Michael Jackson History II show, starring... Enter Now
It will never die!
You're sitting on a bench outside Dairy Delight eating a $2.50 bacon cheeseburger, talking punk with Burning Bob and feeling inadequate about your quasi punk-rock self. Sure, you know all the words to "California Über Alles," and there's a Misfits T-shirt (the one with the original fiend skull) somewhere in the back of your closet.
But Bob, he was there.
His band, Burning Bob and the Big Boys, was one of a handful (not forgetting Capital Punishment, Harsh Reality, and N.B.J.) that existed in Fresno during the heyday of American punk in the early '80s. Though the scene was most notable in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. (check out Paul Rachman's documentary pic "American Hardcore"), Fresno had its stake in the movement.
It wasn't huge — there are pictures of the whole scene together, all 40 of them — but it was dedicated and loyal. "You could put out one flyer and all your friends would be there," says Bob, whose band (that's guitarist Shawn Baird, bassist Jeff Grinstead and McKegger on drums) will reunite for a show 9 p.m. June 9 at Club Fred with contemporary punkers @ Large and It'll Grow Back.
It had to be.
This was 1984. Hot Topic hadn't invaded every mall in America. Punks, or those who looked like punks, weren't easily accepted. They got harassed. They got beat up. "You really couldn't walk around dressed like I dress today," Bob says. If you're in the Tower District, Bob doesn't stand out much, with his shaved-bald head and spike-laden, patchwork jean jacket.
The scene was spread by word of mouth, photocopied flyers stapled on telephone poles or mixed-tapes.
The only exposure to the punk world outside Fresno came from the Maximum Rock and Roll radio show, which aired Tuesday nights. Bob taped every show. He still has the copies.
It's where he first heard about bands like Minor Threat, Jerry's Kids and Verbal Abuse.
"And then I'd turn around a month later and be playing with them."
So, yeah, he's got some cool stories.
The Minor Threat boys hung out at the 7-11 next to his house, drinking sodas, eating twinkies, and not flirting with girls (straight edge — no booze, no sex) before playing their show.
Henry Rollins punched Bob's friend in the face because she (yes, she) tugged on his pant leg.
The way he tells it, there's no lamenting the old days. "American Hardcore" says it died in 1986 and Bob tends to agree.
Sure, he misses his friends, many of whom have since died, many from drugs. But there's still a lot of punks out there, and a lot of punk bands. And being punk — the music, the clothes, the attitude — is more than a scene anyway. It's a way to let people know you're not happy with the situations in your life, in your town, in the world.
Bob got back into punk when George W. came into office. He had to, he says.
It was his duty as a punk.
"It's letting people know there's something seriously wrong with the way shit's going down...It was booming during Ronnie Reagan," he says. "It brings out the punk in everyone."