Red River Punk Archaeology and a Global Punk Rock Warlord

Punk Archaeology handbill produced by Joel R. Jonientz, Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Punk Archaeology handbill produced by Joel R. Jonientz, Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Ten years ago today, on December 22, 2002, Joe Strummer passed away. Joe was formative as a song writer and lead for The Clash and, later, the Mescaleros. Tom Vitale of National Public Radio did a story on Joe a couple days ago, the story linked to here. Local to North Dakota, Bill Caraher, professor of history at University of North Dakota, remarked on Joe here. And on social media, Kelly Hagen remarked on his reaction ten years ago when he first heard of Joe’s passing. He was in Fargo at the time (I think Kelly studied journalism — or, what today they call Mass Communications — at Minnesota State University Moorhead, but I better check with him first… yup, that’s what he said). Here’s what Hagen said a couple days ago on his social medias about the passing of Joe Strummer:

“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. I remember getting home from work at Wendy’s in Fargo that evening, grabbing my stuff to get on the road to Bismarck, home for the holidays, and hearing about this on my way out the door. And how it ruined everything, because there’d been rumors that the Clash were going to reunite, and I was super psyched about that. Still bummed. Blast some Clash for Joe, from here through Armageddon. No better soundtrack to finishing off your worldly commitments.”

This is true.

On February 2, 2013 in downtown Fargo, North Dakota, at Sidestreet (301 3rd Avenue North), the first global Punk Archaeology conference will consider stuff like this, bringing together an interdisciplinary team of Mediterranean, North American and global archaeologists and historians. The conference has 4 punk bands lined up (check out the poster above — Andrew Reinhard, with Barth on drums; June PanicWhat Kingswood Needs; and Les Dirty Frenchmen), and a round-table of discussants. Sponsors of Punk Archaeology range from the North Dakota Humanities Council to Laughing Sun Brewing to North Dakota State University’s Center for Heritage Renewal, to the University of North Dakota’s Working Group in Digital and New Media, to the Cyprus Research Fund.

Kris Groberg, professor of Art History at NDSU, is bringing a local punk archaeology perspective to the conference as well, since punk continues to grow increasingly deep roots up and down the fertile Red River Valley of the north. This, I have been told, is a point of excitement for non-local academics, researchers and scholars (from Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, to Mediterranean archaeologists from Princeton, New Jersey, to Stanford University in California): from coast to coast and beyond, scholars will be descending on Fargo, and one point of consideration is that they get to hear about grass roots Red River Valley culture.

J. Earl Miller, former associate of Ralph’s Corner Bar and current photographer for The High Plains Reader, has considered putting together a parallel campaign the day of Punk Archaeology, and this would bring together t-shirt, record and poster collectors for a day of material punk culture and history swapping.

Now I’m going to play some Joe Strummer real loud like. Here is an official North Dakota Humanities Council link to Punk Archaeology. And below is a documentary of Joe Strummer. He was known to say that the future is unwritten. Punk Archaeologists agree with that, and would only add that much of the archaeological and historic past is unwritten, too.


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