Ripper #4

This is a pretty important one here at Fanzine Hemorrhage HQ: it’s the absolute very first fanzine I ever bought. Ripper was published in my then-hometown of San Jose, CA. I was just beginning the 10th grade in late 1982 and was just turning 15. Jon Grant and I would occasionally take a bus from our South San Jose neighborhood into the wilds of Campbell (where Tower Records was located) or, on this particular day, Los Gatos, to procure whatever alternative cultural totems we might be able to locate. 

It was quite the slog in an auto-dependent city; the bus – “County Transit” was an afterthought for most folks and was therefore scheduled accordingly. I remember on the day that I bought my first fanzine that we had to wait a good hour or so just for our transfer bus, both getting to Los Gatos and on the way back. Once we’d arrived, though, we went to Do Re Mi Records, and this is where I procured Ripper #4, as well as an early issue of Maximum RocknRoll (#3, which you can see pictured here….I recall being a bit confused about why the guy on the cover hated sports; I loved the Giants and the Niners and wasn’t sure if I was supposed to now hate sports as well). I didn’t buy any records, but totally devoured my new magazines on the long bus slog home.

Now this particular Ripper had come out at least a year earlier, but I was just so taken with the fact that there was a local punk magazine that I had to buy it. There may have been a little “danger” involved. Both mags that I bought were immediately stashed away at the bottom of a broken drawer in my bedroom to keep them away from prying parental eyes. It wasn’t so much that I’d get in trouble or anything, I just wanted to steer clear from any uncomfortable questions about my rapidly devolving music taste, while certainly wanting to feel like I could now be somehow part of the larger punk scene that I could absolutely feel and see all around me, especially on trips to San Francisco and Berkeley. 

Tim Tonooka was the editor and publisher, and by all accounts was a great American. I now have most of the other issues from his run, and it’s definitely one of the early 80s’ better punk fanzines for both breadth and especially for its original photos. He championed Black Flag quite heavily – who didn’t? – and also gave quite a boost to the San Jose and Peninsula punk bands, names you might or might not remember like Los Olividados, Social Unrest, Ribzy, The Faction, Executioner, The Drab and so on. I seem to recall that most of those bands got almost no truck with San Francisco/Berkeley punks, and that despite San Jose only being an hour’s drive from SF, it might as well have been a cowtown in the central valley for all the attention any local scene received outside of our own city limits.

Me, I was too young and mostly too chicken to go to those local shows anyway, so I missed some real corkers at VFW halls that would later be recounted in Ripper’s pages. This particular issue didn’t do a ton to turn me onto any new bands; the (California) Undead; Impatient Youth, No Alternative and the Red Rockers were all pretty weak tea, I’d come to find out, but there’s a good, brief X interview, some relaying of what sounded like a pretty tense local show by The Slits, and unfortunately quite a few pages on The Plasmatics, which even a teenage greenhorn like me could see was exceptionally lame.  

By far the most valuable service this issue provided me was this radio guide below, which I became obsessed with and thereupon used as my personal guide to the underground. The Sunday night “Guns on the Roof” show on Santa Clara’s KSCU; the Monday night “White Noise” show on KFJC and especially Tuesday nights with “Maximum Rocknroll” on the barely-received-in-San-Jose KPFA became absolute must-listens, and were hugely beneficial at expanding my world beyond the new wave & post-punk I was otherwise consuming. I never went full-bore hardcore then nor at any other time, but there was just so much incredibly wild and exciting music buzzing all around me, on the radio and in record stores and in the fanzines that I’d eventually start buying with every spare dollar. I was delirious for all of it. It could have been any mag, but this one just happens to be where the whole obsession began. 

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