Giving detectives a crash course on Denver punk rock.
(Part 2 of Idiots Revenge is still under construction. In the meantime enjoy this ditty from the archives. The event occurred on an early afternoon in the summer of 1985.)
Toledo Pat, Spike, and I had just walked out of Wax Trax and were about to drop off our records in Spike’s car then head over to 7-11, when two plain clothes cops showed us their badges. As they escorted us to their car I was thinking how typical it was for them to be harassing punks. We asked them if there was a problem. They said there wasn't, but they wanted to talk with us.
The three of us sat in the back seat of a squad car. The cop on the driver’s side locked the door so we couldn't leave. We were feeling pretty anxious. We thought they were going to take us somewhere and beat the shit out of us. I've seen a couple of Denver’s finest lay into other punks pretty hard for no reason at all. Their taunting tactics starts with name-calling, you can see it in their eyes how they itch for a reaction or the slightest provocation to make us their punching bags. Their hatred for us was purely based on the way we dressed. The mentality was; if you’re living outside the conventions of what “normal” people wear, then you’re obviously a threat to society. This was one of the symptoms how punk was negatively portrayed in the media. They asked for our ID's. Spike and I handed ours over. Toledo Pat searched for his and said that he left his wallet at home. They ran a check on our licenses while they gave Pat a shit storm for not having his. “Pat, we need social security number, DOB, address...” The officers were irritated. I could see them letting us go and driving off with Pat. Ten minutes had gone by and we were becoming a little more nervous, sweaty palms and all. We saw a few of our friends pass by on the way to the record store. This was good. I was thinking that if for some reason they decided to take us away, we had witnesses. Our thoughts were becoming irrational at this point because nobody was saying anything. The officers in the front were waiting for a call on our ID's. Like a dumb ass, I asked the cops why they had us in the car when a voice came over the radio. Then one in the passenger’s seat hushed me mid sentence.
"OK boys, you
two are fine," he said looking at Spike and I. They went off on Pat again
for not carrying any identification. They continued waiting for Pat’s
background check to come in and told him “it was the law for all American
citizens to carry identification with them at all times.” It sounded like they
were going to let us go. We weren't about say anything else. We figured that
the more we talked or asked question the longer we would stay in the squad car.
We were just happy that the silence broke. The cop on the driver’s side asked
Pat what the symbol on the back of his jacket meant. Pat was wearing his
roommate, Big John's, jacket. Big John played bass in the band, Uberfall (lit. overthrow). Uberfall's logo UF closely
resembled a swastika, perhaps intentionally designed for shock value. The band
had stickers, and spray-painted logos all over Capitol Hill. One cop asked us
if we belonged to a gang of Nazi's. We laughed out loud. That bummed them out.
Pat said that it was his roommate's jacket, and it was a symbol of a band. The
cops weren’t buying it. They asked again if we were part of any gang, as if
they hadn't heard us the first time. We said "No" in a more solemn
tone. “Tell us about the Uberfall gang.” We explained that Uberfall was just a
punk rock band. "Why is their symbol everywhere?” It wasn’t our band, we
didn’t know, but it was in our best interest to tell them something, anything.
While we were spouting off something lame to the effect of, "The guys in
Uberfall want to be famous blah, blah, blah…" Flye, Uberfall's vocalist,
crosses the street in front of us wearing his leather jacket with a big
Uberfall symbol painted on the back of it. Pat, Spike, and I spotted him and tried
not to stare or laugh. The cops were to busy being consumed by whatever
bullshit we were making up that they were oblivious to the world outside the
car. The thought occurred, "If you want to know what the symbol means, ask
their singer, Flye, he just walked past.” We just sat there caged, finishing
our symposium of why the Uberfall logo was all over Denver.
|Hey Dan, will you look at those punk rock faggots. I bet they a part of that nazi Uberfall gang.|
|Early computer graphics|
HQ called back. Pat's background check produced a clean record. There was no evidence that any of us belonged to the "Uberfall gang," or any other gang for that matter. They finally handed back our IDs. The cops went off on Pat yet again, telling him that he was lucky they weren't going to haul him down to the station and throw his ass in jail for not having an ID. We sat there politely and took the last of their shit, while collectively thinking, "Fuck these assholes and their ego trips." We had nothing left to say; we hated them for wasting our time with their head games.
They both got out of the car. The cop on the driver’s side hit the latch to open our doors. They thanked us for our time and told us to stay out of trouble. We walked back across the street towards Wax Trax to find Flye. The cop on the passenger side yelled at Pat to remember to carry his ID. We just snickered and stuck our fingers in Pat's face telling him, "Don't forget your ID, boy!" in our quasi redneck “boy, you got a pruddy mouth” accent.
|Another Uberfall sticker design.|
We walked into Wax Trax and Flye was at the counter. He asked us what we were doing in the cop car. We told him that the cops were looking for him, "The leader of the Uberfall gang." "What?!," Flye broke from his usual soft-spoken gentle voice. Flye a gang leader? Violent? Hardly. He was the son of a preacher. Flye thought we were pulling his leg, especially the gang part. We told him the story of what just happened. His face got red; he was sort of embarrassed. He put his hand up to his face and giggled. The clerk finished putting Flye's records in the bag. We told him that the cops were still out there and that he had better take off his leather jacket. We walked out the door and gazed over at the cop car and saw two more punks in the back seat. We didn't cross the street to find out who was in there. We’d have to wait to find out later that night at the show.
|Flye and a couple other punks were featured in The Rocky Mountain News newspaper in a pull out section.|
“They got two more. Shit. We’re thirsty.” Spike said we should walk to 7-11 so he could get a Dr. Pepper Big Gulp. While we were sipping our drinks and waiting for our bean and cheese burritos in the microwave, Spike told me how Pat accidentally took a big swig of windshield wiper fluid in his car yesterday thinking it was cheap King Soopers blueberry punch. We all laughed. The buzzer on the microwave went off and we were out the door on the way to band practice.
Special thanks to Ana Medina and Monica Zarazua for editing
Special thanks to Ana Medina and Monica Zarazua for editing