Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Upstart Crow

Here is another old blog I wrote in 2004 about a Campbell, CA punk institution from the early 80s. The photo is from the summer of 1984 taken in Palo Alto, CA. That is me in front with the cigarette.

Upstart Crow

In Campbell, CA, 1983-??? "The Crow" as it was fondly referred to, was a cool place for people of different subcultures to congregate. It was a bookstore/coffee house and the first place I ever tried an expresso drink. There was a large patio off the dining area that had a vine covered arbor. The patio was surrounded by a waste high black metal fence, and most people who were too lazy to walk around would just jump it. There was a large tree (oak I think) along the side for additional shade during the day. 
For about a year Wednesday night was the night to be there if you lived south of Palo Alto or Fremont and North of Gilroy. It was the time when most everyone involved in some kind of 'subculture' would meet up. There would be mods, deathrocks, punks, skins, skaters, dance club kids, and even the few rockabillies that were around town. At times there would be several hundred people meeting there. We would meet, some people would have booze hidden, we'd smoke cigs and cloves and just sit around hanging out and bullshitting. 
In those days if you were in the "scene" you pretty much knew who everyone in the scene was. Most of us were 16-19 but there were a few old-timers who had started listening to punk in 78 or 79 and they were around 22 or 23. The older ones were more deathrock like than punk. Today, the subcultures are so multi-generational it's hard to know who everyone is or where they came from or who they know. Back then, if you saw a kid wearing creepers, you knew who they were and if you didn't, you'd walk up and start talking to them to find out what crew they hung out with. I kind of intermingled with a lot of different groups. Having a touch of ADD made me get bored with people and situations and I'd move on to other groups of people, but trying never to burn bridges. 
Summer of 84, the Crow started to crack down on Wed nights. To many people drinking, scaring away paying customers, and one night there must have been over 200 people, so they planned to close at 7 pm on Wednesdays. People were bummed, and there never was again a place like that where you knew EVERYONE would be in one place. 
Summer of 85, people still went to the crow but it wasn't a once a week thing. We'd go any night, around 6 or 7. Next to the Pruneyard where the Crow was located, was a creek. Today it's all developed as the "Los Gatos/Campbell Community Creek Trail" for squares to ride their bikes on. Back then, no trail, just a hole in the fence to a trail that led down to a creek and under a bridge. We spent that summer drinking under that bridge. There was a huge willow tree with a mattress under it. The tree was like a cave. Some people would camp out there. One night some of my buddies brought a Colemen stove down to the creek. They took sticks with long string attached to them and tide balogna on the ends. They caught crawdads and then saute them in butter. I was to grossed out to try one, but they were loving them. 
We scared away the vagrants who had once hung out under that bridge since we were there almost every day when there wasn't a show or something better to do. We even had a couple planned parties down there. It was far enough away and the cops never came down there. We didn't bother anyone. When they were making that dumb ass community trail, they cut down the willow tree. 
I still drive over that bridge and glance down there sometimes. I miss my youth, and I miss those people and those times. You know, when you just didn't give a shit what you were going to do with your life. When you didn't have responsibilities and your only objective was to be with your friends and have a good time. Politics didn't mean anything, you just knew you hated Regan. Damn...I need a smoke, I'm feeling kind of misty. 


Anonymous said...

I am dying here with these memories and photos! Love them. Also, Im waiting for my husband or his ex to show up!

Vintage Christine said...

What a great post! I did my rebelling in the 60's and 70's and by the 80's I'd settled down a bit. How sad that they cut down a lovely willow tree to put in a path! Couldn't they have gone around it?!


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