Between Punk & Grunge, a Narrative

Punk_Grunge“We’re a bunch of jackasses, and we’ve got Our Own Damn Gallery!”

That was my best friend growing up, who could get angry about anything, but chose anger, in this case, over a gallery the resident “jackasses” called Our Own Damn Gallery. So they had their Own Damn Gallery, for whatever they chose.

My best friend and I were too young for all of this; I was born ten days after Bobby Kennedy died and he’s four months older. I’d watch the posters on the street. I’d wonder what was going on at Our Own Damn Gallery, and rue the drinking age. I think I rued the year I was born a few times. Nothing for it. Our Own Damn Gallery had their own damn scene; the Dynamic Logs, who might have even played Our Own Damn Gallery, promised “contagious excitement!”; and the F@rtz spelled their name F@rtz for anarchy’s sake.

We were seriously into anarchy. We had no idea what anarchy was. We chipped in for The Anarchist’s Cookbook and kept it in our clubhouse in my friend’s basement. I liked the parts about the drugs. He liked the parts about grenade launchers. He didn’t like the parts about “the pig”; he had family members in law enforcement. I appreciate Ho Chi Minh’s prison poetry much more now.

Larry Reid from Fantagraphics, and his co-curator Martin Imbach of Georgetown Records, were old enough. Old enough to be ringleaders, actually. “Between Garage & Grunge: Glitter, Glam and Proto-Punk in Seattle’s Subversive 70s,” on exhibit at Bumbershoot, examines the city’s art/punk/music/happening scene through artifacts, be they those posters I once puzzled over, ‘zines — here’s hoping Wilum Pugmire’s Punk Lust gets a plug — some records, some photographs, and, for all I know, pieces of buildings (we can hope). Larry Reid remembers running the Roscoe Louie Gallery directly under the Seattle Weekly, and remembers the Louie getting loud on the Weekly’s production nights. The pigs sometimes ensued.

The exhibit covers an amorphous time where, with no big eyes from “big cities” watching, with no stress to become a “world-class city,” art and music in Seattle could stumble, bash its nose, pull its pants down, scrape itself on the soggy sidewalk, and gesture with its one good hand for cool people from other scenes to preside (on the way to Bellingham, perhaps—a good solid college town—or even B.C.). Some say we can’t stop thinking of ourselves as a cow town. Reid and Imbach remember perverse, but passionate, punk rock pride in that. Either that, or perverse passionate indifference.

I can’t quite remember where Our Own Damn Gallery sat. But I think the idea, once stomped on, got squashed, and spread. — ANDREW HAMLIN

All images presented as a courtesy of Larry Reid and Martin Imbach. Viewing the gallery in full screen is highly encouraged. –ed