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Hey Max,
I'm under the impression that Ronald Thatcher (cute pseudonym, eh?) has an extremely disoriented view of the Philly hardcore scene. He is hardly an unbiased, honest "journalist" (and I use the term as loosely as possible), and is inept at describing the true essence of the "scene". Writing to you was undoubtedly just one more excuse to act elitist. Philly's bands and magazine-type folks go out of their way to alienate the "punks on the street", so to speak. As a college radio person, I've been spared their snobbish attitudes, but have witnessed it all first-hand.

People who were once your friends might form a band and then totally deny your existence, and just ignore you. If you don't have a bizarre enough haircut or fit into the current Philly trend, then forget it--you aren't worth the $5 you spent to get in. The BYO act like they INVENTED hardcore, and now they're anti-fashion (no "hardcore attire", so to speak) and if you wear spikes or whatever, you're out. Wear not what you like, but fit in or risk rejection from the "cool" crowd.

The BYO gig that was so successful in Thatcher's eyes (ha, ha!) was actually a total disaster except for the bands. Lots of stuff got stolen (albums from the DJ, my wallet, Big Mike's leather jacket, the hand-stamp at the door), Beebe broke his leg by some asshole slamming him, a guy and his sister got beat up by a couple of locals and couldn't even get help from a restaurant they ended up in. Becky Wreck and Sue almost got robbed. FLAG OF DEMOCRACY and CRIB DEATH both sucked out the ass, and the only band worth mentioning was MINOR THREAT, who were GREAT. The only things I can remember about SS DECONTROL was that they sold concert shirts (next they'll open for JOURNEY?) and some pig who stood on the stage pretending she mattered to the band. The gig sucked. The only thing that happened was that the BYO made bucks. That's why Thatcher is so excited, I guess.

A lot of us "old timers" who've been around since the Hot Club feel really fucked up about what's happened to what once was a thriving scene. So WHAT if "punk" is passe? The "punks" paved the way for these "hard snores" and now we just feel alienated by something we essentially created. The fucking elitist little kids who think they're it.

Philly's scene has potential, as soon as those who take over authoritative positions start realizing that without being human with the fans, they'll have no following and no unity and eventually no scene. And knock off this habit of forming bands just to see how fast they can play, and scream "anarchy" in 50 seconds.

By the way. If '77 punk is so fucked up, then forget anarchy. Who initiated the bridge between punks and anarchy anyway? In the mean time, I think I'll start going to coliseum rock concerts and being revolutionary on my own. At least until you kiddies are done playing around.

A truly concerned Philly punk


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Dear "Truly Concerned"; any criticism is worth considering, but your letter doesn't even offer that much. You do not express disagreement or difference--only insults and put downs. My response to the specifics in your condemnation is as follows:

Philly BYO began to involve all who were/are interested in building an alternative scene, with a permanent hall, and to be rid of elitism, authoritarianism, monopolies, etc. The result of the original publicity and early meetings was getting a variety of people, who were not all from the same "crowd". Some of the response has included negativity, but most of it is insults that have consistently been issued to anyone doing anything for the last couple of years. The majority of the feedback has been very supportive and encouraging. Also, there is alot of mail from places where people have less access to gigs, the scene, etc. who give additional and very inspiring support.

No one in BYO sets fashion or antifaahion standards. The purpose is not to "rule", but to work with all who are interested in keeping the alternative scene going. You're entitled to believe that "old timers" from the Hot Club era, including yourself, "essentially created" the Philly scene, but I don't know anyone who feels responsible for "inventing hardcore" (should we condemn the youngsters in FLAG OF DEMOCRACY for not being around the Hot Club back then, when they were 9 or 10 years old?). Also, there's rarely evidence of a "bridge" between the early punks and the "hard snores" and "fucking elitist little kids", (at least from the younger side of it). You seem to have a problem shared by many about the inclusion of new people and ideas. There are many local hardcores who consider themselves anarchists, and there doesn't seem to be as much a gap between that segment of the scene and others (as there was in the past).

The Philly scene has been viewed by many bands and others from elsewhere, as well as many locals, to have more positive and human attitudes. From my experience within the scene, the feelings of those I know, and people who contact Philly BYO, I conclude that to the "punks on the street", this is the "true essense of the scene".

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You seem to be detached because of your own choice, which you are entitled to. However, I think it would be more constructive to not alienate yourself from the young/hardcore "crowd", and to really look at your own attitude. Your reaction to Buff Hall is unusual and unrealistic, in my opinion. Total disaster? Countless people from several scenes, as well as many locals gave very moving responses to the show. SSD, whose van was hit by a car, expressed great feelings afterwards and said they wanted to do another gig in the future (also, their t-shirts are not "concert" ones, the way you describe them, merely the name of the band--what's wrong with that? Now they compare with JOURNEY?), Ian, who was hurt in that crash, thought the show was great. DJ Jeff Jenkins, whose singles were ripped off, still speaks enthusiastically about how highly he thought of it. This also applies to some others who had some kind of bad experience that night. The Ghetto Riders (a local biker gang) offered to help and watch, which they did, and the crowd was advised about the neighborhood before the first band. A van regularly shuttled back and forth to the train stop all night. But we do not control anyone's behavior. Some still chose to walk around the neighborhood, unfortunately. If you have ideas for dealing with that, I'd be happy to hear them.

It is ridiculous to charge that Philly BYO is out to "make bucks". Everyone involved has regularly put money into it, and is worse off financially {we've paid to get in, as agreed to at the first meeting). All money made at shows goes to the bands, expenses, more shows, and now keeping the hall going, which is unbelievably expensive.

If you want to be honest with yourself, you'll find that your participation in the scene is not under some authority. Who's denying your right to be yourself? Regarding Philly BYO, all input, ideas, criticism, or whatever, including yours, is welcome.

Lastly, it was strange to read about my being "disoriented". I haven't been accused of that since I was in high school and the authorities were under the impression that I was on drugs.

Ron Thatcher

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