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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 too edgy. The wild hair-dos, make-up
and safety-pins stuck through the ear, not to mention
the drugs and alcohol was repulsive to some
mainstream folks.  But truth was, there was beauty and
wonder in that scene. You just had to know what to look
for and photographer
Ruby Ray knew what to look for.
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 or depraved.

They were 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. There was no security to
speak of at the
Mabuhay Gardens in San
Francisco when I first went there. 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
just about 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 - Many covers by Ruby Ray
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
could smell the opportunities lurking in the seedy clubs and
impoverished 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 late 70s. After they mature
and fragment they become commercialized and the
opportunities for outsiders disappears and it becomes more and
more just a money-making game for the insiders, major labels
and the few lucky artists that make it to the top.

Dale Stewart  2012