September went a bit mad for my old Ripped & Torn past, as two events dusted it down and included it in their various retrospectives of punk and DIY culture.
The events were the launch of a book called ‘Fanzines’, authored by Teal Triggs and an exhibition of punk memorabilia – Loud Flash: British Punk On Paper – at a Mayfair art gallery curated by the fashion designer Toby Mott.
Press interest in the exhibition led to covers of Ripped & Torn being published in such mainstream papers as The Observer and Shortlist magazine (plus honourable mentions in many more). See these pages by clicking here or go to our photobucket gallery on your own steam and look in the ‘Nowadays’ album.
The book launch was held in the bowels of the London College of Communication at Elephant & Castle, and was well attended by a large crowd of mainly young and enthusiastic writers / designers / self-publishers.
I spoke with the author who told me that the art of fanzines is flourishing as new writers are reverting to the printed page more and more and she has never seen so much interest in the fanzine culture: both looking at the old and writing the new.
This KYPP site is mentioned in the book and Teal said, “the book shows how important your zine has been both in terms of content and also graphically. I certainly have enjoyed keeping up with things from your website”.
This event is written about here by Jeremy Leslie at Magculture.com, he also took the picture of Teal and myself.
Three days later was the private view of Loud Flash: British Punk On Paper, and after the LCC I wasn’t prepared for how posh was the Haunch Of Venison art gallery where the exhibition was being held: or how many people would be attending this event.
It was heaving, and heaving with the most significant people. We formed a punk corner with people like Spizz Oil and other fanzine writers, venturing out into the mass only to run into Adam Ant!
There’s an enormous amount of stuff on display – interestingly there are walls of both National Front and Rock Against Racism stuff showing that young Toby Mott had a grasp of the bigger picture of punk – well worth a visit. It’s free and on till 30th October, address: 6 Burlington Gardens W1S 3ET.
I behaved myself well enough at the private view to be invited to join a roundtable discussion about punk to be held the next week.
The roundtable discussion held on Wednesday 29th September at the Haunch of Venison Gallery turned out to be very interesting for those of us on the panel but not so sure what the invited audience made of it.
Peter, who wrote about punk in 1977 for Harpers and Queen and some of these pieces are in his book Style Wars, gave a picture of punk as middle class kids posturing as a form of art. “It was never working class kids from tower blocks”, was his view, and he coloured this in with several stories and anecdotes. Even worse his version of punk was that the first wave was the only wave and that soon these kids found something else to do which allowed them to dress up and be pretty.
I gave the continuing story, that 1977 and the emergence of bands such as The Lurkers, 999 and The Ants was when punk really began to mean something; how 1978 was the year of the Ant and the beginning of mass punk squatting; then the galvanisation of Crass and the evolution of anarcho punk through the eighties.
If I hadn’t been there it would have been the Peter York vision that was propounded, as Toby and the Haunch of Venison MC – Mark ? – were from that side of society and comfortable with that revisionist history. Indeed, toward the end the three of them eagerly supported the proposition put to the panel that Thatcher was a punk rocker as she supported the entrepreneur and the ‘little guy’!
If this site / blog hadn’t existed I would have instigated it at that moment.
Made me realise why Puppy is more important than Ripped & Torn, because what we did at the time – and are doing now – is to show in a positive manner that punk didn’t neatly ‘die’ when New Romantics came along. And no matter how people like Toby Mott show the wider picture – vis a vis the fascist / RAR stuff and materials up to and including Crass covers – punk is still too easily compartmentalized and stored away in Sex Pistol shaped boxes.
The discussion was filmed and it is hoped to have it available on either Youtube or Vimeo in the near future.
At the end a smartly dressed lady came over and introduced herself. It turned out she’d been to gigs at St John’s Church on Pentonville Road at the beginnings of anarcho. Which just goes to show something, she was of the Mayfair set and pally with the Tobys and the Peters yet she knew exactly where I was coming from and congratulated me on saying what I did. She too felt that this part of punk history was unfairly swept under the carpet. Goes to show something, but what I still can’t express.
The story continues. Housman’s bookshop have been given an evening at the ICA on October 21st and have asked me to do a bit of a talk there about punk and all that. Penguin should be there too. The acclaimed writer Stewart Home will also be on the stage, whether at the same time it’s hard to say. But it should be good.