March 24, 2012

SEATTLE PUNK: CAL 1982

This is still kinda blowing my mind as I write. 

In an earlier post I wrote about a kid named Ashby who I admired when I was a young punk rocker hanging out on University Ave. in Seattle in 1981-84. I wanted to do another post like that about a different Seattle punk who captured my imagination back then. His name was Cal. 

I distinctly remember The Seattle Times doing a newspaper feature on the punks that hung out on The Ave back when I aspired to be one of them as much as possible. I think the piece appeared in Pacific Northwest Magazine, the color insert that came with the Sunday edition of the paper. If memory serves me, Cal was featured prominently in the article with pictures of him in his bandana, black trenchcoat and fedora. I mean how would I imagine something so specific, right?

Well, I put my modest web research skills to work and while I didn’t find the article I think I remember seeing back then, or any image of Cal from the era, I did find this article about Cal’s untimely death in N.Y.C. in 2008.

I was very surprised to learn that we were born only days apart and that in fact this “older, wiser” punk was actually five days younger than me. I guess I only got half of the “older, wiser” label correct.

His whole story is amazing, up from the projects, running away to N.Y.C., (which of course now I can remember him telling me he was going to do), life as a club kid, dating Debbie Harry, internet pioneer, CNN blogger etc. etc.

The far-out, coincidental, synchronistic hook to the story as it involves me (and I only found all this stuff out today) is the part about how he got into being an artist before he died and ended up working on a crazy sculpture made of two big-rig trucks that was installed at Burning Man in 2007. What’s crazy is that 2007 was the one and only year I attended Burning Man and I had the most deeply transformative, profoundly prolonged entheogenic, melt-up (as opposed to melt-down) I’ve ever experienced that week.

As I stood in the Black Rock Desert with my Burn-mate Lenny Wolford marveling in a spectacularly heightened state (I am assuming this part was true) at these two full-sized big rigs twisted into a “?” set against the clear blue sky, I had no idea that I was having a second brush with someone who had already touched my life so many years before. 

 ”?” indeed!

I’ll definitely post about my Burning Man week in the future.

To a very true rebel and free spirit: Mark “Cal” Chamberlain R.I.P.