We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk, Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen
Three Rivers Press, November 13, 1991
Everything that’s born has the germ of death in it. Like some small black dot. Like a subatomic darkness at the center of a tiny seed. You can feel it growing deep inside you. See it in the pupil-blue of babies’ eyes. Smell it gaping and musty underground. Cup it in your hand like a warm and milky strand of infected semen.
He hits me up first and said, ‘Are you O.K.?’ and I said, ‘Um, yeah.’ He put his hand at the small of my back and he said, ‘Just hold it, just stay there, just wait for me, okay? Just wait for me.’ He held me up for a second, then he hit a vein and laid himself against the wall and pulled me to him. It was almost like he forgot what we were doing, and he goes, ‘Wait a minute.’ And then he kissed me and said, ‘Well goodbye.’
-Casey Cola, describing the suicide of Darby Crash (from the band, The Germs)
The dot is a circle. It connects to itself. It’s inside and outside. Within and without. The seed grows larger. So does the blackness. You can’t get rid of it.
You know what’s fun? You take like 10 hits of acid and drink a six-pack of beer and you go down to Santa Monica Pier, there’s a bridge that goes to nowhere ‘cause they’re supposed to lower it for boats and you go to the end and jump off right, and you can swim and it’s so great ‘cause it’s dark you know and you can just swim and it doesn’t matter if you live or die or anything just swim and swim and you can feel the fish nibbling at your feet.
Somewhere, downtown, in the trash-infested streets of Hollywood, a group of misbegotten kids find each other. They are degenerates and losers, rejects and outcasts. Their only passion: the desire to be different. To dress weirdly. To say no to the boring and hopelessly bourgeois world they live in. They sleep together in basements. In graffiti-filled cubby holes. In piss-stained rooms called the Church, the Plunger Pit, the Wilton Hilton. They have names like Helen Killer, Black Randy, Kickboy and John Doe. Something is happening but you aren’t sure what it is. As if the whisky-soaked ghost of Jim Morrison has risen from the dead to guide all the lost teenagers of the night. To pierce them with charcoal tattoos and safety pins, cover them in a death-cloak of leather and black mascara. They are Runaways and Weirdos, Screamers and Circle Jerks. Black Flag. X. Germs. Zines like Slash and Lobotomy. The label Dangerhouse. Clubs like the Masque and 88 Club. It is youth and death entwined together as one in the growing music that is punk rock. But it’s an even blacker, hardcore L.A. version that will snap your spine and suck your lungs out. You can hear it moan. Squeal. Rip and gouge. Yeah, you get pushed around a lot. You get beat up. But it’s from the gut. It’s instant. It’s now. And like all nows, it leads to an end.
I’m very unaware of my own age or place in life. I’m very present-tense-oriented. So for me it’s like, “What are your goals … what do you hope to achieve?” And now they’re asking “What did you think would happen? Give us your whole overview of the past and what do you think will happen in the future.” Which to me is just not interesting. . . . I just kind of go along.
-Exene (from the band, X)
To be initiated as a Germs disciple, a person-in-the-know would burn a cigarette into your wrist leaving a small black circle iconic of the band’s round blue insignia. It was the ash-mark of Cane. A flesh-scar that said, I’m someone else. I’m different. I’m twisted and wrecked, but fuck I’m unique! And though I’m only here for a very short while I’ll sure as hell leave a huge fucking smear. Remember who I am. I’m black-burned. I’m noisy. I’m furious and snot-infused. The streets are greasy, the air choked with shit-smog, but these slimy gut-holes are mine. Like a black rat in the glass of milk and honey. Some strange dark thing at the bottom of the bowl. You can’t flush it away. It’s a part of you. And It will eat you up in the end.
Darby Crash was a premeditated would-be apocalyptic cult leader. He chose to do that, he chose his doomsday, and he did a bang-up job on it, I gotta say. It’s lived on as the stuff of mythology. He flat out said he was gonna do it, and I think he did it exactly when he said he’d do it, according to something he wrote in 1975. He used to say, ‘I’m gonna kill myself in five years.’ He’d put some twisted twist on the Bowie song “Five Years.”
-Geza X (from the band, The Deadbeats)
I haven’t changed at all … zero. I got grayer hair, the health is not as strong, but I’ve even started playing with a pick again. I still think of punk as a state of mind and not a style, so how can it go out of fashion? “Alternative” and “new wave” were horrible terms, totally limiting words. “Punk” can mean anything. That’s how it started out—it was whatever you want to chain it to—but understand this: It’s always gonna bust out on its own, there’s always gonna be something that’s kind of wild and you’re gonna call it punk.
-Mike Watt (from the band, Minutemen)