Why New York Is More Punk Than L.A.

Categories: Cro-Mags

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Photo: Ken Salerno
Jimmy G of Murphy's Law
Anyone with a half way decent record collection and half working brain knows New York City is the birthplace of punk. And I'm not trying to start beef here; I'm just trying to lay down some truth.

This week our sister paper the L.A. Weekly ran a wrongheaded article, "Why L.A. Is More Punk Than New York," that somehow managed to exalt Jim Morrison of the Doors while throwing shade at the New York Dolls. We know. We couldn't believe it either.

Because, it doesn't matter whether or not punks from California or Ohio were looking for inspiration from the U.K. rather than the right side of their own country; we all know it all derives from the stank of the Lower East Side, the swagger that comes from the Burrough of Queens and all the various fucked-up miscreants that have dwelled there.

See also: The Oral History of NYC's Metal/Hardcore Crossover

The above mentioned stank is still permeating throughout this city in the here and now with no need for cornball mall punk nostalgia or bleach blonde bullshit. There is an anger and desperation to New York that will always be here to fuel the rage no matter how many baby strollers roll down Avenue A. We are a people fighting for peace of mind and personal space in a city that is offers neither. We are constantly irritated and yet strangely content with this concept at the same time. Plus, don't forget, we have a chip on our shoulder about pretty much everything.

If all that ain't punk, then just call me Wavy Gravy.

You want further proof that things are punker in NYC than on the sun-soaked California coast of L.A. beyond my vitriolic scree? Here's 10 of 'em. Read 'em and weep.

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Photo: Ken Salerno
1) CBGB

The birth place of punk; plain and simple. The dilapidated stage of that sadly defunct club housed everyone from intellectual guitar weavers Television, the brute art damage of Lydia Lunch and the beyond hostile sounds of Agnostic Front. I remember a pal of mine landing on a rusty nail sticking up out from the dance floor when he wasn't caught stage diving. When's the last time you heard of that happening on the Warped tour?

See also: 10 Things the CBGB Movie Got Wrong

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Photo: Ken Salerno
Agnostic Front
2) NYHC
I won't deny that American Hardcore came from the suburbs of Southern California via The Germs, Black Flag, The Adolescents and many, many others. But, New York took that sound and vibe and made it what people know today. Ask the average jerk on the street if they've heard of Agent Orange or the Circle Jerks and you'll more than likely get a raised eyebrow and hasty walk off. But if you mention Agnostic Front, Biohazard or Sick of it All, they'll definitely give a nod of acknowledgement.

See also: The Top 20 New York Hardcore and Metal Albums of All Time

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3) LOU REED
Lou was a self-made man with no time to flaunt his list of library books like some self-centered, self-proclaimed Rock 'N' Roll poets from California (ahem, Jim Morrison). He never tried to be anything other than what he was: a total genius freak.

See also: Lou Reed 1942 - 2013



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