Bob Cutler 1982 Topeka High Caffeteria


The Summer of 82….I think. The Drugs where really kicking in around then, I think.

The Collins Park 4th Of July Parade , and for reasons I dont remember, but somehow make total sense: A Clockwork orange.
On the far left, Shawn Ames(?) Droogs: Brian McGuire, Bill Volmut and John Cutler (?)


I still clearly remember 1981, or was it 1982? I was in high school. I had given myself a Mohawk, and had a friend trim up the uneven off-center parts. And then he chickened out and didnt get a mohawk as well, as he had promised, we had made a pact to do this together. Oh well.
Topeka High Caffeteria.
A young Bob Cutler, Topeka High, 1982..or so.
The Mohawk had grown out a little.


I was walking down 17th street not far from my house, its a fairly busy street. Cars would drive by and honk and some angry voice would scream “FUCK YOU F@&&OT!!” at me and speed on by. Sometimes they would slam on their breaks and some redneck trash would jump out and start chasing me. Something about having a Mohawk in early 1980s Topeka KS just infuriated them. Sometimes they’d catch me, or I would not run, and I’d either get beaten up, or Id be able to fight back.
Bob With Chainsaw
Chainsaws were cool, Wendy O’Williams used a Chainsaw in The Plasmatics.
     

     This red pickup truck drove by,, and the only two words that any of the redneck trash in Topeka came flying out of the window "HEY F@&&OT!".  And my middle finger went up automatically. The human garbage behind the wheel of the truck was turning around in his seat, rubber-necking around to get a better look as he screamed at me, and so did the car behind him. The truck went over, jumped up the curb, and ran into a phone pole, and the car behind him slammed right into his rear-end, no brakes, because THAT driver was gawking at me and not paying attention to what was happening in front of him. It drive the truck further into the phone pole cracking it.
I laughed. Hard. I pointed, "YOU FUCKING IDIOT!!" and kept laughing, even as the redneck jumped out of his truck and spun around, getting his balance after slamming into the pole, and he ran towards me. I turned to ran, still laughing my ass off.  Traffic came to a halt. I knew the neighborhood like the back of my hand, I knew every little short cut and alleyway, and gap between buildings. I ran around the Kwik Shop that used to be at 17th and Medford, down the alley and over the fence. I lost the redneck idiot. But I was basically back to where the truck was wrapped around the broken phone pole and a car was parked halfway up the trucks ass, and its driver was standing in the middle of the street throwing a tantrum. I saw me and started running towards me. But just then a cop rolled up on the scene, and I was off like a shot, back behind the gas station, and off down the alley, still laughing. I could hear the cop yelling at me to stop and come back.
I saw no reason to: It wasn't MY wreck, and it wasn't really MY fault that these redneck idiots would lose their shit anytime they saw a punkrock kid with a funny haircut. 

     Every single day it was something else: rednecks in pickups screaming at me and wanting to kick my ass, or jocks at school wanting to assert their dominant alpha-male entitled and privileged status. Old ladies at the store snarling and gasping in fear and anger. Full grown men having conniptions and screaming at me about how they "Didnt go to war in Viet fucking Nam just so you little freaky F@&&ots can prance around with that fucked up haircut". (Yeah, youre right, you didnt, you went 'cause you got suckered.)  I remember THAT incident, its almost an anniversary of it: July 4th, 1982, the Collins Park PArade. A local neighborhood park and Parade that had started in the early 70s and grown. I was hanging out in the park with some friends, and my Brother John, some of them had dressed up as "Doogies" from Clockwork Orange, Brian MaGuire and Mark Volumt and Bill Volmut as well as Shawn Ames were there. (Brian MArk and I would eventually start The Klusterfux together, Bill, Shawn and John (And sometimes Mark) had a band called "The Rough Cuts". And basically we were goofing off as this 4th of July Neighborhood parade went on....with all of these people gasping and staring and freaking out over these Droogs, and Punk rockers ran around in the park. (I think Bill Volmut had a super-8 camera and was making a movie that possibly never got developed(?))

      
Droogies: Brian McGuire, Bill Volmut and John Cutler (?)
This actually created a bit of a stirr in the nice Collins Park Culture. People were scared of this. That was funny.

I was standing in the shade of a tree watching the shenanigans, when all of the sudden I hear this drunken slurring belligerent voice behind me, and I turned around, and here comes this FAT Beer-bellied redneck in a hat made out of Budwieser cans storming towards me (He was coming from the house that had a Stock Car racing car in the driveway….go figure.) And he was all hot and bothered by my haircut and my jacket full of buttons and pins and patches for various punkrock bands, and he was huffing and puffing and screaming something about how He didnt go to Viet Fucking Nam just so you F@&&OTS could have such a crazy haircut. He ran towards me and tried to grab me several times, but he was drunk and falling all over the place and I easily side-stepped him as he screamed calling me a commie dirtbag F@&&got He tried swinging several hay-maker round-house fists at me, but only succeeded in falling over. A small crowd that had gathered were NOT on my side, and they were telling me to get my punk ass out of THEIR park. I threw up both middle fingers and marched away back towards where my friends where. The drunken beer bellied budwieser hatted viet nam vet got up swearing and panting red faced and pissed off. “You get out of MY neighborhood!” he screamed at me. “Fuck you!” I yelled back. “I rule this park every night asshole!” . And that was true. My self and some friends hung out and got drunk and high in that park almost every night if we didnt have anything else to do.

It certainly plumped up our sense of indignation with society, and our sense of persecution and paranoia that seemed to validate all the lyrics in the songs we listened to, or wrote. In many ways we were asking for it, and we knew it, We knew damned well what the reaction to having big spikey crazy hair and our pants tucked into our 2nd hand combat boots would be. But we did it anyway. And we learned to fight back. Not that any of us where really very “bad ass” fighters. But it certainly brought out the intolerance and bigotry of just about everyone around us. Punk Rock was NOT really very popular. But a couple of years later, a lot of the SAMe jocks and preppies and norms that treated us like shit and bullied us (or tried to…and lost) would suddenly be sporting Clash T-Shirts and lop-sided hairdos. And showing up at Punk Rock shows in Lawrence. But they never seemed to come to the local shows in Topeka.

Teasing Shawn Ames in our Basement (Original Chrometuna Studios) Practice space.
Every now and then I just had to rattle Shawm Ames trashcan…..someone got a picture of it.

I didn’t start any of this. There were some local bands already that friends a little bit hipper than I was turned me on to: Abuse, The Brats, Then Psychic Archie and The Iguanas, The Smart Pills. I met and made friends with this older crowd and the guys in those bands, and some of them took me under their wings and let me tag along or gave me rides to shows in Kansas City at The Downliner or Music Box, The VFW Hall and the FoolKiller. House parties in Lawrence or KC, At The Opra House or the Palladium. (What was the name of that place at 9th and Mississippi that briefly had punk shows?) Some crazy loft spaces in downtown KC. But even in Topeka there soon became an active and almost thriving punk rock scene. Although in 1982 I was already hearing (And repeating) how “It was all so much better in 1980, before all these POSERS showed up!”. I recognized the silliness and irony of saying such things. But that was a mantra that seemed to repeat over and over again for years to come. “It was so much better back then when it was REAL!’

Ive already written elsewhere about how in 1978 I was told, and discovered that *I was already a punker rocker.* . Ive been a punk ALL my life. Ive always been a weirdo and social misfit. Misdiagnosed aspergers and “On the spectrum” in USD 501 before they even had the diagnoses for “ADHD” and certainly didnt have such WOKE terms like “Neurodivergent”. And hiding an even deeper darker more deadly secret: I was GAY as well. As if I didnt have self-esteem issues as it was.

I was NOT a happy well-adjusted kid with lots of friends, popular at school and making my parents proud. Just the opposite. I was a geek, a nerd, a sped, A Queer, I got sent to special ed classes in 6th grade because the teachers and my parents didnt know what to do with me, but they where convinced that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE WITH BOB! As if I already didnt know what being ostracized and rejected felt like, in the 6th grade I was being picked up in the “Sped Sled” with a bunch of kids wearing hockey helmets and drooling on the windows. Across town to another school where I didnt know anyone, separated from the very few friends (Most of whom where also weirdoes, nerds and geeks.) shut down and neutralized on thorazine that my Mom had shopped me around to different doctors until she found one that would prescribe me thorazine….it wasnt for MY problems, it was for my Mom’s, Im just the failure that had to take it and swallow it.

I was not a bubbly bouncey Preppie kid who got a Clash T-shirt and only heard of DEVO when “Whip It” came out and “Rock The Casbah” suddenly got radio play, and got a mullet or spikey haircut and then cried a few tears when they got slapped by one jock and suddenly felt like they had “earned their stripes”.

I didn’t choose the Punk Rock Life, The Punk Rock Life Chose ME! (lol)

I wasnt some 3rd waver suburban trophy child jumping from one trendy identity crises to another.

I was a punk before you where a punk.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RaWmimpe1g

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