WORCESTER, Mass., 1978 — Punk and mental institutions seemed to go together like Manson girls and L.S.D. in the heady daze of the late seventies.
They both seemed useful for a while and then the awful reality of exploitation and the heartbreaking reality of badly wired brains held hostage by evil inevitably knocked things sideways.
Before President Reagan shut down the majority of the worst snakepits and became the unwitting inspiration for the burgeoning hardcore movement, the great institutions (think Belchertown in Wiseman’s ‘Titticut Follies’ and Napa State as the Cramps fave venue to perform in) were the unwitting feeder system of Punk.
Besides offering a very receptive audience and a booking policy just this side of “you won’t steal anything or, take the patients drugs, will you?’ the 70’s mental health system offered nascent punks jobs, gigs and, despite all promises made to the contrary, heavy drugs.
Gurl Three was a co-worker, Diane Dinome. She was a recent grad of Clark Universities Freud-heavy psychology program and an Italian miscreant from Lynn.
“Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin, you never come out the way you went in.”
That was one of the first things she mentioned about herself and where she came from. She had an amazing record collection, stocked equally with 70’s dreck and cutting-edge imports from the U.K.
We lived on the third floor of a newly-established group home in Wormtown (see Gurl two) with our triumvarate made complete by a stoner chick named Beth from Rob Zombie’s hometown, Haverhill.
Diane had a killer stereo rig from Tweeter Etc., that she blew hundred’s of dollars on. It seems almost quaint today but at one time folks were obsessed with meaningless specs like THD, Harmonic Distortion, and SNR when buying home listening crap and would go to stores lined from top-to-bottom with all manner of circuits in a box to buy them under heavy pressure from dudes with mustaches and pastel sweater vests.
Needless to say, I spent a lot of time on my back, in her room, listening to the now sounds from new people trying to ignore the murmurs and soul-shattering screams coming from “clients” that used the first and second floors for living and being crazy as only crazy people can.
Diane had black hair and a dirty mouth and really couldn’t see the difference between the Ramones and the Damned. We would have huge arguments since the preferred choice of listless dilettantes was being an anglophile back then.
Having moved from Texas to Boston there had already been a Ramones phase engaged by pioneering DJ’s Joe Anthony and Lou Roni at KISS/KMAC.
They had blown my highschool aged mind by being some of the first to play and promote Sex Pistols at Randy’s Rodeo (where Sid got clobbered by Helen Killer, the upcoming Gurl 23), the aforementioned “brothers from Queens and Kraftwerk.
As a matter-of-fact, the first foray your humble narrator made into the music business was getting his band of teen reprobates to open for the Runaways at Randy’s.
“Joe, it’s perfect! A band of teen girls opened by a band of teen boys. From pedophiles alone we”ll sell-out! C’mon, we’ll do it for 50 bucks and ducats to Alice Cooper.”
Our heat-seeking discussions were just like those age old Der Bingle vs: Sinatra, Jerry Lee vs: Penniman and the Beatles vs: the ‘Stones arguments that have raged for as long as folks have dug music as more than background noise while they clean the house.
It would get heated. No, it would get like two animals fighting over the last bit of placenta left from the newborn they ate. It was passion and man, that is what punk was all about, pure and simple.
Our singular detente’ happened over the first single from X-Ray Spex. “Oh Bondage, Up Yours.” Fuuuuuucccccck. What a blast of white hot molten gurlie balls.
A blast of sax and Poly’s high-pitched keen captured us immediately.
We listened to it like 10 times in a row and predictably ended up on the floor, making out like two primates who seemed to think the end of the world is nigh.
The image of her thumb, wiping around her lips to clear them of saliva and lust before she dove in to suck tongue again is one of those that a fella takes to his grave.
Frustratingly she was too professional to fuck a co-worker, even though I used every trick I had learned from Penthouse porn and paperbacks purchased in bus stations from Austin to Boston.
She still looms occasionally in fever dreams
The fact of the matter is that so much of the foundational core of the New England punk scene were folks who matriculated through the mental health industry.
The Maps, The Girls, Human Sexual Response, Ground Zero, they all had members who supported themselves and got gigs for their acts in mental institutions.
It is funny that assasin David Chapman wrote fan letters to Lennon in a way that punk and mental health seemed to go hand-in-hand. Many “punks” had significant issues with mental health and just as many were committed to helping those who suffer.
Diane moved on to world music and married David, the fellow that went on the Boston trip related in Gurl One. Jealousy raised its head and bitter “but he’s gay he said” epithets were tossed with punken vindictiveness.
You let him fuck you? Really? Eventually a balming trip to their home on Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg was made and she offered a rare, Japanese import of “Friggin’ In The Riggin’ by a Rottenless Sex Pistols as a peace pipe.
The name of that lake is an old Indian one and literally means “you fish on your side, I fish on mine and no one fishes in the middle.”
Looking back it becomes apparent that anyone could’ve been a punk until ’79 or so. There was no uniform, no hairstyle, and no rules.
Those would all come during the Reagan years, an unseen mote in the eyes of gawdz to come. We were all fishing on our own sides until Quincy ruined it.
No crazy folk were hurt during the writing of this article.
You humble narrator Eddie Anderson is the main character in “Homicide Sanitarium” by Fredric Brown, and is mostly known for his blistering barbs and willingness to do anything needed to make a case.
This is the third of a 52 part series of Arturo Bienewski’s exclusive serialization of his upcoming history of punk rock, “52 Gurls”.
To see all currently published installments of 52 Gurls visit:
or click on the authors name at the top of the article.
Punk Rock music can be heard regularly on John Carlucci’s SpeedieJohn program on Channel 21 of Little Stevens Underground Garage on Sirius XM satellite radio.Click here for reuse options!
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