We're getting awfully close to the 50th anniversary of punk rock's mid-1970s high-water mark—an uncomfortably respectable-sounding age for a movement all about bratty rebellion.
Another development that could send a safety pin straight to the heart of any erstwhile anarchist from the class of 1976: Punk rock is getting its own museum—a word fairly dripping with establishment credibility. (For the record, there did used to be a Punk Museum in Los Angeles, but it's gone—and Berlin's Ramones Museum is "taking a break.")
Maybe it's a comfort to know the soon-to-open Punk Rock Museum is located in the resolutely unstuffy city of Las Vegas, even if that's a place we tend to think of as more Siegfried & Roy than Sid & Nancy.
Perhaps a stronger point in the museum's favor is that it's backed and operated by the Punk Collective, a group of musicians, collectors, artists, writers, crew members, and diehard fans all dedicated to the punk ethos in all its bollocks-never-minding glory.
The Punk Rock Museum "shoves in your face the history, culture, and absurdity of rock n’ roll’s bastard step-child," according to the museum's website, supplying a "hands-on, uniquely punk rock experience," courtesy of those "who lived and documented this culture for the past five decades."
(Jacket worn by guitarist Johnny Thunders of the New York Dolls | From the collection of Bryan Ray Turcotte; photo by Lisa Johnson)
Items on display include show flyers, photos, handwritten lyrics, raggedy clothing worn by luminaries like Joe Strummer of the Clash and Johnny Thunders of the New York Dolls, and artifacts such as the molds used to make Devo's iconic "Energy Dome" helmets.
In the guitar room, visitors can actually play instruments that once belonged to the likes of Rise Against, NOFX, and other bands. Guests who opt for guided tours will be led by a changing lineup of honest-to-goodness punk rockers.
Las Vegas Weekly reports that in addition to exhibits the space will have a bar, tattoo parlor, merch shop, and "chapel for weddings and wakes."
(Punk collector Bryan Ray Turcotte | Photo by Lisa Johnson)
Does the project risk commercializing punk?
Punk Collective member and collector Bryan Ray Turcotte, who contributed key pieces to the museum, admitted to Mojo magazine, "A part of me feels slightly guilty about being a participant in allowing this stuff to become so valued."
But Turcotte argues that the idea is not just to enshrine or sell the punk spirit, but to bring it to life at the museum so that those who enter are "subverted into it" and inspired to fight the establishment.
He used a word other than "fight," though.
The Punk Rock Museum opens in Las Vegas (at 1422 Western Ave., just outside the Arts District) on March 10. General admission costs $30. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to ThePunkRockMuseum.com.