ITEM: In London, Singer Johnny Rotten spits at the audience and cries out, "I hate you!" Sizing up Johnny's four-letter words, tattered clothing and generally repugnant personal deportment, the British Establishment decides that it hates him. Johnny and his band, the Sex Pistols, are regularly banned from British radio, concert halls and clubs. Nonetheless, the Pistols' latest single, a Jubilee diatribe against royalty called God Save the Queen, is currently a bestselling record in Britain.
ITEM: In West Hollywood, members of a group called the Germs try to redeem a slow evening at the Whisky by smearing themselves with peanut butter.
ITEM: In Boston, the lead singer of the Dead Boys takes a swan dive to the stage floor of a joint called The Rat. He wears a leather jacket and a T shirt decorated with swastikas. He begins to stroke the torn crotch of his jeans with a vibrator. He shrieks, "This is what love is!"
ITEM: In New York, the up-and-coming Ramones decide to turn away from negative songs like I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement in favor of the upbeat Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.
ITEM: In Florida, Promoter Sidney Drashin declares that it is only a matter of time before the punk invasion begins there. Says he: "Our company believes it's going to break loose big. It's everywhere. "
Ye gods, the thoughtful, thirtyish ex-Beatles freak may well ask, what is happening to the younger generation? In Tokyo, Chicago and Paris, kids are bumping, grinding, loving, hating, wailing to the loud, raucous, often brutal sounds of punk rock. For a year or so, punk has been flourishing in the seediest rock jointsa Bowery bar called CBGB's in New York, a dingy cavern called the Roxy in London, and The Rat in Boston. There, shock is chic. Musicians and listeners strut around in deliberately torn T shirts and jeans; ideally, the rips should be joined with safety pins. Another fad is baggy pants with a direct connection between fly and pocket. These are called dumpies. Swastika emblems go well with such outfits. In London, the hair is often heavily greased and swept up into a coxcomb of blue, orange or green, or a comely two-tone. Pierced ears may sport safety pins, some made of gold or silver. Of late, punk chic has even been taken up by a few high-fashion designers. But the punkers themselves are beginning to tone down the safety-pin excesses of a few months ago.
Buzz and Blast. Up on the stage can be found a numbing array of groups and soloists whose names dramatize the nihilism and brute force that have inspired the movement: Clash, Thunder-train, Weirdos, Dictators, Stranglers, Damned, and the demon-eyed New Yorker who could become the Mick Jagger of punk, Richard Hell. The music aims for the gut. Even compared with the more elemental stylings of 1950s rock 'n' rollwhich it closely resembles punk rock is a primal scream. The music comes in fast, short bursts of buzz and blast. Some groups have but two or three chord changes at their disposal, occasionally less: last week at CBGB's a fledgling group set several unofficial records for length of time played without changing chords at all.