The great paradox of any punk scene is the ways in which it can simultaneously foster a sort of nihilistic individualism and an often transformational sense of commonality. This essay considers the performance of a punk rock commons that emerged from the Los Angeles punk scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, reimagining and, to some degree, refunctioning the history of the early Los Angeles punk rock scene in an effort to better understand what queer negativity might mean. The essay proposes that negativity can be strangely utopian while simultaneously dystopian. It can represent conterminously both innovation and annihilation. The essay considers the desire, indeed the demand, at the heart of punk, for “something else” that is not the present time or place, with its stultifying limits and impasses. This demand is for a dystopia that functions like the utopian. To that end, this essay’s central presence is the tragically doomed punk icon Darby Crash and his legendary band the Germs. This essay considers the documentation of live performances by the band and the ephemera that function as the band’s queer remains. Crash’s often quoted demand for more, “Gimme gimme this, gimme gimme that,” is deciphered as a semiarticulate demand for a world that is not the California of the late 1970s or the subsequent America of Ronald Reagan.
November 27, 2013