WAVING THE FLAG: RAYMOND PETTIBON

In the early Eighties, we were kids growing up in a backwoods in the foothills of one of the oldest mountain ranges on the planet. About as far, culturally, from the roots of everything that defines our generation of car culture as a kid could possibly get. MTV? Cable only went to the most populated areas, so that meant the local trailer park got it before anyone else and we had to ride our bikes over to Dave’s trailer where we could watch it when it aired for about four hours a day. Skateboarding? Didn’t exist in our world, really…not outside of the random Thrasher we’d come across once in awhile. BMX? Yeah – the iconic Rockville BMX was only a few hours away by car, so when we’d see the 2-page ads in the bike magazines, we had friends who would drive down there to see a show. Cars? We had that shit covered, son. But it was the Eighties, so we were in muscle car/street freak leftover/monster truck heaven. With some old biker coolness peppered in for good taste. And Punk Rock? For some reason, we got our hands on a small, black-and-white pulpy ROIR catalog and a mix tape of Black Flag albums. MINDS. WERE. BLOWN.

We had no idea what we were listening to and didn’t know what the art on the Black Flag album covers meant to an entire generation, but we were fucking moved. The music was raw and powerful and the art on the cassette tape cards was disturbingly appropriate. Those iconic four black bars instantly meant UNDERGROUND to us and on the rare occasion that we’d actually see some other kid rocking a jean jacket with them painted on the back, we knew we had a strange friend.

Ray Pettibon – the brother of Black Flag’s founder, Greg Ginn – not only created that Black Flag logo, but made the art for those early albums and played bass with the band when it was still called Panic. The L.A. punk scene in the late ’70s was influenced by what had already been created in New York, but it was its own version, for sure. And Pettibon’s work not only identified Black Flag as a force to be reckoned with, but helped define the entire subculture of Punk flyers: the form of communication that the underground musical universe relied on to spread its influence.

These days, Pettibon’s work – like much of the early art and music of the Punk movement – is crazy collectible. And while his works go far beyond Black Flag, it’s all still signature Pettibon and all still slightly uncomfortable and compelling and powerful and a little crazy. And reminds us of being totally confused by minute-and-a-half bursts of anger and beauty that cut like razor blades through the Thriller album and Men Without Hats that we just had a real hard time getting away from.

So all these years later, we look back on Pettibon’s work and finally realize that it’s all part of what we love and it’s really pretty bitchin’ to see an old Black Flag t-shirt with the sleeves long gone at a car show. That’s us…the soon-to-be ‘old guy’ crowd of hotrodding…

3 Responses to “WAVING THE FLAG: RAYMOND PETTIBON”

  1. Roscoe says:

    If you missed (or miss) the 80′s, I might suggest sampling the soundtrack from Repo Man… it features bands like bLAck fLAg, Suicidal Tendencies, Circle Jerks, etc.

    Period Correct.
    Pettibon Correct.

  2. Church says:

    My Pettibon is one of my prized possessions.

  3. Church…how much you want for the Pettibon?

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