture is a function of wealth and leisure. Elaborate costumes, whether punk or Parisian, join music and art as hopelessly bourgeoisie dalliances.

The anger you feel about the commodification of your subculture is the anger of elites whose distinction is being democratized.
posted by Ictus at 11:16 AM on September 16, 2007 [11 favorites]


I graduated high school in 1987. I distinctly remember the difference between punk and hardcore. Punk was the seventies, hardcore was the eighties. Hardcore had its roots in punk, but it wasn't punk. It was fast. It was sloppy. It was all about DIY. It was 7seconds, JFA, Doggy Style, MDC, Bad Brains, Naked Raygun, the Misfits, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, The Dicks, NOFX, Dead Kennedys, TSOL, Minor Threat, Angry Samoans, Big Boys, and a thousand other bands. I never really considered Sonic Youth or Nirvana or Dinosaur Jr. to be punk.
posted by Sailormom at 11:22 AM on September 16, 2007


I really like MIA's new album.

*wanders off*
posted by jokeefe at 11:50 AM on September 16, 2007


Just, you know, in case people are wondering what happened to punk.

Seriously.
posted by jokeefe at 11:51 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Punk is dead, and it was never "hip". That's the part you don't get.
There has been good and bad music since, and a lot of it traces it's roots back to that very short period when punk was around.
But only a loser who learns about music from Rolling Stone and Spin would think Nirvana or Green Day is punk.
Kids today who thing they are punks are pathetic.
The grown ups are worse.
posted by 2sheets at 11:58 AM on September 16, 2007


I was four when this documentary came out.

That is all.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 12:00 PM on September 16, 2007


Yeah, I loved me some Hardcore in the early 90's.

Hardcore Uproar!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:13 PM on September 16, 2007


some advice: forget the word punk and all of the irritating dogmatic arguments it brings up and just enjoy the damn movie.
posted by TrialByMedia at 12:46 PM on September 16, 2007


Your favorite definition of punk sucks.
posted by psmealey at 1:47 PM on September 16, 2007


Huh. I always thought the "punk" part of the title was kind of tongue-in-cheek.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:55 PM on September 16, 2007


Your favorite definition of punk sucks.
posted by psmealey at 4:47 PM on September 16


perfectly captures this thread
posted by caddis at 1:56 PM on September 16, 2007


Boy, I always considered punk to be a genre of music. What an idiot! Reading this thread, I've found out that it's actually 600,000 different social movements, all occurring at different times in different places, with diametrically (you know, in a 600,000-side polygonal diagram) opposed goals, all being exactly the opposite of one another. Punk: it's something!
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:45 PM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


the Who had already done that... what was the fuckin' point?

The point is not having to do some bullshit walk-off/encore.
posted by Reggie Digest at 4:00 PM on September 16, 2007


The point is not having to do some bullshit walk-off/encore.

Oh, I see. Stick it to the man! And, yeah, giving the audience something they want is soooo uncool.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:56 PM on September 16, 2007


I'll have to go with the Supreme Court with this one. The only way to define punk is that you know it when you see it.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 7:21 PM on September 16, 2007


Punk
posted by tighttrousers at 7:53 PM on September 16, 2007


True punks never die. Nor do they ever stop having the same debates about what constitutes "true punk" that they started back in high school. Nor do those debates ever cease to seem ironically tight-assed and dogmatic. But really, when you're at a point where you're worried about your mortgage and seeing your kids off to...um...high school, maybe it's time to start fretting about something...else?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:23 PM on September 16, 2007


Schrödinger's Punk: you don't know if it's dead or not until you open the box

and it punches you in the face, if it's still alive
posted by davejay at 9:05 PM on September 16, 2007


Punk was a style of music, but more importantly it was a reaction to the stasis in the music industry at the time. Sure, there remain bands that play music in that style (although the grunge bands did not), but they merely make a noise like punk. There is no hegemony in rock any more against which an iconoclastic group can rebel. The music is too fragmented, and is far less regimented into the huge, but boring, power pop icons against which punk rebelled. Punk now is just one more genre, a sound, nothing more, and a not very important one either. The punk movement of the late 70's was important as it revitalized rock and roll. A lot of the punk was truly horrid, but the best of it was stupendously creative and fun. It was never about the safety pins and mohawks, that crap was just window dressing. Only hip hop is the kind of music today that the punks rebelled against in the 70's. Perhaps we will see a punk like rebellion against the bloated carcass of the once great, now dated, hip hop industry. (Yes, I know that there are alternative hip hop bands out there but since no one listens to them but you and your two friends who cares)
posted by caddis at 9:07 PM on September 16, 2007




Punk rock died when the first kid said, "Punk's not dead."
posted by mr_roboto at 9:46 PM on September 16, 2007


Running someone over is worth 3 points -- doing it while passed out on nitrous-oxide: 10.
posted by ogre at 10:40 PM on September 16, 2007


...who exactly is the "you" who has no idea what punk rock is really about?

Is it... me?
posted by From Bklyn at 1:02 AM on September 17, 2007


punk's not dead, it just deserves to die when it becomes another stale cartoon.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:27 AM on September 17, 2007


I really like MIA's new album.

Just, you know, in case people are wondering what happened to punk.


Punk?
posted by liquorice at 6:03 AM on September 17, 2007


That's as dead on as anything, liquorice.

There probably are some vestiges of punk out there, but they long since have moved past guitar driven rock and into hip hop, electronica, or some other form to be identified. The bands that self-identify as punk/hardcore these days (My Chemical Romance, Fallout Boy, Green Day, Blink182 (if they're still around), etc.) are probably closer to what Aerosmith and the Eagles were in the 1970s than the Damned, the Dictators or the Clash.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 6:12 AM on September 17, 2007


The original Sex Pistols will reunite for a one-off London gig to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols.
Punk never died, but the assertion that it did does demonstrate the utter unhipness of the asserter. "Punk is dead" is a good "I don't know what I'm talking about" barometer in that regard.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:13 AM on September 16


gee, I guess you actually do know what you are talking about, and here I thought you were deluded the whole time, when instead you were merely prescient. ;)
posted by caddis at 9:17 PM on September 18, 2007


liquorice: no.

MIA's prodigious lack of talent is kinda punk, but expensive video clips don't really fit into the DIY / don't give a fuck ethos.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:08 AM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


The original Sex Pistols will reunite for a one-off London gig to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols.

God bless the Sex Pistols. One thing that was clear to me when I saw them on their first reunion tour -- which was corroborated by Mick Jones and Joe Strummer years after the fact despite denying it back in the day -- was that they were pretty damn good musicians, despite whatever "I don't give a fuck" posturing that they were doing. The same went for the truly great and memorable hardcore bands like Bad Brains, Black Flag, the Minutemen, Minor Threat and the Circle Jerks. But there's a reason bands like Catholic Guilt, JFA, MDC, and 7 Seconds are not well remembered, and it mostly has to do with that.
posted by psmealey at 4:40 AM on September 19, 2007


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