Page 4-Saturday, April 12, 1980-The Michigan Daily
Punk: Behind the chopped-off hair and violence
SAN.FRANCISCO-Only one student ever
shocked Paul Ehrlich while he taught at
Tamalpais High School, and that was Susie
Deikman, when she turned punk.
Ehrlich would be viewed as hip rather than
straight by most people. He was close to
students who took psychedelics and rebelled
against the establishment in various ways. But
when he saw the change in, Susie-who was so
bright, talented, mature, as well as an ex-
cellent poet-he was stunned. "I realized I was
a different generation," he said. "I didn't un-
derstand it-and what's more, I didn't want to
THE BIG PUNK gathering this particular
Friday is in San Francisco's Temple Beautiful,
which is a landmark in recent cultural ar-
cheology. It is an old synagogue that once
housed a Black Muslim group, then became a
dance hall. It stands flanked on the east by the
old Fillmore Ballroom where the psychedelic
'60s were launched, and on the west by what,
until very recently, was Jim Jones' People's
Temple and has already become something
else: the Korean Central Presbyterian Church.
Inside, beneath the high dome where a few
lights still glow in the big Star of David, punks
are gathering, dressed like Charles Addams
characters celebrating some non-stop
Halloween, their thing young bodies in black
tights and graffiti-covered Salvation Army
shirts; heads and faces painted and dyed in
many colors; hair chopped, sliced off, shaved;
shoulders and arms adorned with chains and
leather; black fingernails; high heels.
SUSIE AND HER friend Marie Baar/ are
here, right up against the stage between the
two giant speakers. Their hearing is definitely
at stake; even in back of the balcony where we
sit, cotton ear plugs are necessary as the band
warms up with a grating sound.
Susie is readily recognizable because she
shaved her head yesterday. Marie's woolly
orange-red hairdo blooms nearby. Both are
wearing men's cotton shirts. Marie's is a plain
working blue, Susie's a bright red, magic-
markered all over with "obnoxious" and other
favorite words. Black tights, with short black
lacy minislips over them, and black heels com-
plete their outfits, which they have selected
with all the care of girls who follow Glamour in
choosing dresses for proms. .'
The band, No Alternative, staggers on stage,
heating and slamming instruments. The
featured singer is Johnny Genocide, a pale,
skinny lad with bleached blond hair who jerks
and twitches. He is the antithesis of Elvis
Presley, a denial of sex, expressing maybe the
effects of too much Thorazine, maybe of booze.
HE BERATES THE crowd, tosses lighted
cigarettes out into it, receives testimonials of
empty beer cans from below and flings them
On the wide floor the punks start to
move-shoving, elbowing, pushing each other
around, mock-fighting with fists in, their ver-
sion of dance. It seems oblivious to rhythm.
Occasionally, someone falls to the ground and
is dragged about by arms or feet, then allowed
to stagger off to the side benches.
These people do not hate each other; they are
just enjoying some simple body contact, Susie
and Marie will later explain.
BUT IF THE gestures are ambiguous, the
sounds get straight to me-angry, dissonant,
stressing the second beat in a rhythm that op-
poses the heart. My stomach constricts, the
dirty stained glass windows turn dim grey. I
feel anxious. The only release would be violent
motion. This is fun?
It takes me the whole next day to recover.
The startling thing about Susie and Marie in
person is that they are the most alert, positive,
funny, and imaginative people I have met in a
WE TALK IN the kitchen of Marie's mother's
old Victorian, where both at the moment
reside, having had enough, finally, of their
previous abode, a raunchy hotel where most
customers came for only an hour, in pairs, and
BEFORE THAT EACH had lived for a while
with a boyfriend but that had turned awful.
"Boys are so emotional," explains Susie,
"they're romantics and such babies.
Everything they do they overdo, and then they
want your help."
"So you don't think people should live
together?" I ask. "Not in a boyfriend-girlfriend
situation-not until they grow up," says Marie.
That they are too young for some experiences
is one of the discoveries Susie, 17, and Marie,
19, made since they left their life in affluent
Marin County-where there is plenty of space
for wholesome activity-and moved into the
seedy city punk scene in pursuit of the real and
SINCE THEN, WHILE their hair went
through various hues, they roamed streets at
hours and in places they had certainly been
By Rasa Gustaitis
cautioned against, talked with people they
would never have met back home, spent nights
drinking and not eating and trying heavy drugs
and getting sick. They had done a lot of wild
and weird and dangerous things.
They had done them for reasons similar to
those that drove other young people of their.
social station to become bohemians in Paris in
the '20s, created the beat generation in the '50s,
thing in a box. So they ask you questions: Who
are you? What are you?"
"You have to relate to people more nicely,"
adds Marie, "because people will be
"A lot of people get into punk because they
are looking for themselves, they want to be
challenged and experience abandon. The scene
lets you explore in a nurturing atmosphere,"
BUT ALL THIS sounds like zen, I observe.
Maries agrees. "When I was first reading
about punk rock in music magazines, I said,
looks like fighting, really isn't. But what about
those kids with safety pins through their
cheeks? I had been told: "We are sacrificing
our bodies so people will wake up to what
society is doing to us."
WELL, THEY SAID, there are things that area
done for attention and shock. "Both of us have
these icky scars on our arms," says Marie,
showing a jagged cut above the vein in her left
wrist. It was self-inflicted, but not in an attem-
pt at suicide, "to see if you have the power to
cut yourself and not be afraid of it," says Susie.
But a lot of people their age, do commit
suicide, I say. "Yes," says Marie, "and it's no
wonder. 'Cause you're told all over the place,
don't expect a future. Don't have children,
don't this and that. Our parents were told, 'Get.
married, live for the American dream."'
Some punks are also fascinated by war, and
are fans of such things as Soldiers of Fortune
magazine. "But they don't want to kill-they
just want to go into the jungle and survive,"
says Susie. "You want to be pushed to your
limits of physical survival."
FOR SUSIE AND Marie, the punk adven-
ture has a happy ending: both will be going on
to school next fall-Marie to San Francisco k
State University, to study "a lot of languages,"
Susie to a small Eastern school that allows you
to intern in careers of your choice. Daughter of
a psychiatrist, she plans to go on to study
In the process of their self-testing the friends
have discovered, for one thing, their parents.
Both moved out from home, then-having
established their breakaway through the punk
rite of passage-found they could return in
more adult roles.
They also discovered that too much sex could
be a bummer. So they invented "punk bun-
nies:" lots of people sleep together in one49
bed-but just to cuddle.
And the future? "We are the future," says
Marie. "And we should be having children,
with our attitudes, and bringing them up, I'm
not going to live to die."
"All the negative stuff, like Johnny Rotten
saying, 'No future,' that was to wake people
up," says Susie and quotes a slogan of the Sex
Pistols: "'We're the flowers in y'our dustbin."'
Rasa Gustaitis teaches journalism at the
University of California at Berkeley. She
wrote this article for the Pacific News Ser-
Vaily rhoto by MAUREEN O'MALLEY
THESE YOUNG PUNK rockers are two of thousands who have shunned society and turned to a
new subculture to search for meaning in their lives.
and the psychedelic culture in the '60s. Like the
punks, these earlier bohemians were mostly
middle or upper class white.
"It's kind of trying to break down some of
your barriers," explains Susie. "You explore
everything you're taught and find out where
you have conditioned responses. I want to
choose to believe what I believe. I like my ideas
to be thought out."
WHEN YOU LOOK highly peculiar, she says,
- "people don't go by appearances because they
get confused. They don't see 'pretty girl'-a
'God, this is just like Zen Buddhism.' They're
just taking the thin layer of dust off their eyes
Violence is, indeed, the edge upon which the
punk adventure moves. And that partly ex-
plains why Susie and Marie prefer booze and
scorn marijuana. With alcohol, "a show is
more fun because I don't care if the band isn't
that good," says Susie. Grass is "too subtle."
Grass also does not catalyze violence. Alcohol
They had explained that the dancing, which
rltu 4 eav r (p f EIditoriail Freedom'
Vol. XC, No. 153
News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students at the Universityiof Michigan
. "; - r
O NE CIVIL RIGHTS issue that
affects more white Americans
than just about any other is busing. It
is not just in cities that children have
been bused to school districts other
than their own, but in many suburbs as
well, where black populations are
In Ann Arbor, various integration
proposals are being considered, and
the plans seem to be moving forward
But desegregation busing plans are
not working very well in certain other
American locales. In Cleveland, a
federal district judge is considering
holding board of education members in
civil contempt for their lack of
cooperation. He might even put the
school system in receivership.
The opposition to integration is even
more malignant in the town of Wright-
sville, Georgia, where blacks and
whites haverrepeatedly clashed over
the issue in recent weeks. State
troopers have been on hand to quell the
Li a struggle
disturbances, but blacks have still
complained that armed white adults
were appearing at the schools.
The legal justification for busing is
found in the Fourteenth Amendment to
the Constitution, in the clause reading,
"No state shall ... deny to any person
within its jurisdiciton equal protection
of the laws."
Some conservatives point to the date
of the amendment's
ratification-1866-arguing that at that
,time, legislators approved of
segregated schools even as they voted
in favor of the amendment.
But society and its institutions have
changed in the interim, and our schools
have become a mainstay of our other
freedoms. The Supreme Court was
right to extend the provisions of the
Fourteenth Amendment to education.
Legal and law enforcement authorities
in Wrightsville, Cleveland, and
anywhere else segregation is being
hindered ought to see busing plans
through without delay.
Like all good Americans, I
have cut my spending by 2 per
cent to keep in line with the
President's new budget. To do
this, I had to cut out contributions
to church and charities-projec-
ts I support-but you have to
draw the line somewhere to beat
inflation. Yesterday, I decided to
see how the government's plan
was doing; I called my old; friend
Alvin D. Chipmunk, over at the
Treasury Department, and set an
"Hi, Russ. Good to see you
again," Alvin said.
"Looks like you lost a few
pounds, Alvin," I said as I took a
seat. "So tell me, how's the public
responding to the new economic
"NOT WELL," he answer--
ed. Then, leaning over his
desk and speaking in hushed
tones, "In fact, if you can keep it a
secret, right now I'm working on
a new plan: Operation Ty Cobb."
"I didn't know the President
was such a big baseball fan," I
"Oh, that has nothing to do with
it," he said. "Tell me, Russ, do
you know what the most popular
printed object in the U.S. is?"
"Greenbacks? Savings Bonds?
IT&T stock?" I replied.
"Wrong!" Alvin said.
"Baseball cards. We're going to
call in all the greenbacks and
exhange them for baseall cards,"
he said, his face a picture of
By Russ Meredith
"ALVIN, WHAT IN the world
makes you think the people will
support this idea?"
"We were worried about that at
first," Alvin said, "and so we had
a survey taken. According to our
Looney Harry poll, more people
would rather watch a baseball
game than a Presidential
"But what makes you think the
people will be willing to spend
"That's the real beautyof this
plan, Russ. One of the big
problems in the ecomony right
now is the low savings rate. But
here," he said, while reaching in-
to a desk drawer and pulling out a
dark blue plastic case, "look at
this mint set of Ruth, Mays, and
Mantle. Face value is about five
bucks, but who'd spend them on a
Big Mac, Coke, and fries?"
"I CAN SEE your point, Alvin.
They're really something fresh
from the mint. But people are
used to seeing pictures of
presidents on money..."
"Look closely at the end of
Ruth's bat. See that smile?"
"Ah, yes, I missed it at first," I
said. "But. what about other
nations? What will they say?"
"The Japanese are
thrilled-those people are the
biggest ball fans in the world; the
Arabs love the idea of a currency
that the U.S. people will support;
and as for Canada, well you don't
think those pro ball teams in
Montreal and Canada were ac-
cidents, do you?"
"VERY CLEVER," I replied.
"But what about the
"They want equality for soccer
cards. We're .working on ex-
change rates right now."
"OK, I'll buy that," I said,. "but
how will I know how much money
I'm holding? Shortstop is $20, fir-
st baseman is $10, or what?" I
"No, we'll be doing it based on
team standings as of the last time
Atlanta was in first place. Hen-
derson is over at the Baseball
Hal of Fame looking up the date
now." Then looking at his watch,
"I've got to get these proof sets
over to the Congressional leader-
ship," he said as he pointed to,
several cartons on his desk. "But
here, take this set as a gift," he
said, walking me to the door and
putting a sealed plastic box in my
hand. "I was going to give it to.
my son, but I egan get another
"Thanks," I said, as I put the
box in mypocket. "But I'm still
worried about how this will
"Don't worry, Russ. The
President approved this plan last
week while he was pruning roses.
He's sure it'll work."
Russ Meredth is a senior
majoring in political science
LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
ECB lecturer defen
WHY Pf)NT YOU
-Ic P6FeNSE $UP&C-T
WELL, IT WOULD NAVE BEEN
To the Daily:
In the March 11 edition of the
Daily a letter to the editor
claimed that an English Com-
position Board (ECB) lecture
"destroyed students' bodies and
souls" by encouraging them not
to read the material, but to make
an impression on the instructor.
The letter, based solely on a
student review of the February 21
lecture in the February 22 Daily,
reflected the author's un-
familiarity with both the lecture
and the English Composition
The ECB has been mandated
by the LSA faculty to improve the
quality of undergraduate writing
on the Ann Arbor campus. ECB
faculty see writing as a process
through which students learn
about the subject matter of cour-
ses. In their writing tutorials,
ECB faculty members teach
organization, development, and
clarity; in the Writing Workshop,
they address individual students'
needs. The ECB faculty is a
necessarily protean group,
responding to the demands of a
diverse student body: the senior
who asks for criticism of her
market analysis requires a dif-
ferent type of instruction than the
freshman who must write a paper
on Plato but is having difficulty
beginning the assignment.
The February 21 lecture
resembled a Writing Workshop
session. Forty students, concer-
ned about taking essay exams,
attended. The lecturer began
with a stated assumption that
students had completed assigned
readings, attended course lec-
tures, and studied their lecture
notes in preparation for their
exams. Her advice to students
was uncomplicated: get together
with your friends, formulate your
questions, divide your readings,
and discuss your answers with
the group; her suggested method
for taking an exam was equally
straightforward: read your
exam, organize your time, plan
your answers, and proofread.
There was nothing "chilling"
about this lecture. There was
nothing subversive. The number
of questions at the end of the
presentation would seem to in-
dicate that University students
need more lectures on the
organization of their ideas for
essay exams. Although Mr.
Silberstein's concern for
meaningful education is
laudatory, in this case she ha
made a hasty generalizatio
based upon an imperfect under-
standing. Her observations would
be more welcome if she were to
take the trouble to educate her-
self in the work of the ECB.
peppy, preppy, and overly right-
wing to wear red, white, and blue
ito, show some much needed
spirit?.... We don't think so.
It is your responsibility to
recognize that there are still
people who love and respect this
country. Our rally was not pro-
nuke or pro-draft, it was pro-
MOW THAT? . .
LOIG OE51 CSLYAD H
Greek rally i
To the Daily:
Protest, Protest, Protest! That
is all we ever hear from The
Michigan Daily. It is incon-
ceivable to us that you com-
pletely ignored such a positive
and patriotic celebration as the
All-American Day Rally, held in
conjunction with Greek Week on
Chapin review blasted
makes his audiences feel as if