The Wire January 2000
It was a sad day in my young life when I came to the realization that the very foundation on which I staked my whole life was a teetering and stinky pile of horseshit. ‘Punk Rock’ (that is the 1976 definition of the words) when it really boiled down to it, was more or less some vehicle for some carrot topped halfwit to sell a box full of torn t-shirts to a bunch of rich kids from the London suburbs. I think the idea finally hit me halfway through the snooze fest that is ‘England’s Dreaming’, that oh-so-exciting pile of pages written by the rockinest Grandma in ole Blighty, Jon Savage. It certainly didn’t make what Punk inspired any less of itself, but it still saddened my tiny twenty year old head to think something as earnest and close to my heart as Minor Threat was drawn from something that was all about ‘Pose, pose, pose’. I pretty much settled on the fact that Punk’s initial spark rested on getting over on someone to make a buck. What a bummer.
That idea sat in my brain for awhile and bobbed around in my gray matter here and there, but it floated to the front again whilst reading ‘Berlin Bromley’, the Punk memoirs of Bertie ‘Berlin’ Marshall, the flaming side mouse to Siouxsie, Steve Severin and the rest of the Bromley contingent. If there’s one person that defines the consciously vacant poser of King’s Road fashion of ‘76/’77, it’s this guy. If you go by the quotes on the back of the book (‘…A remarkable record of a defining moment in musical history’) you’d think you’re getting the lowdown on Brit ’77 action in all its glory. Instead, you get breakdowns on what was worn the first time Berlin went to see the Sex Pistols. The actual music? You’re gonna hafta consult someone else on that, lovey. But fuck, I guess cheesecloth is the defining moment of this music. Here goes that bummer headache again…
‘It’s a lot better now than it used to be. When it started it was all the art college lot, now it’s working class kids. You’ve got the Upstarts, the Rejects and us, just kids playing for the kids. And you don’t have to buy a thirty quid pullover or hang around the King’s Road anymore.’ -- Peter Chinhead
If you strip this book of having to do with anything remotely about music, than I’d say it’s a naughty little read full of mindless decadence written in the style of someone who IS there just for a cheap thrill and maybe a quick butt load of splooey. Soon after ‘discovering’ Punk, Berlin left his safe home in Bromley and became a rent boy lying in beds and man-doing everyone from National Front skins to Fat British businessmen with flatulence fetishes. Even though he never touched her, he caught crabs from Nancy Spungen (wudda honor!) and cryptically reveals that Stevie Jones and Cookie might have been doing one another. A book crammed with posing, sulphate, man love and catty wordage, ‘Berline Bromley’ is a fun, quick read that’s sorta like eating a Turkey and Ice Cream hoagie or a night out on the town with Lady Boys; easily regrettable but too much fun to pass up.