Shred of Dignity

Well this wasn't a job or anything, it was a complicated time of change for me. About half-way through the FidoNet thing I'd had it with straight-up jobs, and became heavily involved in punk and anarchist work and organizing.

Shred of Dignity started out life as Duke Crestfield and Shawn Ford flyering to get support to stop a city-wide ban of skateboarding in San Francisco. I ran into them and got involved (yes we overturned the ban with some of Duke's political/theatrical maneuvers). We soon rented a warehouse on Folsom Ave (Shipley Alley entrance), where all sorts of interesting things happened. I wrote about it shortly after it's demise in 1993, here.

Shred mutated into a number of things in it's brief existence. It put on many ingenous punk shows; many at the Womens' Building on 17th Street, all were benefits (mostly for the Womens' Building itself, then struggling to survive, now thriving). We produced "hit'n'run" shows; we arranged a band or two, a generator, handed out last-minute flyers, and would occupy some out of the way place ("Beal and Brannon at the Base of the Bay Bridge", once vacant) and simply have a party until the police showed up. (You have to realize the police actively blocked off nearly all legal venues, and the Bill Graham Presents organization worked hard at legally interfering with all non-BGP venues -- may that piece of shit B.G. rot in hell.) We put on all of FUGAZI's Bay Area performances through 1992 or so, (don't quote me on the date), the last one some 4000 people.

Shred also organized the HOMOCORE shows -- and we have the honor of having the last actual punk show at the original DEAF CLUB on Valencia street, 1989 or 1990 I think.

We were quite the organizational whirlwind, mostly due to Duke Crestfield and early on, Shawn Ford. You can read a little about one of our ventures with our dim-witted, greedy, and overly-monied landlord, Thomas O. Scripps III (no not that Scripps, but the worthless yachting brat grandson).

Duke and I had some interesting takes on what we were doing. We were both highly organized and talented, but we kept an aura of chaos around us; we did seemingly-spontaneous events that were in fact planned out carefully. Not always though; we had plenty of screw-ups, but even failures (no one showing up for an event; picking the wrong "1 PM" on Daylight Savings day...) were usually fun.

We used the "stone soup" method of organizing events; we worked with absolutely minimal tools and components, ephemeral crap where possible, "silk screening" T-shirts with cardboard stencils and spraypaint; we built 1600 square feet of mezzanine in the warehouse with wood we liberated from a demolition, building beams, buying boxes of rusted nails, finding ways to use (and not use) $3/gallon paint, etc.


The remaining core Shred crowd, Valerie Stadtler, Greta Snider (Val and Gret were core members of THE FARM, once the best punk venue, and last actual farm!, in San Francisco), Dave Rock, Hernan Cortez, and myself moved our tired asses to a new spread, 666 Illinois Street, a cold but lovely place down on the bay. Hernan stored his reltan company's sound equipment; I did FidoNet, and Little Garden and HOMOCORE there; Greta build a darkroom and made movies; Dave played damned drums... Possibly by the time you read this all trace of it will be gone. We finally broke up the household and went our separate ways in 1994.

1989 Anarchist Gathering
(Before you make the obvious ignorant joke about oxymoronic statements, read
this.)

A singular life-changing event for me was the 1988 Anarchist Survival Gathering, in Toronto. There, amidst dogmatists of many colors and flavors, were many people like myself -- living in the social milleu that the older anarchists had built, quietly. I followed my friend Joey Cain there, he a member of the Bound Together Book collective. The event was spontaneously about 1/3rd queer -- a pleasant shock! While the rebelling middle-class kids went off to throw rocks at the police and fervently tip over newspaper boxes, most of us did what everyone does at a conference -- network! Though only three days long, it gelled a lot of ideas I had, one of which was a queer/punk synthesis that I worked on as soon as I got back -- HOMOCORE zine. Major inspirations were Candy of DR. SMITH zine (some shit stole most of my copies, I still want them back) and Bruce LaBruce, zine editor (JDs) and filmmaker (art and pornography).

I was one of the organizers for the 1989 Without Borders Anarchist Gathering in San Francisco, a very sucessful event, and the last in a series that had started in 1986 (with the Haymarket Gathering) (very brief outline here). I published the gathering's handbook, using Donald Knuth's TEX mathematical typography software, which I had running on my little DOS computer. And a lovely booklet it was.

Gilman St. Project
For about a year and a half I was the main coordinator for shows at the DIY punk venue GILMAN STREET PROJECT, originally called the MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL WAREHOUSE, started by Tim Yohannon of MAXIMUMROCKNROLL zine (Tim later insisted it was never called that, but I have a MRR flyer that says so!) (See, still arguing with Tim even after his untimely 1998 death!)

It was hard work, annoying stupid and wonderful, I heard 30+ bands a month for 18 months... it was where GREENDAY got their start, I paid them like everyone else, in piles of $1's, $10's, $20's. Tossed MDC out once for drinking. Got to see the NIP DRIVERS, post-success, in their speed-induced blur. The worst bands (for me) were the best-known, mostly a bunch of dickheads; as Donny the Punk once said, "hardcore is the worst thing that ever happened to punk".