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April 2nd, 2004


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07:32 am - The death of Ricky Puke
I don’t know why it took me so long, but I finally got the CD from the punk rock zinester super-group Astrid Oto. The dreadful and exciting thing about memories is that you never knows what will trigger them. I opened the liner notes and got smacked in the head.

"Bringing New Meaning to DIY" concludes with the suicide of Ricky Puke in 1984. Don’t worry, no one out there is expected to know who he is. The Pukes were the pride of the Marin County punk scene*, banned from every club in the Bay Area because of Ricky’s vomit on demand during "You Make Me Sick". They were even profiled in one of those "What is the world coming to?" articles in the local paper filled with the even-then boilerplate "shock" quotes of the Point: "Your generation of generic corporate culture and rich, hedonistic ex-hippies will kill us all in World War 3." Counterpoint: "These kids are sick and need to be beaten and sent to work camps" variety.

There’s a picture of The Pukes included in the liner notes; people I haven’t seen for a long time. The guitarist from my high school who never talked, hid her face with her hair, and gave her back to the crowd the entire show.** Out of shyness not attitude, but it worked that way too. Uncharacteristically, she’s looking right into the camera for the photo.

Actually one of the few people I remember her talking to was my old friend Rachael. Rachael and I and Ricky’s sister*** tried to form a band once. I hadn’t thought about that in years, not even when I was trying to dredge up every last memory of Rachael when she died last year. We played in my parent’s bedroom for an hour before we gave up. I had a medium crush on Ricky’s sister but we were both shy and awkward and about 16. Then her brother died.

Ricky died on a rainy winter night. He was going to school at State and his scooter wouldn’t start, so his teacher said he could spent the night in the classroom if he didn’t tell anyone. Sometime during the night he hung himself. I remember rumors of it being an auto-asphyxiation accident, but that was as trendy an urban myth as the gerbils-up-the-butt thing at the time. It held some weight though because no one really wants to believe a friend committed suicide.

Aaron Cometbus **** describes it much more poetically in the song:
"Rickey from The Pukes with a can of spraypaint
breaks into a gallery in the middle of the night
paints ‘this is art’ then kicks out the chair
and in the morning they find him hanging there."


I’m not sure I’m up to the don’t glamorize suicide vs. the honor and martyr our fallen friends debate right now. I find both schools of thought compelling in different ways. Leaving friends and family devastated is a fucked up and cowardly thing to do. Aaron’s lyrics point to a bigger picture though, including the parameters of possibility in this world, and frustration with trying to change and create. Those were certainly matters dear to Ricky’s heart and obviously on his mind at the time of his death.

Aaron’s writing, which I love, is all about myth-making. It’s about the continual rediscovering that our lives are meaningful and that we don’t struggle, or die, in vain. It’s about creating a broad culture of resistance and support. It’s about romanticizing being in shitty situations sometimes because they can pay off in ways that safer choices don’t. It’s about taking the experiences of others around you and melding them together with yours so both of you can feel part of something bigger.

There’s myth-making in the abstract and myth-making when you know someone and see their real life. Ricky’s death in this song is the culmination of a punk life, a final symbolic act. In real life it was also a waste and a tragedy. The song doesn’t ignore that. The chorus, after all, is "Doing it yourself, that’s what it’s all about / You put some hope in your heart and have to rip it out." Sometimes we risk and lose.

But then I can also see my friend Ron, who died in January, being martyrized in a punk song too, though not by Astrid Oto. He was living a punk rock lifestyle and taking chances. But really, the way he died was just stupid. When to honor and show the best, and when to scream at the corpse? It’s one of death’s trickier questions.

Ricky’s face is partially scratched out in the liner note picture. Who scratched it out? Why? Dislike? Angry reaction to his death? I never really knew Ricky, but my oldest friend was their roadie who eventually took over singing duties when he died. The band tried to carry on his "message" but that never works unless you have a "message" like AC/DC. My friend couldn’t puke on demand anyway, so momentum was lost and the band eventually fizzled out.

And for the life of me, I can’t come up with any of their lyrics. *****



*UXB probably should claim that title. They actually had a song on the "Not So Quiet of the Western Front" compilation and caused a jock vs. punk riot at my high school during a lunch time concert in 1983 or so. Oh, the days when punk was a threat. . .
**She had a very distinctive name that sounded like a fake punk one but wasn’t. I just did a google search and the only hit I got was for a yoga instructor in England. I wonder . . .
*** This is definitely not her but they do share a name.
****Someone else who would have been a good example for my last post about scenes turning on their successful members.
*****I’m still mad a Lali Donovan for "borrowing" my Pukes demo tapes and never returning them.
Current Music: astrid oto

(28 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:vestalvixen
Date:April 2nd, 2004 07:55 am (UTC)
(Link)
Damn, you can write. Meanwhile, I tend to write about television, because I'd rather not trot out for the world my true and serious thoughts. I cannot compete.

Anyway, on a less fangirl note, the roommates have a question for you to answer. The "Punk's Not Dead" slogan. With or without the apostrophe? Which is right?
[User Picture]
From:gordonzola
Date:April 2nd, 2004 04:58 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'd love to see your true and serious thoughts sometime, Milisa, I really would.

and I say yes to the apostrohpe.
[User Picture]
From:vestalvixen
Date:April 3rd, 2004 02:16 am (UTC)
(Link)
But that would leave me vulnerable and human!
[User Picture]
From:dirtylibrarian
Date:April 2nd, 2004 09:58 am (UTC)
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I love what you are saying here:

Aaron’s writing, which I love, is all about myth-making.
It’s about the continual rediscovering that our lives are
meaningful and that we don’t struggle, or die, in vain. It’s
about creating a broad culture of resistance and support. It’s
about romanticizing being in shitty situations sometimes because
they can pay off in ways that safer choices don’t. It’s about
taking the experiences of others around you and melding them
together with yours so both of you can feel part of something bigger.

My fiance is a myth-maker, someone who takes a story and tells it over and over until it is bigger than life. When I first met him, I didn't trust him, because I have a very solid sense of integrity that doesn't let me deviate from the "truth"...but as I got to know him, I realized the value in this sort of telling...that there is this sharing involved in storytelling, that plucks the heart out of the truth and brings it out in the open where others can see it...letting people connect in a way that the "truth" wouldn't have allowed. It is easy to want to get angry at myth-makers (particularly when they steal all your best one-liners ;) but when you understand them, I find it hard not to appreciate them all the more for this willingness to gift others with these stories.
[User Picture]
From:purejuice
Date:April 2nd, 2004 10:53 am (UTC)
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great post, thank you.
[User Picture]
From:gordonzola
Date:April 2nd, 2004 05:01 pm (UTC)
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awww. thanks for writing that. I tend toward the exaggerate-to-make-a-point side myself. But don't let him steal your one-liners!
[User Picture]
From:obliviot
Date:April 2nd, 2004 12:54 pm (UTC)
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wow the Pukes !!!! I haven't thought about them in years.
[User Picture]
From:gordonzola
Date:April 2nd, 2004 05:02 pm (UTC)
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they were better than Coffee and Donuts. I liked Sacripolitical though. they had that great song about butt plugs. remember that?
[User Picture]
From:obliviot
Date:April 3rd, 2004 09:12 am (UTC)
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Yes I do remember that song but is the pukes better than squalor
[User Picture]
From:bebopmonkey
Date:April 2nd, 2004 01:51 pm (UTC)

Turning the wheels

(Link)
Hmm, you got me thinking about this whole suicide thing. I guess, yeah, and act of death can be creative. Like that "nihilistic" art movement in the early 20th(?) century, i forget what it was called, where the adherents committed suicide in artistic and bizarre ways.

I dont know though, it seems like every movement has tragic deaths, which then get co-opted by the mass media and turned into a "see! delinquents!" type of thing. All the heroin deaths of the 40s and 50s in the bebop and jazz scene only served to elevate the public's perception of jazz musicians as no-good junkies. Granted, that's not the same as suicide, but the meaning of the deaths were ignored. And this, despite people like Dizzy Gillespie who were clean, socially conscious, and actively trying to change that.

Only when the energy and drive of a movement has petered out, it seems, does a watered-down version of the message/ intent come across.
[User Picture]
From:gordonzola
Date:April 2nd, 2004 05:06 pm (UTC)

Re: Turning the wheels

(Link)
well, I don't know how creative an act I think death can be. I'm concerned more with how we create stories around our dead. as if their whole lives were leading up to that one culminating act, when lives really mostly meadner around and do a lot of contradictory things.
[User Picture]
From:amarama
Date:April 2nd, 2004 03:33 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I also love Aaron Cometbus's writing, as you know. My only beef with him is how he always has to talk about how big his feet are. Actually, I sort of have a mixed relationship to his overdisclosure about his foot size. Early on in his ouvre, I thought he was trying to make some kind of thinly-veiled reference to the size of his sex parts, but later I felt like to him his foot size actually represents some kind of stigma or access issue, which is both endearing and highly annoying. But generally I love him. Especially that Back-to-the-Land issue, even though it's a popular one. He nails that shit.
[User Picture]
From:gordonzola
Date:April 2nd, 2004 05:07 pm (UTC)
(Link)
hmmm, I have read most Cometbusses and his foot size discussions weren't very memorable to me. Foot smell maybe ...
[User Picture]
From:amarama
Date:April 2nd, 2004 06:27 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Man, you forget stuff. When he's traveling he's always waiting on some shipment of gargantuan shoes from his Dad in Berkeley. He talks about how people will underground-celebrity-spot him by his big feet. It's all true.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 12th, 2007 03:40 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Wow...

Hey Gordon,

I just found this now.... I was having a "Marin Moment" when I found Cafe Nuvo had a Myspace Page. Interesting stuff.. I don't know if Aaron knew Ricky... seems like different eras, but I appreciate his sentiments.

Ricky was a pretty good friend of mine at the time and I don't want to get into the minute personal private aspects of his life, but his death was pretty devastating to all of us. While I understand the "romanticism" that Aaron was getting at, Rick was also a human being with friends and family.

I want to see that Pukes photo... I did an image search and couldn't find it.... can you email it to me?

Walter
[User Picture]
From:gordonzola
Date:May 12th, 2007 04:03 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I will scan it later and send it.

yeah, I hope I didn't get Ricky's details wrong. It was a long time ago and I'm prone to exagerration in my head. I didn't know him really. Do you know what happened to his sister?

and Aaron is the same age as us. I doubt he ever came to Marin for shows, but they must have run into each other.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 12th, 2007 03:44 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh yeah,

...and UXB was WAY better than us, always.

Walter
[User Picture]
From:gordonzola
Date:May 12th, 2007 04:04 pm (UTC)
(Link)
well, of course they were. When the played Redwood and started a riot might have been the best Marin punk moment ever. But they never had your style...
From:outdoorskates
Date:September 25th, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC)

pukes, marin etc

(Link)
my old friend jason norelli knew ricky puke pretty well, I remember the day or so after he died I saw norelli skating through the local school and we had a talk about it for an hour or so..he was quite bumbed.. (my memories are not all intact when it comes to remembering the exact words of others over 20 some years ago)which is unfortunate because jason had some good things to say..
I saw the pukes here and there, one time in mill valley at the flashback cafe, that was wierd because it seemed like everyone from my neighborhood was there..lol..I have kept my old pukes flyer from club foot ever since in a plastic holder in my personals box, its become something of a reminder of my so called primieval past. I will put it up on my my livjourn photos if I can..
yuri
[User Picture]
From:gordonzola
Date:September 26th, 2007 12:04 am (UTC)

Re: pukes, marin etc

(Link)
oh man, the Flashback Cafe... was that the show with Special Forces and Sacrapolitical? I was there too if it was.

glad you found this old post.
From:outdoorskates
Date:September 26th, 2007 03:35 am (UTC)

Re: pukes, marin etc

(Link)
I dont know if special forces was there,(I dont remember seeing orlando) but fang was there for shure..did you know the hanson bros from white stag? and jon patcharo from stained youth? (all marin folks)if you were at that show than you must remember the DK show up in novato and also I remember fang played in SR. with sacripolitical once.circle jerks played the sleeping lady in fairfax and there was another show at the olney hall in kentfield with some skaterock band.. Its been so long its hard to remember who that was..

I think wally posted some photos of sacripolitical on the cafe nuvo myspace page..you can take a look, its pretty crazy, really blows my mind to look back in time like that.. I was so young, like 13, 14 or some shit..grew up in larkspur/kentfield etc..
did you ever find a another demo of the pukes? Ive searched but no luck.. ps, was uxb originally from LA or were they sausilito? or maybe there was another band with a similir name, supposedly someone in uxb was living in sananselmo..I heard something about that redwood thing but I always thought it was blown out of reality, like someone making it all up..
cheers!
yuri
From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 4th, 2010 01:58 am (UTC)

Re: pukes, marin etc

(Link)
Me finding this blog must be karmic. James, McNamara, former SFAI student and scooter buddy led me here. I'm the guy that put the Lambretta under Rickie's skinny butt at my grandma's back yard shed in Kentfield, which began a bizarre and wondrous odyssey for me culminating at Bat Cave Scooters on Valencia St. in SF, more info: http://walteralter.byethost32.com/. I met Rickie through Jon Roden and Nancie DeRoss and we became friends until his cruel and untimely death.

A few details about that ugly event need to be cleared up. Rickie died in Studio 8A at the San Francisco Art Institute, not SF State. He had spent the night there on other occasions, the weather had nothing to do with it. He didn't have a running scooter at the time.

He told me he had become disillusioned with the teaching approach and negative, nihilistic work that was being encouraged there by the faculty. The last time I saw him several days before his death he looked worried and distracted, like something was up. He wouldn't look me in the eye.

He took a class that was not on the official academic roster, a class that somehow got approved by the director called "Music and Theater", taught by Christopher Coppola, nephew of Francis Ford Coppola and actor Nicholas Cage's brother. The class was at night in Studio 8A. The course was supposedly an exploration of "serious" performance art. Just how serious we all came to find out.

I never got a straight answer out of the SFAI's director and Christopher Coppola was a fast talking dickhead who evaded my questions during a phone conversation I had with him a week or so after Rickie's death. The Bat Cave's landlord was a gun salesman and knew a lot of cops. None of his contacts with the SFPD could get their hands on the police report, it had been buried. I contacted famous layer Melvin Belli's office about the possibility of a wrongful death law suit against the SFAI. He was immediately interested and asked me for details which I mailed to him. I never heard from him again and his office refused to let me speak with him. Someone put the fix on any further investigation.

I think Rickie was put up to killing himself as a performance piece by a clot of manipulative thrill seeking peckerwoods who sensed his vulnerable nature and played him for the sacrifice. I don't mean to darken your day with this info, but I remember Walter and Brook Johnson and the other band members fondly and don't want the truth about his death to be lost. I often think of Rickie and the loss to the punk scene his death caused. I have a video of the Puke's Earth Day performance at College of Marin. It's been digitized and I'd be happy to send a copy to anyone interested. Email me at antiretro@@gmail.com. Just remove the extra @.

Take care, you guys, I love ya.

Walter Alter
From:walteralter
Date:February 4th, 2010 02:16 am (UTC)

Bye Rickie

(Link)
Me finding this blog must be karmic. James, McNamara, former SFAI student and scooter buddy led me here. I'm the guy that put the Lambretta under Rickie's skinny butt at my grandma's back yard shed in Kentfield, which began a bizarre and wondrous odyssey for me culminating at Bat Cave Scooters on Valencia St. in SF, more info: http://walteralter.byethost32.com/.

I met Rickie through Jon Roden and Nancie DeRoss and we became friends until his cruel and untimely death. A few details about that ugly event need to be cleared up. Rickie died in Studio 8A at the San Francisco Art Institute, not SF State. He had spent the night there on other occasions, the weather had nothing to do with it. He didn't have a running scooter at the time.

He told me he had become disillusioned with the teaching approach and negative, nihilistic work that was being encouraged there by the faculty. The last time I saw him several days before his death he looked worried and distracted, like something was up. He wouldn't look me in the eye.

He took a class that was not on the official academic roster, a class that
somehow got approved by the director called "Music and Theater", taught by
Christopher Coppola, nephew of Francis Ford Coppola and actor Nicholas Cage's brother. The class was at night in Studio 8A. The course was supposedly an exploration of "serious" performance art. Just how serious we all came to find out.

I never got a straight answer out of Stephen Goldstine, the SFAI's director and Christopher Coppola was a fast talking dickhead who evaded my questions during a phone conversation I had with him a week or so after Rickie's death. The Bat Cave's landlord was a gun salesman and knew a lot of cops. None of his contacts with the SFPD could get their hands on the police report, it had been buried.

I contacted famous layer Melvin Belli's office about the possibility of a wrongful death law suit against the SFAI. He was immediately interested and asked me for details which I mailed to him. I never heard from him again and his office refused to let me speak with him. Someone put the fix on any further investigation.

I think Rickie was put up to killing himself as a performance piece by a clot of bored manipulative thrill seeking peckerwoods who sensed his vulnerable nature and played him for the sacrifice. I don't mean to darken your day with this info, but I remember Walter and Brook and the other band members fondly and don't want the truth about his death to be lost.

I often think of Rickie and the loss to the punk scene his death caused. I have a video of the Puke's Earth Day performance at College of Marin. It's been digitized and I'd be happy to send a copy to anyone interested. Email me at antiretro@@gmail.com. Just remove the extra @.

Take care, you guys, I love ya.

Walter Alter
Batman
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 2nd, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
(Link)
That guitar player was me, and yes, I am a yoga teacher in England :-)

Myka
[User Picture]
From:gordonzola
Date:January 2nd, 2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Awesome! Good for you. Nothing wrong with being a yoga teacher, there was just little else to go on... at least back when I made this post.
[User Picture]
From:wig
Date:January 2nd, 2011 06:41 pm (UTC)
(Link)
no worries, I think it's funny too... anyways thank you for writing this post. I'm sorry I can't think of who you might be? As you can see I am still quite shy and have to wear this box on my head.
[User Picture]
From:gordonzola
Date:January 2nd, 2011 06:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
no worries at all. I was friends with Walter. Walter is actually married to my co-worker in SF and they just had a baby a couple of months ago!
[User Picture]
From:wig
Date:January 2nd, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
hey that's neat! If you see him please give my congratulations :-) And thanks again for the post.

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