Two out of three / Minutemen ’86

John Belushi

It’s the eyebrows.

In the past, people often told me I resembled John Belushi. After the obscuring effects of Joliet Jake’s early death diminished his profile, people changed their story and told me I instead resembled D. Boon of the Minutemen.

D. Boon, Minutemen

D. Boon, Minutemen

D‘s tragic early death due to complications from touring in a rock band* put an end to those comparisons. This quiet, happy period continued until until Jack Black‘s comparatively recent rise to prominence. Today, I get confused for him a lot. It is surreal enough as it is to be stopped by strangers and pointed at, to be genuinely mistaken for a famous person – but surreal doesn’t begin to describe the feeling when that happens over decades but the famous people change.

I don’t know what Mr. Black’s more extreme habits include, but given the high mortality rate of

Black, Jack

Black, Jack

famous people who look like me, I’d advise him to walk the straight and narrow if he wants to get old.

Speaking of the dearly missed and incredible Minutemen, a new docu-film on the boys from San Pedro called We Jam Econo has premiered and we all need to see it.

In the spirit of this film, here’s my special Minutemen story:

It’s 1983, I’m sixteen, and the Minutemen are playing the West End in Chicago at 1170 W. Armitage. As was the custom for hardcore punk shows at the time, there was an all-ages show to be followed by an over-21 show.  The band was just brilliant. Furious, brief, soulful, absolutely meaning it and just full of great ideas and execution. I watched them ignore the second-order rules of hardcore punk while upholding its essence: intensity, force, substance – they had it all. Yet they were on that stage as causally as a mutual fund manager gets on the train every morning in the suburbs. They had made their life their art and this appearance was the pure and natural consequence of that art. My god, they were great.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a guy stand up on the bar and begin to swat at the light fixture with a drink tray.  He was an older man, maybe in his late 40s or early 50s and he appeared to be coked to the gills.  Utterly wasted, trashing the place and causing quite a bit of concern for the bartender, one Sue Miller, famously of the much-missed Chicago rock club Lounge Ax and today the matriarch in the Jeff Tweedy household.

Unfortunately, the yahoo standing on the bar trashing the place was none other than Sue’s boss — the owner of the West End.  She can’t call the cops on him. The bouncers work for him as well.  Granted this free tantrum pass, he kept kicking glasses and abusing his own establishment and patrons.  The crowded club formed a wide berth for his inebriated destruction as  glass flew, stools were thrown and poor Sue wrestled with the lose-lose nature of the situation.

Seeing all this from onstage, D. Boon announced that the over-21 set is canceled and the all-ages set is going to be extended and finished. “We’re gonna play everything we got before the place comes crashing down.” The boys crank into the extended set, challenging themselves to wrestle even more sweat out of their supercharged music. The additional urgency lent to the already incredible show made for a transcendent, irreplaceable moment that I know I didn’t appreciate enough at the time. D., Mike and George laid it out for us in the face of real physical danger. I felt… protected, if you can believe it.

When they finally finished, the band’s urge to flee the room took over. Some of us charged the stage and helped our heroes break down their gear and haul it out to their white van parked on Sheffield by the back door. I got Hurley’s floor tom and carried it out for them. Behind me, breaking glass and chaos reigned. In the small patio behind the West End i shook Watt’s, D’s and George’s hands – I’ve never been more personally grateful to any artist, working in any medium, ever.

Long live the Minutemen. long live Mike Watt and George Hurley. long live D. Boon.

* 2008: It took 23 years but I finally got the circumstances of D.’s death correct – he wasn’t on tour at the time of the van crash.  I just always presumed he was on his way to a gig.  It simply never ocurred to me that he could be travelling without trying to make a gig.  Thanks to EA forums member Nina for setting me straight.

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rob [at] warmowski [dot] com

@warmowski on twitter

Rob’s Bands

Rob Warmowski entry at Chicago Punk Database
1984-89: Defoliants
1991-94: Buzzmuscle
2001-05: San Andreas Fault
2008- : Sirs
2008- : Allende

Rob at Huffington Post

February 2005

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