The first few Punk Houses that I hung out at were in Chicago, two in particular. The oldest, the South Side Punk House, was started around the time of Operation Desert Storm in West Lawn near W. 67th Place and Pulaski before it was a barrio from what I understand. I first came there during the events against the TransAtlantic Business Dialouge (TABD) in November 2002. The House had an interesting oral history, but I’m not sure how much of it I believe! Last time I was in Chi I heard that it had burned down, which I had considered historically inevitable. From what I understand, no one was hurt.
The next summer I had started hanging out at the first ASAP House, which was started by the Anarchist Skins and Punx Unity Crew (ASAP) in el barrio Pilsen. I would frequently go to one or the other House after shows and/or parties. There was a hall in Pilsen called the Swazey Compund where there were frequent shows, and a store front next to Radio Arte was another regular venue at the time. I also saw a couple House shows in the South Side and bar shows in the North Side at the time getting into some of who came to be my favorite bands for years like Reaccion and Tras De Nada. Later living in the South Side Punk House turned into one of my worst experiences with communal living. I also started to drift apart from ASAP as their Crew grew pretty large quickly, then fell a part even faster.
Aside from a visit to a second ASAP House also in Pilsen in early ’05, and a brief stay at the Punk House in Tulsa, Oklahoma in early ’06 on my way from Tucson back to Chi, I rarely even heard about people still living in Punk Houses much less starting them.
The next time I came to Tucson in the spring of ’11 I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of Punk Houses whose dwellers were involved with the two reasons I came back to town: No More Deaths doing, amongst other things, food and water drops on the Migrants’ Trail from Mexico into the U$ in the Sonoran Desert, and the Dry River Radical Resource Center, an Infoshop in the Dunbar Spring neighborhood where I taught a series of weaving workshops, and in turn started writing political prisoners again and caught a handful of great shows.
At the time, my favorite Punk House in Tucson was The Vegan Straight Edge (XVX) Punk House. It was the first House that welcomed me in, and the place I stayed the most that visit. Though most of the people who stayed there weren’t involved with Dry River anymore and no one was involved with No More Deaths, they all supported the work I was doing and were glad to have me around. I went on to stay with a couple of the kids from there at other Punk Houses such as The Barnyard (also known as The Slaves’ Quarters and Fresh Country) and Havoc House (not much havoc there). The XVX Punk House shut down the summer of 2011, about two years after it started.
When Dry River was still going, two of the bands I saw there, Towardis and Let The World Die, were from Flagstaff and had members who were involved with the Taala Hooghan Infoshop there, one of which invited me to town to teach a weaving workshop. It would be about six months before I did go, but I ended up catching shows at a couple of Punk Houses there too, The Big House and Cottage House. There wasn’t too much cross over between the Punk Houses and the Taala Hooghan, but people were still friendly and receptive to radical literature and what not at the House shows.
In the spring of ’12 I ended up spending a great deal of time at the Barnyard, which was the original work site of the Autonomous Community Sustainability Project. I went back out to the desert with No More Deaths a couple of times then, and like before, though no one else from the house was involved, everyone supported the work I was doing. Sadly the house shut down in the fall of ’12, also about two years after it started.
In late February ’13 I went to Tucson for what I thought was going to be a brief visit, largely because my two favorite Punk Houses were closed and I didn’t really fit in at the ones that were still going or started more recently from what I knew. I ran into a couple comrades from the old Sunday Food Not Bombs at a Blackbird Raum and Ramshackle Glory house show and ended up staying with them at a new Punk House they had just started with a couple of their friends, which was being named The Halfway House about then. I ended up staying for about four and a half months, long after I ran out of money.
We started having House shows in April with both touring and local bands. We had shows about twice a month and was the first and so far only place I ever booked a show. This was the month I basically ran out of cash and could no longer pay rent or buy food. But I did get a great deal of the old silk screening equipment from Dry River, organized people to go to bum feeds, shared my food from them, and recycled many of the beer cans mostly to keep toilet paper in the House.
While I was there, we weren’t able to get the silk screening equipment going, but the work I put towards that end was the sort of unwaged labor/useful unemployment the people who wanted me there and I considered worthwhile. I also did a great deal of reading and writing, most of which was for book reviews that were posted on People of Color Organize!
I left after having a falling out with a few of my housemates over a show I was trying to help them book. The details aren’t important, it wasn’t a huge deal. I had felt I wasn’t being as productive there as I could have been somewhere else and I was having a hard time finding a job.
I hitch hiked to California then Oregon and Washington before eventually coming back to the San Francisco Bay Area where amongst other things I was able to get involved with a couple of different squats. One whose media name is The Church of Carl Sagan and reminds me a great deal of many of the Punk Houses that I’ve enjoyed so it has been a good fit for me.