WORCESTER, Massachusettes, 1978 – They called it “Wormtown.” It is known for is seven hills (like Rome,) the hosting of Sigmund Freud in one of his only lectures in the United States and opiate abuse.
Other folk may call it Worcester and will be quick to tell you that you can’t trust a town that doesn’t pronounce its name the way it is spelled.
Most people living there were either doomed by an accident of birth, had an empty wallet when their automobile broke down or, fell in love with someone who could not claw a way out via college or, matrimony.
It is where the Rolling Stones kicked-off their “Tattoo You” tour at a 300 seat venue called Sir Morgan’s Cove and where your humble narrator promoted the first public cable access and public radio simulcast.
It featured some of Boston’s best “punk” bands at the time: Human Sexual Response, Ground Zero, Vitamin, Bound and Gagged and others.
Hardscrabble and aspirational in a way that only people who live close to a major urban center and feel in every fibre of their being that the culture they aspire to looks at them as hopelessly provincial can be, Wormtown was a perfect launching pad for a punk miscreant.
Ever since the days in Storyville where King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong made their noise, right through to the halcyon daze of 52nd Street where Mingus, Coltrane and the divine Monk made their bones, through the blazing folk scenes at Cafe Wha’ and the rockin gasps of Steve Paul’s Scene and C.B.G.B.’s, cheap bars have launched the music and musicians that end-up in the Library of Congress.
While Gurl Two, Andrea de Jenuess never made it to those heights she was as punk as they come.
She would play a battered acoustic guitar that usually was missing a string or two and wail with the conviction of stray cat sure that her howls would attract heat.
Her usual place was on the curb in front of the aforementioned Sir Morgan’s Cove. She had been permanently 86’d from the club for smashing a mug over some guys head for saying Patti Smith was a queer.
She, of course was an object of much teenage adoration.
It didn’t take much to talk to her. Usually a bottle of Mad Dog and a line of patter about “fucking pigs man, they just try to keep us down.”
One night, after chugging about half a bottle of viscous fluid she announced that she wanted to go somewhere and fuck. That sentiment from a woman, at the time, was so scary and so outside of any letter to Penthouse that had ever been written it seemed beyond cognition.
The deed was consummated three times (ahhh, youth) on the third floor of a group home for the developmentally disabled.
It seems impossible to comprehend now that a kid could get a job as a live-in counselor sharing a house with two female college grads and six recently-discharged patrons of State Institutions.
The late seventies culture was still so redolent with outlaw notions and experimental freedom that anyone with a line of patter could do almost anything.
So much so that an 18-year-old kid could lie about having a college degree, have a job interview while sitting cross-legged on a floor, talk about the Sex Pistols and still get the gig. Wild!
Andrea was so evangelical about the revolutionary aspects of punk, being with her, being inside her even just being within a 10-mile radius of her made you want to challenge everything and make shit happen! To yourself, to your country, to your parents, to your sexuality, especially to your life.
That was the allure of the kind of music that has informed youth movements since time immemorial.
I challenge anyone to say that the transformational power of punk differs in any way from that of Ragtime, Jazz, Bop, Blues, Folk, Acid Rock and Dubstep.
Heck, even Mozart tweaked the nose of convention.
So, onto the show. The movers and shakers of the Wormtown scene were all DJ’s at WCUW a student-run radio station at Clark University (where, y’know Freud talked) and had already produced a show by a trio that called themselves Talking Heads.
It was that time of year known by devotees of public broadcasting as the begathon.Ideas for a blockbuster event were bandied about and the notion of a simulcast with the local public TV station was presented. Guess who said that they could get bands to perform?
What can be said except that the spirit of Andrea was a compelling one and made the impossible seem a snap.
A resultant trip to Boston, without knowing a soul, with nothing more than a Hawaiian shirt and seventeen dollars in that flaming bush of a wallet, was made.
The Rathskeller was not then as famous as it has become.
It was a dive, a pit, a place to go to if you wanted to get beat-up basically. The Human Sexual Responce was headlining and Bound and Gagged were opening.
After the show fevered entreaties were made in support of the musical revolution we all seemed to want and after an initial reluctance hands were shook and beers were sipped.
The fundraising show in Wormtown was amazing and raised more money than the last three events. Additionally, Gurl 4 was met in the process.
Andrea gave more than she ever got.
She never even got to see the aforementioned show because she OD’d on speed. It was fitting that it was that instead of smack.
She was a go-fast, go-go angel and inadvertantly helped many like her who she never knew but, a guy who she fucked and probably didn’t remember, did.
Your humble narrator, Lou Ford, is the main character of “The Killer Inside Me” and known mostly for his lack of morals and odd sense of humor.
This is the second of a 52 part series of Arturo Bienewski’s exclusive serialization of his upcoming history of punk rock “52 Gurls”
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.