August 19th, 2006

July 2006

Memories of a High School Punk Rocker.

Today has been one odd little trip down memory lane after another.

First, I had lunch at Quiet Storm with pghwob. I had brought along some old stuff to show him (because, as I explained, I greatly enjoy Show and Tell). He and I have talked a fair bit about my fledgling activist experiences with Youth Cry* (the student-run activist organization that predated POG in Pittsburgh by fifteen years or so), so I brought along a bunch of my old Youth Cry memorabilia to share with him.

None of my Youth Cry stuff was in any way organized -- it was all stuffed into a file cabinet in a closet at my parents' house (and, to a lesser extent, taped into an old scrapbook, along with a FABULOUS picture from the old Pittsburgh Press of Bill Shannon, AKA Crutchmaster, getting arrested for -- what else? -- skateboarding). Man, the synapses that fired inside my brain as I pulled out those old telephone trees and pamphlets and -- can't believe I still have a copy of this -- the fucking Youth Cry Constitution.

At any rate, lunch with pghwob was followed by dinner with my mother and my aunts at Zarra's. Zarra's was a trip and a half for me because as we sat there, it slowly dawned on me that what is now Zarra's is what used to be The Electric Banana.

The Electric Banana was by far the grungiest punk rock club in Pittsburgh. You'd go there to see Half Life play and walk out with a broken nose. It was a complete hole, and the proprietor, Johnny Banana (on the left), was notorious for pulling out his gun if he felt the need to clear the room.

Johnny Banana is now the proprietor of Zarra's.

When dealing with Gayle got to be too much for me, I headed to the bar for a quick cigarette. Who should I see while I was there but old Mr. Banana himself. He said he remembered me (which I doubt is true), and said there was some sort of punk rock reunion going on in town this weekend. I told him I hadn't been inside the space since it was still The Banana, and he said "yea, it's changed a bit, but it's still rock and roll."

I wish I knew of anyone who read this who came of age as a little peace punk in Pittsburgh at the same time as I did. I am absolutely not doing justice to how incredibly surreal it is to go out for a swanky dinner with your family in what used to be the biggest shithole in Pittsburgh, and end up hanging out at the bar with Johnny Banana.

*note: This was the only Youth Cry link I could find online, and it's barely a link -- it's an interview with Rusted Root where Liz makes a passing mention to meeting Michael there.