Richard Hell said the Blank Generation was not about blank personalities or emptiness or nihilism.
The Blank Generation was a blank slate. It was a promise. We each have the ability to fill in the Blanks.
We can make ourselves into who we want to be; we can surround ourselves with people we like, we can change the world by changing our own world. This is the essential DIY message- Do It Yourself.
Going back further, Bowie helped popularized the concept of re-invention of self- i.e. you can be who you want to be.
Years later, the US Marines told potential recruits- Be all that you can be- The US Marines. I'm not sure if being a US Marine would be "all" that I could be. I am sure that I could never be all that- not at all. It's just not my nature.
Punk rock for me was an awakening of self. A re-birth. A series of dreams and invention. As I said once, "You can change the world in your sleep."
High school was a mass experiment in socialization. And while some people fit in, some didn't. For many people, high school is still the lens and mirror they see themselves through/in. And if high school was the best years of your life, time to get a new life, buddy.
So we made our our own world - a world where we could fit in.
One of the defining moments of the early punk days in Vancouver was a DOA gig at the Cambrian Hall.
Our group of high school misfits had kidnapped a guy in Montana. OK, I guess that needs some explanation. Bastard and Goof went travelling to Montana-essentially a cross country beer run, and stopped for gas in a little shit hole in Montana.
Cowboy Bill came out to pump their gas, and they said wanna blow this popstand and come to Canada? He filled their car and jumped in, and we had ourselves an American pet. We brought him on the rollercoaster on the PNE after many beers, just to see how many rides it took to make him puke.
See, isn't he cute when he pukes? Crazy American kidnappee. Anyway, we took him with us to see DOA and the Dishrags at the Cambrian Hall. The Cambrian Hall was a small community hall run by a Welsh society. In the early days of punk in Vancouver, many gigs were at these ethnic halls, (Japanese Hall, Ukrainian Hall, Odd Fellows Hall- a fitting name for a venue).
The Dishrags opened the show with their punk schoolgirl charms, but things began to get ugly outside. In those days, a biker contingent seemed intent on crashing these gigs, drawn by the assumption that all the rough and tumble of the mosh pit was an open invitation to crack heads.
I can't remember if the police had shown up, but the situation was getting tense. Inside the hall was extremely hot and sweaty. We were all drinking cheap beer, and absorbing the white noise of the early punk gigs. The sound was horrible but we didn't care! This was something new, and we were all there to be a part of this new group of friends.
At some point, DOA took over the stage and told everyone to get inside, they were locking the doors. This kept the loogers out, a circling of the wagons so to speak.
This action sealed the deal. It was US against THEM. We were on the inside and THEY were on the outside. DOA proceeded to bring a freshly painted banner dripping in red paint that said DOA on the stage. Red paint was everywhere.
Their set was like so many of their early sets. Essential one long song of many short songs with the occassional 1,2,3,4 punctuating the start of a new song.
Chuck Biscuits was and is the greatest punk rock drummer of all time. You can take that to the bank. Maybe his brother Dimwit came close, but Chuck was fury, arms and attitude. Easily the best looking member of DOA- now that is not a hard contest to win- a babyface with a scowl and almost a jazz sense of time.
Randy was.....Randy is....a Randy. With all that goes with that name. Old school rock star moves. bass hung low probably hung low himself, who knows? Well a few people do, but not me.
And Joey? Joey was the commander, the leader and he knew it and we knew it. He is a survivor, a canny businessman, a cartoon and a genuine great guy. But that night, he was a GOD.
The show was filled with sweaty guys and girls, beer, red paint and buckets of water thrown on the audience from the stage. The floor of the hall was a disaster, and after the show, the cute little Welsh couple who ran the hall were in tears over what we had done.
And I sort of felt bad for them. But I also felt a feeling of belonging that I had not felt before.