December, 1990

'Boneheads Need Not Apply'

A letter in a recent issue of Maximumrocknroll accused the organizers of the Saturday matinees at ABC No Rio of taking the hard out of hardcore. If hard means the belligerent machismo spewed by that letter-writer ("I tell you what's wrong with girls: They ain't got no balls, just like you guys. They're also weak and it's easy to kick their ass. And they like to fuck guys, just like you three"), then the people behind the matinees, Freddy Alva and Neil Robinson, don't deny it. "No racist, sexist or homophobic bands will be booked," their fliers announce, and they freely admit that they are trying not to draw the people who turned the CBGB matinees into slugfests. "We have more of a punk crowd," says Robinson, a long-haired Londoner who also runs the Squat or Rot record label/squatters group. "We're trying to get some politics going." Those politics are anarchist, not fascist; skinheads ("boneheads we call 'em") need not apply. "We're the only non-profit, volunteer-run, cooperative all-ages venue in New York," the Peruvian Alva says. "We're losers, we're faggots."

Damn productive ones though. Last month they built a stage and sound booth in ABC's basement, turning the raw space into something a little more functional than an abandoned building. Records and T-shirts are sold upstairs, and anarchist, squatters, animal rights, and Greenpeace literature is handed out. This Saturday Jesus Chrust, Insurgence, Yuppiecide, the Worst, and Huasipungo play a benefit for ABC and Food Not Bombs; last week's Mental Floss, Affirmative Action, and Wretched Ones show was an antidote to the conventioneering pabulum pawned off as "alternative" these days. "Here's a jangly kind of CMJ thing," joked Affirmative Action before one post-Minutemen expectoration. We don't need no stinking badges.

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ABC No Rio: The Culture of Opposition Since 1980