The Mabuhay Gardens. The Fab Mab . . . I put on a show at the Mab in 1983. It was a benefit to raise money for a zine I was publishing at the time. In a way it was just another show. Five bands. Kwikway. Slug Lords. Teenage Warning or Teenage something or other. I forget. Nothing really memorable. But it was a strange feeling. Like you were a small part of history. Even today, I was watching a Youtube video of Jim Carroll at the Mab. And I’ll look at the stage and think: I stood up on that very same stage. And its like stepping into a legend. Or a very strange, heavily symbolic dream. With all these secret meanings and mysterious histories. Lotta’ ghosts in that room. I’m proud to have been a small part of it.
“As we all age, those memories are very special,” wrote Kareem K. on the Mab Facebook page. “To hear recordings from those times and shows, especially with some background talking, really transports me back.”
The first time I went to the Mabuhay was on the night John Lennon got shot in December of 1980. I was out of my head on LSD and looking for a candle-light memorial that was supposedly taking place somewhere on the San Francisco marina, but I was in no shape to find it. So I went to the Mabuhay as a way to have my own private memorial at the rocknroll church.
To me, the Bay Area punk scene had two distinct periods. The first one was from about 1977 to 1981. It was mostly an older scene then. The first wave of punks. Mostly inspired by the English bands like the Sex Pistols and the Clash.
But there were also plenty of oldsters who were inspired just as much by old-school punks like Lou Reed and Andy Warhol. There were a lot of former long-haired hippie rocknroll types who had just cut their hair and donned skinny ties, eager to be part of an exciting new modern movement. Plenty of art-damage types, too; college art-school drop-outs and bohemian hipsters. And, of course, plenty of the nightclub scenesters and lounge lizards, too.
The second period, from 1982 to 1984, was mostly made up of suburban high school punkers that sort of overwhelmed the scene. They were mostly inspired by California hardcore bands like the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag and MDC.
It all seems like a strange dream when I look back on it now. Like a barely-remembered movie with some other person playing the role of me.