Thursday, May 14, 2009

Golden Gate Park and the San Francisco Scene

by Cindy Jacobson/Leather Trio Productions

Golden Gate BridgeI'm I-Beamin'. I'm Sidewalkin'. I'm Sugarcubin'. I'm just a-Ikky Boppin' on down Haight street. I go across Stanyan street and what do I see in Golden Gate Park? Hippies and punks. What a strange culture clash. They're playing Hendrix-like acid rock out of tiny battery powered amps. They're playing saxophones and singing songs. The hippies are clumped in a group. The punks are clumped in another group. They're kinda looking at each other, checking each other out. Like, are we the same thing a generation apart? Hmm... I continue walking through the park past the children's playground and get lost somewhere, just watching people, thinking about stuff.

I'm thinking about the odd mix of rock music this city has coughed up. From the Haight-Ashbury sounds of the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead to the quirky Varve and the mighty Metallica. What a strange culture clash. Of course there's a load of bad mainstream bands here, but if you came to San Francisco right now you'd probably think the underground scene was pretty dead. So look closer. The metal scene still thrives and there's this weird urban folk movement going on right now with people like Barbara Manning and Penelope Houston making records and playing acoustic gigs.

It's Penelope Houston's place in all this that has me really intrigued right now. Twelve years ago she was all punk rock and short blond hair, shouting teen rebel lyrics over a high speed din of churning guitars in San Francisco's coolest punk band, the Avengers. The Avengers lasted through the brief gasp of punk's first wave, opened for the Sex Pistols at Winterland and never released an album. Which is the kind of stuff real rock and roll legends are made of. In 1983, four years after the band's demise, CD Presents issued an Avengers album consisting of their one single plus assorted demos and stuff. So you can hear what they sounded like. You can also read the interview with Penelope in the latest Flipside for more insight.

A couple of months ago, Subterranean, the label that gave us Flipper, put out Penelope's first album, Birdboys. And it's a quiet delight, a silent joy. Like a steady breeze blowing through Golden Gate Park. It has loads of pretty songs with razor sharp emotions and evocative melodies. So what happened to the nineteen year old girl who used to shout "fuck you!" over crashing guitars in 1977? Well, she's grown up. And she doesn't shout. She sings. She even has a real nice voice. Penelope may not be a rebellious punk rocker anymore, but she's got the same spirit. The same "I don't care what you think I'm going to express myself any way I want" attitude that punk rock, no, that rock and roll is really all about. So everyone go check out Penelope's sweet folk album on Subterranean. Me, I'm just sitting here in Golden Gate Park, thinking about stuff. I'm wondering why listening to the Avengers and then Penelope's new music isn't such a strange culture clash. And I'm wondering about those hippies and punks... It's all the same isn't it? Hmm...

April 7, 1989, Album Network

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone,
Just wanted to let ya'll know that the Boom Boom Satellites are comming to San Francisco on Oct.27th!!! They're going to perform at the Independent and it is going to be AMAZING!
I saw them perform in New York last week and they were AWSOME!

So if you want to have a super night, go and check them out!!