Slush #2

I’d truly fashioned myself as about as much of a ‘77-’83 Los Angeles punk/underground collector, snob and scholar as one who wasn’t there might possibly be, but somehow I’d not been told the news that Masque founder & proprietor and Scottish punk gadfly Brendan Mullen had his own outstanding early 80s fanzine, Slush (!). If it weren’t for the online fanzine store ZNZ I still wouldn’t know about it, yet when I spied Slush #2 sitting on their digital racks and got a gander at what it was all about – Mullen’s semi-ridiculous Slash magazine “parody”-cum-scandal sheet-cum-straight-up, punk-reverent fanzine, well, I did what anyone as weirdly obsessed as I am about this era might do. I pounced.

And it’s even better than I expected, this Slush #2. I thought it might be short on content and long on snark, but it’s actually long on both. Better still, it’s good enough to be respectively deemed a worthy LA extension of the godlike Slash, and nearly as informative, opinionated and certainly as on-the-ground and in the center of the maelstrom as Slash was. I mean, Mullen’s the guy that gave the first-wave LA punks their playhouse. He didn’t slink away after it was shut down; in fact, he was a drummer in multiple bands himself: Geza X and The Mommymen; Arthur J and The Gold Cups and Hal Negro and the Satin Tones. He even famously – and it’s referenced here – served as Black Flag’s singer for a gig or two between Ron Reyes and Dez Cadena, though I’d have to check the record on that again to confirm that it was more of an in-joke than a tryout. 

On the cover is a high school photo of Eddie Joseph, later of Eddie & The Subtitles and someone lionized here as an all-around great guy. Inside we have a promise that the magazine “can only come out every two months (realistically) instead of monthly as had originally been hoped”. The magazine, I’m afraid to say, never came out again, but not before promising a third issue that would feature The Urinals, Vox Pop, East LA “punk in the barrio”, “The Screamers movie”, Russel Mael, Don Bolles and much more. If I’m wrong, like I was ignorant of this fanzine’s entire existence, and this did come out, can someone please let me know?

There’s a big essay up front called “Is There, Isn’t There Punk Rock Violence?????”. I was absolutely prepared for an anti-LA Times piece (it is that) and lots of “I swear, I hate cops, to the max” equivocating, but no – Mullen pulls a surprise rabbit out of his punk rock hat and basically says, yeah, it’s pretty out of control right now, and he sets his target straight at Huntington Beach, or the “Aitch Bees” as he calls them. It’s actually a fairly responsible essay, written by an adult, a man who’s very much excited for punk’s continued evolution but who sees the seeds of its eventual destruction already germinating. 

But Mullen celebrates Orange County two pages later with a very excited piece called “Orange County….California Screamin’…The Fourth Wave”; Mike Patton, truly of the OC (and also of The Middle Class), gets in his long own Fullerton/Anaheim scene report, with mini-features on pretty much every band that calls themselves a punk band and who maybe played a gig in a garage.   

The Bags have broken up. There’s another nail in the first wave, and Mullen provides the obituary. Craig Lee of said band – weren’t we just talking about him? – provides the world’s first look at brand-new band Castration Squad with his ex-bandmate Alice, and (sigh) Tracy Lea, referred to here as “Little Tracy”. Lee also provides another intro to The Gun Club, “a brand new band who’ve maybe played only six or seven gigs and as yet have not established any audience”. Germs have broken up, too – Darby’s working on establishing The Darby Crash Band, and would, alas, be dead within 3 months. AND we get to see who that new Black Flag singer is who’s not Mullen!

So yeah, it’s all very exciting and another glimpse into something I’d have given my proverbial eye teeth to have taken part in. Maybe I could’ve saved Slush when Mullen put out that call for contributors….maybe I could’ve saved Brendan….maybe I could’ve saved the scene itself….

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