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PUNK PASSAGE 1977-1981 Photography E-Book
Thumbing through the pages of Punk Passage I got the
feeling of being there at
The Mab in San Francisco in
it's glory days. Back when the punk movement was
young and still quite underground. Most of the bands
and musicians who would go on to big success were
easily approachable 1977-1981.  You just had to go to
the punk clubs and look around, they were there. It's
just that a lot of people in those days found those clubs
and that scene repugnant. The wild hair-dos, make-up
and safety-pins stuck through the ear, not to mention
the drugs and alcohol was disgusting to a bunch of
mainstream folks.  But truth was, there was beauty and
wonder in some of those people. You just had to know
where to look and photographer
Ruby Ray knew where
to look. What she saw through the lens of her camera
was a tender and human side to a slice of society that
was oft portrayed as deranged and depraved.

It was the gems of artistic achievement that redeemed
punk from what so many wrote off as just a bunch of
losers. In the early days of the punk scene it was
brimming with agressive, talented, forward-thinking
performers and entrepeneurs. You just had to get
through the clutter of bigotry and narrow-mindedness to
see it.
There were so many cool bands that
you could see up close. Go backstage
after their set, meet them, hang out
and maybe share a drink and chat.
There was no security to speak of at
the Mabuhay Gardens. After stumbling
into the club in 1979 and watching an
interesting set by Los Microwaves I just
walked up the stairs to the backstage
area and complimented them on the
groovy music, they thanked me and I
walked back down to the main floor
amazed that I could just go and talk to
the musicians. I knew if someone like
me could go backstage, they were
letting anybody backstage at these
punk gigs.
Paul Roessler and Tomata Du Plenty of The Screamers in North Beach 1977
Chip Kinman of The Dils gettin some air captured by Ruby Ray 1978
The Cramps backstage at Napa State Hospital 1978
Ruby Ray's showing at the Jewitt Gallery at The San Francisco Public LIbrary 2009
Search and Destroy magazine
Punk zines, records, buttons and memorabilia at the San Francisco Public Library 2009
Too bad I didn't have a camera, I could have gotten an interesting shot frozen in
time. And that's what Ruby Ray did in spades. The 250 photos in this E-Book with
the well-detailed captions offer an enriching experience of the early SF punk scene
that is precious to me. Precious because we Fresno punk rockers went up there to
the City to see the punk gigs whenever we could. Now it's gone and the documents
bring some of it back to life.

But the photos are not only about the action on stage,
but also the digs where they created all this edgy art and
literature. Some of the rooms were quite humble and
reveals the truth of the bohemian lifestyle. Ultimately it
was the bands, the music and the wild personalities that
punk attracted. Creative types that could smell the
opportunities lurking in the seedy clubs and
poverty-encrusted locations.

Ruby Ray was photographer for Search and Destroy
magazine, co-founder of Re/Search magazine and
manager of Rough Trade Records in San Francisco. All
of this before 1981.

There is something so vital about these movements
when they are young: Rocknroll in the mid 50s, The
Hippy movement in the mid 60s and the punk scene in
the early days. After they mature and fragment they
begin to commercialize and the opportunities for
outsiders to move in disappears and it becomes more
and more just a money-making game for the major labels
and the few lucky artists that make it to the top.