Travis Fristoe was a friend to punks everywhere, whether you hung out with him in Gainesville, or were friends with him through his thoughtful, kind, perceptive, funny, poetic writing via his long running and incredible fanzine, America?, or his music, or were his pen pal. I met him when I was a teenager in college in England, he was studying abroad and happened to be in the town I went to college in, Brighton, on the South Coast. It was sometime in the mid ’90s, and we both made zines and liked Rites of Spring and he made the windy, damp British winter seem less bleak and more of a place in which the idealistic/imaginative possibilities of punk could exist. I ended up crashing on the floor of the Palatka house in Gainesville that summer as a result, the endless chains of punk connectivities. Below are some pieces about Travis and friendship and punk that are in the current issue of MRR. You can support Travis’ family with this GoFundMe, and you can and should pick up the little book he made with Aaron Cometbus about Radon from No Idea… Here’s an interview he did with Lance Hahn. It looks like No Idea also still has some copies of his great zine, America?, but maybe other zine distros do too. You should seek it out, and also grab the Reactionary 3 records — you can listen to their tape here courtesy of Remote Outposts/Greg Harvester.
September 4th, 2015 by Layla
Categories : Obituaries
May 4th, 2015 by MRR
Eyewitness account from Santiago, Chile
April 26, 2015
The Doom show on April 16 will mark a before-and-after point for the punk scene in Santiago. No one expected a customary rush on the door to result in four dead and over a dozen injured. Lots of people are grieving. There is a lot of blame-seeking. People are worried about the future of the scene. Although there have been many (often conflicting) accounts published in Spanish, only trickles of information have come out in English. As a gringo who doesn’t speak Spanish natively, I have tried my best to piece together an overview from other published accounts, conversations with trusted friends, and my own first-hand experience. The most important thing to take away is that there are STILL people in the hospital who need financial support. Please go to the following website to support the families of those who died and the people left with incredibly high medical bills: tinyurl.com/helppunks
Everyone knew the Doom show was going to be big. In the days leading up to the show, I had a lot of friends talking excitedly about it, while in the same breath complaining about the door price: 15,000 pesos (about $25 USD). Some very basic background about punk in Santiago: punk is BIG, most punks are poor, and they don’t like to pay a lot for shows. It’s pretty normal to see a crowd of punks haggling for a group price at the door. Lots of people I know were talking casually about showing up early and seeing if they could get in for free by means of avalancha. La avalancha – the avalanche – is a tactic utilized here to get into big shows without paying. People gather near the doors of a show, and at an opportune moment they rush the door, forcing their way past the bouncers and/or cops. All stadium-size punk festivals, of which there are a few every year, have avalanchas.
On the night of the show, I got to the club about an hour after door time. Nevertheless, there was a crowd of seventy, eighty, a hundred punks out on the sidewalk. Some had tickets and were just drinking with friends before the bands played. Some were waiting for the right opportunity to rush the door. Others were just waiting to see what would happen, eyeing the eight or so skinhead bouncers with uncertainty. At one moment, a group of about four cops passed through the crowd to talk with the bouncers. They didn’t get to talk for long though, because a steadily growing barrage of insults, bottles, and other projectiles started to rain down upon them. The cops took off and things calmed down, although every now and then someone would throw something towards the bouncers.
In the crowd, a punk tried to fight a metalhead who had just arrived. It looked like they had some prior beef. People pulled them apart, but when the metalhead went to turn in his ticket, the punk attacked him again. This was right in front of the bouncers, who were all taken off guard. At this moment the crowd rushed the doors and pushed the bouncers back. This was la avalancha.
The club is subterranean, and the entrance has a wide staircase that leads down to a landing. The bouncers retreated to the landing, and started to beat back the crowd with bats, pipes, and tasers. I couldn’t see the violence very well, but I could tell something was happening down below. The crowd at the front recoiled back, smothering and suffocating some of the people in the avalancha. I don’t know how long this went on for. It felt like a long time, maybe thirty minutes? But it could have been shorter and just felt long. Eventually, the desperation of the folks at the front got communicated to the rest of the crowd, who moved back and opened up a path for bodies to be carried up to the sidewalk.
When the crowd opened up, what I saw was horrible. There were over a dozen bodies, unconscious and injured, all over the landing. Lots of blood and lots of water. Friends I trust have told me that the bouncers were hosing people down with water and shocking them with tasers after they were soaked. People were trying to resuscitate the folks without pulses. One by one, most of the injured were carried up the stairs to the sidewalk. Some punks got into the middle of traffic and forced a city bus to stop. A number of the injured were loaded onto the bus and taken to the hospital, while some refused to move and just wanted to remain on the sidewalk.
At this point I decided to finally enter the club and look for the friend I had come with. Inside, lots of different stories were already circulating about what had happened on the street above: “Somebody died, man.”
“The cops came and they’re rioting up there.”
“It was weird, when I got here there was a bunch of shit on the stairs and I just walked in without having to pay. What happened?”
Categories : News, Obituaries
May 3rd, 2014 by Erin Yanke
It is with deep, deep grief and sadness, and some rage at the world that I write to tell Maximum Rocknroll of the passing of Kim Fey, known to most in this community as Kim Fern. She passed away early on the morning of April 20, 2014, surrounded by her husband, family, and her best friend.
Kim had melanoma, which appeared about six years ago, went in remission, and came back about six months ago.
Kim was a well loved, respected, and complicated person with courage to speak up, and to stand up to judgement without letting it get her off track. She published Fern zine for at least 15 years, sang in ELEVENTH HOUR CONFESSION and other bands, traveled and toured extensively, and then moved to and settled in Portland, OR. She was a pioneer in the small ways we all can be, one of the first to go to school, get a career as a teacher, and have the courage to leave it behind because it was unsatisfying. She started a non-profit bike shop, North Portland Bike Works, in 2002 with friends who would become family, and was always there to advise other punks on the weird intricacies of the business world, and being a good boss and business owner. She was one of the first people in our community to buy a house and learn the struggles that come with that, as well as the struggles that came with our changing place in Portland from community members to community leaders.
Kim always remained present, strong, with an open heart and an incredible amount of spirit. She took seriously the duty to live life to its fullest. She appreciated what she had seen and done, and let those experiences open more possibilities. Upon getting her diagnosis, her zest for life grew stronger. Throughout the past six years she lived her life for every single moment. She never gave up the fight, and once again gave us an example of how to live, and how to die. She will be always remembered with love and respect, and much missed.
Categories : News, Obituaries
June 18th, 2013 by MRR
Alberto Rivera was kind enough to send this obituary for the late Florida punk legend Stevie Stiletto.
Stevie Stiletto, the better known and public face of Ray McKelvey, passed away at home, on March 24, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida. He had been sick with cancer.
On the surface of it, Stevie’s story is a rock and roll cliché of bad habits, bad luck, and poor timing conspiring against him, but the greater truth is this: Ray and/or Stevie, never quit.
Widely acknowledged as Jacksonville, Florida’s first punk rock band, Ray formed Stevie Stiletto and the Switchblades out of frustration. Tired of listening to records from New York or the UK and reading about his favorite bands performing elsewhere, Ray went DIY before it even had a name, and started his own movement out of the stubborn swamp grass better known as North Florida.
With various incarnations of bands he toured the US And Europe, playing with pretty much everyone. The Ramones, The Dead Kennedys, Iggy Pop, Black Flag — the list goes on and on.
In the mid 1990’s he was scooped up in the frenzy created by punk breakout acts Green Day and The Offspring. But Green Day and The Offspring were anomalies; the only ones from that time to have any notable mainstream commercial success. And Stiletto, along with all the other acts eagerly signed a year or two before, were unceremoniously dumped.
It was at this time that I personally met and played with Ray. About a dozen shows in all. Warm, funny and engaging, his stories seemed almost mythical. Yeah, I slept on East Bay Ray’s couch for a week or two, I think it was in ’84…” or “Dee Dee (Ramone) an’ me were looking for someplace that was open to get a new tattoo…”
In 2009, a documentary called My Life is Great: The Stevie Ray Stilletto Story was released. Filmed by former Jacksonville area resident and longtime fan Kevin Dunn. Dunn is presently working as a college professor in upstate New York. Dunn presents an honest and unflinching look at Ray’s immense talent and oftentimes his deeply flawed shortcomings.
Bands would fall apart, and he would start another one immediately. One band bailed on him, and with shows scheduled, he picked another exisiting band and they backed him so he wouldn’t have to cancel.
Ray was an unflappable and headstrong entertainer. And in the punk community, one of those guys that everyone has seen at some point. Somewhere, Ray’s laughing as he smashes cans of shaving cream with his celestial hammer.
Categories : News, Obituaries
June 11th, 2013 by Marc Arsenault
Arturo Vega, one of the most influential visual artists in punk rock — as the designer of the Ramones iconic and much-copied logo, and artistic director for the band for their entire history — passed away in New York City aged 65 on Saturday, June 8th.
He famously described his thoughts on the creation of the Ramones logo:
I saw them as the ultimate all-American band. To me, they reflected the American character in general—an almost childish innocent aggression…. I thought, ‘The Great Seal of the President of the United States’ would be perfect for the Ramones, with the eagle holding arrows—to symbolize strength and the aggression that would be used against whomever dares to attack us—and an olive branch, offered to those who want to be friendly. But we decided to change it a little bit. Instead of the olive branch, we had an apple tree branch, since the Ramones were American as apple pie. And since Johnny was such a baseball fanatic, we had the eagle hold a baseball bat instead of the [Great Seal]’s arrows.
We asked John Holmstrom — the founder and editor of Punk Magazine and cover illustrator for the Ramones albums Road to Ruin and Rocket to Russia — to share some of his memories of Arturo. We are very grateful to John and GODLIS for taking the time to share their thoughts and photography of their old friend during this difficult time.
“One of the reasons I was so fascinated by the Ramones was the fact that they had an official Art Director. At the time I was still just an aspiring artist, fresh out of art school, and I thought that since this band had the smarts to hire someone to make their posters, t-shirts etc. was so very cool. I also liked his work a lot—that early poster of the leather jacket with the eagle belt buckle was a very interesting image, so different from your average rock ‘n’ roll art at the time. It was stark, bold, minimalist…
“I think I became aware of his art after I got to know the Ramones better after I published the first couple of issues [of Punk Magazine]. So although he wasn’t a direct influence, he was definitely an artist whose work I admired and respected. There was a bit of a rivalry because he didn’t like the cartoon look that I brought to their record covers, but I never wanted to be The Ramones Art Director, which he loved so much. His stage banners, t-shirts, logo design, album cover artwork, and so many other contributions to what made the Ramones cannot be minimized. Like his friend Curt Hoppe said to me earlier today: “The Ramones emblem is as recognizable a work of art as the Mona Lisa.”
“But his loft on East 2nd Street–wow! He had his paintings on display, hundreds on Ramones t-shirts in a huge closet, and Joey and Dee Dee lived there. And it was almost on top of CBGBs, so when they would perform there, they’d often hang out at home, then walk downstairs into the club and play their set, then go back upstairs. Arturo was kind of supporting them in those early days, so in a way there might not have been the Ramones without his support.
“Over the years, Arturo became more of an employee of the Ramones and less the fine artist he was after the 22 years-plus he worked for the band. He is one of the few people who worked with the band over their entire career, but for a few years afterwards he continued to handle a lot of their merchandising.
“He was just beginning to come into his own as an artist–he recently held a major, career retrospective in Chihuahua, Mexico, his hometown, where he was also working to try to get kids interested in art and away from the drug gang culture. He seemed to be much happier than he was as the Ramones merch guy.
“I am hearing endless stories about what Arturo did for many, many people–small favors, big favors, a helping hand, financial assistance, connecting people with each other, etc. etc. He was a very generous person and a fun person to be around and so an awful lot of people miss him.”
—John Holmstrom, June 10, 2013
Categories : Interviews, News, Obituaries