In the fall of 1975 my friend Eddie McNeil and two older friends from our town, John Holmstrom and Ged Dunn, rented a place in NYC and created
. Punk magazine
They lived and worked in an old store front at 356 10th Avenue at 30th Street in NYC known as The Punk Dump.
They had released the first issue of the magazine in January.
I visited in July 1976 just after the release of issue No. 5, “The Dull Issue” and took some pictures.
The Punk Dump – John Holmstrom, Legs McNeil and Ged Dunn in front of The Punk Dump. 356 10th Ave in NYC where the three lived, worked, and made plans to conquer the world. Previously the office of a Trucking Company, the front windows had been painted black on the inside.
Watch Out! Punk is Here! – John’s follow-up flyer to the original “Punk is Coming!” flyer. Both were plastered all over the lower east side. Something was definitely in the air.
John Holmstrom – Although the three worked as a team, clearly John was the genius behind Punk. He had the artistic and graphics skills, the vision, and his finger on the pulse of rock & roll. He was among the earliest kids in Cheshire to grow his hair long. Later in high school when Legs and I were freshmen and he was a senior and everyone was growing their hair long, he cut his off. He drew cartoons in his yearbook and started a Theater group in town called The Apocalypse Players. He was always doing something interesting.
John’s Room – Looking from inside John’s room towards the front door. This room is where John created artwork for all those early issues of Punk. Opposite the door to his room and up above was Ged’s loft bed.
Ged Dunn – (Pronounced ‘Jed’) or G.E. Dunn was the Publisher. He handled all the business of ads, printers, distributors, etc. He was a smart and ambitious guy, and like the other two, very funny. Though Ged was not a rock & roller, he could sense that something was going on and he wanted to be part of it. Enough to quit school in Kentucky and move to NYC with $5,000 and throw it in with the other two and live in the Dump. He was aiming for success, and at this time the chances for success with Punk still seemed likely.
Legs McNeil – Eddie and I knew each other since we were kids, but started hanging out all the time in high school. With the launch of Punk, Eddie was rechristened “Legs” by John and Ged. His main goal was to remain forever young as a teenager at a party that never ends, have fun always, do cool stuff, and never be bored. And to meet and know interesting people who were cool because they did cool stuff. Holmstrom was like a big brother to him, and made him both a mascot and a writer, which gave him an identity. ‘Legs McNeil’ took the ball and ran with it fearlessly.
Punk No 5 – The fifth issue of Punk had just rolled off the presses. The “Dull Issue” with the Monkees cover story. The first four issues were completely fresh and new, and expectations were high.
Ged Dunn – I remember at Cheshire High School there was an election for Student Body President or something between Ged and another kid. The whole school in the gym filling the bleachers on both sides. His very clean cut opponent gets up first and reads a nice speech standing at the lectern facing the bleachers on one side of the room with his back to the other side. Ged gets up next to give his speech, and takes the microphone off the stand and turns around and just talks off the top of his head to everyone while walking around. He charms the crap out of everyone. Thunderous applause and he wins the election. Many years later I asked him about this. He told me he walked to school that day along the canal line railroad tracks and smoked hash. Said he was completely stoned at the time of the speech.
The Night Before – Just the night before we were in New Haven and I saw The Ramones for the first time. I immediately understood what Legs had told me the previous fall– that they had seen the next Beatles. And these guys were friends of theirs. Their first album was out, and this was their first US gig after returning from England and you felt the energy surrounding them. I was impressed with how much they seemed like a team, or a gang. (At the time, at least.) The Punk Magazine crew had the same sense of a team and imminent success.
Robert Romagnoli – Another of John’s strengths was all the artists and writers he knew and engaged as contributors. Some of the best stuff in Punk came from Robert Romagnoli. His comics took many forms. While I was there he came by to pick up the new issue. In it, he drew a parody of the ‘Mr Natural’ comic by R. Crumb that appeared every week in the Village Voice.
Robert Romagnoli – R. Crumb took such offense to Romagnoli’s “Mr Neutral” parody that he stopped drawing “Mr Natural”, and wrote a kind of bittersweet fan latter to the editor. John printed a copy of the letter as written in the next issue.
Will Eisner’s Desk – One of the coolest things about the Punk Dump was that they had Will Eisner’s old desk that he gave to John. Ged used it for his publishing duties and the standing rule was to Keep Away from this Desk.
Of Course – as soon as Ged went out on a date Legs and John and moved right in for some fun.
John & Legs dreamed of making millions of dollars which would lead to lots more fun.
Hanging out front on 10th Avenue. At the time it was like a ghost town at night.
Legs would eventually would always get his comeuppance in the form of a pounding.
Sleeping with Cigarettes – Eventually Legs fell asleep in the chair for the night while clutching his cigarettes for safe-keeping. He never did have his own room.
The Next Morning – The next morning John Holmstrom put on Aerosmith’s “Back In The Saddle Again” on the turntable and played it really loud to wake every one up. And then we said, “Okay, let’s get everyone up and out front so we can take a picture,” cause everyone had just woken up. That’s why everyone looks so tired. If you notice, Legs and Ged both have bare feet.
July 24, 1976 – By the next spring the Punk Dump was gone. Ged moved back to Kentucky and started a business and raised a family. John got an apartment of his own on the lower east side much closer to the action. Legs started freelancing more and contributing to Punk less often. John got a new office at Lafayette and Spring and kept Punk going for many more great issues til 1979, with lots of help from Bruce Carleton and Elin Wilder among others. These days, Legs and John do not get along, but are both still doing their thing. John has had art shows in the USA, Japan, and Europe and has been recognized for his contribution to comics, Graphic Design and rock & roll. Sadly, Ged had a heart attack and passed away in 2015. He did read John’s book, “The Best of Punk”. He liked it fine, except the chapter titled “There is No Ged”, which covered the time several months after this photo. But on this day back in 1976, things were happening and everything was cool, and the morning held real promise.
If you find this interesting you should really check out John Holmstrom’s book
THE BEST OF PUNK MAGAZINE and of course read about it in PLEASE KILL ME: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk or wait til Legs writes his version.
Will Eisner web site. 2017 is The Will Eisner Centennial year.
US Top 40 Radio Charts July 1976 to give an idea how bad it was
In memory of Ged Dunn.
Howl Gallery Punk Magazine exhibit. NYC 2016
MY FIRST RAMONES SHOW